Starting a business is often a life-altering decision.  It can affect you in so many ways beyond just financially.  We asked some of the smartest entrepreneurs we know about their thought-process around starting their own businesses.

Michelle Castillo | Portrait Photographer

I had spent 15 years working in higher education, 12 of those working in financial aid. I had moved up the “ladder” and as I moved up, I moved further away from my love of helping students and moved into more political decision making. After the birth of my first son, my priorities changed and the thought of doing something that I was no longer passionate about (plus my 2 hour commute each day) made me realize I needed to find something else that was both flexible and more fulfilling. I won my first 35 mm camera in the sixth grade and always loved taking pictures of people. Read more>>

Marisa Rios | Brow & Makeup Artist

I had been in the beauty industry for seven years when I decided to start my own business. At the time, I was working at a popular salon doing brows, eyelash extensions and makeup. Although I loved my job I began to feel complacent. Work was consistent and predictable but I didn’t feel challenged. I knew there were different aspects of the beauty industry I had yet to explore as well. The prospect of venturing out on my own as an independent brow & makeup artist was intimidating but I knew that’s what I needed to do to find what was missing in my career. Read more>>

Pash Galbavy | Artists’ Model, Mask Maker, Performance Artist, & Dancer

People used to ask if I was a model, which I found curious since I didn’t think I looked good enough to be one. When I was first asked to model for a life drawing class, I was too scared to do it, because I thought I didn’t have the physical attributes. Eventually, I decided to try modeling for a photographer whose portfolio I liked, and I discovered that I enjoyed the work and that it was very empowering. I started modeling for artists when I was in my late thirties and I’m now in my fifties. Read more>>

Lawrence Fung | Interdisciplinary Artist (Dancer, Choreographer, Filmmaker, & Photographer)

I am currently in the process of building the infrastructure of my dance and visual company to be a fully-funded professional company in the next five years. Although I am still navigating the waters regarding this ambitious plan, my goal is to create a career path of my own and provide long-term financial security for myself and my future collaborator in my company. Growing up internationally and being a vivid globetrotter, I always have a curiosity towards different environments and cultures. Read more>>

Katalin Ehling | MY 55 YEARS OF LIVING ART

Actually, I never thought it was a business. I was schooled for two years in commercial art at the American Academy of art in Chicago. Then for one year, I lived at home and worked nearby at a research center on the campus of the University of Chicago. This to fund my one year trip to live and continue art school in Paris. All came about as planned. After that fabulous year, I returned to Chicago. Because I was broke, I found a well paying full time job on Michigan Avenue. During that time, I met my husband to be. We married in 1966, then moved to Arizona one year later. Read more>>

Karen May | Event Planner who’s hair is always on fire

When I started Scottsdale Private Event Venues it was by sheer terror it was not planned. I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur but I just never did it I thought being an entrepreneur wasn’t for everyone and I thought I was everyone. I as well-loved the corporate atmosphere and the camaraderie and the steady paychecks and bonuses. I also liked to stay in my comfort zone I was great at my job I loved so why start something new. My employer at the time was using my employee info and using my credit and my identity to borrow and steal from everyone in the Arizona event industry. Read more>>