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.

Ute Reckhorn | Photographer & Photography Teacher

When my youngest child started school, I realized the house was too empty and that I needed something to focus my mind on other than my kids. My husband’s DSLR camera always sat unused on his desk and I figured that photography could be an interesting hobby for me! I quickly began learning all I could about the art and took pictures whenever I could. At first it was just to keep busy, but I eventually began considering it as a profession for myself and as something I could keep doing forever. I started selling photoshoots, which was initially hard to do out of fear of being a newcomer in such a big market. In recent years, though, I have been able to find my niche in teaching photography and in specialty lenses, which offer unique and dreamlike possibilities for my photography. I’ve always had a huge passion for things that are a little out of the ordinary and that shows in my pictures and the emotions they convey, no matter if I am portraying people or landscapes. Read more>>

Dr. Shané P. Teran | Organizational Development Psychologist, Licensed Therapist and Executive Wellness Coach

I actually began to think about starting my own business very early on in my career. As life would have it, I was an African American female seeking higher education in a system that had plenty of roadblocks and people primed to see me fail. While I didn’t grow up experiencing discrimination, it was in my first undergraduate English class that a white male professor told me that I was “pseudo intellectual” as the reason he refused to read any of my assignments. Fast forward to graduate school and without provocation, I was told by a white graduate advisor that I wouldn’t make it to graduation if I insisted on double majoring while working two part-time jobs and becoming the Chapter President of my beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. – though I did! But after excelling in my doctoral program, despite having a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a horrible car accident, I knew that there was a greater calling than myself. Read more>>

Tiffany Yvonne Cox | Actress/ Content Creator

I knew that I wanted my stories to be for more than just entertainment. I wanted them to be a discussion that led to action. Little did I realize, that a tough, honest, and beautiful conversation between myself (a Black 1st Generation Trinidadian Woman) and a police officer would turn into a short film supporting empathy and allyship. Once I created the short, I wanted to be sure that the experience and conversation I had was one that others could replicate. I brainstormed with a friend, and realized how many conversations we don’t have in fear of opposing opinions. The conversation I had with the police officer opened up a can of worms but more importantly he saw me and I was amazed that I saw him. Imagine what would happen if we all took time to do that within our communities? And that is where The Roadside Assistance Workshop came from. A safe online retreat to grow and nurture empathy through reflective conversations and time with your inner voice. Read more>>

Rhea Litré | Drag Entertainer and Party Promoter

I like to work with people, not for people. i love to create my own atmosphere and work environment. This is the best way to throw a party. <3 Read more>>

Ivan Cordeiro | Filmmaker

As economic situation changes you have to adapt to newfound realities. In my case I used my advertising skills acquired by years working for the corporate world and used to open my own business. The old proverb “necessity is the mother of invention” was one of the primary forces that drove me to open a film production company that offered custom services at very competitive prices using an old technology applied to the digital age. Read more>>

Rebecca So | CPA Firm Partner & Deodorant Enthusiast

I’ve always wanted to invent some gadgets that help people solve problems. But whatever I came up with, my friends and family would always shoot down my ideas or it would be too cost prohibitive just to create a prototype. But one day, I was chatting with my staff at a fieldwork (I’m a CPA) about how aluminum-based antiperspirants were bad for us, but their complaints were that most natural deodorants didn’t work, then it finally dawned on me! My “invention” doesn’t have to be a big one, it only needs to be “needed” by many! I’ve been struggling most of my adult life to find a deodorant that worked. I didn’t even care if it had aluminum that might cause breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. I just didn’t want to stink! But nothing ever worked. They either only last for hours, or would cause my skin to be dry, irritated and even discolored. Not to mention the white marks on my clothes. Read more>>

Erich Chen | Wedding Photographer

When I started my own business I was halfway through college, and when I graduated I basically told myself to go all in. I never applied to a 9-5 job, I never asked my parents for money, I just wanted to depend on myself and myself only. For about two years after I graduated I took whatever shooting opportunity I could get to get exposure and experience. And after some time I started to develop my own style in photography, I had consistent clientele and never looked bcak. Read more>>

Christin Baker | Producer/Director and co-founder of Tello

I felt a need in the community to tell stories about lesbian, bi, queer women. There weren’t enough stories and my goal was to not only tell stories but also to support people who make the content. I still believe there aren’t enough stories being told about our community and we continue to need more stories. Read more>>

Rachel Topping | Founder of Nappy Head Club

Ever since I was little, I’ve always been a creator. When I didn’t see the things I wanted, I made them. I would make my own children’s books, writing the chapters and illustrating myself. I’d cut up, tie-dye, alter my own clothes. Things didn’t change when I entered into corporate America. I saw things I liked, and things I didn’t. Naturally, I always had the desire to create a better space for myself and people like me. Entrepreneurship and ownership was always a goal for me. Funny enough, even with such specific goals for my future, Nappy Head Club wasn’t a targeted effort to build a business. Nappy Head Club arose out of a genuine desire that I and my close circle had for more representation. It started off as a hobby project to help me heal, and during that journey, I realized that this was the brand I’d been dreaming of building all along. Read more>>

Carla Arce | Chef

I really had no strategic plan to start The Chilean Peasant. It was such an inconsistent project throughout the years that I never really thought it would grow further. It was always just side hustle I would dabble in from time-to-time. Honestly my business has been based on the guidance & support from friends & family and also some good fortune despite emerging during Covid. In addition, Criselle (@crisellebelle) and Michelle (@deserthangers) have been great mentors to me and have pushed me to really make things happen for The Chilean Peasant. I am at a point now where I’m just like “oh shit haha this happening” and now I really have to think about what my next steps are. Read more>>

Dr. John Neal Jr. | Entrepreneur & Consultant

In starting my own business I wanted the freedom to make my own decisions. I also wanted to inspire people to go above and beyond there personal expectations. Starting my business was not so much about me, but inclusion. I have worked for a lot of different organizations that don’t share this philosophy, which was confusing. When someone has an opinion leaders should be receptive to listening. On the other hand employees should consider there tone of voice and intentions when sharing ides or concerns. I believe that constructive criticism is important as it relates to growth and understanding. My goal is to always be mindful of the organizational culture and subordinates, which allows one to build cohesion. Dr. Maya Angelou said,” If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. “ Read more>>

Nalani Dacara | Ono Bakes – Founder

Initially I thought I would just have baking as a hobby. As years passed I grew to love what I do and improved on my craft. At first I didn’t think that starting a small business for my baked goods would be successful, due to all the competition and other amazing bakers out there. However with the love and support of my family and friends, it was only natural for me to create a branding that can showcase my skills and provide quality baked goods. Read more>>

Vashene Barfield | Occupational Therapist and Vice President of Inpatient Rehabilitation Post-Acute Services

My initial thought process in starting my own business was “I have to find a way to protect healthcare professionals like myself and others who wear medical scrubs from embarrassment, loss of dignity at times, and from the inability to wear products due to color inconsistency”. Based on that initial processing, I knew I had to come up with an idea that had to be unique in nature, but still allow for some traditional look and feel . During the process, I also felt I needed to determine if my frustration with medical scrubs not providing enough protection at times and having the ability to be pulled down and expose my body parts the same for others. At this point, I started informally interviewing other healthcare professionals about their issues with scrubs. In addition, at different time periods I also pointed out common problems when they took place, such as the “Peek-a-boo” situations and asked others their opinion. Read more>>

Donna Schienle | Owner of CharcuterieMama/ dental hygienist

I started CharcuterieMama in 2018 after helping out a dear friend with her daughter’s cocktail hour for her wedding. I had created many grazing boards for family parties and was challenged at this event to recreate it for 200 people who would be attending the wedding, many of them whom I knew. The event was at a beautiful venue in the South Bay and after I created the board, I was approached by the wedding planner for a business card. With some ample persuasion from my family, I decided to give it a go! By trade, I am dental hygienist . I work in a very specific field which allows for little creativity. Cooking was always my outlet which gave me the chance to explore my creative side. I am lucky that my two daughters are so very creative and share my love for food! With their encouragement and help, we I devised a brand for my company and utilized the internet as my vehicle to get my work out. Read more>>

Mercedes Jenkins-Carter | CEO of My Black Beauty Box

When I started my business I knew I wanted to help other black businesses. To go more in depth I knew I wanted to help these businesses get sales and reach consumers and take their company to the next level. I knew a lot of the black owned businesses I interacted with in my life had great products or services but for some reason they wouldn’t be in business for the long haul. This ignited a fire in me to start the business and to bring these businesses together in unity so that we all can succeed together. Read more>>

Josephine Lee | Small Business Owner

ThePointeShop has evolved throughout its existence and became a life of its own. It started as a dance boutique in 2011 similar to the shops I use to visit when I was growing up dancing. Then I started to recognize certain problems in the industry that were not being addressed (lack of expertise and variety in pointe shoe fitting). In 2014, we took a chance in changing the business model and focusing down to just pointe shoe fittings. Read more>>

Pinky Dillon | Celebrity hairstylist/creative director

I always knew when I was younger I wanted to do hair. I work odd end jobs and made my way to school very young. So by the time I was 18 I had my license for cosmetology. I was eager and driven to succeed so I took as may classes I could to understand everything about the business. Wow ,must say it paid off in many ways being able to understand business and technical skills. I believe together education will help everyone grow this why I teach now. Read more>>

Jennifer Moore | Yoga Guide & Small Business Solopreneur

There wasn’t much of a thought process! I’ve been a yoga guide in Santa Monica for the better part of 2 decades working for studios and private clients. One day in March 2020 I guided 4 yoga sessions and the following day a pandemic shut the city down. I watched a couple of fellow instructors pivot immediately and begin online offerings. Several studio clients were asking me “When will YOU offer online yoga?” For a week, I tossed the idea around in my head without confidence that I could actually pull it off. I decided to take one small step in that direction. True to my studious nature, I spent a week on Zoom immersed in tutorials and then dove in head first. So there wasn’t much of a thought process. I was reacting to the drastic change in my circumstances, finding a way to live while still working with my passion, and creating a solution for clients. Read more>>

Malili Dib | Actress, Producer and creator of the Spirally Brand and Characters.

I’ve always been someone who enjoys freedom and who likes living life on my own terms. I understood at a very early age that the only way I was going to achieve that kind of a lifestyle was by creating my own business. I want to love what I do, so I strive to always work towards something that I believe in and which will make me, and in turn, my customers happy!. Read more>>

Stacey Stormo | Sustainability Designer

I decided to start Stormo & Co. because I felt it was a good time for me to take a deep dive into sustainable business at-large. I had previously worked in sustainable fashion and felt limited by the confines of the industry. I felt compelled to do more, and when the opportunity presented itself for me to do so, I jumped right in!. Read more>>

Patricia DAlessandro | Owner of Pattycakes Candle Co.

I’ve always loved Candles. So not only did I want to start creating candles for my own personal use, but wanted to create The best candle with no harmful chemicals. All Pattycakes Candle Co. are made with 100% soy wax and phthalate free free fragrances. Once my friends and family got their hands on my candles they want their own which was what led to the creation of my business. Read more>>

Xavier Beloved  Actor, Rapper, Creative

The creation of iiiNTELLEKTual Entertainment actually came from a negative experience I had while working with some creatives in college. I had joined of collective of what I had thought to be like minded artists. Unfortunately we clashed in some of the worst ways and from that toxic space I wanted to create something themat would be the complete opposite, I wanted something that felt more like a home than a company. Read more>>

Bridget Papino | CEO of We Are Jersey and Real Estate Agent

When I first started, I was doing it because I loved helping individuals dive deeper into their career, and put the word out about their music, business or brand. I never realized how much of what I was doing was truly a business until I was discussing what I was doing with others. In my case it was more intuitive that if I gave what I was doing more structure, this could replace my job. Quickly I dove into research. I tried to learn as much as I can even though being one person, it seemed like a lot. With patience and time, I worked on the backend of my business to ensure it can succeed as a business, meanwhile balancing my passion. Read more>>

Nicole Goddard | Portrait & Wedding Photographer

My motto is “Live Passionately!” I sign all my emails with that slogan because my motivating drive is to spread joy, passion and love and I’ve been signing them that way since I started my business 20 years ago.
I started my own photography business when I was 21. Having just graduated from the University of Washington with a BFA degree in photography, I felt like I had nothing to lose and the idea of being my own boss, doing what I love and having a flexible schedule was extremely appealing. During my studies at UW, my professor recommended me as the ‘preferred student photographer’ for low budget weddings. This acknowledgment from my professor was just the confidence booster I needed to get started as a professional photographer. I started small, photographing weddings on the occasional weekend to build up my portfolio, and as I kept getting work, capturing more and more monumental moments and delivering photographs to happy clients, my business solidified and so did my love for my chosen profession. Read more>>

Kevin Mok | Entrepreneur & Co-Founder

As soon as I graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 2014, I started working for a hospitality company called The Montage in Beverly Hills. I worked for the company for about 4 years and I started to grow frustrated with myself because I couldn’t get a promotion. After many failed attempts of trying to get a promotion within the company, I then realized that working for someone isn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. This was the turning point of my career that made me realize that if I don’t quit my job now and chase my dreams, then I will forever be working for someone for the rest of my life. I quit my job the next few days and because I didn’t have any future income coming in; it motivated & forced me to plan and execute my business plans. Read more>>

Mitra Khayyam | Creative Director and Founder, Midnight Rider

People who feel different from others be it for a multitude of reasons always echo the same words “I always knew” – I have said the same about being an entrepreneur. Since I was young I always came up with different concepts for shops and businesses I wanted to start – the first being a magazine around the age of 8 or 9. I had a strong sense of self, goals, and ideas and the universe provided me with the opportunities to actually move forward with some of them. My first brand Blood is the New Black which I founded in 2004 (sold in 2013) was based on my thesis statement at Parsons School of Design; The idea that artists could use tee-shirts to democratize art and reach wider audiences (at the same time patrons could access art at more accessible price points when art was removed from the blue-chip strata of galleries) was rarely seen in the early aughts and the basis of my thesis. Read more>>

Savasia Vida | Creative Director of WORTHYOPP.

When I first started WORTHYOPP., I was mainly focused on the message and its impact to the world. I always thought, “there are a lot of clothing brands out there, but what will make mine stand out?” That’s when I came up with the message: Own your worth, overcome anything. I started out by handing out WORTHYOPP. stickers to friends and pitching the idea behind it so they can understand that it’s more than just a clothing brand — it’s an inclusive, positive movement. I wanted people to wear my clothing not just because of what’s on it but what it represents to the world and how they can relate to it. Material things can be disposable but a powerful message can last forever. Read more>>

Ruben Barraza | Majorwavez Shoe Designer

I have always been into fashion and always had retail jobs prior to starting a business I believe that my thought process on starting a business had always been one of my dreams but I knew that I would need practice therefore I climbed the corporate ladder in retail I worked at urban outfitters and guess clothing. Where I started at an entry-level position of stock and a sales associate and moved up all the way to the store manager and a district traveling manager helping on opening up new stores and auditing and checking to make sure everything what’s up to company standard. I stayed in retail for about five -six years and then decided to put my business. Read more>>

Joi Fowler | Chef, VoIP Engineer & Entreprenuer

I was living in Atlanta cooking and throwing the best parties for people around the city so it was only right that I took that seriously and found my niche of what I was personally great at doing. Once I moved to LA I put myself through culinary school during a rough patch in my life after I had been recently laid off from the IT job that brought me out to LA. I have been working for over 15 years as a VoIP Engineer for major corporations to include Dell, Fox/Disney, Warner Brothers, UCLA, Koch, and Yellow Pages to name a few. Not wanting to continue to work for other companies, I began to use my salary to fund everything in my culinary business. Once I graduated culinary school, I immediately entered the MasterChef competition finishing as a semi-finalist in Season 10. Creating relationships and connections along the way I began to form a presence in Los Angeles in the culinary community. Chefs & Clefs was then created with my boyfriend, Ronnie Young Jr. “BlameRonnie” who is a well-known super producer and musician. Read more>>

Antoinette Van Dewark | DJ, Producer, Sound Engineer, and Host of Did You Forget Podcast

Did you forget? DYF is an intentional event company. When covid hit I turned DYF into a virtual hub for intimacy, vulnerability, and information worth of remembering. Did you forget? What makes someone want to remember something? When something brings you quality of life or aids yours personal agenda, you tend to want to remember it. For me being balanced and positive was always more difficult, every time I would have an epiphany or learn a tool that could bring me ammo to beat the negativity I harbor, I would want to share. I love hosting Did you forget podcast because it creates a safe platform for my guests, who are artists and individuals who inspire me about what they think is important to remember. Read more>>

Marco Arreguin | Culinary Director

My partners and I were all in a tough spot because of the pandy. We started talking about restarting our careers with a passion project. We began speaking about how to elevate something we all love, the taco cart. How we can bring all of our experience and elevate something that has an oxymoron type of reputation. Taking the positives about Mexican street food and slingshot it into private dining. The team began discussing how to revamp the taco cart until our dreams began melting into reality. Read more>>

Elizabeth Eisenstein | Potter & Business Owner

I have wanted to run my own business ever since I was a little kid. As young as six or seven, I was outfitting my lemonade stands with menus and other unnecessary branding! As I got older, I would frequently start small “businesses” selling art that I made: one year it was stenciled t-shirts; the next year, little crocheted animals; another year it would be embroidered reusable tea bags or gouache paintings. The idea of turning my love for making things into my full-time job was always something I wanted. I’m so happy that what I do now is exactly what my six-year-old self dreamed of!. Read more>>

Hali Tsotetsi | Yoga Teacher and Spiritual guide

I have always been someone who believes that change begins with us. And, even though it has been difficult, I would do it all again. I want to be the change that I wish to see in the world. Read more>>

Janae McEwen | Virtual Business Consultant

The start of ASK BlueJae sort of happened by chance. I was helping an organization set up its non-profit programming and it was mentioned that people would be willing to pay for the type of help I was providing. Then a few years later I did some research and found the virtual assistant market. I begin to see how I could make this work as a business of my own, So, in August of 2016, I launched my business. I picked a business name, built a website, and started marketing my business. Within 30 days I had secured my first retainer client. Initially, my business was started to help business owners with the behind-the-scenes work of their respective businesses. The concept was based on owners having work they were unable to complete on their own but were unable to hire full-time employees. So, having a virtual assistant allowed for the work to be done and the owners to continue to run their business. Read more>>

Sabrina Akyol | Jewelry Designer

As soon as I laid my eyes on the first piece of jewelry I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. My family has been in the jewelry/diamond business for many generations. this gave me access and knowledge from an early age. I created Sabrina A Inc to design and handcraft high-end unique jewelry without the mark-up. Read more>>

Deirdra Mongan Jones | Co-Founder & Creative Director, Rendall Co.

I think as a designer, the ultimate goal for many people is to be able to create and sell your own things. I opened my first business at the age of 24, and I once I caught the entrepreneur bug, corporate job life was pretty much a non-option. I was lucky enough to work for the indie brand Steven Alan from age 26-33, and was given a ton of autonomy and space to learn and create. I’m on my 3rd business now, and each one gives me a new opportunity to explore creative design ideas. Read more>>

Rhonda Vigeant | Owner, Pro8mm. Associate member of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Author, speaker, former radio show host.

My husband Phil worked for the company shortly after it was started in 1972. It was an internship he got while he was at Bentley College in Boston. The company was called Super 8 Sound back then and always had the fundamental belief that Super 8 film held tremendous potential as a production medium . If you read the history of the company you will see the journey. When we took over the company in the early 1980s we had to take it through bankruptcy, ( twice) and stayed focused on the one thing that made us different….Super 8 as a professional production medium, not just for home movies or amateur filmmaking. Read more>>

Sonja R. Price Herbert | Classical Pilates Instructor, Founder, Writer, Speaker, Activist & Antiracism Educator for Pilates & Fitness

My purpose was to advocate, speak out for and support my Black Pilates/Fitness community. Black Girl Pilates® originated from depression and a feeling of loneliness within the industry. I wanted to solve a problem that was not only specifically for me but many other Black Instructors. I had created the only International collective specifically for Black identifying women who teach Pilates. By June 2020, my community had suffered tragically from the pandemic and the insidious lynchings of Black men, women and children. As a Pilates instructor as well as a competitive powerlifter, I had not seen any response from the Fitness industry acknowledging their inherent racism individually and collectively. It was at that time that I knew I had to do something about it. I created a series of antiracism webinars to begin act education and awareness process. Read more>>