We asked rising stars from the community one of our favorite questions: other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?

Nick Runge | Painter

The single most important decision I’ve made so far seems to be the decision to focus on developing more of a “voice” or style in my personal paintings, and step away from a full time career as an illustrator. Balance between the freelance work and my time for painting what I was interested in has always been something I need to work on. And about 5 years ago, it was becoming a problem. Jobs would inevitably take longer than I expected, with changes popping up and spilling over into the scheduled time for the next project, leaving no time for personal painting. I was happy to have work, but I felt an urge for the first time to start painting more “art for art’s sake” in a much more immediate way. So I just started spending more time experimenting with paint and engaging more with social media. It was stressful for a while. Having to turn down jobs that were good to have more drawing/painting time. I still regret a few of those situations, but I felt strongly then, and I still do, that we have to trust ourselves. Read more>>

Fannie Sinclair | Burlesque Performer, Instructor and Producer

Part of being your own business means you’re constantly selling ‘you’. I think that being genuine in who I am and welcoming my clients to see me on a personal level has been very successful for me. I want to know my clients like I know my friends. Honestly, most of them have become synonymous. I also think that having them know me has been crucial in the process of teaching self love and sensuality. A type of mutual trust needs to be developed for what I do to be successful on an individual level. Being my most genuine self helps disarm my audience and allows them to welcome what I have to offer into their lives. I think, as an instructor of anything, you have to have trust. And when you teach something as personal as I do, you have to let people see that you truly live it. Also, being a supporter of my clients in their various endeavors has been such an important element. Read more>>

Ana Del Castillo | Empowerment Expert

I’d been a coach for decades, my focus being women who are looking for a deeper, fuller experience of themselves, their power, their sex, and the concrete ability to speak up and authentically be themselves in a world that tells us otherwise. Recently, however, I came to the realization that, without ever using labels or diagnoses, just about every single one of my conversations with clients had something to do with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or panic and anxiety. I had, without realizing it, been working for years and years, with considerable success, with people affected by, or with some leanings towards, a personality adaptation. So the single most important decision I made that has contributed to my success was owning that this WAS in fact an area of my expertise, and owning WHY it was an area of my expertise. I had to “come out” about it, so to speak. Read more>>

Aimée Hoover | Wild & Domestic Animal Artist

It’s the least sexy, most obvious answer ever, but never actually quitting is the secret sauce for succeeding. Aside from normal human day-dreaming moments when I think the grass must be greener in another career (“maybe I should go help raise orphaned wombats in Australia…”), I only came close to seriously quitting art all together once. And that was sheerly because I allowed myself to get completely burned out doing something I loved to do. Not quitting at that particular time—and instead attempting to find the joy again in what I was doing—was a turning point for me. So many people have creative talent—way more than me—but I find that determination and persistence are almost more important in the long run. You can be massively talented and not get anywhere because you call it quits. But committing to being determined and persistent creates the space to get better over time, and will carry your posterior to the studio when inspiration ebbs and any given day. Read more>>

Stevie Merino | Full Spectrum Doula, Birth Worker, Lactation Professional.

The single most important decision I’ve made that has contributed to my success is by showing up as my full authentic self always. In this society there are so many ideas around professionalism, compartmentalization, that political beliefs are best kept out of work, and that competition is the name of the game. When I decided to work for myself and to do birthwork full time, I had to really investigate and reflect on how I wanted to approach this work and if I was comfortable with the rigid ideas around business and success that are largely followed. Birthwork is such intimate work, we work with people in some of the most intimate parts of their lives and moments, I’ve found that allowing myself the space to share with people who I am has really fostered a space of trust, reciprocity, and the foundations for building community. I am outspoken and unapologetic about all of the intersecting identities that I carry, how I believe this work is political and rooted in activism, and that I am not interested in engaging in competition because I want us all to win. Read more>>

Sarah Bessade | Restaurant Owner

I think the most important decision I have made in all my businesses is to always do things with love. I have never designed my restaurants thinking how much money can I make but always thinking how can I create the most comfortable and lovely place for people. I truly believe that when you make decision from your heart, it’s impossible to fail and having this as a business statement made us succeed even in the middle of a pandemic. It has allowed us to create a community, our clients became our friends and it almost feel like a giant family now. We are still here thanks to them and its probably because our goal was only to create a space where we share our passion for food and service just with hard work and towns of love. Read more>>

Kristen Terry | CEO & Entrepreneur

To stop living in fear. It takes tons of self awareness to even become aware of a pitfall or flaw. Once that happens, it takes tons of courage to take a step to make a change for the better. That alone, is scary, and takes a ton of energy. To make the decision to make a life altering decision that could open you up to become vulnerable and incredibly humble is terrifying. Showing your bare self without any shame truly makes for a fruitful relationship with yourself, your business, and those you love. It is worth making this genuine decision to better my stance in my business as well as in the world. Read more>>

Marsha Smith | Owner & Creative Director

To be confident and believe in myself! Confidence plays such a big role in every part of life from business, to relationships and everything in between. Read more>>

Uriel Ben-Levi | Mother /Hair Stylist/Entrepreneur

I think the most important decision I made that contributed to my success was moving to Los Angeles. I started my career at my hometown in NYC and I reached a point where I felt stuck. I was making money but I wasn’t progressing. I decided that I needed to shake things up. Moving to LA forced me to grind harder because I didn’t have a safety net or the familiar feeling of being at home. I couldn’t fail, there was no plan B. Being outside of my comfort zone forced me to make moves that I didn’t think to make back home. Read more>>