Partners in Life and Work: Meet Couple-Run Boulder Businesses


The best thing about running a business with her husband is also the worst thing for Jean Ditslear.

They always have something to talk about.

Jean and Dan Ditslear run 300 Suns Brewing in Longmont.

“We’ve given our kids a code word to say when we just can’t stop talking about work. It helps us refocus on other things,” says Jean Ditslear. “It’s hard to create a balance, and honestly, it isn’t really about balance as much as realizing the reality is that the line between work-family-home is really blurred. But that’s not a bad thing.”

She says they’re usually on the same page so they have an easy working relationship. It’s the whole stopping-working thing that’s not easy when you work with your significant other, she says.

Her husband agrees. “Leaving work at work” is the biggest challenge, Dan Ditslear says. But the trade-off: “We are both excited and passionate about the same things.”

300 Suns is one of the many Boulder County businesses run by couples. And this isn’t the first business the Ditslears have run together, either. Before opening a brewery, they ran a graphic design business, Red Wall Communications.

Like-minded couples seem to be drawn to running breweries together. Wild Woods Brewery is run by Erin and Jake Evans; Odd13 Brewing was founded by Kristin and Ryan Scott; Big Choice Brewing in Broomfield is the business of Andrea and Nathaniel Miller; and The Very Nice Brewing Co. in Nederland is run by Susan and Jeffrey Green.

Leslie and Steve Kaczeus run Bootstrap Brewing in Niwot. Courtesy photo

Leslie and Steve Kaczeus run Bootstrap Brewing in Niwot together. They echo the Ditslears that the biggest challenge is “trying not to talk about work 24 hours a day.”

But ultimately, “We’re best friends and great business partners, and we never worry about sacrificing couple time because we’re always at all of the same events,” Leslie Kaczeus says. “We recognize each other’s strengths and are able to do our separate tasks and collaborate well when needed.”

Back in Longmont, Rosalee’s Pizza on Main Street and Michael Pharris Accounting are couple-run, as is the Wise Team Keller Williams Real Estate.

Tahona Tequila Bistro in Boulder opened more than a decade ago by a husband-and-wife team who met in the restaurant business. BoulderBodyWorks (David Schwartz and Renee Beshures) and Cured (Will and Coral Frishkorn) are also family businesses.

Then there’s the Innisfree Poetry Bookstore and Cafe in Boulder, founded by husband Brian Buckley and his wife Kate Hunter.

Couples who dance together run businesses together, apparently; at least, that’s the story of Joy In Motion, a dance and movement studio run by husband-and-wife duo Marty and Jackie Diner.

The name of one of downtown Boulder’s hippest stores, Nod & Rose, actually stems from the names of the co-owners and life partners. C. Nod Norkus and Elizabeth G. Rose first paired their names together while doodling on an old pallet sheet. “Nod & Rose” later became the name of their wedding website. That original pallet sheet hangs in their Colorado house today.

The couple shared a similar taste in clothes, music and architecture, and eventually decided to open a fashion boutique together. They called it their couple name.

“Not that life doesn’t provide its share of challenges but we still have to pinch ourselves sometimes to make sure we aren’t living in a dream,” they write on their store website.

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