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.

Veronika Zamecnikova | Graphic Designer & Art Director

One of my major goals in life was to be independent, start my own business. I was at the point where I realized I was no longer expanding on my skills as a graphic designer. I put together a strategy in place on how I would go from employee to business owner. I began to look for clients that aligned with my creative style and took on side projects in the evenings and weekends. I enjoy the feeling of winning new creative and business opportunities. With the number of side projects growing, I decided to take a leap of faith. Right before the Covid-19 pandemic began, I created my own business, Pill Creative Studio, focusing on branding and UX/UI design. Read more>>

Vikki Lenola | Producer of The Vegan Fashion Show

Years ago I came across a video of animals being skinned alive for fur. My heart sank. I knew it wasn’t right, and I couldn’t just continue on life like it wasn’t happening. I felt very compelled to help and kept learning more about the fur industry, followed by other animal rights issues. This was when I was in college for business. I later went to university for a bachelor of environmental studies. Currently, I’m in an Effective Altruism fellowship at UCLA with a focus on effective animal advocacy. My work background includes working with brands, working at events, and before modelling, I had my own designs exclusively supplying a bridal boutique. All of this made starting The Vegan Fashion Show a great fit for me. It serves as a fundraiser for animals, plus it shows that we can have fashion that kind to people, animals, and the planet. Read more>>

Afrid Ghoffrani | Owner/Founder

I’m the self-made world-traveling woman behind Zig Zag Asian Collection. I’m bi-cultural, German/Iranian, and I come from a family of strong merchants, so you could say that this style of business is in my blood. The truth about my thought-process is that there wasn’t one! It was a no-brainer. I knew I wanted to travel the world, and I knew I had to somehow make a living doing it. I’ve always known that I wanted to take my life into my own hands, and be the decider of my own destiny. I started bringing unique, handmade treasures back home. I sold them at street fairs, festivals and small markets. In 1992, I gave birth to my daughter, Roxane, who was thrust into a life of globe-trotting splendor. She’s 28 now, and runs the business alongside me. As my business relationships overseas blossomed, I wanted to work in tandem with these artisans to ensure that their craftsmanship could be appreciated abroad, and that they would be fairly represented. I wanted to bring my love for fashion, color, and textile to a more realized vision. My business evolved into a fashion line that produces two seasonal collections per year; working with many of those same artisans I met over 20 years ago. Read more>>

SNVPS | Photographer

The thought process to starting my own business was simply the idea to own something that I can watch grow. Coming up I would hear the phrase ‘self made’ thrown around a lot, to me it meant having a business or a concrete foundation to which one can build something from. My goal is to help my community by opening a youth center to help kids tap into their motivation and have them explore what drives them then help the youth with internships and find them jobs in fields that they want to be in. As an entrepreneur my community means a lot, I came up from the hood so I know there are some struggles that exist still today with the youth and disconnect that happens when we are not guided or motivated properly. I believe I can help build something that can influence the next generation, this is why I hustle every day, it’s not just for me it’s for those after me they gotta see beyond of what’s been put in front of them. My work or business is just a stepping stone to something greater. Read more>>

Bill Robbins | Photographer and Educator

I had just graduated from the photo program at Art Center College of Design and while in school had done some assisting for various advertising and editorial photographers in LA. From those experiences, I could see there was a possibility to create my own career as an advertising photographer. One of my instructors at Art Center, Errol Gerson who taught business, encouraged me to take the risk of leasing a small studio on Beverly Blvd. Being fairly young and also thinking if it did not work out I could find a job with a company, I took his advice and went for it. I was also mentored and encouraged by some of my former instructors who helped in shaping my first portfolio to present to LA design firms and ad agencies, and within two months of showing my book to the first art director, I started to get some small jobs that the more established photographers passed on. At the same time I had been given advice on how important it was to have a marketing strategy, my short term goal was to get local business from client direct, design firms, and ad agencies through direct contact and showings of my work. Read more>>

Tony Sclafani | Woodworker and Chairman of The Board

I’ve always enjoyed working with wood. When we started the business three years ago, we had no idea that Covid would change the world we live in. Being able to go work on my projects each day in my workshop gives me great freedom and sense of purpose. When my wife initially was going to buy a charcuterie board for $200, I said, “I can make that” and that was the start of our Cutting Board and Charcuterie Board business. Read more>>

Dr. Robert Thomsen | Doctor of Physical Therapy

After 5 years working in the physical therapy field in a standard outpatient orthopedic and sports clinic, I felt something was missing. Healthcare centered too much on the provider instead of the patient. However, we as healthcare providers often talk about patient-centered care and rightfully so as that’s precisely who the care should be centered around. So, I started to think how better could I flip this back around to make the patient the center of focus again. Thus, the seed for Thomsen Elite Physio and Performance was planted with the idea of taking physical therapy to the patient, integrating myself into their life and lifestyle vs. the other way around. Read more>>

Raamon Newman | Leadership Breakthrough Protection Partner to CEOs & Executives

The thought process started when I was in a very unique environment. I was a full time meditating monk meditating 8 hours a day 7 days a week, eyes closed in silence. I’d committed and been sponsored to do this for one year and that one year was coming to an end. I had two decisions to make. 1. Did I want to continue this lifestyle for an other year, and if yes, 2. How am I going to come up with the monthly funding needed to do this. I decided yes to the first question, I was having such a blast exploring deeper layers of silence and consciousness within myself, you could say it was my inner entertainment, that it was too charming to stop after 1 year. This was key because what makes thinking and acting most effective is clearly deciding what you want, then the thinking, creativity and actions naturally follow. It’s like you’ve told yourself and the world in your own mind, this is what I want to see unfold. The fulfillment to the second decision seem to come quite easily, one of my fellow monks was funding himself by literally being a silent partner to business leaders and CEOs leading multi-million and billion revenue companies. Read more>>

SAFAE | Interior Designer

I wanted to start practicing my own design sensibility. After 5.5 years of professional work experience, working at some of the top interior and architectural design firms in NYC, in 2015 I felt it was time to start exploring how and what it meant to design on my own. Read more>>

Dominique Callimanopulos | Founder and CEO, Elevate Destinations

I grew up traveling widely and became very aware of the diversity of the world’s cultures as well as the discrepancy in resources between local communities and jet-setting tourists. I realized that both groups have a lot to teach and offer one another. I started my company Elevate Destinations to introduce travelers to a way of traveling that embraces and explores local communities and conservation in a very personal and immersive manner, tailoring each trip to the interests of our clients and the needs and talents of communities. We began as a social enterprise, organizing donor trips for leading international non-profits as well as custom trips for private individuals and families that benefit local conservation and community initiatives. Read more>>

Christie Valdiserri | Model, Dancer, Fitness Instructor, & Owner of The Baldtourage

My thought process behind starting my own business, The Baldtourage was that I wanted to have somewhere to go to feel less alone and to be surrounded by other women who can relate to how I feel about being bald. It is hard enough to lose all of your hair, but to lose all of your hair and to feel alone, is a thousand times more difficult. I started a mini business back in high school, teaching dance classes out of my parents’ basement. Being my own boss is just in my blood. Read more>>

 Jeanette Hernandez | Leathersmith and Artisan

When it comes to going into business for myself, I tend to be a risk taker. In another life , I ran my own insurance agency, so jumping into the unknown has never been scary for me. What’s scary is living with the regret of not trying. So, when I started leather tooling, I knew this was something I had to pursue, even if it’s a part-time. Read more>>

Jesse Osher | Owner, Jesse’s WakeUP! Bar

When I was in college, I fell asleep at the wheel driving on Connecticut’s Merritt Parkway. Heading straight for the woods at high speed, I woke up just in time. I slammed on the brakes and narrowly avoided a collision. Since that terrifying incident, I tried product after product to fight moments of low energy and drowsiness. But nothing worked! So I started my own research on the subject. This led to the development of Jesse’s WakeUP! Bar. Read more>>

Dimitris Menexopoulos | Composer, Sound Designer & Audio Technologist

I didn’t really begin with a concrete business plan. The main thing that I had in mind since day one was that I passionately wanted to become a first-rate professional musician, no matter how hard I had to try. So, from the age of 16, I have been constantly exploring, composing, recording, and later, releasing music. I play most of the instruments in my works myself and I am in complete charge of their production. I believe these are key elements in developing a personal sonic identity, even though it takes much time to learn how to do them properly. My first album came out in 2014 and other major releases followed in 2017, 2019 and 2020 respectively. I am continuously updating my ideas and expanding my skills. I also try to collaborate as much as possible. I cannot stretch enough how important it is to collaborate nowadays! Especially since Covid-19 struck, around 75% of my work comes from remote collaborative projects, like games, films, virtual fashion shows and so on. Read more>>

Liz Levenson & Benn Watson | Co-founders of Cactus Tree Entertainment

We saw a need for change in the international television industry. We were bound by industry norms and saw that there was a potential to shake things up. So we endeavored to create a business that could react to the changes and create content for a US and international audience. In an ever-changing business landscape, we saw a vision that we could make a genuine change and innovate within the industry. Read more>>

Alexandra Bowman | Artist + Illustrator

My business unfolded quite organically. I have always loved to draw, even as a child I was constantly drawing or painting something. I would spend hours looking at illustrations in glossy magazines and envision myself as an adult; standing in front of a large drafting table finishing an illustration for some important newspaper. After studying art in college, I worked in corporate offices as a designer and took illustration jobs on nights and weekends. I started small by selling my work at art markets, designing logos for local businesses, and illustrating posters for bands around town. Years went by and people started recognizing my work. My client list grew and I was getting contacted by major publications and companies worldwide. It felt surreal, my dream of illustrating full-time was suddenly in view. The next obvious step was to quit my day job and try working for myself. Since then, I haven’t looked back. Read more>>

Michaela D. Jordan | Founder/Head of Artist Management | Golden Poppy Artist Services

I saw the distrust that had been sown between musicians and music executives over decades of mismanagement and lack of respect in the music industry. It is almost a cliche at this point to to see a manager take advantage of a musician. I have been a professional musician since I was 13 and have been working for record labels for years; so, to me, there had to be a way for the two sides of the industry to meet in respect and harmony. I had the opportunity to work for Ropeadope Records before I moved to Los Angeles. I loved how they put their artists first and, as a musician, I wanted to start a company that held onto that spirit and also offered musicians an alternative to a traditional record label and management structure. I was noticing that, as artists begin to take more control of their marketing and fan connection via social media, the structure of a traditional record label and management company had begun to become more and more obsolete. I had seen so many artists not being advocated for in the ways that they should have been and not being taken seriously. Read more>>

Ana Saldaña | Singer/Songwriter, Sound Mixer, Artist, Activist

There are two thought processes I’d like to mention. The first one is when I decided to switch from being a freelance camera operator to a freelance sound mixer in the television industry. This decision has truly simplified my life. I love being left to do my own thing while on set. I prep my audio equipment alone, I set up alone, I mic up the talent alone, and during the shoot, I have only to rely on myself to record sound. I love this type of simplicity, however, I must mention that it is laborious work, and the physicality of the work has done a number on my body but I love the technical aspect of my work and it has treated me well, I have been blessed to travel the world recording sound for 15 years now and have had the privilege of meeting some extraordinary people along the way. Things have slowed down a bit since the pandemic began, which leads me to my second thought process behind starting my own business. I began pouring paint on jars and canvases. I call this therapeutic practice The Pretty Propagation Series. Read more>>

Debra Herrick | Editor & Publisher and Arturo Heredia Soto, Art Director

When we started Lum Art Zine, we were thinking about how important independent arts journalism is to a dynamic arts & culture community. In Santa Barbara, where we are based, we have a lot of really cool and talented artists, curators and gallery owners, but the Central Coast – the region between Los Angeles and San Francisco – didn’t have a dedicated arts publication. We wanted to fill that space! We thought, every great art scene needs a great arts publication, and with that, we started Lum – a contemporary art magazine for California’s Central Coast. Read more>>

Kenia Lara-Godfrey | Daycare Counselor, Kindergarten TA, Small Business Owner

I love going on to different instagrams and websites and it asks me about my business and what category I am, because I’m in multiple categories. I do event planning, custom orders, lettering, snack goodies, it’s definitely all in the art category but I “try” and do it all so it can be a one stop shop! So I think my goal is to be able to offer anything and everything as well as letting this be my main source of income so I don’t have to work a 9-5, I can work all morning, all night or not at all and not get written up for it! I want to be able to provide for my family and give my mom and family whatever they want and not have to worry about money. Read more>>

Guy Kamgaing | Founder and CEO

I have been working with African Telcos for 20 years. I understood the market, our users and partners noting that there was a real need and desire for affordable entertainment content where StarNews Mobile could be the solution. While the African mobile market is now one of the fastest growing in the world, a large majority of African consumers do not have access to relevant video content due to costly mobile data plans and a lack in services tailored to local markets. Additionally, a lot of services are not paying creators or the other platforms consume so much data that they aren’t suitable nor do their revenue models cater to the marketplace. I was able to leverage my experience within the local African mobile telecom industry in order to establish strong partnerships with MTN, Orange and Moov, whom we have deals with, to bring StarNews Mobile to life. It was necessary to highlight local African celebrities’ rich and original content and allow its players to monetize their fan-bases which has been particularly challenging during the pandemic. Read more>>

Justin Houman | Urologist & Men’s Health Specialist

Modern medicine is so specialized that there is usually a physician for any medical diagnosis. However, as a urologist I noticed that there’s a huge need for taking care of men before they turn 50. If a man doesn’t see a doctor before he hits 50, there may be irreversible damage that can shorten his life – heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and low testosterone just to name a few. The things that can kill men such as diabetes and high blood pressure, don’t always have early symptoms that would prompt a man to go to his doctor. As a Urologist and Men’s Health specialist, my goal has been to change this paradigm in medicine and engage men at an earlier age. By increasing health literacy, separating fact from fiction, and dismantling barriers to care, I try to work with patients to optimize their health. Our multi-disciplinary clinic encompasses male endocrine, fertility, sexual dysfunction, urologic, physical performance, and nutrition issues to address all your health concerns. By addressing the early symptoms of potentially chronic disease we can together improve your quantity and quality of life. Read more>>

Kinsey Salyers | Artist

Taking the leap between making art for myself and making art for others was very intimidating. It was like putting a piece of my heart on display for others to judge. But I had to try or I would always think about “what if”. And the idea that I could loose out on the opportunity to make my passion into a career continued to drive me forward. I started small with only 3 prints and a couple originals, but I knew with each new painting I made, it was potential for more prints and with each new painting that sold, it was potential for new customers. The more product I accumulated the more customers i got. Read more>>

April Rodriguez | Artist, Seamstress and Tarot Reader

Starting my own business was a scary concept, but was ultimately a path that was undeniable for me. I’ve tried for years to find a traditional job that felt right and made me happy at the same time, but none fit the bill. Before I decided to start my own business. I was Substitute Teaching while working on my art on the side. In February of 2018, the universe intervened and I had medical issues that prevented me from being able to get out of bed. I used this time to get serious about my business and to bet on myself. I was definitely scared and unsure if I would be successful but I also knew that I had to at least try and believe in myself. I was also fortunate enough to have friends who had been through the journey of starting their own business and offered me lots of advice and resources on how to be successful in my ventures. Read more>>

Diva Dog | Queer Street Artist

I started doing colorful and queer street art about three years ago. But really the inspiration for my work goes back to my childhood and the magical dog I had growing up, a little boy beagle named Baron. As a teenager in suburban Philadelphia, growing up queer (in the closet! and in a private catholic high school!!!), my dog was my salvation – he was my loyal friend, fiercest protector, and loving brother. Years later, I wanted to do something that could honor his spirit and memory and the impact that he had on my life. One day, I began sketching out an image of Baron based on my favorite picture of him – a stately portrait I had taken on a warm spring day many moons ago…and, within minutes, everything just came together: the main design, the gay pride colors and the sassy name! And, into this world, Diva Dog was born! (cue truimphant Marvel superhero music!) Pretty quickly after that, I was out on the streets, spreading my dog, and glitter & rainbows, all over Los Angeles! (insert DIVA DOG title credit here!). Read more>>

Katherine Waddell | Actress & Producer

When Em Johnson and I started talking about creating First Bloom Films together, we knew we wanted to create a production company that not only focused on work we were actually excited to create, but was also a space where women could thrive. It’s been our goal from the very beginning to lift up women in the entertainment industry, by either advocating for the work they’re creating on their own, or inviting them to work with us at FBF. We do our best to have mostly female sets, ranging from female producers to female department heads, to making sure that any scripts we option are from female identifying writers. We want, more than anything, to be champions of women both on screen and behind the scenes. Moreover, Em and I have always dreamed about creating a work place that was the antithesis of what we have experienced in the past in the industry: we wanted to create an environment that has a foundation based in respect for everyone and treating others with kindness. It’s our philosophy that even though the work can be hard, we don’t have to be hard on each other. Read more>>

Liz Costa | Small Business Owner

I wanted to combine my hardworking skills with my passion for calligraphy and crafts and that’s how Blooming Paper blossomed. I wanted to work with something I love and hopefully someday I will be able to live off of it! Social impact: how does your business help the community or the world? I don’t think I have made the impact I wish just yet. I would love to bring the art of handwriting and calligraphy to kids. Specially now in an era of dominant technology which puts handwriting in a threatened position. The impact I seek is to share with people the beauty and uniqueness of handcraft/handwriting, bringing meaning and beauty to the simple things. If you are a parent, what do you think is the most important thing you’ve done as a parent in terms of the impact on your children? Teach my son the importance of family, respect for others, kindness and self-worth. And make sure he knows he is unconditionally loved. What is the most important factor behind your success / the success of your brand? Even though I don’t see my business as successful just yet, I believe the most important factor behind it is persistence and love for what I do. Read more>>

John Graves | Clothing Store Owner and Artists

I was a teacher and becoming weary of doing that for the rest of my life. So I took time to think about things that I love that could enrich the community and the world, or at least those I come in contact with. I though that if I am going to commit my life and time to something, it has to be something I am both passionate about and enjoy doing. I needed the freedom to create and being in the classroom wasn’t giving me that avenue I needed to survive. When it came down to it, I decided to resign and before I got stuck, comfortable, safe, and unwilling to go after my dreams. Read more>>

Brandy Flower | Screenprinter & CEO

In 2001 for my 30th birthday, I purchased a small tabletop screen printing set-up and decided to teach myself how to print in my apartment kitchen. This was before YouTube tutorials so I just fumbled along making every mistake possible. After ruining hundreds of shirts I finally started getting the hang of it and started showing off my “frankenstein” tees, so friends dug them and wanted to come over and print their own. The first friend I invited over was my college buddy Mike Crivello. He came over one night and brought a belt to print on. Here I was barely able to print on t-shirts and he wants to print on a belt! Well after many late night sessions and intimate gatherings later a friend, Jennifer Brandon, convinced me to pry the screen printing gear out of my smokey apartment and print live for guests at her summer bbq in Silverlake … this was Summer 2005. I printed for over 10 hours that day and honestly had the worst time printing, mixing inks, cleaning screens and doing everything myself. Read more>>

Jerry Tindell | Horse and Mule Trainer, Humans Too

There was no real thought process behind starting my own business or growing it into what I do today. I am very fortunate to have spent a lifetime with horses and mules and to be able to make a living at it, not only as a Horseman, but as a Professional Horseshoer and its just simply been a way of life for me. I began to realized after many years of shoeing, riding, packing and driving that I had a way of being around the stock and helping them. I developed a special set of skills through my own experiences and education which allowed me to become an accomplished Horseman. Not only was I good at helping the stock, I was able to communicate with the owners and explain to them in a way they could understand how to help their own animals. My business grew from their and I was able to not only be a Horseman, but a clinician as well and help people understand their animals. I feel blessed to be able to share all the things I have learned over the years with my students and help them have better relationships with their stock. Read more>>

Damian Hurtado | Artist

Before starting Deathstalker I’ve been running a hand sprayed grip tape company since 2012 called Getta Grip, all spray can work. It started as a hobby and eventually worked my way up selling to skate shops and having online orders nationwide. I currently paint Gulfstream planes & jets during the day full time, after years of automotive painting. Putting the two together came so naturally and knew this is what I want to do. Read more>>

Cotty Yuhl-Bailey | Pastry Chef

After our last child graduated from college, I went to culinary and pastry school with the intent to start a small baking company. I have always baked for family and friends. I find baking to be a soothing therapy for my heart and soul. My Grandmother baked for us throughout my life and I wanted to share the love and knowledge she passed onto me. My Grandmother taught me many recipes but her one secret ingredient was impressed upon me as the key to perfect baked goods. “Don’t forget to love what you are creating. It truly makes your cookies, cakes, pies and breads better than others.” As a youngster, that made me smile, as a Pastry Chef, it is a must ingredient in all our creations. I started my business with my incredibly talented daughter, Sara. She is responsible for marketing, social media and my steady partner when building 4 tiered wedding cakes and large orders. Together we make a creative and balanced team. The goal of our company is to deliver delicious goods with the taste that reminds our customers of their childhood favorites. Read more>>

Ashli Buts | Still Life + Product + Lifestyle Photographer

I remember from a very young age telling my mom that I didn’t want to work a “normal job.” I didn’t know what that meant back then and went through many different phases and visions of what that would look like. At one point, I thought that meant being a labor and delivery nurse because their 3x/week 12 hour shifts sounded better than the standard 9-5 to me. As I got older and discovered my love and passion for creative arts, Photography centered itself in my view. With that came learning what it would mean to take Photography from a passion to a career. This also had its phases and it took quite some time to realize that the end goal was running my own business. It wasn’t apparent at first because a photography business still doesn’t conform to the “normal” business that you picture in your head (i.e having a storefront, a bakery, a boutique, etc.) Instead your business is you. I’m still learning what that entails and I don’t think that part will ever stop. My goal is to constantly be learning and bettering my skills as a professional photographer and business owner. Read more>>

Deja Allison | Seamstress, Designer, Activist, and Proud Black Mother

SHINE Cloth was initially created out of need, we ran out of disposable diapers and after using a disposable diaper sample in between diaper shopping my son Jaylen developed a rash. I then considered other forms of diapering and started to use cloth diapers. Once I dived into the online cloth diapering community I discovered there weren’t enough black owned diapering companies in the industry. At the time that I started in 2011, there was only one other business ran by a black person and it closed later that year. I thought, this shouldn’t be and started sewing diapers for babies other than my son Jaylen. My inspiration was renewed when the Trayvon Martin murder ruling came back and George Zimmerman was acquitted. I saw then I needed to continue to sew diapers but to redirect and center my focus on activism while doing so. I am a mother of a 10 year old black son, Jaylen is my continued inspiration in activism and the drive behind SHINE Cloth. Read more>>

Iain McCaig | Artist, Writer, Filmmaker

No thought process, just a driving need to tell stories. Words, art, animation, theater, film, or just standing up in front of a crowd and telling a tale…it really doesn’t matter, I can’t imagine life without it. Aspiring artists and storytellers often ask me how they know if they are good enough, if they have what it takes. I advise them to stop writing and drawing immediately; if the pain of not doing it outweighs the pain of doing it, then pick up the tools and begin again, because that’s what it takes (and yes, you are good enough). Being a professional artist, writer and film-maker is a feast-or-famine lifestyle. There’s a lot of belt-tightening involved, a lot of having faith in yourself, a lot of being lucky and being in the right place at the right time with the right stuff. All that swirls around you while you wrestle in the creative Otherworld with the thing you are creating, often sweeping you away with euphoria or despair, to the bewilderment of those around you (as the saying goes: ‘those who cannot hear the music, think the dancers mad’). It’s essential to keep a toe in both places, and there’s no doubt a very grounded friend or partner is an invaluable asset. I have both in my wife, who has been my best critic and my muse now for 40 years. Read more>>

Dae Carter | Hair Replacement Specialist

My though process behind starting my own business stemmed from being in the military. After serving 4 years in the Navy i decided i can never have my income and time at the hands of someone else. I figured if i could last 4 years in the military, i could practically do anything. Read more>>

Maria Mors | Monster Plushies Owner

To be honest, I never intended to own my own business. I was in my second trimester when I started sewing plushies for my baby, it was nothing big I made a baby bat, a baby Cthulhu and baby kraken. I posted the baby bat and I was flooded with inquiries wanting to purchase a bat in custom colors. I was overwhelmed at first, but then my husband helped me with order forms, creating a name, getting my shop up and with vending. I settled on Monster Plushies for the business name, it definitely describes the creatures I sew. Slowly I sewed more creatures and they have done well. I honestly am thankful to everyone that has supported my small business. And if it wasn’t for my husband Slevin Mors. I’d probably be doing everything wrong lol, I did not know anything about owning your own business. Thankfully my husband helped me through it and has been helping me since. Read more>>

Nicole Leal | Hairstylist/ Beauty Educator

Starting my own business came from wanting to shape every aspect of my career. I wanted the values of my brand to really embrace and reflect the person I am. Whether it’s how I think every layer of a team member should be treated or being fully responsible for every decision I wanted to have a say in everything and follow through with action. I just wanted to be me and feel completely safe. Read more>>

Maurice Tyson | Owner of Miss Myrtle’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

In hindsight, my reasons for starting a baking business initially originated from me processing my mother’s passing. She had been admitted to the hospital for surgery and was there for 10 months until her passing. To say I was devastated is an understatement. As an only child, I couldn’t imagine what to do next. I was numb and in denial. So, for days, weeks and months, I through myself into work. I believe a year after, I rediscovered a recipe file box and, in her own writing, I read a few dozen of her best desserts. It was the holidays and I wasn’t in the mood to shop. I decided to bake chocolate chip cookies and box them and mail out. I received very positive feedback from family and friends. This made me feel good in many ways but it also awakened me to a new found hobby. I baked chocolate chip cookies for special occasions after the holidays and it dawned on me how I felt happier doing this than going to work. I took a deep dive into some business course for entrepreneurship and becoming a stand alone provider of my own brand of chocolate chip cookies. Read more>>