In the 19th century, “entrepreneur”—from the Old French entreprendre (“undertake”)—was used as a designator for “a manager or promoter of theatrical production.” That is, metaphorically speaking, a perfect descriptor for the following ladies, all of whom are driven by their creativity and independence and bask in the freedom of running their own businesses, which are expressions of their individual imaginations.
Esther Lee Leach @ Cherry Creek Fashion
Former producer, newspaper journalist and fashion editor, Esther is the originator of Cherry Creek Fashion, a digitally-forward fashion magazine whose raison d’être is to inspire its audience to “show up as their most authentic self.” The magazine was inspired by Cherry Creek’s well-dressed residents and seemingly endless array of boutiques and stores. Its written and video content spotlights different women who express their personal styles while growing their own businesses, such that by leading with the personal styles of its subjects, Cherry Creek Fashion also supports small, local businesses, many of which are women-run.
The magazine is confirmation that successful entrepreneurship is rooted in networking: “Denver has an amazing community spirit, and its entrepreneurs love to connect with others.”
Esther has her own network of ladies she refers to as #bossbabes, with whom she shares relationships of mutual support, such as Keren Nimmo of networking company Found(h)er, Annie Bloj of event website AnnieBloj.com and Leigh Gordon of The Scout Guide Denver, among others.
Since starting a television production company with her sister in St. Lucia years ago, Esther has always taken the entrepreneurial plunge, unafraid of failure, as she prefers to learn firsthand what works and what does not, because, “There is no one better than you to execute your idea, your brand and your business.”
Shae Whitney @ DRAM
It all started with a recipe for sage bitters Shae made on a whim, which was the impetus for her to begin creating other bitters concoctions made from wildcrafted, local plants. The bitters’ popularity among her bartender friends led to the genesis of DRAM Apothecary.
DRAM finds its history in an extensive line of bitters that were even featured at their own bar in Silver Plume’s former bread shop. Nowadays, DRAM adds to its bitters, syrups and switchels with a line of drops and sparkling waters that support the body in its resiliency towards stress by spotlighting adaptogenic herbs—which function to help your body handle stress—like ashwaghanda, eleuthero, skullcap, chaga mushroom, and cannabidiol (CBD) from organic Colorado hemp. Shae and her husband Brady produce DRAM’s products in Salida, where they also run an Airbnb on the Poor Farm where they live.
Moving to the 5 acres of sprawling land in Salida and expanding the national distribution side of DRAM is just one example of how Shae’s entrepreneurship is founded on independence and honoring her free will to “work any 80 hours of the week” she chooses; because for Shae, “entrepreneurship means freedom.”
Karina Christensen @ Denver Luxe Team
Karina’s entrepreneurship was shaped by her time working for one of our country’s most famous, self-made entrepreneurs, Oprah Winfrey. The single most important lesson Karina learned from Oprah is authenticity, “She wanted to make sure that her beliefs and intentions were not diluted or hijacked…She is the ultimate example of how women can stay in control of their own businesses and control their destinies, yet stay true to themselves.”
Karina is a global citizen who calls Denver home. Her Denver Luxe Team is a real estate concierge service, which, just like concierges at 5-star hotels, anticipates the needs of and works for their clients during every step of the home buying/selling process. Karina and her team of specialists developed a seamless process by which clients, either on the buying or selling end, are always kept abreast of the status of their transaction.
From working with her team to thinking abstractly about entrepreneurship, Karina emphasizes camaraderie and networking in business: “Asking for help is not a weakness but a strength. So, plug into your network and watch your business grow!”
Carol Ferguson @ Signet Jewelry Boutique
Carol is inspired by the emotional and historical aspects of jewelry and self-adornment. In her eyes jewelry is wearable art, telling a story about the individual wearing it. “I encourage women to purchase jewelry that has intrinsic value. It’s not necessarily the most expensive jewelry, but the piece made of enduring materials by a skilled artisan. That piece becomes something worth investing in emotionally.” She uses recycled metals and conflict-free stones to create jewelry she envisions as future heirlooms. “I want people to feel good about building a wearable art jewelry collection that reflects who they are and their changing aesthetic over time.”
Carol has always had an entrepreneurial and creative spirit dating back to her childhood. “I have a very creative mother who was a painter. Growing up, I remember always making things with my hands.” She returned to her first love following college and found her medium—metals. “My talent is in creating an actual jewelry piece and building a collection around it with a voice and feel of its own.” For instance, her Bombus line is inspired by bumble bees, an environmental icon, and symbol of strength. “They should not be able to fly based on physics and their body mass to wing ratio…but they do.”
Last year, Carol—along with her business and life partner, Kevin Mancini—combined their creative expressions to establish Signet Jewelry Boutique, offering customers unique handcrafted jewelry and lifestyle objects from artists all over the world.