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.

Angie Rodriguez | Candle Maker

Angel City Aroma has been an adventure to say the least. I’ve gone outside my comfort zone and challenged myself in so many ways. When you develop something from the ground-up while having the pressures of kids, sports, household chores, it can be hard to juggle. There were times I wanted to quit the creation process. Not quitting was difficult. I feel I became a stronger person going through these challenges. I have an appreciation for the hustle of business start-ups. The love of a great product makes the struggle worthwhile. Read more>>

Tiera Turner | Brand Specialist

My thought process behind starting my own business was simple; I don’t like working for “the man”. I have always been a hard worker, but bending over backwards, going above and beyond, for years at a time, to make another human rich was never my motive. I wanted to create lanes of legacy wealth for my children to have. I wanted to be one call aways from my children. Creating my business was just creative the life I wanted to have. Read more>>

Giovanni Labadessa | Film Producer & Co-Founder of NòtStream & Nòt Film Fest

When we started thinking about Nòtstream we had one thing pretty clear in our mind: for independent filmmakers to succeed in finding an audience in this new streaming era something had to change. I was fortunate enough to have my first film distributed it and when it ended up on a major streaming platform I was very excited. I believed, at the time, that being able to reach out to an audience of millions was the greatest opportunity my film could have. Sadly the film ended up just being lost in this all-you-can-eat style film library and for two years that was it. I first came to Hollywood in 2005 from Italy and I still remember walking into the Blockbuster on Sunset Blvd, looking at DVDs cover, searching for new films. Ultimately, I would always end up by the staff pick shelves asking for suggestions to the super cute and knowledgeable girl working at the counter. Read more>>

Armin Nasseri | American Filmmaker & Actor

When I started Polar Underworld Productions, I didn’t want to form a production company for creative control only. I wanted to give a voice for the voiceless. I worked on several film projects in the past, where there was diversity behind the camera, but no inclusion in front of the camera. I made it an ultimate goal as a filmmaker to create a diverse, inclusive community both front of the camera and behind the camera. After I graduated from film school, I wrote and directed my short film “Seeking Valentina.” Seeking Valentina is a psychological thriller that has received several awards and nominations. Following up on the success of Seeking Valentina, I co-produced and directed the award-winning, horror comedy short film “The Carting Call.” Both short films under my production company, featured a gender-balanced cast as well as casting first generation Iranian-Americans in non-stereotypical leading roles. Read more>>

Tasleem Lee | Fashion Designer and Artist

I started my own business as a creative outlet. I went to college for fashion design and I had no luck getting an industry job actually designing. At the time I was working odd jobs, interning, and I asked myself would I let all these skills I have go to waste without even trying? So I decided that no matter how long it would take me I would learn along the way and give this whole business thing a shot. Read more>>

Kevin Parris | Personal Trainer

The thought process behind starting my own business is to make people happy, and what better way to do it and do something that i love at the same time fitness. Being healthy promotes a long healthy lifestyle, and being healthy allows us to enjoy life with love ones to the fullest which intern makes us happy. Read more>>

Chet Zar | Artist

I wanted to be able to pain what I wanted for a living. I had been in the film industry as a makeup effects artist for about 15 years at that point and was feeling creatively unsatisfied. So the business was just a means to an end: to be able to support myself as a fine artist. Read more>>

Cassie Jozefov | Founder & CEO of Violet Hour Media

I started Violet Hour Media based on three fundamental premises: 1) there’s a huge audience of passionate horror fans who love high-quality horror audio content; 2) there is barely any high-quality horror audio content in the current marketplace; 3) horror fans are incredibly diverse, so there should be more content created by people like me (female, Latina) for people like me. Therefore, our mission at Violet Hour Media is to create premium horror fiction podcast content, with an emphasis on elevating underrepresented emerging creators. Read more>>

Chef Chanell Hale | Traveling Personal Chef and Caterer

My thought process behind starting my own business began the moment I realized that had just graduated from college, earned a Master’s in Social Work (B.A. in psychology), loans are coming, bills won’t stop just because I didn’t have a job yet, and the promise of employment security that I had invested in entering my freshman year of college, was a facade. As I sat in my 2 bedroom house of my last few college days, where my rent was $350. I realized I needed to look inward. I had already been searching for work for 6 months. sending my resume to every organization relative. That route was not working for me. I sat on my floor in my bedroom, looking in the mirror, and I asked God, “what is my purpose? What gifts do I have within me that I can make money from? What do I already possess that no one can give me or take away, that will allow me to sustain my life? I cried and cried and looking down at my hands, asking these questions over and over, when God spoke to me. Read more>>

James (Tondi) Haskins | Gelatiere Artigiano – Artisanal Gelato Maker

Starting my gelato business and becoming a “gelataio” initially wasn’t much of a process, it actually struck me like lighting. I was having gelato at my favorite Gelateria called “Imperiale” in Brescia and was speaking with friends who wanted to start a gelato shop. It hit me that gelato was something I was going to dedicate my life to. At that point I knew nothing about gelato or business, so I started doing research online, buying every book I could get my hands on, and then eventually started practicing at home. Once I started to have a better understanding of gelato and how it’s produced, I started to look into the business side of the equation. This included doing a business plan, and therefore tons more research not just on the product, but on the industry, the competition, the financials, and everything else related to business. Throughout all this my thought process was to keep my head down and just keep going while the fire was lit. Read more>>

Brittany Williams | Writer/Mental Health/Infertility Awareness Advocate

My thought process for starting my blog was that I wanted to have conversations that I did not see people having. Experiencing life and healing are not wrapped up in a pretty bow. There are many sad, hard moments, but society doesn’t like to highlight these moments. It’s not about broadcasting your problems, but understanding that we all struggle to get through various points of our life. Feeling like someone understands you or has been in your shoes before can make a major difference. Feeling like you’re not alone can change your perspective and life. I wanted people to know they weren’t alone and to open the door to discuss the rough times. When it came to my journals, I wanted to make cute journals that spoke to their owners. I buy so many journals and notebooks, but sometimes struggle to find ones that fit me or that I’m drawn to. I wanted to create these as I know that others like to connect with products they use. Read more>>

Ashlee’ “Floetyc” McHenry | ARTrepreneur & Floet

My thought process behind starting my own business was very experimental and scattered, to be honest. I realized I was operating as a business, brand, and artist but I failed to keep up with the legal administration of it until quarantine. Having this extra time to reflect gave me the push to look into what being a business owner means legalistically, and I am so happy I did that. It made my mindset shift from a person that does art to more of a professional and well-known business owner that sells art. I tried new things, learned new things and even now I consult other business owners. Overall, my thought process was “it is better to try something than nothing at all.” Read more>>

Chloe Palmer and Marieke Boorman n/a | Artists – Your Own Small Courage

Chloe Palmer and Marieke Boorman: Your Own Small Courage We have both been art educators for years, which is how we originally met. In the summers and holidays we would combine efforts creating camps and workshops, and also spend time making things for ourselves in our spare time. We’ve always been interested in making art objects that bring joy to people’s lives and draw attention to the daily rituals we all participate in. When covid-19 hit and we could no longer offer classes and camp, making ceramics and textiles evolved into our business Your Own Small Courage. We realized that creating something for ourselves that we really love doing, and that was resonating with others was an amazing opportunity. We loved the feeling of starting a business as a collective; the collaborative nature of what we have and how we bounce ideas back and forth is supportive and fun. Read more>>

Linden Schaffer | Founder and CEO of Pravassa

There was little thought process 11-years ago when I started Pravassa. I was working in NYC’s fashion industry, a career that I had wanted from the time I was young. I was burnt out. It was the 2008 recession and the industry was changing. In spring of 2009 after more than a decade working in fashion I started to think about what I would do next. I came up with an outline of a concept, a travel company that focused on health and well-being while traveling and pitched it to a friend who set up a meeting for me. I was hired in that meeting to plan a trip. I put the breaks on the idea long enough to come up with a company name, get things in order with an accountant, and build a basic website. I went back to my day job while operating Pravassa at night. Very quickly it became clear that I could not do both. In November 2009 I officially left my fashion career behind in order to become the CEO of the first Wellness Travel Tour Operator in the U.S. Read more>>

Frankie Vegas | Writer & CEO of Who’s Frankie

My main thought process behind starting Who’s Frankie was the burning question we all face throughout our lives. Who am I? We search and learn more about ourselves but still, each day find something new. Who’s Frankie caters to that question in a deeper way. It doesn’t matter where you come from, how your upbringing was, or what you look like. It represents us at our purest forms once this flesh is stripped away. Who’s Frankie represents who we are at our core. We are all souls, we are all the same. Being of Native American and Italian background, spirituality has always been at the center of my being. I have always known my path was to help bring healing into this world and this is the best way for me to extend my energy to you all. Everything my brand represents is who I truly am. I wanted to create a spiritual safe space where anyone can find the tools they need to help heal themselves. Read more>>

Nadia McQueen | Celebrity Wardrobe Stylist & Boutique Owner

My thought process behind starting my own business was really a impulse thought. I’ve always a person who didn’t like structure or order I’m a free spirit who lives to create. I was sitting at the hospital with someone very close to me. She was a victim of domestic violence. We both had dreams of opening a store. After seeing her fight for her life I made the decision right there I’m gonna make a change I’m gonna lead the way. I had no business plan I just knew for sure I was going to but everything I had behind our dream to make it reality in that very moment. Read more>>

Murtaza Ezzi | Wedding Photographer

Since the day I got my hands on my first kodak camera, I have memorialized my loved ones and printed photos. Photography and I have a beautiful history. I felt drawn to the art of photography since I was a mere child. When I was 7, due to an accident I got stitches on my tongue. As a child, this caused some speaking disabilities to manifest. I had a lot of trouble expressing myself there after. I always felt conscious of the stitches on my tongue. Fortunately, I was able to overcome this. However, I sought a way to express myself. A way to communicate with others about how I see the world. I was fascinated by the idea that a contraption called a camera could in its essence capture a moment in time. This is how MKEshoots started. I felt that these special moments need to be captured as it is. To capture your precious moments in time. Mother’s eyes welling up with tears as she sees bride ready to walk down the aisle, or the look of love in groom’s eyes as his heart skips a beat when they share first kiss– these memories are priceless. Read more>>

Eden Rodriguez | Licensed Esthetician, Lash Technician, and Owner of Sweet Lash

The idea of starting my own business sparked while I was working my 9 to 5 job. I knew what I didn’t want, I didn’t want to be behind a computer for the rest of my life. I also knew that I needed to feel more fulfillment within my days. I decided to save some money and start esthetician school part time. I was afraid yet excited to quit my stable Monday through Friday job and become the small business owner that I am today. I felt that I needed to take a chance on myself, otherwise I would live in regret. I trusted myself and never looked back. Read more>>

Ann Wellman | Artistic Director, Spiritual Coach & Facilitator of Women’s Ministry Classes, Workshops and Eetreats

They make eye-contact and then they start chasing after each other, laughing and having fun… and the rest is history! I’ve always seen the world around me the exact same way. It’s like a giant playground, we’re all friends, and I plan on having fun (and finding meaning) as long as I’m here. I’ve never met a stranger. I talk to everybody! And everybody talks to me too! I even have “Lucy Booth” I take to the streets to make it easier for people to come up and have a chat. I set up my booth, put out an empty chair across from me and I wait. The chair is never empty for long. Everyone generally responds the same way at first. Unsure. Nervous laughter. Sometimes they walk by a few times. Take a picture of me and my booth. Wave. Wonder if I’m selling something. Then they walk over. “Do I sit down? I’m not sure what to say.” And then I say something like “How about with your name? I’m Ann! Nice to meet you.” And then, if they still need extra prompting, I always tell them to share whatever is on their heart. Read more>>

Casey Cook | Songwriter & Artist

“I wish I had the guts to chase my dreams… I wish I had done this… I regret that I didn’t… etc…” We’ve only got one life so why not do something you love? I have always wanted to live a life that I am proud of, that inspires others, and that leaves a mark on the world. By working towards my dreams and goals, I do what I love every day and I am fulfilled. I had no idea what it would look like to be my own boss and it certainly has its challenges but it is my endless passion that will continue to fuel me every time. Read more>>

Isaiah Petrie | Clothing Brand Owner

Since about the 5th grade I’ve had a love for streetwear. On the weekends, my boys and I would beg our parents to take us to Fairfax just to stay out there all day. Local shops like Diamond Supply Co, Supreme and The Hundreds meant the world to us at that time and I’ve loved the culture ever since I found out about it. As I grew older, my love grew deeper for it. As a freshman in high school, I tried to start a brand called “High-Life” with one of my best friends til this day. We got a few samples made but it was trash so we gave it up instantly. I always knew I would come back to it one day when I got a better business sense and learned the ropes more. That’s when Organized Crime. Read more>>

Jen Coats | Founder of The LBC Hero Squad + Autism Strong Mom

When my son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2, he immediately started services in speech, occupational therapy, and ABA. I felt so alone with his diagnosis and felt that immediate friends and family couldn’t truly understand what we were going through. After we settled into all of the appointments, therapy, and so forth, we met families just like us and it was a very welcoming and accepting community. Once our kids turned 4, it was time for them to move on to kindergarten, our community had to move on as well because we lived in different zip codes, therefore; different schools. When our son, Nolan started kindergarten, I wanted to start a small group at his school and meet new families that had kiddos with autism, hoping to start an Autism Group. My husband and I started the LBC Hero Squad in 2016, raising money so we can educate students and staff about autism/special needs and promote kindness. Read more>>

Cassandra Troy | Co-Founder of Little West

My initial thought process was, how can I have access to cold pressed juice daily without having to buy/wash/prep all the produce, and clean the juicer filter!!! Kidding aside, after several years in the fashion biz, which I loved, I always felt my true calling was in the food industry inspiring people to live healthier lives through moderation, conscious eating, and making approachable great tasting food. So my thought process was, how can I pivot into a career that aligns with my life and passion while enriching my community. Read more>>

Brittany Reed | Owner and Creative Director Behind Tesoro Design

After attending school at FIT and suffering through an internship, I knew I wanted to seek work outside of the typical fashion industry. I had so many issues with how things were done in NYC. From the way employees/interns were treated, to the sheer amount of waste created, I knew I wanted something more. I moved to Philly after school and worked with small business owners, to try to get a feel for what owning my own business would look like. I found an apprenticeship, where I learned to leatherwork over a 5 month period, and after that I was hooked. I knew I wanted to work with leather for my career, but I wasn’t sure what I was going to make. I have always been passionate about items made locally that were built to last. I started by looking at local craft shows, Etsy, and all over the internet, for locally made, interesting bags, and all I found were the same boring boxy tote bag in black and tan. Read more>>

Morgan Cleary | Owner of RENVI

At 22, I was not ready to start RENVI. I was enrolled in an entrepreneurial program that twisted my arm and made me file my DBA. There will always be excuses that stop creative individuals from taking that leap, and I will forever be grateful that at such a young age – I was pushed towards that economic independence. From that time forward, I have never second-guessed my decision to build and run RENVI. It is so important to go all in, and spend your energy thinking of ways to make the business work, as opposed to other career options. I believe that is the difference between those that succeed and those that do not; you have to be resourceful and rid yourself of self doubt. Read more>>

Terrence Gatlin | Caterer/Private Chef

Some of us have experienced or observed others getting up and going to work and dreading it. I never liked the idea of working for someone but knew I had to make a living. So being able to do something I’m passionate about that would allow me to make my own schedule and profit from it made sense. I’ve always enjoyed entertaining and cooking for my friends and family and would often be asked Why don’t I start my own catering business? After contemplating for some time, I finally decided to make my hobby a full time venture. Read more>>

Jocelyn Juul Ting | Business Owner and Host

It didn’t matter where in the world I was living-Sydney, Paris, London, or Los Angeles- I would always lug back heavy, and quite fragile, Danish kitchenware as I could from my trips to Denmark. While separating from my Danish husband in 2013, I decided that I needed to make use of my Commerce Degree, but what to do? I was obviously surrounded by Danish kitchenware so it was inevitable. I thought, if I love this so much, I’m sure there would be others that would too, and who wouldn’t want a teapot that looked like a vase in a wetsuit? As I started to do research and talk to others about my idea, there was positive feedback, but of course the negative ones were the only ones that stuck and almost derailed my plans.The one I will always remember was “you’re not Danish, you can’t sell Danish kitchenware”. So even though my website was ready to launch, self-doubt and paralysis crept in. Read more>>

Cindy Kaplan & Angela Silak | Co-Founders, Hollywood Resumes

We’d always been interested in entrepreneurship and building our own business, and we decided to start Hollywood Resumes when it became clear to us that there was a void in the marketplace that we could fill. A lot of the conventional resume advice out there doesn’t apply to the entertainment industry, but as hiring managers ourselves, we learned what makes a resume work for this field and what doesn’t. Over the years, we’d both been approached by friends, friends of friends, and even third-degree connections to help write resumes, and we realized we could help more people and fulfill that long-standing dream of starting a business by founding Hollywood Resumes. We didn’t launch overnight, though. We spent several months studying the marketplace, creating a business plan, and planning a strategic launch. Devoting that extra time up front has been vital to our success, and we’re proud to say that we recently celebrated our fifth anniversary!. Read more>>

Sara Gorsky | Actor, Podcaster, Web Designer & Digital Marketing Specialist

I’ve spent my whole life juggling my artistic career with getting the bills paid, which always meant holding down multiple income streams from my arts gigs with either a full time desk job or split between several part time jobs. At the time that I took the leap to start my own business I had been working full time at a company for a number of years, but as time went on I knew that the gracious allowances that my bosses made for my artistic life were starting to grate against my position there, and I started to feel kind of trapped in my job role; I wanted to help my clients put their best foot forward in the world and to have earnest, organic and kind business relationships with my clients, but the corporate world just did not allow me to develop those kinds of working relationships. When it became clear my time at that company was over, I had this moment with myself where I was contemplating where to apply for new jobs. Read more>>

Ethan Becker | Theme Park Wizard

It started with my love of theme parks which then led to my Youtube channel. I then decided I want to really grow and make Theme Park Wizard a brand. Read more>>

James Merrill | Founder & CEO of Opolis.

I spent the last decade living and working in every corner of the world as a contractor for The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other international NGOs. From Asia to the Middle East and all across Africa, I helped to build and expand programs that addressed gender and economic inequality, agricultural value chains, climate change, biodiversity protection policies, and violent extremism.​All of this allowed me to see the magnificent beauty of the world first hand; the sights, the people, the cultures. However, the images of violence, poverty, pollution and abandonment I saw have stayed with me too. That’s what Opolis is born out of. Read more>>

Miriam Jones and Adam Rumack | Founders, We are Open Circle

We are Open Circle was born out of fierce hope and a crisis of faith. We started partnering as leaders of a not for profit, teaching radical processes for social and cultural renewal in organizations and for individuals. We shared a passion for experimentation and an insatiable curiosity of what is possible when you unleash the creativity of a group, with all its chaos, potential, and glory. We set out with our diverse experience and backgrounds, our great technical skill, our shared passion and saw it bear fruit with exponential results on all levels; in building community, increasing profit, and making social impact. In spite of this we began to recognize that ultimate social change goal of our work was limited by the structures of power (both conscious and unconscious) that were holding back real and necessary change; even when these structures were being perpetuated by those evangelizing for the change we were creating. Read more>>

Kameisha Jerae Hodge | CEO & Founder, Sovereign Noir Publications

When I created Sovereign Noir Publications in 2019, it was both a visceral and political response for me. I had read Publishers Weekly’s 2018 Industry Salary Survey—it stated that racially, Black people made up approximately 2% of the book publishing industry. That was completely unacceptable for me. As a Black woman, lesbian, daughter, aunt, sister, and scholar, it was truly a call for me to do the work and create my own space for other intersectional Black women. So that’s what I did. Read more>>

Isabel Deakin | Designer

I started Kin Workshop as a counterpoint to my day job working in Architecture. Architecture projects, particularly ground up construction, typically take many years to complete. They involve an array of stakeholders, many different disciplines, there are a lot of moving parts to consider and a huge amount of work goes into coordinating everything. Kin Workshop is the opposite for me. I can escape into a world of pure geometry. I can finish a project in a couple of weeks. I have creative autonomy. I’ve always been a maker so it’s nice to have an outlet for this side of my personality. The designs are based on a technique of piecing together fabric to form three dimensional objects. I started developing this technique in 2016 when I had a bit of time off between graduating from UCLA and starting a full time job. When I was still playing around with these designs in 2020 I realized, at least from a design perspective, there was space to grow so I designed a logo, bought a domain and Kin Workshop was official!. Read more>>

Adarsh Kaur | Visionary Leader & Mentor Supporting Soulful Teachers in Joyful Living & Transformation

Before I began my own business, I was the Director/CEO of a Yoga Studio. Practicing the skills of running a business gave me the confidence to believe that I could start a business in the first place. Then, opportunities were coming to me that I couldn’t take in my role as a Director. I saw beginning my own business as a way to be more creative in the way I work, and to be able to more fully express my gifts. Read more>>

Danielle Beck | Owner/Founder of Ivy & Pine Boutique

I never really had a good idea of what I wanted to “be” when I grew up. I bounced around at all kinds of jobs throughout my early 20’s, but the only thing I really ever loved doing was working at my first clothing boutique. It’s unfortunate but it is pretty common to meet people who think what I do is a “cute hobby”, or how it’s obviously every little girls’ dream to “shop for a living”. It’s also very common to hear the back handed compliment of “Wow! I could NEVER do what you do, I’d be too scared to not have security in my job”. In reality, and if you are an entrepreneur you know, running your own business is one of the hardest, most frustrating, scariest things you can do with your “career”. At the same time I, like many others out there, cannot imagine doing anything else. When I finally realized that I was not meant to work for someone else, I got to work on building what is now ivy & pine boutique. Read more>>

Ruben Contreras | Director & Studio Owner

I remember when I had my first and only job as a young adolescent. I would sit at my desk and think to myself, this is not for me. I don’t belong behind a desk taking orders from everyone in the office. I also couldn’t be false, talking to everyone pretending to like what I was doing. I realized the pay was great but I didn’t enjoy my lifestyle. This lasted about a month, and finally I got called in by a supervisor. He mentioned that it was obvious I wasn’t happy working there and that the job wasn’t for me. We also had one of the most life changing conversations I could remember. He said I should go home and think about what I enjoy and then pursue it… I was 22 then.. I took his advice and quit my job.. I already knew I had a passion for anything visual art and was proficient with computers. I mixed the two together and since then it has been somewhat of a therapy. It was only later I realized that my therapy could convert into a business. Read more>>

Jeffrey Shore | Real Estate Broker & Top Producer

In 2012 my wife Lisa and I welcomed our beautiful baby girl Emma to the world. At the time, Lisa was working as a Supervisor at an agency that specializes in behavior intervention services for individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related disabilities. I was working at a small commercial real estate firm as both the Director of Operations as well as a leasing agent. When my wife took leave to care for our baby, she began to put into motion starting her own consulting business. She had risen as high as she could go within her agency, but she wanted more. She followed her instincts, and within a year and a half had built a thriving business. No more timesheets, no more quarterly reviews, no one to ask if it was okay to take time off. She built her company, Topp Consulting, LLC, from the ground up, with endless networking, one client at a time. Read more>>

Eddie Torres | Film Composer | Music Producer | Musician

First was I was working in corporate America for nearly thirteen years as a supervisor. It was full time job which I started 1 year after being married and a few days after my son was born in 1987. It was a good and secure job but at the same time I was coming home to start working in my studio. I was producing music into the late hours of the night. Loved it but the two jobs as well as the additional music events I was responsible for away from the studio was just allot to juggle not to mention little hours of sleep at times to start over again the next day. Meeting client schedule demands also played in having to take personal time off from my corporate job. So generally speaking creative work hours can at times be off the wall meaning it maybe in the evening or in the daytime and many times while most people sleep what I call Red Eye Sessions. It was exhausting, but I had some much passion for music making, The second and most important reason for starting my business was what It was taking from me. Read more>>

Hannah Byers-Brown | Creative Producer & Entrepreneur

Prior to starting my own business, I was working on major international advertising campaigns for brands like Nike and Virgin Atlantic which was absolutely incredible. However, I always found myself feeling that there was a part of me that wasn’t quite fulfilled. I took a break from advertising to attend the UCLA Film & TV Producers MFA program and immerse myself in the entertainment industry. After I graduated from the program I couldn’t choose between either industry so I started HBB Productions which focuses on advertising and entertainment production. This way I get the best of both the industries that I love and I’m able to create stories for brands as well as people. Read more>>