Forgive the cross-pollination of blogs. I wrote this article about three friends of mine who started Hadrian's Wall (now Zig, Chicago) in 2001. I think it's pretty inspiring. Those of you who aspire to start your own shops may as well.
Also, you may want to check out Kevin Lynch's new blog. Just like Kevin, it's pretty smart and pretty amusing.
Full disclosure: I was the 3rd person hired at Hadrian's Wall and worked there from 2001-2003. But I don't mention myself in the piece.