A chance meeting at the YMCA... and the rest is history. Back in 2003, I was working as the capitol correspondent in Montgomery, Ala., and Chris was the senior architectural designer at a local firm. We met at the YMCA after work one night. On our first date, he told me he had always dreamed of starting his own firm and I responded with, "Well, why don't you?" Thus began our relationship and business partnership.

Fast forward 17 years and here we are: two kids, five architects and one of the largest firms on the Emerald Coast later.

After all this time, I enjoy looking back on it all. When I look at the pictures of some of our earliest projects and remember how crazy it seemed to start our own company, I often pinch myself. To be honest, there have been some hard times and days when I think we both wondered if this would really work. But when you get to a certain age, you realize that the best things in life are often the hardest.

I always stand by what I told Chris in the very beginning: that I would rather go for it even if we failed, than spend the rest of our life wondering, what if.

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