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.

Choānn | Filmmaker

I like being a freelance director because it gives me freedom to choose my own projects, which allow me to chart my own growth and interests I want to explore in film – be it music videos, short films or commercials. I always thought it made sense to be in control of my own career by running my own brand Read more>>

Leticia Piazza | Designer and creator of Franca Arts and Crafts

My decision of started my own business appeared as an internal and personal need. I used to work for a fashion company over 7 years and in an slowly mode I started to feel that I need to be more engaged about my work, in some way it was a mode of belief about what I do. Read more>>

Benjamin Taylor | Co-Founder Old Road Rum Company

I had a 22 year career with a large multinational and had always wanted my own business but the right idea never came along. Rum had always been a hobby of mine and in 2012 I visited the Caribbean island of St. Kitts and became good friends with a local family that back in the 70’s had purchased a sugar plantation estate that held the first land grant by the British in the Caribbean (1625). Read more>>

Kian Karimi MD, FACS | Nasal & Facial Plastic Surgeon

With the increasing availability and accessibility of aesthetic treatments, I sought to create a center of excellence that would offer state-of-the-art treatments tailored to each individual patient in a relaxed, clean, and friendly environment backed by a facial plastic surgeon and by elite aesthetic providers delivering the treatments. Read more>>

Deanna Munoz | CEO/Founder Latino Arts Foundation/Chicano Art & Cultural Center of Kansas City

I started what was originally called The Scribblers Co., because of my own story. I wanted to always be an artist, my parents loved art as well but never had the opportunity to do more with their love then as a hobby, if they even had the time. My love of art stopped once I knew I needed to work & knowing I did not have the support to continue with a dream that to others, was just that, a dream. Read more>>

Joseph Zigelboum | Entrepreneur, Founder of Brooklyn Botany and TUMERI

I never really thought I’d start my own business. I really wanted to be in marketing and read a lot about it and thought maybe I had a knack for it. But when I couldn’t land even an unpaid internship in anything marketing related, I was driven to start my own thing and prove myself. Read more>>

Melissa Mursch-Rodriguez | Founder & Editor of Moody

Moody was a product of the pandemic; I wanted to be able to platform and connect creatives with each other and opportunities without having to leave the house. I was already exploring how to start a business or some sort of larger project by taking a business course, and instead of creating a pretend business in the course I decided to pick something that was feasible like a zine. Read more>>

Emily Bellinger | Quilt Artist & Entrepreneur

I started my business back in 2008 when I was in undergrad at Alfred University in Alfred, NY. I already loved to sew at that point and had a small stash of fabric scraps given to me by my mother (who was a quilter at the time). As a poor college kid I wanted some extra spending money so I decided to create some small zipper pouches and wallets to sell to my friends and classmates. Read more>>

Kim Harrington | Yoga Wellness Instructor

Having spent a wonderful and very fun career in advertising I reached a point where I wanted to do something for myself. I had spent years looking after brands and making other peoples creative ideas a reality, it left me with a desire to do something of my own. Read more>>

Nakisa Nowroozi, PhD | College Instrutor & Superfood Chef

Disappointed with the snack food industry and more so with “superfood” snack industry, and out of necessity for myself and my family, I started my own real superfood business selling clean and honest superfood snacks that are gut friendly and accommodate various restriction diets. Read more>>

Alison Stroming | Professional Ballerina; Founder AS Dancewear

A few years prior to launching my business in 2018 I was invited to design a collection with another dancewear brand. I learned a lot from that opportunity as it was my first experience to work one on one with a business. After about a year with the company, my mom and friends were like you can just do this yourself, and so they gave me that push to pursue a business. Read more>>

Ché Grant | Co-owner of Anna Barbara Films

Michael Boccalini and Ché Grant started Anna Barbara Films to produce commercially-driven films and television that will entertain, educate, and surprise audiences, while using provocative and honest storytelling to tap into the heart of true independent filmmaking. Read more>>

Calm Buddy Box | Mindfulness for Kids Ash & Justine Williams and Robert & Erin Watts | Small business owned and operated by a group of parents, including two Licensed Clinical Social Workers, and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst

As parents of young children, we wanted to find a fun and creative way to help our children learn about mindfulness. Finding mindfulness strategies that work for our families has been beneficial in many ways but we’ve noticed that it is not talked about a lot within the black community. We wanted to create something that could support and encourage the practice of mindfulness in our future generations, especially children within our black and brown communities. Read more>>

Nikki Lian | Fitness Entrepreneur and Non-Profit Owner

I hated my career at the time, and I wanted to be my own boss. It’s not something you decide because you want to sleep later. It’s knowing your purpose in life, and trying to live that purpose. It wasn’t working out for me as far as working for other people, so I had to take that leap of faith for myself. Read more>>

Matthew Deere | Photographer

I’ve always been an image maker, and I didn’t realize how much I love photography until a handful of years ago. My undergrad degree was in Graphic Design, and I’ve been in the industry now for over 20 years. I’ve used camera’s my whole life to make reference images for helping with design and illustration. It was until I worked in the Toy industry that I became fascinated with studio photography, and how lighting worked. Read more>>

Seimone Loupé | Fashion Boutique Owner and Photographer

My thought process on starting my business journey began with the idea of creating a legacy for my family and of course financial freedom. Once I received my graduate degree in business management, i decided to bet on myself and dive in. I had always dreamed of working for myself and creating my own schedule. Read more>>

Mia Krystyna | Artist, Photographer, Filmmaker

Honestly there wasn’t much of one – for better or worse! I have always had an awareness that sitting at a desk working toward someone else’s goals everyday would be beyond unsatisfying, and a waste of what I felt I had to share with the world. If I had to do it all again I would definitely try to have more of a thought process going in, more of a practical approach. Read more>>

Natasha Philippides | Patient Advocate and Patient Concierge

My thought process behind starting my own business was that I was noticing more and more patients were coming into the doctor’s offices needing surgery revisions. Patients would often tell me that they felt overwhelmed and there was information overload on the internet on what the right process was to follow. Read more>>

Carol Chacon Allen | Principal Architect

When deciding to open an architecture firm, one main reason stood out above all others. After 23 years of practicing architecture in Los Angeles, I had never met a minority woman Principal of an Architecture firm. This is especially true in the niche market of high‐end custom residential design. Read more>>

Roots Art Kollective | Muralist group

Sometime it seems if you want something to change in your community or if you want to see something then you must take the initiative. The idea was to express ourselves and “take things into our own hands”. To get paid doing murals feels amazing especially when you can create something that brings positivity to a space. Read more>>

Aimi Tran | Tattoo Artist

Starting my own business wasn’t as much of a thought process, but more of the opportunities and the connections that came along with becoming a tattoo artist. I jumped the gun on leaving a shop and going independent. As of now, I’m getting by with each tattoo I am able to book. I guess I can do better; my biggest challenge is having the self discipline to promote and advertise. I’m sure once I get that going, I’ll be able to keep my head above water for longer periods of time. Read more>>

Anna Vos | Anna Vos (she/they) — artist and small business owner

I fell into hand lettering in 2016 thanks to many hours scrolling the picture app while holding a sleeping baby (my second). At first, lettering was just a refreshing break from diapers and entertaining my toddler. Soon, however, I had some friends commissioning pieces, and the Rochester Brainery let me add a Brush Calligraphy class onto my teaching schedule with them. Read more>>

Pablo Apiolazza | Creative Director & Filmmaker

I wanted to do what I loved, and leave an impact. I felt that the digital medium has endless possibilities to enhance communication between humans and that the quality of messages helps people to understand each other better. Read more>>

Iyana Anderson | Innovative Wellness Strategist & Licensed Social Worker

I started my business during the pandemic, a very transitional phase in my life. My thought process behind starting Well Together stemmed from both passion and frustration. My passion flowed from my love for serving others, the positive transformations I witnessed along my wellness journey, and one day realizing that there was a bigger purpose for my life. Read more>>

Daniel McCarty | Digital Assets Educator

Before starting my business, I was daily helping people advance their knowledge in the digital asset space. This was October 2021, so many people were looking to get into crypto. Day in and day out I was assisting close friends and then their close friends on a daily. Read more>>

Viviana Rodriguez-Smith | Gallery Owner

The concept of our business was sparked through an opportunity presented to us. We didn’t have a lot of time to think about it but it was a great opportunity not only for us but for those who we would be able to hold space for. We had lots of ideas and a great location but no starting capital. So we started to think about the resources that we did have and put a call out to our community for the things that we needed. Read more>>

Natasha Teresa Skidmore | Sports Injury & Manual Therapist

I started my first sports injury manual therapy business in Sacramento, California back in 2018. I was a full-time student in community college chipping away at my pre-health GEs while working part-time at a sports injury clinic and commuting over 3 hours a day, 6 days a week to continue fulfilling my academic goals. Read more>>

Sabrina Habibi | Hair Artist & Lifestyle

I knew that I wanted to start my own business when I got a taste of the suite life. When I was an assistant I began in a salon suite and I loved it. I love having my own private space, the one on one attention my clients get, and not being around so much energy in a typical salon. Being my own boss and being able to make my own schedule was also a huge factor in starting my own business. Read more>>

Joshua Arnoux | Record Label owner

I come from a long line of entrepreneurs in my family. A lot of the men in my family are big on owning your own business or independent contracting. It seemed like a natural evolution for me at some point. Read more>>

Amy Evans | Insurance Broker

I have always been independent and self motivated. Over the course of my working life, I have worked more years for myself than I have worked for someone else. I started my career in insurance sales in 2003 as an independent contractor. I was attracted to commissioned sales because I knew that my income would be determined by how smart and hard I worked. Read more>>

Johnny Felix | Local Artist Aurora,il

Started Talento Creations in November 2021. Talento is reference as “Talent”. To inspire my audience and create a platform for others in life. Talento creations trend are…. Urban Pulse- Inspire from hospital making heartbeat monitor lines into artwork dedicated to the sick. Read more>>

Genna BloomBecker | Multidisciplinary artist + founder of Clumsy World

I had been exploring my various interests of film photography, fused glass jewelry making, upcycled art and design, and hoping to turn them into a more realized practice for a few years. On my birthday in 2021 I decided to launch Clumsy World as a gift to myself. Read more>>

Andrew, Francisco, Luis Villaescusa, Vargas, Huizar | Shaman Cult Band

We wanted to make a living by doing what we love, which is why we started to take the process seriously. No matter what jobs the three of us have had, we always prioritize making music and playing shows. It’s what we would love spending our lives doing, so taking it seriously as if it were a business felt natural. It was also a cool wake up call to see our peers begin making it big and doing it full time. Read more>>

Dan Shaked | Actor

What i love about starting my own business is that several businesses could be born from my current acting business. I like the possibility of fulfilling other interests of mine by using the tools in acting and applying them to the new businesses. Using my acting, which i love, to spawn other interests of mine and diversifying my wheelhouse, is definitely exciting to me. Read more>>

Roberto Rébora | artist

There was no before or after in my experience in my craft and profession as a painter. Since I was a child I drew and very soon I dreamed, aspired, to live the life of an artist, that passion. Around the age of 14, I spent part of my time drawing how to make caricatures similar to those of Pirulete, or Chivita, famous comic magazines in Mexico. Read more>>

Troy’s Barber Shop | Master Barber

My thought process behind starting my own barber shop 17 years ago was that I wanted to be financially free and make an impact in my community. Ultimately, working for other shops was stressful and I wanted to be my own boss . Currently, I have been blessed to run my own business successfully with the help of my awesome clients. All the support comes from them continuing to put their trust in me as their barber. Cutting hair has been a passion for me since I was 15 years old. I love what I do ! Read more>>