TAMPA (FOX 13) - Women play an ever-increasing role in the world of entrepreneurship, and in Florida, they are taking the top spot in the country.
Since 1997, the number of female-owned businesses in the U.S. has risen 114-percent or 2.5 times the national average. And Florida is leading the way with the second highest growth rate.
Collette Eddy is part of that statistic. She founded Aerial Innovations, an aerial photography firm based in Tampa.
Her business has grown beyond her wildest dreams.
Her clients include Florida Power and Light, TIA, and Vinik SPP, the group currently developing Waterstreet. They all rely on Collette's eyes to be their window to the world.
"It's a gift and a privilege and it is a niche business. Not everyone gets into this. The privilege is getting to see the world through the eyes of God," Collette told us.
But it wasn't always like this. In the beginning, there were dark days.
"I got fired after I was working for an aerial photography company and I didn't know what I was going to do," Eddy said.
But with some prodding from a friend she decided to start her own business. And after selling her home and finding an investor, Aerial Innovations was born.
"I was scared to death. And one of the biggest challenges was, I had always tinkered with the camera but I had never shot a single aerial photo in my entire life," Collette explained.
And even darker days lay ahead. The terror attacks of 9/11 grounded her business for almost four months.
"We had to let go of about half the staff at that point," Collette told us.
Then the recession of 2008 dealt another devastating blow. But since then, Aerial Innovations has come a long way.
This year revenue is up seven figures and her company handles clients across the state.
But for Collette, there's more to business success than just dollars and cents.
"I just love life. And I just feel if you can motivate people to love what you're doing every day that is key. You've gotta love coming to work, you've gotta love walking in this door, you've got love what you do because if you don't then you need to go somewhere else." Collette told us.
From humble beginnings, Aerial Innovations is flying high with Collette firmly in control.