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.

Tracy Vogt | Non Profit Founder

I started Charlie’s Acres Farm Animal Sanctuary in 2016 in response to a need I saw in the non profit space to address the concerns of farm animals. I worked for a medical non profit previously, which I loved, but realized my personal passion involved animals as well as non profits. I wanted to combine both of my passions, and came up with the idea of a farm animal sanctuary in California. There are billions of farm animals in the world whose voices are not heard. I realized I could start a non profit that not only rescued animals, but also provided an educational experience for the humans involved. Read more>>

christina patricio | Lifestyle & Entertainment Blogger and Content Creator

In 2008 I decided to start a blog to document all of the places my husband and I were traveling. We loved traveling to Hawaii, Europe, Australia, etc. I wanted to write about the places we visited, share photos, and talk about where we stayed and places we ate. We also enjoyed cruising and I loved sharing about those experiences too. Over the years I continued to share about family travel, motherhood, television and movies on my blog and social media channels. I really love sharing my thoughts and experiences with people, whether it be about travel, recipes, fashion, movies and more. Read more>>

Kerry Wee | Aerialist & Dancer

Dancers have a pretty short shelf life compared to other careers and I’ve always been very aware of my expiration date on stage. I’m also accustomed to being my own boss and calling the shots as well as the challenges that come with that. I knew I needed to invest my time and energy into a business that had more longevity and that “niched-downwards,” meaning I needed to do what is uniquely me with more specificity than ever before. Read more>>

Raven Patzke | Solo Female Travel Guide Founder & Creative Writer

think of: Studying Abroad. In 2019, I moved across the world alone to live in Melbourne, Australia for 6 months. The time I spent there is full of memories that I will cherish forever. From visiting 5/7 states in Australia to exploring Indonesia, Thailand, New Zealand and Fiji, I had a lot of stories to share. Of course, my friends and family back home were curious as well, so I began a travel blog to keep them up to date. Once I came home from this life-changing trip, I had my mind set: I was going to take a gap year after graduating and solo-backpack across Europe. Read more>>

Mara McGinley | Founder & Designer, MARA THE LABEL

I was intrigued by sustainability and the impact design can have. I took a course on sustainability in college and it was eye-opening. After graduating from design school, I realized I wanted to start my own sustainable fashion brand. I enrolled in fashion design school and learned all the steps of how to build a fashion brand from the ground up. I wanted to create dreamy silhouettes that made the customer feel their best. I’ve built most of my collections around silk, viscose, linen and deadstock fabric. My collections are made in Los Angeles in small batches to reduce overproduction. Read more>>

Eden Batki | Multi-disciplinary artist, chef, producer

I have been running my own business since I was 22 years old, though it has evolved and changed over the years. I realized early on that working a “regular” job did not suit me and felt constricting. I didn’t have a choice in the matter. As brutal, heartbreaking, elating, and joyous it has been over the years, I still would not trade it for anything else. Read more>>

Jesus Maldonado | Browntears

I had a few startup clothing brands in the past, but I’ll always lose the motivation to continue with them. Until I came up with Browntears, I knew if I was going to have a clothing brand I wanted my brand to stand for something. Starting this brand has taught me so much, in such a short amount of time. 1. Know what you stand for–and what you don’t. Having a clear message of what your brand represents is key. There is going to be people who disagree with the message behind your brand. Stand your ground! Not everyone is going to support you and agree with your message. Read more>>

Joaquin Elizondo | Film & Television Editor and Mentor

My journey to becoming a film and scripted television editor in Hollywood took 15 years. I had spent that time editing everything from news to local commercials to talk shows. I had wanted to work in the film industry ever since I graduated college, but I just didn’t know how to break in. So I stayed in my comfort zone, making money cutting projects that didn’t satisfy me creatively. It wasn’t until my mid-30s that I decided I had enough and was going to do whatever it took to fulfill my dream of being a Hollywood film and television editor. This meant I had to start my career all over again, going back to becoming an assistant editor and sometimes working on projects for free. But I was learning the importance of taking risks, networking, building relationships, seeking communities, and most importantly, finding mentors. Read more>>

Dustin Jacobs | Co-Owner

Chuck: I had a conversation with a distributor in which she said reality shows were getting picked up by networks left and right. I thought Dustin and I could use that connection to get our own shows off the ground. I approached him with the idea and he agreed it made logistical sense. We’re both creative people and enjoy narrative projects, but this was a chance to get some shows picked up and seen. Read more>>

Savannah McGovern | Alternative Wedding Planner

When I first decided to open my business, I told several people about my idea to cater towards a more unique and quirky type of wedding clientele to which they understandably had their doubts. But, I had noticed for a long time, that there is a severe lack of inspiration in the wedding market with regards to couples who want to celebrate their wedding day differently whether that be a big & bold festival theme, an ode to all things nerdy, a cottage core mystical dreamland, or an all black gothic affair. As an individual who herself is interested in all thingsd off beat and unusual, I remeber feeling ‘restricted’ when deciding on my own wedding day, in that I I felt had to cater to what was ‘normal’. Read more>>

Drake Murphy | Freedom Leader for Musicians and Artists

My thought process behind starting my business was simply looking for problems to solve. One of the most common problems that I found was “I want to be an artist/singer but I don’t know where to start.” So my way of providing the solution for this problem was writing out a foolproof plan that an 8-year-old could follow. An expert plan that is designed to take an aspiring artist from confusion to clarity, from a hobby to a profession, from absolutely nothing to having records distributed worldwide, in a matter of months. Also, collecting all of the money that is owed to them. Independently! Read more>>

Frank Ishman | Commercial and Fine Art Photographer/ Director & Creative

What was the thought process behind starting ISH? Well let me explain it like this for everyone in one very shot run on paragraph. I ran out of money my senior year at Morehouse and shifted to the Art Institute of Atlanta where I graduated in photography. The desire to be your own boss is inside every artist so this was somewhat of a no brainer. I paid my dues assisting a lot longer than most partially because I was just scared of not really having a safety net from my family if I failed. I was very aware of the racism on the commercial side of the industry so much like in double dutch I waited and waited for a good time to jump in the game; Read more>>

Ace “B8gie” Williams | Artist/Emcee & Product Developer

The thought process behind creating my product, Stimmy Stash™ (www.stimmystash.com), was a lifelong desire to become a producer of something as inspiring and impactful as what I had been a consumer of. As an 8-year-old rapper and CD collector, I desperately wanted to make the music I consumed so I strategically began building a makeshift recording studio. The result was my self-produced debut/ demo cassette tape in 2001 (https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/b8giefoo/hot-boy-b8gie), the first consumer item of my own creation. Read more>>

Luis Cubas | Photographer

When I started my photography business, I was attending college at UC Santa Cruz and noticed that there was a high-demand for senior portraits. This made me realize that this was something I could tap into and provide services for students since I knew exactly what their needs were. While studio sessions were offered through the campus, most students wanted outdoor sessions and portraits that captured the beauty of our school. I mean who wouldn’t want pictures outdoors when your campus looks like a forest from Disney? Read more>>

Goodness I. | Fashion Designer

When I would go out with my friends to events and other functions, I remember when I was in the ladies room and heard girls just talk about things they did not like about themselves. One girl had freckles and she hated them. This other girl had burn marks and trying to use foundation to cover it up. I was thinking to myself… why are you trying to change who God made you ? I started randomly talking to them telling them how beautiful they’re and how all their marks is apart of their beauty. I am a very confident person and I wanted to make find ways to make other woman feel confident through fashion. My brand name is called “Onye Vè” and it means there’s no one like you. Onye Vè also means imperfection is perfection. I wanted to create a platform where woman can be themselves and still feel confident. Read more>>

Coby Palivathukal | Virtual Production Technical Artist and Creator

I decided to start The Coby Company-a virtual production consulting and content company-this past year. Virtual production as a means of creating content continues to improve in quality and grow in popularity. My knowledge of the field has allowed me to help others leverage virtual production technology for their own projects. My ultimate dream is for the company to exclusively create its own content using virtual production; however, until we get a deal with a distributor or internet revenues become sustainable, The Coby Company will continue helping others with as many virtual production projects as it can handle. Read more>>

Yasmina Ksikes | Chef, food dj

Being really free to live fully while doing something i am passionate about . Read more>>

Gift Igbin | CEO of SocialGiftI & Actress

Making my own business was a solution to wanting to own something meaningful and create my stamp in my corner of the world. I wanted to feel the freedom that all CEO’s seemed to feel, the motivation and the drive to see something you started be successful. I come from a family of CEO’s so starting a business was prefect in continuing that tradition. Read more>>

Alisha Hall | Real Estate Agent and President of Golden Women Foundation

Generational Wealth. My husband and I always talked about wanting generational wealth for our family and at times, felt so far away from it. We may not have any assets passed down to us and knew we had to find a way to break this cycle. We talked about what type of assets we would want to pass down and property and investments were the top two. We decided to each take one to learn more about and I reluctantly chose real estate. After doing a quick google search on a book that would teach me everything I wanted to know about real estate, I found a free 2-hour class nearby. I thought cool, maybe the class would direct me on what books to read. Read more>>

Shannon de Laat | Co-Founder, The Virtue Project

Four years ago, I took a really hard look at the work I that I was putting out into the world — the kind of place that I would want to leave behind for our tiny humans to grow up and explore. I made the decision that there was an opportunity to put my skillset and my experience to work for the greater good. To help create the kind of organizations that can use their power, their resources and their talent to advance collective missions. Read more>>

Joe Feminella | Founder and CEO

I think everyone has a dream of starting their own business, but a lot of people either think it is unrealistic or are too afraid of actually starting the process. From a very young age I realized that I did not want to live a conventional life and I had very big dreams, as you get older those dreams may change, but you should always keep that drive and motivation to maximize your potential. After college I got a job in corporate America and it just didn’t seem right, I felt like there was more to life and I was always a big risk taker, I wanted to gamble on myself. Read more>>

Paulina Lainez | Owner of Eres Una Maravilla

For us, it was all about representation. I was actually shopping for earrings that I felt would allow me to celebrate my culture, but I couldn’t find anything that I really loved. So I taught myself how to wire letters to make custom wired hoops in 2020 and started selling custom hoop earrings soon after. Since then, my husband and I prioritize designing earrings and accessories that center our culture while using multiple mediums such as wire, polymer clay, and even 3D printed elements! We want people to feel seen and represented when wearing our pieces. We named our store Eres Una Maravilla which is Spanish for “you are a wonder, a marvel.” We hope to remind our customers and community that they are special and marvelous! Read more>>

Jaré & Saul Cervantes | Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach / Personal Trainer (respectively); Co-Owners of Heroic Strength

Heroic Strength was born out of our mutual passion for health, fitness and…superheroes. In 2015, Saul started a Spiderman cosplay Instagram account (@spideyfit) and posted not only his costumes, but also showed himself at the gym lifting weights in them. He cosplayed for fun as a hobby, and in the process, he inspired many people to begin their own fitness journeys. In the meantime, Saul was growing in his career as a Personal Trainer, and in 2018, I (Jaré) began my career as a Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach. Read more>>

Mama Umineefa Rivers-Younger | Founder, Guardian Director & Keeper of the Culture

We believe that knowledge of self or self-awareness and esteem are critical components to optimal growth in young children: we focus on developing the socialization and self-help skills needed to have a positive self-image. We will also do our best to assist your child in developing important values such as love for Afrikan heritage, good manners, caring/sharing, patience, responsibility, independence, compassion for self and others, as well as communication and teamwork. We believe that children learn best through freedom, choices, and respect and we will implement these important values throughout our program day. Read more>>

Gwynne Vinstein | Founder, Owner and Co-Creative Director

Bottom line was that I wanted to spend more time with my daughter. I was working very long hours in the corporate fashion world for over 10 years and wanted to slow down. My priorities changed once I had my daughter and I didn’t want to travel as much and miss those important milestones she was hitting. My mindset had also changed, as I was working in fast fashion and started to rethink what that means to us and the environment. It was no longer cool to have a disposable outfit to wear every Friday night. Slow fashion or as I like to say, timeless fashion is more interesting to me and working with my daughter is the cherry on top! Read more>>

Leah Thomas | CEO/Founder

While teaching 2nd grade at a charter school, I realized that teaching in a school setting was no longer fulfilling. I wanted to have a bigger impact on children’s well-being, education, and safety. Also, to ensure children and their parents’/guardians ’ lives balanced. As a result, in 2020, I decided to pursue my dream and create Kiddos on The Go. Read more>>

John Paul Castillo | Entrepreneur

It all started in college when I took a graphic design classes and when I started to doing graphic works for couple of friends. Since then, I had the idea of starting a graphic design company along with doing photography and video editing as well. The idea actually came from my childhood back when I was a very creative in art. Read more>>

Nia King | Therapist, Podcaster and Entrepreneur

My inspiration behind starting all of my business ventures has always been to help others. With my newest business adventure Kid Onyx I saw a need for children to have representation in social emotional learning products. As a therapist I see how important it is for the children to identify with the material. As the black community becomes more comfortable with accepting the concept of mental health I saw that it was important to also help the black children of the community. Read more>>

Keegan Fong | Owner of Woon – A Homestyle Chinese Restaurant

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to start my own business eventually. There was always a passion to want something of my own that I could make all the decisions for. I think for me, I find joy in solving problems and also creating new ideas. So, when I finally felt like I had gained enough experience working for other people and helped start other businesses, I felt ready to make the leap and learn on my own. Read more>>

Aarica Gardner | Lash Expert & Trainer

My thought process behind starting my own business was that i would be my own boss. I love being able to chose when I work and who I work with . I really enjoy what I do so it was a no brainer that I work for myself and create the environment that makes me the most happy . Read more>>

Lauren “Elle” B | Creative & Entrepreneur

My thought process behind starting my own business is our mission statement: “Our goal is to create and produce a positive, creative, collaborative environment, where networking experiences are obtainable for Black&Brown people.” I’m a creative & wanted a space to create & be in company of creatives who were just starting or had established business, to collaborate with & patronize each other’s businesses. Read more>>