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.

Greg Safel | Voice Teacher

I have been in the arts my entire life. Starting with singing at a very young age, and adding Acting a few years after that. I’ve always studied with top teachers for my voice and acting, and the voice teacher that I have studied with the longest, took me under his wing and taught me how to teach. He was the inspiration for me to start my own voice teaching studio. He informed me when I was ready to teach, and referred students to me. Through that process, and because the entertainment business is feast or famine, I decided to start my own business. Read more>>

Nicole Perrault | Principal Interior Designer

HOD operates with a strong team approach. It is how we manage our projects and how we interface with our clients. I believe that every designer comes with unique talents and perspectives. The HOD team is encouraged to bounce ideas off each other and offer up their opinions along the way. I believe this team approach benefits the client. We encourage our clients to be involved in the design process and we strive to offer options based on feedback to exceed their expectations. It is important that our clients feel they are being heard and that HOD is a strong partner to help them achieve their ideal design project. We pride ourselves in maintaining excellent relationships with vendors and all business partners. The success of HOD is due to the strong and talented team of designers and back office staff. Read more>>

Sonki Hong | Fitness Company Owner

Prior to starting my company Sonki Fitness, I was working as a successful tech executive making a nice living. However, I was never quite satisfied with what I was doing. I didn’t wake up in the morning excited about what I was about to do and didn’t go to bed at night feeling great about what I did. I thought to myself, “we only have one chance at life, so why go through it doing something that doesn’t have much meaning to me just to make money?” So I started doing some soul searching on what my purpose in life is and what truly makes me happy. I had always wanted to start my own company, so I started to ask myself these questions. What am I passionate about? What am I good at? What makes me happy? It was pretty clear getting into health and fitness field was my true calling in life. Read more>>

Nick Soole | Composer for Film, TV and Video Games

Having spent many years playing in bands and producing underground music in Sydney, Australia, I decided to come to LA to write music for film, TV, and video games. It seemed like a logical progression. I’m not really qualified in anything else except for music-making so I decided to have a try at making it my livelihood. Cut to a few years later and so far, so good, I guess. Read more>>

Lauren Evans | Actor & Filmmaker

I’m going to answer this is response to my latest artistic endeavor which is #TheBreathingRoom on IG & YouTube. The thought process was: what if social media existed during The Holocaust? How would I have hoped Non-Jewish people would have used these platforms to help my people? That is how I see this moment, right now, in terms of non-black people and their mobilization or lack therein with respect to #BlackLivesMatter and the opportunity of amplification and healing which is at our fingertips. It also became quite apparent to me that if #Icantbreathe has trended this many times in response to the horrific murders of black people by white cops, the most loving thing to do would be to create a space dedicated to their breathing. And this is what #TheBreathingRoom amplifies: creating the #NextNarrative and transmutation of the past 500 years of trauma. Read more>>

Jill Dyche | Independent Strategy Consultant & Executive Director

I’ve spent my career as a management consultant in high tech. I ran my own firm for 25 years. We were in a hot space–data and analytics–and I swore that if my company was ever acquired I’d give back, with only a vague notion of what that really meant. When a large software firm made us an offer, it was a sudden invitation for me to consider my next chapter. That’s when I decided to give time to a lifelong passion of mine–helping animals leave of crowded shelters. That’s when I started Outta the Cage. Read more>>

Shana Meyerson | Children’s Yoga Instructor & Business Owner

I discovered yoga pretty late in life, just before my 30th birthday. And it was the first time in my life that anyone ever told me it was okay to fall. Let me put this in context. As a kid, I was the Golden Child. I excelled at everything. Top of my class academically, a highly accomplished athlete, won every award and accolade in the book. And then I didn’t get into Stanford. And my world came tumbling down. For the next ten years, I went through life believing I was a totally failure. That I was worth nothing. Or less. When I finally heard someone tell me that falling is not failing, my entire outlook completely shifted. And all I could think was: why didn’t anyone tell me this when I was three??? So, within months of that first class, I left my career and I withdrew from my MBA program at UCLA to start mini yogis yoga for kids. I wanted to teach kids self-esteem and self-acceptance, kindness and integrity. I wanted to change lives. Read more>>

Renae Symone | CEO, Entrepreneur, Trainer & Consultant

I believe that my driving thought process to start my own business was the belief that there had to be more out there for me, which developed into a relentless internal push to work for myself that kept me from being content no matter who I worked for and how much money I made. You see, I am from a small factory town in NC, and in factory towns when I was growing up, people just simply moved from one factory to another for an extra $1.00 per hour here or a better work shift there. I started working my first factory job at the age of 16. I had just had my son and I was determined to provide for my family, so I would go to high school during the day and work 2nd shift at a factory at night. I have tremendous respect for the hardworking blue-collar workers out there who are not afraid to do whatever it takes to provide, I believe that they are the true backbone of this country, however, I knew that it was not for me. Read more>>

Danielle Lungu | Owner & Designer

Lay & V was developed when I noticed a gap in the maternity clothing market. The story really begins with my third pregnancy; throughout my first two pregnancies I had an extremely hard time finding pants that stayed on my tush, I literally spent half my day pulling my pants up. I also found everything to be super uncomfortable, not flattering and inevitably felt frumpy. All the tops were ruched down the side, all the pants feel off my behind and on top of all that, everything was so expensive to wear for only 9 months. I began researching and trying to find a solution, only to came up empty handed. In an “ah-ha” moment I decided I’ll make something that solves this problem, I needed something with the functionality of suspenders, but it had to be a completely different look and concept. Read more>>

Shika Thapa | Yoga Instructor, Reiki Master & Dance and Fitness Studio Owner

I had a passion for creativity and love for dance. My mom said when I was a kid, no one had to ask me to go to the dance floor, I would get up, go to the dance floor and start dancing as soon as music started. I had been working in a corporate environment for 6 years and I was very unhappy. I would be at work, miserable every day. When I went downhill with depression, I made a decision and quit my job. I knew following my passion to serve in dance and fitness area would make me happy. I took the risk to open my business even though a lot of people insisted that there is no money to be made in a studio business, including my parents. I went against all odds. My only thought process behind starting my business was to live happier like and serve with passion, love and integrity. I am so happy I made that decision 4 years ago. Read more>>

Kathy Leader | Creative Coach

I grew up in South Africa, daughter of a wonderful artist. My mother inspired me to paint, be creative and thoughtful. However, she would not spare me any criticism! Instead of encouraging my art process, she unwittingly dampened my creative self confidence by continually judging my art and making me feel less worthy as an artist that she was. It didn’t stop me from wanting to pursue my passion. When I entered art school in Cape Town, I had very little confidence in my work but I pushed through. The professors used to have live critiques in which they would pull your work to pieces in front of you while I did everything I could to hold back the tears. How I continued to paint I do not know! It was a drive, a need for self expression. I was determined to become an art teacher and undo all of what was done to me! I began teaching in an encouraging way, learning that creativity blossoms when it is given permission to flow. Read more>>

Adam Saada | Video Production Specialist & Creative Director

When you’re first starting out in Los Angeles you start from the bottom up. It doesn’t matter if you have a college degree or you graduated magna cum laude, this city is based upon paying your dues and working your way up. When you’re first starting out no one is really willing to give you that chance to skyrocket yourself to success, they want you to do the things that assistants or interns do, and it’s really hard to work your way up. You you get stuck at the bottom level. In order to truly succeed you need to make your own opportunities and make your own path. I started my company because I believed that I had what it takes to be the best. The trick is to just do a good job, show up on time, work hard while you’re there, and be a fun person to be around. If you keep doing that job after job, year after year, people refer you to new jobs. Read more>>

Lauren Rodgers | Jewelry designer

I worked for two companies doing marketing. When I was laid off for a second time I was just over working for assholes (can I say that)? I didn’t know what I wanted to do next but I knew it would be on my own. I started a Etsy shop selling vintage. I’d make a few pieces of jewelry for fun. But one day a blogger (that was the thing at the time) posted my jewelry and it pretty much blew up over night. So I kinda fell into jewelry making but I never wanted to look back =) Read more>>

Mona Kumar, PhD | Clinical Psychologist

I started a private practice in psychotherapy because I believe that the work of therapy is best conducted free of corporate bureaucracy. The process of therapy is an intensely personal one. Both the clinician and the client bring their most authentic selves into the room, risk being vulnerable, and engage in a transformative relationship. This is all the more true when working from a psychodynamic or psychoanalytic perspective which is not manualized or prescribed. The moment to moment interactions arise from the immediacy of each individual’s experience and are best served when both client and clinician are free to follow their stream of consciousness. In the absence of external constraints often imposed in a corporate setting, each party has greater access to the intuitive direction that the therapeutic process takes. Read more>>

Sami Ullah | President

I wanted to start something that could take off overnight. I realized the opportunity in the security industry and saw the potential to make a difference. I risked my entire life savings in order to pursue my dream and knew if I didn’t give 100% effort into Citiguard, it wouldn’t be where it is today. Read more>>

Pamela Hirsch | Charity Founder

Most non-profit charities dedicated to a “cause” are started because of personal experience. Baby Quest is no different. After witnessing our daughter’s long battle with infertility…years of unsuccessful attempts to conceive…..our family was blessed financially to help our daughter and son-in-law pursue gestational surrogacy..twice. Seeing their beautiful family and knowing it could not have existed without our ability to pay the astronomical costs of assisted reproduction, made me realize how many of those struggling with infertility cannot attempt to create a family…because of a lack of money. I established Baby Quest Foundation to award grants to those whose only obstacle to having children is money. Having had experience in the “for-profit” world as an owner of a branch of The Princeton Review test prep company, I was familiar with how to run a large company. Read more>>

Nick Martini | Creative Agency Owner

Our business started organically from the partners passion for filmmaking and story telling. We started shooting first, then the business came second. It was a dream to create a business doing something you love everyday. Read more>>

Rachel Rankin | Pilates Instructor & Personal Trainer

I knew I wanted to start a private Pilates business after feeling lost in a group class. I remember going to a big studio and feeling like everyone knew each other and lost in the movements. Years later after getting my certification, I knew I wanted to create a space where people could come and feel at home. I did not want to create a space where it felt like a business operation in which the customer was always being sold to. Read more>>

Meg Joannides | Interior Designer

It really was kind of a fluke—I had been working as VP of Store Planning in the corporate/fashion world for several years, and had the desire to return to high end residential where I had started my career. I took a leap of faith and moved from NYC to LA to start my own firm after a dear friend of mine suggested the time was right! Read more>>