After two years of business education at Montana Tech, Bekah Esquibel decided to follow her dreams, and opened Beautiful Life clothing in downtown Anaconda.
"I knew what I wanted to do," Esquibel said. "Instead of investing money in going back to school, I invested money in the business."
That was five years ago.
Today, her success has prompted the opening of her second venture, Shift Change, a men's wear store due to open at the end of October.
Both shops are located on East Park Avenue, one block apart.
And although she still thinks of finishing her college degree, she's convinced that she's made the right choice.
"Higher education is really important, but passion and drive can't be taught," she said.
Experience, she believes, "is more important than education in certain fields."
Born in Texas, Esquibel moved to Butte with her parents as a child. She grew up between the two locations and also lived in Divide, and attended school in a one-room schoolhouse.
Her husband of three years, Matt Esquibel, is supportive of the ventures, and helps his wife build the businesses. The couple lives in Butte with their three-year old son, Jeter.
Esquibel also relies heavily on her mother, Nancy, who commutes each day from Divide to help run the shop. There, she delves into budgeting, office work and other behind the scene tasks.
"She's my rock, my mentor in my whole life, and she's who I want to be the most like," Esquibel said. "The business wouldn't run without her."
It was her mother who nudged her into starting the clothing business, she said.
"She was the one who actually gave me the final push, "What are you waiting for?" she said, and a month later, we were walking into a 15-story building at the Dallas Market Center, full of vendors. Thank God she was with me."
Her biggest challenge is finding the best clothing lines to accommodate consistent sizing, quality and styles.
Her shop specializes in fitting all body types, she said.
"I think that's what sets us apart. We can dress you from head to toe, no matter your age, style, shape or budget."
Esquibel's advice to other entrepreneurs just starting out is to keep trying until you find solutions that work for you.
She also believes in following one's intuition to find a business niche.
"If you know you really want to do it, just dive in and roll with the punches.
If it doesn't work at first, you have to figure out another way to do it."
For Esquibel, that meant changing her own game plan along the way. Initially, Beautiful Life Clothing launched as a website, which was not sustainable, she said. That grew to trunk shows, and eventually she opened a small shop in a loft above another downtown business.
"And that smaller space grew into a bigger space," she said. And it's still growing and changing.
"Every day is a new trial and error," she said, "and you have to have more than one plan on your road to success."