E is for Entrepreneur: Vail Christian Academy gives students a taste of free enterprise

EDWARDS — Being an entrepreneur is not complicated, it’s just work. They’re not the same thing.

Vail Christian Academy recently hosted Entrepreneur Day, giving kids a taste of free enterprise. Students grilled a panel of successful local entrepreneurs and tried their own business ideas.

“You become a successful entrepreneur by finding a need. You make money by filling it,” Josh Thompson said.

Thompson launched Thompson Welding and Trinity Recycling — those big red trucks you see all over the place. Thompson grew up on a ranch and was always making stuff, welding things together. One day he made something that someone considered art and they bought it. Thus, an entrepreneur was born.

Opportunity is everywhere

Entrepreneurs are everywhere. Some are driven by passion, others by necessity.

For last year’s Entrepreneur Day, student Reeve Sheldon Mairose launched Reeve’s Spa Experience. She loaded up a laundry rack with fancy fabrics, hired two classmates and earned $83 selling spa services for $1 each.

Katy Allen launched her own interior design firm.

Nick Carelton’s day job is the worship leader at The Vail Church in Eagle-Vail. He said he launched his music career “riding around in a bus with four guys wishing I was home with my fiance.”

The singer and songwriter has recorded eight albums and wrote “Heaven” for the soundtrack of the movie “Heaven Is Real.”

“I do it because I love it,” Carleton said.

Eric Alexander did not set out to be an entrepreneur. He’s a professional adventurer and mountaineer who combined his love of the outdoors with motivational speaking.

“I didn’t intend to be a speaker,” Alexander says, but he is in high demand.

Kimber Collom launched Rise Above Bakery when her daughter was diagnosed with Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease in which people can’t eat gluten because it will damage their small intestine. Collom’s Rise Above Bakery specializes in gluten-free baked goods. You can find her wares in coffee shops and stores around the valley.

Kate Sheldon started as a kid selling rocks, agate she found by a river, and became a successful actress.

Photographer and wellness coach Sherri Innis decided college was not for her and instead spent her time and money traveling the world, learning her craft from successful people. She figures she spends about 10 percent of her time taking pictures and the rest running her business.

Thompson is sort of a serial entrepreneur. He and his wife launched Trinity Recycling when they saw things land in landfills that should not be there. Trinity Recycling handles more than 80,000 pounds of metal every day, keeping it out of landfills and employing 22 people in the process.

You’d better love it, because if you’re a successful entrepreneur, you’ll be doing a lot of it, Thompson said.

Stuff happens

Stuff happens along the way to success. Thompson was hauling a load of aluminum cans to Denver when the tarp on his truck came loose. He lost about half his load. He needed that money to make that day’s payroll.

There was the time one of the movers working with Allen was run over by a trailer. He was fine.

Education is good and Allen said she’s thankful for her college degree. But just as important is experience and drive.

“Education is more than just formal book knowledge,” Alexander said. “That’s important, but people skills are just as important.”

“If we meet an opportunity with preparation, we’ll be successful,” Thompson said. “When you work for yourself, you work harder.”

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