LOOKING FOR GOLD: Nick Stelfox, Owner of Carefree Outdoor Living

Michelle Micalizzi, Artist
(All Right Reserved)


My muse this week is Nick Stelfox. Nick co-owns Carefree Outdoor Living with Jim and Valerie Sheehan. Carefree Outdoor Living is your go-to resource for innovative outdoor room components, designs, and patio furniture.


Nick and I met on March 11, 2015 at a Carefree Cave Creek Chamber (CCC Chamber) mixer. I remember that meeting very well because my friend, Jim Pfingst the owner of Scottsdale Technology Solutions, and I attended the Chamber Mixer together.

Jim was a client and dear friend. Our visit to the Chamber was part of a project he and I did together that included me accompanying him on a networking event road tour to help motivate him to grow his business to the next level. It was my goal to get Jim re-energized about productively networking. Jim and I invited Nick to come to our BNI Chapter, the Business Leaders of North Scottsdale (BLoNS), which Nick subsequently joined. The reason that meeting stands out to me so much is because, sadly Jim passed away in February of 2016. During our time together, he confirmed for me that my business model of helping business owners to execute projects was a sound one and he reinforced what I already new about networking.

Networking is the best way to grow your company because the benefits are not only increased business but also great friendships. As Jim’s Business Executor, my encouraging him to get out of his usual neighborhood and meet new perspective clients lead me to meet another great business owner who will soon be my neighbor as I open a new business down the street from Nick. No one could have known that would be our fate in 2015. However, two years later my choice to open Fearless Art Works as an extension of Fearlessly Deliver in Carefree feels even more natural because Nick is a trusted friend who has already confirmed for me that Carefree is a great place to do business.

I was thrilled to hear that Nick had been elected to be the Chairman of the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce while he was a member of BLoNS. The Chamber is so lucky to have Nick in a leadership position because he is a driven young leader with a strong sense of community and one heck of a sense of humor.

Nick is an expert relationship builder. When he and I met so that we could get to know one another’s business better, Nick did not just talk to me about how cool his BBQ’s were; he demonstrated how fantastic they are by grilling a tri-tip steak. He is a master griller for sure! It is hard to forget a steak that good. Networking through one’s taste buds is smart!

Nick and his girlfriend attended my Art of Fearlessly Doing Business II opening at the Walter Gallery in 2015 and were tremendously supportive. I knew then that, eventually, the time would be right and I would ask Nick to participate in the project. I am grateful that this year is the year!

The three biggest things that impress me the most about Nick are:

  1. His ability to connect and be of service.
  2. His ability to tolerate risk.
  3. His sense of humor.


Nick took a few minutes out to answer the five Art of Fearlessly Doing Business Questions.


1. Your Life Can Change in a Day

Nick was an outside sales person for Pella Windows in 2011. The tides were changing for his company and his future felt uncertain. As fate would have it, Nick had made such an impression on one of his customers that they invited him to open up a business they had just started to work on. The Sheehan’s were smart to notice a self-starting go-getter like Nick. That is the power of networking; one day you are very uncertain about what will happen next, and then the next day you are a co-owner in a new business.

We both share the experience of having no idea that an amazing thing was about to happen the morning that it happens. That is what is so surprising about life; we never know when a good idea or a great opportunity will drop out of the sky and change our life forever. We think we have to make it all happen but the reality can be that sometimes a chance meeting leads to a chain of events that changes our life. Our lives can become something different in a moment.

2. Test Gold Mining

Nick literally jumped from a stable paycheck to a business ownership over night. He knew that in order to make this chance opportunity work for him, he had to make his move quickly and effectively. He and the Sheehan’s found a 900 square foot space and got to work. He said that it felt like it must have felt during the gold rush years where miners were testing for gold. Within eight months, his pan was full and it was time to find a larger space and run with it. The new team was smart to spend the bulk of their cash on product while they tested the waters and were quick to recognize when it was time to make their move to a larger space. I am lucky that space is just down the road!

3Make it Work

Nick and Joshua Farley, owner of Redline Electric and Solar, shared the same first bump in the road. They got more work than the space they safely rented could hold. They grew so fast that they had to scramble for more space within the first months of being open. This is a great problem to have but it is still a predicament that needs to be resolved. Nick was blessed to be partners with seasoned business owners who effortlessly moved forward, putting Nick’s anxiety at ease. They moved to their current showroom and have increased in size several times since then.

4. Diversify

It is smart that Nick and his partners diversify their holdings. They know that when one product is not doing as well, another product will carry it. Several streams of income relieves pressure on any one area and makes you sleep better at night.

5. Embrace Mistakes

I love how candid Nick is about admitting how he ran from some mistakes and then over analyzed others. He has learned from experience that it is best to “lean in” to a misalignment or bad break rather than trying to avoid it, make excuses or attempt to explain it away. He has learned that taking action quickly to embrace the mistake of the moment is the best way to defuse whatever the situation is. Also, he recognizes that sometimes stuff just happens due to no fault of any party and embracing the problem actually endears him to his customers.   A retailer, who assumes responsibility immediately and takes action quickly to correct customer service issues, creates relationships for life.

Thank you so much Nick for taking the time out to be one of the Fearless 13! I look forward to seeing you again at the Art of Fearlessly Doing Business Art III opening on May 5th at Fearless Art Works at Spanish Village in Carefree from 6-9PM.

Note from the Artist

Did you know that Arizona is actually one of the top five states to pan and mine for Gold in the US? Who knew? The idea of mining (or panning) for gold as an entrepreneur really stood out for me from Nick’s interview. It is an awesome analogy for what entrepreneurs do. Looking for gold is not for wimps and it takes time, patience and tenacity to strike it rich. One also has to ignore the sometimes nasty naysayers and even ones own head at times. Also, as much as there are communities built around those of us looking for gold, at the end of the day we really do sit alone with out thoughts and our motivation! One of the outstanding traits of leaders is being able to stand (or sit in this case) alone even when we are in a crowd. I appreciate Nick’s lead very much as I open Fearless Art Works down the street at Spanish Village in the Town of Carefree!


Fearless Art Works at Spanish Village
7211 E Ho Rd, #17
Carefree, AZ

Friday, May 5th
6-9 PM

Optional RSVP:  Facebook Event or EventBrite Event.

CHARITY: The Contemporary Forum, a support organization for the Phoenix Art Museum

FUTURE EVENTS:  Fearless Art 2017 Schedule




Barbecue! Bible Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades, Bastes, Butters, and Glazes by Steven Raichlen

Feel free to email me and suggest a book that you have found particularly helpful!

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Michelle Micalizzi is a creative entrepreneur and the owner of Fearlessly Deliver. She balances her businesses mind and creative skills in all that she does as a Gallery Owner, a Painter, a Visual Journalist, a Curator, an Art Rep. and a Business Executor.  Her strong belief in community and collective engagement lead her to found the Art of Fearlessly Doing Business, the Art of Fearlessly Giving Back and Fearless Pop up Projects. Michelle’s latest exciting endeavor the Fearless Art Works is an art gallery and a space for good works of all kind that connects Art + Community + Business! 


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