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.

Bree & Charly | Owners of Black Diamond Tattoo

When we started Black Diamond Tattoo we wanted it to be not only a high quality tattoo shop, but also one where clients of all types felt welcome. In the past there was a stereotype about tattoo shops and who you had to be in order to be welcomed into one, we wanted to change that. We wanted to make it accessible and desirable to anyone wanting to share in the very passion that keeps us all working. Read more>>

Becca and Billy Mohler | Musicians & Business Owners

We moved down to Long Beach from LA to be closer to our family. We are musicians and have three young children. When we got down here and realized we wanted our children to be taught music by someone other than us we couldn’t find exactly what we were looking for in a music school. Our friends in the area with children were also asking us where they should send their children for lessons and began asking if we would teach them ourselves from our home. We quickly realized the need for a music school in our neighborhood was something we could help solve! When the perfect location, walking distance from our house, became available we knew it was meant to be! We jumped on the lease and it’s been the best decision we have ever made! Now we can share our passion and love of music with our community through music education! Now we have the perfect place to send not only our kids to learn music, but a place for everyone of all ages and levels to come learn music!. Read more>>

Sherry Weldon | Massage Therapist & Essential Oil Consumer Advocate

I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I feel I was built for it in every way and had the tenacity and grit to build a successful business. Early on, I didn’t have a clear picture where this journey would take me, however after many years of working in many therapeutic practices, such as chiropractors, medical spas, salons, private gyms, and day spas, I always fell back on my own mobile private practice. When my own clients gained in numbers, I was able to completely mobilize my business and offer massage therapy in and around Orange County. I was a mobile therapist for almost 20 years, until about 2015. I noticed a shift. Most of my clients were moving on and retiring out of state, or moved due to job opportunities so my client base was diminishing. After working in the industry for two decades, it was time to “plant some roots”. Read more>>

Brennan McNichol | Co-Founder & CEO of Schoolyard Inc.

My personal desire to start Schoolyard really came from my frustration at the TV and Film industry. I think there has been resistance and a general lack of understanding from traditional media companies to fully embracing social media, digital platforms, and the direction of the creator economy. We really wanted to create a company that started with an approach of paying attention to what kind of shows Millenials and Gen Z wanted to watch and where they were wanting to watch them. This spawned the idea of creating a digital comedy network that would create shows for young adults by young adults that stars a new class of entertainers. Read more>>

Lauren Gants | CEO | Owner, Vintage LaFleur

Since I was a child, I always had a love for fashion! My grandmother was the epitome of a fashion icon in my eyes. She always carried herself with such dignity, poise, style, and grace. She also was an entrepreneur, a self-taught pianist, who worked for herself since I could remember. Upon my late grandmother falling ill in 2014, I expressed to her that I wanted to pursue a career of some kind in fashion and she adamantly urged me to go for it. Her words were the ultimate blessing and encouragement I needed to step out on faith and pursue my dreams. When she passed in August 2014, my promise to both her and myself was to follow her guidance and make her proud. About a year later, on December 17, 2015, Vintage LaFleur was born! I wanted to be sure that my online boutique embodies all things that I love about my grandmother. The name, Vintage LaFleur, pays homage to her Bahamian roots and being the youngest and last surviving sibling out of 7. The official launch date of the boutique was on her birthday. Read more>>

Liz Thomas | Founder and Athlete, Treeline Review

Prior to starting my business, I was an outdoor athlete that held the Fastest Known Time (aka speed record) on the 2,181 mile long Appalachian Trail. I noticed as an athlete that none of the gear reviews I read were by women. And none of the highest level professional gear reviewers were BIPOC like me. So, I decided to start a business to change that. Read more>>

Amanda Tewes | Creator of Faria Social

Since I was in high school, I had always thought that I would be a teacher. When I graduated from college, I wasn’t sure if I actually wanted to be a teacher or not. So, I began working in different sectors – PR, showroom management, sales, and eventually digital marketing. Throughout that journey, I learned what kind of a person I was and what best suited the lifestyle I wanted to have. I came to realize that I was someone who really wanted flexibility with my schedule and the freedom and opportunity to do all of the things that I really loved. In 2019 I began working for a digital marketing firm and I enjoyed it SO much. I loved the group of girls I worked with, what I was doing and how much I was learning. I had always been interested in social media and thought it was a great space for people to be as creative as they wanted to through beautiful imagery and graphics while also being able to gain a great amount of knowledge. Read more>>

Jelena Trifunovic | Floral Designer & Instructor

From the Ojai Valley lavender fields to the super blooms of the Mojave Desert, the beauty of flowers in Southern California is extraordinary. In an effort to capture nature’s flora and deliver living portraits to Angelenos, Viola Floral was born. Flowers bring us together and I love to share in that joy. There is so much connection through the process of gift-giving. Drawing inspiration from the best each season has to offer, we create custom floral designs and experiences that invite our clients to live in full bloom. Everything is done with love and intention. Read more>>

Sarah Milken | Creator and Host of The The Flexible Neurotic Podcast

Midlife moments,.. My kids were 14 and 16 and I felt that my teens needed less of my time. Being a mom, with a Phd in educational psychology, who had not “worked” in the traditional sense for 16 years, I was longing to find a new extension of my identity that was just for me. Last February, my daughter gave me a gift for my 45th birthday. It was a golden box filled with beautiful inscriptions from many of my friends. She asked them three things they thought about me…When I read the messages, they all had a similar themes, my “go to friend who is my resource for everything.” A light bulb went off…this is my time to do something with my ability to gather information and curate it for others…This is my time to “go back to myself” and find another passion to self recreate a new identity in the second half of my life. This would be an identity outside of my kids and husband…. .what would that be? What vessel? Many people told me to write a book. Read more>>

Ruben Contreras | Director & Studio Owner

I remember when I had my first and only job as a young adolescent. I would sit at my desk and think to myself, this is not for me. I don’t belong behind a desk taking orders from everyone in the office. I also couldn’t be false, talking to everyone pretending to like what I was doing. I realized the pay was great but I didn’t enjoy my lifestyle. This lasted about a month, and finally I got called in by a supervisor. He mentioned that it was obvious I wasn’t happy working there and that the job wasn’t for me. We also had one of the most life changing conversations I could remember. He said I should go home and think about what I enjoy and then pursue it… I was 22 then.. I took his advice and quit my job.. I already knew I had a passion for anything visual art and was proficient with computers. I mixed the two together and since then it has been somewhat of a therapy. It was only later I realized that my therapy could convert into a business. Read more>>

Pauleanna Reid | Celebrity Ghostwriter & Journalist

I noticed with the rise of the influencer economy and celebrity-obsessed culture, a greater portion of leaders and entertainers – whom we often glorify – either shied away from acknowledging their responsibility as role models or subdued their views on relevant world issues, political contention, and historic pop culture moments due to the fear of being ‘cancelled.’ But this landscape provides such an amazing opportunity for each of us to be a part of a collective awakening currently happening across all industries and societal systems. I believe sitting out of these conversations, especially for those with the most prominent of platforms, is a disservice to us all. So I made it my mission, and the mission of my ghostwriting firm, WritersBlok, to address the insecurities of creative thinkers by decoding their ideas and aiding them in developing their voices. Read more>>

Lora Ivanova | Entrepreneur, Author, CEO

I’ve always been enamored with stories about pioneers and entrepreneurs. When my friends bought superhero comics, I flipped through magazines covering inventors and new technology. People who ventured into the unknown or followed a hunch to discover new lands or new life-changing solutions. The underdogs turned champions. I had a very successful albeit soul-crushing corporate career and when following a car accident injury I found myself unable to drive to work, I saw an opportunity to reconsider my life choices and reinvent. The math seemed strikingly simple – even if I lost everything I had accomplished up to that point I still had the energy to rebuild. I had started from 0 before and built a successful career before, why not start again and this time build a successful business? The benefits seemed even more alluring – the opportunity to set my own schedule, be set free free from corporate politics and inefficient organizations. Read more>>

Saul Rasco | Founder and Creative Director, Press Studios

Before starting Press Studios, I worked as a full time content creator building relationships with so many brands. The more campaigns I worked on, I saw the need for an agency who helped brands, big and small, to create a steady flow of content that was impactful in the always changing landscape of social media. I created Press Studios which now contracts a wide range of brands helping to build their social impact across their platforms. We build photography, videography, and graphic design assets that communicate who they are. We’ve even recently helped brands connect with influencers through my personal friendships I’ve made throughout working as a content creator. Read more>>

Jazmyn Lacey | Lash & Beauty Entrepreneur & Nolagirl Chef Jazzy

My Thought Process’ is a Major Process I say that because I’m very specific on my businesses & the time I invest in it ‘ I tend to give my all to Jazzy Lashes & Jazzy everything Soulfood! ‘ I belive what you give out to the universe ‘ you will receive blessings back 10 times more. I’m dedicated to the Fullest ! This is all I have. Read more>>

Eddie Torres | Film Composer | Music Producer | Musician

It was full time job which I started 1 year after being married and a few days after my son was born in 1987. It was a good and secure job but at the same time I was coming home to start working in my studio. I was producing music into the late hours of the night. Loved it but the two jobs as well as the additional music events I was responsible for away from the studio was just allot to juggle not to mention little hours of sleep at times to start over again the next day. Meeting client schedule demands also played in having to take personal time off from my corporate job. So generally speaking creative work hours can at times be off the wall meaning it maybe in the evening or in the daytime and many times while most people sleep what I call Red Eye Sessions. It was exhausting, but I had some much passion for music making, The second and most important reason for starting my business was what It was taking from me. Read more>>

Jonathan Harper | Automotive Photographer

I had been working a series of full-time jobs after I finished college. Photography was still just a hobby but I was completely hooked. My job had a really long commute and I never had any free time outside of work, so I left my job and started trying to make money shooting photos. I already had some connections in the automotive world from my past jobs so I started reaching out to people and letting them know I was available. Someone from a well known auction house saw my photos on Instagram and sent me a DM asking if I was available, and from there I spent most of summer 2016 shooting high end automotive auction lots. Read more>>

Melek Dikici | Designer and Founder of Dikici Bridal

It’s in my nature to find happiness in whatever life throws my way. Call me an optimist but I explore and welcome the silver linings in each day. Every problem that arises is a challenge that will make me stronger and wiser once it is overcome. I use those moments as an opportunity to take me to the next level in personal growth and business. From the beginning of Dikici Bridal I wanted to offer an exclusive custom experience to brides looking for a gown that will emphasize their most admirable qualities for a stunning impression. To bring out their confidence on their special day by embodying the feeling of effortless beauty while being comfortable at the same time. After all, they need to be able to dance the night away! I wanted to take brides on the creative journey, working one on one with the designer taking into account every detail they can dream up. Read more>>

Lisa Mazzarella | Founder & CEO Karisma Skincare

It stated itself! While there was a point where I had to make a very intentional commitment by giving up my lifetime carreer as a lawyer and putting all of my efforts into Karisma, the demand essentially formed the business. My skin had become dull and dehydrated. My outside did not reflect the youth and energy I felt on the inside . I had tried every skincare product on the market from the most expensive to the most basic. Nothing got the results I was looking for. I began learning more about how skincare was all about slick marketing and the actual products themselves were full of water, ineffecitve and even toxic ingredients. So while still working as a lawyer I began researching , studying, attending seminars, classes and formulating. I spent long hours sourcing ingredients right down to the purity of the soil. I learned that the purity and efficacy go hand in hand. So I curated particular oils for particular results and worked on finding out which ratios yeilded the best results. Read more>>

Jenny Joy Tamera | Soul Purpose Expert, Transformational Coach, and Energetic Medicine Woman

After graduating from college, and landing what at the time was my dream job, I shortly became mentally and physically drained. I was the lead designer for a dotcom, so I was making good money. I was also doing something creative, so for a time, I thought I had made it. Then the long hours of working on a project that I wasn’t passionate about set in. Thus began my soul searching. I became a massage therapist, a yoga instructor, trained with energy workers, and most importantly I traveled the world. I was able to move out of my comfort zone and see how other cultures lived. It was on this journey that I realized I wanted to work with other creative and soulful individuals to share our unique gifts and talents. I created a small 1-day event called Soul Space. Our mission was to share the arts & the holistic healing arts with the community. Then when I met my soul mate, we formed Soul Garden Space to support folks in cultivating their passions’ and purpose. Read more>>

Nita L. Watson | Marriage & Family Therapist Associate & USA Boxing Certified Personal Trainer

The thought process started with, how can I do something different with therapy? How can I clinically connect with people who might not be as open to talk psychotherapy? How can I impact families within my community? All of these questions came to mind. I have always been an advocate for self-care and decided that would be a dope creative name. I went online and created some inexpensive t-shirts and began wearing them while I worked out at local gyms and parks. So, the idea was birthed out of a need and a determination to change the face of mental health. Also, as an African American woman, I knew culturally, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety were not day to day dinner conversations. Families, especially brown and black, needed outlets to cope and communicate, outside of religious organizations or seeking wisdom from elders within the family unit. So, I am back to my idea of how can I fix this? How can I talk about health and wellness to my family, friends. Read more>>

Jake Bullock | Cann Co-Founder

As I got older and my hangovers started getting worse, I quickly realized that alcohol was not serving me well. Yet, my entire social life seemed to be structured around alcohol consumption, and giving it up may mean missing out. I thought there should be a beverage designed for socializing that gives a mild buzz similar to alcohol but without the hangover and calories. Luke, my co-founder, and I figured that if a beverage like that could change our lives for the better, then there were probably a lot of folks out there just like us. So, we created the world’s first cannabis-infused social tonics. The road has not been easy and I am not sure I would have done it if I knew how hard it would be, but we truly believed that tis product needed to exist. We wanted to provide another social beverage option besides alcohol and to introduce mainstream consumers to safe, approachable cannabis products at the same time. Read more>>

Rachel Andersson | Marketing Consultant

When I first went freelance, it was because I wanted to be able to control 100% of my output – I wanted the challenge of being fully responsible for my client projects. To be honest, I also wanted the peace of mind that comes from not having to wrangle colleagues, spend ages making sure everyone’s on the same page, or execute something that someone else planned. And being a solo operator has been incredible; I really love that sense of autonomy and the ability to work directly with the client. But since the last time I spoke with VoyageLA, I’ve actually come around a bit… while I love working solo, there are areas of expertise I don’t have, so I’ve started collaborating on several projects with a group of super-talented women. Combined, we have a wide range of expertise that lets us function as a boutique marketing agency, but we all maintain our own solo projects as well. Read more>>

Kevin Stevenson Stevenson | Director, Cinematographer, Camera Operator

I never thought of myself as a business owner, I rather consider myself a craftsman, or entrepreneur. But it just so happens, owning a business is a byproduct of doing what you love. And it took me until the age of 24 to find what I love, which is film and video production. I didn’t open an LLC in California until the age of 30, but each year, I would grow my business, acquiring more gear and more clients. As technology gets better and cheaper, it’s a never ending battle to keep up with technology and the ever growing demands of the clients, who always want the latest and greatest cameras, lenses, and lighting. And so with that, expenses add up in the form of insurance, business licenses, taxes, overhead, rental fees, passion projects, and a tone of ancillary costs that you really don’t notice until you add it all up at the end of the year. Read more>>

Teresa Dinneen | Lifestyle(d) – Professional Organizer

There were two very important factors that led me to start my own business and those were, to be able to spend more time with my kiddos and to help people. Being a business owner allows me to do both and I now see that starting my Organization Company drastically changed my way of life, for the better. The ability to chose the projects I work on and when I do them allows me to be a home when my kids are at home, and at work when they are in school. Plus, helping clients declutter and organize their spaces, giving them a home or office they truly love and feel comfortable in, makes all the hard work so worth it. Read more>>

Gina Wade | Owner of Gina Wade Creative | Event Design & Production, Venue Sales & Marketing

The main reason I started my own business was because I kept growing out of my full time jobs. I started to feel hindered by the limitations of those positions and wanted to see what opportunities I could create for myself. It was exciting to be on my own, creating my own path and connecting with brands and clients that wanted to work with me in new and exciting ways. Read more>>

Jessica Claire Militello | Portrait & Equine Photographer

When I started my photography business I was still in high school but after studying Business Administration at Ventura College, I knew I had to make a plan. I started with the basics like a business license, DBA, liability insurance, and a lawyer-drafted contract! I never imagined becoming a photographer or getting paid to take photos of people– so the process involving the start of my photography business is almost two decades worth of learning my craft and building a brand before I even felt comfortable taking it to the next level. Read more>>

Elliot Smith | Colorist for Film, TV, and Digital Video

My thought process on starting my own business was: I know what I want to do, but the opportunities necessary to get from here to there aren’t coming my way by working a job. So what can I do to make that happen? I plotted it out and took the steps necessary to pull it off. I knew I wanted to be a colorist full time, I’d worked in a post facility previously, but was knocked out by a mergers and acquisitions type of situation combined with a car wreck. The place I was working had good people and a color bay, but no interest in allowing me to color, at least not in a reasonable time frame, as they already had other good colorists to pick from. So I used the job I had as a part of my plan, and I saved my earnings so I’d have a financial buffer, studied on their gear, and built up my own color system at home. Read more>>

Ginger Lai | Ginger Lai | Entrepreneur & Artist

I started my own business because I am a creative person who sees the business world with infinite potential and opportunities. I create my business as a piece of art that is welcomed in different cultures globally. I enjoy developing product lines with my own unique characters and talents. The product lines are not being marketed with only transactional values. They are one of a kind, such as my fine art jewelry and oil paintings with glitter. They are all hand-made in the United Sates without repetitive design patterns. The pricing is very reasonable because I would like to see people owning pieces of original art without spending a fortune. They can appreciate the artwork at their living spaces. They can also show off the one-of-a-kind jewelry and receive compliments while wearing it. People are proud of wearing jewelry that no one else has, especially women. My sales channels are diverse. They are online, in TV informercials, in museums, galleries and department stores. Read more>>

TaLynna LMT | Licensed Massage Therapist

Freedom & flexibility. I love being able to do what I need to do without having to clear it with anyone else. I am able to be involved with my daughter who started High School this year. I am also able to do what I love for a living and have a healthy social life. That is something that is extremely important to me. I couldn’t see any other way to do it other than starting my own business and working for myself. Read more>>

Kastelo | Music Producer & DJ

Many people may believe an artist’s project is not really a business, but it turns out it actually is. In fact, all bands and artist projects having an income should be registered as a business entity of their choice (LLC, Sole Proprietorship, Corporation, or similar). But getting back to the question, there is an unquestionable personality to the origin of an artist project, which is that the product is intimately related to what the artist wants to express to the world. In my case, the Kastelo project was born out of a passion for rhythm, and a need to express this inner energy that electronic music and groove generate in my body. In order to do that, and reach that energy to the maximum amount of people as possible so they can feel it too, a platform needs to be built. Branding is an absolute need to reach that goal, and that’s where Kastelo begins. Read more>>

Courtney Beavers |  Entrepreneur, Chef

I recently became a father and was struggling financially. I knew I didn’t want to grow in the same paycheck to paycheck cycle so I took the chance on myself and started my first business. Read more>>

Nelson Chan | Owner of Nelson J Salon and Natural Beauty Source Inc

First started with a dream, I think a lot of people including me when starting their own business begin with a dream and try to make it a reality. The dream is the motivation to get the thing started and keep things going and of course, there is fear. fear of failing and what if. The fear stops you from trying and moving forward. They both are a great thought. You just need to learn who to manage it. Read more>>

Clay Weishaar | Augmented Reality Creator & Artist

Starting my own business came out of a love of technology and art and film and my journey working in the Los Angeles creative industry. It was a natural progression of being in interactive and film production companies. The artists, producers, designers, and technologists at these companies inspired me and taught me so much about collaboration and working with a team. Working at A-List production companies is very demanding, competitive and has such a high bar for quality and pressure to create award winning projects. Everyone you work with is at the top of their game. All-though it was stressful at times it put me in a situation where I was continually challenged to refine my creativity and craft. We all pushed each other to create better work and do things that have not been done before in our industry. We all inspired each other to eventually go off and create work that made us excited about our job as creatives and artists. Read more>>

Shelby Torrese & Caden Kreuter | Co-Owners, Palm Shade Provisions

Our thought process behind starting Palm Shade Provisions was, and is, to do everything exceptionally well. Right now, we sell specialty cold brew and matcha in local farmers’ markets, grocers, and at special events. Founded by a cold brew connoisseur and a self-proclaimed matcha snob, we often find that coffee shops are either good at one or the other, but rarely both. We’ve mastered our cold brew, we’ve mastered our matcha. So, that’s what we serve! Where Palm Shade Provisions is now is not nearly the final product, and we think that’s the only way to stay motivated in our craft and remain exciting to customers–to never be complete. This is the journey, not the final stop. And to be honest, we hope to never be at our final stop! That’s when things get boring. Most people don’t think they can get their “dream” business going because they expect to hop directly from A to Z. Read more>>

Victoria Brodsky | DrinkLyte Founder, UC Berkeley Nutritional Sciences ’18, UCLA Anderson MBA Candidate

Growing up, I suffered from disordered eating and had a horrible relationship with food. What made it worse was that the marketing around food made “eating right” confusing – what was healthy? Was juice healthy? Was fat-free cake healthy? The food industry seemed to be tricking consumers into eating crappy food via clever marketing, and I’ve always been passionate about changing that. I thought – if they can do that, can’t I do the same thing with a very healthy product that promotes healthy habits? The idea for DrinkLyte came to me when I noticed my friends using Pedialyte (a pediatric medicine) to rehydrate after a night out. Pedialyte is effective because it’s not just electrolytes – it’s a specific medical formula. Since drinking two beers can be just as dehydrating as an hour-long workout I thought – why can’t I order something like this at a bar? So I took the effective formula of Pedialyte (made with good-for-you ingredients) and branded it for nightlife. With cool branding and a formula that helps reduce hangovers, we’re effectively “tricking” consumers into a healthy habit that promotes a balanced lifestyle. Read more>>

Maegan Lujan | Strategist, Storyteller, and thought leader

I grew up in foster care and was out on my own by age 14 fighting to survive. But I decided to never let the way I grew up keep me down. I had an experience where I saw businesswomen who looked successful like they had it together and that is who I wanted to be. They inspired me. I started my own business to be an inspiration to others. To let others know that you can overcome hard things and you can change your life and be who you want to be if you are willing to work at it. I want to share the knowledge and wisdom I have gained to help others rise. Read more>>

Darryl Tombleson | A ‘Mad Scientist’ Within The Hospitality and Entertainment Industry

I attempted to work for others,(on a salary basis), it just wasn’t me,(set income, work hours, and monotony). I was working in a controlled environment, for the most part, working in a position that was mundane, and or uncreative at best. Foremost, I chose to focus on hospitality related roles, as this allowed me consistent employment, and the opportunity to work in a number of different positions within the industry,(this experience also allowed me the opportunity to source work overseas when travelling). But long hours, basic wages,(whilst generating a lot of income for my employer), being dictated to by insecure, power hungry managers, only intensified my resolve and focus to work for myself, I had to have the freedom to be my own boss, in order to take control of my future. Having said that, I realised the need to guarantee income, and be super creative, so I concentrated on Restaurant and Nightclub ownership, which can be hit and miss in terms of patronage and cashflow. Read more>>

Brianne-Adette Bogle | Entrepreneur/Songwriter/Teacher/ Activist

My thought process behind starting my own business started with realizing that the kind of career I wanted to have did not exist yet. It existed in fragments in various careers, but piecing all those things together was something I would have to create myself. No one hands you your dream job, you literally have to create opportunities for yourself. I had worked as an executive assistant for nearly a decade in different jobs within film music; I was a music coordinator for a music supervisor, a junior publicist/ executive assistant , even an assistant to a music attorney within a film acquisitions firm. I have worked in corporate settings and for sole proprietors. I’ve consulted various music creatives from film/tv composers to studio managers in building or expanding their businesses… and that was before I went to graduate school for business. Read more>>

Jason Berkowitz | Restaurant Community Leader

With the cultural shift that was happening in the restaurant industry, and the new mandate for providing anti-harassment courses – I had a vision to create training that actually speaks to our culture, in our voice, and could help guide an old-school industry into new school-ways. To me, this was the first piece of the puzzle to support my restaurant community through modern training. We’re developing all of my tried and true training programs into a unified branded voice that’s relatable and accessible to employees, leaders and owners of all independent businesses out there!. Read more>>