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Founders’ early struggles fuel later success

Founders’ early struggles fuel later success

  • Here are three stories about founders in York County who faced hardships along their journeys to build what are now thriving businesses.

Starting a business is easy – said no one ever. The grit and tenacity that keeps founders going is often born out of adversity.

These three founders overcame hardships along their journeys to build what are now thriving businesses in York County.

Katie Elwell/The Founder Beat

Ethan Greer – Owner & Chef at Greer’s Burger Garage and Taqueria El Camino in Dover

When Ethan Greer was 10 years old, his mom broke both arms and legs in a car accident. With his father working seven days a week, it left Ethan to become the primary cook for his family.

In 9th grade, while making French fries for his family, the oil boiled over, and the kitchen caught on fire.

He remembers rushing his younger siblings out of the house. That night, curled up in his neighbor’s basement, he watched his house burn on the news.

Ethan was bullied at school for being “the kid who burned his house down.”

He felt disconnected from everything at school — except his home economics class.

Cooking became Ethan’s favorite escape, leading him to pursue culinary school and eventually open two restaurants in Dover.

“Even in the times that I talked about my struggles, my goal was still to start a restaurant,” he says. “I think that by really dialing in to what it is you want to do is super important, but you have to have a lot of faith to stay true to what it is you want to do.”

Paul Chaplin for The Founder Beat

Rebecca Wattenschaidt – Founder of Mommy In Heels and the More Than a Size Movement in York

Rebecca Wattenschaidt thought she had the perfect business idea: a custard shop in Dover.

With her vision in mind and a business degree in hand, she went to work installing equipment and dreaming up flavors.

The dream was a bust.

Not all that long after opening the doors to Meadows Original Frozen Custard of York, Rebecca was forced to shut them.

When the opportunity arose to open a clothing boutique, Rebecca was reluctant. She didn’t want to fail again.

“I was like, I don’t think I can mentally handle another failed business,” she remembers. “But my husband was like, ‘Who cares? If it happened, it happened. At least you did it.’ He really encouraged me to do it.”

Since then, Rebecca has grown a successful fashion influencer brand, Mommy In Heels, with over 100,000 followers on Instagram alone, and founded the More Than a Size movement that encourages women to look beyond the size of their bodies. 

Katie Elwell/The Founder Beat

Carrie Almony – Part-Owner of Titanium Athletics in Glen Rock

Carrie Almony took over the already established Titanium Athletics in May 2018, thinking she was set up with a great location. In July of that same year, after only being open for two months, her landlords told her she had to move.

Rather than get upset, Carrie jumped at the opportunity to expand her vision and eventually found a new building with room to expand.

She shut down for an entire year as she cycled through demo, clean, build, demo, clean, build at the new location.

In July 2019, Carrie opened the new location with expanded offerings for her clients, including a Ninja Warrior course and additional batting cages.

“The sole purpose for waking up every day and grinding as I do and continuing to push and putting in the early mornings and late nights is because, ultimately, I want to see the people around me happy. I want to see my children happy. I want them to have purpose. I want them to be successful,” she says. “If the grind that I do provides an opportunity for them that would not have been there, it makes the work worth it.

“And if having the facility and putting the work in provides something for the community that they wouldn’t otherwise have, even better.”