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.

Dawn Patton | Accountant & Business Coach

Honestly, I started my own business as a hobby. It was meant to be something small, an outlet to keep my mind active and my resume strong while I took a break from the corporate world to raise kids. A few months later, my hobby was growing faster than I could keep up with it and so I hired an employee to help me keep up with the workload… and then another employee… and another one. Next thing you know I had 10 employees and a full fledged business! Read more>>

Wendy Hickey | Founder

I was in the outdoor advertising (billboard) industry as a sales/marketing manager also in National Sales.. The creative that we worked with our clients on was always my true north. If I wasn’t training our sales staff or working directly with clients campaign/brand, you could find me in the creative department, always loved working directly with our designers. I always had a love for art and the creators, I would hear over and over again,”I don’t know how to make my art”, etc. Read more>>

Ashley Munro, MPH, RDN, CDCES | Weight Inclusive Dietitian & Counselor

As a dietitian, I loved working in the clinical setting. I really wanted to work with people on intuitive eating and from a weight inclusive lens, and that, at the time, meant going out on my own and creating a space where I could do the work I was really passionate about. Since then, I have learned how to blend that lens and passion into everything I do, but at the time, I saw a need, a gap, and I decided I needed to do it for myself! Read more>>

Monica Welsh | Owner / Vaux Studio

The thought process for Vaux started about 10 years ago when I was planning my own wedding. I wanted something intimate, but having such large families, intimate seemed impossible. I searched for a solution, but we ultimately ended up having a very large reception following our 2012 nuptials. As time went on, I frequently brainstormed the idea of an intimate space for weddings. It was apparent that not every couple wants a large wedding, but the courthouse is not always a viable option either. The consideration of what a microwedding venue would offer; the convenience, the cost, the simplicity, it was exactly what I wanted, and felt that others would want it too. A small place that was beautifully curated, thoughtful, and was designed specifically to accomodate micro weddings. Read more>>

Crystal A. Thurber | Personal Color Analysis and Style Analysis Consultant

I started my first business of my own when I was in High School- I was a clothing designer and would sew and design prom dresses for my friends. After graduating college with a BA in Fashion Design I found myself in a job I did not like. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and realized it was time to start another business. I realized I wanted the freedom that the Entrepreneurial life can give with hard work. I wanted to be able to build my own dream not someone else’s. I wanted the choice to be able to work when I wanted not when someone told me I had to and the freedom to earn unlimited income vs dictated by a job. There have been several businesses in between that one and the one I have now. Read more>>

Bonnie Rigsby | Director of Sunshine and Compassionate Care Champion

I’ve always felt the drive to be an entrepreneur, and make my own path. Work/life balance, creativity and thinking out of the box were always important to me. So logistically, it made sense to “go my own way” instead of following the norm. The most important thought process behind starting my business was much more than that! I started my business to help “break the chains” of unnecessary human suffering due to chronic stress. My own personal experience and that of those dearest to me has taught me the importance of managing our stress to help avoid the toxic state of disease. Read more>>

Herschel Forge | Owner, Creator, Writer, Artist

When I was a kid every Saturday I would sit in the floor at my local comic shop with a pile a comic books scattered around me immersing my self into the worlds that Marvel and DC had created. There was always very little representation for African Americans in these books. So my main objective was to create a space where all under represented people would have a space to tell there story’s. Read more>>

Stephanie Brewer | Owner of Experient Auto Shipping

I knew from a fairly young age that I wanted to own my own company but I didn’t know what I would be doing/selling and I had no idea where to begin. During the economic downturn, between 2007-2009, I was working for a major tech company who went through massive layoffs. I was suddenly thrust into a market where jobs were scarce and I started working for an auto transportation broker. Little did I know that this would be a masterclass in owning an operating a small business. Read more>>

Jackie Boss | Charcuterie Artist

Our thought process behind our business was simply just a side business to make extra income. Never ever did we imagine our side hustle would turn into a full time job. Truthfully I wasn’t ready to start a business. We have 3 young boys who are very active but my husband believed in the idea more then I did so he pushed me out of my comfort zone and I cant tell you how glad I am he did. Read more>>

Angela Dirksen | Actress/Producer/Director

I started JazzyAngel Productions and JazzyAngel Casting because it was the next logical and natural step in my growth as an artist. As an artist, you cannot wait for “the perfect project” to fall at your feet. You have to make your perfect project yourself! And along the way you hope you will bring together other creative talent to join in that creation. I have been very fortunate with the talented artists that have joined me in bringing to life the crazy ideas I have! Read more>>

Cristina Reyes | Owner of UNAPPRLD

Well, I went to school for Fashion Merchandising and had worked in retail for about 5 years. I had left retail for a couple of years because I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. After not working in retail for about a year or so, I realized that I actually had a passion for it. I just wanted to be the one in control of creating everything. As I began the process to start my own business I knew that I had a clear vision of creating a brand with clothing and accessories that would be versatile. Read more>>

Michael Zerah | Co-Founder & Chief Catalyst

My thought process behind starting MULLIE really came from a place of necessity. I’ve started a few companies before in my life, they typically have always come about because I’ve seen a problem that needed to be solved or a void in the market where something could exist. On that note, I was going through a tough chapter in my life, following the closure of one of my previous businesses, and was in a very deep financial hole. It was so bad that I was selling golf clubs to put food on the table and pay bills. Read more>>

Laylah Carper | Licensed Aesthetician

I wanted to create a brand and an environment where everyone felt welcomed and excited to experience a relaxing and results driven treatment. I wanted to fill the gap between a spa-like experience and a medical grade treatment, but also provide a happy medium where our clients can work one on one with a professional aesthetician to help meet their skincare goals. Read more>>

Dawny Guthrie | Shopping and Retail Entrepreneur

When starting lil g trendy I was inspired by doing crafts and sharing my talents with others Read more>>

Savannah Hodges | Owner & Operator

I was pregnant with my second baby and COVID restrictions were starting to become more relaxed. At the time I was living in Boston with my son and Fiancé. I shared with him I wanted to Strat working or doing something that allowed me to have creativity and would be fun. It was around February and I knew the weather would be starting to turn come MAY. I started thinking “we have all been cooped up inside for so long a nice outdoor picnic would be something” Then it sort of hit me “luxury picnics”. My good friend Lauren Mayer was also into events and hosting so I managed to convince her we should do this together. Read more>>

Tai Hernanez | CEO & Owner of The Serene Essentials LLC

The thought process behind my business was: How can I help men & women heal & find self love. I wanted to create a safe place where everyone could shop for their essentials, whether that be a luxury skincare at an affordable price, magic healing candles with crystals & herbs or simply a cute pair of sunglasses with a cozy hoodie to match! Self love isn’t defined by just one definition hence why we offer a wide variety of essentials. Read more>>

Erin Kowalski | Animal Rehab Therapist + Caregiver

Wild Hearts Pet Care was inspired by my own experience seeking care for my paralyzed pup. I called around to dozens of pet care businesses and veterinary clinics and not a single place would board my dog. I knew I was not the only pet parent with a pet needing more specialized care as I was working as an animal rehabilitation therapist. While working at the rehab clinic I began caring for my patients when their owners went out of town. It grew organically from there! Read more>>

Caitlin Oponski-Luca | Entrepreneur and Horse Rescue Owner

I’ve always been a passion-driven person so finding a way to both build a small business (horseback trail rides) while also using capital raised to rescue horses was a win-win for me. Unlike most rescues/horse 501c3s, we never had to beg for money. Our horses worked just enough to pay their feed, vet and farrier bills with our seasonal business. Read more>>

Angellica Harris-Thompson | Licensed Stylist, & Instructor

Ever since I graduated from high school I just felt like a 9-to-5 was not for me. I’ve always loved doing hair, but didn’t have the courage to tell my family that the dream was not college, but to own my own salon. I acted on faith in 2012 after quitting because the new job that I hate it. And it’s been a success ever since. Read more>>

Christen Nguyen Roxanna Orsini | home bakers

We decided to go into business so more people would be able to enjoy our baked goods. We would constantly have friends and family members interested in our macarons. Baking macarons has been a fun pastime for us and now we are able to share something we enjoy doing with others. Having personalized orders has allowed us to learn so much more about the art behind macarons and it continues to push our limits more than we would have done just casually baking. Read more>>

DeAngelo Murillo | Writer, Game Designer, Event Organizer, and more!

Honestly, it is wild that I ever started anything at all because years ago I had such incredible amounts of anxiety. However, despite the overwhelming dread, I felt even worse when I would attend local comic conventions or walk into local game stores and see such a lack of representation.After a while, this frustration caused me to start a blog where instead of complaining about what I disliked, I instead used the space to celebrate incredible creatives. I reached out for interviews and did my very best to spread the word about how lented these people were and the good vibes caught on like wildfire! Read more>>

Mike Gaines | The Positive Gaines

The thought process behind starting this podcast was the pandemic. I, like most people was at home quarantined, and bored. I’ve always been a fan of talk shows, media, and thought if I ever got the chance to do something similar, I would try it. Using that platform led me to writing a children’s book. Read more>>

Todd Bennett | Entrepreneur, Founder of Triple Threat Football

When I created Triple Threat Football, I went back to what I was passionate about. I have always loved playing and watching sports. Football in particular was one of my favorites. However, my genetic makeup hindered any dreams of going pro, or past high school bench warmer for that matter. So I wanted to find something that would still keep me in touch with the action Read more>>

Michael Furman | Photographer

I prefer to control everything involved in a photograph and the only way to do that is if I own the business, can make all decisions and not have to answer to someone who has a different agenda. Read more>>

Phil Clark | Luthier/guitar technician

Necessity. I was an employee at a retail store. That store was doing something that is, unfortunatly, very common. They consistently down-sized staff while asking the remaining crew to pick up the slack. Demands increased without an increase in pay. When they started to cut pay, it was time. Read more>>

Sabrina Chapman | Miss Arizona for America Strong

The process of developing and implementing my platform #YouAreMore was an evolution over many years of overcoming some significant obstacles in my life. The growth that I underwent because of my need to think creatively and decisively to work through and get past those difficulties has shaped who I am as a person and my overall outlook on life. Once I was on the other side of those situations looking back and reflecting on them, Read more>>

Jefferson Green | CEO & Entrepreneur

The thought process developed for starting Blud Lubricants when my industrial lubricant customers that also were involved in racing requested a better product for their racing vehicles. My team and I started by creating formulas for the drag racing and dirt track sprint car competitions. People loved what we created. At the time I gave the products to those racers in return for letting me show off the results to prospects in my industrial business. Then 7 or 8 years ago several of my customers were insistent that our products blew away the competition in the racing world. It took a few. years of planning but I finally went live with Blud Lubricants in late 2017. It has been a phenomenal ride. Read more>>

Tomer Darvish | Regional Manager Final Expense Insurance

I started my own business with the goal to be financially stable and to be my own boss. Read more>>

Jennifer Reynolds | Founder, Sauce Goddess

Well starting Sauce Goddess began organically from a family recipe my Dad created when I was a little girl. He hated the liquid smoke in store-bought BBQ sauce, so he created his own. Then as my folks were leaving for retirement, I had to get the recipe. That was a fun day of him using measuring cups for the first time. I began making ribs and chicken for my friends. They fell in love with the sauce. Then one fateful day on the beach, they threw down a challenge- “don’t get old and wonder what if you’d ever done something with that sauce recipe”. Read more>>

Dionna Yang | Custom Wig & Extension Stylist

I decided to start my own business within the beauty industry because I was born an artist and this industry gives me the opportunity to not only display my artistic abilities and creativity but to also deliver something to the public that’s original custom and rare. Read more>>

Ali Legziyan | Travel agent & tour operator

First, I’ve been working and studying in this field for years. Tourist and hospitality area part of my element. Second, as an emigrant I prefer to be an entrepreneur and pay paycheck instead of being employee. And at least I consider myself a dreamer. I moved to US. to make them true. Read more>>

SP van der Merwe | MD & Animator

Me and my wife have always been artists. Pursuing a creative career in a third world country isn’t always an easy option and for a while I got stuck in engineering as that was the ‘smart’ thing to do, but I reached a point where I didn’t want to spend a moment longer in a career that wasn’t motivating or inspiring me. So I quit and started doing all things creative full-time. We created our company, Nifty Studio, and haven’t looked back since. Read more>>

Nancy Wilder | Clothing and textile wearable art

My mother would have to drag me to school, kicking and screaming, starting in kindergarten. This went on for years, although the dynamics changed – eventually I was too big to throw over her shoulders, so she bribed me with things like art supplies and classes, a sewing machine and many trips to the fabric store. That got me sewing my own clothes and dyeing and painting them as well, and happily going to school in some very colorful outfits! Read more>>

Nate Serra | Pretend artist and cutter of holes in wood.

I wanted to put forth effort, and use my time for me and me alone. I no longer saw a benefit in trading my time and mental bandwidth to the corporate beast. Giving my energy in exchange for health care benefits, a decided number of “vacation days”, and the permission to feel accomplishment in achieving some one else’s goals. I wanted to know what it felt like to wake up super natural and start my day motivated without an alarm clock making demands on me. Read more>>

Gina Powers | Exclusive Recording Artist with Hughmont International, LLC, Nashville, Tennessee

It was less a thought and more a deep desire to sing, write and connect. Although I’d had a career in the human service field and had worked in a number of other industries, ultimately I struggled to find a place in the traditional work setting that left me feeling fulfilled. My biggest dream was music and I finally just did it. I just started singing at open mics and writing and performing and tried to do the next right thing. Read more>>

Mariah Sargeant | Boudoir Photographer

I think I started off like any other person who starts a business, make a change in the world. I have 2 beautiful daughters who are gonna grow up in a world that is constantly telling them that they need to be skinner, prettier, more built to what society thinks the ideal woman is. What I wanted to do is show them that every body out there, no matter the persons weight, age, size or shape, that everybody is amazing and sexy exactly the way it is! Read more>>

Kevin May | Entrepreneur and President of

I had been working a corporate job all of my career and really wanted to work for myself. I love to travel so thought owning a website would be a perfect fit since I could work from anywhere in the world. I wanted to stay in the real estate field since I had spent the prior 15 years in commercial real estate. Read more>>