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.

Parv Kaur | International Bhangra Artist

I wanted to show people that regardless of your gender, having a talent and being able to break through a male dominating industry can be accomplished. I did not think this was be a business, just a hobby which I enjoyed and would undertake in my spare time. Little did on know then, 25 years ago that I would be travelling the world doing what I love doing and that is music. Read more>>

Debbie Pham | Luxury Travel Specialist

As a pharmacist, my role is to be at the forefront of my patients’ health from performing medication therapy management and medication adherence to educating patients on the medical conditions and drug usage. I role-play a counselor and an advocate for the longevity of my patients’ physical and mental health. My adventure in travel began at the age of 8 riding a bicycle alongside my dad as we went on our first road trip together. The experience in the early years of my life has shown me how travel could take me beyond my limited horizon. This still holds true to this day. My insatiable curiosity for the unknown took me traveling around the world but it was the health benefits from the experiences that gave me a unique calling.  Travel has saved my soul many times over. After earning my doctorate in Pharmacy (PharmD), I realize I could go one step further in helping people to achieve a lifestyle of health by investing in travel. Read more>>

Desarai Williams | Owner & Creative

I decided to start my own business, because I was called to buy back my time and pursue other dreams. Dreams that would provide products that would enhance another woman’s life and lifestyle. Read more>>

René Alesandro Coreas | Chef/Entrepreneur

My main thought process was mainly trying to get something started while most of the people in our industry took the time off, I felt there was better use for my time than a vacation. The second reason for my motivation was getting the food and culture of my family and ancestors out for everyone to try on a mainstream level. Read more>>

Lisa Simmons-Santa Cruz | RIAA Certified Songwriter/Music Producer

I wanted to have control over my music catalog and publishing, so I thought starting my own production company with my partner/husband Flinstone would do just that. Read more>>

John Frost | Post Sound Mixer/Designer, Mix My Spot

My time is extremely important to me, after all it’s the one thing we can never get more of. When the current minute is over, it’s over, we can never get it back. I also very much appreciate and enjoy the choice it affords me. That is, I can choose to take on a project or I can choose to pass. I’m in the position to make the choice. The choice that is right for me and for the business. Time and Choice are my primary reasons for starting my own business. Social impact: how does your business help the community or the world? We provide high quality sound mixing and design services for all types of content: Broadcast and Internet Platform spots, shows & series, Theatrical movies and trailers, Radio spots, Podcasts, Youtube Shows… and on and on. Read more>>

Anthony Bello | Photographer/Videograper

My thought process behind starting my own business was probably like most people, scared lol. But I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. It was now or never. It was during the pandemic and I had been taking photography serious to where I didn’t view it as a hobby. Like most people in this digital world, I took to google and asking “how to get a business license?” The rabbit hole of information began and before I knew it I learned about s corp and all the other business jargon. My thoughts were I want to be taken serious as a photographer and videographer so having a legitimate business was the logical step for me. Read more>>

Bianca Stam | Restaurant Owner and Actress

I love food and I love real estate, so for me; Bar Roma was the perfect marriage of the two. I love that people know my restaurant and talk about it or recommend it to their friends without knowing I am one of the owners, it actually makes me super happy. Read more>>

Clarise | Entrepreneur & Nurse

I have always enjoyed making wreaths and various DIY crafts for myself. When the pandemic forced many people to work from home I decided to start this business to give people a way to decorate their work spaces. Even though people were working out of their homes; they could still bring that holiday cheer or other celebratory feeling to their office space. My hope is to bring a sense of peace, joy and happiness with the delivery of each wreath!. Read more>>

Maggie Xue | Founder & CEO of Us Two Tea

Tea is at the heart of Asian culture and it has always been a part of my life. Yet the tea brands we know and love are not Asian. I think It is our generation’s responsibility to claim our culture and create a brand that represents us. In the process of building Us Two Tea, we want to make tea culture more accessible to people in the U.S and to speak to them in a way that how coffee connects people here: inclusive, welcoming and accessible. Read more>>

Chris Sampson | Producer, Host and Music Educator

I was looking for a way to lean more into my personal mission supporting independent musicians. As a college music educator, I am fortunate to work with young, talented, aspiring musicians and artists everyday. However, I wanted to make a positive impact for these artists outside of the classroom as well. I was noticing that the most fragile years of their artistic career often occurred right after graduation when the “bubble” support system of college was gone. So, I created Joy Sounds initially as a platform for “emerging and breaking artists” to give them a positive, high quality platform during this very unpredictable time in their careers. I also wanted to provide a more in-depth platform for artists beyond them creating a 30-60 second video on the latest social media platform so that music fans could really get to know them as artists. Read more>>

Brienne Taylor | Breathwork Facilitator + Psychosomatic Specialist

I have over a decade background in behavior analysis so I observe people like it’s second nature. I’m fascinated with behavior, specifically, how it shapes our beliefs and forms our habits. I saw a need for connection. I was surrounded by people who were hurting. Humans who were seeking relief from stress and overwhelm; people who struggled with health issues; others who desired mental and/or emotional freedom, and so my mission became to create a way for more humans to access psychosomatic healing. I saw a need for simple and integrative daily mental-emotional practices. So here we are, almost five years into business, and just over the past year, I finally feel aligned with my vision (thank you, 2020). I have combined my inner science-nerd with trauma-informed psychosomatic (mind + body) healing. Read more>>

Rebel RousHer | Content Creator and YouTuber

When I first started my YouTube channel, I was doing it because I saw that there weren’t that many voices on YouTube creating roller skating content. I felt like I could add to what was already there, and hopefully help a few people learn how to roller skate! As time has gone on, my vision has shifted. Especially within the pandemic, my goal has become creating a space online where roller skaters can come and feel like they are a part of something. I want to try and help new skaters feel what the skate community is like through watching my videos and interacting with other skaters in the comments and on lives. I created my shop, Cheers to the Queers on Etsy a year after I started my YouTube channel. I wanted to make cool, queer inclusive skate accessories and cute stuff that people can wear and will make them feel seen, as well as stoked to represent the skate community. Read more>>

Kristin Hurd | Black Indi Author

I was a reader when I was younger, must more than kids my age. I spent a lot of time at the library, sometimes when on weekends as an escape. Diving into a good book was the best way to transport somewhere else. I started writing poetry when I was in middle school. I found it to be a great release for how I was feeling at the time. So, storytelling is something that has naturally been in me. Writing my 1st novel was something I did for fun. I enjoyed the process and also enjoyed people’s reactions when reading my work. Hitting publish on that book lit a fire under me. I wanted to tell the other stories in my head so becoming a published author was a new brainer. Read more>>

A-WAY | Recording Artist & CEO of Hu$tle Ward Records

Outside of solidifying the ownership over my own career as an artist I wanted to help my peers/other artists by helping navigate them through the music business in development, distribution and more; sharing the knowledge I’ve learned in the music business. As an artist I built on the Hu$tle Ward brand throughout my career that was founded by the late great “Tony Logic” and after he passed away I continued the vision and built it to what it is today. I looked up to young record label owners like “Master P”, “Birdman”, “Jay Z”, “Rick Ross”. and I’ve always saw myself along the list in building a legacy that changed the lives of many and inspired the world. It was a leap of faith that showed me anything is possible if you keep God with you & ju$t hu$tle. Read more>>

Shevi Baruch | Owner of Body Rhythm and a Movement Specialist

Having experienced an injury at young age and as part of my journey to recovery I was seeking the best of all the holistic approaches to heal my body. I began to sort out the modalities that tend to help and studied with the best masters in those fields. When I was a speech therapist, I realized the importance of the body alignment, how the bones align and release tension creating harmony when the alignment is correct. The knowledge and understanding that I gained is unique and allows me to help people relive pain and to develop better more efficient movement, The most important part is that I can restore hope and help people understand that they can have a future that is not restricted or controlled by pain. When I moved to Santa Monica, I knew that it is the time for me to open my space where I can bring movement and strength back to people who lost the trust in their ability to move. Read more>>

Julian Camarena | Singer, Songwriter, Music Producer & Owner of Camarena Productions

I’ve always wanted to be my own boss, and I’ve always wanted to make a living doing something I love. The only way to do those two things is to start and run your own business. Read more>>

Heather Carter | Founder & CEO, The Coterie Club

I had been in the start-up world as an operator for a decade and always as either a founding or very early stage employee. This experience in taking nascent concepts from vision to fruition, and overcoming the common challenges that mar early stage companies like lack of funding and human resources provided priceless insights. I had been successful in driving company valuation for others, but my long term goal if the concept and timing was right, was to drive success for my own company. I founded Coterie in the summer of 2020 as a cost effective solution for flex workers and an ancillary revenue opportunity for the struggling hotel industry. Coterie partners with world-class hotels to offer Coterie members’ exclusive access to their underutilized spaces and amenities. We lead with a work focus by offering members access to under-activated lobbies for light working, conference spaces, rooms for workcations and use of other amenities like the gym or pool. Read more>>

Samantha Patil | Co-Founder & CEO

Like many entrepreneurs, the idea for Well Traveled was born out of personal frustration. I’m an avid traveler and while I love experiencing new places and cultures, I’ve found that trip planning is time-consuming and frustrating. Finding relevant, trustworthy recommendations is especially challenging. And I just thought, why is this process so broken? Travel planning should be a positive experience: you’re getting ready to do something exciting! I soon realized I wasn’t the only person feeling this way and that that majority of my peers within my network felt the same way. I’ve found there are many solutions for budget travelers and equally as many targeting luxury travelers. But what about the rest of us in between? Most modern travelers fall somewhere in the middle, think “bougie on a budget.” I saw a gap in the market and the opportunity to build something better, so I decided to do something about it. Read more>>

Sienna Trifone | Founder and Designer

It started shortly after my twin girls were born. I quickly learned about children’s boutique clothing and fell in love. I started making some of my own bows. Which progressed into leggings and then just blew up from there. I had learned to sew at a young age from my mom and my grandma. Simple things. But through pinterest and YouTube videos, I was able to teach myself! I really enjoy designing my own patterns and challenging myself with new designs for every season. I recently had a baby boy, and have enjoyed the new challenge of designing some boys things as well!. Read more>>

Gilli Moon | Songwriter, and President of Songsalive!

When I first came to Los Angeles from Sydney, Australia, I was looking for opportunity as a singer-songwriter, but I felt that these were lacking for independent artists who were unsigned. I also noticed that songwriters lacked information about the music bsiness, and were often left in the dark on critical business decisions about their songs, even though they were the heart and soul of the music business: without a song, there is no music business! Songwriters were not finding an appropriate voice to be heard, with original songs, gaining feedback on their songs, or opportunities to learn about the music business. Songwriters needed opportunity and information. I co-founded Songsalive! as a non-profit 501c)3) organization in 1997 based on this need. I felt we needed a platform for songwriters and composers that went beyond a local music scene, but a platform at the global scale, where songwriters could gain promotion, learning, exposure and feedback from wherever you are based. To this day, 20 years later, Songsalive! follows this mission worldwide. Read more>>

Peter Davis | Tech Company Founder

We see so many incredible small businesses being born out of passion, necessity and opportunity. These businesses can do incredibly well because of the founders and their products and the drive between the two. Naturally social channels allow these people to connect with their followers in new ways that weren’t possible just a couple of years ago like stories and going live, and so these small businesses, whether they’re local or online, foster beautiful relationships with their followers. We know however, from experience, that growing that genuine following is really hard. You can’t buy those connections and doing something in Facebook ads that says I want to reach ‘women aged 34-52 who live within 16 miles of LA who watch these TV shows’ doesn’t get you the same customers as you get when you hustle for it. So we set up Ampjar trying to create a way for these businesses to grow in predictable ways that don’t need to be expensive. Read more>>

Pamela Sheyne | Songwriter/Vocal Producer/Mentor

I’ve been a songwriter for around 30 years now. Before that I was a session and touring singer with other artists and bands. I was fortunate to have earned a decent living from songwriting in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Back in the day when they sold physical records and you could go into a store and sift through some vinyl, and cds, search the credits and find out the musicians and singers who had featured on your latest favorites and even better, the songwriters who had landed songs on those records. Songwriters worked hard to get their songs heard by all the decision makers and gate keepers of the industry but back then they could sustain a living from having just a few album cuts and perhaps a hit every few years. That all changed dramatically when streaming came in because there were no laws yet in place to protect songwriters. The digital service providers and record companies took advantage of that by making deals without music creators having any knowledge of it. Read more>>

Dr. Mitra Hooshmand | Neuroscientist and Co-Founder of Be Fit Biz

My two partners and I are extremely passionate about wellness and health, but felt disconnected from the more “granola” approach we were seeing everywhere; coming from science, tech and finance backgrounds, it just didn’t resonate with us. We personally are drawn to wellness primarily because of the research in the space – the evidence that supports these habits and practices for health and longevity. So we decided to bring that research to our audience (primarily employees via corporate wellness programs) in ways that were easy to understand, but not “dumbed-down”. We know other people also want to know, for example, not just that mindfulness techniques and meditation work, but WHY they work – how your brain chemistry is changed, the real science and clinical data to support it. Read more>>

Austen Lincoln | Pediatric Occupational Therapist

Throughout my years of practice as a pediatric occupational therapist in public schools, early intervention, and private clinic settings, it has been quite alarming to witness today’s statistics of 1 in 6 kids having a developmental delay. It has also become very clear that in order to provide the best intervention for a child with a motor delay, I have to support the parents, ensuring they felt educated and equipped to cultivate their child’s sensory motor development. When I started hearing parents tell me that getting to the therapy clinic was becoming too burdensome for the whole family, and then saw parents drop their kiddo off for therapy and take advantage of 45 minutes for errands or picking up the other child (trust me, I get it!), I knew this was not an ideal arrangement for nurturing the learning and growth of a child. It was lacking the family involvement needed for true learning and retention of new skills. Read more>>

John Furniss | Woodworker

Being blind, it can be sometimes difficult to find employment. I also work with my hands, on cars and small engines. Employers are not willing to take on a blind employee that works with their hands, they see it as a liability. For many years my wife worked multiple jobs to support us while I also searched for employment. We finally decided to start our business together, she is an artist too so it made sense. She runs the business side of things and I am free to create my woodworking. We make a great team!. Read more>>

Emiko Love | Creator, Entrepreneur, Writer, & Motivational Speaker.

To be honest that’s a kind of layered question. I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I can remember selling hot Cheetos and Capri Suns in high school using my allowance money to buy my cases from Smart & Final. I have always had a hustling spirit from a child, but when it came to becoming an author it just like me finally doing something that has always came natural to me. Read more>>

Rod Steele The Chef | Private Chef, Owner / Brand Ambassador

Initially my mindset behind creating my business was that I wanted to have ownership. After discovering one of my passions in the culinary field, I eventually I found a way to monetize that into becoming a private chef also owner of a catering company. Also as a natural leader I was determined to make a way for my family so I can alter the mindset of those that are inspired by me to see ownership as a much needed conversation in my community. Read more>>

Laurie James | Creative Director & Real Estate Investor

For us, it was a deep, unwavering desire to connect with Black entrepreneurs, to connect them with a community that supports us and is rooting for us. We wanted to help support our community by providing simpler solutions. The Blk Lifestyle box was created to solve a need. It was to solve the fact that when we decide to support Black-owned businesses or switch our products to natural alternatives we had to do a lot of research to find the best companies to replace our products with. We then had to shop on different websites and pay a ton in shipping costs for each product. We wanted to make it convenient for everyone to be able to switch their everyday products to natural ones and make it easier to support Black-owned businesses. We know that people are busy and don’t necessarily have the time to research, buy and try a lot of products to find the perfect one. So we did that for them and packaged it all into one box. Read more>>

Kyle Colucci | Actor, Filmmaker, & Entrepreneur

For actors, there are a lot of stereotypes that float around the industry in terms of what an artist’s life should look like. And one of those images is that of the “starving artist” that works soul-sucking jobs to pay the bills while waiting for the industry to recognize them. That we NEED that hourly job, despite the fact that we’d be immediately replaceable should we have an audition that interferes with a scheduled shift. I definitely started out that way post-college, working 3 jobs simultaneously and still struggling to make ends meet. Each individual artist’s journey will be different and we will prioritize our lives and our activities according to what’s most important to us. So, at a certain point, I rejected the notion that I needed to struggle financially in order to be a true artist. There is a damaging misconception that if an actor does anything other than acting, they’re not “fully committed” – and I call BS. You cannot live fully in a role if you cannot commit to fully living in life. Read more>>

Sam Lando | Owner, Manager, Story Teller, Janitor & Lead Customer Service Rep

The first 20 years of my career in the wine industry was spent climbing the corporate ladder and growing into executive roles with small luxury focused (families owned) wine brands. One common theme entered time after time. Regardless how how well I did my job or role, I was never truly in charge of my future…corporate restructuring, or small brands wanting to recapitalize with large private equity firms shakes up and restructures everything. Without fail, every time. It became apparent that if I wasn’t firmly in control “as an owner” my future would always be somewhat rudderless. I had always wanted to have my own wine brand and was planning to do so for many years as I accumulated knowledge in all disciplines. But it wasn’t until the constant change and discomfort with what I was doing for those many years prior…illuminated the next steps forward. Read more>>

Stephanie Zeleznik | Watercolor Artist

For years I’ve been told by friends and family, “you should start your own business doing this!” Or, “you should do art for a living!” I would politely dismiss those comments with thoughts along the lines of, “that will never work out! Or at least, not for me.” The internal critic that plagues all artists had also affected me at this point. It wasn’t until December of 2020, under a self-quarantine, I was stuck at home with my thoughts and a paintbrush for two weeks straight. Within these weeks I knew I wanted to do a few paintings for my family and friends. Through posting updates about these paintings on my social media I had received more interest than ever before. This led to my first non-family commissions. I was beyond thrilled, the internal critic went out the window and I was ready to actually start a business. With my background of marketing and web design I was able to quickly make a website where I could finally sell my watercolor artwork and turn this into a real business. Read more>>

Anthony Abdelmalek | Product Design, Development, and Manufacturing Craftsman

Like many people, I found myself getting caught up in the “machine.” So, rather than having a defined business model, I decided to take a more exploratory approach to find my way back to sanity after working 70ish hours a week for 15+ yrs. I was dying to get back to that kid who used to help out friends for free because it was fun while working a full-time job. I had to get back to designing for a purpose rather than to meet a “sales goal.” Don’t get me wrong; money is an essential factor in building and maintaining a profitable business. However, we can do so without creating massive amounts of waste damaging our environment. Getting back to my “roots” has taken me down a path and led me to individuals and small businesses that have an idea that they live and die by but need help navigating the design, development, and manufacturing world. Read more>>

Dan Konopka | Mixing Engineer

Starting my own business as a mixing engineer was really a decision to give my earliest professional dream a real chance – and to make sure I could pay my bills without having to get a “real” job. My normal job (playing drums in the band OK Go) income stream was compromised by bandmates having babies and wanting to tour a lot less than we used to. (then Covid-19 hit too) I had to really think hard about believing in myself as a mixing engineer, and that I was “good enough” to do it professionally. I wasn’t sure at all if I was – and if the business model would work for me – but I knew I loved doing it. I knew if I just kept at it something would give, and I would meet my needs. Read more>>

Nicki Bond | Strategy Consultant + Coach

Honestly, I was not that business owner who started out with a clear and complete vision of what my business was going to do or exactly who it was going to touch. I just knew that I was supposed to start my business and it was given to me by God to help people to do what it is that He has called and destined for them to do. Sitting here thinking that in just a couple of weeks, Life Strategist Consulting Group LLC, will be 1 year old. My vision and mission is clearer than ever to me. My initial thought process behind starting my own business makes sense now. Seeing the lives that I have been able to touch and impact. The lives that have been changed, has been absolutely humbling for me. Not only am I just helping me that I know or just in the United States, but I have been able to help people in Malaysia and Ghana as well. Read more>>

Taka Iida

The journey began when I opened a fast casual restaurant in the heart of Downtown LA. I quickly realized that my life passion was to share my story and perspective of the Japanese culture to the world. My thought process started with surveying the Japanese landscape here in Los Angeles. I felt that in many ways, there were aspects of my culture missing or overlooked. So in creating Takasan, my process was really about bringing authenticity and a fuller picture of Japanese culture to Los Angeles, and ultimately to America. My mission is highlighting and giving voice to the many makers and masters of Japan. Read more>>

Taylor Villanueva | Ms. Costa Mesa & Co-Founder of Manoosh Productions

My background is in broadcast, digital, and radio journalism, and I always wanted to start a media company. With all the negative effects of the pandemic, I decided the time is now to take that jump and start a company. I reached out to my cousin whom I knew would be a great person to work with. After a few weeks of coming up with different ideas, we decided to create a podcast production company called Manoosh Productions. We are about seven months in now and our hard work as really paid off. Our debut show is called “A Few Bad Apples” and talks about instances of police brutality as a way to share the victims’ stories and make sure they are never forgotten. We also highlight good apple police officers at the end of each episode to show what being part of the force should really be like and how many people are going above and being to risk their lives for their communities every day, although these actions are sometimes overlooked. Because I clearly love to stay busy. Read more>>

Paige Sierra | Photographer & Social Media Manager

I honestly never knew I would have my own businesses. I knew I wanted to be an artist and photography called to me from a young age. I studied photography in University, but learned everything I know through experience. After more then a decade of working as a freelance portrait photographer, and a social media manager I wanted to find a way to bring those two together. In 2018 I was living in Bali, Indonesia and the idea of providing photography to tourists for their social media sounded like a great way to meet new people and explore the island with friends! In 2019 I was granted an Artists Work Visa for the US and decided to move to LA to pursue my career as a photographer and content creator on a larger scale. Six month after moving to LA I started Social Image LA. Read more>>

Chadwick Bishop | Singer/Songwriter

Simply…I wanted to utilize my natural talents to create a living for myself. I got tired of beating myself up and getting no recognition or appreciation. I developed an exit strategy from my old job and have a few strokes of good luck over the past few years. Read more>>

Katherine Kubler | Tiny Dino, Founder & Executive Creative Director

I was working as a creative in the corporate world, first at WME then at Paramount Pictures, which helped me learn the business side of things and focused my creativity. But it’s kind of lonely being a creative in a corporate setting that was full mainly of business execs. While working at Paramount, I met with a ton of creative agencies coming in and pitching, and I thought “Oh, that’s where the fun stuff happens!” So, I realized I wanted to work at a creative agency. All of them were on the west side, so due to a mix of hubris and a desperate desire not to have to commute to the west side, I decided to start my own agency. I had worked for years as an abused, overworked creative in a business setting which helped me understand the needs and challenges on both sides. Read more>>