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.

Aaron Alpert | YouTuber & Photographer

Two of my favorite things are film experiments and connecting with new and interesting people. I wanted to find a way to combine my passions and create something for others like me. After a brainstorming session with a friend, I walked away with the concept for my new YouTube channel series: ‘Film Experiments with Friends’. Each episode, I conduct a photoshoot and interview with a friend of mine, all while trying out a unique film experiment. It’s challenging to wear so many hats at once, but that’s a lot of the fun for me. Read more>>

Mao Kun Chen | Artist and Instructor

Mao Projects is an art and ceramic studio based in Canada that focus on the development of collaborative art projects as well as small batch functional art ceramics. Mao Projects first started as a small fun art-commercial side project from Mao. Mao projects has since expended to become an official small business founded by artists: Mao Chen and her partner Chris Savage. Both Mao and Chris are visual artists and instructors who hold MFA degrees and have exhibition records within Canada, the Uk and China. Read more>>

Adielenah Perez | Creative Director

Starting my own business has been a very gradual process. So much so that I didn’t even realize I had started a production company until a brand reached out and said “I’d love to work with your company.” Up until then, I was just putting one foot in front of the other and following my gut. I have been working in film and video production for a long time, since I was 15 making social justice documentaries with non-profits. Before quitting my job this year, I wasn’t sure that I could start a company. Read more>>

Romance Robinson | Lingerie Fashion Buyer and Designer

My initial thought process was how difficult it was for the current demographic to get access to quality intimate apparel such as underwear, bra’s and hosiery. In 2015 when I opened my first brick and mortar location, you could only get these things from department stores and the nearest department store was almost 10 miles away. Since that time, more boutiques and smaller stores within the community have began including intimate apparel, making it easier to access. Read more>>

Ioana Ionescu | Photographer

I didn’t really have a thought process when starting my photography business. Honestly, I stumbled into it – as if my photography business found me. I originally moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting, but I couldn’t see myself waiting tables in the meantime and decided to step behind the camera instead. Since a lot of my contacts in Hollywood were working actors, headshot photography was a great starting point. But today, there isn’t much that I don’t photograph. Over the years I’ve grown from shooting headshots to lifestyle, brand photography, boudoir, influencers/social media content, weddings – you name it and I’ve photographed it! However, my specialty lies in portraiture. I have a thing for the human soul and I love connecting with people and capturing something real and honest about them. Read more>>

Uta Preston | Founder of Little Fishkopp

I have always had an itch to be an entrepreneur, even as a child. My family has a long history of business ownership, so you could say it’s in my blood. However, it wasn’t until I had my first child that the right combination of timing and inspiration came together to catalyze my entrepreneurial journey. With my first child, I wanted to use the same high-quality baby sleep bags that I had grown up with in Germany. There, people have been using sleep bags for ages as a practical way to keep their children safe and cozy while sleeping. When I couldn’t find the right products for my little one in the U.S., I decided to bring German-style sleep bags here. So I quit my job in consulting to try my luck in the apparel industry. Read more>>

Peter Cafaro | Lifestyle and Wedding Photographer

In one short sentence: It’s encoded in my DNA. From a very early age, I was heavily influenced by family members that were entrepreneurs. My grandfather on my mother’s side uprooted his family from Chicago to move to California to pursue his passion for farming and wine. The once small winery he started in the 70s, is now a renowned wine brand. On my father’s side, my great-grandmother and grandfather started many businesses and ventures, which led to their great success. This paved the path to my father starting his own consulting business and then later, his wine brand, Cafaro Cellars. Read more>>

Katie Greco | Graphic Designer & Artist

I never thought I would start my own business, I was usually a follower, not a leader. In college, I minored in Studio Art because I’ve always loved art – it was my comfort zone. I thought I had to get a regular corporate job like everyone else as I never knew how to pursue art professionally. I took a few graphic design classes towards the end of my college years and fell in love. That was the first time I thought to myself, this could be a career for me, but I discovered it too late. I also had a drawing class that made me realize how much I loved charcoal and drawing. I continued to think these would just be hobbies moving forward. Read more>>

Sandra Barranco | Dance Studio Owner

I always wanted to have complete control of my time. When I was an employee, I struggled with the concept of having to ask permission as an adult to take time off etc. It was important to me to create a career that allowed me to be able to maintain a proper balance between being a mother, wife and studio owner. After these 11 plus years, I am so glad to say I have made the right choices to reach my goal. Nothing is more rewarding. Read more>>

Matt Iaconis | Owner and Winemaker of Brick & Mortar, Delta Wines

My goal in starting brick & mortar was to showcase California through our lens. Alexis and I love bright and textured wines that are lower in alcohol so that is what we produce. Back in 2011, this style of wine was less common than it is today and even back then, we knew that we weren’t the only people that preferred a fresher take on Napa Valley, a fresher take on California wine. Read more>>

Joeanna Clark | Waist Beader

I started my business as a hobby. I love the fact that something as small as a waist bead can make someone so happy, even if for one moment. I wanted to reach people outside of my circle, so I started a little backwards by starting an online store. I had no idea what I was doing. That is when I knew I needed help. I hired an assistant, and she has set things straight and kept me on my toes. Hard work definitely pays off. I never thought it would be this big. Read more>>