We reached out to some of our favorite entrepreneurs and asked them to think back and tell us about how they decided to start a business. Check out their responses below.

Stephanie Ruiz | Little House Trading Co Owner

I started Little House Trading Co because I felt there was a need for more fashionable children’s clothing, I noticed as I was shopping for my daughters that the clothing was all the same no matter which store I went to. I sat down and did hours of research on materials, branding and CPSC compliance and got to work! I wanted other parents to have more variety when dressing their children while still maintaining affordability. Read more>>

Cece Ray | Photographer

We transferred to Arizona in 2008 for my husband’s job. Our grown children were behind us all the way on our new adventure. As hard as it was leaving them and one granddaughter behind, it has been one of the best moves we have ever made. Arriving in Scottsdale and not knowing a soul I looked for a hobby to keep me occupied. Being from the plains of Texas I had never realized the Beauty of Arizona and the amazing wildlife. Read more>>

Kristen Bykowski | Luxury Travel Advisor

I always had the desire to run my own business. Since I was in my early twenties as a freelance writer and reporter, I knew I wanted something I could call my own, something I could be proud of, something I could work for knowing I was the only one who could make it a success. I started my current business – a Luxury Travel Agency/Advisory – while operating another “side business” (high-end corporate gifting), and working a full time job in New York City. Read more>>

Megan Kocher | Blonding & Creative Color Hairstylist

For me, one of the main reasons I fell in love with doing hair was the creative freedom of it all. Early on I knew that I wanted to specialize in hair color, however as a new stylist it is extremely difficult to specialize in a particular field right off the bat. This is where I found my inspiration to become my own business, so that I could build my dream clientele right from the start, as well as having the flexibility to control my own schedule so I am still able to take time for myself as well as time with my family. Read more>>

JULIE CRUZ | Potter and business owner

I am a creative… but I always thought of “artists” being a bit floaty and even tho art and artists run in my family – I didnt think of myself as much of an artist (in the formal sense). I excelled in art, loved art, was always involved in something artistic but it certainly didnt seem like a career path for me, just something I loved doing. I took a ceramics class in high school for a semester and, like all the art classes I took, loved it. Fast forward – 40 plus years later sans pottery, my adults kids gifted me with a gift certificate for a class at a pottery studio and the curtain was pulled back. There I was – knee deep in clay and loving it. Read more>>

Mercedes Lomboy | Owner & Content Creator of Living Loud Management

When I graduated from college in March, I had no clue what I wanted to do. I earned my degree in English and knew I could go anywhere with it. Social media management and content creation was a hobby for me. I was doing it for free or a very small fee for the places I worked at. After college I was working a 9-5 job, while working with 2 clients on the side doing social media. I found myself thinking about my side gig all of the time, I knew it was my passion. The results I was seeing from my work were great! People started sharing my clients posts, and tagging their photos about our products. Sales grew and we started seeing more new customers. Read more>>

Callan Fuqua | Poet, Mental Health Advocate, & Owner of Deadbeat Poets Society

I wanted to start a group that someone could feel confident in sharing personal works in. Be it from a poem written on a gross napkin or from works that took years to make. Entertainment and art can be deceptive places with phony atmosphere or unfeeling environments. I didn’t want that. Through trial and error, I’ve been able to create a foundation for what Deadbeat Poets Society is. A place to learn, to share and to thrive. Read more>>

Brenda & Gabriel Rodriguez | Artists, & Printers

Honestly, we started Con Safos Print Co. because we weren’t getting what we wanted out of other printers. We would try to have shirts printed for events and our tattoo shop. The quality was always terrible, or we would get over priced. That on top of not wanting to work for minimum wage for someone else while not being able to be with our kids. It was a tough spot. We figured if you wanted something done right, right? So we started printing out of our dining room with some cheap speedball screens. A few shirts, and some bandanas. That was 2017. Read more>>

AJ Sales Maralit | CEO & Founder of Picnic Point AZ

When COVID first hit, like a lot of people our age, we hopped on to TikTok. Fast forward to the beginning of 2021, we came across a video by @picnicnchill, a bay area based luxury picnic company. My partner Jaimee and I both thought, “we could totally do that!” We both had a lot of dreams for the new year, including quitting our toxic workplace. We worked together for about 2-3 years in the same department. We knew we would work great together, and a picnic business included all the things we love – decor, design, thrifting, and just hanging out. We both put in $300 each and thought “The worst thing that could happen is that we’d be stuck with all this cute stuff.” We never thought Picnic Point AZ would pick up as quick as it did but we sold out our Valentine’s Day Picnics within the first 2 weeks of opening. Read more>>

Chris Martin | Author, Producer, Philanthropist, Founder, CEO

We were thrust into mainstream business. We started our model as caregivers on the traditional market. Helping patients get meds as growers, producers and licensed caregivers. Dispensaries didn’t open here in Arizona for three years after medical was voted in. So there were several patients with no where to get medicine. Caregivers were the only viable sources. Read more>>

Elizabeth Hudy | Artist & Small Business Owner

I started my business right after I graduated from college while I was studying for my CPA exams. Donald Trump had just been inaugurated and I knew that Planned Parenthood would be in need of extra support but I had the disposable income of, well, a recent college grad. I decided to use my artistic abilities to make outspoken designs that I would sell to raise money for the cause. I never thought it would grow to being my full-time job, but four years and several miserable tax seasons later, I have raised over $15,000 for various charities, gotten my products in over 140 stores across the country, and successfully avoided a lifetime of zoom meetings and horrible bosses. Read more>>

Kelcy Valletta | Self-Love and Confidence Coach

I truly just wanted to help people. I had never planned on starting my own business, but as I started having more and more conversations with other women about insecurities, confidence, etc, I realized that there was a big need for support. Like many people, I have had to overcome a lot in order to feel confident in who I am today. I struggled with a scary eating disorder, suffered emotional abuse in a toxic relationship, and said goodbye to a career path I had planned on since I was five years old. Read more>>

Gaby Centeno | Store Manager

Always had a corporate job but when my husband lost one we claimed it was going to be the last time this will happen without us having something to do and another source of income Read more>>

Morgan Louvier | Momentum Aerial Co-Owner and Trapeze Instructor

My business partner Joanie and I had created a small aerial community in Flagstaff, and really enjoyed working together! We both feel rewarded by creating a space for anyone of any background to learn how to fly and use their body in ways that are beautifully challenging. We decided to create Momentum Aerial, and it has grown into something large and wonderful that serves over 400 members of the Flagstaff community each week! Read more>>

Shyera Earl | Shyera Earl | Cosmetics

My thought process behind me starting a business, I needed more for myself and my future family. I wanted to leave a Legacy behind me. Honestly what push me to focus on myself and business was my old employer I used to work for. I love what I did however I wasn’t in a healthy work environment. That lead me to depression, anxiety, and stress! You might be wounding what I did. I was a Caregiver before a business woman. I cared for the elderly with Dementia & Alzheimer’s. I absolutely loved what I did, however I wasn’t getting treated with respect for all the hard work that I had to put into the job. Read more>>

Bennett Paul IV | Website designer & Licensed Loan Originator

You know the popular question that teachers would ask you when you are a child? “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, for me it was an entrepreneur. I love being able to guide and aid others in making their business be the best it can be. It allows me the freedom I want and I want to be able to help others get to that point of freedom as well. I take pride in all of my businesses because they are a reflection of me, but Optibuild is my baby. Read more>>

Mary Olson | Owner of Sweet Caroling Rings

I just recently started my jewelry business in August of 2021, and it’s just been something I’ve wanted to do. I’ve always been into jewelry, especially rings, as well as going to antique stores so I wanted to find something that combined those things. When I first started making rings out of vintage silverware I knew that it was something I wanted to pursue. There was definitely a learning curve but I’m so happy to see how far I’ve come after all the time I’ve put into my business over this year. Read more>>

Monique Mealey | Co-Owner Tytin Wellness & Tytin Fitness

I became a personal trainer immediately upon graduating college with my Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology. Like most trainers, I got my first, second, and third jobs in the corporate gym world. After spending five years working in and observing corporate gyms, I found myself resenting certain aspects of the fitness industry. First, I was getting burned out because the only way to make a living was by working unrealistic hours with minimal breaks. These gyms would sell high dollar packages to members, but would then turn around and barely pay their trainers. Working 5AM-8PM was unfortunately too familiar to me. Read more>>

Evan Anderson | Mead Baron

Mead has a loot of roots in our history that have been overlooked or forgotten. One of them is that the term honeymoon actually stems from mead. You were traditionally supposed to have enough mead (sometimes known as honey wine) to drink for a whole moon cycle following the wedding, hence the term, honeymoon! The newly weds were supposed to drink mead for a month to help increase fertility and virility. I had decided to make 30 gallons of mead in different flavors for my wife and I’s wedding as a way to honor this tradition. Read more>>

Anthony Richardson | Sergeant Major, United States Army & Veteran Owner/Operator of Harley’s Treats USA

The thought process for starting Harley’s Treats USA was simple, we LOVE our puppers and wanted to make sure what we give them is healthy, delicious and affordable. We had Harley (my support pupper) and took in a rescue, Bella, at the end of 2019. We always gave Harley the best nutritious food available and it was expensive. However, since we had two pups to feed we needed to be more economical in what we bought them. Read more>>

Erika Cade | CEO of LACEDUPBEAUTY / Wig Specialist

This question made me smile just thinking about it. Believe it or not LACEDUPBEAUTY derived due to the failure of an online jewelry business. With little to no understanding of how oversaturated the jewelry market truly was, my first business idea flopped within 6 weeks. Still, I was determined to make something with this new online business. So, I ask myself “What’s something I absolutely enjoy doing……. Making wigs! Recently and for the first time ever I had chopped off majority of my hair in leu of this new healthy hair journey. In doing so I discovered how truly liberating it felt to change your hairstyle in minutes all while protecting your crown in the process. Read more>>