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.

Maestro Lightford | Producer and Composer

Funny enough, my business started from an idea I got from my dad. He said, “you should become the person that gets the band together.” My very dumb response to him was “no one is going to pay me not to play”. Obviously, I was wrong. At the time I had no idea of the concept of a contractor. During those days I was starting to get a lot of calls to do events likes weddings and company parties. It got to a point where I could not play one gig because I already had a gig. Thus, Lightworks Muzik was started!!!!! I felt this was a win-win situation for my clients and musician friends. My clients had no idea who the good and reliable musicians were in the area (Nashville, TN), but I DID!!!! Read more>>

Denise Rosner | Bicoastal Real Estate Broker

Up until getting my real estate license in NYC in 2000, I had a long and varied work history: singer/actress, bartender, assistant to the editor of a political thought magazine, assistant production office coordinator on a film that ended up going straight to video, executive assistant to the chairman/ceo of an ad agency, hostess/coat checker at an upper east side steak house, a short stint in gift baskets, hotel front desk, and finally hotel concierge. When I left the concierge position, I was feeling lost and not knowing what my next move should be; I was exhausted from that long line of positions where I was essentially “on stage” in one way or another but working for somebody else. That’s when I consulted with a dear friend who always had a way of getting straight to the point. Read more>>

Rachel Pally | Clothing Designer & Founder

Growing up, my parents owned their own business. They worked hard towards a goal that meant a lot to them. They poured their hearts and souls into the business and it fulfilled them on so many levels to do something they believed in. Being business owners also allowed for flexibility in raising kids, as they were able to be present for us. They could build their work schedules around my brother and my needs. I watched the way they navigated work and life and family and blended it together in order to have a full life. After college I didn’t know what I wanted to do professionally, but I did know that I wanted to work for myself, like they did. Read more>>

Silvia Carluccio | CEO & Founder

As soon as the pandemic hit, I realized that while the food industry was going to be impacted the most, people needed to eat, connect with one another, and chefs still had a need to share their art and cook for people while making money. My main goal was to use technology as a way to continue bringing people together and allow people to express themselves and forget about Covid for a couple hours. IMPASTIAMO was born as a way to connect people and help professionals continue earning money. Read more>>

Maziar Lalezary | Retina Specialist

I started my own business as a solo retina specialist in 2015 after working for a group practice. My motivation was to have more control of my medical practice. I currently run a successful boutique practice providing cutting edge, personalized care to the community. Read more>>

Frankie Thaheld | Director of Mixology

We wanted to bring the world of unique craft cocktails into the event environment. They had only existed in specialty bars and restaurants in 2010, and most hotels’ top shelf bar programs were with the same mixers and bartenders, just an improved spirit selection. We thought we could change the existing paradigm on cocktail service and with it take on the challenges of creating a new business. Read more>>

Taylor Rose

The new Menswear brand, XIVI, first came together at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. As a young designer my dreams have always been to design Menswear, start my own brand and own my own business. Until COVID-19 happened, I was an assistant designer at Vince with the lack of time outside of work; starting my own brand just wasn’t possible yet. Sheltering in place gave me the time I needed to start my new journey. I took this time as something you are not given in life and can be extremely rare. With the lack of work and extended periods of free time I was able to create XIVI, design my first mini collection and so much more behind the scenes work. This is how I came about starting my own company, XIVI. “No one is going to hand me success. I must go out and get it myself. That’s why I’m here. To dominate. To conquer. Read more>>

Kaori Matsutsuru | Designer & Founder

One of the reasons I started my own brand (KAORIFORNIA) was that I had a strong desire to create things. I’ve always been dexterous since I was little and love to create something. I always come up with ideas and immediately start making jewelry and things as I imagined. An idea may come randomly, and I immediately start creating from it. After I moved to LA from Japan, I made a lot of friends. I’ve noticed that many of my friends here are confident. I always wanted become an artist since I was in elementary school but I noticed that I was lacking such confidence for a long time. Even though I like to dance, I couldn’t call myself a dancer. During a time when I pursued singing, though I loved it and would pass an audition for a recording contract in Tokyo, I couldn’t really look at myself as a singer. Read more>>

Brian Keith Thompson | Celebrity Piercer & Owner

I think my thought process was the lack thereof. Meaning, I didn’t think too heavily about it. I kind of just leaped in. I think that you can over think a situation like starting your own business. And if you start to over think it, you’re going to start to overreact, you’re going to start self-doubting, you’re going to start making excuses why you can’t do it. And then the people around us will start telling you, “Don’t do it. You’ve got a good job.” That’s what everyone was telling me. They were telling me not to do it — that I was safe and I was secure. And I was. And they would say that starting my own business was putting me into a vulnerable position financially and security-wise. But I think what you should do, if you really want to do it and you have a good gut feeling on it, is to just don’t think about it too much. Fuck it. Just jump in, swim around. The water is probably nice and warm. Read more>>

Mina Khanaman | Holistic Healer & Transformational Coach

To LIVE in purpose, and give back to my community. I have always wanted to do something to make an impact, and I have always been drawn to people that are impactful. My intention behind creating Moksha Elements has always been to have a container for people that are in the journey of self-liberation. To provide the tools people need to have a more peaceful and aligned life. Read more>>

Takahiro Narui | Event Catering

In 1991, I came to the United States with a dream… I’ve always had a dream of starting a business in the United States and with the support of my friends and family, I decided to go for it even with very little start-up money. The fact that I don’t have much memory of that time in my life is probably due to the stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation that are a part of owning and running a small business. Read more>>

Jesse Kivel | Co-Owner & Musician

My close friend Michael David and myself were recording some songs together in 2012. During that time I had been DJing about 4 nights a week in LA and it was incredibly taxing to be out late that many nights a week. Mike was finding success with his group Classixx and I had recently gone to a wedding at Smog Shoppe. The place kind of opened my eyes to the possibility of what an alternative wedding space could look like and it brought into focus the idea that my peers would soon be getting married and wanting music that represented them. Mike and I had a strong network of performers and players and realized that there was room in the market for a design minded and stylistic company like Dart. Read more>>

Kanin Howell | CEO & Lead Pilot

I’ve always been a photographer and cinematography was my passion. I grew up in the film biz and made my living doing it for 34 years. Back in 2013 drones were finally able to carry the big cinema cameras like the RED and while working on Arrested Development the lightbulb went on. I decided to combine my two passions and the rest is history. Funny thing is, I took a different path than original planned and actually don’t fly drones for the film industry. Flying drones on a movie set seems romantic but it’s not all peaches and cream. Movie sets are quite stressful and have a lot of moving parts. Plus it was overcrowded; EVERYBODY wanted to fly drones in the movies. I had already been there done that so I found my niche someplace else. Read more>>

Armand Gazarian | Owner

I worked for a number of ad agencies and major media companies before I finally decided it was time to let go of the comfort, consistency and security of having regular paychecks and company benefits and venture into the unknown. I was aware of the challenges of starting my own ad agency but was motivated by the unlimited potential for growth, opportunities to freely execute my ideas and the chance to create a business that would provide for myself and my team. Read more>>

Morey Croson | Athletic Development Specialist

For me, my business is perfect because it is two things I am passionate about which is athletic development and technology. The choice was between pursuing being a football coach which I love the sport of football or starting my own business. At the end of the day it came down to being a great opportunity at 23 years old to try out starting my own business and chasing my passion. Looking back there are certainly choices that I would go back and change given the opportunity, but starting Performance Lab of California is something I definitely would not change. Read more>>

Felicia “The Poetess” Morris | Radio Vet & Entrepreneur

I began thinking about starting my business after I lost my last job. My thought process was “with my 30 years in radio and 10 years in podcasting, I have the knowledge and will to start my own business”. The radio business had changed drastically over the past few years and podcasting was on the horizon. I could not bring myself to look for another job. So, I took my savings and I started a crowdfunding campaign – and used the initial funds to lease a building to open my podcast studio. I realized that after taking the first step everything started to fall in place. I struggled and stressed for the first 2 to 3 years but once I realized it was my purpose, the worrying has been far less. Read more>>

Marlon Martinez | Wedding Officiant

Celestial Wedding Officiants was born from the need to provide completely customized wedding ceremonies. After witnessing numerous wedding ceremonies, where the couple’s disconnect to their officiant was nearly tangible, I wanted to provide an opportunity to tell the couple’s story and believes through a well composed ceremony. Simultaneously, filling the void of Bilingual services, English/Spanish, making an eco of inclusiveness. In a couple, both partners are distinct individuals. Some with different cultural backgrounds, religious/spiritual believes, personalities, and even family dynamics. I felt there was a need to meet with the couple, ask the right questions, get to know them, and therefore write a ceremony that binds their beautiful qualities. Read more>>

Mike Gerbrandt | Creator & Owner

I started planning and designing my own games in 2015 (when the escape game craze had just started to really gain traction here in the U.S.) after being contracted to write a few experiences for a room that was about to open up that year. It took careful consideration, but we determined that there was no reason these kinds of games had to be confined to a single room. Starting your own business can be a very intimidating thought, but if you have the passion and the drive (and by the way you need both) – then take a leap of faith. We went for it and now we’ve had thousands of players (as we say) play outside the box! Read more>>

Enid Harris | Interior Designer & Stylist

I was a costume designer in the television and film industry for over 25 years. It was exciting, rewarding and creative…until it wasn’t. The producers were getting younger, the hours longer and I no longer wanted to travel to locations that took me away from family and friends for months on end. I had been drawn to interior design for years and had been taking classes at UCLA’s Interior Design program. I thought about moving over to the Art Department and becoming a set decorator but I would have had to start at the bottom… been there, done that. In between shows, I did private styling for people in and out of the movie business, which I enjoyed immensely. I loved having my own hours, the ability to shop at an easier pace and the clients were so appreciative. One fateful day I was discussing a career change with one of my styling clients. Read more>>

Troy Yu | Proprietor

I’ve always been entrepreneurial since I was a young kid. I inherited a professional cotton candy machine from my grandparents who were concessionaires at the state fair and instead of having a lemonade stand, I would sell cotton candy out of my driveway, and later started doing it for hire at parties. Later, I worked many jobs as a young adult, but nothing stable and in most cases, the company or bosses couldn’t care less if I could feed or house myself. When I did find mutual respect, I found myself faced with difficult choices. In one retail job I loved, I was promoted multiple times for being a great employee, and one day my boss came to me and said “There’s a higher leadership opportunity for you at another store. Read more>>

Robert Kandell | Fractional CFO & Life/Work Consultant

At 13, I was delivering 100 newspapers every day to the houses in my neighborhood. My income was mainly based on the tips which could range from $1/week to $5. I realized that if I could make my customers happier there would be more cash every week. One day, I asked my Dad to make photocopies of a survey I had written which I included in the Monday paper. Questions like “what is the best time for me to collect the weekly fees?” and “where do you want your paper to go?” and “how can I serve your better?” was among the questions. The response was positive and my tips went up. It was my first attempt at being an entrepreneur outside the box of just delivering the paper. I’ve never stopped. While I have had positions with other companies, they were just springboards to me returning to running my own business. Read more>>

Enolia Foti | Author, International Educator & Modern Day Shaman

At a young age, we all face the challenge of selecting a field, educating ourselves in it, then making a career based on the decisions we made. Some of us do this without ever exploring what in life we love versus what in life have we been trained to do. My decision took me on a journey through a 30 year career path based on my school studies. However, there was something missing for me. I was just as strong in arts and culture as I was in the sciences. I did not feel balanced. Something was missing and I was not quite sure. It was towards the end of my “trained” career that I took the time to explore other aspects of interest, what I love to do, what I dreamed to do versus what I was trained to do. It was this need of balance in both the sciences, arts and culture that lead me to create the business that I love. Read more>>