Many books on startups and business talk about how there are right and wrong reasons for starting a business. So, we asked a handful of successful founders about their reasons and the thought-process behind starting their business.

Ken Crossland | Artist & Business Owner

I credit the actual starting of our business to reading So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. The book totally floored me. It broke away the notion that business has to be some grand idea in order to get going. Instead, it can be something as simple as placing a small bet on a particular skill you’re good at. So I took the advice of the book and decided to sell some of my illustrations of my cats on a handful of greeting cards. The reception was really strong, and it’s led me to draw over a hundred more pieces for the various stationey and gifts we make. Without the permission to start really small with a skill I was super comfortable with, I’m not sure I would’ve taken the plunge. The book was a life-changer. Read more>>

shieva ghofrany , md AND jenny hayes edwards | OBGYN and integrative nutrition health coach Co-creators Tribe Called V

We had decided (co-creators of Tribe Called V Jenny Hayes Edwards and Dr Shieva Ghofrany) that there is a huge void in knowledge for people who identify as female or have female anatomy with regard to knowledge of their gynecological bodies and health. And this lack of knowledge (through no fault of their own!) was a result of a damaged educational and medical system which doesn’t account for BASIC information which THEN leads to increased anxiety due misinformation. Read more>>

Miguel Djontu | Photographer

For me this company started as a hobby that I enjoyed. I later realized that I have a gift. Not photography itself but the ability to bring joy, confidence and happiness out of people. The best way to honor the gifts God gave me is to serve his people using it so I turned it into a business for that main reason. The name MESUS stands for Miguel and Jesus since I’m partnering with him along this journey. Read more>>

Amira Fruits | Designer, Business Owner & Teacher

Starting my own business was all about building and sustaining a brand that speaks volumes to my life and my accomplishments without me even being in the room. Honestly, I’ve always had a passion for fashion, travel, and teaching others, while also being able to inspire young, Black women creatives like myself. I developed the works of Grand Girl during my first year of graduate school at the University of California-Irvine in 2019. While living in Irvine, California I was teaching African-American studies to undergraduate students prior to receiving my Master’s degree in Culture & Theory from the university. Although I was satisfied teaching, I was living in a huge melting pot swallowed by inspiration. The Los Angeles and Inglewood areas provided me with great motivation to plant seeds on the Westcoast. Read more>>

SHERI LONG | Owner and CEO

After having been in education for close to twenty-five years, I spent the last three and a half years working with at risk young adults out of the classroom. What I soon came to realize is that many of these young people are former foster youth that had aged out of the foster youth system at age 18 with little to no support once they are on their own. Without the parental guidance and support that many simply take for granted in regard to employment, finances, housing and basic needs, these young adults are often lost and left to their own devices. While Sugar and Spice began as a side hustle, it soon turned into a full time endeavor in the hopes of working with these young people. Read more>>

Rekha Menon | Contemporary Visual Artist

After working in the corporate scene for more than a decade, I took the plunge to pursue my true passion…to create art that inspires! It required tremendous research, strategizing and planning, topped with a whole lot of courage, resilience and perseverance to become a full-time contemporary visual artist & ARTtrepreneur! Identifying the right market and its needs especially for my art business (e.g. workshops, merchandising, commission works, design and content writing) was key. However, I promised myself that my fine art works will grow organically with no pressure as it takes time to discover and grow into one’s own art style. Read more>>

Mackenzie Dudzik | Content Creator; Host; Founder, Social by Mack

If I’ve grateful for the pandemic for any reason, it’s for pushing me to start my own business! Pre-COVID, I was just helping a few local businesses here in LA with their social media here and there. But during the pandemic, I saw a need for social media — it’s the way we were all communicating! Suddenly my clients were referring their friends and colleagues, and Social by Mack was (officially) born! So the thought process was more out of a need for it. I’m lucky to say that my business is referral-only at this time! Read more>>

Josh Blanaru | introducing GUNS R BLAZIN

Pick a phrase + get it on a shirt! GUNS R BLAZIN launched with a clear intention to inspire others while looking good in the process. The idea of putting a custom phrase on a t-shirt once ruled the 80’s shopping mall scene. GRB upgrades this vibe and matches an extra sexy t-shirt template, with a phrase of your choice from volumes of album art menus. There are over 100 phrase options to choose from, ranging from uplifting to borderline bonkers, so get ready to laugh while being inspired at the same time. Choosing a phrase is a lot of fun and these tees make great gifts! You can also request a personalized phrase by reaching out via email (gunsrblazin@outlook.com), or sending a direct message on Instagram (@gunsrblazin). Read more>>

Aaron Surman | Pastry chef, Bakery owner

I was baking for 20 years for others- In fine dining restraunts- cafes- I thought it was time to see if all my training was absorbed well enough to build my own baking brand. Read more>>

Tracy Lopez | Owner of Active 7 Fitness

I wanted to create a fun place where everyone would come work out and feel loved and accepted. A place with an environment and culture that highlighted other instructors and their talents while supporting and uplifting other small businesses in the area. Read more>>

Gurminder Banga | Founder & CEO

5 years ago I felt burnt out from my photography career as I felt I wasn’t doing much to be of service to others or creating an impact that mattered. I went on a personal passion project in India to document stories and moments of locals. I felt if I were to do a project that I love, it’ll help spark the creativity that I knew lived deep within. As I walked the streets & slums of Bangalore I met beautiful people with powerful stories. I felt this need to capture who they are in a soulful portrait, so that is exactly what I did! I felt after a very long time I was able to use my creativity in new ways and share them with those who have never been in front of a camera before. Read more>>

Maclaine West | Founder

How many of you have come home after a night out thinking to yourself, “Wow, I met so many interesting and creative people at that party.” In today’s world, we lack the feeling of being seen, heard or connected to others. Supper has always been the most important part of the day in my family. We sit down around the table, disconnect from the world and work, and come together to share a meal, healthy conversation and one another’s company. Food brings people together, but I often find that many do not sit down, detached from their phones to spend time with one another. Supper is not valued as much as I believe it should be. We have created a society where fast is better, convenience is preferred and vulnerability is a weakness. In today’s world I believe hosting and cooking should be celebrated. Read more>>

Kelly Meacham | Owner and Founder

I created Slay Swimwear because whenever I go on vacation I always love to buy a swimsuit that is unique, preferably one with rhinestones ( if I can find one). But every time I find a swimsuit with rhinestones it is $250+. Sometimes just the top or bottom could be $250. *sigh*. As a kid in college or living in a big city paying big city rent that is a lot of money on top of the vacation itself. I wanted to create a brand that was not only sexy and flashy, but most importantly affordable with great customer service. Read more>>

Gyr8 | Artist and entrepreneurs

We just thought the greatest people in the world have something uncommon working for them. A dream , so we had to think of how to work on getting our dreams becoming reality and that’s how we started our journey Read more>>

Gina Cesario | Wine Shop Owner

I had been a wine buyer and bar manager for four years. I started doing wine pairing dinners from the start and they became very popular. My customers were interested in the wine and I began to sell it directly to them after each wine dinner. My email list grew and after four years building a little following, I realized we need a local wine shop where people can come and taste and ask questions. There are big chain wine shops, but even for me they are intimidating. So, I saw the need and began to prepare to open a retail shop with weekend tastings. It has been extremely well received and even during the difficult times of being a small business owner, I lean on my original concept of bringing wine to the people. Helping them feel like wine knowledge is attainable and making them feel welcome. Read more>>

Nargis Alimi | Master Brow Artist & Instructor.

I grew up with parents who always had there own business. Watching them I learned how important it was to build your own empire and set goals to reach success. Read more>>

Shaakira Haywood Stewart | Licensed Psychologist & Consultant

I didn’t know I wanted to own my own business in the very beginning. I thought I wanted to go into academia to teach and do research. What I learned along the way was that I have everything within me to do what I want to do. Read more>>

Lauren Imparato | Co-Founder & CEO, The Association

All the businesses I have founded have started with one thing – noticing a problem that no one was solving. From there I usually jump into market research to confirm that there is not a solution akin to the one I have in mind and to better understand the potential customer base. After that, it’s time to go! Read more>>

Jenn Simoni | Founder, The Sunshinery

When I think about how I became the owner of The Sunshinery, I think … What took so long? I had thought about owning my own retail space for decades – literally decades. But I had wanted to do it right. I wanted everything lined up. Everything perfect. I wanted it better than perfect. That was my first mistake. For years I worked hard at my career in creative marketing. While on the side I filled up a Google drive’s worth of shop plans, estimated financial spreadsheets, and brand inspiration. I gave myself different goals to achieve in order to open the shop at just the right time. Read more>>

Krista Demcher | Sales Strategist, Speaker + Coach

All great businesses solve a problem for their clients, so when I sought out to do my own thing that thought became my sole driver. My first decade in entrepreneurship taught me that sales skills were the differentiating factor between those who “made it” and those who didn’t, yet there wasn’t much on the market that focused on teaching these. I knew this was the gap in the market that I could easily fill, so I got to work. I spent close to 18 months drawing upon my experience in counseling coupled with the coaching skills I learned from leading a multi-million dollar sales team and created something that I thought could bridge this gap. Read more>>

Browniesha Blackman | Transformation Coach

The process behind starting my business is because I wanted to help people. I wanted to be the person I once needed Read more>>

Brianna Saunders | Founder of BARE & Creative Professional

Bare was created with women and wellness at the heart of the brand. When creating Bare I knew that there was a lack of organic self-care at the intersection of luxury and wellness. There are countless women who seek safe , low chemical, luxury skin care alternatives. The beauty industry is extremely vast but I wanted to create offerings that filled a part of the market that is rarely considered. Read more>>

Stacy Reed | Marketing Strategist & Facebook Ads Expert

Over the years, I’ve seen many entrepreneurs struggle with growing their businesses. When I graduated college, I realized that in order to get the jobs I wanted I needed one thing I didn’t really have…experience. I decided to start freelancing, in addition to working full-time, to help small businesses understand how to use marketing to grow. Read more>>

Sofia Toufa and Natalie Brede | Founders of BADBITCHTEA

As a female-owned and operated label, “badbitchtea.” celebrates and advocates for women, aiming to empower and inspire through our brand and platforms. At the core, our message is simple: Remember who you are — you’re a bad bitch. With the shared vision of disrupting the existing market with a premium, straightforward product that elevates the at-home tea experience, we designed a full range of holistic blends from organic, ethically sourced botanicals and spices from gardens across Thailand, Eastern China, Hunan, Peru, Quebec, Egypt, and Japan. Read more>>

Ivan Valdovinos | Doctoral Student, Educator & Academic Content Creator

I started my brand because I wanted to increase access to graduate school education for marginalized and underrepresented students particularly Latina/o/x students. According to the Education Trust, only 5% of Latina/o/x adults have attained a graduate level degree. As a first-generation, low-income Latino male from rural Washington State, I faced many challenges and barriers accessing graduate school education. Due to my first-generation college student status, I did not know what graduate school was until my third year at university. Through participation in federally-funded college access programs that supported students like me, I was able to learn about Master and PhD programs and how to leverage those degrees to bring about long-lasting intergenerational change via research, policy, and practice. Read more>>

williams (Bytunde) Peters | Photographer, Videographer and Creative director

I always wanted to shoot and never thought about making money or going full time with it until I was being requested a lot by people that loved my eye. I then decided to quit my full time job December 2019 Read more>>

Amy Liu | Maker, Creator, Owner of Kyler Handcrafts and Gifts

When we started thinking about creating a small business in 2019, we wanted to create a company that represents all the good aspects of our suburban life in SoCal and at the same time combine the individual strength of its two owners. I am a graphic/interior designer and construction manager while my husband Jeff is in the biotech industry. Kyler Handcrafts and Gifts really combines my creativity and skills in design with Jeff’s experience in sales and marketing. We want to introduce a brand that brings high quality, handmade goods to the public and demonstrate all the details and inspirations that goes into every product. Read more>>

Sean Greenspan | Entrepreneur & Pseudo Philosopher

I wanted to take my business skills (marketing) and affect mission-driven businesses and relate to fitness, wellness, and environmental impact. So, we decide to help expand the impact of mission driven companies by starting a wellness focus digital marketing agency. Read more>>

Melinda Farina | The Beauty The Beauty Broker / Founder of Beauty Brokers Inc.

I don’t think I would have started my own business if I didn’t see an absolute need for this service. The medical aesthetics industry was lacking patient advocacy, education and guidance. I came up with a solution to help clients navigate the plethora of information and images thrown at them. It stuck. With the rise of social media, undesirable results have become a huge issue. Many surgeons are not assuming responsibility for their mishaps. It was important for a professional to come along and help patient find solutions. Whether it’s after a surgery or helping a patient find the right surgeon. Our service is multi faceted and focuses on each individual’s needs from start to finish. Read more>>

Isabel Murphy | Writer & Creative Coach

I started the Bedford Creative Collective (BCC) because it’s the group I needed when I began writing full time: we do bi-monthly meetings of creative cohorts based in New York and LA, supplemented by alternating weeks of individual creative/ life coaching. Before I became a writer I worked as a domestic violence prosecutor and during those years I lost the thread of my essential self. I was running on somebody else’s hamster wheel, and it was wobbly as hell. Read more>>