Our city is home to so many incredible businesses and so we asked the founders how they came up with the ideas for their businesses and have shared their responses below.

Hannah Anders | Performing Artist & Vocal Coach

I graduated from University with a degree in Vocal Performance, dreams of a singing career, and a need to somehow make money while I worked towards my goals and aspirations. As a young college graduate I jumped from one odd job to the next trying to pay my bills and support myself while I wrote, recorded, and made music. Eventually I was hired as a personal assistant to the CEO of a company and became increasingly responsible for most of the day to day tasks that not only kept his world running, but the company and staff running. It dawned on me in this time how capable I was. Something we tend to forget when we’re young. I thought, “if I can handle all of this at 23 years old, and this successful business man trusts me to do it, why in the world am I not doing it for myself?” The job was eating up so much time I had almost no personal time to make any music and I knew that if I didn’t make a change I was going to get lost in the corporate world. Read more>>

May Hui Bugenhagen | Professional Matchmaker & Dating Coach

As a social person who was hosting parties, poker nights, and BBQs at my house, I was always connecting friends to other friends. When I invite friends out, the philosophy was always “the more the merrier. ” When I turned 30, I was single. I was successful, had a great career, and living a great life. All that was missing was a special someone to share that with. I knew there had to be a better way to meet people and find someone awesome. I tried a dating service and I thought they were horrible. I always knew I can do it better than them. I decided to quit my corporate job and help singles find love! Read more>>

Josanta Gray Emegano | Founder & CEO

There was a point in my life where I did not possess the skills I have today. Years ago, I didn’t know how to approach setting up a licensing deal. Years ago, I had no idea what retail operations meant or how to successfully launch with a major retailer. Grayscaled Media was born out of wishing I had someone to walk me through these major moments. I wish I had someone like myself to point out the landmines of business and ways I could save money in order to grow my brand or business. Read more>>

Heavenly-Joy Herrera | Owner & Founder

Flicker & Flint Candle Co. was created out of my own love for candles. There is just something about lighting a candle and having its beautiful aroma fill the air along with its warm light bouncing off the walls. That’s enough to turn any house into a home. My interest was peaked at the idea of making my own scents and creating a clean-burning candle that looks as beautiful in my space as it smells. Read more>>

Dominique Calvillo | Fashion Designer

While working against human trafficking in South East Asia I began to battle extreme anxiety and depression. I started to crochet obsessively as art therapy. The repetitive stitching gave me peace and the projects gave me a reason to wake up every morning. The more complicated a project, the more my mind was able to focus on crochet instead of being trapped in the anxious loop I was in. I began to design complicated and beautiful dresses. I never knew I had this ability and never intended on starting a fashion brand. It wasn’t until New York Fashion Week called me that I realized I was a fashion designer. The business kind of happed to me. I was just trying to find a way to meditate. My meditation became my passion and then my career. Read more>>

Sam Howland | Founder

My partner Bryan and I have been long time friends….long time as in since first grade. We were always interested in starting a business together. I always had a passion for cooking and we both love food, so starting a food based business made sense. While attending Cal Poly Pomona I was working at a local brewery as a brewer. Working at a brewery certainly had it’s perks like being able to bring home a bottle or two of fresh beer. At the same time Bryan and I loved making ice cream and we thought “beer….ice cream….?” One thing led to another and craft beer ice cream was born. We started going to festivals and events and knew we had a huge hit on our hands. Since then we expanded into doing all sorts of spirit infused ice creams as well as non infused ice creams and plant based ice creams. Read more>>

Joy Durham | Designer & Owner

The idea for my business developed while sitting in the waiting room of my 7-year-old daughter’s prosthetic eye specialist. With a crochet hook in hand and a small plastic bag filled with yarns sitting at my feet, I sat mindlessly crocheting a scarf for my young nephew who asked me to make him a scarf for Christmas. I noticed a middle-aged mother approached the reception desk clasping her son’s hand tightly in hers as she spoke about insurance issues and deductibles that she couldn’t afford to pay. After some time had passed, I overheard the reception tell her there was nothing they could do and didn’t know of anywhere they could refer her for help with her son who needed prosthetic eye treatment. I remember my heart’s concern for that mother and child as we left our appointment and drove home. Read more>>

Sarah Silverman | Founder & Creator

My Mother raised us on organic foods way before it was the popular thing to do. Because of this, I was always passionate about food and healthy living, but I never imagined I would go into business – I was simply a musician who loved to cook! The idea for Canyon Kitchen began in my daughter’s kindergarten class. I was horrified by the junky dye-filled treats being brought into the classroom for birthday celebrations. I wanted to provide the kids with delicious treats that also happened to be made with real whole foods. I began experimenting with recipes and sharing my muffins and brownies with the class – everything was sweetened with bananas and dates and the brownies were made with chickpeas and kale. The kids could not get enough of them and it was not long before I was being asked for orders. Read more>>

Oona O’Toole | Baker & Owner

At the beginning of the pandemic I was feeling lost and hopeless in my career in fine jewelry and had lost the passion for selling expensive goods when the world looked like it was falling apart around us. Because of the pandemic, I was given the chance to take the leap and try something I had always dreamed of. Just over a year ago, I took a class to learn to make sourdough bread and immediately became hooked. I had always loved baking, but there is a particular freedom in bread making. Unlike other pastries that are very rigid in process and ratios, sourdough offers this freedom to experiment and find the exact technique that works for you (and your technique may not work for another bread maker). It is a time honored tradition, and if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we need to take a step back and look to a slower way of life. Read more>>

Max Slavkin | Co-Founder & CEO

In 2008, my bff since pre-school (Aaron) and I were volunteering for the Obama campaign, and inspired by Shepard Fairey’s famous HOPE poster. It got us thinking about all the other artists & designers out there who wanted to contribute their talents to the campaign, but who didn’t know how, and didn’t have a big platform of their own. So we launched Design For Obama, crowdsourcing poster art for the campaign, and were blown away by the response from hundreds of artists across the country. The project was featured in the NY Times, we published the collection as a coffee table book with Spike Lee, and have been growing that community of artists ever since. What started as free posters for downloads is now a business offering social impact art & design on everything from socks to books to posters. Read more>>

Collette Geers | Stationery Designer

DURING MY OWN WEDDING PLANNING, I FOUND MYSELF COMPLETELY UNINSPIRED BY PAGE UPON PAGE OF DESIGNS THAT JUST DIDN’T FEEL LIKE ME. SOME PIECES CAME CLOSE, BUT NOTHING I WAS FINDING REALLY SPOKE TO ME. I DECIDED TO DESIGN MY OWN INVITATIONS AND LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT. IN THE COMING YEARS, WHEN MY FRIENDS WERE GETTING ENGAGED, I HEARD SIMILAR FRUSTRATIONS FROM THEM. SO I MADE THEIRS TOO! I FOUND SOMETHING SO SATISFYING IN TAKING STORIES AND IDEAS AND TURNING THEM INTO A PHYSICAL AND FUNCTIONAL PIECE. THE DESIRE TO FOLLOW THAT FEELING BROUGHT POPPY + BIRCH TO LIFE A MERE TWO YEARS LATER. Read more>>