Tamara Bereznak moved to Oak Creek with her husband in 1977 and started working at a ski shop in Steamboat Springs.
There, she looked at a pair of cross country skiing gaiters, which strap over boots to keep the snow out, and thought to herself, "I can make these."
So she did. She put together a dozen pairs, they sold, and she started her own company -- Home Grown Gaiter Co.
"Self employment was a very viable option, and I just wanted to fill that niche," said Bereznak, whose husband also is self-employed.
Later, she started up the dance studio to fill a need in the community and find work that she loves.
For Bereznak, having her own business has meant doing something she enjoys, time at home with her three children -- two of whom are now in their twenties -- and living in a rural, small town with no commute each day.
Bereznak's story is similar to those of many other South Routt women. Dozens have found that the best way to make a living and contribute to the community is to start their own businesses.
That there are dozen of female business owners in South Routt is difficult for some to explain. Bereznak said simply that the women she knows just seem to have the "drive" to be independent or financially secure by filling a niche with their own businesses.
"They're finding what's necessary here, and they're surviving," she said.
Janine Pierce started her Brand Spankin' Used thrift store almost two years ago to give Oak Creek another option for buying nice but inexpensive items without having to trek to Steamboat all the time.
She started looking at her own group of friends, and other female acquaintances in the area and realized that many were entrepreneurs.
"I started to see that there were just so many of us that are doing our own businesses here, and growing businesses in South Routt is definitely one of the goals the community has," Pierce said.
"I was intrigued by how many people were here that were females and that wanted to own their own businesses," she said.
Big benefits to Pierce, she said, were not having to commute to Steamboat and being able to provide an important product to the community.
And having a business is a great way to learn and to work, she said.
"I think it's just a different sense of self when you own your own place and have your own interest in seeing it succeed," she said.
Massage therapist Shari Fink moved to South Routt in 1997. She worked at a 9-to-5 job during the day, then drove home and did massage at night. Eventually, she decided to follow her interests.
"I was like, this is crazy for me to be searching so desperately for that perfect office job, when what I love doing is massage," she said. "I just needed to take that leap of faith."
Living in a place that's affordable, while still making a living in that community can be difficult, she said. Self-employment offers a good option.
With more and more people getting priced out of Steamboat, more are looking to South Routt, not just for a home, but also for a place to get a business going.
Fink's husband also is starting up his own business, as a co-owner of the new South Routt Nursery.
Working on her own, Fink said, has been "freeing." It has given her more time to become a part of the community and meet others who are watching South Routt come to the edge of what she thinks is a "boom" in the potential it offers.
"They're such a great group of women who are just trying to make it," Fink said. "It's an area where women have felt like, 'If I'm going to make it in Routt County, I'm going to move somewhere where it's affordable, and I'm going to make it on my own."