It takes a lot more than an idea to build a business, but there can’t be a business without the idea. So we asked folks who’ve built wonderful businesses to tell us about how they came up with the idea in the first place.

Disco Flye Dai | Photographer & Filmmaker & Actor

At first, I was thinking to work in a company as an ordinary employee, which almost all parents wish their child to be, because it provides financial security and simplicity. Then I figure that I do not want to work like a machine, I want to chase my dream. I started making films since high school, then I came to US for college to study film, photography, and acting. In this industry particularly, most people are freelancers and they all have their small businesses. Read more>>

Viola Ncube | Entrepreneur | Founder – My Black Beauty Box | Founder – The Black Book Consultant | Mentor

My Black Beauty Box is a heritage and cultural subscription box representing the 54 African countries and over 2000 tribes, showcasing authentic and ethically sourced jewelry, fashion, food, snacks and literature. Through my experiences of living and working in Europe, Asia and the USA. I faced discrimination with people making constant jokes about Africa – “do you have electricity, you do have a pet lion, how do you speak English so well” – the list goes on. Secondly, I constantly struggled to find products for my skin tone, hair texture and products reflective of my culture. Read more>>

Monique Travis | Seamstress

While working at Baby’s R US, I saw how much money people were willing to spend on baby registry items, the overall average budget of the customers and what the most popular items were. At the time, my mom would make expecting mothers handmade baby blankets as a gift and would often receive requests to make more. From my observations working at Baby’s R US, I suggested to her that she could have a successful a business making baby blankets and that people would pay good money because they were custom and one of one. We went to Joann fabric store one day, picked out a bunch of different fabrics for the blankets, brought them home and she told me I would be the one to sew them. Read more>>

Jennifer Simchowitz | Founder & CEO

Several years ago I had an idea for a Valentine’s gift for my significant other: a year’s worth of our text messages as we were falling in love, turned into a book. After Googling around for an easy tool to create the book, I discovered that it simply did not exist! I couldn’t believe it – texting is such an important form of communication. Our texts were our love letters! Surely others would want to create something like this? What if you somehow lost those special texts? Then what? Read more>>

Scott Hanson | Designer & Woodworker

The evolution of this as a business has been pretty organic. My career started in architecture but quickly moved into many types of different work, ranging from hands-on manufacturing and fabrication, to millwork, finish carpentry, and running jobsites. Fast forward over the last decade and most of my work has been in project-management on the construction of ultra-high-end architectural homes. This is fascinating and complex work and it’s still something that I really enjoy given the constant learning and problem solving involved with building some of the world’s most architecturally challenging homes. Read more>>