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.

Sevana Dimijian: Founder, KIYL Hats

I grew up watching my parents start and grow their business and knew I would one day do the same. I understood that it would mean long hours and hard work, but it seemed worth it to have ownership of my creative output. Read more>>


Samira Soroory: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

I remember always wanting to have my own business. I previous worked for other people and used that time to learn from them. I learned from their skills, their business experience, and connecting with others. Starting my own business was challenging and worth every moment of doubt. After years of working for others as an associate and therapist I always knew I needed to branch out. I had this need to fulfill by being on my own and doing things my own way. After working with some of the top specialists in Anxiety and OCD I had the push to start my own business. I was not mentally ready for it, but the opportunity presented itself. So I went for it! It was one of the best decisions I have made. It was both rewarding and terrifying. I was afraid of failing. I was aiming for success. It was a rollercoaster. The motivation was always present for me and was even more ignited when I started seeing clients on my way. I finally felt that I made it!. Read more>>

Matt Ritchey | Storycrafter & Director

I started STORYCRAFTING because it combined all of the things I loved to do and that I knew could benefit others. I kept studying and working as an actor, a writer, a director, and a producer – all in service to telling stories. Human beings are natural storytellers and I knew that my experiences could help artists bring their work to the next level. I wanted to help others take their ideas and craft them into the kind of personal, surprising, universal entertainment that audiences crave. Read more>>

Jamila Lake: Owner & Creator

The thought process behind starting my business actually came from my mother. Like many creatives, having the support and admiration of family and friends is enough gratification. However, the thought of having my products out in the world for others to critique was a little nerve-wrecking. Instinctively, mothers always want the best for their child, never wishing for fear to rule their lives. Her only worry was that she didn’t want me to have any regrets in my old age. So with a nice, swift kick in the butt, I started YellowBagDesigns. Why the business name, YellowBagDesigns?? Well, all the original names on my list were taken…go figure. Read more>>

IRENE WEI | Designer, Doll Maker and Business Owner

My background is in fashion design. Since I was 10 years old, I have known that I wanted to be a fashion designer. My grades in school were not good, and it took me two years to get into fashion school. I never gave up on my dream, so that failure was not an option. I was fashion designer in Taiwan for many years, eventually becoming a designer director. I was never famous, but was very successful. I immigrated to USA in 2003, and could not land a designer job, so I worked as technical designer for sweaters for many years. During those years working as a technical designer for American companies, I was not happy, as I could not express the creative thoughts in my head. I was always working on someone else’s designs. At that time, I also had two young kids, so having a flexible schedule was very important to me. I worked my day job and then ran my business at night and on the weekends for a couple of years. Read more>>

Sarah Chacon | Business Owner & Entrepreneur

Taking control of my own future and being my own boss was always something I aspired to be. When I really started getting into makeup, and of course glitter, I soon became aware of how harmful those tiny bits of sparkly plastic and other cosmetic microplastics are to the environment. As much as I loved glitter, I never wanted to touch it again; until I started hearing about biodegradable glitter. It started out by wanting to make myself a guilt free glitter that was easier to apply, and eventually turned into friends and relatives asking where they could buy some. I made it my mission to find bright and fun eco-friendly alternatives to glitter, and that’s how Slayfire Cosmetics was born. I had some experience with other handmade-based small businesses I created in the past, but jumping into the makeup industry was intimidating to say the least. Read more>>

Nicole Matthiesen | Wellness Coach, Ayurvedic Health Advisor and Founder of NM Yoga + Wellness

There was less of a “thought process” behind starting my own business and more of a calling to do so. Back in 2014 I was working as a litigation consultant. when I was diagnosed with I.B.S. (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). The doctor also told me IBS was incurable, and they weren’t really sure how to treat it. I got home that afternoon and something in me just said, “No.” This was not how I was going to live the rest of my life. Part of me knew there had to be another way; that I still had the potential to heal. So I began exploring alternative medicine. And what I discovered was a healing tradition so profound, my entire life changed. Ayurveda is the world’s oldest holistic healing system and sister science to yoga. I had vaguely heard about it from one of my yoga teachers and decided to do more research. As it happens, I was just 5 miles away from a school of Ayurveda. Read more>>

Nicole Higashi | Reiki Master/Teacher & Intuitive Healer

Becoming a mother was my catalyst for major change. I had a lucrative corporate career and planned to continue on that path (even though it was draining and quite a toxic environment), mostly because it was the practical thing to do. But, the moment I saw my sweet girl I knew I couldn’t stay there/in that world any longer. The birth of my daughter inspired me to want more, do better, and to seek out my true self and path in this lifetime. It felt imperative to demonstrate to her what I hoped I could support her in doing in her life as well. I didn’t know how and/or what that would include for some time, so I stayed in my position and juggled as best as I could. It was all starting to become really overwhelming and through a friend’s suggestion, I opted to try a Reiki session to see if it could help me feel a little more balanced. Read more>>

Kari Barba | Business owner, Tattoo artist and painter

I was very young at just 23 when starting my own business, so I didn’t really have much of a thought process accept… I think we can do this! I think we could make a living and do tattooing as a way of life. It seemed Like a stretch but I felt we had to go for it at the time. How hard could it be, I thought. Years later realizing how very difficult it really is. Read more>>

Jessica Hudnall | Clothing Designer, Podcast Host, Content Creator, Published Author, Educator

My thought process in starting my own bussiness came from me finding out I was pregnant with my daughter Jayla Rose. I believe I was in my 2nd trimester. I thought to myself as I was laying in the bed, rubbing my belly ” I have to leave an empire behind for my child.” I had this feelingg over me that I had to do more then just work as a pre-school teacher while pursing my acting career at the samqe time. I wanted to build my own legacy and leave a mark in this world. Sortly after I was sitting up in the bed and said ” yes God that’s it, MOMZ “R” FUNNY2!” I knew this name would be something special one day. I was going to be a new mother. So I said “well since I am unique let me play with it like this, throwi n a “z” instead of an “s”, “R “will represent Rose for my daughter middle name and funny becauswe you know lol, I’m natural at making people laugh and leaving them with a smile on their face.” Read more>>

 Desireé Duffy | Founder of Black Château, Books That Make You, and The BookFest®

This resonated with me: “If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to build theirs.” It is a quote by Tony Gaskins and upon hearing it while sitting in my glass-walled office, it made me shiver. I was vice president at a creative digital agency at the time and that little jolt, along with recognizing (as a writer myself) the book promotional world needed modern, digital strategies, helped me break away. Those two factors led me to start my own marketing and public relations agency, specializing in books, authors and personality brands, and that was the birth of Black Château Enterprises. Read more>>

Jala Eaton: Attorney, Financial Advisor, and Writer

The short answer to this question is a combination of racism, sexism and not being able to use all my talents in corporate America. Despite having two degrees and a license to practice law, I ended up underpaid and working in a field I never expected to work in. For years, I worked as a trust administrator at a fortune 100 bank, protecting money left in trust funds. Seeing millions of dollars daily was a regular occurrence for me. It wasn’t until I saw 100 million dollars in one trust that my desire to empower others activated. Maybe the shift occurred because I knew the money belonged to an older white male who still went into his local branch to do his banking. Maybe it was because I knew trusts with businesses in them always had more money. All I know is It made me want to build my own wealth and empower other Black women to do the same especially after researching the shocking wealth gap statistics. If he could do it, why couldn’t we? And because none of the clients I was helping looked like me, I knew I had to start my own business to truly help black women. Read more>>

J Soundz | Music Artist & Producer

I’ve always wanted to control my own career. Even when I had other jobs I did them in my own way. I was at the point where I was like I was tired of trading hours for dollars. When Covid first hit I needed something where I wouldn’t have to rely on a client to bring in an income. I wanted something stamped, this is mine & I’m going to go for it. Now is the time. Read more>>

Matthew Corozine | Acting Coach/Director/Artistic Director/Owner

I loved actors, and I myself was a “blocked” creative. Found actors were “in their head” and needed a way out. The Meisner Technique transformed my life and became my life work to give it back and help actors get out of their own way and re condition them from their brain patterns –to now work from impulse and instinct under imaginary circumstances. Started over 20 years ago, then one of my students booked a role in the original cast of WICKED on Broadway and that is where my studio really took off. I had to channel my depression, anxiety and shame I felt in my 20’s into something creative–and subconsciously needed to create a family, a community–thus started my own company, Matthew Corozine Studio Theatre Inc. Read more>>

Kendra Gelner | Co-Founder/CEO

I’m a mom of two teens! I didn’t want my daughters putting non-organic products with harmful chemicals and dioxins in the most absorbent part of their body. I was using Organic, and they weren’t easy to find, and the packaging always seemed so uninspired and hush hush, so I started it with the intention to make healthy products easily accessible with fun designs and bold colors to also help them embrace having their period and not feel embarrassed. Read more>>

Mayon Denton | Filmmaker and Entrepreneur

My thought process behind starting my own business was built from a deep desire to have certain freedoms for myself and my family. Freedoms that wouldn’t be possible, if I worked for someone else. I wanted to live my life on my own terms and build something that I was proud of. So many people who came before me had to endure, had to fight, and had to struggle for many of the freedoms we have today. I wanted to honor all the amazing people who led and paved the way, so that I might follow my dreams. And doing so, in an attempt to live as free as possible, while helping as many people along the way, as many have helped me. Also, I just simply love entrepreneurship. I love the process of starting companies from scratch, building teams within those companies, and powerfully executing a common idea and vision. Read more>>

Maryam Sefati | Visual Development and background designer artist for Animation

I dont have a private self-owned Business, and what I do is helping studios and their teams to design backgrounds for animation projects. I have started to work in animation in Iran. As soon as I realized there are some animation studios in the country making cartoons, I lost interest in the Fashion major I was studying at the time and got a job in Saba Studio. Watching animations and studying them became my obsessive hobby back then and still is from time to time. I worked for six years in Iran before I moved to the United States in January 2011. During that six years, I tried animating for 2D animation, 3D animation a little, and advertisement and visual effects for movies till I decided my passion is holding a pen in my hand to draw till I am too tired to hold it. Read more>>

Janine and William Bissic | Founders/Co-Owners of Vital Pomona

We’ve always wanted to do some thing entrepreneurial together full time, and we often envisioned that happening in Pomona, CA. After a decade in an education career, Janine was looking for something new. We felt the timing was as good as it would ever be, and we jumped in with both feet. We’ve always appreciated Downtown Pomona‘s community and potential and felt we had a concept that would celebrate and complement what was already there and maybe even inspire new excitement and energy around the Arts Colony. A year and a half into this journey and we are really proud of what we’ve built so far!. Read more>>

Becca Stone | Calligrapher

I think like most creatives, I wanted to share my craft with others and bring joy. I had been practicing calligraphy for a while and created some wooden signs for people and here before I started The Urban Oak Studio. The process of creating brings me joy–from working alongside a customer for a custom sign to the finished project and everything in between. Read more>>

Caroline Hagerty | Creative Founder + Designer

Between myself and my cofounder, we have over 25 years of corporate experience. I am Brazilian-American, my cofounder Eliana Reynoso is Mexican-American. Throughout our careers, we would find ourselves in these 9 to 5 settings, the sole Latinas around any given office. Nearly half of the population in LA County is Latino…so why have so few of us found opportunities in the corporate world? Of the few of us who “make it”, hardly any are in executive or stakeholder positions. Brands LOVE to promote their efforts toward inclusion and diversity with dubious statistics. Sure, your favorite brand may claim to have 35% Latinx staff…but within that percentage, how many have roles where they can actually impact REAL change?. And, let’s be real. 9 to 5’s are more like 7 to 7’s. We grew tired of dedicating half of our time plus all of our talent to giant corporations where we didn’t see ourselves reflected: not in the product offerings, not in the decision making, and definitely not in the creative direction in an authentic way. Read more>>

TaVon Sampson | Artist/Creative Director

I knew that if I didn’t build something for myself I would live my life working for others and regret it at the end. I read a few books and decided to turn my passion into my business. Read more>>

Shante Threatt | Creative

I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I just never imagined I’d start that journey with candle making. I enjoy the idea of working for myself and providing something that I can pass down to my children in the future. Read more>>

Becca Van Bockern | Photographer

The genesis of my photography business was born out of a hobby that transitioned into a full time professional pursuit over many years. As my portfolio grew with experience and education, the demand for my services did as well. Eventually, I felt confident enough to shift from a regular “9-5” type job into my own venture. There is certainly a loss of security and consistency that comes with working independently, but there’s also a lot of freedom. For me, the appeal of creating my own schedule combined with utilizing a skill I enjoy outweighs the overall risk of working for myself. Read more>>

Shawn Stoner | Actor, Clown, & Dog Helper

I wanted/want to do my own thing. I’m not satisfied as an actor/performer always giving the reigns to someone else. It’s been incredible to make artistic and creative decisions for myself. To actually do the things I want to do rather than the things I think I’m supposed to do or what others think I should do. As a performer you are your business and I make decisions based on what I love to do now, not what I think will be the best for my perceived trajectory or what others define as a “successful” artist. Read more>>

Tristan Knight | Music Producer

The exact same sentiment as Nike; just do it. If there’s a burning passion for it, and the signs are all pointing in that direction, take that risk & create something good and beneficial for the people. Read more>>


Since I was young I was always a leader and liked to do my own thing. As a kid in middle school I used to sell candy and electronics. That’s where my entrepreneur journey started. Then I got older and decided to follow the Nipsey Hussle blueprint and build an enterprise around my music. So now I have an entertainment industry enterprise called THLA. Which stands for THE HEART OF LA. We have different branches for example; THLA RECORDS, THLA CLOTHING, THLA MODELS, THLA MEDIA, THLA SPORTS, THLA REALTY etc. Read more>>

Lopati Ho Chee | Director of Photography & founder of Reely Nice Guys Productions

With Reely Nice Guys Productions I wanted to start a production company that would allow myself and others the ability to work within the creative process and have a blast doing it. I have always been passionate about having something that can be a resource for people to share their stories and develop their craft. Reely Nice Guys is my way of reaching out a friendly hand to those who might need it. Our motto is “No bullshit; all integrity” and we aim to live by that everyday. Read more>>