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.

Theodora Coleman | Artist and Gallery Owner

I have been having a hard time answering this question, trying to choose the MOST important factor, as the reason behind the success of the store. The factors of success work more like spokes on an ever turning wheel, each one just as integral as the next, don’t you think? The world today changes with such speed that it feels like concepts, establishments and people must move, evolve and change just as fast to keep up with it. It is the same, if not more, in small business. You have to find ways to keep the wheel, or proverbial ball, rolling. I do this with authenticity. I approach every day with as much authenticity as I can muster, which goes for my personal life as well as my professional one. I work in my store everyday, it’s part of what I love about my job, and get to interact with people of different backgrounds, experiences and understandings. Looking at every interaction as an opportunity to truly connect with another human, even if it is only for 5 minutes, I am as vulnerable and authentic as I can be. Read more>>

Rachelle Llanes | Makeup Artist & Cosmetic Tattoo Artist

With passion comes success. Out of high school I studied Psychology with emphasis on child development and women’s studies. I worked as a makeup artist throughout college and found passion in working with others. I always had connections with my clients and I absolutely enjoyed transforming and enhancing their appearance with my creative ability. I’ll never forget my client who was diagnosed with cancer. She came in with her friend and she had never had her makeup done. By the end of our consultation, I handed her the mirror and I saw tears run down her face. This moment had touched my heart. Her friend came back a few minutes later to share their experience with me to my manager. From there on out, I knew that this was my passion and I was in the right path. Read more>>

Liz Erban | Wedding and Engagement Photographer

I’ve always firmly believed that you can only be successful if you take care of your people. So, quite honestly, the most important factor behind the success of my photography success has been that I care a heck ton about my clients. This means putting them first, going above and beyond whenever I have the opportunity, and showing them on a regular basis how much I value them (because I do). A lot of my current clients are people who have been referred to me by others I’ve worked with OR they’re returning clients I’ve worked with in the past who came back for more photos (i.e., anniversary pics, maternity pics, etc.). Read more>>

Tina Li | Wedding Planner & Creative Project Manager

The most important factor behind the success of In the Clouds Events is our attention to detail. My team and I make every effort to collaborate with our clients and vendors. Our job is to gather information from everyone involved in the event. We track every little detail from the vendor team and make sure we adhere to our client’s preferences. We strongly believe that open communication and collaboration are key tools in producing and executing a successful event. Read more>>

Luke Ward | Owner & Designer

Firstly you have to understand what Success means to you and your company. To me, monetary success is a base reason behind creating a brand. We all create a brand to hopefully make a profit right? But besides the dollar signs, i feel the most important factor behind the success with Susu Intimates lays in the development and creation of the product. Developing a product that stands the test of time is our aim, but it had to also be extremely comfortable, stylish and durable. In a world filled with fast fashion, Susu aims to slow that process down, we want females to have underwear that lasts, and that doesn’t just end up as landfill in a few months. We hand pick all our fabrics, use only the best elastics and Jacquard production for a longer lifespan and try and use ribbed cottons as they are stronger and hold their shape and fit for a much longer period of time. My success also lies heavily with my amazing production team. Read more>>

Chad Cook | Hairdresser, Salon Owner, Entrepreneur

Happiness is the most important factor behind my success. Having a vision and bringing it to life allows me to be able to do what I absolutely love everyday while living the lifestyle that I choose. The success behind both my brands CCH Scissors and Chad Cook Hair Salon is the community and family I have built with like-minded people that want to create and cultivate together. Chad Cook Hair Salon and CCH Scissors has developed into a team of stylists and entrepreneurs that bring forth all their individual talents to represent the same dream of creativity and happiness. Have a purpose and you will hit success. Read more>>

Monica Leed | Professional Organizer & Author

The most important factor behind the success of Simply Spaced has been slow, intentional growth. Fundamentally, I don’t believe in hustling as a business owner. The success I have had in life and business can be attributed to steady, intentional, forward movement. I take a different approach to business by focusing on small achievable goals, one at a time, like laying bricks that build a foundation. Eventually, I build a house. It’s allowed me to maintain a presence in other areas of my life while maintaining a thriving business and keeping up the momentum. I embrace downtime and boundaries by saying no more often than I say yes so that the things I do say yes to are always a hell yeah. Obviously, I am human and don’t live and die by any absolutes (there are always faster seasons) but embracing this sort of “slow entrepreneurship” has really made all the difference for me. Read more>>

Laura Elkus Gross | Producer/Director/President of L.E.G. Productions, Inc.

Many factors have gone into the success of my business. The first is probably perseverance, especially when starting the business, I had to keep going despite rejection, discouraging advice (“You’ll never be able to do that!”) and inevitable setbacks. The second is passion, I’m passionate about the work, and I bring that love for the art and artistry with me to each project. The third, which came later in the business, is assembling a great team. I’ve been lucky to find amazingly talented, hard-working people to work with me, and their input and contributions became essential to the company and the brand. I would also put kindness high on the list of what made L.E.G. Productions successful. If I am kind to my employees and value them and their input, it makes everything we all do so much better. If I am kind to my clients, who have often become friends, it builds the bonds of the work, especially when you are working in a creative field. Read more>>

Courtney Shove | Roller Skating Fat Advocate and Artist

The most important factor behind the success of my brand is to never lose myself. Change can be good, but the message my brand stands for will always be the same. The only reason I have gotten to where I am today is because I shared the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of my life on social media. When I began my online shop I named it Fat Femme Fatale because that’s exactly what I am. I’m fta, Black, and queer. The intersectionality of marginal identities are all important to me. I want to be the representation for others that I never had. Whether if it my social media brand of Fat Girl has Moxi, or my artwork. Read more>>

Kristina Mezhynskaya | Model/actress/TV Host

Discipline! Personally, I believe that discipline is the basis of everything; as the basis of proper nutrition, an athletic body, it aids us in achieving our goals in our daily lives. Consistent disciplined actions offer us the possibility to aim at certain results – good health, a beautiful body, growth of our own company or brand. All of those things don’t just simply appear out of thing air. They don’t happen all at once. It is a process, a road through which the route requires having discipline. If it’s easier to imagine, in my understanding of things, the world operates similar to a gigantic computer. Where if you enter a request clearly, as you do in a search engine, then you are given the requested result. Meaning you have to outline your goals. You have to force yourself to be consistent, disciplined, and follow through and never give up!. Read more>>

Cole Medders | Personal Trainer & Rock Climbing Guide

Simply being myself. Building a competitive business as a personal trainer in an over saturated market like LA can be extremely challenging. I found that incorporating what makes me unique and special as a person directly into my business has incredible results. I am a professional rock climber, college level swimmer, endurance runner, and competitive body builder. I’ve embraced all of my passions and created a fitness regiment that is functional, fun, and continuously changing. It encourages my clients to try new activities while getting them into the best shape of their lives. Read more>>

Abhishek Patel | Bespoke Jeweler

The factor behind my success is customer satisfaction. We strive to give our customers the best service and product when it comes to jewelry. Jewelry is about memories and emotions. For instance, you buy a Diamond Hamsa Pendant to show some gratitude to your for your own journey, and to motivate you to keep going. OR, you buy yourself a Rolex everytime you hit your goals. OR, you are buying an engagement ring to start a new journey with your partner. Diamonds are forever and so is a memory. You want to cherish the goods and live it. That is why, we want to make sure that you are getting the best out of your money to make sure that you cherish the moment for the rest of your life. We want to be part of that process and hence, we give it our 110% everytime, and that has been the most important factor behind our success. Read more>>

Yadira Romero | Hair and Makeup Artist

Being true to yourself first and foremost. I believe if you are honest and provide the best customer service and not look at the dollar aspect of business that you will be successful in your own right. Chase your dreams, stay determined and motivated and keep learning. All industries are always evolving , stay relevant with the times as well. Read more>>

Michael Fogelman | Winemaker

Lisa and I never had “success” in our minds when we first decided to make wine in my small Sweetzer Avenue apartment or when we moved Sweetzer Cellars from West Hollywood to Santa Barbara County and became a bonded winery. My sole focus as winemaker, even in our apartment days, was to do everything possible, and some things seemingly impossible, to make great wine. Whatever it took. So if that meant fermenting grapes in our dining room, sleeping in a cold bedroom because that’s where our barrels lived, or pressing grapes on the sidewalk of Sweetzer Avenue, we did it. When we started making wine commercially, there was never a thought of profit or success in the traditional sense. We truly believed that if we made great wine and could continue to do what we loved, we were successful. So success was defined exclusively by the quality of the product and the love of the experience. Read more>>

Leesa Zelken | Children’s Celebration Expert & Entertainment and Event Planner

I have been in business as a children’s party planner for over 25 years. Long before social media, long before COVID. Finding, achieving, and maintaining success has been possible because of one word that has been very popular this year, but always part of the vernacular to me as I navigated my business this quarter century. That word is “pivot.” As important as pivoting was in March 2020 when I embarked on a never-been-tried-before platform of virtual party entertainment, now some 500+ virtual celebrations establishing Send In The Clowns as the premiere expert in the virtual party realm, pivoting prior to March 2020 was a cornerstone of how my I operated and have continued to flourish for so long. Read more>>

Jenni Kephart | CEO of Unlocking Potential

For me, the key to success is authenticity. People can feel it when you’re being real, and they most definitely feel it when you’re being fake. I think that sometimes businesses get so focused on “sales” or “customer retention” that they lose touch with the human being on the other side of the interaction. We consistently have families reporting back to us how much they feel that we care about them…because we do! I only hire people who LOVE working with students and partnering with them to harness their natural brilliance and let it shine through. It is vital to me that my staff members are deeply fulfilled and continuously growing and developing just as much as their students. I think there is a lot of talk in the world of business about customer experience and in the world of education about building confidence. Read more>>

Massio | Dj & Producer

Music has to be your real passion, besides the basic knowledge and the proper tools and equipment to make great music, you need to know how have fun during the creative process and flow with the ideas that can lead you to a sound that you were not expecting, its very important to maintain the spirit and focus on the big picture. Being consistent is definitely big factor in my music career. Read more>>

Moshe Capelouto | Diamond Artisan and Fine Jeweler

The success of Minted and Precision Cut is due to a few factors: The major one being trust between our clients and our company. Our clients will either bring highly valuable diamonds to us where we create more value through our diamond cutting expertise, or they ask us to create personal and precious custom pieces likely to become family heirlooms. There has to be a great deal of trust between myself and the client. We’ve built that trust with our clientele over decades in L.A. Read more>>

Ellie Shoja | Modern-day Rumi, Co-Founder of Peace Unleashed

The single most important factor behind my success as a business owner, a human being, and a deliberate creator of my reality is my commitment to my mindset. Mindset essentially means having the mental discipline to priorities thought patters, behavioral patterns, and belief patterns that are in alignment with what we really want out of life. It means creating the mental agility to pivot as needed in order to choose thoughts that make us feel better, regardless of the circumstances that surround us. If you can prioritize your mindset and choose empowering thoughts even when you are in the middle of a rut, you will create a direct path to success — no matter what your reality consists of in this moment. Read more>>

Dianne Pak | Event Planner

I attribute all of our accomplishments and success to great mentorship. Without the wedding planners who allowed me to assist, shadow, and intern for them, I wouldn’t have the hands-on experience and knowledge about the industry that I have today. I am a firm believer in continuing to seek education. There is a wealth of knowledge available to any and all who want to learn through podcasts, courses, and mentors. Mentorship is a such a great way to pass on lessons, mistakes, successes one has learned to better educate the next generation. Read more>>

Piero Spadaro | Gallerist & Artist

I was unusually fortunate to discover my life’s passions incredibly young, and I was encouraged and nurtured to pursue it. I have been able to stay in my lane (so to speak) and to thrive in it, which has provided proof of concept, and endeared Hang Art to generations of collectors and alliances. Like any business, we experiment, and expand, but our core tenants remain anchored. We are a meaningful partner for collectors who want to be locavore with global credibility, while finding art they love. Read more>>

Margaret Hernandez-Brown | CEO+Founder of SocializeLA.com

The most important component to my success is always staying aligned with my guiding values. Knowing your own core values ensures that you stay focused, committed and on track. My core values are FAITH, FAMILY, PERSONAL GROWTH. All roads lead to and are fueled by my values. You could also say that these are my ‘WHY’. Read more>>

Tanya Bures | Page Beauty Owner + Lead Makeup Artist

The most important factor behind the success of our company is staying true to our philosophy of beauty, which is a modern, effortless approach. Clients are drawn to our team because they see a consistent look that’s fresh, clean and ultimately uncomplicated, and that’s how they want to see themselves on one of the most important days of their lives. I also believe word of mouth and the overall experience clients have with our team is another key factor. Once they meet us, their experience is even more enhanced with our genuinely warm professionalism and calming temperament, which allows each client to feel relaxed and confident in our chair. Read more>>

Samantha Gutstadt | Content Creator, Business Founder, Writer and Actress

What I like to attribute most to my success thus far I think is my resiliency and ability to pivot. I also have never let the the word “no” trip me up. I have been able to turn no’s into not right nows and have built my brand and business on taking risks. Read more>>

Olga Perelman | Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Printmaker

Gonna start off by saying all these questions really hit hard😅 The meaning of “success” is different for everyone and over time I’ve learned it can be very personal. It’s truly tough to set that imaginary bar of success for yourself and work and work until you get there because it feels like you will never get to that place, wherever it may be. But the more I create for my brand Inner Peach, the more I realize that the main factor of success (at least for me) stems from being real and genuine in all aspects. It’s no longer about “is this a good design?” but “do I love what I’ve made?” Because if I don’t love it, I will feel fake promoting and selling it. So if I can be genuinely love what I design, while I may of course be hurt if people don’t appreciate it as I do, that doesn’t damper my personal success because I’ve stayed true to myself. And the more genuine you are, the more people feel that and resonate with you and your brand. And that’s what makes Inner Peach successful. Read more>>

Nyiko Beguin | Musical Artist and Label Owner

Every part of how I approach my artist career and label comes from a place of honesty and passion. I’ve found that those two factors are essential for any project to successfully connect with people. Read more>>

Aliya Simjee | Owner of Rose & Thorn

I believe that the most important factor behind the success of my brand is the intention and values I have with Rose & Thorn. I put a huge emphasis on making sure my pieces have intention behind them. Each collection is named with a certain theme and the pieces within those collections highlight that theme. For example, within the Adornment Collection, the Abundance bracelets are named to remind the wearer of the abundance of love, light, and support they have in their lives. I don’t want my jewelry to just be their next purchase- I want it to be an extension of them, a reminder of the roses and thorns in ones life. All my pieces are handmade to make sure that there is a personal touch in each piece. When wearing the pieces, I hope the person can feel the amount of intention and care that is put into each piece. Read more>>

Christina Conte | Food and Travel Writer | Owner of Christina’s Cucina.

I think the most important factor behind the success of my brand is my determination. I feel so strongly about sharing the knowledge that I have from my unique background. I would love fellow Americans, and others around the world, to learn about authentic Italian and British food. It enthralls me everyday. Read more>>

Doris Raymond | Vintage Clothing Enthusiast & Expert

I am blessed to have created a business working with things I am passionate about. Even after nearly 40 years! I think people respond to the passion. My staff feels the same way, so people come in and get “infected” with our genuine/heartfelt love. Read more>>

Yolanda Thomas | Vocal and Movement Performance Coach

I think the most important factor behind the success of my brand is my passion and obsession with analyzing what makes a great performer. I offer my training at a fair price and then I overdeliver. When you are in the business of helping clients abandon their self-limiting beliefs and see the potential in themselves, you want to reach as many people as possible. Once a client has booked in a 4-pack with me I can’t help but give them 24hr communication access and support. I’m now part of their journey and have a sense of responsibility. I’ve never had an issue of a client overstepping or abusing boundaries. I just can’t help It. I love It! My authenticity and transparency builds a quick rapport. I would say I have a 99% success rate for booking from a clients email inquiry. It doesn’t take much to spend time answering their inquiry in detail and giving them an insight to how I work rather than just respond with a quote. They say they felt comfortable with me very quickly and therefore chose me over their other instructors. Read more>>

Gene Sasse | Photographer, Museum Founder, Curator, Book Producer & Adjunct Professor

Success is a difficult thing to define. Each of us have our own interpretations. I have been fortunate enough to be good at managing my time and using that time wisely in solving problems. I have been historically very proud of the fact that people tell me I am a pleasure to work with. I usually take that to mean “not difficult”. As the Founder and Curator of an art museum, it’s easy to wound creative people’s egos. I do my best to manage all those that have worked with the museum and especially the artists we have been proud to showcase. Not everyone that recognizes me as a Director of an art museum knows that I have been a Commercial Photographer virtually all of my life. You learn a lot when you have to photograph everything from machinery to flowers, and of course people of all walks of life. I owe a lot to that informal education that has led me to understand how to build a business. Running an art museum is very much a business, a creative business, but it is a business none the less. Read more>>

Hommy Diaz | First Generation Dominican American Designer

The most important factor behind my success is patience. While willing to fail in the process, acknowledging and accepting that “FAIL” is an acronym for First Attempt In Learning. The faster you fail the more you learn, increasing your ability to offer your brand more value with experience. Success is about building from each failure without discouragement or loss of enthusiasm. I simply look at failure as the executive assistant to success. Read more>>

Diana Campos | Makeup & Hair Artist – Owner

Classy and elegant is my company’s expertise. I am very detail oriented and listening carefully to my client’s needs and expectations has always been my top priority. Each Artist have been carefully selected to provide Top quality beauty services and deliver the best possible results. My goal is always to enhance my client’s features, and essentially create a look that is suitable for them and the occasion. I don’t follow trends, rather, i am a true believer that not one size fits all. Making my clients feel comfortable and confident with the final look and having them come back again and again is one of the best complements for my business. Read more>>

Bonnie Smith | Personal Trainer, Pilates Instructor Gym Owner, Published Author.

The Bonnie Smith Method… SMART, SIMPLE, PURPOSEFUL Discover for yourself what I’ve known for 30 years; The joy of consistent exercise. We all know that exercise changes your life forever. The most important thing is is not what exercise does for you on the outside, but what it does for you on the inside. I am often asked “How can I look better on the outside?” The answer is: “By improving the inside.” My philosophy is simple and clear: The purpose of exercise is your good health. Improved physical will follow. Exercise is like brushing your teeth you need to do a little something everyday. My methods emphasize consistency, daily movement, flexibility, healthy joints, balance, and good posture. Read more>>

Rohan Dixit | Neuroscientist, Entrepreneur, Activist

We’re a mental health company, and our wearable has helped thousands of people feel less stress and anxiety. But to be honest, I think the biggest factor in our success so far isn’t in our technology, or even our incredible team, but the fact that I’ve had to overcome mental health challenges myself. Empathy is important. When you go through something difficult, I think it gives you a degree of sensitivity towards others in similarly difficult situations. Wanting to help people struggling with their mental health drove me to more deeply understand my own anxiety and depression. From becoming a neuroscientist at Harvard and Stanford, to living with meditating monks in the Himalayas, I traveled around the world and did things I never imagined because I knew there was a need for a better solution to mental health. I think having a mission is the biggest factor in persevering through challenges, and ultimately the people that succeed are the one’s that don’t quit, right? I don’t know what success means specifically to you, but I’m not sure there’s ultimately any other success than leaving the world a little better than you found it. Read more>>

Sharleen Shayan | Blogger & Creator at Curiously Shar, Podcaster at Notorious for Nothing

Honestly, I think the most important factor for me was having a great support system, as well as not being afraid to ask for help. So many people get stuck while starting something new just because they have a fear or asking for help, and I was not about to let that stop me! It also helped me make some amazing friends!. Read more>>

Selena Moshell | Director (Commerical/Film) and Creative Producer (Live Events)

I believe that the biggest component of my personal success has been a positive outlook. Optimism is the strongest tool I’ve been able to develop in my career, first as a professional dancer, and now as a director. Both phases of my career have inherent disappointment in them: auditions are an almost infinite exercise in hearing “no,” and film making is a never-ending series of problems to be solved. Keeping a realistic, but buoyant attitude helped during these times in my career path, and, I hope, has helped to create a more pleasant and enjoyable work environment for everyone. I also think it has helped me find more work, since I now am in the position to hire people myself, and I find myself hiring positive, joyful crew members more often than not. Since my job now is often to be on set for hours at a time, leading large groups of people as the director, I have found it incredibly important to stay as joyful as possible, to keep set environment upbeat and productive. Read more>>

Ashlan Christoph | Muse House Retreat/Serendipity Founder and CEO

Without question, the most important factor behind my success is PASSION! One of my biggest passions is sourcing out beautiful products that spark emotion and using those findings to help curate environments that speak to our customer. I am passionate about creating a space that not only sparks imagination but FEELS incredible to be in, People come in just to brighten their day, and for me that is the ultimate success!. Read more>>

Elliot Thompson | Sound Designer

I genuinely enjoy the process of helping to make something better. Film is collaborative, so for most of us, our job is precisely that: help make an existing project better. There are often limitations with budget and time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take pleasure in getting the most out of what’s possible. A few years ago, at the Highland Park studio, Unbridled Sound, I was asked to mix a small budget docuseries by some young, unknown filmmakers. There were real time constraints, which resulted in the director and I working into the wee hours of the night in order to meet delivery deadlines. It was exhausting and I wasn’t sure how many people would even see it, but I enjoyed knowing we were making it as good as it could be. That project, which was “Wild Wild Country,” ended up not only winning Best Documentary Series at the 2018 Emmys, but also earned me an Emmy nomination for Sound. Read more>>

Andrey Kudievskiy | Andrey Kudievskiy | CEO and Founder of Distillery

I believe the most important factor behind my success is my immense desire for continuous learning. Although this doesn’t directly impact Distillery, I decided to join the UCLA Executive MBA program this year in order to become a better version of myself. That said, this is the culture of our company; we’re trying to make Distillery better on a day-to-day basis. We’re competing only against ourselves, and our goal is to make sure that we’re creating a highly successful company with a great culture and an even better business model — something I believe we have already achieved here at Distillery. Read more>>