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.

Brian Chung and Bryan Ye-Chung | Co-Founders

At Alabaster, we have always been interested in the dialogue between faith and larger culture. In our case, that means engaging faith with culture’s movement towards visual experiences and beauty. We all have smart phones now with cameras. We consume more film, images, and graphics rather than words. We judge websites and books based on how well they’re designed. All these realities are part of culture’s movement towards the visual. It’s interesting that faith-traditions often get painted as this static, archaic thing that never changes. There’s some truth to that, but the reality is faith-traditions don’t exist in a vacuum—they are always informed by history and culture. That’s what we are ultimately interested in at Alabaster. Read more>>

Samantha Gutstadt | Content Creator & Co-Founder

I wanted to start my own business because I was tired of waiting for permission to be creative and be ME! I was auditioning and doing the whole Hollywood actress thing and I felt like I had so much to give creatively but wasn’t getting the opportunity. I was so grateful to be a working actress, I did 5 movies and was a regular working commercial actress but I still wanted more. Read more>>

Mikey Mulhearn | Producing Artistic Director

Truth be told, I never intended to start a theatre company. The individual shows we produced led us here- people kept coming back. Eventually we realized that we’ve created this really awesome artistic community and in order to keep it going, we had to journey into the world of non-profit status. Read more>>

Brian Griffin | Session Musician

Back in New York 10 years ago, I was trying to surround myself with musicians whose career paths I wanted to follow. At that time I’d asked a few about ways to further my studio career. Within one week, two great NYC session drummers made a very strong case for me to immediately invest in my own recording setup. “Home recording isn’t the future – its right now” one of them said. And with that, I swiped a couple credit cards for some equipment and signed a lease on a very small production room so that I could start learning. Read more>>

Sandy Shannon | Wedding Stationery Designer

There were a few different factors that led to me decision to start my own business. First, I was not a 9-to-5 gal. I didn’t like being managed and found being stuck inside an office cubicle all day mentally draining. Second, I knew when I had kids I didn’t want to be working out of the home, and wanted something that would bring passion and purpose while also allowing me to be with my kids. But I think the most important factor in starting your business is identifying a hole in the market or a need that hasn’t been fulfilled. For me, it was the experience of picking out my wedding invitations. I walked into this local paperie and as I flipped through the “books” of design options, I thought, “This can’t be all there is, right?”. I loved planning my wedding (particularly the paper goods), and wanted to make wedding stationery a key component in the decor + overall creative story for other couples as well. Read more>>

Melissa Ching | Founder

1. THINKING OF A BRAND NAME 2. SCREEN PRINTING ON T-SHIRTS 3. TAKING PICTURES OF MODELS IN OUR SHIRTS 4. POSTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA 5. SELLING PRODUCTS ON E-COMMERCE These were the beginning stages of my thought process on starting my own business! I had always worn other brands such as The Hundreds, Stussy, Obey, etc. because I thought they were super cool and they always have dope T-shirt designs. I would buy most of my shirts at Zumiez, and remember thinking how amazing it would be if I had my own brand and message selling in a shop like this. I wanted to start my own clothing brand because I love graphic design, and I wanted to go to college for it. Although, I did feel the pressure from my family to do something else with my life, that they felt might benefit me more. Read more>>

Nickeya Hannah | Educational Hygiene Coach

I wanted to create something that would create a positive impact to girls and boys through adults. Read more>>

Vintesha Smith | Entrepreneur & Designer

My thought process for starting my business was to create internal fulfillment while providing unique and affordable designs that would increase confidence in my consumers. I was craving a sense of purpose and passion. I was dealing with depression and anxiety and I needed a creative outlet to create something that would bring myself and the world joy. I decided to focus my business around T-shirts because they were always my first choice from my wardrobe and as I continued to purchase them from other companies I wanted to create my own to reflect my design aesthetics. I knew that the niche for Tye dye T-shirts was not oversaturated. I decided to create bleached and Tye dye T-shirts to separate myself from my competition. Read more>>

Kirstyn Shaw | Start-up Baker

Well… this time around it was out of necessity. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and drive, but I lost my (paying) job at Rose Cafe at the beginning of the pandemic and immediately shifted into a different kind of hustle mode. I costed out a bunch of foods I knew I could make and sell -sauces, broths, baked goods – but was not sure people would buy. So instead I started ding-dong-ditching all of my friends all over Los Angeles quarantined at home with chocolate chip cookies. They’ve always been my party trick – Super Bowl Parties, party favors, pretty much every gathering they make an appearance. The beauty was we didn’t have to talk, or even see each other! But it brought me joy to know the cookies might brighten their day. Read more>>

Chris Rubin | Soapmaker

Bubble and Things Soaps started with one thought – time. All I could think about at the end of 2018, when I started making fun geek themed soap, was time. I had spent the last 15 + years in the film industry, the majority of that as an Art Director. Time for my husband and 2 little boys was something that simply didn’t exist and I knew I needed to make a change. I had endured some great loss just prior to that year and it made me realize we only have so much time on this beautiful planet; we need to make the most of it with the ones we love! Making soap as a hobby gave me much joy and I felt I could turn it into a business, allowing me to watch my boys grow and bring happiness to others with premium quality bath products. It continues to be an awesome and rewarding experience and I am grateful for every second! Read more>>

Ladale Hayes | Wildland Firefighter

I was in prison and considered a inmate fire fighter, I knew when I came home from custody we as minorities don’t know and still not fully aware of the opportunities to of having a career as a wildland firefighter. In the inner city there’s not one agency from the field of Wildand firefighting that comes to the inner city to recruit minorities and women. As I was in custody the prison brought college credited wildland fire fighting classes to the premises and u took full advantage of the opportunity, I learned al that I could and knew my goal as a firefighter wasn’t to achieve the highest ranks as a chief. My career goal was to bring awareness of wildland firefighting to the inner city and provide jobs for those who are interested and learning a trade that’s in demand. Read more>>

Lori Rothschild Ansaldi | President and CEO & Executive Producer

While I was a business major and I always dreamed about being an entrepreneur, I can honestly say that I never wanted to own my own production company. There was something about being responsible for all of my employees paychecks… the feeling of if I didn’t make enough cash that I would not be able to pay people… that really scared me. Then, in a pitch meeting at a major network, I realized that I spoke two languages in this business. I had experience working as a network executive and I had the experience of being a developer and sales person for a production company. I realized that I have a genuine understanding of all of the reasons why a network buys a (or doesn’t buy) a show. So, I spoke “network executive” and I spoke “tv development”. As soon as I saw those things in myself, I realized that I had a unique sales proposition that few other production companies had. Read more>>

Kim O’Neill | Transformational Confidence & Interview Coach

This question makes me laugh, because my thought process was simply fueled with loads of passion. I didn’t think of what I was doing in terms of being a business. When I first started [my business], my dominant thought was “I just need to start helping people NOW!” I knew I wanted to help people feel more confident, but I wasn’t sure how to focus that into a service. After doing some online research and internal exploration, I realized that what I had a lot of experience with; am good at; and people could really benefit from, were insights into the employment interview process. So that’s where I started! The journey has unfolded so much more since then where I now coach people to feel more confident in their personal life, as well. I never had dreams of becoming an entrepreneur, but I did always dream of doing work that directly helps others and is fulfilling for me. Read more>>

Susan Johnston | Founder & Director New Media Film Festival

The newest business, was spawned from the 2008 economic crisis/ WGA strike. Although I was born in Providence Rhode Island and moved to Los Angeles California in 2000, I was now witnessing an exodus. Most studio friends were not able to bring in the large sums of money they were making by working on more than one show at a time and hiring people to help them with that work load. Casting friends were now losing jobs to producers friends or family members. Major musicians with multiple gold albums were either leaving the city or having a hard time paying the electric bills. So, I wanted to help. I thought about what were my experiences to date, what was missing or needed and how could I implement. Read more>>

Nikki Benzimra | President l Intuitive Development Group

About five years ago I was in a career I hated, unhappy, seeing no potential growth. I decided to go back to school and study web development. During my time in school, whenever there was a project or group assignment, I was assigned project manager. I started getting really good at explaining web development and realized that my place in the tech world was management. I pooled together my network of tech friends and built a freelance team of software experts, graphic designers, website builders and marketing specialist. I quickly built my own website and started offering different packages to small businesses. I grew up in the small business world and was able to use that understanding to help clients see the benefits of creating or upgrading their virtual storefront. Read more>>

Alexis Slickelman | Ceramist

I am still in the process of slowly building my brand so I think about the reasons to not go through with it all the time! I have always been intimidated of being vulnerable, especially with so many talented artists out there. However, to be perfectly honest, I really believe in my work and of what my work represents. Overall, and probably because of my personal insecurities, my work focuses on connection, whether that be physical or conceptual. I see all of my work as an extension of myself and I really put my heart and soul into everything that I make. I was basically raised to not touch anything, especially art – even when it was encouraged. Just the thought would make me cringe but at some point something changed. My hands became so crucial to the process of interacting with the world around me. My passion to pursue ceramics really developed because of my love of using my hands. Read more>>