Marisa Lightfoot, founder of The Virginia Tea Company, launched her business just last year with funds from a successful crowdfunding campaign. Since then, a parade of both wholesale deals and repeat customers have fed rapid growth, causing her to hire employees far sooner than she expected, she told us in her 1,000+ Stories submission. “I had never hired anyone before, and I did not know what to expect.”

But Lightfoot isn’t one to shy away from a challenge. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she spent more than 7 years in the United States Army.

During that time, she met and married her husband, a civilian. At times they had to spend several months apart from one another, but as they contemplated starting a family, Lightfoot found herself wanting a slower-paced life. While many soldiers have made family life work between tours of duty — including some she knows personally — it wasn’t what she desired for herself.

“I wanted stability,” she says, and running a successful business has provided that and more. “I not only get to spend more time with my husband, but I can focus on other things, too.”