Starting a business is a commitment and requires dedication, resources and sacrifice. We asked some of the rising stars in our community how they thought through the idea of starting their own businesses.

Eyal Abitbul | Fashion Designer

Fashion has alway been a big part of my DNA as a human being. Growing up in a small city in Israel, starting my own business was something I didn’t want to happen. The main reason is because my parents always worked for themselves. I would see them snuggling and my mom would always say: “Don’t be independent, its not worth it!” At the same time I would use my sister’s dolls to create. I would cut their dresses and change their hair.  Read more>>

Denise & Dawn Elias & Pasacreta | C0-Owners Of LOLA NY

When Denise Elias started throwing jewelry parties in her home in the early 2000’s she discovered what she thought was just a fun night with the girls was actually a business in the making. Weekly parties turned into daily drop ins from friends that were in gift crisis and just needed that perfect something “right now”! The demand became such that she just knew that the next logical step was to open a real store. Enter Dawn Pasacreta, friends who met because their boys became best friends since the first day of Kindergarten (both now in college). Read more>>

Drita Popovic, MS Psy | Lifestyle, Wellness & Professional Coach

I have always been drawn towards the direction of helping others. It is my calling and my life’s purpose. The thought process behind starting my own business was simple honestly, I felt I needed to do more, to reach more people globaly, not limit myself to an office, a place, a computer, but rather a purpose driven mission. Working in the Mental Health Field for 11+ years I realized how crutial it has become for people to develop Mental Strength and Emotional Intelligence. Given my own personal and professional experiences I realized that I needed to make my practice personal so that I would not allow it to fail. Read more>>

Dr. Lisa Vallesteros | Cosmetic and General Dentist

After years of working as an associate dentist and seeing my own private patients, I’ve found my passion in helping people smile confidently and inspiring them to be their best self. With this goal, I am in the process of building my startup dental business. My plan is to build a fun, comfortable and creatively innovative space where people can look forward to seeing their dentist. Read more>>

Erin Brown | Emcee / Fun Facilitator / Confidence Coach

The thought process was fairly simple: my Red Carpet “gimmick” – as the late great Garry Marshall referred to it during one of his many visits to my red carpet – was a unique experience that brought joy to interviewees spotlit on the carpet and spectators alike. People requested that I bring my Red Carpet or as I saw it, my well-intended joke, to their events to be a sort of entertaining welcome committee. Read more>>

Lucia Genao | Mother | Fashion Designer | Illustrator

Quite simply, my love for fashion and my family. I’ve been in the fashion industry for over 15 years now. From a young age, I’ve had an innate passion for art and fashion. Finding, extracting, and creating beauty from the simple to the complex, has always excited me. I’ve also been able to expand my creativity by traveling to different parts of the world. I spent a month in India to learn about local factories, explored Europe in search of exquisite fabrics, garment construction, store merchandising, and also visited various parts of East Asia to manage seasonal collections. Read more>>

Liletta Harlem | Communication Strategist & Coach

I am passionate about uplifting women. Going through several bouts of depression in my life including a suicide attempt at age 18, I got to see first hand what it feels like to be broken and not sure of who you are. As I healed I knew I had to take my own experience and help other women find that power that lies within them so that they can thrive! Read more>>

Trinity Griffin | Style Consultant, Writer and Brand Communications Manager

Well, my business initially started as a blog in 2016. I’ve always been interested in fashion and writing and the blog was sort of a culmination of that. I would give style advice, talk about my latest thrift finds, or discuss something that I felt passionately about from issues regarding race to topics on self-mastery. The blog gradually began to morph into something more. In 2019 I added styling services to my website. I didn’t really know what I was doing or how to run a business but I sure knew how to make someone look good. That same year was also when I started taking writing more seriously and freelancing for publications. I started at MEFeater and the next year was published in Teen Vogue and Essence Magazine. Read more>>

John Petrey | Fine Art Sculptor

I’ve owned my own business since 1980. One in the commercial art field for 26 years, and one in the fine art field for the past 15+ years. It was all I knew. Both my parents had their own businesses when I was growing up so that was what influenced me to “not have a real job”. I’m a bit of a control freak as well, and driven to succeed. So, not having total say-so never made sense to me. Even though I’ve always had various types of “clients” to please, and still do, but I will turn down projects that don’t challenge me creatively. Read more>>

Ellie Diop | Business Coach & Strategist

I decided to start my own business because I saw that I had no other choice. I had wanted to start my consulting business for so long (and had failed at two other businesses) but was fearful that this would be yet another failure. However, as I looked at the condition of my life at the time; divorced, living back home with my mom, unemployed & homeschooling through a pandemic – I realized that I had to make a choice. To either remain in the situation I was in or to look fear in its face & make a bold decision to change that situation. Read more>>

Toni Ricci | Dance Studio Owner, Dance Educator, and Women Entrepreneur.

I began dancing when I was 6 years old. When I first made my way onto the stage I had this undoubtable feeling that this would be what I would do forever. It wasn’t long after that I knew that I wanted to own my own studio one day somehow. As I started student teaching and became more involved with dance as the years progressed the feeling and passion never faded and my desire to own my studio only grew. I had a passion for teaching and I wanted to run my own studio with the ethics, morals, and programming that I felt were important to me and the education of a dancer. When the timing was just right the way fate wanted it I was able to finally make that dream of mine that started so young a reality. Read more>>

Maddy Cristall | Music Journalist, Scriptwriter and Publicist

I want to devote my life to writing love letters to music due to my unreasonable love for words and sound. I feel like the intersection of the two is where I feel the most alive. This is such a male-dominated industry so I wanted to create a platform for myself and others that not only welcomes but celebrates all voices. Read more>>

Katie Webb | Founder of aila & Certified Personal Trainer

I spent 10+ years in advertising and partnerships before starting aila, and was also a CPT in New York. Aila began out of a need I saw not only with myself, but with my fellow active peers for better-for-you active nutrition products. I’d tested out a ton of pre-workout supplements to fuel my fitness routine, and none of them lived up to my nutrition standards with the high amounts of caffeine and artificial ingredients. Not to mention, as someone that cares about what brands stand for, I felt the products were really just marketing to athletes and bodybuilders, not me – the twenty-something girl going to Barry’s Bootcamp and SoulCycle in NYC. 🙂 Read more>>

seth bergstrom | designer / maker

Honestly, looking back I wish I had more of a thought process behind starting my business. I had no experience with small business, no one in my circle of friends and family were entrepreneurs. What I did have was a passion for design and woodworking and a deeply engrained work ethic. I started my brand a few years earlier as a side project, something I did on weekends so the idea of something bigger was floating around. Read more>>

Heidi Rojas | Songwriting & Vocal Coach, Artist Developer

I’m one of those mushy believers in music having the power to totally heal people. I have experienced so much growth and have made so many incredible friendships writing songs, listening and dancing to music, and building my business around that love. I want to help other artists access that creativity in themselves too. So I built a business as a songwriting and vocal coach! I help artists around the world write, fine tune, perform, and record their own songs. Sort of like a song Dr. or a music therapist. I also develop artists with my amazing partner and dear friend Lauren Christy. We call ourselves the dream enablers. Just two moms helping artists navigate a heavily male dominated industry with songs artists can be super proud of. Read more>>

robert meeks | Business Owner, Director, DP

When I first began thinking about what I wanted to do for a living, I was kind of all over the place. You know, when you’re a young kid you think about being a police officer, a fireman, a doctor or a lawyer. At least I did. But, at age ten, my mom recognized I spent hours on end watching movies and getting captivated by the worlds they lived in. So naturally one sunday morning at church, a bulletin was handed out and inside had a section that read “video volunteers needed.” Read more>>

Cassandra Burse |

I have never desired to be an employee because it feels like bondage to me. My parents were entrepreneurs and free thinkers. I have always loved to learn and experience things on my own and for myself and I desired to set my own rate of pay based on my worth. I knew that would never happen working for another entity. Read more>>

Rosario Sandoval | Student- Masters of Social Work

This project has a bigger meaning than displaying the body of a womyn. It’s a fight against standards and traditions of being ashamed of the female anatomy and what it looks like underneath the layers. Our fight comes from a place of deep thought, love, and dedication. It is meaningful to the both of us and hopefully empowering to you all. The womyn body is such a magical and beautiful thing. YOUR body is your home, yet so many of us live in discomfort due to the societal demands and unrealistic expectations of — what we should look like, how we should dress, our weight, etc. Read more>>

Chelsea Ovanessian | Baker

I want to share what I’ve created for myself with others. The real passion in your work stems from putting yourself in the customers’ shoes – and that was easy for me because I am my own customer. What would make the customer’s life not just more satisfying, but easier. My food and overall wellness journey ultimately brought me to a cross in the road where I had to answer that question for myself. How did I continue to nourish my body without feeling like I was missing out on the “sweeter” things in life? I want to show others that mindful eating doesn’t come at a cost and you and you can most definitely eat cake on your birthday. Read more>>

Mona Clayt0n, MSN, RN | CEO, The Nurses Pub & Registered Nurse

The thought process behind starting “The Nurses Pub” was due to my reflecting on the obstacles that I endured as a single parent during my education while in nursing school and the impact that my success has had on my daughter. I knew that there were many single mothers that needed a chance to flourish and live their dream of becoming nurses; however I also knew the obstacles that I endured such as the need for childcare, financial difficulties, having money for rent and living expenses as well as ensuring that my daughter was successful in her academics. Read more>>

Shanell Tyus | Strengths-based Business Coach

When my daughter was born, it quickly became clear that I was short on what felt like two of my most precious resources – time, and money. I was determined to think of a way to generate more of both, and be fulfilled in the process. It came down to a pursuit of freedom – freedom of time, freedom of finances, and freedom of creativity to live a more fulfilled life with my husband and our daughter. I didn’t want to get an extra job that took away time but gave me more money – that would defeat the purpose for me, so I focused first on what I did well naturally that could be done while my daughter slept and didn’t require me to learn a new skill as I was less than 2 years out of grad school and loving my career in higher education. Read more>>

Angelika Zaugg | Founder & CEO of IVOIRE MANAGEMENT

I’ve always desired to be an entrepreneur and to be able to make a positive impact on society. I fancied to make a difference by helping companies to reach their goals. Throughout the years, I’ve witnessed a drastic increase in the emergence of new brands. But even genius-like creative minds close to me struggled to distinguish their brand’s image. Motivated by artist’s struggle to handle all parts of managing a brand, I decided to launch IVOIRE MANAGEMENT, a management company that is all about helping and collaborating with others to find synergies. IVOIRE MANAGEMENT’s goal is to help build brands from scratch to ensure they align with the founder’s vision and the respective market space. But aside from IVOIRE’s goal, as a female founder, I find happiness in seeing the progress that leads to greater achievements. Read more>>

Kristel Robinson | Spiritual Teacher Certified life Coach Motivational Speaker

Honestly, for me, it was never about my own business. I see it as a calling from God to adventure on this journey of creating a personal space for women. I always knew in my heart that I was built for more than I was accepting and this is how I started Can’t Break Me Retreats. I felt that God was calling me to build an “ark”, where I can encourage women to let go of everything and everyone not aligned in God’s purpose for their life.
Slowly my ministry came to life, by just listening to God’s voice. Read more>>

Bella Trost | Bikini model, YouTuber, Wellness Magazine founder & Filmmaker

If I get excited about something I jump in the deep end. I put all my energy into learning and experiencing. I cannot really do anything as a hobby. If I do something, I’m going to do it properly. I don’t really think through the process, I just work really hard and see where it goes. That’s how I became a world champion bikini model & pro athlete in 3 fitness federations. 6 years ago I saw one of my friends on Facebook posing in a beautiful bikini on stage. Read more>>

Tasha Butcher | Owner of Below Forty Trendz

My thought process about starting my business was always wanting to be stylish on a budget. The world has changed in many ways for a lot of us and most of the time we as women/moms tend to put ourselves last. I know first hand how it feels to see a cute dress but can’t get it because it cost too much. The struggle of paying bills and taking care of home is all too familiar with the times we live in today. I wanted to create a store where it would still be in budget to buy something nice for yourself. Read more>>

Arturo D. Chavez | Style Director & Founder of The Foliage Fanatic

My wife and I started The Foliage Fanatic as a creative outlet to merge my love of plants and highlight my knowledge of the fashion industry. My wife is the savvy businesswoman and I bring the artistic side of things – it’s a perfect balance. The goal of our business is to create items that emphasize the beauty of plants along with sustainability, style and comfort. Our apparel and accessories are unisex items using fabric partially made of recycled bottles and organic cotton when possible. Read more>>

Kathryn and Eliza | Co-Founders, Sustainable Republic

We are both passionate about the environment, but also big believers in social justice and building a community. To us, sustainability isn’t just being plastic-free and using bamboo; it’s also about supporting local small businesses, and businesses that pay fair wages and support women and minorities. There are a lot of great zero-waste stores cropping up around the country, but we wanted to go the extra mile and really vet our vendors and sources. Read more>>

 Francis Marquez | Belly Pork Connoisseur

Before I started Belly Pork Gang I was doing the normal office 9-5 thing. I worked in Housing and I did love my job as it involved helping people but I have always loved food. Then on our family holiday in 2017 to Turkey we went Paragliding and unlucky me, on landing it went a bit funny last second with my Paraglider trying to avoid people we ended up on the concrete with me breaking my back (Coccyx). I still remember it was like a scene from Baywatch, I was laid out on the beach and people just started rushing around me. Read more>>

Devon Dooley | Director/Photographer/

Mannn, I remember being in school full time, working at TD Bank full time and trying to launch my business. I used to blog back then and I put out a post saying that something had to give, either work or school because I knew Photography wasn’t something that I was willing to let go of. It took years to actually get the business off the ground but my camera was the Only thing I’ve ever picked up and NEVER put down. Read more>>

Danrochelle Yumul | Founding Editor, Meet The (818)

Sometimes, you have to create opportunities for yourself. You can’t wait for people to come knocking at your door, offering you what you want. You have to find those opportunities yourself. When I first started Meet The (818), I saw it as an opportunity to do something I love: writing. At the same time, it was also a chance to share stories from the San Fernando Valley as well as connect people to one another and the community. I was a year and a half away from turning 40 when I started this venture and apart from the occasional freelancing gig here and there, I felt like I had to start something myself if I wanted a career as a writer/journalist. So, here we are, doing what I’ve always wanted to do while helping others in my own way. Read more>>

Macea Whisettse | Women’s Life Coach & Mentor

In December 2019 days before Christmas, I left my full-time job where I had good benefits, a wonderful salary and the perfect schedule – I left it far behind! On the surface, my life looked incredibly successful. I had a great job, money & opportunities that most people may have seen as a dream. But behind closed doors I was hiding a few secrets. The biggest one was I felt like there had to be more. I wasn’t happy and something was missing. Read more>>

Ariel Clark | Cannabis & Psychedelics Business and Regulatory Attorney

I started the firm in 2010. From the outset, we’ve dedicated most of our practice to the cannabis space. We also provide advice to other emerging ecosystems, including hemp and psychedelics. At that time, there were very few attorneys giving good business, corporate and regulatory advice to the cannabis community, especially in Los Angeles, which has the biggest cannabis market, probably in the world. I started the firm to be of service to plants and emerging ecosystems I deeply believe in, and communities I am deeply connected to. Read more>>

Lakesha Foreman | Brand Owner

My first thought process was to just BREATH. sounds funny but it actually works. New ventures can be intimidating. Next I surrounded my self with individuals who were not afraid to go down this journey with me and had just as much passion if not more. Entering the wine and spirit industry was and is a field you don’t expect someone to just jump into without previous knowledge. Read more>>

Myisha Battle | Sex & Dating Coach

I had been working in the nonprofit world for almost a decade when I started to evaluate how I wanted to make a bigger impact, specifically through direct service. I met with a coach who had been consulting with the organization I worked for and she helped me realize that I had actually moved away from my true interests and purpose. I was able to distill down what I wanted to do to “helping people with their sex lives” and knew I needed to build up some serious credibility in order to be financially successful doing that. Read more>>

Ramon Peralta | Founder, CEO and Creative Director

I actually started my design business while I was still in college. I had a professor who noticed a caricature I had drawn of myself for a class assignment, and she asked me if I’d be interested in drawing caricatures at an adult birthday party for a friend of hers. That was really my first paying gig and I began doing caricatures as a side hustle. When I went to the art supply store, I saw they had a ledger for ‘tax ID numbers / tax free sales’ and it was then that I started the inquire about really establishing myself as a real company with a state Sales and Use Tax ID number. Read more>>

Sarena Harris | Photo Booth Company Owner & Operator

My initial thought process behind starting my own business was wanting a way to bring additional income into our household that was fun and gave me a break from the job that I was doing everyday. Read more>>

King Shinobe | Rapper & Cannabis Advocate

I just got so tired of working for other people! There’s something about going above and beyond for a company that isn’t yours that grinds me the wrong way. I wanted something I could leave for my family. Plus, I had a great support group that encouraged me to go after my dreams! Read more>>

Shaughnessy Otsuji | Cosmetic/Restorative Tattoo Artist and Owner of Studio Sashiko

I always knew I was destined to make a living doing something creative and something I truly enjoyed. Starting my own business in the arts has always been a dream of mine. I have had a couple small businesses in the past including making and selling customized phone cases and accessories and creating an alternative clothing line with my husband, Kyle. I attended art university and worked within the tattoo industry which eventually landed me my dream job as a cosmetic and restorative tattoo artist! I began offering my cosmetic tattoo services at a local tattoo shop I was managing and my calendar quickly filled up. Read more>>

Shalonda A. | Makeup Artist

I wanted to have control of my own life. Make my own schedule and do what I was truly passionate about. Read more>>

Rose Castro | President, Jeremy Castro Foundation

I lost my 26 year-old son, Jeremy, to a fentanyl overdose in 2017. He had struggled with heroin addiction for several years prior to his passing. He died in his bedroom at home (my house) and I found his body that Wednesday morning. This description is not meant for pity, but to describe the depths of pain caused by drug addiction. It was the loss of my son hat drove me to action. Although I felt helpless to combat the enormity of the opioid epidemic, I knew I had to do something. Read more>>

Kumali Neptune | Writer, Producer, Director

Independence is key in a time of ever evolving business practices. The advancement of technology and social media has opened avenues for finding your niche and cultivating it into your own. The status quo of finding and securing employment are a thing of the past. This tech frontier is new, fresh and exciting offering a plethora of expansion and ownership. Find it, cultivate it, own it! Read more>>

Sormeh Salimpour | Interior Decorator

Sormeh Salimpour grew up utterly engulfed in the world of design. Her own career began at fashion PR firm People’s Revolution, and then as an assistant to celebrity stylist Monica Rose, where she worked closely with celebrity clients such as Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe Kardashian. Pivoting her career, she has spent the last 10 years working alongside her mother, interior design & landscape architect powerhouse, at their design firm. With years of hands-on experience working on multi-million dollar projects, with invaluable mentorship, Sormeh knew it was time to launch her own venture, Interiors by Sormeh. Read more>>

Sarah Lea | Animal Communicator, Vegan Activist and Founder of Heel, Pet CBD

I was troubled by the fact that I was working to make money to live and that work to me was purposeless. I felt that if there was a way for me to make money to live whilst serving a purpose and helping others, that is what I was going to do. One day, someone said these words to me, “Serve a purpose and the Purpose will serve you.” Thats when it all made sense. Read more>>

Jazzmine “Rhyeseyes” Caron | Artist

Honestly, it was my friends and family who encouraged me to start my own business and sell my art. As many artists can relate, I didn’t have much confidence in my work at first because I only made art for myself. I didn’t expect anyone outside of my inner circle to witness my creations because at the time I was still set on becoming an actress. I would post my work on instagram, get a few likes, and move on to the next thing… until people actually starting showing interest in BUYING my paintings! Read more>>

Teresa Nater | CEO owner of VeganChica

My thought process in starting my business was the fact that I became vegan and had become more aware of what I was eating and putting on my body . So one day I decided to make a scrub and I loved how it made my skin feel and the fact that is was handmade and vegan was special to me . So I decided to sell a couple at first and after a while my sales started to pick up . Read more>>

Eloise Theisen | Nurse Practitioner

It was accidental actually. I saw a need in the community and decided that patients deserved to have a healthcare professional guide them to safe and effective use with cannabis Read more>>