Deciding to start a business is an unusual decision. It’s often considered irrational and yet for many it’s the best decision they’ve ever made. So we asked folks to think back to when they were starting their businesses and to tell us about their decision making process.

Laura Diaz-Alberto | Fashion Designer

It all started when I got pregnant. I was working in a NYC design office and I was used to dressing the part. I was so excited to shop for this new stage of my life and I was sure it was going to be so fabulous, until I went and saw what was at the maternity store. It was bad, it was depressing and it made me sad. What was in there, had nothing to do with what was going on in the rest of the world. There was nothing special. It was mostly basic. I thought to myself, 9 months is too long a time to be basic. Read more>>

Andrew Sleighter | Stand-up Comedian

There really wasn’t one! I started out wanting to try stand-up comedy, then wanting to get good at it, then wanting it to be a career. It wasn’t until a few years ago I really thought about it as being a business. Which is really what it is. As a stand-up comedian you’re a company that essentially sells yourself. Once I finally accepted that idea, the business part of my industry has become easier. Read more>>

Bradford Brooks | Creative Director

I started my business because I have a passion for sharing stories and connecting with people. As a videographer, you have endless opportunities to create and share content with the world. Read more>>

Kara Sutton | Brand Strategist & Mother of 2

Learn from the best and then do it yourself. My goal for the past decade has been to learn from people much smarter than me – to surround myself with challenges. I do believe there is something to be said about experience. As badly as we all want to be an overnight success, I can tell you that it’s been my experience that I’ve relied on the most as a business owner. There is something romantic about “starting a business” which I believe is completely different from “running a business”. Read more>>

AKoldPiece OfWork | Educator, Poet & Jewelry Designer

I wanted to make my culture fashionable and educate my customers on our history. Read more>>

Chiohko Owens | Owner of Moonlight Bath Treats

My daughter, Chai at the time was 16 years old and she planted the seed. She told me I should start my own business. I asked her doing what? She said skincare and I was so lost for a second because although I would make natural products for her and her sisters it never dawned on me to start my own business. I owe everything to my daughter. If it wasn’t for her there would be no Moonlight Bath Treats, and I believe I wouldn’t have ever started my own business. Read more>>

Pablo Voloski | Pablo Voloski – Pianist, teacher and composer

Without a doubt, within my activity there are several types of work, from classes, recordings and concerts. But when I put the thought of touching people’s hearts through my art, magic happened. Doing something you feel good about, without thinking too much about what the other will think, that’s the secret. Read more>>

Charles Wheal | Blues guitar player and singer

I got a Finance degree from Virginia Tech, and started working in Corporate Finance in London. After 5 years of doing that, it became very clear to me that in order to be successful at that, I would have to make a time commitment and other sacrifices that would not really allow me to pursue my 2 main passions in life, playing music and skiing. Read more>>

Erick Miseroy | Educator, Coach, Entrepreneur

I have always been “busy”. When I met my wife, I was already in college full time, and coaching soccer. Then I starting teaching high school, coaching, and I also was breeding reptiles as a side hustle. Each of these avenues should be a full time job. I have always managed to make things work- and my focus on one avenue will adjust as need be. When that avenue needs to close it does; but of course then another idea finds itself in my head and get developed. Read more>>

Lex Finley | Business Owner & Creative Director

As MadeinTYO said, “I want it so I’ma go get it”. No matter how big or small it may be, if I want to do something, I truly feel like there is no reason for me not to even at 16 years old when my business journey began. I noticed the rising demand for trendy second-hand clothing and the importance of sustainability especially in Los Angeles where culture thrives 10x harder. Then I saw an ad on Instagram promoting a new Flea Market that was seeking out vendors to apply. I had no prior experience and no inventory. Read more>>

Haldane Morris | Fashion, beauty, lifestyle photographer

I was desperate and broke with no money to pay rent, bills etc. Read more>>

Kijafa Martin | Proud owner of KreationzByKijafa and Kijafaz Got Blanks & More LLC

My business was actually started from a place of healing. I started creating with my hands after an emergency surgery that caused me to have to stop doing what I normally did, which was music and performing. While I was recovering I became depressed due to not being on stage and creating music. A close friend of mine told me to start using another form of creativity, which was with my hands. I took her advice and began crafting as a form of therapy. Eventually I began posting different items I made on Instagram. Someone asked if a particular item was for sell and that’s where it KreationzByKijafa started. From there, I didn’t want to keep taking cash apps in my DM… I wanted to become a legit, trusted business. So I did what I needed to do to become just that. Read more>>

Jacquelyn Mills | Certified theta healer, Reiki master, Biofield fork tuner, Biofeedback facilitator & Channel

The driving force behind the start of each of my businesses have always been about guiding those that seek help by empowering them to identify their ailment and providing ways to help create balance for the unbalanced. Our company, Ancient Vibrations was created to offer an array of modalities to help realign us back to our natural and harmonious state of wellbeing. Read more>>

Carrie Hawkins | Watercolor Artist & Surface Pattern Designer

I grew up always loving art and the creative world so I knew I wanted to do something creative. After studying design at the University of Texas, I worked as a graphic designer and would find myself spending hours staring at my computer screen. I started painting on the side as a creative hobby and a way to get off of my computer. Slowly, I began sharing my work via social media and started having people inquire about buying art prints and designing paper goods. As my business grew, I was able to quit my full time job and start my own company. I feel so lucky to have so many friend’s and client’s encouraging me to break out on my own and follow my dream of being a full time artist! Read more>>

Cera Byer | Life, Business, and Movement Coach

I started working full time and providing for myself financially at 13 years old. I’m a *ahem* Elder Millennial, so I grew up on this cusp where we learned typing/computer stuff in Elementary School. I was always pretty tech savvy – so as a teenager during the first boom suddenly everyone needed computer stuff – basic websites, data entry, proficiency with MS Office, logos, that kindof stuff. So I was able to have office jobs starting from a very young age. At 17 I was working in Marketing Research. Read more>>

Olivia Carmella | Founder & Brand Manager

I created Models of Authenticity because I believe I had no other choice. I had maxed out my tolerance for conformity. I had been recently fired from my corporate job. I closed the book on years of code switching and dulling myself down in the name of professionalism and survival, which left me with deep-seated imposter syndrome and major depression. I had to completely rebuild my own definitions of “success” and “career” at that point, from the ground up. Read more>>

Gary Schechner | Artist & Marketing Leader

As COVID was negatively impacting the 2020 economy (and more specifically, my marketing consulting Clients’ businesses), I was really looking more for the excuse to dive in and embrace a ‘second act’ for myself. I had recently started developing a way to commercialize my art & design from one-off commissions into a lifestyle brand that I hoped could develop into a recurring revenue stream. I began that journey with an IG-influencer that helped me develop the model and infrastructure that could scale and it eventually morphed into abstractRPM ( Read more>>

Share the Warmth | 501c3 Non-Profit organization

It is evident that around the world, there are thousands of people without a home, who live in the streets, who are displaced, not working, and need the necessities to live a fulfilling life. In Los Angeles, being houseless is a growing epidemic and we wanted to help do a part to make a difference. There is a huge problem in Los Angeles and many cities around the world, where living costs are so high and jobs are hard to come by, which then causes many people to live on the streets. Because of this issue, we decided to create Share the Warmth International in hopes of making an impact in the community by helping those in need. We have a common goal of inspiring hope and systematically leaving a long-lasting contribution to the safety and well-being of those in need. Read more>>

Phil Good | Business Owner & Music Producer

I wanted to start a brand where I could display my creative ideas for men, women, kids, babies. This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid going to the beauty supply every weekend to buy durags and magnetic earrings. My goal now is to take over beauty supplies and put a black owned product in stores such as Walmart, amazon, etc.. We want to be worldwide and show people that we don’t have to go to beauty supplies for these products when you can shop with Phil Good Rags & get better prices, services, materials and more variety of flavors and designs. Read more>>

Tobias Marx | Music Producer & DJ

I always wanted to work for myself since I can think. In my opinion, life is just boring if you got a 9-5 job, usually you do the same thing 5 days a week for 30 years and also earn the same amount of money for 30 years. It’s just so predictable, that’s why I chose to start my own business. Read more>>

Mascha Lina Borodin | Founder & Jewellery Designer

I´m a very creative person. So in retrospective starting lawschool when I was 18 seems like a bit of a mystery to me. Anyway during that period in my life I used all my spare time on hobbies like playing the piano or manufacturing jewellery for myself. After more and more friends began asking if they could buy my designs – especially my statement earrings – the idea of making a business out of that was born. Read more>>

Liz Law | Personal Trainer & Group Fitness Instructor

I was really fortunate in that my training business unfolded pretty organically. Before I was a trainer, I was juggling a jewelry design business and two young children. (I should mention that I did have a history of being a lifelong fitness enthusiast and college tennis player.) I started to realize that- once I dropped my youngest off at preschool- I no longer enjoyed sitting alone inside in my design studio. I felt called to be outside, be connecting with other people, and most of all be ACTIVE. Read more>>

Aura Moseley | Stretch therapist

My thought process behind starting my own business was to get out of my 9-5 job I absolutely hated. I saw my mom have her own business braiding hair and I always had a yearning to have my own business because I enjoy having freedom. Read more>>

KRYSTOPHER FAKIR | Chief Creative Officer & Founder

When K.F.E started with its journey, the process that took me into the inspirational steps were understanding my purpose for starting the company. The year was 2016, I just finished obtaining my Masters. I wanted to apply everything I had learned from all my experience into a structure, platform, movement that made an impact into all cultured communities. Especially “Pan African, African American and Black”. I knew what my talents and strengths were in starting this concept. I applied the visual talents with the marketing ability and knew conceptually, I could not only share that knowledge also profit artistically off of it! That is truly how Krys Fakir Everywhere Limited Liability Company, came to be. Read more>>

Taylur Avery | Owner- Mayweather Boxing + Fitness, Founder at FLPOC, Lifestyle Coach

Starting my first business as a franchise, my thought process was to find a brand that I am passionate about while also learning how to effectively run a business. I knew that with franchising, the business model would pretty much already be laid out for me to execute. Read more>>

Tyrone Montayre | President

It was out of necessity to do so. I had purchased 330 acres of preservation zoned land from a tax auction. The big plan was to be a land steward performing forest restoration then educating our community about it’s importance. Starting the non profit organization was a crucial step in the grand scheme of things. Read more>>

Emma Coronado | Artist & Jeweler

I’ve always known from a young age that I wanted to be my own boss, have my own business and share my art with the world. It took me many years to tap into my creativity and become confident with sharing my work. My dream has always been to create my own schedule and have the flexibility to work from anywhere. I am extremely grateful that I am now at a point in my life where I am running my business full time, and not as my side gig! Read more>>

Dawn “Sam” Alden | Podcaster, Actor, Creatrix

Although I sacrifice a lot of security by being my own boss, the payoff in terms of flexibility and being able to set my own priorities is worth it. I can juggle a lot of different projects at once, which keeps my mind entertained and agile. Plus, I don’t have to suffer fools if I decide I’ve had enough nonsense. Read more>>

Lanzo Luconi | Musician, Educator, Entrepreneur

Growing up in my home country Costa Rica, we did’t have many opportunities to develop a piano career, so I decided to change that and build a space/platform to allow young pianists to learn from world class artists, meet other international young musicians, and share a cultural experience in this beautiful country. I knew that bringing people together to do what they love and share it with the audience is always good business. Read more>>

Alexis Vanessa | Poet and Illustrator

I’ve struggled with anxiety, depression, insomnia, and procrastination. For a while I didn’t have access to therapy but still needed tools and resources. So I created an avenue and resources for those who just need a bridge to get them from where they are mentally to where they want to be. I put my heart into creating pieces that discuss mental health because it’s necessary. Whether it be my mental fitness planner, toolkits or my poetry book. I know what it’s like to feel off balanced and feel like you’re drowning in plain sight. Read more>>

SHOTTI NYC | Photographer & Creative Professional

Both literally and figuratively, thought process behind starting my own business was rooted in me finding freedom for myself. Since a child, the main thing I’ve always wanted to do was “whatever I wanted to do. Having many interests and capabilities, I wanted to explore them all and never be locked into doing the same thing forever. I can barely do the same thing for 10 minutes without becoming distracted. This is the 4th time I’ve tried to complete this interview. Lol hope it’s the last. Read more>>

Victor Mccorvey | Photographer and Director

I’ve always wanted to start my own company since a kid. I never thought it would be a production company but while helping others with their business, I found a new love in Photography and film and decided to take it more serious. Read more>>

Melina Holm Ruais | Vocal Coach

I love singing and I truly believe that everyone can sing! Oh come on now, you can at least sing in the range where you speak. That is a great way to start, where you feel comfortable to make some cool noise or maybe even hit a beautiful note or two! My name is Melina Holm Ruais, I started voice coaching professionally in Sweden around 2009. I have loved voice coaching from the start. I have a passion for helping singers reach their goals and to excel even further than they thought they could. It’s especially fun to work here in Los Angels where a lot of singers come to build their music carriers. Read more>> 

Marcie Taylor | Social Media Consultant, Writer, Marketing Professional

After working a few years working corporate as a social media strategist, I decided to strike out on my own so that I could take on clients and projects on my own and have more flexibility. Working as an entrepreneur allows me to pick and choose projects that align with my values as well as create a healthier work-life balance. Read more>>

Corina Irvin | Commercial Real Estate Broker – Helping you find the perfect space that aligns with your brand

Prior to starting my own business I worked in corporate real estate for over 10 years. I appreciated the training and experience I gained from that role but ultimately I wanted to do something more purpose driven. As a woman and a person of color, I noticed a gap in the marketplace for proper representation and attention given to this group by commercial real estate brokers. As such, I launched my company, Peninsula Commercial Real Estate Group, to address this gap. My clients get the benefit of my 10 + years in corporate real estate but with a more personal touch. Read more>>

Raelina Krikston | Director & Owner, The Stuudiio

Starting a business is a lot easier the second time around. My first business, Haiikuu Design, was focused exclusively in the cannabis and CBD industries. We did a lot of packaging design and branding work along with social media and website design. While it was a lot fo fun and I’m very proud of the projects we did, I felt a bit stagnant by our fifth year in business and felt that it was time for a change. Read more>>

Michelle Heravi | Founder of Vii Jewelry

I feel that my experience with entrepreneurship and starting a brand is a bit “untraditional”. Instead of wanting to launch a business and filtering through ideas, I had such a vested interest in jewelry that starting my own business was the most sensible choice in bringing my goals to fruition. I am a firm believer in the saying “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. I knew that in order to succeed in anything – whether it be my jewelry brand or my law career – it was of utmost importance that I am excited and passionate about what I do. Since I have always had a love for jewelry and its design, starting Vii was an obvious choice for me. Read more>>

Loren Israel | Record Producer

A very good question. I started out as a musician. Touring, got a record deal then a nice publishing deal and thought “I made it.” Hahaha….well suffice it to say that didn’t last too long. The lead singer of my band joined a cult. Went back to school but never stopped my music bug. I would go to shows 6 days a week, had 3 jobs, had 5 roommates and barely got through school. Since my band did well on the local scene, I would get asked/consulted by other artists on How The Could get More People To Their Shows and make better deals and more money. Also, I did numerous charity/benefit concerts and booked bands like Counting Crows, Johnny Depps Band The Rock City Angels (who I really dig) and Blues Traveler. Read more>>

Riki Barker | Entrepreneur & singer

I stopped feeling valued in the job I had, I knew that I had the talent and I decided that it was time to dedicate myself to growing on my own Read more>>

Raymi The Artist | Creative

My mom has owned and operated her own business now for 28 years in Beverly, the South Side of Chicago. She did not initially want me to follow in her steps because she wanted me to have toe college experience in which she did not have. So I finished school and went the traditional route of getting a job in corporate America. While working there for about 4-5 years, I learned so much about business and about myself. Read more>>