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.

Julia Gomelsky | Artist

Being a web/graphic designer by trade and an artist by nature, I’m always inspired to create. After a trip to Ojai in 2016 with my sister, I was inspired to start making custom dreamcatchers. The pieces I create are quite different than the typical ones you see because my interpretation of them is to help catch your dreams, hopes and wishes (rather than actual dreams or keeping nightmares away). I make dreamcatchers as unique as the buyer with gemstones such as lapis lazuli, rose quartz, amazonite and more that I source from Tucson, AZ. When they’re done, the final step is to sage and set each one with intentions. Read more>>

Cory Keen | Skateboarder & Business Owner

Not a whole lot really! Just kind of went for it haha I always knew in the back of my mind that I’d end up doing my own thing (hopefully in the vein of skateboarding) but just never knew what exactly it would be. Through some trial and error and saying yes to anything and everything thrown my way in my early twenties, somehow building skateboard ramps for a living stuck and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Read more>>

Jenn Chung | Founder & CEO

I had the unique opportunity of seeing my mother start her own skincare company when I was a teenager. My family immigrated from Vietnam to Minnesota when I was about a little under one year old. As far as I could remember, my mother was always business-minded and a total badass. She saw that owning her own business meant having control over her financials and her family. In the early 2000’s, our tiny family made the trek from Minnesota to California where my mother would pursue different career paths to take care of her family. It was by chance that she developed a passion for skincare and started her own brand, Forever Beaumore. Since 2007, I witnessed my mother start her own business, build a cult following among our Vietnamese American community, and develop beauty solutions that transformed the way her customers used skincare. Read more>> 

Allison McNamara | Founder & CEO

I have always been a self starter. After working for a larger media company for six years, I went off and started my own little business AMcNamara Inc, which I still to this day run all of my work as an influencer, content creator, host and writer through. This gave me my first taste of working for myself and operating my own business on my own. I’ve always wanted to own a beauty line, and after identifying a white space in the market, took the plunge and launched MARA. My line is full of clean, efficacious, algae-infused skincare and we’re now sold domestically at Credo Beauty, The Detox Market and Blue Mercury and globally at Cult Beauty. We formulate and launch products at a slow pace, “slow beauty” so we’ve dubbed it–we put so much energy and thought into each product and aim to simplify your routine, not make it more complicated. At the core of the brand I always ask myself, does this help our customer #SeatheGlow? And if not, then it’s not a fit for us. Read more>>

Cal Iseminger | CEO


I never set out to start my business or thought of myself as an entrepreneur, but 12 years later here I am running the biggest game night company in the country. I started out hosting game nights for my friends simply out of my love and passion of game nights and hosting fun events. I hosted a game night for a friend of mine who happened to be a director and had some celebrity friends. They attended this game night and hired me within weeks to do their parties. Within a few months I had my first clients and half of them were celebrities so I guess you could say I was very lucky. Read more>>

Brianna Lipovsky | Founder & Creative Director

Honestly, it was a little bit of everything. Most importantly, I was craving independence and freedom of thought, mind and time. I always had a creative itch, but I never knew how it would manifest. Fragrance and brand building are the perfect medium for me to engage my creativity. With my past experience in building other brands I found space for a luxury brand that was purpose-driven, actively engaging with community, like many of the D2C brands, however ensuring that the products we put forth are the utmost of quality and craftsmanship. Bringing the utmost of luxury back, but in a modern way and utilizing the macro and micro shifts I was noticing in society. Read more>>

Shawn Wehan | Co-Founder & CEO

At first, I wasn’t setting out to start a business. My original thought was simply a question: we have social websites, we have business websites, but why isn’t there a website that speaks to my philanthropic interests and that will help me connect with my local community? Once I identified this perceived need in the market, I started talking to my co-founders about what a solution could look like and after presenting that vision to the contacts I had in the nonprofit sector and they confirmed that it was a solution for which they would be happy to pay, we decided that we should build it. We understood that, if all the verticals were properly built, the idea could be an extremely profitable business. Read more>>

Shira Scott Astrof | CEO & Founder

I started rescuing animals from a very young age and was always volunteering at various rescues, shelters and sanctuaries first in New York and then in L.A once I moved here at the age of 17. I worked with some fearless and inspiring leaders in the animal welfare community and learned so much about what needed to be done. While volunteering and partnering up with these incredible groups, I had so many visions and new goals forming that I decided the only way to really accomplish it all, was to start my own organization. I named my company, The Animal Rescue Mission, because it is my MISSION in life to change the world for animals. And in order to accomplish this, there are ongoing “missions” within my organization. I aligned myself with some amazingly hard working partners and volunteers. Read more>>

Terry Chiu | Owner

Starting Game Haus was a pretty organic process. We’d been involved in the local board game scene for some time, running a successful meetup that was drawing fifty to sixty gamers at a time. One thing that we were always on the lookout for was a good venue; most restaurants do not love having a large group occupy their space for six to ten hours at a time, so it was always a challenge. But our members would often tell us that they really enjoyed the combination of a restaurant and gaming space. We’d heard that there was a hybrid “board game cafe” concept in places like Toronto and some Asian countries. We’d hoped to find such a place in SoCal, but no one had done it yet. That was the main impetus behind starting Game Haus. Read more>>

Galeazzo and Sante Bentivoglio | Two brothers who own Bay Street Boards

Our main objective starting our shop was to try to bring back the special feeling of a REAL small, local, core surf and skate shop. Santa Monica has a long history in both surf and skate – and there was a time when it considered a mecca, with small shops flourishing all over town. Unfortunately over the last few decades, corporations took over both industries and slowly but surely all the small shops and companies shut down. We realized that there was suddenly a big hole in our beloved surf and skate scene and we decided that the city still needed a small shop that valued the community and partnered with local shapers, clothing brands, artists, etc instead of big corporations. Read more>>

Debra Broz | Artist & Ceramics Restorer

I never really anticipated that I would run a business. Like many people who go to art school, I just assumed I would go to grad school then teach, but that’s not what ended up happening. I started looking into MFA programs, but I didn’t feel like my style of work fit in, and I worried about accruing debt. When I moved to Austin in 2005, I had a lucky break and met the person that taught me ceramics restoration. He ran his own business, and the structure of it was pretty casual. By that I mean it was just him and I—answering calls, meeting clients and doing the work. Previous to that I’d never really thought about business as a one-person venture, but this made me realize it was possible. Starting my own ceramics restoration business has given me a reliable source of income where I mostly love the work and am in control of my schedule. Read more>>

José Bañuelos | Small Business Restaurant Owner

As a naturalized citizen originally from Mexico, I always dreamed about opening my own restaurant. I was raised in a family that loved cooking and eating traditional Zacatecas-style Mexican food. My passion for cooking came from helping, watching, and learning my mother and grandmother. When I first started in the restaurant industry I worked as a prep cook for Marie Calendar’s. I eventually became a cook, then an assistant manager, and later a general manager. I took a short break from the restaurant industry and then came back as an assistant manager for Mimi’s Cafe. There I became a general manager and then a managing partner. After 30 years of working for corporations I decided to open my own restaurant, Urbano Mexican Kitchen. Urbano is located in Pasadena, California and we are known for our traditional homemade Mexican dishes created with high-quality ingredients. I strive to create fresh Mexican food and to provide an unforgettable dining experience. Read more>>

Destiny Hagood | Owner & Founder

When I started YDE, I started the company a little out of frustration. I say this because, during my transition to natural hair, I couldn’t really find the help I craved on what to do, how to do or what to use on my natural coily hair. With the hours of research I conducted, I didn’t come out of it satisfied. I still struggled on what to do or even how to find out what my hair type was. From that point on, I had lots of ideas and thoughts come and go during this process of ‘finding my hair.’ The main idea that struck a nerve, make your own hair products. This way you can do various experiments, trial and error, on what works on your hair. Once I did this, it started to become clear when others around me offered to buy my hair products. From then on, YDE became a thing and slowly but surely I started to expand my skill set and the business was formed. Read more>>

Trenton Sinclair | Co-Founder

Starting our own business was a passion of both my partner Eddie and I before we met. We both love product, and growing up in Southern California (Eddie in LA and I in San Diego), we had exposure to a lot of brands in the surf/skate/streetwear industry. We met working for a brand in Action Sports, and became close friends. We connected on some very similar aesthetics of what we liked, and would occasionally discuss what we thought would be good ideas for a business. Working for a brand, you get hyper focused on a few aspects of the business, so to be able to touch all categories of the business – from design to social media to distribution, its been such an awesome learning experience. Eventually we got more and more detailed about specific opportunities till a few stuck and we refined over time. I was on the east coast for the last few years, so coming back gave us the right opportunity to deep-dive into our brand and dedicate time and resources into launch. Read more>>

Carl Choi | Entrepreneur & Creative Executive

I grew up with an entrepreneur mother who worked from home selling used pianos while raising my brother and me so the lifestyle of the hustle was inherited to both of us via osmosis. Since it was already in the vision for my future career to be an entrepreneur, the thought process of starting my own business was a lot less thinking but a lot more doing. Every job I took up from being a server at a retail food chain to a bank teller taught me to watch closely as to how established organizations ran their shops. From studying their SOP’s, training material, to the everyday routines of opening and closing shop, I soaked it all in with the intention to do it for myself one day. It was obviously very different when you’re applying processes learned from a range of disciplines to your own, but it is the trial and error that helped me refine what works best for my businesses over the years. Read more>>

Zimar Manigault | Business Owner, Musical Artist & Gamer

My thought process was kind of automatic at this point. I have been an entrepreneur for most of my adult life. From starting an indie record label (Abstrakt Reality Records) back in the 90’s to trying my hand at starting a trucking (Big Rigs) company in 2003 to real estate as an investor in 2008. This time was a bit different as I’m getting older I had to start to minimize my risks and look to starting a business that had a good consumer base and something that I loved doing. Read more>>

Jordanna Oslac | Jewelry Co-Founder

Both my parents are very entrepreneurial and at a young age I knew I wanted to start my own business. After attending business school I started work at a jewelry company, but quickly realized I wanted to be my own boss. My mom and I always talked about starting our own company. A few years ago we went on a trip together to India to volunteer with children where we ended up meeting some amazing jewelers and our idea of Jordan Road Jewelry was born. Read more>>

John Erigo | Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Enthusiast

Insanity?! LOL! I have a long history in the World of Heavy Rock Music dating back to 1981. There were no cell phones, no internet, no MTV. So I learned the hard way, using word of mouth and old school marketing tactics to grow what I was doing then. That same attitude still gets used today, but through different methods to a much wider audience. Starting a heavy metal/hard rock “news” website 2 years ago (2018) was kind of crazy because of SO many well established ones already existed. I just thought I could do it as good, or better so here I am talking to YOU about it!!!! Read more>>

Daniel Zivetz | PC & Network Support Technician

I became interested in computers and networks about 20 yrs ago and bought my first PC. It was a simple Dell. I became interested in how it worked and how to fix issues that came up. There was a local computer repair shop I found where I took my Dell to several times. I became more interested in how things worked by observing the techs at the shop and asking questions. I found out that I could earn a cerificate in how Windows worked so I enrolled in a local school to learn and get the degree. I took out a student loan and spent a good 3-4 years attending classes and preparing for the Microsoft cerification exams. I passed some of the exams and earned a Comp Tia A+ certificate and a Microsoft Certified Professional certificate. The owner of the school recognized my skill and understanding of the material and sent me to some of his friends who were having PC issues. That was the start of my business. I decided to go for it on my own with my own PC and network business and thus West LA Computer Expert was created! Read more>>

Jordan Hanson | Owner, Creative Director, Energy Healer & Holistic Hair Colorist

I started my own business as a response to a combination of re-entering the workforce after a divorce and the Covid shutdowns coming directly on the heels of that big life change. Instead of finding a hair salon to work in, I decided to open my own salon suite, but still couldn’t operate for most of this year. Because of this, I had to pivot. I started to incorporate my spiritual practice into my professional skill set and created Mystic Mane Co., a holistic hair salon that is eco-friendly and organic and utilizes low toxic color. I also started making my crystal energy healing hair accessories as part of this vision. Read more>>