The thing that intrigued me about flying trapeze was that participants were going up with a lot of fear and trepidation and coming down feeling triumphant about what they accomplished. What I realized was that trapeze was a great facilitator for people rediscovering what they were capable of. I sold my house and a business when I fell in love with flying trapeze. I bought a rig and after a couple years when I felt we had it together, we started having some classes. I switched my entire (life) around.
-Jonathon Conant, president and co-founder of NY Trapeze School
I started my business [6 years ago] because people asked me to teach. I loved collaborating with other performers as performers, so I invited them to teach as well. Fortunately they were willing, and that eventually grew into them teaching their own classes.
I was studying dance in college, and I was working in the custom shop at Berkeley. I started making these flowy costumes for dancers, and [then] I started making clothes for myself and my friends. … I wore a dress I had made into a store in Chinatown in LA. I had just been home for the holidays and had a bunch of other clothes I designed in my car. [The owner] loved the dress I was wearing. I went to the car and pulled out a bunch of [pieces]. I started to send her pieces regularly and she would sell them and she encouraged me to give it a try [when I graduated]. It snowballed from there.
-Rachel Pally- owner and designer of Rachel Pally
I moved to LA in 1992 as a ballet dancer. I was doing jewelry as a hobby, and I got contacted to choreograph a play. They asked me to make them some leather things [to be] incorporated into the play. I had some extra leather [left over] so I made a watch band … and it was horrible …[but] I thought I might be on to something. It took two years to convince everyone else …
-Torry Pendergrass, creator and owner of Red Monkey
I got the idea for the business when I moved down to the West Village [New York] many years ago. I moved around the corner from [the famous] Magnolia bakery, and I would observe it and see what I could do differently. Frankly, [I had just been] screwed out of a promotion, and I decided I was going to get my “sweet revenge” on the place and decided I was going to open a cupcake bakery in 2005. I decided I would do whatever it took to set myself apart from my unhappy experience in the corporate world ... so it was my passport to happiness.
-Marlo Scott, owner of Sweet Revenge
Innovative entrepreneurs across the country have found ways to turn something they love into businesses that are standing the test of this economy. Here are five small business owners on what makes them tick. And what made them take the risk -- and jump headfirst into doing what they love for a living.