Company: The Puzzle Piece, Whispering Pines, North Carolina
Service: Army 1992-1996
Though I was only in the Army for four years, that experience transformed me, teaching me the tenacity and persistence you need as a small business owner. For me and probably a lot of women, the military made me more secure because of what you go through, particularly basic training. Everything creates this backbone.
A few years ago, I had a vivid dream that my house had been transformed into a consignment store. Now I've made that dream a reality. I opened my store, The Puzzle Piece, in that house in December 2011, and sell everything from high-heeled shoes to blenders. My family has since moved into a new home, but each room of the store displays items that fit the room's former use.
I'm nearly breaking even and was able to bring in an employee part-time this spring. So far this year we've had about $30,000 in sales -- before subtracting what we owe consigners. I would love it if my husband, who recently retired from 25 years in the Army, could eventually work with me full time.