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.

Kelly Gunner | Founder | Creative Director

I’ve always wanted to work for myself and to have my own business, so sub consciously the thought was probably always there, but when I started TOMME it was just as a hobby and something that gave me a creative outlet outside of my 9-5. I never thought that it would ever actually become what it has or that I would be running my own brand. Initially I just began developing the products, I knew I potentially had something interesting but it took years to refine the product into something premium and to develop the tools and processes to where they are today. It’s always been about product first, which took time to make right. Read more>>

Kyo | Producer/Engineer/Studio Owner

I started interning/working at a lot of studios in LA. I never received the opportunity to show my true talent, so I decided to save money and invest in opening up my own studio. Read more>>

William Smariga | Saponification Expert

I wanted to be my own boss, and to do something that had a positive impact on people. I have always been into health and wellness, and knew that would be my focus at some level. When I first decided to make soap, it was because all of the “natural” body care that I could find put synthetic ingredients, colors, and fragrances in their products, and packaged with plastic on top of plastic. I also was into the idea of a bar shampoo to reduce use of plastic. Now I am working towards growing my own ingredients to put into my craft, and am excited to see where that takes me! Read more>>

Emily Haynes | Ceramic artist & copy editor

Ceramics has been a part of my life since I was in my early twenties and living in Brooklyn, but it wasn’t until I moved to LA with my husband and son (and another on the way) in 2017 that I decided to turn it into a business. At that point I had been doing ceramics, in one form or another, for almost twenty years and I had gotten to the point where either I needed to spend way less time doing it, or lean into it and take it to the next level. I had just had my second child, I was living in a new city, and for the first time in my adult life I had a garage, which meant I had the space to set up a home studio. Read more>>

Lama Younes | Founder and Design Principal of LYD Studio

Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, I always knew that I wanted to work for myself one day. I had built a career designing for some of the top brands in NYC before moving to California. I’ve always been a creator and storyteller and I liked the idea of being able to build my own path as a female entrepreneur and offer empowering design solutions to my clients. Read more>>

Troy Nakamatsu | Co-Founder

“The mystery and secrets of sake making presented something of a fascinating challenge that has always kept me interested. The entire aesthetic of sake brewing is something I found to be beautiful. The minimalist, clean Japanese shibui style, subtle and restrained, fits so well with sake and sake production. The idea of being able to make delicious sake and do it while maintaining a subtle aesthetic is something very appealing to me. All of these things in combination with desire to take something so traditionally Japanese and translate it for the American market, cultivated the conviction in me to begin the journey of co-creating Sawtelle Sake.” Troy Nakamatsu, Co-founder Read more>>

Nick Silverio | Artswrk Co-Founder, Dancer, & Choreographer

As Penn alumni turned professional dancers, me and my co-founder have always been shocked by how challenging it is to pursue an arts career. The pain points are endless: job and income insecurity, disparate and low-tech tools, financial inaccessibility, limited support services, huge gaps in diversity, equity, and inclusion, gatekeepers of the top down structures that often define “success” – the list goes on. When COVID-19 shut down the arts and 94% of creatives lost their jobs, these struggles were only exasperated. Read more>>

Jérôme Brunet | Music Photographer

I’ve never considered it a business really but a desire to truly express myself through my art. Photography just happened to be a channel I felt comfortable with from the get go. The business side of it just came with experience, trial and error mostly. Read more>>

Ariel Henderson | Gifting Curator

I worked in a specialty gift shop for a few years which sold cards, stationery and premium items for gifting. The store also offered gift wrapping services. While working there, I really became fascinated by the entire process of gifting, from selection of the gift to its presentation to the intended recipient. As I’ve gotten older I realized there is a definte and delicate art to gift giving. During the Christmas holiday of 2018, I offered personal gift wrapping services to everyone I knew and soon after I began to receive opportunities to curate gifts and create my own packaging techniques. As demand grew from clients and my excitement for the opportunities grew, it was then that I knew it was time to launch my own business. I wanted to use my expertise to guide people in translating the message of sentiment they wish to convey by way of giving. Read more>>

Chani Ronez | Founder @ Merci Collective

Starting my own business was never a fear or something I thought too long about. Growing up, I always had a very entrepreneurial mindset mainly because I grew up with two entrepreneurial parents. They together built a successful fashion brand in Paris, France, so I was constantly surrounded by a strong work ethic and was excited to build my own brand from a very young age. Growing up, I would ask my dad to buy me the newest, most in-trend products on the market in bulk so I could sell them to my friends at school. Turns out I was pretty successful as a schoolyard saleswoman. Read more>>

Michelle Martinez Xochitl Cruz-Ortiz | Co-owners of La Conversation Bakery

The inspiration for starting the business was the customers’ love and the sense of community built around this little neighborhood café. Michelle: I grew up in a bakery on Hillhurst Ave in Los Feliz called La Conversation, where my mom worked as a baker. I recall from a very young age the owners, Steve and Michael, allowing me to go to “work” with my mom and flipping star cookies in sugar. When La Conversation relocated to West Hollywood in the early 90’s many of the customers from the Los Feliz neighborhood regularly visited the new café. La Conversation quickly became a staple in the community. Read more>>

Mehran Moghaddam | CEO

During my undergraduate years, I studied biochemistry and worked as a physical trainer. I’ve always been very enthusiastic about health and wellness, so learning about cannabis’ therapeutic benefits immediately drew me into the industry. I decided to start Kurvana back in 2014 after spending thousands of hours in a lab creating the perfect cannabis oil. Today, Kurvana is built on the foundation of: honesty, transparency, innovation, and quality. The difference is, we are now setting the standard when it comes to cannabis consumption and education. I like to say, the first of many stones have been laid because of our passionate team here at Kurvana. Read more>>

Ashley Woody | Creative Producer

‘Til Death Creative Agency was formed at the peak of quarantine. It originated as ‘Til Death Weddings & Social Events, but quickly evolved to become an all encompassing creative agency. I spent my young adult life as a songwriter and was exposed to some really incredible artists, and within that community, I found a space that I belonged and made me feel accepted as a young artist. I evolved from music to event production, and while I revel in the world of big budget events, my heart always belonged within the underground artist scene. ‘TIl Death was built to cater to those people; the non-traditional, the offbeat and those who are not faint of heart. We started with staging non-traditional, “punk rock” weddings and quickly evolved to this juxtaposing realm of sexy, gritty but highly editorial creative direction within photoshoots. Read more>>

Melissa Dumaz | Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist & Author

I knew at a very young age that I didn’t want to live a life of being micromanaged by an employer. I knew I wanted autonomy over my time, my schedule, and my earning potential. Having my own Private Practice gives me that and it aligns with my passion with of helping others. I help busy people heal from their own traumas, have happy and satisfying relationships, and life a life that shows them how to stop neglecting themselves by taking care of their mind, body, and spirit. Read more>>

Kristen Carbone | Founder, Brilliantly

Brilliantly started with trying to solve a problem for myself. My mother Lisa died from metastatic breast cancer at age 49, and after years of expensive and emotionally taxing screenings, finding a lump, and learning more about my potential hereditary risks, I had a preventative mastectomy and reconstruction in 2013. In the years following, I faced a profound shift in my identity and connection with my body. One of the things that really bothered me was feeling constantly cold. Read more>>

Ronnie Faulkner | Executive chef / health and wellness motivator

My small business was developed from a stand point of “healing”, and what I mean by healing is ….. I was struggling with type 2 diabetes over 5 years ago and and things begin to change for me when I discovered I needed a lifestyle change , not a diet .. A diet is only short term thinking and changing your lifestyle to compliment your health and wellness involves changing the way you eat , think , and move , this is key to longevity!! Read more>>

Lawrence Bouligny | Pastor, Watch geek.

My wife and I stepped out in faith and sold our home in San Diego so that I could pursue the Christian ministry. We moved to L.A. so I could attend seminary and, after graduating, connected with a church in Fillmore, California. It was a small congregation and the position was part-time, so I was given the church’s blessing to pursue another job, so long as it didn’t interfere with the ministry. After kicking some ideas around, I thought that it could be possible to turn my interest in watches into some sort of steady income. Read more>>

Andre Villeroy | Beyorch founder & CEO , Andre Villeroy

Fascinatingly, I started thinking about my experience with success and remembering how I’ve always felt like something was missing. I was in a place where I felt everything I do must have deep meaning; otherwise, it was pointless. So I started thinking about my mission in life, wanting to help people access more options for wealth; after rolling thought idea after idea, I decided to go in a particular direction, one that I knew well. Three years later, I’m here. Read more>>

Tristyn Rhoades | The Good Witch

I was really going through A spiritual awakening at that time and I knew I needed to do some thing that set my soul on fire.I couldn’t do the boss and the exhaustion from a 9 to 5 and deep down I always I knew I had witchy powers even as a kid . I love Art , sewing crafting , tarot , Yoga ,nature & most importantly I love helping people . so the only way that I would be able to live my most authentic life would be to start Goodwitch ! Read more>>

Justin Hustle | Creative Director & Photographer

I come from an entrepreneurial family tree. My dad has been in sporting goods manufacturing my whole life and when I was younger, I used to have him order me Nike & Starter products from his accounts for me to sell at school to my friends. When I realized that my designs were selling as well as some of the popular clothing lines that the store carried, I started to formulate a plan to create my own clothing brand. From there, Another Enemy was born. It started as a small side project and grew pretty quickly into a full time job, and it’s been an amazing, hectic ride ever since! Read more>>

Katsuya Sezaki | Music Producer and AnK Studio 81 Owner

I started out as a music teacher. I tried to be as helpful and supportive to people I taught. As I considered myself as a versatile teacher, I taught many topics such as Music Theory, Sightsinging, Computer Notation, DAW, Artist Development and Music Arranging etc.. The funny thing was that, I noticed I was learning more as I was teaching. Among all the stuff I am learning from these students/young artists, I started to notice what could be really helpful for them to create music in this generation. I didn’t even think about making this into my “business”. I just thought of how I could contribute these people to make good music while having a great time. Read more>>

Mary Gallagher | Life Coaching for Women and Teens

When I became a life coach, my thought process had its share of doubt, but eventually the hope, courage and passionate desire to transform people’s lives won out! The main idea that empowered my launch was to develop a bias for action. I learned that following your calling does not depend on first feeling super confident. It depends on taking action in alignment with your vision and finding out what works, tweaking what doesn’t, and continually learning and growing. What worked for me was offering great value and wholehearted service to the amazing women and teens I felt called to help. Read more>>

Melinda Markulis | Woman’s Life Coach

Lindy Glow was a business that came from my personal life experience. I was determined to find closure with my mothers death, while at the same time understanding my family’s health history. As time went on I realized this also benefited me, as I dealt with depression, anxiety, mood swings, inflammation, eczema, UTIs, ADHD, and dyslexia. While I was studying/experimenting different health routines and cleanses, I not only found closure for my mothers death but also healed myself. Im a professional dancer/model, so as I continued to experience life and talk to more people I realized I was not alone. Read more>>

Tamiya Robles | Chief Credit Repair Specialist

What was going through my mind in the beginning was to take all of my knowledge and experience that I had within the credit repair industry and attempt to help as many people as possible. As an individual I could do a lot but I knew by making it into a business I would be able to reach more people at a faster rate. Read more>>

Leah Hansen | Co-Founder & Head of Operations, Standard Arts LLC

For over a decade post-graduate school, I worked as a full-time freelancer in a range of roles. Friends frequently suggested I should start a business, and I longed to command my own ship instead of being subject to the whims of different bosses from day to day. But I was working in a variety of industries (editorial, the arts, design—and, somewhat randomly, IT and real estate), and there simply wasn’t enough demand for one of those to support a dedicated company. Read more>>

Ralphiel “Rif-Raf The Great” Marshall | Label Owner, Music Producer, Mixing Engineer & Music Publishing Administrator

My thought process behind starting my business was to make sure I was ready mentally and financially. I had to accept that there were going to be obstacles along the way. I knew when it came to working with artists, other producers, and independent labels, I needed to be professional and have the right paperwork in order to show I was capable of handling business on a professional level. Read more>>

Claire Wolfson | Founder | CEO | Creative Directer at bean goods

bean goods started as a project after our dog, bean, suffered from a serious back injury paralyzing his back legs. We originally had the idea to design a supportive harness for dogs prone to back injuries but quickly decided to lean into our apparel & graphic design backgrounds when developing our products. At the time of bean good’s infancy my now husband, Chris & I were both working corporate design jobs. We both were pretty unhappy & uninspired at our 9-5’s & looking for something to express our creativity & celebrate our mutual love for our dogs. Read more>>

Jason Schneider | CEO and Head Cookie Boss

Fear. Freedom. Fun. Fulfillment. A whole bunch of F words! To be honest, I’ve always been the type to lean into what scares me the most. As an adventure racer who’s stood on the North Pole, South Pole, run across deserts and jungles – you’d think starting my own business would be simple…but it’s been one of the most challenging events of my life. Every day, I trek into the unknown and just pray that I don’t make a wrong turn and end up falling off a cliff. But that’s also the exciting part of the journey. I never know what is next. Read more>>

Arianna Frank | Tax Industry Professional & Business Strategist

My initial inspiration to become an entrepreneur was through my family my mother and father were very successful entrepreneurs in the Los Angeles area during the late mid to late 80s and 1990s. They owned a Cleaners that had commercial accounts and several Real Estate Income properties. They were very profitable during these times. Growing up as a child of an entrepreneur family you tend to develop a sense of independence. My personal entrepreneurial journey started early as a child. I would sell different items at school candy, donuts, and tee shirts. I started braiding hair in my junior high and high school days. I saw a need to provide cost effective hair services in an environment where people could trust their kids to be. Read more>>