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.

Kaylyn Noonan | Owner of KayKreative LLC

I have always loved many different sides of being a creative – photography, brand design, social media, video, etc. I have always worked for companies that required my full-time attention, so it has always been in the back of my mind that if I were to start a company, I can wear many hats and help brands in many different avenues. I loved working at different companies to learn new ways of doing things, but felt that it was my turn to take the leap into my own creative consulting business. Read more>>

Jenny Eom | Creative Director & Educator

I founded two very different businesses with a similar goal in mind – to foster a vibrant and inclusive community where art becomes accessible for non-artists and sustainable for artists. Drawwing Cabinet, an artist-run educational studio, was founded in November of 2020 by LA-based artist Jisoo Chung and me. We wanted to create a pluralistic platform where a multitude of creative thinkers intersect and mutually inspire and support one another. Currently, we offer regular classes for K–12 students (future artists) and artist-led workshops where (present) artists can share their passion and expertise with other artists or non-artists. Read more>>

Jennifer Armstrong | Lead coach + SS Owner

My thought process behind starting my own business was and is to create a space where you feel like you belong. Create a space where you are uplifted and not put down. Create a space where you are free to be vulnerable and at the same time you’re encouraged to get through whatever obstacle that is hindering you from moving forward. I feel when God gave me this gift and purpose he also gave me a plan. The plan is not to be a savior. The plan is to be the person who uplifts and encourage and for people to understand and know without a shadow of a doubt, that there is a light at the end of EVERY tunnel you just have to keep moving forward. Read more>>

Wendy Andrade | Pharmacist | CEO & Founder of The Landscape Planner

The thought process behind starting The Landscape Planner was simple and quite frankly, obvious as it should be with any business. That is, to SOLVE a PROBLEM. My business solves 2. Hispanics are the number one largest minority in the United States (as of 2019) yet many of us are far from business owners. Being the only Mexican in my entire college demonstrated that the opportunity existed, however, so did the lack of resources, mentorship, role models and representation. Read more>>

REISCHEL SAWYER-COBB | CEO/Founder of ICANDO Brand & Accountant

The thought process was to create a Women Empowerment Organization that included a unique brand that exudes the power and ability to overcome every great obstacle with strength and resilience. To create an array of products and overall service delicately addresses the desire to grow the inner woman, while also uniquely enhancing the outer appearance. Read more>>

Toushonta Hogan | CEO / Founder

I remember being married while running a business and in school with two young children, 2 years apart and sacrificing my entire life for each of them . So much so that celebrating me felt like guilt. I felt unworthy, as my children were my world. But, my world, my life was dying inside. From the hustle and bustle of my day to day schedule, coupled with the extra-curricular activities that each of my children were participants of, along with the need to maintain my relationship with my husband. I began to feel overwhelmed. Read more>>

Alexandra Olmedo | RYT 200 Yoga & Dance Instructor

For many years both Roman and I had always dreamed about starting our own business with the accumulation of skills that we have. When 2020 hit, for many of us the world shifted to a more home-based work environment. We decided that it would be the perfect time to launch our Dance/Yoga studio, with a twist; it would be all virtual! Luckily we had been constructing all the business plans up to that year and decided if not now, when? It was a time when people desperately needed space for themselves to process, to focus on themselves, to stay active and healthy as much as they could. Read more>>

Kahlil Daniel | Singer, Actor, Producer, Writer, Director

In 2010, I founded Instinct Entertainment, a production company based in music, film, and media production. My time at Howard University, where I received my BFA in Acting, made it very clear who the gate keepers were in Hollywood, and that if we as black artists wanted to see our stories represented, we would have to have a hand in writing and producing them ourselves. I’ve always been a singer and an actor and my company gives me the power to take a hand in the direction of my music and acting career, without only having to wait for the validation of a casting or contract signing. Read more>>

Diana Mendoza | Founder and Owner

The idea of Never Alone Candles started right at the start of the pandemic. As everyone came to grips with quarantine life, I already knew what this type of life was like. I am a two-time breast cancer survivor and I am an expert at quarantining when going through cancer treatments twice in my life. The world was in a severe panic about COVID-19, how they were going to get the next roll of toilet paper and what type of bread was going to be baked. Read more>>

Kelly Conkright | Founder | The Brand Terminal

I started my own creative agency 5 years ago to create a better way to do things. I noticed that the big agency model was broken. A lot of the best talent were going freelance and at the same time, clients were wanting more project-based work with agencies that specialized. We fill this white space of being able to do project-based work and give a solution to the medium-sized brands and even start-up brands, versus just big corporations, The Brand Terminal harnesses the best global freelance talent and is on a mission to launch the best and brightest brands of the future. Read more>>

Richard Niles | Composer and host of RADIO RICHARD

I have been a professional composer, arranger, songwriter and broadcaster since 1975, working with some of the most respected artists in pop, jazz and soul music (including Paul McCartney, Pat Metheny and Ray Charles). During my 20 years as a BBC broadcaster in London, I made many acclaimed documentaries, interviewing iconic artists. Read more>>

Devlon Short | Filmmaker & Business Owner

Our thought process was simply to own something we could pass down to our kids. I wanted to be able to have something to call my own…I disliked working for a job where I would have to ask if it’s okay to take sick leave when I didn’t feel well, to take a vacation to finally rest, or when something happen in my household I would need to see if I could leave early. I didn’t want that for me and didn’t want my kids to experience that, so my wife and I decided to start a business together. Read more>>

James Hays | Tissue Banking Specialist & Partner, Plasma Solutions,Llc

I had to do a personal assessment. I had to look at my family financial position first. In other words, was I financially capable of setting aside the dollars needed to go into business? Was I in a position to not get a paycheck for nine months to a year? Secondly, was I willing to dedicate the time needed to start my business? Also, am I really and “expert” in my field? Read more>>

Samantha Naht | Small Online Business Owner

Omg, is this going to work out? What if we fail? Everything negative lol, I’m such a pessimist it’s annoying but I had to keep telling myself you have to make it work, you can do it. You are made for this. After our first drop sold out, I knew THIS WAS JUST THE BEGINNING! Read more>>

Sean James | Hairstylist/Makeup Artist

My original thought process on creating my own business was so that I could provide the customer service that I like to provide, and that I have been trained to do, and know so well, After working at FRED SEGAL and Santa Monica for over 27 years I have learned so much about customer service and the quality that people are looking for. Read more>>

Ayad Mirjan | Founder & CEO

In 2015, I left a full-time job, overseas, as a Procurement Director with a six-figure salary to start a new chapter, a new profession. I wanted to start a fitness gym in Southern California. This new chapter would require a new set of skills and qualifications. First, I needed to get certified as a trainer and learn the trade. So, I completed my ACE personal training certificate, which I did online, and decided to move to Brazil for several months and immerse myself in the teachings of Capoeira—a Brazilian martial arts technique that relies heavily on bodyweight management and control. Read more>>

Kelly Nimens | Professional Dancer

First let me start by introducing my business, it is called “Runway Dance Connection” and we operate both dance competitions and conventions during the competitive dance season. My sister’s named Riley, Holly and myself (Kelly Nimens) are Co-Founders and Co-Directors of RUNWAY. Interestingly enough, the initial idea of operating dance competitions was conceived by my Mom while walking the beach because she felt it appealed to each of our individual strengths and therefore had great potential for success. Read more>>

Lani Woods | CoFounder & CEO of Black With Endurance

My thought process leading up to starting my own business was a struggle. I always fantasized about having my own business, I was always drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I toyed with it but would never commit, until I kept seeing people use my advice to be successful in their own endeavors. During Covid I learned a job isn’t guaranteed and finally decided it was time to bet on myself and I turned my hobby into an LLC. Read more>>

James Tucker | Letterpress Printer

When I was in college in Baltimore there were so many old storefronts in neighborhoods that were converted to houses. I thought it was a shame that these neighborhoods did not have community hubs anymore. At that point, I knew I wanted to create a shop that was community-focused. At the time Anthony Bourdain and the food scene was really picking up. The storytelling of making things by hand, the care and craft into the service industry. I thought this could be all transferred to another area other than food. Read more>>

Katherine Rodriguez Aka LA Kaliente | Artist & Designer

I created Blue Strips to provide a platform for not only branding myself but for aspiring models to gain experience on the cat walk and in photography. A foundation for growth and development. Women uniting for a bigger purpose, a bigger picture for success, wealth & prosperity. Read more>>