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.

Alexander Davis | Freelance Bassoonist, Teaching Artist, & Founder of Sugar Hill Salon

Sugar Hill Salon first came to mind when I walked the Black Heritage Trail in Boston. The trail highlights many of the buildings in which abolitionists gathered and used to create safe spaces to fight for equal rights. On this trail, I slowly realize how all of this social justice work intersects and meets in the home. Abolitionist were utilizing their own dinning rooms, livings rooms, and hidden spaces to not only create sanctuary, but a future. I couldn’t get this out of my head with all the racial tension going on that summer and was trying to figure out how I could also use my own space in creating equity as a classical musician of color. It hit me, that I too could use my own space to support, uplift, and connect black and brown musicians and composers. Read more>>

Kennedy, Megan Cook, Scherrman | Co Owners

Believe it or not, starting our cookie company was a complete accident. For the last 3 years prior to Covid, I had been traveling for work across the United States, and at one point was living in Ireland. When the pandemic happened, traveling for work came to an end and I began working from home. As someone who is use to living out of hotel rooms during the week and finally being home was foreign to me, I started baking cookies as a fun hobby to kill time at night. I posted them on my personal Instagram page and all of my friends were begging to try them. I created the Kenz Kookiez Instagram page thinking nothing of it, posting pictures of cookies with no intention to sell them. All of a sudden, the demand was more than I could handle. My business partner, Megan Scherrman, was the perfect person to ask to join this crazy journey with me. She is one of the most creative people that I know- and is spot on when creating flavor profiles and what would work best together. Read more>>

Nancy Alvarez | Balloon Stylist

We’ll pretty much I’ve always been into arts and crafts and enjoyed decorating my daughters birthday parties. In 2019 was when balloon decorations became more of a must have at parties and I immediately fell in love with the whole look of the balloon decorations that I started watching videos to learn how to create balloon garlands. What started as an idea to decorate for my daughters birthday parties slowly became more of passion. Read more>>

Avissh Trivedi | Dance Experience Host/Instructor

I think the biggest problem right now is people don’t know how to be happy. I have seen so many people around me going thru their jobs, their responsibilities and other things but not doing anything actively to be happier. Happiness is such an important part of our lives and If we know how to become more happier, everything in this world will start becoming better. Learning to dance with music made me happier and adding another person as your partner doubles the happiness. That’s where the idea of Partnership Dancing came. 2 people, dancing with each other thru Lead and Follow, moving with music and communicating with each other thru their bodies is such an amazing experience and I want to share it with as many people as I can. It makes people happy and more active, which is a great benefit. Also one other important benefit is they can spend less time on a screen and more time with a human being. Read more>>

Isabella Malatesta | Blogger

My blogs name is iam.becoming. When I was 17 I got a tattoo I had wanted for a few years of my initials (IAM). The “becoming” part was actually my mom’s idea. I am always becoming something new and changing into a better version of myself. It is a reminder that I can always improve. When I started my blog I was a senior year in high school. I was frustrated with being waitlisted from my dream school and was fed up with irrelevant drama so when I began my blog I really intended for it to be a place to simply get things off my chest. To rant. Yet, after a few posts, I realized that people were reading what I wrote. Not only that, but they were relating to what I was saying. Dozens of people flocked into my direct messages to tell me about how much they appreciate my openness on social media. Many even shared their own personal stories. It was crazy to me to see so many people sharing such personal information with a complete stranger. From then on, I became hooked. Read more>>

Vicki Houghton | Optician

I’m a trained Optician that started in the early 1980’s working with a Ophthalmologist in Long Beach California. I worked for him for 7 years. I did everything from selling Eyewear, making appointments for patients doing all duties in running the office. After that I went on to open a retail store selling Eyewear and Fragrance in Santa Monica Ca. I was with a partner for almost 7 years, In 1996 I came to American Eye Institute. I have been here ever since. I run the daily duties in my Optical Boutique. I really enjoy it here. I always wanted to have my own thing going on. I like dealing with patients over the years some have become more than just patients they are friends. Read more>>

Ginny Graham-Smith | Spirit Guide

When my husband quit his job after nearly 30 years in the wine business, I knew I had to be part of the solution! I’d been a stay-at-home mum for 15 years, but it was time to look for work! I was sitting on the soccer sidelines watching our youngest son play soccer and I was telling anyone who would listen that I was looking for a job. One of my girlfriends said, “Ginny, you’re British and you’ve been drinking gin for decades, you need to meet my winemaker friends who are distilling gin in Sonoma County! Match made in heaven, they hired me to be brand ambassador for their small batch, winemaker-crafted gin distilled from grapes and grain. After nine months we’d had great success – the gin was very well received and I became fondly known as Ginny with the gin! However, I received a fateful phone call explaining that the winemakers could no longer fund the fledgling brand. I was devastated. Read More>>

Jada Shapiro | Jada Shapiro, Maternal Health Expert & Founder of Boober

Boober was born organically, driven by market demand from parents struggling to find the basic support and help they needed after having a baby. I was running my first company, NYC’s top childbirth education and doula training center, Birth Day Presence, and saw a steep increase in my students calling us desperately, ready to give up nursing or feeding their babies in pain, unable to get the lactation help they needed quickly enough. I started giving out my personal cell phone number on a postcard, offering parents the opportunity to text for help in finding same-day care. I soon found myself coordinating visits with lactation professionals or running out of the house myself to help people with the simple basics of feeding their babies. I saw the improvement in front of my eyes; by the time I’d leave they had less pain, babies were feeding better, and parents were expressing their utmost gratitude and relief. Read More>>

Nadin Said | Attorney & Nonprofit Co-Founder

My business partner was hit by a car in January 2017 as a pedestrian. She shared her experience with me about physical and mental trauma. After her accident, she was confined to her home because of her injuries. She felt debilitating pain and experienced limited abilities to move. Turning to art as her form of therapy, Rawan became a self-taught artist. This inspired The Art Spread’s conception. I saw Rawan’s transformation from someone who was scared, in pain, and lost, to an entrepreneur with purpose. She and I committed to sharing about the impact art has on people with physical, mental and societal challenges. Our organization supports artists through mentorship, sharing their stories and promoting their artwork. Our mission is to spread awareness and perspective to encourage an empathic culture. Read more>>

Pat Payne | Jewelry Designer and Upcycle Specialist

Miggie+Lea was conceived as a way to upcycle vintage jewelry that I’d inherited from my mother and my aunt. I wanted to be able to wear their classic pieces without looking dated and I wanted to find a way to salvage the broken jewelry that had sentimental value. I also wanted to solve the problem created when more than one relative coveted the same piece; by combining old elements into new designs and separating one piece of vintage jewelry into multiple elements I was able to create contemporary wearable art and give each relative a momento from my mother’s collection. Read more>>

Zack LaGuardia | Founder of Kits With Kindness Non Profit Organization

Kits With Kindness (KWK) Non Profit Organization was started during the heart of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The inspiration behind starting Kits With Kindness was the idea that I would use a disheartening situation and try to bring healing and comfort to people who could desperately use the help. KWK started as a one man volunteer effort, as I anticipated that the rate of homelessness would surely be increasing as many companies were laying off employees. To assist those who were down on their luck and often overlooked in society, I went to the 99 Cent Store and started putting together 50 kits of food and hygiene products that would hopefully at the very least bring some joy to those who were living on the streets. Included in each kit was also a handwritten note of encouragement to let the individuals know that I am rooting for them, that they have value on this earth and that they are loved. Read more>>

Danya Weber | Conservation Biologist

Hawaiʻi is the endangered species capital of the world. Hawaiian species make up 44% of the endangered and threatened plants and animals in the U.S.—even though the Hawaiian Islands make up less than 0.2% of total land area in the United States. These numbers make a little more sense when you consider the fact that Hawaiʻi is isolated from all major continents by 2,000 miles in every direction. That means that the living beings of Hawaiʻi existed in pristine environments until recent human impacts. Habitat loss and invasive species have decimated Hawaiʻi’s native flora and fauna. Developers replaced native plants with foreign plants (mostly from Africa, Asia, and South America) and recreated an entirely new image of Hawaiʻi, which has been perpetuated by the tourism industry and the media. Nowadays when people think of Hawaiʻi, they imagine tropical plants that are actually non-native and misrepresent the Hawaiian Islands. Read more>>

Caleb Cornelius | Plant-Based Chef + Herbalist

I came up with the idea for my business after I went through a major surgery and having cancer. I was following an herbal regimen and drinking alkaline water during my recovery and it really helped me bounce back. I wanted to pay it forward and teach others about what worked for me and got me through one of the hardest times of my life!. Read more>>

Nadin Said | Attorney & Nonprofit Co-Founder

My business partner was hit by a car in January 2017 as a pedestrian. She shared her experience with me about physical and mental trauma. After her accident, she was confined to her home because of her injuries. She felt debilitating pain and experienced limited abilities to move. Turning to art as her form of therapy, Rawan became a self-taught artist. This inspired The Art Spread’s conception. I saw Rawan’s transformation from someone who was scared, in pain, and lost, to an entrepreneur with purpose. She and I committed to sharing about the impact art has on people with physical, mental and societal challenges. Our organization supports artists through mentorship, sharing their stories and promoting their artwork. Our mission is to spread awareness and perspective to encourage an empathic culture. Read more>>

Frankie Holt | Founder, Fierce Hazel

Then by the time I turned 50 I was ready to venture out on my own. Ready to own my age. Ready to work for me. Ready to leave the desk job. Ready to take control of my life. Ready to be fierce. Determined not to age gracefully, I painted “50 AF” on the back of a thrifted jacket and started life anew. On the bike, I wanted a pouch to keep my stuff safe. I need to be prepared and have fewer things to worry about. I could never find a pouch that was quite right, and I was tired of being part of a system that was designed for someone else. Read more>>

Criterion Cult | Podcast & Critics

Armando : Originally Jordan and I had a YouTube channel called Room 666. We started doing film reviews because we saw other YouTubers focusing their reviews on Star Wars and comic book movies.Jordan: It’s not that we don’t like those films we just wanted to see reviews of other films that didn’t get a lot of attention on YouTube like, The Killing of Sacred Deer, Mandy, Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire, or Janicza Bravo’s Lemon. We want to spread our love of all cinema to all people! Mondo: And living in Los Angeles we had the opportunity to see those films that are not wide releases. But Jordan had another idea to expand the channel which we attempted to do the Criterion Cult as part of our YouTube channel and when Covid happened we decided to do it as a podcast. Read more>>

Kiandra Davis | Candle-Maker

I started Kreative Candle during the Covid-19 pandemic. I’ve always had a passion for candles, and while sitting at home I thought to myself “I’m creative! Why not learn how to make candles?!” I began by making a few candles, and that led to me wanting to start a business. Shortly after I got my LLC and Kreative Candle was established in August of 2020. It brings me great joy seeing people enjoy my candles. I love knowing that my candles are making a positive impact in homes all over the country. Read more>>

Michele Harper | Holistic Esthetician & Hypnotherapist

Metaphysica Spa means the nature of being. I came up with this concept when I was going through a divorce in 1999. Transforming energy through touch, color, scent and sound. I was looking for a way to reinvent myself and establish some equilibrium. At the time I had just relinquished my rights to a designer hosiery company. I spent a lot of time looking at the history of colors and symbolism. The company was called Look From London. Metaphysica came to me as a way to heal outwardly without talking a lot. I did not want to do traditional facial treatments, even though I have been a licensed esthetician since 1984. I myself wanted a different experience. I wanted to be completely taken away by overpowering my senses. So I explored color therapy, aromatherapy, sound healing and facial reflexology. This lead to the birth of Metaphysica Spa… the place where you Ahhh. Read more>>

Dr. Acooba Scott | Vegan Educator and Chef/Baker

Years ago, I became aware that whenever the fact that I was vegetarian came up in conversation, people invariably responded with some version of: “I used to be a vegetarian” / “I tried that” / “That didn’t work for me” and so on. For a long time I found it frustrating, then it dawned on me that if so many people kept trying and failing at a plant-based lifestyle, there was a definite need for help to go the distance. At the time I was already informally fielding FAQ’s, teaching my children’s friends and others to cook, and giving many people an experience of vegetarian food. Up to that point I was treating it as a calling of sorts, and this new awareness caused a shift in my perspective and I started pursuing this business as my work. Read more>>

Maria Leyesa | Baker & Occupational Therapist

The idea for Foodologie Baked Goods was actually an “accident”. During the height of the pandemic last year, around March 2020, I decided to finally learn how to bake; something that had been on my to do list for quite some time. I have always had a passion and deep interest for all things food, but due to my always busy lifestyle, I never really found myself with the opportunity to learn. Well, that was up until I found myself with more free time than usual due to the “stay at home” order. My initial goal was to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe out there. After many, many failed attempts I finally got the hang of it. Everyday after work I would go into the kitchen and pull up a new recipe to follow; think I tried a total of 10 or so different recipes. With lots of practice, I began to get the hang of it and was able to understand the purpose of particular ingredients and the reason for certain techniques. Once i felt confident with cookies, I began experimenting with cakes, brownies, tarts, and even pasta. Read more>

Jonah Salita | Co-Founder

Diall started with a phone call discussing racial tensions in the U.S. We realized that as helpful as it was to see mental health and alternative to 911 resources flooding social media, the reality was that if you needed help, social media would not be the first place you would go to look for it, nor would it have the technology that would allow you to access those resources in an easy way. We realized that there was no other technology solving this problem. When thinking about what new technology could address this, we knew that resources needed to be easier than dialing 9–1–1 and truly inclusive of everyone. If this could be achieved, people would feel uplifted to seek support, get help and stay safe. Read more>>

Raven Freret & Kanan Nagel

Being involved in the punk scene for most of our lives, we’ve always been passionate for discovering new music and talking about issues that are important to us. We wanted to bring these issues to the forefront, and spark conversations that may seem taboo or uncomfortable in and out of the scene. 2020 was a heavy year: the live events industry shut down along with everything else during the pandemic, there were a lot of substantial things that happened in society that affected so many people (BLM, the election, anti-trans bills being presented, etc.) and it got to the point where we wanted to created a platform that encapsulated all of these things but was also a positive place for people to turn to. A place for people to find bands that aligned with our values, and who maybe weren’t getting the representation they deserved. Read More>>

Teddi Lightman | CEO; Rae of Light Custom

After getting engaged in December 2018, I searched long and hard to find a unique and thoughtful gift for my bridesmaids. I was unable to find a memorable yet affordable option so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I am a style enthusiast with many years of experience in the fashion industry, so I used my connections with overseas factories to create the perfect proposal gift for my bridesmaids – a personalized, acrylic clutch! Social media exploded when my bridesmaids started posting photos of the personalized clutches, and I quickly realized that I was on to something! With so much demand from friends and family, I began a side hustle of placing bag orders while still working a full-time job. As many entrepreneurs know, starting your own business while having a job is definitely a challenge but my passion for Rae of Light fueled my drive and I found it to be extremely rewarding. When I was laid off from my full time job in Summer 2018, I decided to use this unfortunate experience as an opportunity to give Rae of Light my full attention and go all in!. Read more>>

Chantelle Kirstie (CK) Leon | Owner & Baker

Cake jars are really unique, however I am not the first one or only one to do this idea. One day I was scrolling on Pinterest looking for things to bake because I was bored. I saw someone post their cake, but in a plastic cup. I thought that was a really cute idea, but instead I wanted to make the presentation of it better. I had a mason jar around and so I layered my cake, frosting, and toppings in it. I tried it and it tasted sooo much better than a cupcake! My family was raving to me how good my cake jars were. So then I decided to make it something I specialize in. Freshman year of college in 2018 is when I started selling cake jars to friends and family. I would literally bring my cake jars in bags to school to deliver to friends in between classes. From there, my business spread by word of mouth and I became known as “the cake jar girl”. Read more>>

Kelvin Chin | Life After Life Expert & Meditation Teacher

My mom died suddenly when I was in school. That was the first time anyone I was so close to had died. Almost by accident I started helping others with death and dying and losses because it helped me. I had already been teaching meditation for 9 years when my mom died. So I gradually started helping more and more people with both – teaching meditation as a tool to help people with overwhelming losses or anxiety issues, sometimes around death and dying. Then I founded the Overcoming the Fear of Death Foundation and TurningWithin.org nonprofits. I’ve been doing this work for over 40 years now. And I’ve written two books so far. Read more>>

Jenney Korasick | Founder + Chief Strategist @ Collective Media

After starting my career and spending 10 years at a financial media publication in Washington, D.C., I moved to LA with my husband and began to consult for personal and lifestyle brands. I was fortunate enough to build a career in Los Angeles that aligned with my own passions in wellness, culinary, parenting and other female-focused verticals. Clients would approach me and say “I need to be making more money” or “help me build/develop these revenue streams”. What I found was, these brands weren’t taking a holistic view of their business or the problems they were trying to solve, assessing their content strategy or overall brand strategy in alignment with their revenue goals. That’s when I knew we had a great solution for both established and emerging brands and this is still the foundation of our business — helping clients connect the dots with authentic storytelling that drives business goals. We’re solving the content strategy and revenue strategy together at once. Read more>>

Dōmo Jones | Author & Disability and Confidence Coach

Experience!! This is my personal journey. For me, it’s hard to “promote” something you have no knowledge of. I don’t see it as profit because this is my daily life I personally have dealt with, so I feel as though more people will relate to journeys and experiences rather than just a product with no meaning or substance behind it. Read more>>

Melon | Artist & Designer

I have always loved to draw. When I was little, my friends will gather around me, give me topics and watch me draw. In college, when I was going through a breakup, I decided to post some panels online about my feelings and surprisingly got good feedback. People relate to my content. Since then, I have been constantly creating works expressing myself, collaborating with amazing people, and sharing emotions!. Read more>>

Jordan Wright Patterson | Artist

The first vision happened while I was working as a Prop & Set Stylist in Atlanta, then the opportunity popped back up while I was working full-time for fashion designer Billy Reid. We had a project that required cutting paper with a blade and I ended up bringing home the leftover supplies to play around with, and he ended up commissioning work for his home. Now I’m four years into doing this full time. Never thought that would happen in my wildest dreams, but “go with the flow”, right?. Read more>>