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.

Avni Barman | Founder of Generation She

Having worked for various tech companies and always being the only female on the team, I was compelled to personally reassess the lack of gender diversity in technology. While many companies have already addressed this with numerous diversity initiatives for recruiting more women, only 20% of women hold these tech jobs. While this bottom-up approach is essential, we remain far from achieving a gender balance in leadership positions and our general workforce. Worse, every day fewer women are starting their own companies due to a variety of factors stemming from an absence of moral support and guidance at a young age, understanding of entrepreneurial risks, and lack of resources to pursue an idea. Read more>>

Jaysson Li | Culinarian

I really do not look at my business as a business. I look at it as a lifestyle. The style of life which I am constantly doing the things that I enjoy. In order to enjoy every moment, I cannot only choose to enjoy the good moment, but I also need to make myself enjoy all the tough/stressful times. Life is not always happy, there are sad, stressful, outrages, and many many more moments. Be ready for every moment, and try to find one little thing to enjoy in every one of them. Read more>>

Anya Shakhmeyster | Designer & Coach

The way I thought about creating my brand was by bringing together the two things that are the most important to me; my passion and my purpose. My passion and love for menswear has been there since I was a little girl drawing vintage photos of men in blazers in my sketchbook. I also chose to do menswear collections during my time at FIT, while most of my class was doing womenswear. There was something so beautiful to me about enhancing the hidden details like pockets, linings, and pipings in men’s clothes. It’s almost like I wanted to help men feel seen for all of their layers, and not just what society told them they should be. This leads into my purpose which is to help shift the negative narrative about men that our culture perpetuates. I have always wanted to support men, highlight great men, and demonstrate what healthy masculinity looks and feels like and how much it helps men and women in every aspect of their lives. Read more>>

Mimi Blair Monahan | Licensed Esthetician, Lash Artist, & Reiki Practitioner

Prior to pursuing my career in the beauty and wellness industry, I worked as an educator of young children. While I absolutely loved working with kids, I felt myself getting burnt out and overworked at such a young age. Burn out is so real and rampant in our capitalist country. I realized that rest, and self-care are a huge necessity and I wanted to provide that for others and myself!. Read more>>

Kaye Bassey | Content Creator and Digital Entrepreneur

Some years ago, I started blogging and creating content as a hobby. Deep down, I have always known that I would be working in the fashion and beauty space. Although, I went to university for Business, I always knew that I had the need to fuel my passion. So even when I would try to walk away from the fashion and beauty industry, I felt like I kept getting pulled back in. Luckily fashion and beauty have been a lifelong passion and one of my favorite interests as a child. So after blogging for some time, I booked my first job and realized “this is great- there is an opportunity to really turn this into something sustainable”. Since then, I’ve kept going and I am so glad how far everything has gone since the first day. Read more>>

Anthony Ortiz | CEO Pairamilitary Music Group

The most important aspect behind starting my business, Pairamilitary Music Group, was creating and performing great music as well as having the ability to aide in the growth of the artist I come across throughout our collaborations out here in Hollywood, CA. Behind a business name is “hopefully’ a group of individuals who passionately want to take things to the next level, we do very well. The thought was, you can’t fail with a team that dreams of success and lives to accomplish dreams. I believe we built that. Read more>>

Jordan Deherrera, Chris Sanders | Record Label Founders and Music Producers

Popgang started out as a loose artist collective, music blog, and moniker for throwing parties. When we decided to launch the label, get an LLC and really go for it, it felt like the natural progression for our creative endeavors but we didn’t really know what we we’re doing yet. We’re artists first; producing music, DJing events, designing flyer art and merch is something we’d be doing regardless. And rather than looking to other organizations to release our work, it felt right to do it ourselves. There’s a creative freedom that comes with that DIY mentality. We still rely on this method to this day. If there’s something we don’t know how to do, we figure it out. It’s usually faster to learn it yourself and always good to know all aspects of how your business works. The best example: we built our own studio when we moved to LA. The garage at our house was literally 2x4s and ply wood. We re-did all of the electrical, installed 3 payers of sound proofing, drywall, hardwood floors a door and a window. Read more>>

Emilie Hahn | Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Stop Motion Artist

To me, working independently as a freelancer allows flexibility, which was a big motivator. I love the variety of working on design projects, illustration, or stop motion animation, either collaboratively or independently. Having this flexibility is so fulfilling to me, as I find each medium supports and informs the others. Read more>>

Jordan Tortorello | Owner of Mixed Media

My parents are business owners themselves, so I grew up seeing the ins and outs of running one. I was blessed enough to get the knowledge of it at such a young age and it’s been instilled in me ever since. I’m passionate about seeing something grow from the ground up, giving it love and care every step of the way. I’ve always wanted that for myself. Mixed Media, a Los Angeles Based Video Production Company that I own & operate really started as a way to stay creative as I waited for the auditions to roll in. It was my way of taking my life into my own hands and not settling for the waiting game. Another reason for creating Mixed Media was so that I could have a way to connect talented creatives with other talented creatives. I’ve met so many people in LA who got trapped in deals with money hungry, self serving people and I wanted to be the saving grace and connect them with people who actually care and take pride in the art that they create. Read more>>

Blake Aiken | Tattoo Artist

I never wanted to have a boss, someone to tell me what to do. My father has been self employed my whole life and I think that is what made me want to work for myself. Which is kind of funny in itself because a father is the first person to tell you what to do. Read more>>

Leonard J. Scheiner

Starting a marketing and branding agency for law firms has allowed me the freedom to help more people achieve that next step in growing their law firm than if I would have continued working for one company in a nine-to-five job. I worked in-house at a handful of law firms during and after college. It was rewarding work that allowed me to learn about various areas of law, what clients expect and need when looking for an attorney, and this ultimately served as the foundation for launching Geek Haus. It didn’t take me long to realize that my ultimate goal was to go into business for myself. I started the law firm marketing agency Geek Haus to help solo attorneys and law firms attract real and qualified new clients on autopilot. Read more>>


Scully Carrillo | Makeup Artist

Being a makeup artist was something I’ve always dreamed about. When I was younger, I didn’t realize this was something that I could do as a career. The thought process behind starting my own business was basically to venture out and pursue my passion. I love being a freelancer. I love making my own rules, and most importantly, I love being my own boss!. Read more>>

Tricia Tanaka | Clothing Designer & Artist

Starting a clothing line was an organic process in my life. Being a self taught designer came out of fun, passion and a lot of trial and error. From a raver that wanted to wear costumes all the time to a young lady exploring New York City’s nightlife it was a natural process. Fresh out of college, I moved to New York City from LA to work as a graphic designer. After a few month of being there 9/11 happened and I was laid off from my job. I had a lot of free time, and was being invited to a lot of benefits so I started making outfits to wear out since funds were tight. I discovered the garment district and began making clothes. Starting with custom garments for performing artists to friend’s who just wanted something unique. It never dawned on me that this hobby could turn in to something bigger. Read more>>

Andrés Zapata | Director & Writer

My thought process for starting any business has to start with passion. Daring to be passionate is a trait of mine I have been aware of since my childhood. I believe that the most innovating and amazing people to have ever lived were known for the dedication to their craft. The passion they exuded gave us that historical zeal we as a society acknowledge most. Whether it’s been screenwriting, photography, or directing, I think I gravitate towards creating art that any human could enjoy and be left suspended in disbelief. I want my creations to bring joy, awe, and wonder into people’s lives at whatever means necessary. In my eyes, our lives here are temporary, and if my artwork can relate to their life’s journey — that alone gives reason to being passionate in business. Read more>>

Cindy Arguello | Singer/Songwriter & Creative Director

I grew up in a musical family, my parents had their own recording studio, so I grew up seeing my dad managing the business, working on getting new clients, and making music all the time. He has always been a great businessman, so I think it was easy for me to follow his steps in the music business. When I finished college my first idea was to continue creating music for other artists and keep the recording studio moving on. But this time doing it alongside my two brothers. I think because of our different experiences and different careers, the business expanded and evolved in a very different way. We started our freelance agency helping other artists not only to create their music but also to give them the tools they need to put their music out there. I want not only to perform my own music but to help others to achieve their music career goals. Read more>>

Cristina Angeli | Brand Wrangler & Dog Mom

For 20+ years I had enjoyed going to an office, grabbing morning coffee, creating family-like connections with teams and coworkers. Doing the work, clearing a path for teams, Learning. discovering more about myself with every stop. It was and still is a magical ride my nomadic career. Every company, every role. The ups and downs. I just got to a place after a successful IPO at Stitch Fix where I had the choice and time to pause, lift my head and breathe. I met with some confidants and one SF based founder in particular who really helped me open my eyes to what my journey and experience to date offers me. At a time I was nervous, doubting myself or what should be next, she said, “Cristina, I have never met anyone like you, that can be a visionary and guide a brand at 10K feet that knows the 360° facets of what it takes to build a brand and connect with customers. You simply have to give consulting a try.” So I did. Read more>>

Jeff Miller | Captain, Black Crystal Wolf Kids; freelance writer and editor; food & music consultant

Black Crystal Wolf Kids is really the first band that (pre-pandemic, at least) had some sort of business element to it. I had experience in marketing and content creation and it really just made sense to use some of that experience for the thing that I was most passionate about, which was the band I’d formed. Thinking of it as a “business” is sort of strange, though that is what it is in some sense, but I also have a background as a freelancer in various capacities so the idea of doing something that I’m totally responsible for is one that’s embedded in me. Read more>>


Jack Mancino Bryon Freeze | Former Chefs

Culinary Love was born as a collective of current and former industry professionals, who decided that a conversation must be had, and an action plan created to address the long ignored mental health concerns within the industry. We have created a space for hospitality professionals to be seen, be heard and connect with meaningful resources in order to get the help they need. When Anthony Bourdain committed suicide in 2018 it rocked the industry and we felt it was time to do something. Focusing on mental healthy and taking care of ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually. Read more>>

Royalle Renae Vampran | Business Owner

The idea of a business tends to come because there’s a lack of something within that specific industry, and that’s what started my journey. Growing up as dancer, as a part of your costume, you’re usually required to wear makeup, and I always noticed how there were never shades within the markup artists’ box that perfectly fit my complexion. I needed to mix colors or find alternates, just as many others my shade are forced to do. I realized that needed to change, and why shouldn’t I be the one to do it. For a while, I’d been interested in cosmetics, and this was my chance to really get involved. Doing something that interest me, while also filling in a lack within the beauty industry by providing lip color suited for all. Read more>>

Brionne Davis (Davel) | Teacher, Transformational Mentor, Actor, Director.

I have been blessed with an incredible journey in both life and career. When I decided, this past year, to take an elevated step in the direction of generosity and helping others, I had no idea what the mechanic of that step would be- I was just committed to ‘creating global unity’ -as that is part of my vision statement. I was open to possibilities and when I acknowledged the differences between “passion” and “gifts” this supported the decision to launch my production company. ( Brionne Davis Productions llc ) the ink is not yet dry on the legal docs. The production company serves as an umbrella to all the creative ideas that I want to execute. My passion is storytelling. It always has been. I love collaboration, creativity, and the endless potential of magic kinetically existing between concept and execution of a play, film, tv show, etc. To imagine a thing in its pre-tangible form and then to see it realized in our 3d world is so powerful and God-like to me. That is my passion. We can also use this to write our own life script. You are the author of what you want, and you are responsible for creating the life you desire. That’s full-on RESPONSIBILITY and LEADERSHIP. Read more>>

Etty Klein | Owner and Founder, Plonk Wine Club

I never had a master plan of starting my own business but after reaching a ceiling in my career being employed by someone else, I decided to go off on a limb and take a risk so that I could realize my full potential based on my experience level and my skill sets. I was very interested in the online wine space, and when I began my business in 2010, there were very few players in the field and there was a niche for organic and biodynamic wines that hadn’t yet been filled. Read more>>

Danielle Meave-Caterino-Hummitsch | Owner & Creator at Weddings, Unicorn Wings & Amazing Things!

I have been helping him run his for almost 6 years now. He asked me one day what I wanted to do. I thought that was one of the most difficult questions I have ever been asked. I have always loved helping people that is why I got a degree in nursing, but I did not have my passion and drive in that profession. Therefore, I had to really think of what I enjoy doing, and where I could have a diversification of what I was doing weekly to not have the exact same thing repeatedly. That is when I knew I would have to start my own business to do exactly that. I had to find a business that I could organize, be creative, enjoy my work and see myself doing for a long time. I had to combine all my favorite things if I was going to do this right. It needed to have decorating, cooking, baking, planning, and details. When I could not find what I was looking for I decided to make my own business. This is how Weddings, Unicorn Wings & Amazing Things! was created. Read more>>

Natalie Puglisi | Online Business Attorney

I opened my own law firm close to a decade ago and knew nothing about business law. They don’t teach you practical business law in law school so I was a bit scared and clueless. I ended up researching, writing my own contracts, speaking to other attorneys and going back to my local law library to figure it all out. Then it dawned on me, if it was difficult for me to set up the legal base in my business then it must be difficult for other female entrepreneurs. So I pivoted my business and am now focusing solely on helping female entrepreneurs with their legal set up. Read more>>

Alexandria Black-Davis | Tech Entrepreneur & Photographer

I started my career in tech in Silicon Valley and was surrounded by so many entrepreneurs who were innovating an array of different products and services. Being in such an idea rich environment so early on in career it made starting my own business seem so much more attainable. As a black female being apart of the tech community I often didn’t get to interact with anyone similar to me in my professional life and I wanted to change that. Seeing so many young tech entrepreneurs investing in themselves and being relentless in the pursuit of success became something I fell in love with. After being apart of a mass lay off at a popular app in 2015, I decided to start Black Davis Management and the journey to building my own legacy in the digital advertising world. Read more>>

Sinuhe Xavier | Artist

After being a professional ski mountaineer for The North Face, I was pretty much unemployable. Photography was a way for me to create my own life. After a time photography became too restricting and I pursued film. It was during that time that I realized that if I looked at what I was doing as fulfilling the client’s needs I would always feel trapped. When I started to perceive myself as an artist rather than just a photographer, just a filmmaker a whole world opened up to me without boundaries. Read more>>



Britt aka B Wynn | Agent/Pop Artist/TV & Film Producer/Screenwriter/comedian

My thought process on starting my own Agency “Britt Wynn Agency,” was first to visualize it. After that, I had to research and analize my demographic. I came up with the official Agency name and then instantly found out what the problem was in my field that I could help solve. The problem was helping Authors and Screenwriters gain more awareness for their work through my industry connections. Read more>>

Marisa Bella | Artist Manager & Consultant

Both of my parents inspired me to start a business outside or my corporate life. I grew up living with my mother who had a very successful marketing consulting business. She had a home office that I was barely allowed into because she was always on conference calls but I was intrigued. My father was the same way. On the days we spent with him he was always on the phone and working from wherever we were. I always thought I wanted to be able to do that. My parents being entrepreneurs were a huge reason I felt that starting a business was in my future. Read more>>

Matthew Peters | CEO and Founder of Search Manipulator

I was working in San Francisco for the online reputation management company that started this industry, making software for their outsourced overseas workers and I realized “hey the consumer should have this”. I thought it should be in their hands rather than having to pay a company way too much money for it. So, we started the company based off a DIY software to control your online reputation. But people were always saying “I don’t have the time for this, can’t you just do it for me?” So, then we branched into professional services as well. Our competitors are always scamming people and it really bothered me. They always demanded big payments upfront, or 12-month contracts and no one had a money back guarantee. We wanted to stand out from these scammers and show that we are different. So, we do things on a month-to-month basis, no commitment, and the first month has a 100% money back guarantee if you are unhappy for literally any reason at all. Read more>>


It came from a feeling of fun, curiosity, and service. I think the best ideas and creative sparks come from deep within the trenches of our soul; they simmer up and become just loud enough for us to hear them – and sometimes they whisper! I’m so glad I was listening. My friends and I were helping each other with self-tapes, and we realized that once we focused on the holistic aspect of the work, our work changed. I noticed that I had an eye for storytelling in a way that I could’ve guessed (being a writer and all), but it didn’t seem clear to me until I realized the missing piece. It’s the combination of having the eye and knowing the exact words to say to help the actor unveil enough to tell the story from a place of pure being vs. ‘putting on a feeling’ and showing that to us. I started to get the calls from my friends that they were booking the auditions we would work on together and I realized that I wanted to share this with more actors! And even when we wouldn’t book the role, the casting directors would call us back consistently for different roles!. Read more>>

Justin Sterling | Entertainment Lawyer | Talent Management

As an entertainment attorney in Los Angeles, many of my entertainment clients wanted me to stay involved with their careers. Los Angeles Talent Management LLC was formed so that I could continue to be of service to clients in the entertainment industries. Read more>>