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.

Meka Tome | Artist and Photographer

Art and photography have always been a large part of my life. To me, life is about fulfillment and passion, which go hand in hand with empowerment. Photography can communicate in a way that no other medium can; by capturing real, fleeting moments, it has the innate ability to empower people–models, clients, subjects, and photographers alike. Read more>>

Sara Morgan & Briana Byndom | Squad Ghouls Podcast Hosts

We’re big time horror enthusiasts base in the LA area and love visiting haunted houses, ghost hunting tours, and seeing horror films. After years of attendance we’ve finally nailed down which horror events are the most fun, which tickets to buy, when you go, where to park, you name it! We thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could share our tips and tricks with the next generation of horror fans?” Thus the Squad Ghouls podcast was born. We help answer all of these questions and more. Read more>>

Amy & Scott Malin | Co-Founders at Trueheart social impact search engine

Scott and I have always been entrepreneurs and have blazed our own trails. While owning a business is a wild, crazy and beautiful ride filled with ups and downs, we’re really happy being our own bosses. Plus, as creatives, being able to pick our projects and the people we want to work with, which is priceless. Time is our most precious commodity and being entrepreneurs afford us the opportunity to decide how we want to spend ours. We’ve been business partners for over a decade. As a husband and wife team, it has been beautiful to get to build something together that we’re really passionate about. Read more>>

Jared Belt | Videographer & Filmmaker

I grew up in a family of business owners. My grandparents owned their own businesses, as do my parents. My parents own a chicken hatchery in Fresno called Belt Hatchery, and that was my first job; working on the chicken ranch. It’s always been obvious to me that I would also want to own my own business, and steer my own ship. I’ve never felt cut out for a 9-5 work environment, and I love working for myself. It’s a challenge, and also very freeing, as it allows me more time to work on my other passions. Read more>>

Maya Lê Espiritu | Creator of MaiStoryBook

My passion for early education and reading development was inspired by my time working for Jumpstart when I was an undergrad at Scripps College in Claremont. Jumpstart is an Americorp program that collaborates with local preschools to implement literacy-based lesson plans. I was able to witness the excitement, learning, and joy that is shared through a story, and wanted to continue sharing this wonder of reading with a broader audience of children. The number one way to support reading development in children is by reading aloud. Read more>>

michelle quaranta | celebrity hair and makeup artist

for me I come from a line of entrepreneurs and I wanted to carry on that tradition within my family. I love being a team leader and motivating and inspiring others. I love networking so it’s perfect for me. I love that I can make my own schedule and truly live work hard play hard. Providing others a great opportunity means a lot to me as well. Read more>>

Anna & Chase Dusatko | Co-Founders of Stone Bridal

Starting our own business as husband and wife was the ideal opportunity to work together rather than apart. Working as a team has allowed us to make choices together and strengthen our relationship while building a business. Although it may be challenging at times, working as a husband and wife duo has been much sweeter in the end. Read more>>

Ece Yildirok | Artist

so ece, my art shop, is the baby of crushed dreams and a pandemic. It sounds a little backwards but here is what happened: I am a live events industry professional of twenty years who migrated to Los Angeles from Turkey about a decade ago. After years of typical immigrant struggles, misfortunes, stubbornness and hard-work, I got the dream job and started on March 2nd, 2020. One week later a global pandemic was declared and I got laid off with no hope of going back or finding a job in my profession anywhere else as a large-scale event producer, not to mention it is an incredibly competitive industry to begin with. Read more>>

Nkonye Mwalilu | Healthy Hair Braiding & Sustainable Beauty Advocate ??

I started New Village Braid with the ambition of providing an elevated salon experience for the local braiding community in my area, a place that serves as a community resource for hair knowledge, training and styling services. The root of the business concept is one that I placed on mute for so many years before. Perhaps I was waiting for the ‘right time’? But as you know, it’s never the ‘right time’! As it turns out, because of a change in my personal circumstances, I had to shift gears on the braiding salon idea and accelerate another component of my business concept, braiding hair extensions. Read more>>

Amanda Villarosa | Travel & Lifestyle Photographer

I had been working at a startup brand, managing a team of 10, hyper focused on the needs of others – all during my mid-late 20’s. I would stay several hours in the office while everyone else went home, and spent my weekends and vacations answering emails and working on projects. It was a work environment that essentially expected employees to sacrifice any free time in order to be acknowledged or see growth. I was convinced that this imbalanced lifestyle was the only way to find success. Read more>>

Ebony Roberts | Writer and Social Entrepreneur

I’m a serial entrepreneur. Over the past ten years I’ve had multiple small businesses, all while working a full-time job. But in 2017 I took a leap of faith and started consulting full-time. That meant no paycheck every two weeks, no health benefits, no vacation time. That year, I was let go from a job I didn’t love and had a moment of clarity. A traditional 9-5 wasn’t me. It was safe, and I like safe. But I didn’t like working for other people. I knew I wanted to be in control of my time. I knew I wanted the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. Read more>>

Vernon Rodriguez | Nurse | Candle Maker

What started Manila Candle? Just before the pandemic, owner Vernon R. went to the Philippines for a quick vacation and to reminisce the past where he grew up. On his way back to the US, he had a moment where he thought “How can I bring part of the Philippines to the US?” The beginning of Manila Candle was to showcase the beauty of the Philippines through candle, one scent at a time. It’s not only to showcase the Philippines, but to show how easy-going and funny Filipinos are. Read more>>

Evan Kennedy | CEO – Alive & Kicking

I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. My father was a small business attorney. He helped out so many entrepreneurs and had his own small practice. Throughout my childhood he would tell me repeatedly that I should work for myself, that I don’t need to work for a corporation, and that I should value independence. When I entered the workforce, I started working at a variety of advertising agencies. I learned a lot of skills and cut my teeth on some fantastic brands over the years, but his voice was ever present in the back of my mind. I’ve always searched for something that I could call my own. Read more>>

Courtney Boyd Myers | CEO and Co-Founder of AKUA

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of incredible entrepreneurs. I was always just kind of waiting to find “my thing”. You know “the thing” you are ready to dedicate 26 hours a day to (unpaid!) as you beg, borrow, and beg some more to make it all happen? Cause that is honestly what it is like starting your own business. And so the thing I became incredibly passionate and obsessed with that no other person on the planet could do but me…? It turned out to be getting people to eat more KELP. Read more>>

Cheryl Des Vignes | Fashion Designer & Artist

The thought process behind starting my own business was that I am creating a brand that is about more than just pretty clothing. I wanted my clothing to be sustainable while making all body types feel confident and sexy. In an industry that is the second largest polluter in the world, I felt it would be irresponsible of me to ignore this problem while creating a brand. Read more>>

Candice Echeverria and Candice James | IBCLC, Certified Breastfeeding & Postpartum Specialists

Candice Echeverria and Candice James are two best friends, moms, and go-getters who hit it off right from the start when they met 8 years ago. Aside from having the same name which is super cool, the parallels in their lives are uncanny. Both psychology majors and mothers of older daughters, they went into their second pregnancies of baby boys knowing they wanted to tackle breastfeeding from an educated and empowered perspective this time around. They had their boys a week apart and loved coaching one another through the unexpected hurdles of feeding so much that they felt inspired to provide other breastfeeding parents with the same love and guidance they had been offering one another. Read more>>

Jim Fournier | CEO at

I am a serial entrepreneur and social media pioneer who began my career working in climate activism and technology. Throughout my life, I have alternated between those two sectors, but no matter the industry my goal is always to solve real-world problems. In the early 2000’s I realized the internet could and should be used for people to “think together” in a new way, specifically to solve the climate crisis. This thought inspired me to host the first-ever international conference where I expressed my vision for a shared global information network that would be used to solve societal problems. The conference resulted in the formation of LinkTank, a network of 50 tech and media professionals, who worked together to publish the Augmented Social Network White Paper. The white paper summarizes my dream for a collaborative social media experience long before Facebook even existed. Read more>>

Christopher Jones | Owner/GM

My thought process behind starting Chicken N Chips was that I had elevated from working for corporate hospitality for 12 years. I worked in every Food & Beverage position you can think of. It was time for me to start my own business and make my own rules. Read more>>

DAE HYUN KIM | Camera Operator

I always had the love of watching film and that led me to be part of filmmaking. Filmmaking has many different aspects and parts that collaborate together to create one big piece of art that the Director/Storyteller envisioning. Out of so many different departments that work together to create a film, Cinematography has gotten me the most attention. I love images, I was also interested in photography, the idea of creating someone’s imagination into physical image form was very fascinating. Read more>>

Brian Moore | Graphic Designer & Portrait Artist

I served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years and retired. Once i retired, I really wanted to focus on a career that I love and have a genuine passion for all of my life. I felt that with retiring from the military, this was a perfect opportunity to pursue my dream of running my own graphic design/fine art business. Read more>>

Jillian Whitaker | Artist

I honestly never intended to start this business – in “real life” I’m actually a composer working in the film industry. But a year ago I lost my horse in a traumatic freak accident and found myself needing a way to have her with me every day, so I made myself a bracelet with her tail using some old leather and things that I had lying around the house. I had never made anything like that before and discovered that I had a bit of a talent for it. Read more>>

Matthew Wang | Doge Lord

Dogecoin. Going to the moon seems very enticing as a business proposition and if Elon Musk can do it, I think I can get my company there very soon too! Read more>>

Jennifer Calder | Chef and Caterer

I first entered the food industry in 2014. I had started a food truck with a friend, sort of a spare of the moment adventure, after being frustrated with my 9-5 job. I knew my way around the kitchen pretty well and thought, “I cook for my friends and myself all the time, how hard could it be cooking for others”, Well I was quickly awakened to the challenges of running a business, the food industry, and the food truck industry. The first obstacle occurred while purchasing the food truck, which was located in Texas. We attempted to tow it back to California. However, we did not have the proper equipment to tow an almost 10000 pound vehicle. Read more>>

Kay Luttrell | Candle Maker

Being in the military for seven years, it really started to take a toll on my mental health. After finally getting the courage to seek therapy, I discovered that my anxiety was triggered by my inability to just simply RELAX. I then started making candles as a hobby and incorporating them into my self care routines to unwind after my stressful days and keep the anxiety under control. My thought process behind creating my business came in when I realized that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness amongst us. Something so simple as relaxing that I did not know about, I knew other people may be going through the same things. At that moment, UNLAX Candles was born. It became my purpose and mission to tell my story for others to know that they are not alone. Read more>>

Christopher Lopez | Fashion Creative /Online Retail

I have been working in the fashion wholesale industry for 10+ years and noticed a huge shift in the marketplace. Online, Social Media and DTC (Direct To Consumer) has taken over the wholesale industry and I decided it was time to make the shift into creating a collection DTC that I believed in. I have created a sustainable focused line and really started pushing up-cycled and vintage clothing via Shopify, IG, and Tiktok, I also do pop ups with local shows like The Silverlake Flea Market! Read more>>

Monica Andino | Co Founder/ Creative Director

Pam + Mo started with a vision of creating something that could give back to the latin youth, specifically in the form of art. We knew going into it that we would eventually become a brand that offered more than just clothing, but we wanted to build on our message first, thus our Pupusa tee was born. Inclusivity is also very important to us, every step of our design process has that in mind, we offer unisex in almost every product, and our sizes range from S-XXL. We are a brand for all genders, colors, shapes, and sizes. Read more>>

Anna Brandt | Virtual Assistant & Social Media Manager

After working in the beauty industry for years and not feeling fulfilled, I knew it was time for a change. As much as I love making people feel beautiful, being committed to 40 hour work weeks with a couple of weeks off a year to travel wasn’t going to cut it for me long term. I’m nomadic at heart and knew I needed to find something that I could do from anywhere. I knew I was good with social media and customer service and I knew I liked to help people. Then I came across the term “Virtual Assistant”. Read more>>

Evan Robinson | Visual Storyteller

For a company to live, it has to be profitable – working for somebody else provides a sense of job security, but often limits autonomy and access to the upside of success – starting our production company was a natural progression as we started shooting and realized it was more profitable to do things in house than to hire other companies. Read more>>

Prime Hendrix | CEO & Founder of DAEGARDENS & JUST PLANT IT Organization

I didn’t have to think too hard about that. To be honest I was more concerned with finding solutions towards social issues within my community. Laying down a solid foundation and plan was most important to me. A few months down the road is where we became established as a corporation. Read more>>

Sugi Dakks | Musical Artist

I think many don’t realize that becoming a musician is exactly that. Starting your own business. And so the same struggles, the same barriers to entry, the same business plans, trial and error, navigating legalities, all apply to being a musician. It is called music business because it is the business of music. I only say that because I think many musicians, including myself, come into the idea of being musician from just a music standpoint. We all work really hard on our craft and our musical abilities, but never invest time into learning other skills because we don’t think we need them. Read more>>

Kharissa Love | Entrepreneur, Creative Director, Model, Writer, Photographer, Holistic Care Enthusiast

Well I always knew I wanted to have my own business one day for as long as I could remember, but in my heart I knew I would always end up being some type of entertainer so I never really thought much about it until I was in college for media. Once I was exposed to the logistics, structure, and the experience of being in the media world for the big companies, I immediately knew it wasn’t for me. After graduating, the idea to start my own media company only grew stronger and stronger as I came back home to the LA area and was sure I had no interest in falling trapped into the growling process of working for the big names. Read more>>

Charlene Carter | Cosmetologist

My thought process behind starting my brand was, keep it simple. Alot of harmful chemicals are in hair care products that can cause health problems. I wanted to create something that was healthy and as close to natural as possible. Read more>>

Priya Tahim | Practice Owner, Psychotherapy & Author

Kaur Counseling has always been a dream of mine. I’ve always wanted to give a voice to those who felt like they never had one. The name Kaur comes from my middle name, and Sikh tradition. Kaur is a surname given to Sikh women, that translates to “princess” or “crown prince”. The idea behind this surname was to create equality amongst men and women. I wanted to create a space that is EQUAL to all! I created Kaur Counseling with the belief of fostering hope and creating a safe space for individuals/couples/families to process, as well as find healthy solutions and problem solving skills. My passion is helping others find confidence within themselves, and/or within relationships. Read more>>

Grant Nestor | Owner, Hammies Shorts

I’ve always been drawn to 60-80s culture–whether it be the music, literature, or film from that period–there is a spirit and style that never gets old for me. Vintage OP (Ocean Pacific) shorts had been a staple in my wardrobe for years but around 2015, I observed that people were taking more of an interest in my shorts and I thought, “If someone doesn’t bring these shorts back, I will.” I waited about two years and in 2017 I decided that I needed to get them made.Read more>>

Rose Hackle | Professional Nail Artist & Good Vibe Creator

my thought process behind starting my business stemmed from my own personal experiences in nail salons and how badly i wanted there to be a great nail experience for people like me. I’d had countless unpleasant experiences in nail salons ranging from situations as simple as a bad paint job, to contracting a nail fungus, to being racially profiled and yelled at. Read more>>

Deirdra Vierra | Holistic Hair Specialist & Healer

I honestly didn’t start off with that as a goal . I developed extreme chemical sensitivities from over exposure in a conventional salon environment and decided to build out my own space that was clean air , fragrance free and specialize in non ammoniated services . Once I got it up and running I discovered I was the only salon with my particular business model and it took off from there. I’ve had to pivot a few times and I’ve upgraded my business plan many times in the last decade of being an entrepreneur stylist. Read more>>

Amy Patlan | Licensed Aesthetician

While working in a dermatology office in south OC I noticed there weren’t many people of color that went in to treat skin conditions or get facials. Many people in our underprivileged communities weren’t taught how to care for our skin because it’s almost seen as a selfish luxury. I myself didn’t know the importance of taking care of my skin until I worked at that same office. Read more>>

Daniel George | CEO/Founder

I started my business in 2017 a little after my father passed from Leukemia. It wasn’t until after he passed that I discovered he was a cannabis users when he was my age but decided to stop due to his career and family. Little did he know there was so much research out there that showed the Cannabis plant had extreme positive effects towards the body. It was also known to be a much better alternative medicine than chemotherapy and other pharmaceutical drugs. With all this knowledge I possessed about the plant, I figured I’d be the one to manufacture a way people can enjoy the benefits of using cannabis on a daily basis and try my best to destigmatize cannabis in my community. Read more>>

Nicole “Lipsticknick” Faulkner | Celebrity Makeup Artist & Co-Founder of Pout by Lipsticknick

To be honest, it just all sort of happened organically. I found this open unit and was instantly inspired by the location and signed the lease without knowing what I was going to do with it. At the time I was also swamped with overlapping jobs and wasn’t able to take all of them, which got me thinking, “what if there was a space where people could come in and get their hair/makeup done by pro artists that I could train, and I could also take these artists with me on set for other gigs?” I called Esther Koop (my best friend and manager) and told her my idea, and she loved it. We spent the weekend working on a business plan and that’s how Pout was born. Read more>>