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.

Heather Karr Johnson | Massage Therapist & Inventor

As a massage therapist I worked on a lot of people with VERY tight muscles and found that doing deep trigger point work was very painful to my hands and thumbs. I wanted my clients to benefit from the good deep work, but also wanted to protect my hands. Read more>>

Ben Reynolds | CEO of Sure Dividend

I started Sure Dividend in 2014 with the idea that the dividend growth investing strategy fit well with what is actually beneficial for investors. Specifically, the strategy fosters long-term thinking, Read more>>

Abdallah El Chami | Chef & Restauranteur

While working in the tech industry, I realized that I preferred the hands-on work of a food business over sitting in front of a screen most of the say. I also appreciated the the process of making a finished product that can be consumed immediately, which is very different from working in tech. Read more>>

Jindu Elueze | Founder Paw Salvation Inc

To see the homeless person with his or her pet and not knowing if they are sure of the next meal for their pet was my motivation to ensure they NEVER have to worry about their pets care. Read more>>

Kendra Beckles | Artist & Accessory Maker

There wasn’t much of a starting point as it started as a hobby that slowly ended up paying for itself. I did sculpting and art on the side while maintaining a 9- 5 becauce it made me happy. Until 2020 happened…as it did, and then I fell back on selling jewelry for a bit. Somehow this alongside selling art has worked out alright so far, oddly enough. Read more>>

Andrea Hattenberger | Homebaker and Cookier

I honestly didn’t have one! I baked my whole life but began baking cinnamon rolls out of boredom during the pandemic in 2020. I gave them away and they were well received. A friend invited me to do a pop-up shop at her location and that went really well. Read more>>

Meghan Fialkoff | Co-Founder

When it came to the original concept of the Modern Day Wife the idea was sparked from the thought of having one specific lifestyle brand that could cater to the many facets of a women’s life. I loved the idea of bringing people together and also connecting them to incredible products and services — Read more>>

Amanda Comage-Trower | Level 1 Child centered play therapist

The thought process behind me starting mental heart therapeutic play lab was to give children ages 3 to 11 years old a place to express himself through creativity their intuitiveness their free spirits they’re high energy giving them an area that’s safe, beautiful, calming to explore their emotions behind the big behaviors or past traumas that they’re having and work on it on their pace without any adult expectations or time limits. Read more>>

Timmesse Thompson | The Planner

In 2015 I was an Administrative Assistant for a major company. At that point, I had about 5 years of experience in the events industry and I was starving for more. At the time I was getting a lot of recognition for my event planning from my employer but I wanted to find out if I had what it takes to make it in the industry. Read more>>

Jennifer Spencer | Therapist

I began thinking about wanting to have my own business so that I could have more flexibility with my time and not have to be confined to Monday -Friday 8-5pm. I wanted to be able to only see clients who I felt I could really help and who really wanted to facilitate change in their life. Read more>>

Shawna Beardsley | Business Owner & Pilates Instructor

It has always been a dream of mine to open my own pilates studio. A studio with my vision and my personal touch. With my first studio I had bought an already established business so the transition was easy. Starting from the ground up was a whole new world. I had no idea what I was doing but I used my resources, like, the Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce and they helped me along every step of the way. Read more>>

Melissa Green | Founder & CEO

Initially, I started my company because of the lack of community I experienced when transitioning from base to base. It was always hard at first to meet people or have an understanding of our new location when we didn’t have any connections there. Read more>>

Jim Pavett | Boutique Pro Audio Consulting, Sales, Design & Education

As a professional Recording studio owner/engineer/producer for 20 + years, I kept having encounters with unhelpful salespeople in my field when I needed a solution to move forward. Unable to find answers to my tough questions, I grew frustrated from typically knowing more about the products than the salespeople did. Read more>>

Trenise Watson | Virtual Assistant

I started Virtual Services by Trenise Watson because I enjoy helping people in their businesses. I have had a skincare line for 5 years that unfortunately, I had to close due to COVID-19. I remember when I first started it and how overwhelmed I felt having to complete a long laundry list of tasks weekly while selling products and marketing my business. Read more>>

Stephen Balda | Body Transformation Coach & Nutritionist

For a long period of time, I was pursuing a career that I had no passion for. I continued doing it because the money was really good, and even though the line of work was very challenging and not easy at times, it was fairly simple. I worked 8-hour days for the most part and I was good at what I did. Read more>>

Shawnte Hernton | Business Consultant

This business was created specifically with the hopes of making the entrepreneurial process easier. Ive spent many hours learning and studying on how to do elevate my business and along the way Ive learned that alot of thing that many business owners struggle with are things that are easily achievable without spending any money. Read more>>

Luis Velasco | Dog Trainer

My parents have owned their own business my whole life. With my dad being a professional pianist and my mom being a professional violinist, they made their living teaching music lessons and performing in private events. Read more>>

Soleil Chiquette | LET’S SWEAT owner

I didn’t want to start a business. I wanted to solve a problem. I moved home after years away. I was living in our up and coming downtown and having a blast! I was working, eating & playing downtown, but I couldn’t workout downtown. That was my problem. Read more>>

Tabitha Smith | Mom, Wife, Small Business Owner

It was never my intention to turn my hobby into a small business, but after creating items for myself and having others request similar or customized items and seeing how excited they were when they received the final product, I realized this was something I really enjoy doing and there’s a market for the items I make. Read more>>

Herb Stratford | Co-founder and Co-director of Film Fest Tucson, filmmaker and film critic

We started Film Fest Tucson because we didn’t see a film festival taking place in Southern Arizona that did what we wanted it to do. To create an annual event focused on storytellers and stories, to shine a light on unique Tucson locations and brands and to have a filmmaker-focused event that would be not only for locals but also for visitors. Read more>>

Brit West | Artist and designer, owner of Brit West

I was a terrible employee, just joking, well kind of. I left the hard physical work breaking colts and bucking hay, and helping run my in-laws operation, to pursue my life as a creative. It wasn’t easy, but I set goals, and told myself I would have my life back after a divorce that forced me into a new life. Read more>>

Dr. Errin Weisman | Family Medicine/Addiction Medicine Physician, Podcaster, Farmer’s Wife & Mother of Dragons

When I initially started my very first business, it was actually a rescue line to help myself recover from burnout as a physician. I called it “Truth Prescriptions” and I said that I was making graphics to encourage others but really it was the messages I need to absorb. Read more>>

Brianna West | Digital Nomad Coach & Travel Content Creator

Let me start off with saying I never expected to start my own business. It was never part of “The Plan”. It was a twisting and winding road that led me here. My true passion in life is travel and it’s all I ever wanted to do. I always thought that I would study abroad when I got to university. Read more>>

Anna Hayner | Mortgage Loan Originator

I was born and raised in Germany and had been searching for a career that embodied and drove my passions and allowed me the freedom to visit my family all the way across the pond. Read more>>

Aeryun Kinder | Owner and Head Dog Trainer

I started the business as a side venture a long time ago to help owners better understand their dogs and to have a better relationship with them. Once Covid came around it pushed me to really focus more on the business and do it full time. Read more>>

Nate Gillen | Business Owner

I’m originally from the Midwest. When I was 13, my Dad helped me start my own small lawn mowing company. I was able to do quite well and had some money saved and invested by the time I graduated high school, preparing to leave for college. Read more>>

Emma Johnson | Full time Momma & Photographer

One of my biggest regrets when I birthed my children was not having those moments captured. Photography has always been close to my heart as I believe that every photo can tell a story. Read more>>

Jason House | Drone photographer and videographer

The freedom! Being able to work your own hours, put in hard work and get credit for efforts. Most of all controlling your own destiny. Read more>>

Jane Hamilton | Owner / Director Jane Hamilton Fine Art

I was called to my vocation spiritually, through a prayer that I prayed over 40 years ago. I began selling fine art in Taos New Mexico. After relocating to Arizona in the mid 80’s I continued working for galleries and began selling as an independent agent in Tucson and southern Arizona. Read more>>

Charlie Hanks | Owner

I started my business as an Etsy store in 2015. I initially made soaps and candles. After the first few months I transitioned to making screen printed t-shirts and celebrity saint candles. By that December the candles and shirts started to gain more attention by getting shared in Buzzfeed, Bustle, People Magazine online and more. Read more>>

Athena McCorquodale | Digital Artist and Photo editer

I had been in an accident 5 months prior and it had left my family in financial ruins. I had fallen from 4 stories and fractured both my legs and back. With all the hospital bills and ambulance rides i felt guilty for my parents suffering. 2 days after being admitted to the hospital my mom was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. My family was in ruins.So i decided to start a business of my passion. Art. Read more>>

Abel Acedo | Owner and Operator of Double A Autoglass LLC

I was working as a sub-contractor for a company for 8 years, a company that did not appreciate its employees. A company that did not allow you to take any time off, and when the time was being taken off, they would punish you by not providing you with any work when you came back from your vacation.  Read more>>

Heather Olson | Jet Plasma Pen Specialist

I wanted something for myself and I wanted something more for my family. I have always worked really hard for larger companies with minimal work/life balance with no real opportunity to make additional income or feel like I was helping anyone. Read more>>

Barnette Holston | Fashion, Lifestyle and Travel Expert

I’ve always had a love for men’s fashion and felt that I could inspire others on what I knew. Initially, I had a blog which I continue to this day however it did not have much traction. So I begain writing for other publications,. Many of which have shut down and I lost year’s worth of content. Read more>>

Monique Bribiescas | Moballin Training & Co-CEO of B-ALL-CREATIONS

I have been in the basketball industry for my entire life, played since I was six years old. I played in high school at Desert Vista High School, which I was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020. Read more>>