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.

Shandee Chernow | President & Founder, CertiStar

Before CertiStar, I was selling software to huge companies and in that role I was taking people out for dinner, drinks, lunch, etc all the time. Being able to do that without having my food allergies centered in the conversation was incredibly challenging. It became apparent that there wasn’t a strong solution for food service to really do a great job with food allergic patrons. I was in a bit of a unique position to solve the issue with my data background, and thus began CertiStar. I had a problem that affected me personally and I had a solution. Those two things have led to a passion and solution that can really help a lot of people. Read more>>

Jessica Perraton | Chater Yacht Broker – Owner of The Charter Yacht Company

I left my 10-year career as a First Mate and Chef on luxury charter yachts in the Caribbean because I became pregnant with my son. I decided to return to my Canada, where I was raised, and where my parents were still living. I knew I wanted to start a new career where I could manage my time to be home to raise my son at the same time. I loved the Charter Yacht Industry I had worked in, so I decided to start my own Charter Yacht Brokerage company. Read more>>

Gayle Petrillo | Career Coach and Author

As a leader in the healthcare arena before retiring, I had seen the good, the bad and the UGLY, including in myself. Early in my career, I lacked self-confidence, was shy (that’s an understatement actually) and self-conscious. If it had not been for many mentors, I would not have gone to college nor landed in the rewarding positions I eventually held. With healthcare changing dramatically over the past several years, when my last corporate job ended due to budget constraints, I knew I wanted to help others the way I was helped. So, I made a list of my strengths and likes and knowing the importance of first impressions, it was the only name that made sense to me. I took what I have learned over my 30+ years of experience and am sharing it with my clients. From the importance of eliminating the negative self-talk to presentation skills, both on paper and in person (virtually or really in person). Read more>>

Christian Meza | Published Filmmaker & Producer

This is going to sound weird, but the formation of my company was actually entirely by accident. Many years ago in a dark, sleepless, mysterious world some would call “high school”, I found myself hunting down opportunities for creative community service options for my International Baccalaureate diploma program; some referred to it as “AP on steroids” which I would say wasn’t far from the truth. One such opportunity was by producing some fun, exciting, informational video services for the University of Arizona for an introductory astronomy lecture series. Two weeks of teaching myself scriptwriting, basic videography, collecting clean audio, working with controlled lighting, video editing, and even how to narrate like a voice actor, I had finally created my first video under the title “Christian Meza Astronomy”, which, at the time, I thought was an embarrassing disaster. After submitting the video and literally quoting Robert Oppenheimer’s “Now I have become death” quote whilst looking at the “sent” notification, I slipped it under the rug and completely forgot about it. Read more>>

Walter Carter | Chef

Am I ready? Will it be too much for me!? Will my customers love my products, my services!? Will I be able to keep up with demand!?. Read more>>

Sean Mullaney | Musician

After returning home from across the pond, creating a musical duo was the most sensible pathway to reestablish our musical roots back in our hometown. We have both worked together quite a bit in the past, but never on our own project. Alex was also really interested in learning to play the piano again and she wanted to challenge herself to improve by playing publicly. We both pooled all the songs we knew together into one big list, we realized we had a wonderful set between the two of us, and Soulstice Sound was born. This journey has not been short of challenges, but ultimately it has paved the way to amazing connections with old friends and new colleagues. Read more>>

Sarah DellaRocco | Makup artist & Hairdresser

I wanted to create something that was my own. I wanted to have a career that would allow me to express my creative nature while at the same time bringing joy to my clients. Nothing brings me more joy then knowing that what I do can transform someone’s confidence and self esteem. Read more>>

Edna Alejandra Bernal | Artist

I’ve wanted to be an entrepreneur since I can remember. As a young girl, I admired my grandmother who immigrated to the U.S. with her 6 children and started a business shortly after. Each of her children, including my mother, all became business men and women of their own. And every single one of them are unique artists. I’ve always believed that if they could do what one might believe to be unimaginable, through determination and persistence, I could do the same. Now, it’s taken me a while to figure out how I was going to do this. As an artist and creative, I’ve pursued so many different passions. It wasn’t until I wove my first plant hanger that I knew this would be the way I’d express myself artistically to the world. Read more>>

Wendy Cook | Interior Designer

I’ve always had the entrepreneur spirit, even when I was younger. Tell me I can’t do something and I’m the one that will work hard to prove you wrong, lol. I came to a point in my life I knew I wanted more. I was a single mom, working at the hospital day in and day out, doing the same thing over and over again. I could see my girls, who were in high school at the time, would be leaving soon and I thought to myself, “is this really what I want to do?” I took a week off from work to renovate my fireplace, while my girls went away with my parents. This week was going to be a time for me to really reflect on what I wanted to do, while also tackling a home project. I had bought the book The Magnolia Story, by Chip and Joanna Gains, which had been out for a while but I never took the time to read it. I love to read and learn lessons from others and this book did not disappoint. By the end of the week, I was completely in my element, taking something that looked old and outdated, and turning it into something beautiful and relaxing, my own little area that made me excited to come home each day. Read more>>