We reached out to some of our favorite entrepreneurs and asked them to think back and tell us about how they decided to start a business. Check out their responses below.

Haley Pollack | Executive Director

When I was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer at 37, I was terrified. I had a 6 month old baby and 3 year old at home. I had just returned from my parental leave to a demanding job. I didn’t know anyone who was in a similar situation. I was always the youngest person at the cancer center and despite my best efforts, I felt myself falling through the cracks with medical social workers. I was scared and I couldn’t find the tools that I needed to help my very little kids through my cancer diagnosis. New parenthood and cancer are both very isolating but taken together, this was just too much to handle. I am endlessly thankful to the medical practitioner who had the foresight to connect me and Aimee Barnes, another mom navigating parenting through cancer diagnosis and treatment. Read more>>

Jordan Griffin | Graphic Designer

Well I’ve always wanted to build something that would leave my mark on this world, From a very young age I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I knew I wanted to compete with the world and build something that could expand and leave a legacy. Thankfully I was blessed with a natural ability to create and recognize great art. Art has been a constant in my life and I recognized that it would be a real shame if I didn’t use that God given ability to not only realize my dream but to also help others realize there’s. Read more>>

Rijon Charne | Fertility Attorney & Consultant

I decided to start my own law firm as I wanted to focus on areas of fertility that I knew could make a difference to future generations to come. After being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I chose to freeze my eggs before undergoing chemotherapy. This life changing and trying experience shaped my professional career and because of it, I chose to become a fertility attorney. During my egg freezing process, insurance denied my appeal to cover my fertility treatment, even though my fertility may have been compromised by the chemotherapy. I was livid by this fact. Read more>>

Ty Wilson | CEO and Designer

I wanted to change the narrative of what a CEO looked like. Many times when we hear “CEO” we think suit and heels and I wanted to create a brand that shattered that image and built a better one. CEOs are not confined to a desk or society’s idea of the identity of a CEO, but they are pioneers, wives, mothers and single women smashing their goals who refuse to be confined to a box. I wanted to give everyday CEOs like myself the freedom to be confident and comfortable without the pressure to be traditional in their appearance. The Lit CEO is the new work uniform whether they work from home or go to an office. Quality, comfort and flexibility were our top priorities and each piece was made with their lifestyle in mind making it easy to transition from fulfilling orders to the basketball game to a night out with the girls. Read more>>

Tiannia Barnes | CEO, Founder & Designer

My thought process behind starting my footwear business was to think strategically about how to execute my vision and plan that I created in my business plan. I first thought about my end goal and results that I wanted to achieve both business wise and personal. My business goal was that I simply wanted to turn my dream and passion for footwear into reality. Secondly, my personal goal was that I wanted flexibility and freedom in my life and career. I then had determine my why and how. Once I understand what my why and how was I was able to document a plan. I did my due diligence about the fashion and footwear industry, financing, sales channels and models, digital marketing, how to make a profit and learn about pricing, etc. Read more>>

Monae Bratton | Chandler, Tarot Reader & Owner/Founder of The Pastel Botanica

When I first started my business, I didn’t have the typical structured “business plan” I had ideas that I knew I wanted to bring into the world but I knew I had to take baby steps. I started out with products that took less time and money to make until I worked my up to being able to outsource products and get to where I am today. But my main focus was always making spirituality more attainable, more affordable and less intimidating. Read more>>

Erin Frances Pooley | Winemaker & Business Owner

Thankfully, I didn’t put too much thought process into starting. I was young, and naive. I saw other people with tiny wine projects around me – most of them with less experience than I had. How hard could it be? I believed in myself and I jumped right in. Both feet forward and learning as I go. Read more>>

Jevaugn Fleming | Artist and Entrepreneur

I started my business to reclaim what I lost. Security and stability. Ever since I discovered my passion for music in 2012, I knew one day I’d want to share something of my own with the world. To what capacity I was unsure, but I daydreamed about it endlessly. I wanted to say something, but being the quiet kid, I didn’t know how at the time. I desired a sound that spoke to me and for me; a mentality that spoke for me; an action that spoke for me. Music was that, and it still is. It brought me a sense of life where just in that moment, I felt my belonging in the world. I would feel my entirety expand with energy, and it was there that I felt my happiest. Read more>>

Marvin & Kristen Speller | Founders & Owners, Doubledown Cosmetics

My husband and I wanted to create a unique brand, that represented all melanated skin tones as their was and still is a gap in the Clean & Conscious Beauty Sector for representation. We also wanted to provide great products with a mission led component to our brand. We started the Domestic Violence Glam UP Program in 2012 and now that we have our own brand, we are able to partners with various organizations in our community to provide makeovers and resources to survivors in Los Angeles. Read more>>

Buffy Youngblood | Co-owner of Lil in Los Angeles

My husband and I both love fashion, and when we had our little girl we were set on never letting her wear a sparkly unicorn dress. Not that anything is wrong with them, just not our style. We love streetwear and saw an opportunity to bring this to the industry of children’s clothing, with our own spin on it. Our tagline is that we make kids clothes that adults want to wear, and I can definitely say I want one of everything we have made. Read more>>

Maurice Johnson | Executive Chef

Great question! While on vacation, in Hawaii, my wife asked me what I would do if money wasn’t an issue. I’ve always been ambitious, artistic, and up for a challenge. Naturally I chose a path of entrepreneurship and creative expression through music and food. I have always wanted to own my own restaurants so I began my journey of doing just that, but on my own terms! Read more>>

Dr Linda Hansen | CEO and Cofounder of Fund Duel Inc and a Non-profit Pure Light Foundation

My daughter, Jasmine Hansen Toomalatai, and I are cofounders of our disruptive technology company, Fund Duel Inc. The inspiration behind this company came from my research and our mutual desire to make the greatest impact for good on a global scale with a new gamified fundraising platform. Jasmine and I recognized that there has been a ten year lag in innovation in the crowdfunding space and no ideal platform for organizations to raise money for good causes. From my research on the neurochemical and psychological motivation system, I realized we could create a magnificent platform that incorporated eight different motivational tools to encourage engagement and donations. Read more>>

Tatiana Magallon | Owner of Luxe Beauty Bar

One of my first jobs was working as a receptionist in a small spa. I quickly fell in love with the ambiance and the relationship built between the clientele and the artist. Instantly, I knew this was my path, this is what I wanted to do. My goal was always to open up my own salon, but the hard part was starting. Figuring out location, services to offer, prices, naming my business, selling products, licenses and certificates, there’s so much that goes into a business that you don’t realize until you start the process. At times, it gets overwhelming, especially with the recent pandemic, you realize how quickly things can change in a blink of an eye, but I always remind myself of where I started and how far I’ve come and it inspires me to push forward. Read more>>

Ryan Harris | Small Business Owner & Chef

Like many other entrepreneurs I wanted to create something that didn’t exist where I lived. After working in high-end restaurants for a long time my business partner and I wanted to offer high quality ingredients to the most number of people. Fine dining, though fun, proved to be too isolated. We worked with these beautiful ingredients but only a tiny percentage of the population could taste them. Read more>>