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.

Irma Pérez | Immigration Attorney

My dad kept asking why I was making money for someone else. Honestly, it never occurred to me to start my own business because I liked the safety that I thought I had with someone being in charge of covering my paycheck. However, I realized that the same fears that kept me from starting my practice were likely the same fears that successful business owners confronted on a regular basis. Read more>>

Tammy Laframboise | Owner/Operator at Dance with Miss Tammy

I had reached a point in my career where I was craving the opportunity to expand and do more within the world of dance. I knew that staying where I was wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to be. and I saw a pathway to that place through starting my own business. A chance to use my experience and expertise to build a multifaceted brand dedicated to dance education and entertainment.. And a chance to prolong my career in the industry by thinking outside the box! Read more>>

Katie Rose Brunner | Jewelry Designer & Artist

In 2019, I was looking for a pair of feather earrings online. When I found a pair, I thought to myself, “I could probably make that.” So I had a choice: buy the earrings, or buy the supplies to make the earrings. The latter was definitely more expensive and time-consuming, but I knew that I could create them the way I wanted them. Read more>>

Amber Rankin | Artist & Rug Designer

Launching Rankin Rugs happened pretty organically upon graduating university. I studied Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, and I was lucky enough at the time to have been working with a lot of mixed media which gradually materialised into using rugs. For my degree show I displayed an installation of rolled up antique rugs covered in spray paint and contemporary motifs – for me it was the contrast between new and old, traditional craftsmanship combined with contemporary aesthetic, that really drew me in and made me want to pursue rugs further. Read more>>

Hussein Katz | Photographer

I think being that photography was all I wanted to do from an early age, being my own business was always a part of that equation. I learned from the beginning that an independent contractor life was congruent with my habits. Read more>>

Elvia Paloma” Phelps | Realtor and Mental Health Advocate”

You can say I was fearful of starting my own business, but I find it adventurous, more of a journey of self-discovery and freedom to choose. There are so many risks and doubts that come with being responsible for your own success. Like you question yourself a lot. Those around you like your family, and those you considered your friends question you as well. Read more>>

Kathryn Ward | Psychic Medium & Intuitive Coach

I actually resisted starting my own business for a while. The Queen of Wards was something that I started for fun. It was like my hobby. I really waited a while before decided to turn it into an actual business, because I was afraid that it wouldn’t be ‘fun’ anymore. Ultimately, I finally went all in because I really love helping people. Some people become lawyers or doctors, being an intuitive is my way to help people in society. When it became ‘real’,  Read more>>

Path | Recording artist & producer

My thought process behind starting my journey in the music and entertainment industry came from a combination of two key things: my passion for music and creating music, and my desire to be fully independent and not have to work for someone else. Similar to why someone would buy property instead of renting long term, you have more control and the ability to get a real return from your investment. You can cap out on earnings working for most other people’s businesses while they make the vast majority. I want to be in control of that vast majority. Read more>>

Betsy Marsolan | Parent, Book Enthusiast, Entrepreneur

Over the years, my sister-in-law and I were always on the lookout for diverse and inclusive books. I have two children with disabilities, and they always love seeing stories with children like them. My older son is Deafblind, and whenever we start a new book he asks if there are any characters with cochlear implants or glasses – there is something magical about sharing a book with him that has similarities to him. Read more>>

Rhiannon & Dirk Barkemeijer de Wit | Usui /Tibetan Reiki Master Teachers, Certified Usui Animal Reiki Practitioner (Rhiannon), Sound & Energy Healer (Dirk)

Our beloved Golden Retriever Rowan was the inspiration behind our staring The Rowan Tree Reiki. Although we had been working within the intuitive and healing arts for over 15 years, it wasn’t until our dog Rowan was diagnosed with terminal cutaneous lymphoma that we felt called to learn Reiki. Reiki is a Japanese energy balancing and harmonizing modality that we believed could support Rowan in her cancer journey and support her in her physical transition once it was time for her to move beyond her body and leave her physical existence. Read more>>

Cheri Paige Fogleman | Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor and Author

We’ll, I’ve been a personal trainer and group fitness instructor for 20 years. A few years back I decided to start writing down reoccurring conversations that I’ve had with clients. I was realizing I was getting asked the same questions, so I decided to compile them— along with the answers and what I’ve found that works. Not the “how to do a biceps curl” stuff, but why and when and how to motivate when I just don’t want to do a biceps curl! It’s all wisdom trainer bring to the training session. In my book, My Trainer Says, I recommend starting off very very gently and slowly in fitness, but realized I didn’t have anywhere to point people to as a good jumping off point. Read more>>

Xtal Cao | Founder, Entrepreneur & Content Creator

I’m a big believer that fashion is an important part of lifestyle. Even thought my background was in the finance, I’ve always had interest in the fashion industry. I wanted to find an area that I’m passionate about and can also make an impact. I started with daily lookbook on social media and it started to build a following that loved how I incorporated fashion with my trips and daily lifestyles. My personal brand CEClosest was launched as a women’s boutique, I created a fashion line that had my unique personal style. Read more>>

Princeton Brown | Recording Artist | Music Producer

For me, it was all about pursuing something that I’m deeply passionate about. I changed my mindset from looking towards how can I make the most money possible with the degree I have to how can I live a more meaningful life? A life where how I spend my time is the most important thing, and second to that is how I believe I can impact the most people possible. Combining these thoughts with my gifts for producing and writing music jolted me into figuring out how to be a recording artist/producer full time (which I am now), so that I can dedicate 100% of my time towards making the best art and impact possible. Read more>>

Meg Fakult | Professional Pet Portrait Artist

It didn’t seem to matter what my “day job” was, I found myself painting pet portraits any time I could find around them. I just couldn’t stop creating pieces and always seemed to have a list of clients wanting them. The business truly started to materialize after a few years of practice and gaining confidence in the quality of the product I was selling. Read more>>

Ariana Sanchez | Brand and Web Designer

In march 13 2020 I found myself with a lot of free time coming ahead and I put that free time into my graphic design hobby. At that point, I wanted to make a cute Instagram page where I would share my designs but after following other creatives specifically in the brand design space I saw that my idea could be expanded to something bigger like starting my own design studio. Read more>>

Jacqueline Rumohr | Owner and Creator

I started my business in 2018 as a direct result of the number of over 30 years spent in corporate design jobs that left me feeling undervalued and creatively stifled. I needed to create something for myself that both fed my creative spirit and had a an impact on the overabundance of waste in the fashion industry. I decided to use commodities that were easily available from either personal closets or donation centers. Read more>>

Shushana | Business Owner, Marigold House

The reality is, the business kind of fell into my lap. My father started our boutique in 2010. It was primarily a home goods store, and my parents were working together at the shop. I was focused on my tech career, traveling back and forth between LA & Sillicon Valley. In 2015, my father unexpectedly fell ill and sadly passed away. We considered closing down, but customers from the neighborhood would visit us, with tears in their eyes, reminiscing about how much they loved my father and shopping at the boutique. Read more>>

Machee Kelly | Founder & Designer

After assessing the art and stationery sold in many retail spaces, I was inspired to create items that were reflective of the communities in which I identified. Many major retail spaces lack true representation of Black culture in products like art, stationery, and home goods. When I made the decision to create my own products, I wanted to be intentional about filling that gap. I ascribe to the adage that “if it doesn’t exist, create it” and so I did. Read more>>

Sesha Loop | Photo Retoucher

My thought process behind starting my business was to create a company where I could do what I love as well as create a lifestyle where I could work from anywhere in the world. I had worked in retouching studios for a few years and I knew from those experiences that I did not want to be an employee to someone or a company. I wanted to be my own boss and make my own hours. As my company has grown I have still been able to create a schedule and lifestyle that works for me and allows me the freedom I want in life. Read more>>

Jimmy Brown | Executive Director of Build 2 Lead, Community Organizer, and Education Consultant

For me starting my own business was built off of a need to find a solution to a problem. The problem was the lack of leadership development opportunities for Black and Brown students. The solution was to create pathways that allowed them to be themselves, explore their historical power, and develop soft skills that built their confidence and overall resilience so they can withstand any situation, systemic barrier, and institutional barrier. Read more>>

Swin Huang | THE NO. 2 EYEWEAR | Founder & Creative Director

Before starting THE NO. 2 EYEWEAR, I worked in creative/branding agencies for over ten years. I LOVE design, but when my passion became my job for so long, it ate my soul, so I decided to change. I am always looking for ideas that can involve my design passion for solving problems and providing actual values, and finally, I found eyewear design. Read more>>

Maria Maxfield (formerly Maria Lindsey) | Opera Singer and Private Voice Instructor

Working in the arts and making it my business came after my initial love and interest in it. It took going to college and having a really meaningful and life-changing mentor that helped me realize that I could make a living as an artist with the right tools and guidance. While my business and my brand is me, which can be an interesting dynamic at times, it has also allowed me to constantly question what it is that I’m offering and why it should be of value to others. Read more>>

Ubaldo V. Leon III | Mortgage Loan Originator – Luxury Home Specialist

As a child, one could say that I was the “Ugly Duckling” of my peer group and being a Gay Ugly Duckling in a conservative town made things worse. I learned early on in life to march to the beat of my own drum and become self reliant. As an adolescent I’d worked for fortune 500 companies in “Corporate America” where the culture was very much one of seeking validation from superiors, unhealthy competition between piers and mundane activities that seemed to be ego driven scavenger hunts for others. Read more>>

Miriam Brown | Creator of Belledines BBQ Sauce and Seasonings

Honestly it was a desire of mine for years but I had no money to start a business. I didn’t know the first thing about starting a food business and I had a full time job. It was a pure leap of faith after I lost my job, but when opportunity presents it self…you jump. Read more>>

Samantha Marut Kelly Tracy-Holly, CE, CAE, CMLT | Founders

We saw a HUGE need! The market for a truly clean AND non-toxic, cost-effective line of skincare products is extremely limited. Seeking fertility treatment in 2016, Samantha was told by her doctor about all of the ingredients that she needed to stay away from. She found herself analyzing and scrutinizing everything she was applying to and on her body daily. Read more>>

Dr. Kimberly Lee | Facial Plastic Surgeon

When I finished my residency and fellowship training, I knew I wanted to have autonomy and flexibility. I wanted to be able to spend time with my patients without being dictated to see a patient every 15 minutes. Read more>>

Dylan Knight | Fitness Trainer and Business Owner

I worked for years in commercial gyms all over Los Angeles, and being a personal trainer in this town is extremely challenging. When I was working at Equinox there were 40 other trainers that I had to compete with on a daily basis. Which made it vey difficult at that time to grow my business. Read more>>

Arron Jones-Williams | CEO & Philanthropist & Foster Kid

I volunteered with the Long Island Bulldog Rescue as I worked in Finance in the city. The rescue always had a gala at the end of the year where various companies sponsored etc. Normally I am dressed up helping at the tables and being a part of the support staff at the gala. Every year a company would donate a large check. One day I had a dream of volunteering at the gala and they called my name. I changed my outfit into a suit like superman and walked onto stage where I donated a $60,000 check in the name of a company. Read more>>

Lameece Issaq | Actor, Writer, Founding Artistic Director of Obie Award-winning company, Noor Theatre

I had been wandering about NYC after acting school, trying to figure out my place in the theater community, and got connected to this group of Arab American actors, comics, directors, writers and producers who were putting on the NY Arab American Comedy Festival, which started a few years after 9/11. I got involved around 2004, and the next several years became part of this growing community of very funny, very talented folx, who were also struggling with questions around identity. I’d largely been an actor up until then, but started writing short comedic plays and sketches for the festival, which began my career as a writer-performer. Read more>>

Dersia Clay | Salon owner and Stylist

The thought process behind starting my business was to create a learning environment for the stylists and clients. I believe there is a need for extensive education in hair and beauty. I would love to create a salon where a client can come in and feel comfortable with going to any of the stylist assured they are all capable of giving great customer service and have thorough knowledge of hair care for all textures. Read more>>

Briana Davis | Entrepreneur & Creative Agency Owner

My thought process behind starting my own business was that I am simply over-interviewing for the job, I am going to create it. I love to be a part of almost every creative process within a business. From creative direction, branding design, and website design, to photoshoots to help with visually communicating the brand. I wanted to land a job working with big brands in New York or LA, but I wasn’t quite ready to move to those places yet. I wanted to be able to work from anywhere. Now, I work from anywhere along with working with clients from all over the US. Read more>>

Beatriz Mercado | Mother, Student, and Business Owner

As long as I can remember I have always wanted to build something that I felt people would enjoy if not need. I have had a great many ideas over the years; many I have created business plans for, but with Hilo N’ Stitch Embroidery I felt compelled to act. The critical moment to act came after years of preparation rooted in idea development, planning, and saving to be able to bring it to life. Read more>>

Jonathan Grimm | Professional Freelance Illustrator

Freedom and happiness. I’ve always wanted to be an artist, but I also have depression and anxiety issues, which I allowed to stop me from trying for years. Finally one day I had enough and knew I needed to make a change in my life if I was to have a chance at being happy, so I dug my heels in and got started. It’s by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also the best. Read more>>

Gabby Contreras | Luxe charcuterie creator

I often get asked this question, and to be honest I have always been an entrepreneur. I would always try and find ways to make more money, and try new ventures. Before I started BonAppecheese I got certified in spray tanning, & lash extensions. I started this business on a whim one Sunday afternoon I remember looking through Pinterest & I had seen a cheeseboard I called my mom after that and said I want to make cheeseboards! Read more>>

Adrian Trice | Tax & Business Strategist

My starting a business was almost involuntary. I spent 13 years in the for-profit education space before my final layoff. I was frustrated with the industry when my friend offered me a position at his tax office. I went to go work for him and found success pretty quickly. After a few years that company went bankrupt and then I was faced with going back to corporate or going rogue. I went with the latter option and it’s been quite the ride! Read more>>