Before Melissa Mendez opened up her own design studio, she had a stressful job in the fashion world — stressful enough to cause an anxiety attack so severe she mistook it for a heart attack.

“I realized that no job was worth my health,” she told us in her 1,000 Stories entry. “Life is short, and I should do something I love and feel a sense of purpose with.” That revelation and a lifelong desire to own her own firm, led Mendez to start her studio — and she has never looked back.

Being in business for herself has given Mendez the opportunity to nurture emerging apparel companies, while also “taking care of my son and watching him grow in the most critical years of life.”

Indeed, realizing her professional aspirations as an independent business owner, while also having time with her family has been fulfilling. “There is something special about creating your destiny and impacting others along the way,” she says.