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.

Desanka Ilic | Actress, Singer, Model & Entrepreneur

I was inspired to start my own business because I wish I had support and knowledge from an affordable music marketing and public relations firm when I started my music industry journey. Read more>>

Sebastian Keefe | Photographer & Visual Artist

I wanted to express myself. I knew i had something to share that was wholly mine. I am inspired by my brother (songwriter, producer) and sister (jewelry designer) and their total love and dedication to their art. I thought, why not me? Putting myself out-there has been frightening, but so rewarding. After seeing those closest to me succeed, it gave me the courage to believe in my own ideas and has inspired me to throw myself completely into my own artistic expression. In photography i found a world that excites me, fuels me, and expands the way i think. I moved to LA when i was 20 and I’m 35 now. And like so many others that moved west it’s been a long march of moderate successes and failures, major life events like losing a parent and getting married. As well as profound lifestyle changes and existential crises, like getting sober (4 years!) and telling my older brother with whom i had moved to LA. Read more>>

Gabrielle Pinkerton | CEO & Event Planner

Starting a business to me was all about freedom. Freedom of time, freedom to make as much money as you want, freedom to be in charge of your successes and failures as well. I had assisted other wedding planners, worked as an event planner in a corporate setting and realized that I was happiest when I was outside producing events. However, there wasn’t anyone at the time who specialized in outdoor weddings and events so I decided to be that person. Read more>>

Loren Smith | Vocalist

I was terrified to strike out on my own. I was happy to hide in groups, duos, sextets, quartets, and that random guy on the left. But it eats at your soul when you continuously get the message that in order to succeed, you can’t be yourself. I knew that I had a voice and something to say. I knew I wanted to leave the world better then when I found it. I knew it was up to me to create my own path, because EVERYONE failed at fitting me into their box of who i was. So I officially began my Solo Brand. I deleted old videos, removed merchandise from online stores, and started over with new promotional materials, a new vision and a clean slate. It’s not been easy, but having the courage to be yourself rarely is. It’s been worth it to be true to my brand in sight, sound, and service. I love what I do, and I love the way that I do it. I’m so glad it’s resonating with others too. My advice? Don’t entertain doubt. Have a clear vision, and follow it all the way! Shine ON!!! Read more>>

Shubham Sanjay Shevade | Founder, Creative Film Producer

Founded in 2014, FableCraft Motion Picture Production Company started with film productions in India and now pro-actively working in the world’s leading entertainment industry in Los Angeles, California. We are a fully integrated production company that bridges the gap between storytellers and the audience by executing professional services right from creating, producing, distributing, licensing, and marketing. Our Development team will serve you package, pitch, produce, and distribute your ideas for television (scripted and unscripted), movies, and short films. We also focus on making Ad Films & TV commercials. Our priority is telling brand stories and going deep into the philosophies of selling that particular product or running an Ad Campaign for the same. Read more>>>

Gloria Lucas | CEO of Nalgona Positivity Pride

I always wanted to be a creator and own my own business. I never thought my struggle with an eating disorder would push me to start my own business. More importantly, I have been able to dedicate myself to spreading awareness on eating disorders and body image in communities of color. Read more>>

Orit Harpaz | Artist, Designer, Entrepreneur

I’ve always loved birds, their ability to fly, their colorful feathers, their sounds and songs. My fascination with them led me to pick up a Sharpie and paper, sit at my kitchen table for hours late into one night drawing birds – not real birds but imaginary, fantastical birds. They were each strange, unique and beautiful. A metaphor for the human species. The aviary world quickly became my source of creative inspiration. I shared the drawings with a friend who fell in love with them and had them screen printed on napkins. Everyone who came over and sat at our dining table fawned over them. Having my funky, weird bird art bring joy to others was where the idea of creating my own business began. Weirdoh Birds was first hatched in 2016. Read more>>

Linda Pianigiani | Photographer

Dogs and photography have always been some of my greatest passions. I grew up in Italy, with two beautiful specimens of Siberian Husky and since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve been lucky to spend time with some incredible dogs (thanks to their owners), one in particular, beloved Luna, who served as my main inspiration for years. Dogs have always been in my life, whether in my family or through friends. I even considered a career in dog training and obtained a training certification that is often coming in handy! While hanging out with Luna, be it on hikes, at the beach, or just walking around, I found myself repeatedly immortalizing her during any of our adventures. I had recently bought my first DSLR and transitioned to snapping some pictures with that, overusing the phone. Read more>>

Appelusa | Owner: Light Body Energetics; Biofield Tuning, Aura & Chakra Biofeedback, Vibrational Fascia Release Technique, Reiki

When I began to heal after four years in chronic pain from MVA related injuries, it was from applying complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies that I was finally able to heal. The three years prior I suffered from 24/7 headaches and muscle spasms, countless scans and doctor visits, invasive procedures, and medication overload -none of which helped ease the pain. I became Reiki certified and started my journey into self healing. Once I began to feel the subtle but powerful effects of energy healing, I became enthralled with energy, frequency, physics and quantum mechanics. I fell down the rabbit hole as I continued to heal. I purchased an Electro-Chirogram Biofeedback system which uses the reflex zones on your hand to assess the vitality of 49 glands, organs, and brain parameters including reading the aura and chakra balance, and became certified as a technician. Read more>>

Clancy Simon | Residential Interior Designer + Project Manager

My degree was in Construction Management and back in 2002 our department at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo was only 10% female. It was a big change going from an all-female high school to an almost all-male college environment, but it was very supportive and fun! Both of my parents were entrepreneurs so I thought I might be one day too, but I wanted experience in the industry first and my plan was to wait at least ten years before venturing out on my own. I learned a great deal about project management working for a construction company for nine years and during that time I also got to collaborate with Architects and Interior Designers. Long hours and high pressure ultimately pushed me to seek better work-life balance and so, one year short of my ten-year plan, I founded Simon Projects. Read more>>


My parents have been in the beauty & nail business for 35+ years and I always knew I wanted to go into the family business. I didn’t have an interest in nail products, but being that I went to beauty school + received my yoga instructor license, I wanted to merge beauty + wellness. I wanted to create products that made being feel beautiful from the inside out, which is where I believe beauty derives. I started by teaching yoga and became a Celebrity Yoga Instructor in Los Angeles, CA. My students started asking me what products I was using our sessions and how they could clean their yoga mats. I knew I was on to something… No one had a brand for yogis! Read more>>

Michelle Qazi | Interior Stylist

In 2015, I noticed a missing gap when I was shopping online for a specific macrame wall hanging for my home, there was very little 70s decor and an over abundance of antiques and mid century modern. Already spending quite some time thrifting, I started going to estate sales instead, and that’s where I found all my 70s treasures. After collecting more than my home could handle, I knew it was time to let some of it go and set up an Etsy shop. Once smalls started selling, I ventured into selling bigger furniture pieces by using Greyhound Buses to ship them at an economical cost. It was a daunting task to ship furniture, but it was worth it. This opened a whole new door for my little Etsy shop and I was now selling more furniture than smalls. It was then it became a legit small business. Running out of storage in my garage, I toyed with the idea of a storefront. Read more>>

Jeff Hunter | Founder and CEO-

Interestingly, I never in a million years though that I would start my own business. I had invested in startups with people who were MUCH smarter than me, more business savvy than I ever thought I could be and they had business degrees which I never had. ALL of those startups failed miserably and I lost all my investments. That humbled me because when I saw these extremely smart people fail with fantastic ideas that I was willing to invest my money in, I never believed I would ever be in a position to be successful in business myself. The way our business got going was based on an idea that corrected a problem that I was having and my wife had solved for me. When I showed others the idea, we immediately were asked to make more for them. That wasn’t much of a light bulb moment as it was more like, hey “maybe we could make a little bit of money on the side making this product.” Read more>>

Jeremy Swan | Tattoo Artist & Restaurateur

My wife and I are serial entrepreneurs. We met in college and decided that making our own way was better than working for someone else. We started out selling at flea markets. eventually we both got training in the arts. She became a hairstylist and I studied tattooing. That led to us opening our own respective businesses. We have also opened up boutiques and started clothing lines. We currently own This or Die Salon, Broken Art Tattoo and Mi Corazon Mexican Cuisine. Honestly, the long hours never bothered me. I knew i was building something for my family and our future…until COVID came on kicked the shit out of us. Read more>>

Maurice McClain | Model, Actor, Stylist, & Business Owner

I never wanted to work a 9-5 again in life and makes someone else’s dreams come true. I had entered a space where I felt so uncomfortable working a regular job I had to just quit! Read more>>

Quitina High | Salon Owner & Educator

I worked for various small business within the beauty industry since I was 15 years old. I have always been inspired by the drive, discipline and determination of the owners I have encountered. Early in my career, I begin managing small businesses, corporate based salons and even did some work in Human Resources for a short time. Throughout my journey, I was developed into a strong leader and was given strong business skills, but I was lacking control of my schedule and home life. I pursued my own businesses to put all the things I had learned over the years in motion, and to spend time with my growing family. Being in control of how the industry was perceived was also very important to me. I wanted to bring class and professionalism back to the forefront of the beauty industry, and I knew that starting my own business would give me the freedom to do so. Read more>>

Caroline Leon | Co-Founder of A Life of Education

In 2015 I survived a life threatening rock climbing accident in which I fell over 7 meters onto rock and gravel. After months in hospital I under went 14 surgeries to repair; two shattered feet, re-attach my pubic bone, reconstructing my pelvis and replace a segment of my spine and 23 blood transfusions. It took 2 years to learn to walk again, with the assistance of physiotherapists, osteopaths and countless other holistic practitioners. By the time could walk again, it was time to progress and step out of the clinical setting. I searched high and low for a certified fitness professional which could cope with clinical rehab. My effort to find a rehabilitation instructor to effectively take me through this complex stage of rehab, proved more difficult than anticipated. After numerous negative and disappointing experiences, I was finally recommended to contact rehabilitation specialist Keith O’Malley-Farrell. Read more>>

Cynthia Tizcareno | Illustrator/Designer/Business Owner

When I first started my business back in 2017, it was not with the purpose of creating a business. I started by creating my artwork into physical products for fun, and when I saw there were people that actually like my artwork and purchasing it I was surprised. It made me so happy that people liked my artwork that it motivated me to continue on creating more and more products. I realized that I could really make a business based off my passion on creating cute artwork! I only recently rebranded my shop to a new name and look in March 2020. I’m learning everyday how to continue to improve and grow my business Meow Amor Creative. Read more>>

Patty Alvarez | Spiritual Guide and Tarot Reader

The thought process of starting my own business was the idea of getting to work for myself. Especially doing spiritual work. Helping others find their path in life is very rewarding. Hearing the client’s feedback after I have seen them for a Tarot reading and spiritual guidance. Brings me joy in doing work that I do. Other than working for myself. One of the most important decisions that have contributed to my success is discipline. Being a discipline, showing up on time with a positive attitude has helped me become successful. I find it is easy to achieve your goals if you enjoy what you do! Read more>>

Marissa Mills | Co-Founder – Style Firm Los Angeles

Style Firm los Angeles was created for the Everywoman. The original objective was to create a pant that was stylish, that felt good, and that looked good on the body, irrespective of shape. The design also had to be street-wearable, taking you from barre class to brunch. We were determined to create “a magic pant,” as nicknamed by our head designer – a pant that would slim the thighs, lift the butt, and flatten the tummy, while still being comfortable, true performance wear. We tirelessly worked with a team of designers and experts to fuse the perfect fabrication with the perfect cut. One pair of pants grew into a capsule collection of five pieces: a bootleg pant, a capri legging, a running tight, and two jackets, a line which we dubbed “The Little Black Dress of Activewear.”™ Read more>>

Brandy Fort | Piano Instructor & Project Manager

When I first started thinking about starting my own business, my reasons were to have control of my time, do what I love, and most importantly, be able to stay home and care of my son’s needs at that time. Read more>>

Danielle Johnigan | Founder, Lifestyle Apparel Company

I started Onest Homme, because I saw an opportunity to create an apparel company which offers exclusive, thought-provoking designs. Having spent a majority of my career working at major record labels and in music merchandising, I’ve been fortunate enough to work hands-on during the creative development of apparel and accessories items through to the the final production process. By building a company focused on developing exclusive products, featuring original artwork, I can offer music-centric lifestyle apparel which goes beyond just a one-hit logo design, printed on a “beefy” tee. Read more>>

Beth Drayer | Certified Athletic Trainer

Well, this is actually the second time I started my own business. I learned a ton the first time. Struggled a ton as well and when offered a safe opportunity I took that. This time, I was working in an environment that really didn’t suite me. It made me really look at myself and decide what I really wanted. Out of life and out of my career. I was frustrated with the system of patient comes in, referred to PT, gets 80% better and insurance release them. I didn’t think 80% was good enough. If it were me, it for sure wouldn’t be good enough! I knew I could offer better! I have always been passionate about learning so was taking a lot of continuing education courses. I took everything from manual therapy techniques to business development. In these courses there were people from all disciplines, PTs, Chiros, coaches, etc…we were all learning together and with each other and from each other all helping one another. Read more>>

Alexandra Benaim | CEO

It was initially to help my family. My father has been in the business for 30+ years and was struggling to keep up with the times. I was oblivious to what he was doing for awhile until I started to wear the clothes out he would bring home. I had an intuitive sense I had to get involved and see what I could accomplish with his collections, especially because people would stop me on the street. It was a such a good surprise to experience that that I felt compelled to utilize what I knew about fashion to help better market our styles and of course, the fabric. Read more>>

Elizabeth Perry | Marketing Director, and Makeup & Hair Artist

My thought process behind starting my own business was to create something that everyone and anyone could wear. Prior to starting my business I had a large clientele for hair and makeup services. I always had to provide my clients with eyelashes included in their makeup application service. Lashes were always the one thing that meshed my work together when I completed a look. So, I decided to start my own eyelash brand where I can express myself through lash styles for different occasions and different lifestyles. My brand is gothic/alternative but anyone can wear our lashes we have a style for every eye shape and preference. When I started my business I didn’t expect the amount of love and support my followers, friends, and customers gave me. It has grown so much in these past two years and it’s what keeps my shop going. Read more>>

Teagen Rose | Fitness Trainer

I knew That I wanted to own something and be able to revive 100 percent of my earnings as oppose to 50. We are taught and pushed to be the employee as oppose to the employer. I didn’t want that. Read more>>

Johnny Marcos | Owner & Founder of Kustom Kontrollerz

The thought process behind a starting your own business comes down to creating a solution to a problem. My thought process was all over the place as when I first started, it was out of boredom and intrigue. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so it was only right to follow in their footsteps! I started Kustom Kontrollerz from my own garage as any start up and figured why not make my own controller at the time, look unique and different from everyone else! I did just that, made something unique and posted it on social media and the reactions were nothing but positive! At that time as well, I had no idea that there was competition and it was something that I was just interested in and over the years, I have learned a lot about the business and the industry I am in and just building a network and a clientele that has helped me build a successful brand! Read more>>

Debbie Miller | Digital Marketing and Communications Professional

Starting my own business happened as a result of many “happy accidents.” It wasn’t something I had planned. I got my first job through an internship program during my last year of college. I interned that year, then was hired full-time upon graduating. The job was managing the web presence for a destination marketing organization during the dawn of social media for business. After 3 years, my employer was going through a transition period and I knew I’d be laid off. Thankfully, I was offered a job at a marketing agency with whom I’d partnered at my previous gig, so I started working there the month after I was let go. As I prepared for the job transition, I consulted many business associates. The most valuable advice I received was to create something that was “mine.” I had done so much and created a name for myself under the guise of my former job, but then didn’t have anything to take away with me when my time at that job concluded. Read more>>

Monika Dr Demmler | Musician, Artist, Writer, Researcher, Educator

I love putting my visions into reality. I think that’s the essence of being a human being. We’re always moving, turning and evolving as we’re nature ourselves. Read more>>

Mike Locke | Co-founder and owner, Silver Side Productions / VP, Sync at Atlas Music Publishing

I left Warner Music Group in June of 2011 to start Silver Side Productions. At WMG I worked in the sync department, initially negotiating deals for advertisements and then acting as liaison between independent labels/artists, the sync department and the music supervision community. I created that role as a result of bringing in some emerging independent labels/artists in the mid 2000’s to represent for film/tv/ad licensing (i.e.: Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak and Bloc Party as they were releasing an EP). I fiercely champion opportunities for independent labels/artists and that passion combined with an entrepreneurial spirit lead to my desire to do more than what I was doing within Warner. Inadvertently, that started the genesis of Silver Side. Independent artists told me on their own volition that they’d work with me even if I left Warner and with some other outside encouragement, I made the leap. I wanted to represent independent artists to the sync community, without certain confines and limits, and ideally create a mutually beneficial environment. Read more>>

Brooke Kelley | Artist

What was my thought process behind my business? Ummm how can I have as much fun as possible? hahaha which is the thought process behind a lot of what I choose to do. Honestly, there never was a ton of thought processing behind starting my business. I’m so grateful that my business took off from a young age whether I was ready or not. My career was always taking me in surprising directions. I stopped trying to control it and instead just say yes. It always has lead me to places I never could have imagined for myself. I take things day by day, try and stay present and trust in the process as much as I can. A lot of the fuel to my fire for my business is not so much the art itself but where and to whom it has lead me in life. Art has provided a life for me that I am so grateful for. Read more>>

Rick Torres | Record Company Owner, Music Producer, Composer & Musician

My thought process went something like this: Hmmm… I already own the studio and gear to make records, and with just a few bits of paperwork and a few small government fees and processes, I could release whatever music I want, whenever I feel like it, worldwide without needing a huge corporation behind me. OK! make it so! Read more>>

Sonia Smith-Kang | Founder of Mixed Up Clothing and Co-founder of Culturas

I grew up surrounded by multiculturalism. I was born on the island of Puerto Rico to an African American father and Mexican American mother. As a proud military family, we were then transferred to the Hawaiian island of O’ahu before calling California home. When I married my Korean American husband and we started having children, it was important to us to be intentional in our approach to bringing our rich cultures and heritages into our life and home. We did well until it came to fashion. There was a white space in the fashion and manufacturing space so I created Mixed Up Clothing to fill that void. Mixed Up Clothing sources fabrics from all over the world and turns them into fun, everyday outfits. We know that cultural representation is important which is why I also make sure our influencers, ambassadors and models reflect diversity of cultures, body types, hair texture, and ability. Read more>>