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.

Misha’el Elie | Creator & Owner

Starting in production I got married and had my first child. While pregnant I noticed that mothers did not have a voice at all. I was pregnant and a friend of mine was also pregnant. We both worked on the same show. We had no breakdown of our rights or future employment guarantee when or if we were to return. Looking at the entertainment industry, the hours, the firings while pregnant are all things that moms needed to be protected from. Adjustments were needed and I wanted to be the one to help feel the void in something that was not considered. Read more>>

Cecile Michaelis | Co-Founder & Executive Director

Losing our daughter, Noah, was the single most traumatic thing we had ever been through. It was our worst nightmare come to life. In the year following her passing from congenital heart disease, my husband and I knew we needed to fill the void consuming our lives. Despite all of her hardships living with CHD for 13 years, she managed to bring smiles to hundreds of families in the hospital with care packages and advocate for better CHD legislation in DC. She was able to convey a presence that spoke volumes about kindness and a genuine regard for others despite her own struggles. We knew her work and energy needed to continue on, hence Live Like Noah Foundation was born. We felt the only way to continue moving forward was to find purpose in our loss. By helping others it would ease our pain. Read more>>

Brittani Strong | CEO

My thought process behind starting my own business was not one I would recommend now having been in business over 5 years! I started my business on impulse, I started my business because I fell in love with doing eyelashes but I had no experience in owning a business! I was freshly out of high school. Do I regret it? Absolutely not! But my thought process was not “thought out” very well. I made an excellent income by doing lashes from home, then I went to work somewhere and in my town eyelashes were such a new service, people weren’t as excited to let an 18 year old do a new service near eyes in their salons/spas. Read more>>

Jeannina Jimenez | Youtuber & Life coach

I always knew since I was a child that I wanted to have my own business. As I grew older I got caught up in the fear of owning a business. I became a mother at the age of 15 and my life took a turn . I worked really hard to get into the University that I had always wanted . I got into the social work program. I felt that I was missing something. I had a void within me. When I was a student in Calstate LA my husband had to go out of the country to have his immigration interview. I had received the news that his process was gonna take longer than expected. In that moment of uncertainty I decided to leave school and start my business. I was forced to face my fear.I started my YouTube channel. At this point I had two beautiful boys and I didn’t know how I was gonna make it work, I took the leap. Read more>>

Jahkil Jackson | Social Entrepreneur & Youth Actividst

I did not realize that I would be starting a business. I was 5 when the thought entered my mind to figure out how to help homeless people. I was 8 when my family helped me actually start the organization. The thought came from being so young (5) and seeing the homeless and not understanding why they were out there, how come they had to sleep on the streets in dirt and wet/cold Chicago weather. So I guess my thought process was what can I do at my young age to make a difference. Read more>>

Grasan Kingsberry | Interdisciplinary Artist, Activist, Teacher & Cofounder

I immediately jumped into a professional career as a performer when I graduated from college. Gratefully and God-willingly, I was fortunate to work quite steadily for the years that followed. Soon after I moved to Los Angeles after spending nearly my entire adult life in New York City, work showed up very differently and infrequently, and I realized I could not wait for opportunities. As funds were getting low, I figured I needed to be resourceful and find ways to create opportunities of work for myself. So the idea behind starting our own business was to create/build the dream for ourselves, our way. Thankfully, we had some amazing humans who believed in our vision and helped us create our dream, which was to create an independent gender-neutral streetwear brand. Read more>>

Kelly Zeller | Stationery Designer & Calligrapher

Before my kids were born, I was a high school biology teacher and I absolutely loved exercising my creativity to come up with lessons that were engaging for my students. Once I left the classroom to be a mom, I realized I missed flexing my creative muscles (finger paints and Play-doh weren’t cutting it, haha). I found brush calligraphy while scrolling Instagram during my daughter’s middle-of-the-night feedings and gave it a try. After A LOT of practice, I started teaching myself pointed pen calligraphy and loved everything about it! I ended up designing my sister’s wedding invitations and doing all of the signage and calligraphy for her big day, and it was just so much fun! Read more>>

Brad Ungar | Founder

Starting SaveOnCannabis.com what I recognized coming from co-creating an online delivery service previously was that eCommerce was an inevitable aspect of the cannabis industry and an important aspect of the normalization. In an ever growing on-demand world where everything from groceries to car services are ordered through your app, the emergence of the legal recreational cannabis market was happening in parallel. The standard shopping experience for the price conscious individual online now naturally incorporates searching for coupons and deals. Cannabis in all forms is a higher cost item in a competitive market, so my thought was that more and more brands would have a need to showcase discounts and consumers would actively be looking for these deals. Read more>>

Ligia Wills | Yoga Instructor, Certified Health Coach & Psychology Student

I struggled with recurring panic attacks growing up. I also developed a binge eating disorder after my Mother passed away when I was only twelve. With some mentoring and life tools I was able to overcome those life obstacles. I knew that If I could overcome those struggles other’s could too. Read more>>

Amanda Rome West | TV/Film Producer & Rapper

The thought process behind starting my own businesses has always been to BE UNIQUE and establish a large online presence. I run multiple businesses, from my music career to my comedian/acting dabbling to my creating TV/film/music video productions to running social media channels to pumping out content/podcasts/photographs , and more- I am a ball of energy, which is how I can do it all. I have a passion for creativity and that’s ultimately what all of my business ventures have in common. However, my work has little in common with that of many others these days: it is LOUD, PROUD, and UNAPOLOGETIC! In a world of so many copies, why not be an original? I have incorporated my ADHD, artistic eye, and work ethic into all of my various businesses by exploring and often combining different elements into each medium. Read more>>

Taunya Gren | Producer, Actor & Director

I started life as an actor. Seriously, I was stealing my mothers Shakespeare comic books at the age of three and acting out all the roles in my closet. After years of theater in Utah, California, Ireland and more, I made the transition to film and television acting which fit my style better. But after time I found myself becoming very dissatisfied with the kinds of projects and roles out there for women, particularly older women. So, during a divorce and a job change I really pondered and decided that the best way to take control of the roles and films I was part of was to begin producing them. One of my favorite quotes is “No man has more power than the one who speaks to you for two hours alone in the dark.” Well, this woman is trying to utilize that power (the power of film and media) to build rather than destroy and to grant opportunity rather than steal it away. Read more>>

Gio Bertuccelli | Creative Producer

For me being in business on my own has been a natural evolution from what I experienced growing up. We immigrated to this country to start a new life and a new business. My father my brother and I Started Studio3 in New Orleans back in 1982, I was 18, a company providing creative services for the special event industry through our culture of “Carnevale” (Mardi Gras) in Viareggio Italy. Going forward it was easy to see the advantages of being an intrapreneur as an artist. The culture that permeated in my life showed me clearly the advantages of being and independent artist with an understanding of business. As a creative entity Independence is not only freedom but an essential dynamic in order to provide the best service for a client. Read more>>

Sayuri Tsuchitani | Head Spa Specialist

I came to Beverly Hills in 2016 after living in many cities including NY, Hawaii, London, Shanghai and more. I still carry my Japanese Omotenashi service which represents the act of providing detailed service in a variety of ways to allow guests to spend a relaxing and memorable time by putting customers first. I wanted to attract people who has same value with me and becomes friends. Read more>>

Monika Casey | Actress, Producer & Comic

I want to help actors who are new to LA and the “Biz”. Unless you grew up in LA and come from a showbiz family, it can take years to find your way. Most people move here and sort of float around for a couple years before they find an agent or manager. My goal is to expedite that process by sharing tips and tools I’ve learned to help inspire and motivate actors. Read more>>

Melissa Mel | Designer, Creative & Entrepreneur

For the past year & a half I’ve been shouting out, showing love to & supporting women & minority owned small businesses on Instagram. This was born out of inspiration from so many entrepreneurs I’d met & discovered since moving to LA, as well as an effort to be more conscious with my own spending & who that spending supports. Eventually, my IG highlights maxed out & I started to think how else I could be of service to the community while flexing my own design & entrepreneurial skills beyond social media. Can I propel this mission to make it easier for people to shop small & minority? Can I eliminate some of the barriers I’d come up against myself, like the amount of time spent searching for & researching small brands? Read more>>

Carly Stone | Videographer

I had a lot of creative passions growing up such as composing music, filmmaking and drawing and I knew that I wanted to take one of these passions and make a career out of it! I poured a lot of hours into these art forms as a kid and I’m grateful that being homeschooled granted me the time and space to do that. I’ve always known that I didn’t want to work a desk job 9-5 working for someone else and building someone else’s dream. That way of working is a fit for some people but I knew that that wouldn’t work for me. I wanted to be my own boss, have freedom and flexibility, be able to express myself creatively, collaborate with like-minded people and work for brands and individuals I believe in. So having my own business naturally came to be! Read more>>

Karen Kice | Fashion Designer

I always wanted to own my own business but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do yet. Sewing started as a hobby 6 years ago that evolved into my full time business today. Read more>>

Sean McElwee | Reality Star, Entrepreneur & Keynote Speaker

I was on the tv show Born This Way and said a lot of funny things. Then I wrote a keynote speech and said “It Could Happen” and “That’s What Fair Can Do,” alot in the speech and I decided it would be fun to put those things on T-Shirts. Read more>>

Jillian Hertzman | Wardrobe Consultant & Designer

Honestly, the initial reason was to get out of the job I was working in. It was a great job on paper – I worked in consumer insights as a qualitative research director. This meant I was conducting research with Gen Y and Gen Z through online platforms and in person. I was able to ask all sorts of interesting questions, and dig into topics that were interesting and relevant, to help brands better understand and meet the needs of their young customers. BUT, in reality, it was a LOT of work. I wasn’t saving lives, but the workload was crazy, the deadlines were always yesterday, and our team was never fully staffed. I figured that working for myself, I’d be able to ditch the unrealistic timelines, workloads, ways of working, and ridiculous office politics, and start doing things my way. Read more>>

Jessica Orellana | Functional Skincare Specialist

The goal I set with starting my own business was to be completely transparent, genuine and authentic as a business and a professional and for clients to be able to not only feel that but see it as well. I believe that the world needs more of that. Read more>>