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.

Brandee Cross | Entrepreneur & Business Owner

I have always been a very driven entrepreneur. I’ve loved being creative. I started my first ‘side hustle’ when I was in 7th grade. I made custom name bracelets and necklaces with pony beads. Then I upgraded my business to the bead animal key chains. Since then, I’ve always found myself wanting to sell my creativity. I became a mom to twin boys in 2018. Mom life was crazy, but that didn’t hold me back from having another. We had our daughter in July 2021! I couldn’t wait to have a mini me to coordinate dressing up in. Read more>>

Bethany Gentry | Owner of Domestique LLC, Professional Organizer and Concierge Specialist

The thought process behind starting Domestique LLC was seeing a need for on-demand domestic assistance for busy professionals and families. Prior to starting my business, I was a high-profile nanny and household manager for 15 years. I found that a lot of my full-time employers friends were consistently telling me how they would love to have some help for home organization, event planning, handyman services, and all of the things they don’t have time to tackle from day-to-day. I started facilitating projects like this on the side in my free time to see if this is something that could turn into a full-time business opportunity. Within 18 months of doing side gigs I quit my full-time job and Domestique was born! Read more>>

Julia Schweiss | Elopement & Brand Photographer

In the back of my head, I had always thought about starting my own creative business but I was too afraid to leave my comfort zone and assurance of a safe job, so I went the more standard route of getting a 9-5 job after college. But over a few years, the idea of starting my own business was still stirring in my spirit until I had a threshold where I knew that the longer I waited, the more regret I would have to live with. I knew I needed to be true to myself and to what I was being called. So I took the leap admittedly before I was really ready to be a full time photographer, but now I feel so much more aligned and confident knowing that I’m building my dream life and won’t have any regrets! Read more>>

Samantha Wallace | Photographer

My thought process behind starting my own business is I wanted a way to be able to have something that I really enjoy doing. Having this as a side business has been a great joy for me because I love being able to reflect on where I started and looking to where I am now. If it weren’t for the people that support me I do not think that I would be where I am. It was my wonderful boyfriend and my family who pushed me to start this and build off of what I have already created. Having the process of my website which is easy to use created the best way to grow what I have built. Read more>>

Tracy Moore | Brand Photographer, Social Media Consultant, & Chief of Humor for Tenacious Entreprenuers Chasing Mighty Passions

I always knew I wanted to have my own business and have always dreamed of being able to support my family doing something I love using my natural strengths and passions. We love traveling, taking random days off to explore, and our family needed the freedom that only entrepreneurship could provide us. I always heard my mentors say “do something you love and money will follow” and I always reminded myself of that when thinking of businesses I could start. Read more>>

Megan Walker | Art-preneur

I am a woman on a mission. In 2020 I was faced with the scary reality that I might not be able to do what I love again. My right arm was fractured and, in a cast, so my life plans changed dramatically. I have been an artist all my life but after fracturing my arm I realized I did not take my dreams seriously enough. I found myself working in an office job, not related to art at all, after graduating with an art degree and it took a serious injury to finally wake me up to be set back on my path. Read more>>

Bobbi Brooks | Business owner

I was 24 ..so i had been in the work force for several years and knew i wasnt a very good employee. I wanted to be my own boss and be creative. I had just had my daughter and I didn’t want to put her in daycare. i wanted to find a way to work and still raise my child full time. An older couple that i knew had a small business and they were wanting to retire. I jumped in ! I had 30 days training and a playpen . We were set ! Read more>>

Paul Hardersen | Travel Company CEO, Navy Veteran, Scientist

I wanted to build a business in the travel industry that is unique, different, and gives me a way to help make a positive difference in our world. As a Navy veteran and someone who absolutely loves sailing on tall ships, I decided to go with a nautical theme for my company. Why? Two reasons. Few travel agencies have a theme guiding what they do and offer. Having an overarching theme will help identify potential customers and help people understand the business immediately. Read more>>

Ashleigh Derby | Creator of Dot + Dash Boutique

I started my business in May 2019, because a saw a void in my community. Dot + Dash was originally created in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I noticed that my community was very limited to local clothing options. Most people were shopping at chains or online + I always enjoyed going into small boutiques in other cities. Seeing the personal touches that different boutiques put into their business + the excellent customers service and assistance you received was also so enjoyable. I decided that opening a clothing boutique that could provide that same customer service and personal shopping experience for every customer that walked through my door with be beneficial + welcomed in Cedar Rapids. Read more>>

Sahar Khosrowshahi | Fitness Specialist

During the pandemic I was furloughed from my job at the gym that I had been working for the last 5 years. I was filling for unemployment and during that time I was doing a lot of self reflection. I literally thought to myself what can I do to avoid this situation in the future and I realized I needed to become my own boss and start a personal training business. Read more>>

Steve Walsh | Technical Career Coach; International Speaker, and Consultant

Starting my own business has been a dream for many years. I’ve had a lot of different ideas that have come to me over the years. Coaching kept coming up as a possibility. I created the structure of my business in later part of 2019. I had wanted to start the business activity in 2020, but the pandemic hit, so I put it on hold or slowed the launch down. As we started to come out of the pandemic I looked at the economic cycles and knew that I wanted to ride the wave out of the economic set back the pandemic created. I’ve been fulltime in my business since June 2021. The wave I’m looking for hasn’t hit, but I have a great running start for when it does. Read more>>

Andrea Beaman | Holistic Health Coach, Chef, Herbalist

My thought process behind starting my own business was a desire to share alternative options for healing disease. When I was initially diagnosed with my thyroid disease at 28 years old, I was NOT given the option to heal my body. I was only given the option to destroy my thyroid gland with Radioactive Iodine, and then be on a prescription medication for the rest of my life. That destructive path didn’t resonate with me. I sought alternative healing and instead of destroying my body, Read more>>

Tammy Quinn- Unrein and Brooke Kalik | Retro Bungalow, Owners

Timing , vision and determination- Our dream was to open our own store and bring quality vintage , retro furniture and decor to buyers at affordable prices. We knew that there are some very high end mid century modern stores out there with amazing items but that maybe the people just starting to get into mid century modern couldn’t afford and we wanted to offer that affordability. We were two moms with very busy lives that wanted the flexibility to be with our families but also chase our dreams and be successful! Read more>>

Ashlee Kleinschmidt | Makeup Artist and Entrepreneur

I wanted to start my own business because I saw a need in the market. Women love to feel pretty. It makes us feel empowered. When I was a newer makeup artist, I noticed there wasn’t a place where women could get their makeup done with the focus being on them and on their makeup instead of selling products. It was a dream to start my own business that catered to that. Read more>>

Adele L. | Owner of E.M.C. Photography Studio

When you wake up, do you ever have that depressing thought, “I hate my job and I don’t want to go anymore”? Well, that was me, all of the time. I was overworked and underpaid as they say. I was working a 9-6 job, I was a full-time university student, and a single mother all at once. My friends and family told me I had talent like my grandfather with photography so in 2011 I started a small photography business on the side. (Just another job to add to my list) Within 6 months I was making more than my In-Office management job. So I did what any insane person would do & I quit my job. I have been successful ever since. Read more>>

Tamara McDaniel | Producer/PM/Casting Dir and voice over artist

When I first started the PIFMG – I essentially wanted to put a group together that might include directors who might hire me for acting or voice over work. But then I had my first meeting and I discovered all these things that were needed in the film community, not the least of which was a way to reach out for help from other film folks easily when you’re in a pinch, and so I went about trying to create that. It started out just as my meet up group but then I realized I probably should also start an actual company so I can work through that as projects came to the group. Read more>>