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.

Zachary Lee | Photographer

I was working as a welder before I transitioned within my career. I was working a job that made me feel like my soul was dying. I was stuck in a cubicle and very isolated feeling a lack of love and joy within my life. From a deep suffering of feeling like life was going to end if I stayed I did some soul searching in order to find a lifestyle that I wanted to live. I wanted to be able to connect and give something to others. From this desire I had photography pop up in my head as a way to make my life purposeful and bring fulfilment. After it popped in my head, that same day I bought a camera and began my life and journey into running my own photography business. Read more>>

David Collum II | CEO of Correct Collum Entertainment

I have always been a musician, and I have seen a vacancy of work for creatives. I wanted to fill the space for good musicians, producers, and artists to be able to create. The music industry is very biased on looks and numbers over sound and quality. I wanted to open a space for creatives to be free enough to make the music they enjoy, with out having to worry about the pressures that the music industry can hold. Sometimes, to make good music, creatives need a environment that will give them enough freedom to do so. Read more>>

Katrina dela Cruz | Integrative Psychotherapist, Plant Spiritist, Herbalist, Energy Healer & Intuitive

I started Fire Moon Medicines because I wanted to integrate my training in Western psychology and mental health with traditional, ancestral, and energetic healing practices. I spent over a decade as a hospital social worker, honing my clinical skills within a framework where treating physiology was paramount. I wanted my own practice to reflect reverence for the connectivity between the physical body AND the mental, emotional, and spiritual body. Read more>>

Jazmin Castello | Business Coach & Educator

I’ve always wanted to start my own business, so for me, it was never a question of “if” but instead a question of “what”. Entrepreneurism is a big part of my personality; I was always the kid with a “side hustle”. After trying a million different things (as most entrepreneurs do), I realized that something major wasn’t clicking… and that something was purpose. From this realization, my business was born. Now I get to make a living from teaching others how to create and grow their own businesses too. Read more>>

Brittany Wright | Founder & CEO

I think I’ve always been an entrepreneurial minded individual and thus have had an inkling in the back of my mind that I would one day start my own business, even if I wasn’t actively seeking out that path. In middle school, I made a bunch of mini “businesses”. In high school, I took an entrepreneurship class where I both got my first formal introduction to what entrepreneurship is and met my current best friend and cofounder, Kevin Loo. In college, I minored in entrepreneurship & innovation at Columbia and had the opportunity to take and be a TA for many informative classes in the field, so it’s been a consistent interest of mine from a young age. Read more>>

John Michael | Owner Of Secluded Archive And Videographer

The concept behind starting Secluded Archive was to create a brand that represented creatives and people who felt like they had no voice. I wanted to create clothing that when someone recognized the brand they felt like it was a community of creatives who helped each other gain exposure. I know what it feels like to have such great content but no one around you in your local town is taking you seriously because you have not reached the “main stage” yet. That was when I decided to create Secluded Archive as a media outlet and clothing line. This way brand posting about other creatives and other people wearing it they knew that whoever was wearing it was taking a step forward in their career. Read more>>

Brenda Wyatt | Mortgage Advisor

After working for a fortune 500 companies leadership team for over 20 years, I realized that my income earning potential was limited in corporate America. I would never be able to fully live the life I longed for or have the freedom I desired with the salary constraints, bonus drawbacks, vacation limitations. Most companies have salary caps of 10%, with bonuses being a small percentage of annual compensation, and limit vacations based on tenure. My transition began with working a 2nd job to obtain some experience in lending. Later I gained the clientele and relationships that allowed me to leave my corporate job and triple my income within 7 months. That same year, I reached a pinnacle in my fairly new “side business” and was named a top producer! Read more>>

Roberta Moradfar | Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner and owner of EFFACÈ Aesthetics

My thought process behind starting my own business began when I realized how much of an integral part I played to the success of the previous company I worked for, where I began my aesthetic career. I realized that delivering quality treatments along with establishing trust and rapport with clients is what will provide longevity to any successful business. I became so busy with repeat clients and there became an increasing request for my services- that’s when I realized that I could totally have my own spa. Read more>>

Angie Zuzeth | Artists, Beader, & Healer

I learned how to bead 3 years ago in college when one of my professors taught me how to reclaim my identity through beading, dancing, and songs. Through the years I’ve been beading as a way to heal and reconnect with my roots. Beading is a bridge to an identity that was stolen from me due to colonization. When I bead, I heal myself, my loved ones, and my ancestors. Beading is medicine. Therefore as I began to heal, I realized the importance of sharing this medicine to those around me in order to revitalize my culture. Read more>>

Savannah Schultz | Metalsmith/Owner

Good Girl Silver started out as a fever dream, almost literally. I had some thoughts about starting my own business while I was cross country trucking for a large corporation. I was longing to do something that would take me home and live on my own schedule. Just a few months before covid happened I started to learn how to make jewelry. Shortly after the new year we went into lockdown, I was no longer trucking and much like others I had a lot of time on my hands. I dove head first into starting my jewelry business and haven’t looked back since. Read more>>

Steve Fortunato | Founder and CEO of Hospitality Collaborative

I am a “lifer”. I’ve been working in the Hospitality Industry for 34 years. Like so many in the industry (especially on the service side), many of those years, I viewed service in hospitality as a “stop-over” to pay my bills while I pursued other careers. So much of my desire to graduate from the industry had to do with many of the norms that sadly, epitomize a hospitality job: long hours, low pay, working to build the profile of a chef, a lack of dignity, entitled customers, the monotony of tasks, and especially–the mediocrity of catering. I worked in fine dining restaurants, and at the time, that community saw catering as the orphaned step-child of our industry. Read more>>

William Morris | Fashion Designer & Culture Curator

Well I was actually working on another brand with one of my best friends, and creatively our ideas were just so different. At that point in my life it felt like I had just hit rock bottom but I knew that I needed something of my own that would start my own legacy. I’ve loved fashion since I was a kid in elementary school, I knew that I wanted to be apart of the process of people feeling confident and being able to express themselves through the art of fashion. Read more>>

Mane Vybe | Hair Care Company

Mane Vybe was born out of four friends who often expressed dissatisfaction with their hair journey. Our journey started off as a need and desire to address the gap of quality hair products by black women, for black women. We sought to create products that would not only style, nourish, and repair hair, but give women a boost of confidence while strengthening and growing hair. Our all natural products were created with love and will deliver soft, healthy, and manageable hair from our babies to our beautiful elders. Read more>>

Serena DC | Actress, Executive Producer & CEO

I started my own production company because I was sick of watching reality TV series that were negative and non inclusive all the time! I wanted to show the world that you can be sassy with out being mean and that you can be a Diva without bringing other people down. That it’s actually cool to be kind. We started with a mission to be completely inclusive so our team in LA, hail from many different countries including Brazil, Australia, Germany, the UK and even Guam! We also have a wonderful LGBTIGA community within our company. Read more>>

Christopher Barkley | Co-Founder, Producer, and Podcast Host

My Co-Founder Nick and I were friends for fifteen years before starting Bonsai, and we knew we wanted to build a creative business and operate a business that solved big problems and helped people. Although we both were creatives, musicians, and writers before founding Bonsai Creative, Nick and I wanted Bonsai to be a publishing and technology company. We figured that I had some skills in the world of Publishing based on my degrees in Journalism and Marketing, and he had some expertise in Tech based on his degree in Computer Science. Read more>>

Simone Gully | Chief Improvement Officer, Creative Director, Philanthropist, and US Navy Veteran

I started making natural bath and products to help my Step Father with his skin issues that developed after taking Chemo and Radiation. He fingers and skin would be so dry that would start to split and bleed from the dryness. None of the products we used would work. I started to research different recipes to use that would help him. I initially started making body butters to help with his extra dry skin. I found several different ingredients that could be use. I ordered different things to work on my formula and would test it with it until I found one that worked. Read more>>