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.

Maria Lobanova | CEO and founder Interstellar Digital (PR and communications agency), journalist, public speaker

I was working in tech and web3 industries for a while. I met my co-founder Kyle at Crypto Investment Summit in Los Angeles, I was in-house PR manager of the crypto wallet, and he was the CMO of DeFi project. We started to work together on the side and then one day decided to open PR and communications agency together. I named it Interstellar Digital, he loved the name. I quit my job and dedicated 100% of my time to our agency. Read more>>

Eman Bachani | Founder @ Meraki Design House

So art has never been an explicit part of my life however over time I have come to appreciate it more than ever. For me, this journey has been more about self-growth. I went to the University of Toronto for Political Science and HR, and thought I would pursue a career in HR. Read more>>

Derrex Brady | Actor|Producer|Writer

My thought process was I wanted to be apart of the creative origin of telling stories, rather than simply auditioning to be chosen to participate in telling stories. My producing partner M.D. Walton and I knew each other on the acting circuit, we always championed each other on with no jealousy with whomever booked the job. Read more>>

Taylor Williams | CEO & Creative Director of Taylor A. Collections

In my early life, I showed a talent for the performing arts and went on to win a National beauty competition for The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Cynthia Bailey. Winning the Miss Renaissance pageant made an indelible impression on my interests and aspirations. In my career, I’ve been blessed to work at fortune 500 companies like Calvin Klein in New York City, NY, Sephora Inc, San Francisco, CA, Naturalicious, and more. Read more>>

Heather Billingsley | Freelance Artist

At the time I was working full time at a Smoothie shop in Florida, I enjoyed my job, but it wasn’t fulfilling. I’ve always pursued art in my life, and even had a few small business experiences as a child, always trying to sell little bracelets I made or something in my neighborhood. For me running a small business really was my calling and what makes me happiest. Read more>>

Michelina Payetta | Owner/Founder & Teacher

I had the opportunity to step into a sub-lease for a yoga studio in Portland Oregon, prior to moving to Santa Clarita. This allowed me to get my feet wet in this realm. I knew this would not be the end, and always had the thought to open a yoga studio elsewhere. Read more>>

Quentin Hill | CEO, iliac Golf

When I was 15, I had $112 in my bank account and it was time to buy Christmas gifts. I was offered a job at a golf shop that would be minimum wage and required 6 weeks of training. I loved the game of golf and felt as though I had the knowledge to compete with them. I founded “Convenient Clubs” that winter with the goal of offering customization of golf equipment without the steep price point. Read more>>

Aaron D. Spears | Actor/Producer/Lyricist

América wasn’t created for the everyday man or woman to be successful. Yet for him or her to remain busy like a worker bee, producing only just enough honey to stay afloat. Businesses run this country with many lanes, avenues & loops holes to avoid the everyday man or woman challenges but only if you are privy to that type of information. Read more>>

Matthew Timothy Lara | Man of God / Family Man / Entrepreneur / Trader / Gamer

LONG VERSION ////// EVERYTHING SHORT VERSION BOTTOM INSIDE BRACKETS I worked at a gas station in East LA, which fired me because my ex wife would always call me to make sure I wasn’t having an affair. After I was fired I went into door to door sales. Which I got really good at, the leaders there drove nice cars, so it pushed me to assume they had a nice place. Read more>>

Yanique Wiggins | Owner

My thought process behind starting one of our businesses was to have something our children can hopefully take over one day. This business in particular was created was for our girls. Read more>>

Wokeface | Artist

Making Wokeface a business was not my original objective and I did not have a premeditated thought process behind it. The journey has been very organic and by the seat of my pants! Read more>>

Ehimwenma Ima-Edomwonyi | Founder & Creative Director

My thought process behind starting Jollof n Chill stemmed from my experience growing up in the beautiful country of Nigeria. Those experiences encouraged me to appreciate the sound, food and overall culture that my country embodies. My goal was to create a brand that curated experiences focused on showcasing and celebrating African cultures by collaborating with DJs, musicians, artists, and small businesses. Read more>>

Vanessa Zabari | Owner & Director of The Tap Rebels

I actually wasnt thinking about starting a dance company at the time. My friend and mentor, Angela Harris, spoke life into and encouraged me to start the first professional tap company in Atlanta. After hearing how much she believed in me, I knew I could do it. I always dreamed of having a professional tap company that traveled internationally. I’m so happy and blessed to see my dreams coming true. Read more>>

Lucas James | Tech Entrepreneur

To help make the world a better place Read more>>

Imani Barnes | Licensed Esthetician & Makeup Artist

My purpose behind starting Glitter & Glory was to introduce a new way of thinking and experiencing beauty to the forefront of the industry. Although, I was young at the beginning of my journey in business, that thought process has served as the foundation for everything that I do. Read more>>

Jack Tierney | Art Director

I’ve always loved working on music. I used to play in bands in high school and would be just as excited to draw up the poster as the gig itself. As soon as I could fumble around with design programs I tried to be involved with music. Offering free artwork for local bands. Read more>>

Magdalene Nsek | MUA and Owner of Chibi Cosmetics

It has honestly out of survival and soul searching. I was always into makeup and anime as a hobby, but taking my career with my own hands instead of waiting to be promoted in a regular job boosted my resume. I wanted to stand out but also be authentic while doing so. Otherwise, I would be like every other small makeup brand. Read more>>

Jaye Gipson | Joy Enthusiast & Plant Lady

Honestly it was simply being able to spend my days doing something that I love that brings me and others joy. Read more>>

gina galeoto | Content Creator & Creator Mentor

I wanted to start my own business to take more control of my time! I, one day, miserable in the office of my 9-5, did the math to calculate how long I’d be inside an office if I worked a 9-5 until I retired at 65 years old. What I found completely shocked me! Nine years is what I came up with, Nine years of life inside an office instead of spending that time of my one life doing what I wanted and what I loved (and that’s not even including the commute). Read more>>

Elsa Matsumoto | Licenced Clinical Social Worker and UC Master Grardener

Opening a private practice was not an overnight decision; it took a journey. Identifying as a first-generation Latina woman myself, I had a first-hand experience of the challenges we face daily and the impacts it has on wellbeing. During my social work career before private practice, I noticed my impact on serving Latinx individuals and communities, especially young women. Read more>>

Tiphany Kane | CEO of KaSa media Productions, Life Coach, Podcast Host & Producer

It was a pivotal moment that made me decide to start my own business. I had been turned down for a promotion that I was absolutely sure I was qualified for. In fact, most of my workmates were sure the promotion was mine. When I did not get the promotion, I sat down with my supervisor and asked for her feedback as to why I did not get the promotion. Read more>>

Colin Cawthorne | Furniture Designer + Artist

I spent a long time working odd jobs while applying to architecture firms. Years of applying for junior design positions, and rarely hearing back, or getting interviews that never went anywhere. While this was all happening, I started getting one off jobs to build small pieces of furniture, or to make cutting boards, pretty banal work. Read more>>

Malik Johnson | Designer & Entrepreneur

Well i knew I wanted to start this right after high school, because I always had a passion for different type of clothing and fabrics. The process started back in Covid year of 2020, that whole year while on lockdown I was really just planning and designing. Read more>>

Kevin McElhannon | Entrepreneur

The creation of The Organic Option started with the desire to help others live a healthier lifestyle. My dad has been making tinctures and herbal capsules for family and friends since 2016. I’ve always known it to be effective for myself and anyone who tried it, but I never had any desire to start a business from it. Read more>>

Steven Wilson | Artist/Illustrator

I didn’t ever see any other option. I studied Illustration at University and knew that I wanted to try and establish myself in that industry after graduation, the typical career path for Illustrators is to be freelance so in many ways I set up my own business through lack of other options. Read more>>

Veronica Velasquez | Doctor of Physical Therapy

I started my instagram @thisptlife as a way to document my journey as a new graduate physical therapist. I utilized my instagram page to showcase a typical day as a new therapist, the growing pains & lessons I was going through as a young professional, and my journey into the big scary world of “adulthood”. I wanted me page to be a creative outlet as well as a way to connect with other clinicians and students. Read more>>

Lynn Simpson | Make-up Artist & Owner of Preface Cosmetics

I started out doing makeup in retail for brands like Chanel and MAC. I loved my job at MAC. It was such a fun atmosphere to work in with like-minded creative people. I learned so much from all of my co-workers and trainers. But I didn’t love the retail schedule. Read more>>

Kinh Tran | Designer

There wasn’t any thought process behind starting Nihil. It came about organically, impulsively, as it formed when my former partner, Eugene, and I were burnt out from school. We were two lost kids switching from major to major, but unfortunately nothing stuck. Read more>>

Iasmim Casser | Professional MMA fighter

When I first started training Martial Arts back in the very country side of Brazil, I didn’t imagine I would become a professional athlete, much less a World Champion, living thousand of miles away in a different country, that I now call home. Me getting into martial arts was like an accident, but I happened to feel like it was already in me, I felt like it was meant to be.  Read more>>

Hayden Welch Tattoo Artist & Studio Owner | Tattoo Artist & Studio Owner

When I first started tattooing a little over ten years ago, I worked for a few different shops under some people who made me feel really unsafe. It’s no secret that the tattoo industry has some serious amends to make for the way it has treated folks historically. I learned the hard way about being a female in such a male-dominated industry, one that had no real rules or accountability measures. Read more>>

Kalika Geban | Creator of Through the Grace of Shea

My thought process was to create skin products that can be used by everyone without harmful ingredients and chemicals. Read more>> 

Linda Ravenswood | Artist / Editor in Chief

when we started the Los Angeles press, it was in direct response to the dearth of publishing houses helmed by women of color, especially intersectional feminist women of color. The reason we called it the Los Angeles press was to affirm our place here in the West, and In that often cloistered World of publishing. In a sense the Los Angeles press interrupts the previous gatekeeper mentality, and is eager to work broadly, warmly, collegiately Read more>>

Christina Hulen | Writer / Director / Producer

There was really no other choice than to start making my own films. I wasn’t seeing the content I wanted to see. I write films about otherness. I write films about characters wearing a mask to hide their true selves in order to find acceptance; films about characters who eventually rip those masks off to boldly live their truth. Or, characters born into circumstances of class, race, gender or sexual inequality that are forced to fight through oppression to claim their space and voice in the world. Read more>>

McKenna Lah | Tattoo Artist

I was really immersed in academia when I started tattooing, and I quickly fell in love with the idea of abandoning the rigid structure of my day-to-day life as a student/researcher in favor of something with a lot more freedom. I also just felt like through tattooing, I was meeting much happier people and making people much happier through my work— it was much more fulfilling. Read more>>

Kevin Kendall Smith | Celebrity Chef and Clinical Nutritionist

Firstly, I looked at my skillset, talent and education. I am a classically trained Chef with over 25 years of experience and a Clinical Nutritionist with over a decade of experience. I saw an opportunity to provide something that many people want but struggle to find. Read more>>