Are you thinking about starting a business? If so, we think you’ll enjoy reading about how these seasoned entrepreneurs thought about the question when they were in your shoes.

Crystal Hines | Founder; Super

My entrepreneurship journey started almost 15 years ago when; after seeing a void in the blog world; I founded an art-based digital platform called, AMMO. My thought process was to always want to promote, share, and support Black artists. While thinking of how to expand this platform I ventured into the idea of a physical space which is what Super is today, Read more>>

Sabrina Crowder | Wellness Advocate & Owner of Relax Mom Co.

I began by recognizing my own needs. It’s so easy to come up with idea after idea, right! But our goal, if it’s worth anything, must be to solve a problem. I recognize that there are other women who may struggle with taking time for themselves and more importantly relaxation. We often put the world before ourselves on a daily basis. And we live in a world that thrives on ‘go’! It’s important to take little moments throughout the day to luxuriate and to just breathe. Our products help with relaxation. Buddy butters, oils, you name it. Just a bit of relaxation can make the difference on a stressful day. Read more>>

Peggy Loo | Baker & IT

Living in the US for the past 16 years all over the west coast, including Hawai’i, and now living in a big city like LA, made me miss even more my Peruvian food. Although Peruvian food is becoming more popular nowadays, I still miss some Peruvian desserts that you can’t easily find in the stores. One day, I was craving Alfajores, and I couldn’t find them, so I decided to start baking them. I also love food. I consider myself a foodie since I grew up in the restaurant business. My mom and her family have had a successful business in Lima-Peru since the late 1950s. Read more>>

Salena Pryor | President

The Black Small Business Associations of California was born out of shear frustration at the fact that the Black small business community did not have access to information about the resources available to them as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I received several calls from many of my friends who were panicked, and realized that they were locked out of several programs due to eligibility requirements. After starting BSBA, we began to see that many business owners needed essential services and support, help pivoting and changing how they do business, basic business fundamental training, and/or technical assistance. Read more>>

Sheri Oneal | Commercial Photographer

I worked for 10 years learning about the commercial photography industry as a photo assistant, a prop stylist, set designer, and eventually an associate photographer with several large commercial photo studios. I got to a point where I felt I had tapped out with learning the important aspects of the industry as well as the amount of money I was making. I decided it was time to spread my wings, open my own studio and start earning the value of my time and knowledge. I guess you could say it was time to take the training wheels off and get going on my own journey toward success. Read more>>

Taylor Barefoot | Producer/Engineer/Multi-instrumentalist/Artist

Well, I started playing guitar when I was 6 or so. I was a pretty obsessive kid and went into it whole hog. I wanted to record myself, so I took two boom boxes, a small Radio Shack mixer, found a microphone and started doing what I guess one could call “recording”. A few years later, my father randomly came up to me ( I was 16 at this point) and asked; “What do you know about computers, bud?” I think my answer was literally “My friends play video games and look at porn on ’em…” He (as usual) ignored my dumbass answer, thankfully and said “well… I think it’s going to be important you know how to use ’em so I was going to get you one”. Read more>>

Amy Neiman | Jam Maker, Lawyer

For most of my adult life I have had my own business – I have not worked for anyone other than myself for the last 30-years. Transitioning from my career as a lawyer (a solo practitioner) to owning my own company was natural. The question for me was more – what business should I start and that ultimately transpired organically. Four years ago I was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma (it’s a tumor on the skull). It was large and needed to be removed and as a result of the extensive surgery I lost all hearing in one ear and had a good solid year of rehabilitation (balance and other issues). Read more>>

Sai Sen | Musical Entrepreneur

I think big , so when i was in the process of structuring and building my own recording studio i knew i had to be different then any other studio. We are the first multi room black owned studio in NJ so i had to give it some thought. The main problem i knew i would face is building a dream team to make sure the studio runs effortlessly the thought process of building partnerships and finding team members was hectic but we did it & were still looking to partner with more creatives. We have two professional recording studios a content room to shoot music videos / photoshoots & also a lounge for downtime or waiting clients. Read more>>

Ty Anderson | DJ Fly Ty

I saw a DJ at a family reunion and watching him control the crowd with the music he played piqued my interest. I watched him the whole time and later told my parents I wanted to be a DJ. They didn’t take me seriously because I was only 7 or 8 at the time. About a year later my older sister, who was twelve years old, started a jewelry making business. Watching her earn her own money made me want to earn some of my own. My interest in DJing never went away and my parents saw that I was serious and supported me. Earning my own money felt really good and at that young age, I realized the sky was the limit. Read more>>

Ilene Leshinsky | Ilene Leshinsky, Intuitive Guide, Body Image Specialist, Author, and Coach

Starting Find Body Freedom, the name of my business now, was more of an epiphany than a thought process. For the first three and a half decades of my life I battled with my weight and with my negative feelings about my body, and myself as a result of growing up a “fat” girl. I excessively dieted or I binged for many of those years. I had poor body image and my relationship with food was very unhealthy. This is the part of my story where I tell you how a graham cracker changed my life. And it’s the part of the story where I tell you that in my early thirties I joined Weight Watchers. I was so lost and finally realized that I could not do “this” stuff alone – the stuff of eating like a normal person. So I became a WW member, leader, and trainer. Read more>>

Katona Payne | Business Strategist

I created my business for a number of reasons. I wanted to give my gifts and talents a lane to be utilized by others who could use them. I wanted to fulfill an immediate need, to the everyday person who had a great brand idea but didn’t know how to bring it to life, I consider them idea visionaries. I wanted to create a safe space for entrepreneurs to learn, grow, create, and succeed out loud. I felt as though I had a nice balance of knowledge, skill, patience, nurturing and the ability to lead, to create a business that serves as a guide to navigate what’s next for new and established entrepreneurs. Read more>>

Danielle Ortega | Maker & Mama

My business first started as a creative medium to de-stress and switch my focus in the evenings. To be completely honest, I had experienced the loss of a pregnancy which my partner and I were hoping for. Any loss has a great impact and it hit me hard. I wanted to keep my mind and my hands busy. I make beautiful and affordable jewelry for hardworking women. I knew how many women, like me, were working themselves to break through the glass ceiling and trying to balance living their lives. Read more>>

Erinn Williams | Artist & Entrepreneur

When I discovered/ became a raw foodist over 15 years ago, a light bulb came on and I wanted to share what I had learned! I decided to share with others this very simple but overlooked truth of eating as nature intended, by starting a vegan raw foods business. I belive we don’t need, and are actually made sick from the processed/ preservative full “foods” that are accepted in the marketplace. And if we just simply cut out all preservatives and processed foods we can live more healthy lives and feel better! Cooking foods also diminishes 70% + of the vitamins and minerals, and removes its natural enzymes, which depletes your own enzymes that can be better used to clean your skin and organs. Read more>>

Blanc Canvas L.A. | Los Angeles Event Design and Rentals

There is always a great amount of fear and a little bit of doubt before deciding to start a business – especially when you think you may not have what it takes to start one. We had a long journey before deciding to start Blanc Canvas L.A. Here is our story… We’re Karen and Alicia, founders of Blanc Canvas L.A. We have both always had an eye for design, art, and decor, and we’ve always loved creating and DIY’ing. We knew we wanted to have a business together someday – we just didn’t know what exactly it was going to be. Read more>>

Simone, Rich Tetrault, Johnson | Simone Tetrault (Artistic Director), Rich Johnson (Executive Director)

In 2015, we hadn’t heard of many theatre companies exploring science, so we wanted to create something that fulfilled our interest in the type of hybrid work we wanted to make. Since then, there has been a lot of expansion in the field across all art forms, and it’s been a joy for us to connect with so many like-minded people across the world! Read more>>

Collin, Ryan, and Austin Gill | Fragrance Experts and Candle Makers

Frères Branchiaux Candle Co. is an African-American family owned home fragrance company that sell candles with a conscience. Frères Branchiaux Candle Co. is an award-winning artisanal candle company based in the Washington, DC Metro area. We three brothers, Collin (16), Ryan (13), and Austin Gill (10) created and manage our growing company. In October 2017, we wanted more allowance to purchase video games. Our mom told us that we had maxed out our toy allowance and to either “get a job or start a business” if we wanted more money. We decided to start a business! We have designed a line of vegan and eco-friendly candles that can make anywhere feel like home. We also donate 10% of our profits to homeless shelters nationwide. We decided to launch our business to build generational wealth, provide local employment opportunities, and support the community through philanthropy. Read more>>

NANCY GASSNER-CLAYTON | Talent Manager , Actress, Singer, Voice Over Actor

Well, basically it was almost by accident, partially filling a need, and kind of an experiment. I was an actress and a singer, and I still work in both those fields, and at the time I had a commercial agent. Acting roles kept coming up for violinists, or drummers or such in these commercials that I would see breakdowns for. I mentioned to my reps that I knew someone perfect for the job, would they like me to bring them in. They said they couldn’t do that, as they weren’t on their roster. So I thought about it a lot. Read more>>

MJ THOMAS | LASH ARTIST + BEAUTY BUSINESS COACH

I was 19 years old when I had my first daughter. I worked, went to school, and was a bartender on the weekends when my daughter was with her dad. I burned the candle on both sides and also in the middle … and with a torch. Burn out much? I remember looking at my life and my schedule and wondering, “how am I ever going to get ahead?” Read more>>

Yasir Naama | Founder of Sir Candle

I founded Sir Candle in 2020, which proved to be quite a challenging, if not humbling time to start a business. I have always been an entrepreneur at heart and have taken risks in the past, but this time during a global pandemic, civil unrest and economic uncertainty proved to be quite the task. What is different, however, is how Sir Candle came about and the evolution leading up to where we are today. The creative process and evolution of the business unfolded naturally. Read more>>

Courtney Nichols | Co-Founder, Of The Night

Let’s face it: both Blake and I really, really love to party. The moment we were born, our life has been a celebration. And as our careers took shape, we continued this celebration, creating immersive, spectacle-fueled events throughout the nation. Then Covid hit, and we saw our worlds crumble. Both Blake and I refused to let the silence (the boredom!) destroy us. In July 2020, Of The Night was born. Read more>>

Mae Magnaye Williams | Chef and Blogger

I started my business after my father passed away. He was the one who taught me how to cook Filipino food when I was living in the Philippines. After his passing, I guess at that time I was still healing and wanted to continue his legacy and memory through my food. I felt that everytime I cooked Filipino food he was close to me as if he never left us. It was a short comfort while I mourned for him. Through the food I cooked and ate, my memories of being with him were alive in that moment. It was such a powerful healing process for me. In 2011 I called my business after him; ‘Pepe’s Kitchen’ before it evolved to ‘Food with Mae’ in 2019. Read more>>

Caroline Zelder | Filmmaker/Entrepreneur

I’ve always been an entrepreneur, ever since I was a kid, that spirit that drives you to take chances and do what feels right in your gut, so with this new business venture, Air Force One Z – our antimicrobial jumpsuits, the same process occurred – a, what if thought… Wouldn’t this be fun and fashionable if we created a lightweight jumpsuit that gave people an extra layer of protection during this pandemic. A win, win, especially given the fact that my mom is a heart transplant patient and I wanted to come up with something that she could wear while out grocery shopping, exercising, or traveling, something that would give her an added layer of protection. Read more>>

Mira Kraft | Founder & CEO of MKPR

If not now, when? It took me quite some time to finally identify the exact career I wanted; when I first started to think of making the leap I thought I had to do so much more work in order to be ready to do that. The fact is, there’s only so much prep work one can do, if I wanted to be an entrepreneur it was time to go out and start being one. Read more>>

Ola Wells | Event Artist/Event Planner

I wanted to start a brand that I could build on. Event planning is one part to my business. There are other layers I’m working on. Creative Arts has always been an interest of mine. However, when I worked in a acute hospital setting with adolescences suffering with mental health, I was able to explore creative art more. I started art committee and me, the residents and some staff would cover the dull hospital wakes with as much home made art as possible. We designed bulletin boards, backdrops and we even built a fire place for Christmas and flipped the cafeteria into a full on “Santa’s helpers” work space. I loved every minute of it . I knew when the time was right I would explore more. Read more>>

Gabriella Picone | Artist & Designer

I started Idda Studio as a way to tell stories and bring people together through design. I had a creative upbringing growing up between New York City and the Sicilian Island of Lipari and had always wanted to start my own business to reflect these two distinct cultures. Meaning “her” in Sicilian dialect, Idda Studio is meant to celebrate the strong women in my life by honoring Sicilian tradition and craft. My studio is composed of limited edition homeware textile collections such as tablecloths, pillows, sarongs and scarves. All designs are inspired by colorful Sicilian narratives and are hand painted and printed in Italy. Read more>>

Josie Tan | Newborn Photographer and Mentor

I didn’t have much of a choice but to figure out what I could do with my skills. I just finished chemo and radiation, lost my 9-5 job with medical bills and moved to a new state. I was not business savvy and did what I could charging barely anything at the time. I knew after the second year that something had to change Read more>>

Maclin Bilski | Artist, App Developer, Poet

My thought process is incredibly simple – There are highly sensitive people (HSP) in the world that are constantly overstimulated making it incredibly difficult for them to recognize their unique abilities. My company MIND promotes awareness of this special human condition and aims to provide products and experiences that reduce external stimulation and improve an HSP’s ability to create and live peacefully. Read more>>

Alexandria White | Founder of Bougie & Brunch

I first discovered the art of brunching when I moved to Manhattan for college. I was so admired by the different cultures and new experiences around me that I was eager to trying new things. Every week I would find and visit a new brunch spot, try out the food, and make sure I took aesthetically pleasing pictures for my instagram. It became a lifestyle for me and I wanted other people to experience it. After a while, people started approaching me and asking for suggestions on where they should go for brunch or dinner for a special occasion. My family and friends recommended I started a brunch blog, especially since I already had a blog for fashion. Read more>>

Richard Lee | CEO of Foodup

In today’s oversaturated tech market, I’ve pondered over how to create a business model with a ‘must have’ structure. My main focus is on the types of issues that my business idea can address. My friend and I started Foodup roughly two years ago as a side project. We discussed a variety of topics, and one that came up frequently was, “So, what are we eating today?” After that, there are a slew of sub-questions, such as “what are the most popular restaurants in town?” and “what do you crave?” We then realized that similar questions are asked by others every day. According to our findings, people ask the question four times per day and spend an average of 40 minutes. We made the decision to develop a mobile app that assists people in deciding what to eat and where to eat. Read more>>

rachel roth | Owner/ Designer

I have always been crafty. Between singing, making rainbow loom bracelets, string bracelets, and baking. My business started as an accident the day I graduated High School in June 2018. My cousin was going to sleepaway camp and wanted to make a few bracelets. So we went to our local craft stores and bought beads and letters and made a bunch, and the addiction to making beaded bracelets started. After that, my mom ended up wanting a stack of bracelets with mine and my sister’s names on them. I shared these on Facebook and got an overwhelming response from people who wanted the same thing. So I created an Instagram and Facebook page, and everything has taken off from there. I have created thousands of bracelets, mask lanyards, anklets, necklaces and more! I love creating and finding the best stuff for my customers. Read more>>

Irina Busurina | Coach & Creatrix – Facilitator

My first business I’ve started from the need of other people who started asking me questions and that lead to me starting teaching. Later on my student been nagging on me for long time to open my own space. One day she came to my parents apartment where I gave her my private lesson and told me that a studio one floor below has a free room and she is sure I’ll be a great Studio owner. I knew what it means to run whole business which is different to teach classes. Accounting, branding, marketing, advertising, sales, receipts, website, bookings., etc. Read more>>

Brad A. Kinnan | Director, Producer & Photographer

My thought process behind starting my own business was, why the heck not? When you’re starting out in your career you’re not going to be the top dog anyway so “why not” spend your years building something that is entirely your own. Yes, the climb is harder, but the rewards are a hundred fold if you stick to it. Read more>>

Korynn Matthew | CEO, Ko Seaux NOLA

I decided to brand myself as KIM Management where I focused on being a manager to other small businesses and up-and-coming non-profit organizations solely because I wanted the people around me to benefit from things I knew. I eventually created Ko Seaux NOLA which is my “doing business as” name that came from wanting to do more than manage. I do custom shirts, masks, etc. and a portion of my business goes to Ko Seaux NOLA Events where I bring other small businesses together in the form of pop-up shops, social events, and most importantly community service. Read more>>

Alex & Nyanda | Owners, Elevations Hookah

Both of us were seeking a way to liberate ourselves and achieve financial freedom. With this in mind, we began our entrepreneurship journey and started our own business. While brainstorming ideas, we realized that hookah is something we enjoy recreationally that could also be a profitable business. Our first step was finding a name, and we decided on “Elevations.” This word represents the intrinsic and external motivators that inspire us to seek new challenges and reach new heights. Read more>>

Allie Bloyd | Founder, Allie Bloyd Media

I had wanted to start a business since I was 19 years old, but ultimately started working as a magazine editor and then marketing director for 8 years. I finally decided I couldn’t be truly happy until I was living a life that aligned with my values, and the belief that I was made to own a business. I also had a 1-year-old daughter at the time and wanted to be able to show her that you can achieve whatever you want to in life, and I had to be an example of that if I was going to teach that to her. I wanted to be in control of my financial destiny and have as much time as possible to spend with my family and those I loved. I knew it was possible and had to make it my reality. I finally took the leap in 2018 and it’s been the best decision of my life. Read more>>

Tyler Simmons | Entrepreneur

My thought process behind my business was for those who always buy lip balms or lip sticks & get tired of their lips drying out so fast or crackling a lot or leaving white residue around your lips ! Don’t you hate that? So I wanted to create a lip balms that last a long time with moisture, doesn’t dry out your skin or even leave that nasty white residue around your lips Read more>>

Shira Renee Thomas | General Director of Valley Opera & Performing Arts

I started Valley Opera and Performing Arts (which was originally called Center Stage Opera) with my husband in 2005. As we were starting our own professional opera careers together, we began to see a glaring lack of opportunities for young, inexperienced artists to be able to hone their craft and build their resume. There was a big catch 22 in the industry — you couldn’t get hired unless you had a resume full of non-academic performing experience, but there wasn’t really anywhere to gain that experience. My husband and I founded the company primarily to give artists opportunities to learn and grow in a professional environment, and to be that bridge between college and a professional career. In performance, there is no better place to hone one’s skills than on the stage or in the pit. Read more>>

Jason McGee | Director of “Jason McGee & The Choir”

The world loves choir music and needs to be inspired. I recognized there was a need for what I/we do so I assembled the right team of people to answer the call. Read more>>

Vanessa Chaidez | Dessert Maker & Customer Service Rep

I was in between jobs a few summers ago. I had already started baking for friends and family. I decided I needed to come up with a way to make money until I found a job, I decided to take the leap of faith to start promoting my sweets on social media after. Read more>>

Dan and Stephanie Curcio | Dan Curcio: lead singer of Moonshiner Collective and co-owner of Come Alive Entertainment; Stephanie Curcio: business and music planning manager and co-owner of Come Alive Entertainment

Come Alive Entertainment evolved gradually and organically after Moonshiner Collective lead singer and co-owner of Come Alive Entertainment, Dan Curcio, began to receive an increasing amount of requests to play weddings and private events from fans. As requests and word of mouth spread, Dan and his wife, Stephanie, formally started Come Alive Entertainment, with Stephanie running the management and planning side of the business. Read more>>

Connie Hung | Founder & Creative Director

Prior to starting Costanté – I was completely removed from the creative field, but I knew I wanted my work to make an impact. For me, impact meant being able to work in space where I could provide a platform to uplift others and give back to the world. While working in Finance, I’d want to direct the charitable efforts of our company to create a more direct impact, but was frequently hindered due to “corporate politics” or things of that nature. Read more>>

Paula L. Johnson | Marketing Fairy Godmother

I got fired from my last salaried job—at a volatile start-up in the sporting goods industry—and had zero intention of starting my own business. But I started doing small copywriting jobs and designing ads and it just snowballed. This was a lucky turn of events as none of the many, many resumes I submitted resulted in an offer! Read more>>