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.

Dan Bernier | Commercial Real Estate Broker & Founder of Brokerfied Inc.

I have worked in the commercial real estate (CRE) brokerage business for more than a decade. As my career progressed, the projects I worked on got bigger and my clients got larger. I realized that this was true not only for me, but for the entire CRE industry – the best, most experienced brokers work on the largest deals they can find. This makes it incredibly hard for small “mom and pop” landlords to get help with their CRE needs. And since this has historically been a commission-based business, projects that don’t generate enough commission can often get neglected. Read more>>

Nicole Price | CEO/Founder of FUSE MGT

I had been freelancing as a Makeup Artist for a few years and was giving away bookings due to me being booked. At the same time helping a few models I had worked with manage their way through the modeling agency. The foundation for FUSE MGT began there and has grown into something truly amazing. My goal and thought process was to build a boutique agency where the focus is on cultivating a team of creatives to build themselves as a brand and work together to create magic! Read more>>

Corbin Booker | Performance Coach & Wellness Strategist

My thought process was around me wanting to find a way to create an impact for the community I was living in. Initially I was struggling in between jobs trying to figure out what would fuel me to want to do more. Fitness and sports have always been apart of my life; I played sports in HS and college and those life lessons helped me find my passion. I was also concerned about maintaining the level of focus I had for physical fitness now that I didn’t have practice or games to look forward to. The new framework was understanding that competition is everywhere, I had to be an athlete with a different mindset. Read more>>

Jessica Kim | Poet & Disability Advocate

Growing up with a visual impairment, loneliness has frequented my life. I didn’t know anyone who wore thick pink glasses or had involuntarily shaky eyes, and as a second-grader, that difference led me to feel withdrawn and excluded, even when I had family and friends who celebrated my disability. In many ways, loneliness itself is a communal emotion, but I didn’t know how to connect with people like me. Read more>>

Niki Schwan and Jessica Penzari | Co-Founders of Nakie Coquette

It was unexpected and serendipitous. As best friends who have always collaborated on each other’s projects throughout the years, the pandemic presented an opportunity for us to create something together. (Niki has an extensive career in fashion. She is a creative director, celebrity stylist, designer and has worked with celebrities from Scarlett Johnason to Nicki Minaj. Jessica is a publicist who has represented some of the world’s most well known brands.) Read more>>

Robert & Tiffany Santana | Owners of Rawbert’s Acai

Truth be told, I don’t like working for people. Majority of the time, they let their title get to their head & treat people different. I’ve always wanted to have my own business & initially it was going to be something else until I tried açaí while working in Irvine. I was hooked! I started jotting things down in my notebook but the plans didn’t set sail til I met my wife. Read more>>

Tamira Perkins | Natural hair stylist

When I started my business, my first thought was my daughter. She’s inspired me to be better and to never give up. I started my hair product line because of her hair texture. She has 4c hair and it seems to always look dry and dull. I tried every product on the market to try to add moisture to her hair. Once I decided to start selling my own products,I’ve notice a drastic change. Her hair now retains moisture, and has even started to grow. I wanted to share my product with customers that are having trouble with the health of their hair. I been in the hair business for 5 years and all of my clients seen great results with our products Read more>>

Empress Varnado + Dare Amyson | Co-Founders of Urban Wax Creative Studio

Urban Wax Creative was founded in Long Beach, California by co-founders Dare Amyson and Empress Varnado. Frustrated with the lack of access to creative spaces for their personal media and communal projects, the two partners developed a concept that would allow them to provide a “ safe space” for BIPOC creatives and the Long Beach community at large to nurture and refine their artistic endeavors. Urban Wax Creative is an all-in-one Podcast, Music, and Photography studio built to help you innovate, create, and refine your content. Consider us your “home studio” and a gathering spot for you to produce quality entertainment that will make a cultural impact! Read more>>

Brittany Driscoll | Co-Founder & CEO

Truth be told, I never imagined myself starting my own business. I had a boss early on in my career continuously tell me I was going to run my own company one day and while I took it as a compliment, I thought she was crazy. I always loved the journey of building my career and the idea of steadily climbing the corporate ladder, but I did possess an entrepreneurial spirit. When I look back and connect the dots throughout my career, I can see how I was constantly looking for new challenges, loved taking risks, thrived in the unknown and was always searching for how to disrupt the status quo. Read more>>

Sigail Currie | International High Fashion Model and Candlemaker

I have always dreamt of owning my own business one day, so it was only natural for me to embark on this journey at some point. Long before Wax on Vine materialised, I used to experiment with the candles I had bought, mixing the scents to make them better. So during my travels around the world, I fell in love with many different scents, herbs, and spices; I decided that this was it, this was the kind of business that I wanted to get into. Read more>>

Danielle Guillen | Founder, STEM in the Park

I started STEM in the Park out of need. At the time, I was on the MacArthur Park neighborhood council and noticed that we did not have many outside of school STEM activities. However, we had some of the lowest STEM achievement scores in LAUSD. I knew we needed to provide our families with the opportunities to learn STEM together and in the language they felt most comfortable in. I created a bilingual STEM program in MacArthur Park where I brought in bilingual educators to help our children and families feel comfortable to learn together with us. Read more>>

Renita Thomas-Franklin | Actress/Activist, Founder Of Moms Allyship against Racism (MAAR)

My thought process is always led by my “divine purpose”, Before investing your precious time and energy into anything you must/and should have a definitive answer for two important questions, First, I suggest you go to your “Creator” for your blueprint plans, seek God for directions and HIS will for your life?. Secondly, discover what you’re uniquely gifted to do, and enjoy doing? That’s normally the greatest clue to your gifting, what would you do for free just because you love it that much!… And If you don’t know ask your “make to reveal your unique gift(s). Our gifts and talents are divinely purposed for the edification of humanity…We all were created on purpose and for a purpose greater than our individual selves and self-interests, Read more>>

Zeus Universe | DJ

I have always been obsessed with the power of music. Being from New Orleans, I remember how the marching bands made me feel; HBCUs specifically. I knew I wanted to be a musician from very young. My love for music grew into an interest in being a Disc Jockey. Once I saw my father begging as a dj, I wanted to start on that journey as well. From there, my djing took a life of its own. Read more>>

Niamh Foster | Knitwear Designer

My process behind starting my own business stemmed from a couple of things. It was the peak of lockdown when I started niamhemilyfoster, it was also the peak of me finishing my degree, mid final major project,. things were intense to say the least. I think initially the drive behind starting my business came from pressure. I was putting more pressure on myself due to the unforeseen I seemed to find myself in. I began to panic about the future, how long I would be back living in my family home, how I would find a job and how I would even grade well in my degree with it all being virtual. Read more>>

Aija Mayrock | Bestselling Author, Poet, Writer

I didn’t necessarily start out with the idea of starting a business. I just wrote, because I loved to write and it was my way of expressing myself. I wrote my first book while in high school and had no idea how to go about getting a book deal, so I self published it. A month after it was self published, Scholastic found it online. I sold it to them in a deal which made me the first self published ebook author to be acquired by them. Soon after The Survival Guide to Bullying came out, it became an international bestseller. I started speaking all over the US. I wrote poetry and performed it wherever I went. Read more>>

Donnell Farrar | Community Developer; Music Manager ; Entrepreneur

As a child, my uncle would pay me and my brother for doing certain tasks for him and after a while you connect the dots – If I provide a product or service to this person, they may be willing to pay me for it if it’s worth their time or money. Before my uncle knew it, my brother and I began making music and trying to sell it and coming up with our own cleaning services where we washed clothes, shoes, and cars and more – all to make money. My uncle explained to us that we were mini entrepreneurs and encouraged us any time we had a “new endeavor.” We even had our own business cards, but since I was a kid, I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Read more>>

Daniele De Cario | Artist

As an artist, multi-instrumentalist and music producer I have toured and collaborated with singers and musicians from different countries of the world. I have also shared my own music by touring Europe, South Africa, Middleeast. Read more>>

Noël Ill | Songwriter & Audio/Visual Artist

I’ve been writing songs for 23 years, but in the past I always had to rely on finding an audio engineer to help me record music. I didn’t know how to use recording equipment when I first started out. In 2018 I signed to a professional voiceover agency in Los Angeles. I quickly learned the best microphones and recording software that’s out there. Four years into my professional career as a voice actress, I had recorded hundreds of auditions, had a number of actual recording sessions remotely and realized I had become very skilled at recording professional quality audio from my home studio. I noticed a window of opportunity to begin recording my own music. Read more>>

Falynn Essix | Wardrobe Stylist & Professional Organizer

Starting my business meant freedom from corporate politics honestly. I wanted create a safe space for creatives to come together who desired to express their skills through style and strategy. I have always surrounded myself with hardworking likeminded people who either had a passion for design, fashion and/or executive level business operations. So initially it was coming up with a way to spend more time doing the things I loved with the people i wanted to be around while networking with the other elite entrepreneurs. Read more>>

Tiffany Orozco, LCSW | PsychoTherapist & Mental Health Consultant

Growing up as an African American young woman in East Oakland, becoming first generation college student=, and being raised by a single mother was the catalyst to me wanting to do and have more. Being from the inner city, I witnessed a lot of violence, exposed to poverty, and even worse I saw firsthand what untreated Mental Health can do to individuals, families, and an entire community. There was limited resources, a HUGE STIGMA, and significant trauma. Read more>>

Cloe Fields | Video Editor & Videographer

I love the challenge that editing brings me because every film is different and has its unique process. When envisioning an idea for a film, it first forms from an idea I have about editing. It’s like memories coming together, it’s a nice feeling. As a dancer, dance has always played a big part in my editing journey and I now like to think editing is my new form of creating dance; what the next move will be, how can I get from the first count to the last eight counts, and more. Read more>>

Geomyra Pollard | Life + Biz Coach for Creatives/Podcaster

I have been an entrepreneur for 16 years right out of college. I started the journey of entrepreneurship knowing that I ultimately wanted to be my own boss. I anticipated that at some point in my life that I would want to have a family and career. But more importantly, a career that would support the lifestyle that I had in mind for my family and myself. After years of working as a wedding and event planner, I pivoted and opened up a coaching firm for small business owners. I did so because I want creative business owners to design a life that feels well-rounded without sacrificing sanity in the process. My thought process was to share my decade-plus of experience and insights with other creatives so that they can work smarter, and not harder like I had to do. Read more>>

Adri Davidek | Yoga Studio Owner

I desired to start my own business to have creative freedom over the the things I wanted to accomplish in life. The aspirations and career goals that I had were not feasible with the previous career path I was on. I wanted to be able to express all parts of who I am and model my business around creativity and autonomy. Alongside of this, I desired to create a working environment where I could provide a space for people to do the same. Read more>>

Gerald Jackson & Andre Revell | FTK Co-Founders

We are entrepreneurs at heart, with a strong desire for following our passion of giving back to the community, and an affinity for fashion, art, and creating apparel with a message. We’ve held strong to the concept of ‘creating what you want to see in the world’ which drove us to create our first clothing line Gold Torch Apparel in 2012 which was a Divine Nine Black Greek Letter Organization brand. When we decided to sunset that business we knew we’d one day re-enter the creative fashion space again, birthing The FTK Shop in 2021 in the midst of the pandemic. During that time we were looking for an outlet to create apparel that served a greater purpose by giving back to youth, and doing it in a way that was unique to our core beliefs as individuals. Read more>>

Emily Pennington | Co-Owner of Mahina + Soul Floral Design

During Covid I lost my corporate job that had been, in all honestly, very toxic. The management and owners were not willing to adjust their systems for their employees to keep up with the times. They were still using word documents to store client notes….some of these clients had been with the company for twenty years. You can imagine how many pages were in those documents! I knew once I lost my job that I never wanted to work for people who didn’t care about their employees again. The obvious answer was to work for myself and create something that I could turn into a safe environment for future employees who want to lean into their passions. I met Ashely who had already been doing floristry work on her own for a few years and I knew we could create something magical. We got started right away. Read more>>

Niek | Designer

I felt like I was making enough money to start taking it more seriously. I had been doing design on the side as a hobby that I occasionally got paid for and eventually I figured out that it could be my main source of income while studying, if I approached it appropriately. Read more>>

Chef Tonetta Luke | Personal Chef

My process behind starting Chef Luke Boom was I got tired of working for people. Basically, I have been in the culinary industry since I was 15 and yes, I’ve learned from some great Chefs. But it was time for me to branch out and do my own thing. But when my Grandmother died I knew I had to do it because she was my biggest supporter and teacher. She taught me “love” and that’s what my food represents, you get everything you get from your grandmother in my food. Read more>>

Monique Mackson | Black Business Owner & Hair/Nail Specialist

The thought that I can soar and be financially set all while having the freedom to raise my kids and be there for everything was definitely motivation for me to start my own business. Of equal importance, was the desire to be a positive role model in my community, provide jobs, mentor teenagers and young adults who are interested in being entrepreneurs, and knowing I can make a difference”, were all thoughts that ran through my mind. Read more>>

Alvin “Malimal” Stewart | Artist, Financial Professional, & Entrepreneur

Honestly, the answer to this question is necessity. I was working various retail work for a while over a decade. I was passed over, underpaid, overlooked, and then unceremoniously let go after years of service. I knew I had to make some change to really attempt to live out my dreams and I knew this cycle wasn’t going to get it. I stood up and took the leap of faith. It’s the best decision ever, even in the hardest of times Read more>>

Maria Hildreth | CEO of Bellaria

When I started Bellaria, it was just for passive income nothing more. I didn’t want to make millions I wanted to make $500 extra a month. LOL seriously. This passive income would allow me to save enough money for a rainy day. Also, to have a back up if my corporate career fell through. For me personally I needed more than what my current day to day allowed me. Bellaria, gives me the opportunity to open a creative outlet and to be the CEO. Being a black and a woman means I already have a double negative against me, and it comes with many barriers to break through. That didn’t stop me. Bellaria, is now more than a $500 a month company. Read more>>