We asked some of the city’s rising stars to reflect on what made a difference in their journey. We asked them to tell us about what they think the most important factor has been behind their success.

Vanessa Garcia | Artist

First and foremost – you must JUMP IN. I would not have an incorporated company today if I did not allow myself to follow the opportunities where they led. The artist in me is a culmination of my experiences. I have always marched to my own drum and stayed true to my passions. I choose not to conform to what people think one should be, based on their background. I leverage the tools I have: instinct, grit, charm, and street smarts. Using these, I have paved my path as there was no map for me to follow. Read more>>

Roy Williams, Jr. | Actor

Acting is my passion, something that I truly live for, it’s also an extremely challenging line of work. The number of rejections, notes, and overall experiences is enough to make anyone stop in their tracks and reevaluate their decision to pursue this career path. But, because of the unwavering support from my family and friends and their belief in my abilities, I am able to continue working hard every day, to achieve even more success. And I celebrate that success, with the people I love most – because I really wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for their love and support. Read more>>

Francesco Mario | Founders

The passion and commitment that we put into our craft, we roast coffee almost daily to insure freshness and we work 7 days at week to grow our business. We want to educate and spread the concept of great coffee and try to bring more people to support small roasters rather then huge burnt coffee corporations. We want people to taste chocolate, nuts, fruits, flowers in every sip and it’s just the natural aromatic bouquet of the artisanal coffee, without tricks or artificial aromas. Good coffee is like good wine and we are the winemakers that wants to deliver you a fantastic experience, not just the boost of energy to wake up in the morning. Coffee is more then that 🙂 Read more>>

Dr. Guadalupe Mireles-Toumayan | University -Teacher Supervisor & High School Teacher

The most important factor behind my success is that I used underestimation as a strength to reach my goals. During my doctoral studies, I faced constant criticism, this actually helped me grow. I had a choice, either dwell on that criticism or build mental strength. I decided not to give the power to other people to dictate my self-worth. By facing adversity and doubtful approaches was the best way to reach success. Read more>>

Jason Gilbert | CEO, Pilot, Tech Entrepreneur

One of my mentors uses the term relentless to describe me, I guess he’s right, learn from mistakes, grow, stumble, grow, never give up. I started working professionally when I was 14, someone took a chance on me early on. One of the secrets for me has always been to give people a chance to grow. By setting objectives and allowing people the freedom to accomplish them, employees are more fulfilled and enjoy a challenge. I’m always thrilled to see people grab the ball and run with it. Read more>>

Jorja Hudson | Comedy Writer, Mental Health Advocate

I recently saw a quote on Pinterest (a highly regarded platform) that said: “the thing you are most afraid to write. write that. – advice to young writers” I’ve struggled with mental health my whole life, save for my first year or two on this planet, but that doesn’t count because I was on autopilot and don’t remember it. I’ve also used comedy as a coping mechanism for that and it set me on a career path where all I’ve wanted to do is make people laugh. They always say ‘find your voice, find your voice’ – that’s what will make your work stand out in writing submissions, on stage, to prospective people who can hire you. But what does that mean? Read more>>

Xavier Arnaudin | Winemaker in Paso Robles California

Being in Harmony with myself and meticulously select every persons who work with me according 2 things, being genuine and care about what they do; the rest I can teach. The wine is alive and aware of our intention, more precisely the wine feel the vibes in the cellar, Happy cellar makes Happy wines. The vineyard choice and farming are important, I believe the environment of the cellar brings this unique touch, who makes the wines different. The success of my brand is based on a group of people who have fun at work and work hard, our rewards is the smile on your face when you drink our wines. Hope it was clear, I am from France and my English is not the best, feel free to correct any misspelling.
Thank you Read more>>

Casandra Cisneros | Floral Design and Botanical endeavors

The most important factor behind the success of my brand is intention and motives. I feel the common misconception of most small business owners tends to be that we’re all in it to eventually become “big” businesses with high profits. Which for me is far from what I want for my business. Of course I want to be successful. I want be able to make income and support my lifestyle, but my goal isn’t to be a “big” business. Cash rules everything around, and sometimes it’s hard to differentiate the intentions businesses have. For me I keep myself grounded through my intentions and my motives. Read more>>

Deavii Machingo | Painter, Green thumb, Tarot Reader, Reiki Master

My success may be completely different from others, but I feel completely successful throughout the years as I started my business out of pure love and self healing after my dad had passed. I have been able to become the person I am today by creating my art and as I grew and healed my business has evolved. I went from designing back patches and custom painted skate decks to learning the art of tarot and this now leads me to my new business venture of still offering all of that and more, Happy Plant Mama. From coping when i painted, to trying to connect through spirituality, I am now at my healing stage of grounding and accepting. coping, I am now able to help heal others and connect with others from my humble beginnings. Through all of my experience and encounters that I have gained; my success has been nothing less but beautiful and a divine blessing. Read more>>

Frankie Fictitious | Award-Winning International Burlesque Artist | Model | Costumer | Clothing Designer

The most important factor behind my success is believing in yourself. Dreaming big and not letting anyone diminish your dreams or tell you otherwise. Surround yourself with people who encourage and support your dreams and ambitions. Read more>>

Brian Lee | Behavioral Counselor and Trainer

The most important factor to my success is my consistency and dedication to my own approach. With 35 years of experience and working outside the box, I’ve been able to successfully transform the relationship between dog and owner with focus on their mental health and not their performance of basic commands. My program is raising and developing dogs that are calm, grounded, and centered. Dogs that are happy being self directed rather than being externally controlled. This approach is the foundation for Way of the Dog and has kept thousands of dogs in their homes resolving behavior issues and creating a harmonious environment. Read more>>

kalon baird | CTO-Co Founder Splash Nano tm

The most important factor behind the success of our company and brand is patience and flexibility. The ability to stay ahead of the curve while still focusing on a core business model has worked out well for us. Read more>>

Juan Almeida | Owner/ head technician

The most important factor behind our brands success Is the honesty that we bring to this industry. when you’re working on someone’s personal device, knowing how to handle the repair and also communicating that to the customer is one of the most important things. By us being mobile, were able to be faster and able to get folks their devices back at a rapid rate without them having to not have the device for longer than 30 or 40 minutes. Read more>>

Edsger | LA Headshot and Beauty Photographer

I think it’s the passion I have for portrait photography, and also this crazy drive for this illusive perfection in creating hauntingly beautiful images. That said, it is important to avoid getting stuck in your ways and make sure you continue to innovate and take some risks along the way. After all, if you never fail at anything, you’re not really trying enough. I enjoy the reactions I usually get from models when they look at the images we’re shooting on the monitors in my studio. I love it when the images straight out of the camera, without any retouching or postprocessing, are already amazing. The rest is just the icing on the cake! Read more>>

Anatoliy Kim | Wedding videographer/photographer

I love serve my clients. B Read more>> 

Asha Lee | Owner, Pop Physique San Marino

The success of Pop Physique San Marino has definitely been the inclusivity and affordability factors. There are so many boutique fitness studios, but mine is set apart because we strive to make sure everyone feels comfortable and can take class. No prior experience is needed and all fitness levels are welcome. We have a wide range of ages that attend class and it is very important to me that everyone feels comfortable. I like to think Pop Physique San Marino is for everybody and every body which is a very important distinction. Read more>>

Alexis Jones | Creator of TheTéSpa

The most important factor to the success of my business is going to sound cliché, it’s “listen to your gut”. As an entrepreneur you will encounter customers, mentors and others in your industry that will advise you; but ONLY YOU will know what you’re capable of. My Té company started by accident and I used my past culinary school experience to guide me in creating the tea blends. There were lots of things I wanted to do in the early stages of my business and I was told “it’s too early” or “you need more experience”. Because I don’t like being told “no” I researched and jumped into opportunities. Jumping into new situations helped me learn how to build a better business and be fearless when things don’t out. Read more>>

Danny McFarland | Inspirational Host & Producer

The most important factor behind my success has been my ability to trust my inner guidance and surrender to the divine unknowing. Read more>>

Ryota Takaji | Dancer/Choreographer

The loss of my mother. She had been my #1 supporter from the beginning and I never knew how much I was counting on her before she died. The moment she took her breath away, of course I was so scared to not have her support anymore, but I also felt a bit of hope to know that she’ll be with me wherever I go/whatever I do. It still hasn’t been easy, but it definitely pushed me to the next level of my craft. Read more>>

Danielle Laura | Spiritual Advisor | Energy & Relationship Expert

I wholeheartedly believe that the most important factor behind my success as an individual and as a brand is my ability to fiercely trust my intuition. Making aligned decisions that aid to your success comes down to embodying your core truths, values, and beliefs in any situation that’s presented to you, and surrounding yourself with other leaders who are on the growth path as well. I also believe it’s so important to embody your future self, now-I regularly ask myself “what would the me that has everything I desire do about this situation? How would she think? What actions would she be taking to ensure the desired result is a reality?” and then I take those steps accordingly, leading me to the ultimate path one step at a time. Additionally, I believe that staying in your lane is paramount to your success, mastering your innate gifting and focusing your time, energy, and resources in areas that develop your zone of genius. Read more>>

Durraiya Hasta | Digital Marketer | Owner, Digital Fix

Persistence. It is very easy to start off with a thought / idea and then drop it at the first instance of challenge or a roadblock. However, when you refuse to give up, think objectively looking at the larger picture and focus on achieving your goals, success cannot evade you. In my journey, of working at a job then moving to be a freelancer / consultant and then finally starting my own digital media agency, I have come across hurdles, failures, and ofcourse personal challenges as well. As they say when you have the ‘will to sruvive’ you keep going no matter what and a way is paved out for you, maybe magically!
It is these small wins that accumulate over a period of time which comes to fruitation and is called as success, for which I am always grateful to the Almighty. Read more>>

Ryan Palma | Audio Engineer & Producer

The trust I build with each individual has a lot to do with the success I have had as an Audio Engineer. I care so much about what an artist is doing. Prior to being at Redwall, I was an active recording and touring musician. Knowing that side of everything helps me guide artists that come to the studio. If they are having trouble with melodies or harmonies, I am able to come up with ideas on the spot to help elevate their record. If they need additional production, I have multiple instruments to pull from. Since I am able to operate thinking like a musician and a recording / mixing engineer, I know which hat to pull out. This allows me to make all of my artists very comfortable, resulting in amazing takes we can use on the record. Read more>>

Aaron Kahn | Filmmaker, Aerial DP

I love what I do. I find joy and accomplishment in telling stories. I am continually learning, researching and adapting my interests and knowledge to grow skills. A willingness to try and put the work in. Do your best or don’t take the project on. Read more>>

Rohan Brown | CEO + Founder of Barley, Inc

An important factor behind my success and my brand is what drives me. This entrepreneurial journey I am embarking on is not for myself. Yes, I consistently want to push my limits, see what my true potential is and become wealthy. But, even more, I hope to be an inspiration to others who look like me and come from where I come from. My hope is to expose more low-income communities to the power of entrepreneurship and technology because I truly believe there is no equality without equity. There are so many obstacles in place to keep individuals in low-income communities trapped, and we are given very little opportunity. I want people to understand your situation is not your destination. We just need to keep pushin’ to prevail. Read more>>

Shalini Varghese | Singer and Technical Sales Professional

The most important factor behind my success is my drive. I have a “can do” attitude even if I’ve never done a particular thing before. It’s not magic, it’s just will. Read more>>

Jean Donnay | Owner of The Nature Shield Company

The most important factor is to not give up. Once you give up it’s over. I can be the smartest person with infinite money access. If start my business and in 5 years I have a net worth of 50 million and in that same year I quit the business, I lost. A person who has no money and who doesn’t quit will inevitably pass me up. Will it take him longer, maybe, but that person will be remembered and will be respected amongst their peers as an authority figure. Read more>>

Tristan French | Director – Actor – Writer

Being truly honest with myself. Realizing my strengths and my limitations and working on both to become a better version of myself. And most of all realizing that God did not make me to be put into a box. I can do anything I put my mind to if I believe. Read more>>

Ambassador Keith Kirkwood | Diplomat I UAE Royal Family Global Representative / Chairman | Gift Global Initiative

Well, it started by wanting to make a change in my community, I ran and was elected to public office. I quickly realized that just because your elected it doesn’t mean you get to make the changes that you wanted to make. There are many votes and other people who have a say in the matter. I wanted to operate more like an entrepreneur, I wanted to be the master of my destiny. I wondered how I could get this done faster, if I wanted to improve the sidewalks that were cracked and dangerous for the folks in wheelchairs or baby strollers in particular. I thought what if I could find out what the city’s cost is to repair and raise the money outside of government. Read more>>

Ian Michael | Recording Artist

Habits, routine and mindset. The results are normally based on how well I do those things. And God of course!!!! Read more>>

Kelly Robyn | Photographer/Co-Founder of K+C Collective Creative Agency – specializing in photography + motion for beauty, fashion + lifestyle brands from LA to NYC.

There’s two very important factors behind my success. The first, is understanding the importance of team work. When I first started out I used to try to wear all of the hats. I was always trying to do everything myself. Which looking back was a good thing for me to learn what I’m actually good at, and not so good at. Through that process of trial and error I learned that I love being on set and post editing, but I didn’t excel in pre-production and planning. With my creative brain I struggled to organize every detail that goes into planning a shoot, which can often take weeks or months of planning. Now I work with an amazing Art Director, whom I appreciate so much for all of her planning skills. She’s a super organized Virgo; she helps to amplify the process and outcome of the work that I do. Now I can’t imagine ever working without her. Read more>>

Ivy Le | Comedian, Creator of FOGO: Fear of Going Outside

My podcast, FOGO: Fear of Going Outside, a nature show by the most reluctant host ever, started charting after just one week out. BUT long before there was any listener validation, I watched so many peers who started at the same time speed past me, releasing their shows, getting their milestones and recognition. My show took more than three years to make! A few people even told me it was ok to trade out my project for an easier one. But in retrospect, the moment I chose to stop comparing myself to others’ is when I chose the success FOGO is enjoying now. The story resonates with people, because I took my time. People who stumble on the show share it right away, because nothing else sounds like it. If you want to make something that’s not like anything else, just accept that it will take longer. Read more>>

Liz Richter | Artist and Muralist

I always first react to questions like this with a wave of imposter syndrome, as though I have no right to talk about success at all. I consider myself an “emerging artist,” though that phrase makes me think of a prehistoric salamandar clawing its way on to the shore. But I chose this question because its one that I get often from students or apprentices interested in how I am able to land big mural projects, and my story is not one of luck or glamour. It’s just someone really wanting something and sacrificing a lot to make it happen. My short answer is: crazy hard work and not being afraid to fail. Read more>>

Jabari Alii | Educator, Game Developer, & Music Composer

Seeking challenge. I learned early on that if I only do what’s easy, what I already know how to do, I’ll never level up. I’m constantly seeking opportunities to improve through projects that are challenging and require skills I don’t have or have not fully developed. Having this mind set drove me to learn media music production and orchestral composition. This opened the doors for me to to write music for films, games, trailers and eventually working with Facebook as a sound designer. Having this mind set drove me to teach my self coding, which led to me developing video games, working with AfroComicCon, speaking at events, and now working with Hidden Genius. Having this mindset has also given my brand a seal of excellence, where I can be trusted to deliver high quality and never shy away from a challenge. Read more>>

Glitter Moneyyy | Hip hop band

TayyySlayyy- I think a lot of our success comes from our energy and the love we have for one another. We’ve been best friends for 12 years. Glitter Moneyyy was born out of our friendship. There is a level of intimacy, fun, and vulnerability we have with each other that is rare. People see us on stage performing together, hyping each other up, dancing, and laughing and they’re witnessing two best friends living their dream and having the time of their lives. We’ve both been performers since we were children. So to get to do this now is truly amazing. Read more>>

Bertram Whisettse | Men’s Jewelry Designer & Life Coach

I believe the most important factor behind my success is my commitment to God and keeping him first in everything I set out to accomplish. This bleeds over into the success of my brand as well. I like to also contribute the ability to remain consistent throughout my journey delivering quality products at affordable prices. Read more>>

Jessica Lynn Johnson | Director and developer of Solo theater

As the founder and CEO of Soaring Solo studios, a company dedicated to the direction and development of one person plays, I can attest that the most Important factor behind the success of my company is the power of speaking our truth and telling our stories. In a time when there is so much divisiveness, It is more imperative than ever, for people to be inspired to unite, find empathy for one another, and be educated on life experiences different than their own. Not to mention, it is deeply healing for the actors and writers of solo shows, to be able to tell their stories and experience the profound level of freedom and self empowerment that such Creative expression provides. I believe that everyone has a story worthy of telling, not only for their own personal transformation and growth, but for the betterment of their audience as well. Read more>>

Catelyn Richard | Fashion & Portrait Photographer

Being cool with failing has been the biggest factor behind my success. I’ve never lost anything by willingly putting myself in the position to fail, but I’ve been blessed with my biggest opportunities by doing so. Read more>>

Walter Perez | Film director, writer and producer

Consistency. And a bit of blind belief (laughs). I’ve been working in entertainment for about fourteen years now. It began with teaching myself the process of the cinematic art form while working on independent films, which were written, produced and directed by me. From this, the idea of creating a production company came to fruition. On March 10th, 2009 – Verloren Production was born. Originally Verloren was designed as a site to showcase photography work. In time, we expanded into other Medias. Working alongside aspiring filmmakers, musicians, writers, actors and other artists. We strive to help all artists achieve their creative objectives. Read more>>

Anthony Ausgang | Visual artist and musician

Working with clients well known to the general public. Being associated with them led to greater respect for my own product. Read more>>