Readers often email us asking us for advice about new businesses they are thinking about starting and we often find that many of them don’t have a framework for thinking about a more fundamental question: why should or shouldn’t you start a business?

Below, you’ll find how successful entrepreneurs from across the city thought about this very question when they were considering whether to start their businesses.

Emma Sage Kalayjian | UX Designer & Content Creator

Growing up, I always thought I wanted to go into automotive advertising. I know, weirdly specific, but I always liked cars and I always had a creative streak, so the combination made sense. Fast forward to what I do today – User Experience Design – and although this is another field that i thoroughly enjoy, I found that something was still missing. I wanted to still scratch the itch with storytelling and media, and so I decided, “why not start my own company to do just that?”. Fast forward to today and I officially have my LLC: Spicy Carrot. Read more>>

Arilia Winn | Bibliophile & Bookseller

W.E. Bookstore Online first started out in 2014 as an online stationery boutique where I sold the notebooks and journals I designed. It was initially called Rue Jean’s Stationery. Then in 2018, it was a part of Winn Publications – a hybrid book publisher and the name was changed to W.E. Bookstore. It wasn’t until September 2020 that W.E. Bookstore became a separate entity and started to gain traction and become what it is today: a bookseller who sources books from self-published authors, hybrid publishers and small book press. Read more>>

Brittany Rogers | Baker

Back in 2016 when i walked away from corp job because they did not understand i had a special need child and sometimes her days can be where she wanted me more than this job needed me i made the decision to take a leap on faith and started my own baking business at home i started with a dessert called waffle pops a different version of funnel cake with toppings Read more>>

Noah F. Madril | Filmmaker & HybridHippie

My father once said, you can either work for someone and work toward their dream or you can work for yourself and your dreams. So i started my own business working toward my dreams. Read more>>

Tina Reeves | Director, Director photography (DP), and Photographer

I want to create more opportunities for myself and other black creatives. Many people have benefited and capitalized on our culture for many, many years and reaping all the benefits. I see a significant gap that needs to be filled, and I feel it’s my responsibility to help cultivate these creative spaces especially for women. Read more>>

Shelley Wang | Nail Artist

After graduating during a pandemic I moved back home to Southern California, I always grew up getting my nails done and in high school I was getting a new set every two weeks. Especially because my college job at In-N-Out didn’t allow anything besides natural nails, I knew I needed them back when I moved. But all the salons were closed because of Covid so I starting buying supplies to make press on nails. I started super simple, just painting them, then I began to add designs and people around would take notice and encouraged me to sell them. Then it was non-stop practicing and really crafting what I wanted “Nailed by Shelley” to be. Read more>>

Carter Cofield | Entrepreneur & C.P.A

Well my thought process was simple. We all have two choices; make a living or design a life. I was unhappy at my current employer and wanted to take life into my own hands and design the life that I deserved. Read more>>

Jovee Edwards | Graphic Designer / Paper Toy Engineer

It was all a dream, that one rainy Saturday morning my then 4 year old daughter and I had just finished our ritual of watching cartoons and eating big bowls of cereal. After all the cartoons and educational programs on PBS had gone off the rain seemed to intensify meaning this was going to be an inside day of play for the both of us. With nothing more to watch on television she suggested that we craft something today. Before she could walk or even talk this little artist could hold a pencil, a crayon, or a pen and could draw amazingly well. I was grooming her to be artist to follow in her grandmothers (a fine artist) and my (a street artist) footsteps. Crafting was a way that her and I spent our father daughter time together, so these types of request always kept me on my toes as a graphic and visual artist. Read more>>

Kayli Kunkel | Founder of Earth & Me, a zero-waste store in Queens, New York

It was June 2020 and I was working a desk job as a Marketing Director adjacent to the tech industry. In my personal life, we were in the peak of the pandemic in New York City, and I was joining daily protests against the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Everything that was invigorating me in my personal life — social justice, supporting those who lived and worked and gathered around me — was strikingly absent in my career. And this really came to a head when I was let go from my job after a period of defending and advocating for my values. Read more>>

Jesse Szymanski | Ceo and Founder of Modern Muse Media

I envisioned Modern Muse Media as a company that would support women in film and television production, and set out with a specific goal to provide opportunities for women to learn and gain experience in this industry. I vowed to create opportunities for women and train female graduates, teaching them everything I had learned the hard way, hoping to provide them with the opportunity to flourish and grow and save them from a few faceplants. I took the knowledge gained from two decades of extensive experience in this field and reshaped it for entrepreneurs, training them in video production to market their business. Read more>>

Mickella Rumbolt | Clothing Brand Owner or Fashion Designer

While everything begins with a thought, process and execution, I would of never guessed I would become a full time entrepreneur at 25. I always knew I was chosen, chosen for mighty things, and that I had a purpose. Being born premature was a miracle itself. With undeveloped lungs and a dock (hole) in heart that was my first obstacle to overcome. Through the grace of God he kept me to where I am today, healthy, alive and well. I always asked myself what can I do to leave an impact? What can I do to make a change in society? Read more>>

Alexandra Hammond | Artist & Branding Consultant

I really didn’t think about going into business for myself. In some ways, it happened on accident, but when I look at that more closely, I can see that it made perfect sense for me, because I have always been entrepreneurial and self-motivated. When I was a kid, I did tons of projects with my friends, from lemonade stands to holiday present-wrapping businesses to performance groups and building miniature worlds. I feel that all of my childhood projects directly honed my skills for what I am doing today. In some ways, my journey has been one about remembering that these skills of imagination, resourcefulness and teamwork are the ones I really need to do my work. I’m an artist and have always studied art. I learned the branding business on the job. The field works for me because, like art, it is the place where images and ideas come together. Read more>>

Fr3deR1cK Taylor | Creative Director

I wanted to start a business that focused on images of tomorrow (the future). I knew people were moving towards a society that focused on images through pictures and I wanted to be a part of that. In my heart looking into the future I knew tomorrow would be pictures. Read more>>