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.

Briana Lyn Studios | Voice Coach & Music Instruction

I was at a crossroads in my life. I had been working for a Yamaha Music School as well as teaching Kindergarten and Choir at another school. I learned so many valuable teaching skills through these schools that I incorporate in my own teaching philosophy today. During my last year of teaching Kindergarten, I realized how much I didn’t want to do any of these jobs anymore. It was through a parent-teacher conference I had with a kindergarten student’s mom, that led me to consider starting my own music teaching studio. I wanted to be able to call my own shots, “paint the walls the color I wanted them” so to speak, and have more freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted. Read more>>

Sonja Magdevski | owner/winemaker Casa Dumetz Wines + (owner of Babi’s Beer Emporium), in Los Alamos, California

My parents emigrated from Yugoslavia in the late 1960s to Detroit, Michigan. (Today their country is specifically called North Macedonia). As is fairly standard among immigrant groups, a Yugoslav community had already assembled in the area starting slowly in the 1930s. My great grandfather and my grandfather had come before my parents. Each family has to do what it needs to do to survive. Education is valued, though not at the expense of working and contributing financially to the family. Couple that with cultural norms that communities bring with them to their new homes while trying to navigate a new country with different rules, all while not speaking the language and truly understanding its system. Read more>>

Teri Woods | Writer & Founder of Moths and Giraffes

I started Moths and Giraffes because I’d seen so many publications essentially reproducing press releases, the same quotes, the same wording over and over. Newer artists weren’t being given a fair chance, especially as some of the publications I’d seen had incorrect information in them. How is a fan of a new artist supposed to find out anything about that artist if the information is scarce, or worse, wrong? I’ve heard too many people say, ‘there’s no good music out now’, and it simply isn’t true. There is a whole world of fantastic music out there, made by enormously talented people. I’ve kept a concert journal for over ten years, so I’ve always enjoyed writing. At smaller gigs, I was meeting artists and asking them questions driven by musical curiosity. So I was basically doing it already. I love what I do with Moths and Giraffes. I want to do the best I can for the artists I write about – their music deserves it. Read more>>

Sara | Luxury Bridal Artist

This is something that has always been a thought for me. My father had his own business so I was around that environment growing up, he instilled in us why having your own business is beneficial. Read more>>

Rachael Bronstein | Founder & Financial Coach for the Music Industry

Who knew that the country music I loved would be a path towards my professional renaissance? Music had always been my passion, not a job I could pursue. Besides, I was certain it was too late to reinvent myself. But then I thought about the people behind the music scenes whose industry had been halted, and I wanted to help. I had gotten my start in production finance at NBC and had always appreciated the production folks who make a show happen. Read more>>

Colton Walter | Director & Producer

Out of necessity. I needed a change in my life and career due to the fact that I wasn’t pushing myself. I started my business after a stint working in corporate America and feeling creatively stifled by my former bosses. I vowed never to cut corners like they did, and only strive for what I knew was better than the best. At that point, I left the company seeking something more creatively driven and challenging. Read more>>

Roy Sun | Post Production DI Colorist

In general, doing small business is very very hard, but compare to that, doing freelancer is even harder. As a colorist, theoretically we should be an artist based industry, But also agencies are looking for studios for safety. In my mind even if you are a one man band, with a studio just sounds better.
Plus, when you have a studio, it’s easier to assemble your team when bigger project come. Read more>>

Pepz | Performer & Coach

When I decided to officially and formally launch Pep Talk with Pepz in August of 2021, it was probably one of the most unplanned things I had ever done; since I am such a planner. However, after getting tremendously sick with COVID-19 for most of July and feeling that I could die from it, it made me realize how many dreams and goals I had been waiting to pursue. Waiting due to lack of resources, lack of time, lack of faith, and in the moment when I was truly afraid for my life, I remember praying that if and when I made it out of this situation, that I would never waste time to pursue what I want to pursue and I would also never spend my time and energy on the things I know that were not meant for me. Read more>>

Jennifer Cassetta | Empowerment Coach, Speaker, Author and Self Defense Expert

The mission behind the work I’ve been doing for the past twenty years is to help people feel more strong, safe and powerful from the streets to the boardroom. I now do this through keynote speaking and leading workshops on personal empowerment, self defense and overall badassery. In my early twenties two things happened that led me to the work that I do now. The first is finding martial arts. In 2000, I stepped inside a Hapkido Dojang (martial arts studio) and fell madly in love. A year later, I found myself running from the ashes on September 11th, 3 block south of the World Trade Center. Read more>>

Kendall Baab | Personal Dance Trainer & Dance Scientist

My business, BodyKinect, provides dance science training and education for dancers of all ages to prevent injury and enhance their performance. I started this business as a way to help dancers become stronger and learn about their bodies. It was evident to me from previous experiences that dance science is a small sector with a HUGE impact. More dancers need to be aware of how to properly warm up their bodies, how to include cross-training into their schedules, how to listen to their bodies, and how to discover dance science professionals that can help them. Read more>>

Shelley Whizin | Author, & CEO (Chief Energy Officer) of Soul Diving Institute, Intuitive & Evocative Coach, Teacher, Death Midwife & End of Life Trainer

What a great question! I didn’t know it would take me back to realize that I have been an entrepreneur ever since I started a babysitting business at an early age! As a teenager, I had my own hair cutting/styling business for all the older women in my apartment building. I watched how hair stylists would cut hair and copied them. In my senior year if high school, I went to school 4 hours and worked 4 hours at Fedco. So, starting my own business wasn’t new, but I didn’t tie the two together until this question. In fact, in going back, I have worked for myself more than I have worked for others. Read more>>

Samuel Boakye | Creative Director

I wanted to tell my story through the lens of fashion. Being first-born generation from an African Immigrant family in New York, I grew up in a space called the “in-between.” I was constantly living in between two different worlds; my African culture and my American culture. At times, they would fuse, and at times they would clash. At times, both cultures didn’t fully accept me as their own. I was an alien to both worlds. Nonetheless, the experiences that I went through in the in-between space is what has shaped me into the person I am today. Fashion and art was just a vessel I chose to tell my story through. Thus, my brand Kwasi Paul was born. It’s a fashion brand that explores that “in-between” space. We tell our stories, experiences, and conceptual ideas through the clothes we create. Read more>>

Tiara Jones | Co-founder of Strategic Sight Consulting

I’ve been blessed with amazing job opportunities throughout my career in the engineering field and at one point even felt that I was working in my dream position, but as I grew older my vision and goals changed. For a while, it was an internal struggle because I didn’t want to seem like I was ungrateful but the day to day work became more mundane and less exciting. In the beginning of my career I wanted less responsibility and more guided direction from my peers but I soon realized that path doesn’t always work out in your favor. As soon as I found a project that I loved, it would lose funding, the company would reorg, or my skills would be shifted elsewhere. Read more>>

Shyon Keop

My thought process behind my newest business venture, Melrose Place all started with the amazing location. The building, located on Melrose Place, has so much character and offers an incredible rooftop with sunset views hillside. Read more>> 

Aarika Johnson | Website Designer & Developer

I’ve never fit the mold. I started my career in Marketing and Communications young and hungry – essential qualities to get tons done and be awarded extra responsibilities. I soon began to see that “extra” does not always equal good. In most cases, it just means a longer work week with no bump in pay or title or respect. As an intelligent observer in the workplace, I could quickly determine when I was in a broken system. I tried many times to be the catalyst for change, identifying areas for improvement and offering strategic plans. As a little ole employee, this did not go far. Read more>>

Edrianna Terrae | Social Media Influencer & Entrepreneur

My thought process behind starting my own business was , 1: what am I known for ; What does my Audience trust me with? 2. How does this type of business exist in my everyday life already ? And 3. Is this something I’ll enjoy running in the future? The thought process behind my business was that simple because as long as I knew that it something my fan base would trust me enough to buy considering it’s something that I already use or will continue to use in my everyday life , support would come on its own and as long as it was something I enjoyed doing I’d continue to promote and market it allowing my brand to grow naturally. Read more>>

Evo B. | Founder/Owner – SmokeHouse Sensei

Back in 2012, I noticed that many lounges/clubs had started to establish hookah into their experiences. My social life with peers always had some sort of influence with hookah embedded into it. I couldn’t escape it. This is where I embraced searching for many styles of hookahs and different flavor combinations, offered at many establishments within the tri-state. I started assisting multiple small businesses that were catering hookah to private events/parties within the area. People would book us to serve hookah to their clientele, and leverage our presence to enhance their brand. Read more>>

Dane Baker | CEO and Co-founder of EcoCart

EcoCart started with the mission to make the fight against climate change easy, affordable, and accessible for everyone, working to leverage the immense power of digital commerce as a force for good. We enable businesses to be more sustainable by calculating and offsetting the carbon emissions of their operations by supporting verified carbon offset projects that work to reduce, remove, or prevent carbon and other GHG emissions. These projects take place all over the world, they ensure forests are protected, provide clean water and fuel efficient cookstoves to families in need, and help build wind farms and other forms of renewable energy. Each project has an element of social good and aligns with various UN Sustinable Development Goals, ensuring it positively impacts the community in which it takes place. Read more>>

Wynter Eddins | Nonprofit Founder & Spokenword Artist

My thought process behind starting my own business was rooted in hope and frustration. I was hopeful that education could transform and be a overflowing well of growth and determination for youth. However, I felt frustrated that our current public education system was so disconnected with the realities facing young adults and the inability to transition into adulthood with fundamental life skills. As a public school teacher for middle school, a survivor of domestic violence, and a creative, I pulled from my strengths and began to envision spaces where young women could gather, build healthy relationships, and become empowered in their economic journeys. Read more>>

Diamond Scott | Event Curator

When I originally was starting my own business, I always knew I wanted to be in the entertainment industry. I went from wanting to open a Women Owned Strip Club, to a Dance company, to an Event Planning Company. By the time, I landed on Event Planning, I was working in the catering industry and enjoyed producing events where attendees really enjoyed themselves. From the decor, to the service, to the food, to the drinks, to the music; it always warmed my heart to see people let their hair down & experience happiness in that moment. But sadly, I wasn’t able to see that many people who look like me, enjoying these moments. I also started to notice that in New York City, the Black community is constantly neglected despite the fact that we’re the originators of real New York City Culture, along with the Latinx community. Read more>>

Christy Durham | Co-Founder & Co-Director of Sycamore School

It is rare to hear someone in the field of education say that they have started their own business (in this case a school). Most educators work for public, charter, or established private schools where our focus is primarily on our students’ learning and well-being. The rest of our time is swallowed up by endless amounts of paperwork and cumbersome grading and reporting. All of our time and focus is on ensuring that our students are growing academically. This leaves little time to ponder the system to which we are enmeshed and have the energy to do something about it! Read more>>

Jennalee Massey | Owner of Boho Rocker Collection

I’m not good at follow directions, so I wanted to create something unique & follow my own directions. When my firstborn came into the world I had a bunch of extra baby clothes and instead of throwing them away I decided to recycle them by creating an Etsy shop. Read more>>

Chandler Barbee | Filmmaker & Co-Founder of Dark Ideas

It started when I realized I would rather be a ‘king in a shack’ than a ‘servant in a castle.’ I was writing and making tv shows and movies but it all wasn’t the content that I wanted to see or felt fulfilled and excited about. What did I know? Well, I knew that I was funny, creative, and experienced and when I looked around me, I saw that my friends were the same. So we all came together and founded Dark Ideas Production and Crew Member Coffee. We didn’t wait on “Big Mr. Hollywood” to save us when we knew we could do it ourselves. It’s been the most difficult, insane, and rewarding time of my life. I’m truly proud of every piece of content we make and happy to work on it all. Read more>>

Hanna & Suss Cousins | Knitwear Designers, Eskay Label

Our thought process behind starting Eskay Label was to focus on all things knit, from a fun, sustainable and inclusive point of view. I always grew up around knitwear. My mother Suss got her start hand knitting the Cosby sweaters in the 80s in NYC. We moved to LA when I was a baby and she opened up a store on Beverly Blvd. Here she sold high end, wild, funky knits, taught knitting classes, wrote her knitting books and did costume design knits for films such as The Grinch, The Matrix, Scooby Doo and more. Hand-looming, yarn, hand crochet and all things encompassing knitwear have always been a part of our family’s life. Read more>>

Anna Marti Hovhannisyan | Makeup Artist and Entrepreneur

I’ve worked as a makeup artist and consultant for product development with major beauty brands for over 10 years. It was hard to find the right products to use and recommend to clients because there are so many choices and not all products have the same benefits. I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands and created products that help everyone achieve a flawless luxurious makeup application without breaking their bank. I wanted to use all natural ingredients because when it comes to putting products on your skin, we shouldn’t have to compromise on the quality of ingredients to make affordable products. Read more>>

Taliah Michelle | Beauty Bar Owner

My thought process behind starting my business was pretty cut and dry. Financial freedom and a means to build generational wealth while exploring one of my passions. Im still growing and learning but I just keep the thought in. my mind that I can, I will, and it is possible. Being a single mother and an entrepreneur that also has a regular job is not easy but I keep my eyes on the prize and just do what I have to do to hit my goals. Read more>>