Our community is comprised of some absolutely brilliant entrepreneurs and so we asked a few of them to tell us the story of how they came up with the ideas for their business.

Justin Sena | TV Producer & Entrepreneur

The idea for my business was born out of a failed attempt in the fashion business. I am friends with a fashion designer named, Rey Aquino, that wanted to bring his collection to life, so we partnered on a brand but had a rough time trying to produce high end garments in Los Angeles. Getting people to like the brand wasn’t the hard part, Rey is a very talented designer, the hard part was producing and manufacturing high end garments in LA. I’m a TV Producer and whether I am producing a TV show, starting a business, or approaching a problem, I typically approach everything by working the problem backwards. The problem was, I knew nothing about fashion and dove right in. Rey and I went through the wringer every step of the way. We once paid $10,000 to a manufacturer for a small order that completed roughly 3/4 of the order and then just disappeared, when the last round of garments were late, per usual, we showed up and the place had been packed up and we never heard from the guy again. Read more>>

Daniel Dory Olivier Croft | Founders of Dory & Croft

As entertainers, the pandemic totally changed our life, socially and economically, overnight. Without any clear indications of when we would get our life back to normal, launching our business and retake control of our fate was a no brainer. Instead of mourning, we wanted to recreate hope and make something good out of this once-in-a-lifetime crisis. It was also a great opportunity to create something together. We find in our couple a lot of inspiration. We’ve seen that we can get the best out of each other ; this great energy would definitely be one of our key to success. Read more>>

Kimber Maderazzo | Founder & CEO of MILLI ROSE

I have created brands and products for top celebrities and companies. I finally decided to do something for me and create a brand that resonated with my values, beliefs and personality. Read more>>

Yuri Tag | Lily & Onyx Co-Owner

We’ve all witnessed it. The flower that somehow grows and thrives between the tiniest of cracks. The Lily & Onyx brand represents the beauty that can result from even the harshest conditions – when you’re caught between a rock and a hard place. As luck would have it, the perfect opportunity presented itself in the form of a global pandemic. Setbacks pave the way for comebacks. The pandemic gave us the time and reason to focus on business opportunities together and with our collective expertise in interior design, social media marketing and ecommerce buying, we decided it was now or never – thus Lily & Onyx was born. Read more>>

Danielle Ristau | SBSN

After becoming engaged in 2015 I had a feeling that venting to my friends, complaining to my family, being confused on what even goes into planning would be a better fitted discussion with those going through the same thing. In comes Facebook. The SBSN (Something Borrowed Something New) community itself, is about being there for each other during one of the most happiest times of your life. We connect brides with others past and present, womxn owned business creatives offer their suggestions and even book work within the group. I felt that there was a connection to the community that could be expanded upon. Initially events were being planned, but like many of our members, Covid-19 put a halt to all things in regards to the wedding industry and weddings in general. So with everything at a stand still and brides in the community hearts breaking over postponements and cancellations, vendors losing business and clients I thought there had to be a way to turn around 2020. Read more>>

E | Artist, Creator, Energy Mover/Aide and Ambassador of LOVE!

VERY long story short, I’ve always been an artist “at heart,” but I never really had a favorite medium — I’ve always enjoyed doing anything remotely creative— and that (along with societal conditioning!!!) led me to believe that it was just a “hobby” and not a “real job.” It wasn’t until my freshman year in college where I was literally failing because I kept ditching classes to sew my outfits for that night’s party (sorry Dad!) that I figured I could find an “acceptable” career in fashion as a clothing designer… but low and behold, the industry was rough on me! I was a hypersensitive empath that didn’t quite understand my energy yet — add the ups and downs of fashion schooling and five years into my design career, I had the inevitable “breakdown and breakthrough” that eventually led me to become the energy healer and artist you see today! But bringing this all back to the birth of my business: it took me basically my entire life thus far to realize I didn’t have to fit into a “category” and it wasn’t until this year where I really focused my efforts into building an online home for all of my offerings to live together. Read more>>

Jenny Karr | Co-Founder of Songyft, Songwriter, Singer, & Vocal Coach

When I went to Berlin, Germany for a songwriting trip in the summer of 2012, little did I know that I’d walk into a recording studio to do a songwriting session with a person I had never met, then walk out of that session with someone who would become my life and business partner. Mati Gavriel and I were set up to do a songwriting session for a project by BMG Rights Publishing and Budde Music Germany as we were both music industry professionals with years of experience as songwriters, producers, and featured vocalists. Mati was signed as a recording artist to Warner Music and has a background as a composer and multi-media artist, and I have worked with artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Celine Dion, Michael McDonald to name a few, so music has been at the forefront of most of our endeavors. Besides our involvement on commercial and independent projects, when we first met, we would write personalized songs for our nearest and dearest for birthdays, graduations, weddings. Read more>>

Lynn Hutchinson | Artistic Director & Musician

The world is full of amazing music stories. Learning more about how music is made and by whom builds attachment to the music we hear. Both out of a love of building an audience drawn to our unique type of programming – and a desire to equip listeners to be more connected to other music they experience – Canvas was born. Read more>>

Mel Douglas | Yoga Instructor, Wellness Advocate, Creative

I came up with the idea for The Black Women’s Yoga Collective to fill a need for community and visibility that I myself felt. Having just started practicing yoga and going to studios for classes, I quickly noticed there weren’t very many people who looked like me at many of these places. I knew that there had to be more people like me, who wanted to be able to tie their practice into a sense of community with those around them. I also noticed that it was hard to find photos of Black people in yoga ads, magazines, and other materials. I wanted to help shift the narrative that yoga isn’t for us. Read more>>

Lara Schoorl | Writer, Editor and Translator

Close Distance is an online international poetics journal of and about work in process and has a limited print edition of 50 designed by a different graphic designer and/or book maker. Each issue typically features seven (pairs or groups of) contributors and an introduction, and all languages are welcome. The journal came about through a confluence of thoughts, events and people in 2018; and the desire to create a publication was rooted in the idea of influence and perhaps more practically collaboration. In a translation seminar taught by Ellen Rothenberg I accidentally said “close distance” while trying to indicate the proximity between two objects; it was a mistranslation of the Dutch words “dichtbij zijn”—Dutch is my mother tongue. Unsure whether this was a grammatically correct phrase in English, my seminar collaborator willy smart assured me I could use it if I wanted to. Read more>>

K.C. Fitzgerald | Writer and Filmmaker

When COVID started last March, I and a lot of other creatives were suddenly forced into the position where we had to completely support ourselves – no day jobs, no gigs, nothing. And that’s when I said, alright, let’s invest what you have saved and start a production company. Of course, that’s easier said than done and in the end the investment still hasn’t paid off. But just the act of doing it, of pushing yourself to try something new and stick with it even if it seems like at first it hasn’t succeeded – that’s the real lesson from all of this. Read more>>

Jerome AB | Architectural Designer & Choreographer

My current practice involves synchronizing the conversation between movement and spatial design, empowering the voices that don’t always get their chance to shine in these respective fields. My background is in architecture, and through this I have been able to work as an architectural, set and interior designer. I was blessed to have found opportunities for employment at smaller design practices where I was able to get my hands dirty in all aspects of the business. But my inner artist created a different type of outlet. It wasn’t until I was practicing in New York City that I had a sort of mid-quarter life crisis watching a performance at a DIY space in Brooklyn. I found myself in tears, moved by the expression. After years of pursuing the budding dance scene of the borough, I found myself embedded in dance by night, wearing my architecture hat by day. As a dancer, I wondered why the choreography wasn’t an integral part of the conversation when sets were being designed. As a choreographer, I was all too used to being brought in to a project as kind of an after though. Read more>>

Lexie Smith | Organic Growth + PR Coach, Founder of THEPRBAR inc.

I can pin-point the exact moment the personal “need” for my business was born. I was a 26-year-old VP at a fast-growing 8-figure company burning the candle at both ends. One day, quite dramatically, my body literally gave way from stress in the office, and I had to be carried out of work to the hospital on a make-shift stretcher. This was life very literally giving me a wake up call that my work-life balance needed to change. While recovering, I began to seriously consider my long awaited transition into entrepreneurship. I knew I wanted to stick to my “zone of genius” – PR and marketing, but I also knew I needed to create a business model that would support a healthy lifestyle. I was listening to a podcast when I was introduced to the world and concept of coaching. From there, I did quite a bit of sampling and testing of the existing market offerings and quickly developed the opinion that there was a large gap between done for you services (agencies). Read more>>

April Simmons | ClassandSoulCreations – Creative Enthusiast and Course Teacher

I ordered customized party favors for my sons 2nd birthday. When I received them, I immediately fell in love with the special touch of seeing his face all over the snacks. It was like receiving a souvenir to remember for the rest of both his and my life. I received chip bags, juices and coloring books that had his face on it along with his safari theme. I knew from that day on, I wanted to learn how to do this and create the same memorable feeling for others that I felt for myself at one point. Starting to make these favors opened the door for so many other avenues of creativity. Individuals started placing special requests for other items such as t shirts, candles, photo memorial pillows, branding items and more. I never turned down a request but instead used it as an opportunity to master the craft further and enhance my product inventory. This birthed my business overall : ClassandSoulCreations. Read more>>

Jiselle Kamppila | Curator, Artist, & Writer

The Fit of Sleep zine was created in March 2020, the beginnings of covid-19’s quarantine. I was in complete shambles- as was the rest of the world. I had my studio taken away from me. My access to creating physical art pretty much vanished. From my past curation skills, I decided that I excel at creating and organizing original platforms for diverse artists. My website, a digital zine, that welcomes all kinds of mediums has become a reality. The Fit of Sleep comes from an Arthur Rimbaud (19th century French symbolist poet) poem. The line: “The fit of sleep”, reads as the transitioning of the “sleep” of ordinary consciousness to a sensational reality. In other words, to be a visionary. The value of poetry and being a poet composes the content of each issue. The “idea” for The Fit of Sleep zine is to be your own visionary, and delve into your own personal philosophy. To be a catalyst for true creation, in any form. Read more>>

Jordan Auten | Filmmaker and Founder of Yoniswell Surf Collective

This is an interesting question. The idea for my business was not created to be a business in the beginning. The idea conceived came from my heart and soul wanting to provide a safe space for women in the surf community. It began as a way to bridge those who feared the sport, but so badly want to try it and those familiar with it, however needed an outlet of feminine energy with whom to share the experience. Yoniswell Surf Collective began as an effort to enhance a community of female surfers by creating a safe space for empowerment and healing. In result, we created a business that flourishes and thrives through synergy, connection, community, and generosity. Read more>>

Emily Fiffer | Restaurant Owner & Vegetable Enthusiast

Botanica was born out of a fierce love for hospitality, entertaining, vegetables and community — to name a few! Back in 2013, my business partner and I recognized a disconnect between the growing cohort of vegetarians, vegans, and vegetable-emphasized cookery online, and the actual restaurant landscape, which was, at that time, vibrating at a low frequency when it came to showering love on veggies. We also recognized that we, as women, had an opportunity to do a few things differently: Firstly, we could open a spot where it felt nourishing (rather than restrictive and sad) to eat healthfully; secondly, in a field that was/is largely male-driven, and notorious for promoting aggression/an unhealthy lifestyle, we could build a foundation based on support, communication, sustainability, equality, and kindness. We bit off a lot, but, 5 years in (and mid-Pandemic) we’ve kept our values intact and gotten more vegetables into people’s mouths. So that’s a win!. Read more>>

Sierra Sophia Mercier | Artist, Actor, Producer, World Traveler & Lover

My husband and I were in Japan for our honeymoon. We had won our honeymoon and wedding in a nationwide contest online with TheKnot.com. Having won this unbelievable prize, we wanted to “pay it forward” somehow and told The Knot that we would dedicate a portion of our honeymoon to charity work. We picked Japan for a number of reasons, but it was just 2 years after the major earthquake and tsunami so we knew there was still cleanup to do. Our plan was to do some sightseeing and then some relief work in Northern Japan. While sightseeing in Kyoto, a typhoon hit ravaging local businesses. We were passing by a local mochi shop after the storm, and saw the employees sweeping debris out of their store, moving sand bags, and they looked like they could use a hand. We decided our volunteering started then. So we approached them, and in the very little Japanese we knew, told them we wanted to help. Read more>>

Elle Murasaki | Meditation Enthusiast

Scotland X Mane was birthed out of my postpartum journey. I was STRUGGLING and I was scared to admit it because I never heard anybody else say they were struggling. When I finally gave my struggles a voice I found a whole community of women, who also felt alone. I thought: if all of these women have similar issues, and they all feel they need a since of community…why not create the community?! And so Scotland X Mane (named after two intersecting streets where I grew up) was born. A safe space for women to be women. Read more>>

Areum Plants | Plant Shop

Well before the COVID-19 pandemic we were three friends that were already on a slippery slope to owning too many plants. When we went into quarantine we began to experiment with propagation. That led to our places becoming overrun with plants. We found that sharing plants was a great way to stay connected with each other, even during a time of social distancing. Soon we were sharing plants with others within our inner circle, many of whom were looking to brighten up their new work from home spaces. From this came the idea to start our own online plant shop. Read more>>

Ryan Greene | Co-Founder, Managing Partner,

Monarch Athletic Club was born out of an observation while I was in residency (Dartmouth) and fellowship (Mayo Clinic) regarding barriers that allowed for individuals and society to truly achieve optimal health and wellness. I had grown weary spending hours treating, surgically repairing and nurturing back to health individuals who either did not know, did not care, or did not have access to opportunities that would allow them to build a foundation fortifying their opportunity to live a long and healthy life. The project then was accelerated when my partners who were searching to create a more sophisticated training model inquired as to what would set their idea apart from the traditional landscape. It was at this point the opportunity and vision became one. Built upon the belief that if an individual has the ability to focus on the 5 critical pillars of health, a long fulfilling life free of disease is achievable for anyone. Read more>>

Kei Moreno | Founder of NFF and Author of The Children’s Series “Out on a Balloon”

As a Latina, it is important to me that my son is linked to his maternal roots, learning and expressing himself in of both languages is key to our family dynamics. My career as a photographer, my passion for the arts, and my inner child gave birth to the biligual children’s book Out on a Balloon. In their hand-made clay world, Ms. Gigi giraffe, Mr. Dani donkey, and Mr. Mani monkey jump into a hot-air balloon and visit different continents, meeting animals along the way and learning about their unique habitats. This is the first book of the series, it is bilingual (English/Spanish) and exposes children to themes of multiculturalism and acceptance with a light take on geography and zoology. Read more>>

Sarah Sluder Elizabeth Hendrickson | Owners

ELLIE AND SASS was born out of a simple need and want that we found lacking in our community. We were tired and way too busy to be running around Los Angeles to get beautified. Why was it so hard to find one place to get everything done we found ourselves asking. So we just decided to create it!. Read more>>

Michael Vargas | Business Consultant For Team Culture

Since I was a kid, watching people come together always interested me. Over time I learned the power of team culture and I wanted to be a catalyst for bringing groups together. I figured psychology was the most direct path in doing so. I earned a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, moved to San Francisco, and worked at a residential facility for mental health. Supporting people who had Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar, PTSD, etc. I provided one-on-one therapy, case management, and lead groups on a variety of topics. This was one of my first experiences being a leader and I immediately loved it. Supporting people to be with one another in a way that allowed them to become better as individuals and as a whole. Also, I had been doing improv for nearly 10 years at this point and I started working at an improv theatre company. Teaching the basics to people with zero experience. It was such a blast to introduce people to this incredible art form. Read more>>

Cheryl Medeiros | Silversmith

I packed up my life in LA to go on a 6 month euro trip and then on the day of my flight the travel ban got put on… I got stuck with my family in Florida for months, with each month passing hoping and wishing that the pandemic would be over. But here we are. That being said in June I started on my silversmithing journey. I wanted to come out of this heartbreaking pandemic at least with a new skill. I’ve been selling jewelry for 5 years but always craved making my own with my hands. I’ve always collected vintage silver and decided to start on a new journey of learning how to silversmith! I found a master silversmith to give me virtual lessons and also taught myself from Youtube. Here we are 8 months later and I am a full time jeweler living in Nashville. Read more>>

Jon Fitzgerald | Film Curator, Festival Director and Filmmaker.

I had been in the film and curation business for some time, and had gravitated to what I call Cause Cinema. Movies that can inspire change. In fact, I was fortunate enough to have a book published called Filmmaking for Change: Make Films that Transform the World. There had been enough proof, from companies like Participant Media and the Lear Center, that the power of engaging films can have an impact. At the same time, the increase in movie production, and proliferation of streaming platforms was making it difficult for audiences to know what the watch, and where to find the best movies. I started with a more niche approach with Cause Cinema, writing blogs and doing podcasts, sharing a few new movies a week. Trying to grow this organically, in such a niche space AND recognizing the platforms were exploding, I felt it was too narrow. Read more>>

Ty Givens | Founder and CEO of The Workforce Pro

A few years ago, I was working for one of the fastest growing startups in LA. We were growing at such a pace, that we needed to hire 60+ people per week to support our customers. There was no time to train or teach people new skills. I needed help that was ready to hit the ground running. At that moment, I started creating a wish list of what I needed to scale customer service teams. As much as I wished I could call upon a tea to help during these times, it didn’t exist. So I created it, Someone called us a SWAT team that drops into your business to create fans out of your customers. That’s totally true. We will do your plan, so that you hire when you need; help you choose and implement all of your customer support tools and set up training and on-boarding for new hires. We do this in a program called PowerhouseCX. Read more>>

Anthony Bailey | Founder and Co-Owner of Run for Grace Inc.

I was born and raised in the Antelope Valley, a beautiful desert community about an hour north of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, my upbringing was not so pretty. I was born into a very dysfunctional household. My parents who were heroin addicts divorced when I was only 3 months old. My mother then went on to another man who would become my stepfather. Even though he had a good job and was able to provide for my mother, sister and I, he also had his share of demons – Drug and alcohol addiction, bipolar disorder and rage issues. Despite the regular occurrence of physical and mental abuse he would cause to all of us, for my younger years we almost had a “normal” life with a brand-new home, new cars and nice green grass. But eventually his drug addiction worsened and led him to have drug induced schizophrenic hallucinations. Read more>>

Robin Reetz | Cosigned Co-Founder

My cofounder and I are lucky to be part of a close group of friends who have seen each other through many professional highs and lows over the years. We are in various industries but have called on each other for work advice—sometimes literally calling while hiding in an office bathroom, too scared to open an important email. Looking back, we didn’t always give or get the best advice, mostly because we were all learning as we went. Some of us were fortunate to have older and more seasoned contacts, but you can’t always bug them about the small things or waste too many favors. Enter: Cosigned. Cosigned provides mentoring on demand for help with job searching, getting through the workday, and career growth. Mentors with hiring and management experience give tailored wisdom and guidance. Cosigned is your expert “phone a friend.” Read more>>

Andrea Dalfino | Director & Head of Productions

Newscapes Entertainment originated from the intentions and the know-how that we grew while going through the first experiences in the film business in Los Angeles and Italy. By the time we decided to create Newscapes we knew exactly what we did not want to replicate and what we wanted to change in our own projects and products. One of our goals has always been to be able to represent our generation and the global society we were born and raised in, by eventually merging two or more different realities together every time the perfect project for such an important task comes up. While still meeting the commercial requirements for a film to be considered “marketable”, we keep on striving to find and develop real and fictitious stories to turn into works of art for the world to enjoy while giving opportunities to yet undiscovered and unknown talents to emerge and prove their worth through team work, which is paramount to us. Read more>>

Amy Bright | Co-founder of Orbit Beach Chair, LLC

On a day-trip to the Jersey Shore with my family one summer, my brother noticed beachgoers picking up their chairs & all their belongings and turning themselves to face the sun every few hours. He said, “Why hasn’t anyone invented a swivel beach chair?” And, the lightbulbs went off! We sketched an idea that very day, and after 5+ years of r&d, engineering and prototyping, our invention was finally patented and we were ready to launch The Orbit Beach Chair: a portable, multi-purpose recreational chair that swivels 360 degrees in either direction. Read more>>

Jeurys Santiago | Owner and Founder at Minds With Purpose

I noticed that there was so many great businesses around me , so many great entrepreneurs around me and so many great and talented artists around me . But I noticed that they wouldn’t work with one another on using each other to gain more exposure for each of their business . I noticed that they lacked in support from their own community . so I bought to myself how can I create a system in which everyone is working with one another to help each other succeed and that’s when I thought of minds with purpose which is a networking platform that helps present people with opportunities they normally wouldn’t have by making them part of the platform that then allows them to showcase their talents and ideas . Minds with purpose came about off the organizational systems that air bnb and uber have . They are systems that have people using something they own to make themselves money and the company money . Minds with purpose is the same thing except that the thing these people own is themselves and their ideas. Read more>>

Jeanine Rountree | Chief Kindness Officer

I had a very close friend who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was given 6 months to live. I placed myself in his shoes and began to think about my purpose and why I was placed on this earth. What kind of legacy did I want to leave behind for my daughter? I happened to come across a volunteer opportunity on social media called the Burrito Project. This project served the homeless people living in “Tent City” in downtown Santa Ana. I came to the event not knowing what to expect as I never volunteered for a homeless shelter before. The experience of serving the homeless really humbled me to the core and made me realize that there is so much that I can do to give back. I saw the living conditions and the many faces of people who are someone’s son/daughter, mother/father or friend. I came home that night and told my daughter that we need to be kind to everyone because we don’t know what struggles people are going through. The very next day, I woke up with an idea. Read more>>

Charles Dickerson | Executive Director and Conductor, Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles

During late spring of 2009, a high-school aged African-American musical instrumentalist asked me to work with him and group of his compatriots that summer learning orchestral performance repertoire. He asked me because, at the time, I was the conductor of a professional African-American orchestra. I agreed to work with him and his group. He brought eight others, and we began rehearsals. By the end of the summer, our group had grown to 24, and we presented a concert/recital that was attended by about 200 people. It went so well that, after the concert, the youngsters in the group asked me if we could continue. I said yes, and we have now grown to an annual group of about 100 youngsters. We present a series of concerts throughout the year that concludes with a Grand Finale at the Walt Disney Concert Hall every year. We have international recognition, and we are now the largest African-American orchestra in the United States. Read more>>

Synthia Smith | Executive Director, Sisters of Nia, Inc.

Soon after becoming a teacher back in 1995, I knew I wanted to have some type of program working with youth…I knew I didn’t want to teach forever…I just didn’t know what type of program I wanted to start. It wasn’t until years later, much longer than planned, that I gained clarity on exactly what that program would be when I was completing my Master’s degree in Counseling Studies at Capella University. When doing some research for a project, I stumbled upon a short-term curriculum book called Sisters of Nia by Dr. Faye Belgrave, et. al.. This is a 14-week curriculum specifically for African American girls. When I found it, I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do, except that I wanted my program to be longer. This is where the idea for a 3-year rites of passage program was born. I fell in love with the curriculum name and decided to name the nonprofit Sisters of Nia, Inc. and this curriculum became the foundation of our 6th grade program. Read more>>