Starting a business is a commitment and requires dedication, resources and sacrifice. We asked some of the rising stars in our community how they thought through the idea of starting their own businesses.

Candace Chen | Founder, Protégé

I never thought I’d find myself in the fashion industry, much less launching a fashion product! The idea came forth when I was trying to solve the problem of my feet hurting in high heels. From then on, the thought process was more centered around, “How do we get this product out to all the women out there who love heels but can’t stand to be in physical pain?” and that was how Protege was launched! Read more>>

Heather Farris | Pinterest Agency Owner

I was working a corporate job when I first had the desire to find alternate work. I never imagined what I have today when I first started my business. When I initially started my business I had started a mom blog but I wasn’t monetizing very fast. I needed to get out of my accounting job where the environment was toxic. After getting really good results from Pinterest for my blog I was hired by someone else to manage their account for 3 months while they traveled. Read more>>

Omaima Doghmi | Moroccan YouTuber

Ever since high school, I was always into videography and photography – I absolutely loved being both in front and behind the camera lens. Going through engineering school, I decided to set these creative hobbies aside as I focused on school and throughout this time, I became an avid consumer of YouTube. I also picked up a new hobby in the meantime: drone videography. I learned to fly drones and edit the captured footage. Upon graduation and moving to Arizona for a work opportunity, I realized I had some more free time to re-visit the creative hobbies I once loved. Read more>>

Jamie Corso | Personal Trainer & Online Health Coach

I have been active my whole life, as a young child I was involved in competitive gymnastics and participated in sports throughout school. I went to college for Fashion Design at FIT, although I am a design/creative oriented person, I quickly realized this wasn’t for me. I started personal training at David Barton Gym in NYC at the Astor Place location back in May 2012. I was an early 20 something and eager to learn. Having already started competing in the world of bodybuilding in the figure division, at that time personal training was a good field for me to explore as a career. Read more>>

Elizabeth Lopez | CEO & Owner

I am a former first responder; prior to starting my own business I served my community for many years. Following the birth of my first born, I decided to be a stay-at-home mom for the first few years of her life. Understanding the importance of nurturing during the formative years I gave up my career to focus on my now number one priority, my little one. As I transitioned to having her start school, I was exploring my options as to entering the work force again. It was at that time I decided to open my own business, AOS Event Designs and Rentals LLC. Opening my own business afforded me the opportunity to have a flexible work schedule while also caring for my daughter. Read more>>


The thought process in starting my business was for my daughter, who was born with RETT SYNDROME, and other individuals that have a developmental disability and have need for great, quality care. ” RETT SYNDROME is estimated to affect one in every 10,000 to 15,000 live female births and RETT SYNDROME is a rare genetic neurological and developmental disorder that affects the way the brain develops, causing a progressive loss of motor skills and speech. This disorder primarily affects girls”. At this time, there is no cure for this disease. Read more>>

Bridgett McGowen | Speaker . Author . Publisher

Since 2001, I have been a professional speaker, and in late May of 2019, I delivered a presentation at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC to a packed room of hundreds of attendees at a conference where Oprah Winfrey was also presenting. Once I finished my session, several people raced out of the room. A few minutes later, many of those attendees who had made dashes for the door returned to the room and said, “Your book’s not in the bookstore.” Read more>>

Ben Hazlerig | 3D Wood Artist

Starting my own art business was a no brainer for me. I’ve been self employed most of my adult life. My parents raised me with the saying (that’s still embedded in my brain) “find something that you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I was a small business owner for 16 years and recently closed those doors in the summer of 2019. I had been soul searching for several years on what I wanted to do next prior to closing. In 2020, when the lockdowns where in full effect, my creative mind went into overdrive from all of the free time. I wanted to make something. I wanted to connect. I wanted to express what the world had me feeling. Read more>>

Cal Orellana | Baker & Owner of Cal’s Bakeshop

I had just moved back to Tucson from San Francisco and had no luck getting a response to any job applications I filled out. As time went by I couldn’t help but keep on thinking about a conversation my best friend and I had a few nights back about selling my own products. Little by little it keeps creeping up but just never acted on it. One night I’m hanging out with him again and the idea comes right back up . He pulls out his phone and starts drawing while his wife and I start coming up with dish ideas and names for the business as non-serious topic. Read more>>

Michele Kaneshiro | Licensed contractor, Licensed Realtor, Body sculptor

As a person that has ADHD I had more than one thought process behind starting my own business. I work in more than one industry and am always being everything for someone else. I was offered a position to leave one of my jobs now for a higher salary and matched benefits. I am a person who believes in loyalty and did not take the offer because I like where I am at. However, this made me have a light bulb moment as in to why would I want to start a new venture somewhere else for someone else. Read more>>

Kayla Gray | Life Insurance Broker

My main goal after having kids was to be present and not tied to your typical 9 to 5 job. Being available as a mother and a wife is very important to me. Also, the financial freedom and work from home aspect gave me the option to take back control of my life. You either spend your entire working life either building someone else dream or building your own. Read more>>

Zachary Pope | Film Critic & Journalist

Since I was young I always loved going to the movies & really believed that is one of the few mediums that can bring such unlikely people together. So right out of high school I jumped right into this space and decided to create my own reviewing site where I could talk movies & bring together people like this!b Read more>>

Jim Blunt | Foodie / Owner of Epic Chefs podcast

I’ve had my own business before, and I loved being my own boss. It’s freeing and allows you to be creative with your work processes and do what works for you. You get to set the parameters that define success for you and to decide what your business should look like and how it’s going to operate. In this instance, I decided that I wanted to start a side hustle that could earn me some extra money. I’m something of a foodie and have been for at least 30 years. From the time I got a charcoal grill and cooked my first hamburgers and steaks, I’ve been hooked. Read more>>

Damon Jones | Photographer

‘Survival through Design’ started life as a hobby rather than a business. I was researching mid-century architecture in Los Angeles, California in 2016 where I had just relocated to from England and every weekend I would go for an exploratory hike with a list of houses and their addresses. I would hike to each of them, enjoy them and take a few photographs of them on my trusty iphone! True story to this day my most sold photograph was actually taken with a mobile phone! Read more>>

DeSheania Martin | Founder & Owner of The Boujee Auntie Brand

To be quite honest , I started The Boujee Auntie Brand at a time when the world was sitting still , in solitude. I began this brand working from home in the heart of the Pandemic Part II(Spring 2021). I was working virtual 8-10 hour days in my corporate career while also serving the community virtually within non profit organizations I give my dedication and time to. I had also recently experienced the loss of a dear relative so between Zoom fatigue and grieving , Read more>>

Portia Iles | CBD Provider/Herbalist/Lifecoach

Suffering with Anxiety, Depression, ADD, PTSD, and a few other things I did not want to continue to, to add more medicine to my daily routine. I started researching different ways to help my symptoms and that is when I discovered CBD. Within 2 weeks I started to notice different things within myself, I was not as anxious and was having more mental clarity. I continued using CBD for another 2 years and started noticing more benefits from CBD. Somehow my usual order was not the same and I was not seeing or feeling the results. That’s when I realized how much CBD was helping me, Naturally. Read more>>

Cj Hurtado | Tattoo Artist

I wanted to bring a strong focus towards professionalism and creativity. Knocking down the stereotypes that are accustomed with the Art and Tattooing industry. Listening to the client. Developing and collaborating together to create beautiful art. Professionalism and kindness go a long way in this world. Let’s work together Read more>>

Nana Kwadwo | Entrepreneur, Factionary Founder and CEO

I’ve always loved to be an entrepreneur. It has been something I have always wanted to do, even if I know I’m going to fail, I’ll still do it anyway. And starting The Factionary has been the most beautiful thing I’ve done with my life. I’m really happy about that. Read more>>

Goonzy The Clown | AZ Family Entertainer and Party Clown

I’ve always been drawn to what some folks may consider strange and unusual, but circuses, vaudeville acts and that old time entertainment has always been a great interest of mine. And I have always had a tremendous love for children, being a Father myself. I had a great interest in combining those things. I saw there weren’t many people in the children’s entertainment business in Arizona. It seemed to be a fairly open market. I’ve been performing for almost 30 years now. Middle school and high school plays, community theater, independent films, I’ve played music in bars and clubs for years at a time. Read more>>

Sheldon cooper | Founder of All Access USA, Cannabis Awards Music Festival

I wanted to make a difference in the cannabis community. So was very honored to be able to create opportunities for individuals to be honored. Read more>>

Riley Conn | Artist

I am 52 years old and have a variety of jobs in my career. I just recently have been a Tennis professional for the last 12 years. Throughout my life I have always been creative. I never went to art school or took any classes but I took an art history class in college and have appreciated art since. During covid with time on my hands I bought some paint and brushes and started painting. I them came across an article on Billy Schenck, western pop artist, and then tried his style of painting. Read more>>