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.

Sarah M. Chappell | Business Strategist, Writer, and Founder of Holistic Business Academy

I didn’t have one! My business emerged from a time of crisis: I had left my corporate marketing and brand management job due to health issues and was, well, broke. Unemployment in NYC doesn’t go so far! I couldn’t imagine going back to a traditional office environment, so I started reading tarot, making herbal medicine, and freelancing as a marketing consultant. About a year into it I got serious, realized that I had some real skills that could help people, and committed fully to my business. Read more>>

Sasha Alston | Author | Public Speaker | STEM Activist

I am the author of Sasha Savvy Loves to Code and Sasha Savvy Starts it Up. During high school, I noticed that there were very few women and people of color within my STEM-related classes and after school programs. This promoted me to write both books to encourage black and girls of color to gain tech skills and to teach them about entrepreneurship. Read more>>

Chaz Dean | Founder of WEN Hair & Body Care by Chaz Dean

Questions: What are you inspired by? Really everything around me: Nature, art, beauty, fashion, friends and family, music, my angels (Bella & Riley), and spirituality. Read more>>

Kheris Rogers | Fashion Designer & Activist

I started my apparel brand and viral movement Flexin’ In My Complexion after being bullied in school for my dark skin tone and kinky hair. My intent of creating this brand was to inspire people to love themselves through fashion. Read more>>

Shamani Hall | Fashion Consultant & owner @ Shop Shani

I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. My mom, grandfather and all of my uncles owned businesses so for me that was the norm. Shop Shani is actually my 3rd business, it’s been a progression of learning what to do better and what not to do over the years and tapping into my authenticity to launch this business. I knew I wanted to do something with vintage and sustainable clothing but I didn’t want to feel pressured or rushed, I wanted to do it when it felt right. It took me two years of research and manifestation before I felt ready to launch but the time came where I was clear on my vision and felt confident putting the project out into the Universe. Read more>>

Tommy Chin | Number 4 (I do everything)

Running a business as a new challenge after worked in corp for over 20 years. Things happened out of expectation sometimes. Turning a risk into an opportunity. Stepping out of the comfort zone, and also trying to push myself to another stage. Read more>>

Movado Thomas | Founder, Creative director, stylist , Fashion Designer & CEO of Established LUX

My thought process behind starting my own business was to initially make a living and I a free in my career path I realized how much this is what I should have been doing . i often times like to think that starting this brand changed my life , stoped me from going down a really dark path but the more I created I realized it was simply a medium to expresss my art form , to put out all my creative ideas as it pertains to fashion but most importantly to do something that I am passionate about, something meaningful and something that would potentially change me and my family lives whilst making an income. Read more>>

Victoria Lunacek | Wedding and Engagement Photographer

It honestly just kind of happened. I’ve been using various cameras on and off since the age of 5. My friends and family started asking me if I would do photos for them. At that point I had only had a DSLR for about a year. Most of my photography experience is actually in Polaroids and film. Once I started doing photography for them, they started telling their friends and they started asking me to do photos. I began attempting to build a business. Now at that point my prices were extremely low and I worked with a family that had told me that I should start building my business and setting my prices to reflect the work I was producing. Read more>>

LaKisha Johnson | Founder – Tru Esscents Bespoke Body Care

I had no intention of creating a business. I was just looking for a solution to solve my dry skin problem. I tried many different products and none of them were effective. I began researching remedies for dry skin and found articles about solid lotion bars. When I saw the ingredients list, I decided that I’d try to make a few for myself. I fell in love after the first batch! Lotion bars were the perfect solution for my dry hands. Slowly, I began to explore making body butters, lip balm, and soap. My friends and family were also pleased with my creations because they offered to pay me to make products as gifts for them. Read more>>

Steven Zakari | Comedian & Host

My thought process was pretty simple — I don’t like working under anyone. I keep my bedroom and work life separate. Read more>>

Sharon Cunningham | Restaurant owner of Sharon’s Creole Kitchen

Wanted to do something I enjoyed doing & provide food I grew up on to my community. After battleling breast cancer its my belief you only live once and there was no better time to start my business Read more>>

Aon the Artist | Musician & Entrepreneur

The reason I got into the business end of the music industry was because I realized the uneven ratio of musicians to music business people. The ration had to be at least 50:1 in my city of Seattle, which then made me want to make a difference. Read more>>

Eric Satterberg | Actor and Self Tape Studio Owner

I wanted to give Actors a low-cost solution to meet the rise of self-taped auditions. My studio provides Actors with a professional space that has lights, a camera, backdrop, sound, editing, and free coaching so they can provide the best-looking self-tape and remove any distractions from an audition like a bookshelf in the background or bad sound. I want Actors to feel confident that their creative choices will be at the forefront of their tapes and not bad lighting. Read more>>

Jared Colton | Model/Creative Director/Film Creator

My thought process behind starting my own personal business was solely based off the idea of being able to control and direct things particular to how I would prefer certain things to go. In the past, before I had broken off to create my own LLC, I was told how much I am being paid by this person and that person. Not being able to control my own worth seemed constricting to me as far as growth and personal branding preference. Read more>>

Marion Dunham | Acupuncturist

Starting my own business was something I always longed for because I saw it as an opportunity to create the space and atmosphere that I wanted for my clientele to be able to make the changes in themselves that they wanted to see. I had a lot of experience working with holistic medicine and herbs in a clinical setting, but with my business, I wanted to step outside of the clinic and bring my patients into a calm and tranquil setting where they could truly focus on the therapeutic elements of their treatment. Read more>>

Andre Ovissi | Founder, President

I started Fast Protein in 2018 because I was overwhelmed when I went shopping for protein powder in a vitamin store and online. There were so many brands and types and so much complexity in choosing the right product. I noticed so many unnecessary ingredients that did not add any value to my health – added ingredients and substitutes to increase texture or flavor – ingredients that have no nutritional value. Read more>>

Skum Love | Music industry professional

Kind of a hard question I just knew that the only way to get things done is to do it myself. I had a vision I had an idea and realize the only person that can make that happen was me. Read more>>

Dr. Catharine Song | Cosmetic dentist and owner of Song Cosmetic Dentistry

I am a professionally trained artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from New York University, and trained under some amazing artists in Florence, Italy, with that training I chose to pursue cosmetic dentistry. Upon graduating University of North Carolina School of Dentistry I knew I wanted to start my own business. That’s how Song Cosmetic Dentistry was born. Read more>>

Joe Briglio | Partner & Beverage Director

The thought process behind starting Nine Bar with my partner Lily Wang really evolved organically over time. At its core the idea was simple, which is to provide an experience and nightlife option that currently was not available in Chicago’s Chinatown. We wanted to create a space where guests and residents of the neighborhood could enjoy a great cocktail, food, and music. Read more>>

Tamara Golden | Transformational Retreat Coach

I wanted to have more flexibility and freedom over my time, do something completely different, creative and meaningful in the personal development space, and be my own boss. Read more>>

Jynnette Lewis | Oracle, Spiritual Life Coach, Business Strategist

I’ve been entrepreneurial-minded for most of my life and thought it would be amazing to make a living as a spiritualist among other ventures, but I didn’t really believe it was feasible for me. During a sacred 40 day spiritual practice a few years ago, I received a clear call to start this business and I quickly got it up and running. I intended to have it as something on the side of my job at the time. However, a few months later I was laid off and it was basically sink or swim! Read more>>

Jenny Dinh Safransky | Founder & Head of Talent Brand Partnerships

After working in marketing for over 10+ years in the ad agency world and more recently in brand partnerships for the GRAMMYs, I felt it was time to make a change when I became a mom in 2020. After much reflection when my son was born, I knew that I wanted the ability to spend more time with my family and do something that was purpose-driven. So without an exact plan in place, I decided to leave my dream job at the GRAMMYs after 5 years. Although this decision was risky, it felt right based on the current season of my life. Read more>>

Rebecca Rapoport-Cole | Vocal Coach and Founder of Studio GRC

Studio GRC was born out of the philosophy that artists do their best work when they are fully supported and invested in. I believe the magic happens when performing artists receive first-rate, expert guidance from a coach who is 100% dedicated to their success. When starting Studio GRC, my goal was to take all my experience as a professional singer, actor and educator and offer aspiring and established performers a space where they can come and work both on their craft and their career goals. Read more>>

Will Frazier | Credit & Business Expert

I always knew I wanted to start a business since I was in high school. I just never knew what kind of business I would start. I just wanted to be able to make the income I wanted to make and had control over. I also knew most people who made a lot of money owned business and the idea of putting systems and people together along the way excited the analytical part of me. Around junior/senior year I figured I could be a mechanic and then eventually open my own shop but God had other plans. Read more>>

Jon Shanahan | co-founder, creator

Both sides of my family growing up ran their own companies which both still operate today. One side is trucking and logistics while the other is a homemade ice cream shop where I really cut my teeth. In the back of my mind when I went to college it was always to come back and run one of the family businesses after gaining enough experience “in the real world”. After stints at companies as small as 8 people to Apple and everything inbetween I was able to build a side hustle into a full-time business with my Kavalier YouTube channel. Read more>>

Dahyna Prophete | Social Worker & Content Creator.

Making candles, understanding essential oils saved me. I wanted to help others feel better. I started this business thinking maybe it will help someone like me or perhaps college students trying to stay up at night studying. Parents wanting to wind down but not just with candles that smell good but candles that contain essential oils. I have essential oils that came all the way from Haiti to give my customers the best so they can feel their best. I also want to leave this company for my child who’s going to be named Ava. Read more>>

Tamira Wells | Owner & Wardrobe Consultant

I relaunched the business to pay homage to my late aunt and uncle who were the original founders of the brand in the 90’s. My uncle was a graphic artist and created the brand to celebrate African American Culture. I wanted to continue the legacy and share the history of the brand Read more>>

Julia Tricarico | Owner & Founder of Another Life NY

I started Another Life NY in January 2021. Another Life NY is an online boutique that sells authentic vintage and pre-loved bags. I always valued designer bags, new or vintage, and started to grow my own vintage bag collection. I researched how to authenticate each luxury brand’s bags because I was hesitate tp purchase pre-loved. Then, I literally said to myself, “I want to make this into a business, and I want my customers to feel the same excitement I feel when purchasing a bag and feel confident in their purchase”. As for the name, Another life NY, I wanted to emphasize how vintage/pre-loved bags could be given “another life”. Read more>>

Nikki Garcha | Corporate Supply Chain Professional | Founder re.TREAT T.O

Growing up, a family trip to the grocery store every weekend would be incomplete without dropping a new type of batter mix (or two) into the cart, and of course let’s not forget the frosting and sprinkles! I would bake for every occasion and for no occasion at all. The kitchen was my playground. As I got older, my passion for baking grew stronger, followed by my collection of recipe books, tools, and techniques. A few years ago I began tapping into a topic, extremely close to my heart – inclusive baking. Read more>>