When did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? Can you point to the moment that planted that seed?
Brianna Enders, 24, can.
Fourth of July 2002, Seneca Creek State Park in Maryland. She is 10, with a freckled face and a toothy smile, and has followed a crowd of kids from the picnic tables to a family friend's truck. The friend is Jeff Yarrington. She has seen him skate and thinks he is a "badass." He pulls custom-made skateboards from the tailgate and sets one next to her feet.
Her toes hit the grip tape, and she kicks around on the board, and before long, she gets confident enough to balance at the top of a hill.
Without hesitation, she bolts downward. The trees blur. Her long, mousy hair trails in the wind. It's magic.
She spends the months that follow gushing about that ride, playing it over in her head. For Christmas, her mother gives her a custom-made board of her own. It's neon yellow with red-orange wheels. She names it Sunshine.
It isn't long before Yarrington gets photos of her doing tricks, looking like a "wild woman."
In middle school, she tells her friends she's going to one day run a longboard company.
In high school, she tosses around ideas for colors and logos with her mom, who makes her believe she really can do this one day. Brianna and Sunshine land a full ride to the University of South Florida, and she moves to St. Petersburg.
In college, she decides to study journalism. She later tacks on a minor in entrepreneurship. "Life is dynamic. You have to have a lot of different skills to make a business work."
Then, her mother dies of ovarian cancer after years of being sick
Her scholarship runs out.
Everything stops for a while.
But Brianna keeps going. Her classes call for business plans. Everyone else comes up with fictional companies. Brianna builds on conversations with her mom.
She names her company Breezy Boards because of the play on her nickname and because it has a "good vibe." She names her first line of boards Adjective Dragon, inspired by an accidental pun she and a co-worker come up with during an extra-long shift at one of many side jobs she works to keep herself in college.
She holds an art contest via social media aiming to give local artists a platform. A dozen submit designs for boards. She chooses five winners: Nom Nom Dragon, Fat Dragon, Mystical Dragon, Unborn Dragon and Basic Dragon. Each piece is blown up and printed on 20 Breezy Boards.
Her adjunct journalism professor, Debbie Wolfe, recognizes an uncanny drive and "magnetic personality that draws people to her. … She is able to leverage people's talents in ways that make them feel they are winning and excelling, and then she profits off that, so everyone is winning. That is great business sense."
Five days after graduating in May 2016, she launches her business out of her downtown apartment. She now works out of her powder-blue bungalow in south St. Petersburg, where she uses the sun room to store her inventory. "When I can look someone in the eyes and tell them that I love what I do," she says, "that's what makes it."
Contact Megan Reeves at [email protected] or (727) 445-4153. Follow @mareevs.