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.

Larissa Schot | Small Business Owner

I’ve always felt a bit lost in life regarding what my calling was. During Covid, I was finishing up my last year of university. As any graduate would, I applied to many jobs. I was constantly rejected. I have always wanted to be my own boss, but I never followed through with it. So, I finally took the risk and chased my dream of owning my own business I noticed I would purchase a new candle every two weeks, so I thought, “Why not make my own luxury candles?” Candles soon became an avenue by which I found passion and drive to pursue my ambitions. I came up with the brand name (KĀ ÄS), pronounced chaos, reflecting my life’s journey. I have not launched yet, but I plan to this summer. I created the brand to inspire anyone fearing rejection to follow their intuition and believe in themselves because it is up to you to become the person you want to be. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Read more>>

Jay Ruskey | Co-Founder and CEO of FRINJ Coffee

When I was a teenager I worked a lot of jobs, one of which was as a laborer in a Carpinteria greenhouse 6 days a week. It was impactful enough to make me want to start my own business. Not just for money, but to build a healthier work environment for products that I can care about. I worked all the way through school and formed my sole proprietorship when I was 25 years old. The next big step was to form FRINJ Coffee. It was a big leap to become a Co-Founder and CEO and to position myself to lead this industry. At the time, it seemed like the obvious next step as I realized that California Coffee was bigger than I could tackle alone. That was a good decision, as today we have helped over 70 farms in Southern California, arming them with a dream team of people to guide them through the entire process. It is a great culture to be a part of. Read more>>

Tiffany Hinton Jefferson

As a woman leaving corporate America, where I devoted over two decades of my career and was successful, I knew I could start a business that would be successful also. My thought process was to walk out on faith and build a brand highlighting black owned businesses in LA. When the Black Lives Matter began along with the pandemic, keeping black owned restaurants, chefs, and other local black owned businesses as a focal point was extremely important. Restaurants were closing or limiting their staff. Chefs were out of jobs and as a whole many people lost their jobs. Read more>>

Ryan Contreras | Founder / CEO

Growing up I saw first hand how society trains us to Trade Time for Money. Most of the people I knew weren’t happy with the type of money they were making and felt forced to wake up every morning go to work to do a job that they didnt make them happy. As I was completing college degree, I reconnected with an old friend from high school and he introduced me to the Idea of entrepreneurship. Then, he recommended a book called “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. I went home that night and purchased that book and finished it within a couple of days. Read more>>

Crystal Allen | Owner & Founder, Craft & Green Weddings and Events

There are a few things that encouraged me to start my own business including an opportunity to write my own professional narrative, create financial freedom for myself, and creating a legacy for my family. However, one of the beliefs that I operate in daily is that we were all placed on this earth to be of service to others. The opportunity and ability to serve others presents itself in many ways and therefore if you find one thing that will allow you to fulfill your purpose of service that is also a passion, you have found the meaning of life and are therefore blessed. My thought process behind starting my business, though a very hefty process, is rooted in that idea. I truly believe Craft & Green Weddings and Events is my way of leaving my stamp on my little piece of the world. Read more>>

Martin Berrios | Marketing Strategist

While most of my professional journey has been in marketing / branding I always had a innate talent for writing. In or around 2004 I started freelancing for various music publications which led me to being a Music Editor for a reputable website years later. Due to some mismanagement by senior leadership the company had to lay off their entire editorial staff. That taught me a valuable lesson to seek ownership. Read more>>

Sherron Breaux-Welch | Wardrobe Stylist & Plus Size Fitness Influencer

I know so many plus size women who downplay their crown with all these superficial reasons. “My stomachs too big” “I only wear black because it’s slimming” , “horizontal stripes make me look wide”, and my favorite “men don’t like fat girls”. Now that one grinds my gears!!!! I started wardrobe styling, specializing in plus size women, to give my girls that extra umph. So when I’m done with them, they’d find solace in neon greens, polka dots, and cute little crop tops!!! I am 260 pounds, back rolls like a bakery, 2 different stomachs, BUT I FEEL GOOD…I needed them to feel that too ! Read more>>

Kerry Millre | Founder & Publicist

So I have been in PR for 10 years now and for 6 of those I never really thought about starting my own business. Around year 7 is when I think it started to sound exciting and the logical next step for me, but then I kept just pushing it to the side. 2019 came around and I got more serious about it and then January 2020 is when I started planning in my head what I could do with a boutique PR firm. The pandemic hit the world and social injustices continued to occur including George Floyd and Brianna Taylor, I knew I had a calling to start my business to help bring joy through my work and my clients work. So June 2020 is when Joyful PR became official and haven’t looked back. Ever since business began, I have lead with inclusivity, joy and standing up for social justice. I make it my mission to help whoever I can grow their business through joy. Read more>>

Leili Eghbal | Founder + CEO, Community School for Human Arts

I was working as HR Director at a local non-profit on Skid Row serving the homeless, and after about 4 years in that position, I had a nervous breakdown due to major job burnout. I was very frustrated by the fact that mission driven organizations weren’t truly following their missions and were instead focused on data to increase fundraising. The data was driving the work that the employees were doing often at the expense of the population being served and at the expense of their own health and well-being. Read more>>

Samm Haden | Online Fitness Professional

I grew up observing my mom and dad work in two completely different worlds. My dad worked for a major corporation as a VP and my mom ran, owned and operated three restaurants with her family. Both of my parents worked incredibly hard and were very good at what they did but I was always more drawn to the passion and commitment my mom had for her own business. It made more sense to me that you have a dream and a business of your own and you work as hard as your can every day to make it the best it can be. I struggled with the idea that I was supposed to carry out that same level of grit and determination for someone else’s dream. Read more>>

Jasmine Lamitte, LCSW | School Mental Health Director & Mental Health Influencer

Starting my own business happened organically and by happenstance! I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Director of 20 schools in Los Angeles and I’ve been in the school mental health field for over a decade. When the pandemic hit, our school buildings shut down and I felt that my impact of advocating for mental health was severely limited from the comfort of my own home. So, I started an Instagram page to share tips, resources, and information on school mental health, anti-racism, and self-care in hopes of providing support beyond the schools and team that I manage. Read more>>

Tiffany Hinton Jefferson | Founder and creator of Black Owned Food LA

As a woman leaving corporate America, where I devoted over two decades of my career and was successful, I knew I could start a business that would be successful also. My thought process was to walk out on faith and build a brand highlighting black owned businesses in LA. When the Black Lives Matter began along with the pandemic, keeping black owned restaurants, chefs, and other local black owned businesses as a focal point was extremely important. Restaurants were closing or limiting their staff. Chefs were out of jobs and as a whole many people lost their jobs. So, I decided to build a website called blackownedfoodla.com and use social media to feature black owned business owners and their restaurants. I want my social media page and website to be a source for people to use to find these businesses and support. Read more>>

Tyler Caldwell | Home Craft Brewer

To create a brand with passion and a purpose not just for the money . Your business should be something you love waking up to in the morning , when you leave your house you should be excited to go do something you love to do . I love going to breweries. I would invite friends and family out for a good beer but a lot of them would pass on the invitation due to the fact they weren’t into beer or understood the flavors or the process of a good craft beer . That’s when I decided that I wanted to create something of my own. Read more>>