Ideas aren’t everything, execution matters greatly, but starting often requires an idea and so we asked folks to think back and tell us the story of how they came up with the idea for their businesses. We’ve highlighted some of our favorite stories below.

Eve Karlin | Personal Trainer & Founder of On The Go Fit

In February, 2019 I solo-traveled through Thailand and Bali. During this time, I trained my clients virtually to make sure they stayed consistent with achieving results while I was on vacation. When I came home, I was furloughed 3 weeks later. In despair, I knew I needed to take action and figure out my next moves on staying positive during trying times while still being able to make an income. I remembered how great virtual training was and realized that so many others were in a challenging place. I decided that with my skill-set as a Personal Trainer, I could help make a difference to keep others smiling and healthy. Read more>>

Crystal & Gary Carpenter | Founder and Co-founder

8 years ago our daughter had twins, Ezra and Eli. Ezra was born with severe cerebral palsy and Eli wasn’t. However, after surgery to repair a intestine issue, Eli suffered a brain bleed which led to him developing severe cerebral palsy as well. We saw our daughter struggle with accessing resources because she makes a few dollars above what is required to get assistance. So, we decided to start a non profit organization that would not only help families that couldn’t afford the necessary equipment and therapy, but assist families that could. Read more>>

Brooke Gabrielian | Jewelry Designer & Maker

Ever since I was a young girl I loved crystals and jewelry. I had an ever growing rock collection starting at about 7 years old. I would always go to rock shops, as many as I could find. I would get my new crystals and try to incorporate them into the jewelry I would wear. But as I got older I was frustrated about how all my jewelry pieces would tarnish and would not hold up with my active lifestyle. I tried to find other gemstone necklaces that fit my dainty style but I could never find affordable gemstone jewelry that was quality. Read more>>

Sandra Sanchez | The Stamping Paws creator

It all started with the desire to make a personalized gift for my Mom and siblings to commemorate our Dad. My Dad passed away of Colon Cancer in June of 2016. We celebrate his birthday every year and March 2020 was no different. I wanted to make something that we could all wear in his honor. I set out to make some hand stamped bracelets for all of us to wear. I made each of us a bracelet with a different message. I loved how personal and unique the bracelets looked. The process was fun too! I already had the tools, so I made more bracelets for friends and I made some Dog tags as well. Read more>>

CHRISTAL CHERRY | Principal & CEO

I decided to become a nonprofit board consultant because I knew there was a need to support nonprofits from the top down. My mantra “Who’s At the Top Matters,” proved to be true. By focusing on leadership, I can support the entire organization. My training and counsel is comprehensive, realistic, teachable and enjoyable. Read more>>

Giovanna Alexsandra | Business Owner, Entrepreneur

I was a dancer when I was young and attended a lot of camps and competitions, many of which were outside. I had seen from my mom who would always cover herself up to protect her skin from the harmful rays from the sun. She has a very light complexion and also had a cancer scare (which she beat and is now in remission), so seeing everything she had to deal with taught me a lot about staying protected from the sun and made me fall in love with the beauty side of things. Read more>>

Karen Mok & Christine Luk | Founders of One Eco Store & Creative Entrepreneurs

We share the same vision to take care of our earth and the people in it, starting with you and me! On a trip to Japan, we passed through an environmental science museum that showed the alarming amount of waste humans create each day. We wanted to do our part to reduce impact on climate change, the pollution in food chains, and micro-plastic in rain. ​We set out to find simple ways to empower people to use products that are kinder to their bodies and to our earth. Read more>>

Justin Boyd | Jboydvisuals: Photographer & creative director

Lets go back to 2015. I was still in high school and one of my good friends at the time had bought a camera. I was always interested in photography; so I asked if I could join him on one of his shoots. We spent the whole day after school skating around downtown Long Beach taking pictures of anything that we felt like. At sunset, we snuck into a building and got on the rooftop. It was one of the most euphoric feelings I had ever experienced. It was then, I knew that this was what I wanted to pursue. My first camera was a Nikon D5200.  Read more>>

Payge Kerman | President, Wink Digital

Oftentimes, when a client engages with an agency, especially for websites, they will be forced to pick between these two options: 1. A templated site that was semi-customizable to them (usually built off a theme), but that still doesn’t feel exactly right. Clients often settle with this option because they can, at least, make their own changes to the site. -OR- 2. An exquisitely-built custom site that fits their brand perfectly, but doesn’t give the client the ability to edit their own content. This option, for most agencies, involves locking clients into long-term support contracts. Read more>>

Kristoffer Leandro L. Legarde | Creative Director, Artist & Entrepreneur

It started years ago during my corporate career life when I felt I needed a venue to create something what I really want to do and passionate about. I worked in different advertising agencies and events company in Metro Manila and I didn’t feel complete fulfillment. I was not totally happy with my career life as a creative director. 10 years of experience working in the creative industry, I started my own events company called Stoque Production and Events Co in 2017. I only had myself and my best friend Philip as employees. Read more>>

Clive Alves Moore | CEO and Creative Director for FAN4ME.COM

The road less travelled – A true director’s note I have always been a singer, actor, and dancer. They call this a triple threat in the entertainment industry, and I made that my career for 15 years fulltime on global stages and television around the world. I realized I had a huge love for the business side of the industry too, so I got my hands dirty and learnt how to how to balance being an artist and how to manage the business side of the industry as well. After I left my corporate job I needed to go back to performing and being creative. Read more>>

Rebecca Martz Spenser | Holistic Nutritionist and IBS and Gut Health Expert

I was diagnosed with IBS when I was 16, and I struggled for a couple decades trying everything I could to get rid of my digestive and skin issues. Finally I came across a nutritionist course where I could run gut and hormone tests on myself and learn what to do with the results, and it was so powerful, I started testing everyone I knew and making recommendations to them. So it became a business very slowly and organically, out of passion for wanting to share what I knew. Read more>>

Ashley Capps | Founder & Wardrobe Stylist

I had been in the fashion tech and styling space my entire career. I’ve worked on set, styled individuals on the side and helped build styling teams at two companies. I learned a lot from each experience but always felt from the customer side and on the business side something was missing. I loved the experience working 1:1 in a client’s home but felt like that was a hard business to scale. I also saw how a lot of fashion companies or retailers were more focused selling stuff rather than focused on helping people look and feel good and not feel so frustrated w/ their closets or getting ready. In fact, they often are the impotence for people being unhappy with their closets. Ultimately, I did not have the business model flushed out when I began but I knew if I put people first and help turn their confidence around with their look I could figure out the logistics later. Read more>>

Patsy Farris | Custom Bling Designer & Crocheter

Contrary with the idea for me actually starting my Business was on a I’m Unique Individual…and it started with a Bling Hairstick!😉 Read more>>

Ruth Elnekave | Holistic Nutritionist, Chef & Health and Wellness Founder

The story of JOYÀ’s coming to be was one of a personal experience making me aware of a gap in the market, and knowing I was the person who could fill that gap. Until my late 20’s, food and wellness were driving forces in my life that you would have thought would inspire my career choices. Yet I took what I was advised was a “practical” route and studied business and law, which led to burning the candle at both ends as a corporate finance lawyer. It also led to working nights and weekends, not enough sleep or movement, and often skipped meals – a lifestyle that wore me down. Read more>>

Abenaa Brew | Owner & Cosmetic Chemist

My initial plan wasn’t to start a business. I decided to stop chemically treating my hair & needed hair care products that would aid in my regular hair care routine. The 1st time I got a relaxer I was 13 years old, so after 20 years of chemically straightening my hair I had no idea what my natural curl pattern(s) was. Instead of doing the big chop, I transitioned from relaxed to natural hair. The more natural hair I had, the less the “natural” products I started purchasing worked. This pushed me to start making products. Read more>>

Jeanae Pennington | Entrepreneur

I came up with the idea of my business from being a former wardrobe stylist. I noticed while I was on sets styling people how important accessories were to complete a look. You can have a good outfit but if it doesn’t have the right earrings, or necklace, or sunglasses it is not complete. Accessories elevate your whole appearance in a unique way. I wanted to be part of that for people so it made sense to do an Accessories brand. Read more>>

Amarachukwu Uzo | Content Creator & Entrepreneur

I would say that “Ammychi” and my other businesses were things I NEVER saw myself doing in life. As a little girl, maybe around 13 I started my YouTube channel and that’s when the journey of becoming who I am started! I was previously known as “PassTheJollof” and did a rebranding in 2020 to “Ammychi” which is basically ” Ammy God”! My brand , the ideas , growth is ALL thanks to the Almighty and All sufficient God! I can’t even take credit for anything because without him I am absolutely nothing. I would not be where I am today if not God! Read more>>

Diana Sanmiguel | Creative Director & Designer

I have been and independent designer for over 15 years, it was not my plan to start this business but as I started freelancing and gain more and more clients, I fell in love with the freedom and flexibility that working for myself provided. When the pandemic hit, I saw my workload decrease and started exploring other opportunities where I could artistically and professionally express myself. The pandemic downtime was the perfect moment to pursue a new idea. Bogged down by the loneliness and uncertainty of lockdown, two friends and I were brainstorming ways that we could work together and start new businesses. The idea for CannaCurious Magazine was born during one of many Zoom catch-up sessions. Read more>>

Christian Chapman | Player Development Specialist

I started my own business when I really did not have a choice. I was working for somebody else, and saw that my value and the company was great and the athletes that I was working with at the time were requesting more access than I had under that company. I’ve been went to go play professionally in the Dominican republic, once I came home during the off-season, I was not able to work back at the job that I recently had. I then went and decided to start my own business. That way I can make my own hours, times and availability. I started at 24 hour fitness in San Leandro and Oakland California because I do not have access to a gym. Read more>>

Evan McCrary | Reiki Master, Akashic Record Practitioner, Registered Associate Clinical Social Worker

In short form, I came up the idea for my business because I needed it. Three years ago, I had experienced a number of perceived losses and was having a really challenging time feeling like myself. I knew I was changing in a really big way, but I didn’t know what or how to navigate it because it was unfamiliar. I was incredibly blessed to have had built relationships with women in the healing arts (e.g., reiki, akashic records, TRE (tension/trauma reduction exercises) and a wonderful therapist who held space for me to shed skin, beliefs, personas, ideas, to simply rip myself open in a safe container. Of those women, only three were women of color and more specifically, two were Black womxn. Read more>>

Axel Tillmann | Serial Entrepreneur & CEO of WORLD SUMMMIT

I have been inspired by my own journey and learnings. I always considered myself as an entrepreneur, but growing up in Germany these desires are different, and value differently than here in the US and in particular here in California. What do I mean by this? If you take 1981 as the starting date for today’s computing and smart device revolution I challenge everybody to name me one European based startup (started 1981 or later) that has achieved the same market cap as the top 100 US based startups. Read more>>

Dawn Cirone | Owner of Boutique

I knew from a very young age that I have always wanted my own boutique. Over the years of being in retail, I enjoyed building the relationships with my clients and bringing their own spark through fashion. Its dream come true to be able to do this for a living. Read more>>

Ruth Gordon-Martin | Founder & CEO CODDLE

The idea for CODDLE was started after the birth of my first child and because of my own birth experience. When I was expecting, I read a lot about what to expect during pregnancy. What I didn’t read about was; what to expect after giving birth and how to care for myself during recovery. Read more>>

Jodie Davies | Entrepreneur

For Next Session it started with me watching the used wetsuits in my garage pile up – I couldn’t bring myself to throw them in the trash because it seemed so wasteful. Coupled with that, I had been thinking about commitment rings – more like the silicon type – as a way to create awareness around declining ocean health and a reminder for us each to do our part to turn it around. One night while at my daughters gymnastics class, I was looking on YouTube for inspiration and came across a video of someone making a ring out of denim. I was inspired by this recycling idea and thought…that’s it! I combined my commitment ring idea, with a deep desire to recycle wetsuits, and Next Session was born. Read more>>

Joy Hsieh | Photographer

I lost my first dog while ago when I didn’t know how to do photography. Right after that I went to Art Center College of Design and majored in photography and imaging. The reason why I wanted to do photography is because a good photograph can capture the moments and make them last forever for their owner to keep. I always like to challenge myself and find that the animals and newborns are the most difficult subjects to shoot with but the outcome is always so worth it. That’s the reason why I want to do portraits for families to keep. Read more>>

Summer Taylor | Founder of Shine Lab

Shine Lab was created because I wanted to give my friends a gift that was made just for them, unique and special. Shine Lab candles are made with each individual in mind throughout the entire curation process. You take a fun quiz, we get to know you, your preferences, your dislikes, and you even get to name the candle yourself! As I started creating candles, I thought of specific fragrances and vibes that remind me of each person. During the lockdown, I decided to open up the quiz to see if anyone else would be interested in a candle. It became a fun way to connect and share a bit of sunshine during a time of uncertainty and separation. Now, I feel like each person who orders a Shine Lab candle is my new friend, and I get to curate a special gift just for them! Read more>>

Kristen Anderson | Take+Blend™ Smoothie Enthusiast

My business idea has pivoted SO many times since my original idea and that is one of my all-time favorite parts about it. I wanted to open a smoothie shop before the pandemic because there was a need for it in the town where my gym was located. Once shutdowns began, I quickly realized that this was not an ideal time to open a business in the food industry. Then began the business model pivoting. At first, from all of my research, I decided it would be an optimal time for a food truck. Read more>>

Justin “Mr. Fascinate” Shaifer | Science TV Show Host, Keynote Speaker

I majored in Marine and Environmental Science in college, and I ended up doing pretty well. I graduated with the highest GPA in my department. Despite my success, I felt a constant loneliness. In every internship, scholarship, or research opportunity I was presented with, I was almost always the only black person. Frustrated, I pivoted into a career in technology, only to experience the same lack of diversity. Finally, I had this radical idea- that advocating for careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) was meant to be a full-time career. Many of my colleagues considered themselves STEM advocates, but few if any made money doing so. Read more>>

Sophie Singer | Baker and founder of Sophie’s Gluten-Free Granola

I came up with my idea of having my own business while we were on lock down for Covid. I have always loved cooking and baking. My family and I were getting creative in the kitchen. I wanted to try and bake a new inspiring recipe. After looking in our pantry to see what was readily available, I came up with the idea of making homemade gluten-free granola. After my family tasted the recipe that I came up with, they encouraged me to sell it. I posted pictures on Instagram and immediately had people requesting to buy it. I came up with the name, Sophie’s Gluten Free Granola immediately. I have had a loyal customer base, including friends and family, for over a year now. I continue to get new customers each week and it makes me so happy to see their smiling faces. Read more>>

Jeremy Lister | Musician & Hot Sauce Maker

My brothers and I grew up challenging each other to see who could eat the saltiest, spiciest, and strangest foods. This led to us being very adventurous eaters and chefs. We’ve been hot sauce fans since we were little kids, and have experimented with cooking a variety of sauces through the years. Richie, the eldest Lister brother, started getting into gardening, and acquired a smoker a few years back. Every time I’d go over to his house, he’d have a new hot sauce for me to try. Read more>>