Starting and growing a business is hard, but often deciding to start the business in the first place is even harder. We asked some successful entrepreneurs from around the community to open up to us about how they thought about starting a business.

Ryan Malcolm-Campbell | Branding Visual Artist + Photographer

After my university injury and accepting that the pursuit of basketball as a career was no longer in the cards, I wanted to make sure I found something that fulfilled me and allowed me to make an impact on others. Read more>>

Dwayne Huang | Illustrator & Designer

I became an independent illustrator naturally because I am constantly inspired by my surroundings and enjoy recording them with my pen. Producing illustration work for myself, experimenting with various creative possibilities, and fine-tuning my creative process, everything about creating can satisfy me. Read more>>

Hope Cheatham | Photographer

As someone who struggles with anxiety on a daily basis, working a 9-5 was extremely difficult for me. After many hopeful beginnings in other fields, I discovered that I needed to create a career that allowed me to make my own schedule and have more control over my work. Read more>>

Tony Olivas | Professional Photographer

My thought process for starting my business started when one night I was on my way to shoot a concert in downtown Seattle. I get to the venue but was not informed that the location was switched 3 times. So I was on the verge of giving up and calling it a night until someone approached and asks me “Are you here for the Giveon concert?” I replied “yes” and he replies “oh that’s down on Pike Place”. Read more>>

Aline Iwazaki | Co-founder of Yes Queen Brides

I had been thinking about starting my own business for about a year, but I didn’t have a clear idea of what the business was going to be. All I knew was that I wanted to leave my 9-5 and build something that is aligned with me & my values. I spent the year studying business and doing everything I could to learn as much as possible, so I would be as ready as I could be when my big idea came. Read more>>

Alex Taylor Victoria (Tori) Thain Gioia | Co-Founders & Co-CEOs

Tori: A few years ago, Alex and I were chatting about a new chapter of our lives—motherhood. We realized that we shared the same frustration about the quality of our prenatal vitamins and discovered that most options on the market use a one-size-fits-all approach to prenatal nutrition, which actually fails to deliver targeted nutrients for each unique stage. Read more>>

Laurie McDermott | Relationship Coach, Podcast Host & Author

Honestly? I had other plans on my career choice! I was a standup comedian for 21 years and had just shot my first Television Show Pilot when my husband told me he wasn’t happy and wanted a divorce. Eek. Life changed very quickly and from that day forward, I began the groundwork of what would be my current life mission and career! Read more>>

Maegan Neubeck | Creative Director/owner MN Dye Studio

I spent most of my career in the denim industry and would travel all over the world to develop wash concepts for brands like Denim & Supply, Polo, Banana Republic and Levis. I fell in love with being in a laundry and collaborating with other designers and wash specialists. On weekends I would research dye methods with plant dyes at my cabin in upstate NY. Read more>>

Dele Opaleke | Musician and Grant Writer | Grants for Musicians

I started as a bright eyed young artist with dreams of a successful career in the music industry and the realities of the business became apparent after many years of trying to do everything on my own. Read more>>

Ariam Guerrero | Ecommerce Stylist & CEO

Before I started Solavino, I was working full time in the fashion industry & realized that there wasn’t enough latina owned brands who carry “edgier” styles. I wanted to support my community but never really found ones that resonated with my style & that’s when I started coming up with the idea of opening up my own small business! I wanted to make sure that Read more>>

Colin Havey | Commercial and Television Director, Camera Man, Editor

I work in the film and television industry and over the years, I’ve worked jobs in both production and post-production. Honestly, for me it made sense from a tax standpoint to become a business and make myself the sole employee. So I started a production company! Read more>>

Anthony Catania | Founder, AMC Architecture & Design LLC

Throughout my career, working at other companies, I gained very valuable experience across a very wide range of different aspects of the architectural profession–more so than many practitioners. This experience ranged not only in the design of individual buildings, but the design of a wide variety of different building types, as well as the design of entire new towns and communities (with much of the coordination that it takes for complex projects like this to be realized). Read more>>

Aminah Salaam | Creative Director and Educator

I am not a first generation Entrepreneur and my goal is to make sure that I am not the last. My grandfather has always been extremely dapper and amazing with doing Women’s hair. Even though this was considered to be foreign among black cisgender straight males during his time, he had his own very profitable hair salon in Harlem and he was my go to person for a press & curl. Read more>>

Dr. April J. Lisbon | Personal Media Coach and Public Speaker

When I initially started my business, my goal was to leave my full-time job and be home to support my two young children. At that time, both of my boys were nonverbal and had experienced difficulties in attending private preschool programs. Read more>>

Allegra Paris | Celebrity Trainer & Fitness Model

Really that I had no other choice! I tried working for so many people, especially in college. It just never worked out. I always ended up retreating and starting something of my own. Out of college I started a hand-painted swimsuit line. Read more>>

Nicole D. Carrasco | Full Time Mom & Culinary Enthusiast

I have always loved food and design. When it came time to choose my career, I decided to pursue design first, but always kept food close to me. In my own time, I imagined designing my own food establishment and menu where it would be an accumulation of all the foods I love eating and I cooked my heart out. Read more>>

Pamela Walsh | Gallery Owner and Art Advisor

I have always dreamed of owning my own gallery! After working for another gallerist for almost 20 years, it was time to take those learned skills and set out on my own. I began to work as an Art Advisor helping private collectors source and acquire art for their personal collections. It was very different from the work I had previous done, which was centered around representing and exhibiting artists. Read more>>

Boris Labourguigne | Co-founder & CEO of LEFT

My thought process behind starting my own business was driven by my lifelong passion for film and my desire to create high-quality content that I myself would want to watch. When I was 20 and living in a student apartment in Paris in 2009, I saw the potential for creating a successful online channel through 3èmeGauche, a YouTube channel, and recognized an opportunity to showcase real talent and create engaging content that resonated with audiences. Read more>>

Kat Robichaud | musical artist and co-founded of Kat Robichaud’s Misfit Cabaret

I had just moved to San Francisco after competing on The Voice and was playing a few band gigs here and there. I payed at a friend’s speakeasy show where I met my partner Jordan Nathan, who had the idea to produce a show together. We came up with Misfit Cabaret, inspired by my band’s name “Kat Robichaud and The Darling Misfits”. We started small in the same speakeasy that held 100 people and now we’re in a 500 seat theater in SF as well as touring to LA and Seattle. Read more>>

Veronica Rock | Designer

I didn’t like punching in a time card. I wanted the freedom to work for myself. I thought I had the chance to make more money if I had my own business. Read more>>

Keldamuzik | Music Artist | Actress | TV Host | Entrepreneur | Producer

My thought process was all about how can I support and provide something for my fans that haven’t been branded before. That’s immediately when I thought of TAMZ berets. No one in the fashion industry or in the Hip Hop industry has branded this yet and I want to be the first. Read more>>

Matthew Railla | Goalkeeper Coach

The first thing I thought about when starting MJR Keeper Academy was that I have a passion for coaching and working with young athletes. I love the game and this is my way of giving back to the goalkeepers that have the same excitement that I did when I was their age. The other side to me starting my coaching business was the freedom and flexibility with my schedule. Read more>>

Raquel Krelle | Photographer

I had just become a new mom so I needed a creative career with a flexible schedule that I could manage myself. I also loved the idea of being able to work predominately from home. Read more>>

McCauley Tawpash | Holistic Health Coach, Wellness Chef & Photographer and Recipe developer

After struggling with my own health issues, I decided to start my own business so I could help people who are in a similar situation that I was once in. Read more>>

Jerumel Laygo | Chef

it was 2011. at the time i was a new father. I was working at cafe pinot doing well but the hours were too much and i barely saw my family. i was offered a promotion at work and I didn’t take it. it was either take the promotion and barely see my family or start fresh and do something new. coincidentally my Head Chef Kevin Meehan left the restaurant and we had like this Jerry Macquire thing and i left with him. Read more>>

Nakaila & Alexandria Sandidge & Garland | Sr. Security Specialist | Co-Owner of HXCK CLOTHING & Engineering Manager | Co-Owner of HXCK CLOTHING

We started our business during the pandemic, like a lot of business owners in the heat of 2020. We started our business with the thought of there being a gap in the clothing industry for black young professionals like ourselves. Although we have nine to five jobs, we like to dress with confidence in and outside of work and that’s what our brand represents. Read more>>

Marcella Giuffrida | Public Relations Specialist and Founder of MG PR

Coming from a family that instilled an insane work-ethic in me, and looking up to my parents (who are both business owners), I always knew that one day I would own my own business. I went to college in New York for fashion and kind of fell into public relations through a couple of fashion PR internships. I loved PR, but knew that if I continued working for fashion companies or agencies, I would always be limited in pay and creativity. Read more>>

Yazmin Teodoro | Self-taught baker

I would say the thought process of starting Vida Dulce was, is baking. Just to convert the Mexican Pan Dulce to Vegan Pan Dulce. It’s thought but fun. Read more>>

Rachel Lee Perez | Founder and Co-Host

When we decided to start the Hashtag History podcast, the heart behind our mission was to make History entertaining and engaging for everyone. We wanted both people who self-identify as History Lovers and those that self-identify as History Haters to find common ground and to realize that History is for everyone and that there is something in History for everyone to love. Read more>>