Citizen Pilates becomes stop for fitness in Heights neighborhood

National Small Business Week celebrates the biggest sector of the nation's economy.

More than 99 percent of businesses fit the definition, with the potential for hundreds of employees and millions of dollars in receipts.

All of them started with someone determined to be their 'own boss', and it's a process that presents unique challenges.

In Houston's Heights neighborhood, Citizen Pilates has become a regular stop for thousands who thrive on the stretching workout.

Jess Hughes opened her first studio in 2015, and a second two years later, to meet overwhelming interest and demand.

It was a solution to wanting something more than her corporate oil and gas job.

"I wanted something that was mine," says Hughes, "I wanted to build a business that I could be part of and just grow from the ground up."

The learning curve was pretty steep.

From business plans, permits, contracts and construction, there were so many lessons to me mastered.

Hughes says through mentors who knew that way and lots of time.

"There is very little sleep; very little free-time. You have to invite your family to Pilates so you can see them," jokes Hughes.

One of her mentors has been Houston-based NextSeed.

 It's the nation's first "crowdfunding" business for small businesses.

When they identify a project that might succeed, they find local investors and work to promote the idea to the community.

"When it comes to participating in local business, we're saying, 'Take it a step further' and have a chance to invest, from the beginning, and participate in their growth," says NextSeed co-founder Abe Chu.

It's a strategy that works.

Jess Hughes is in the process of opening a third studio, this year, expanding to Spring Branch.