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.

Tam Oonz | Artist

I could say i had few reasons,,i never wanted to work for someone. I like when i have freedom of choice and movement. It is a bit stressful sometimes, but working on my own ideas and projects is what i want to do in Life and if it also brings money what can be better than that. Read more>>

Samantha Tollworthy | Founder of Teddy Locks

For ten years I worked as a wildlife TV producer – traveling the world and sharing experiences. I got to visit remote islands, work up mountains, and travel deep into the jungle – but no matter where I went, I always saw the same thing – single use plastic. No longer able to sit on the sidelines, I decided I had to help fight our global war on waste, and find a solution to the plastic that is polluting our natural world. Read more>>

Kim Alexandriuk | Interior Designer

I always knew that I wanted to do something in the arts. Since I had the opportunity to study in Berlin, Germany when I was young, and then in Lyon, France while in University, language and travel always intrigued me. I studied International Economics and Fine Arts in college, and looking back, it influenced so much of my direction in life – as did my family and upbringing. My parents were immigrants, and travel and exposure to different languages and cultures was very important to them. Read more>>

Jennifer Gennari | Fine Artist

It was natural, and probably the most bizarre way to start a business. I didn’t know I was starting one. I was working long hours in my studio to get work out to a gallery for years. The end of the day would come and I would go home convinced I was done wanting to paint, only to realize that after my bike ride home and a bite to eat, I was energized and ready to go again. This happened for a while until I decided to bring a pochade box home and paint something entirely for fun. Tired of spending the day painting people I decided to paint a Sphynx Cat, and literally from there the rest is history. Read more>>

Shoghak Kazandjian | Creative Director

As a creative director, the autonomy of owning my own business and being the creative lead has been so fulfilling for me. I am a designer born and raised in LA and recently co-founded my own branding agency, Etcetera, as well as another business, Cutclass. Launching my own business was never something I imagined for myself—however, after some recent shifts in my career and reflecting on strategic choices I’ve made for my career, it was the natural next step. I imagined myself finding success as a creative director, but I never was clear on the circumstances of how that would happen. Read more>>

Faissal Ghanem | CEO & CO-Founder

My journey to start ‘Marvesol’ began after years of trying to cure my Rosacea. For more than a decade, I suffered from constant redness and inflammation of my face, and not a single treatment or medication was effective in managing it. My doctors and dermatologists told me this would just have to be something I live with for the rest of my life. After giving up on taking medications and using topical creams to help treat my condition, I sought out traditional medicine. I found an ancient book of herbal remedies that had been passed down through multiple of my family’s generations. Read more>>

Sana Williams | Fashion Designer

I realized through my interactions with others & the compliments that I received from wearing my jewelry & outfits. I turned a hobby into a money-making venture. Read more>>

Tracey Baker-Simmons | Executive Producer/ Visionary

In our industry especially in the reality television space there are very few Minority owned production companies. My first initial foray into the business was working for someone else’s company and they had all the control which didn’t feel right. I have gone through several iterations of partnerships and finally landed here with my own shingle, Baker Simmons Media. No one reaches the top alone but being in charge of your own destiny is liberating and that’s why I decided to take this leap of faith and bet on myself. I think I needed this space to just listen to my own voice. Read more>>

Teemaree | Creator of transformation made easy through joy. Founder of ALLSWELL Lifestyle.

I saw and felt a void in the marketplace and knew I could fill it. Because I know how hard it can be to stay positive, how lonely it can feel, and how much better and faster things are with the right support, I became driven to create a place where we could be our full selves, be seen for all we are, and have all the aspects of life that are important to us nurtured. Read more>>

Anthony Jacquet | Chef & Co-Owner of Claudine Kitchen & Bakeshop

When I began my journey as a Chef, my dream was always to open my own restaurant. I remember planning, sketching, imagining and writing menus as soon as I discovered the restaurant business at 21 years old. I am thankful the business found me. I don’t have a story of me loving cooking through out my childhood and teen years, but food always brought my family together and that meant something to me. My dream of what type of restaurant I would open evolved over the years and changed through out the changes in my own life. Read more>>

Thomas Mulzac | Entrepreneur & Chef

When I started MealZac Seasonings, I wanted food to inspire people in the same way that traveling does. When we pivoted from catering to food products, we allowed people to travel instantaneously through the unique flavors that we create. Read more>>

Bry Lorenzana | Founder and Designer

I’ve always known I would start my own business somehow. Since I was 8 years old I wanted to either be a chef with my own restaurant or become a designer with my own line. It was something I constantly talked about, brainstormed and planned out. When deciding what college and major I wanted to pursue, I knew a business marketing degree would be extremely useful, even though a big part of me wanted to go to FIDM. When I was 18 I started working for a women’s boutique called Stitch and Feather where I learned the ins and outs of starting, running and growing a business. Read more>>

Christina Broderick | Licensed Social Worker, Certified School Social Worker, Former Therapist

I started my own business due to the gap in mental health education that existed. As adults, we constantly say, “I wish I learned this when I was younger or learned this in school” and working with students, it was clear there was a dire need for them to learn about mental health and begin to build a toolbox of strategies. Additionally, I’m a dreamer, a builder and I love to create new things and in my prior roles, I was very limited in my capacities and being able to execute my visions, so I decided to step out and make something of my own. Read more>>

Brittney Turner | Entrepreneur & Mother

My thought process behind starting my business Taste Vita definitely stemmed from me realizing how many people (including myself) were not able to enjoy the oral sex experience from A-Z for one simple reason, the taste. I knew I had to find a solution, a solution for all genders to be able to enjoy such an amazing experience with confidence. Read more>>

Kelly Glusovich | Flavor Purveyor: designer or hair, clothing, interiors, merchandise.

My initial focus for creating a business, was filling a void. The niche I felt needed me, was “flavor’ that I encapsulated in a curation of haircuts, clothing and related accessories in a single location. Example: cuts, tshirts, sweatshirts, mix tapes (yes, 90s stuff), watches, caps, etc. In essence, I elected to create a place that I would like to visit. Read more>>

Rae Foster | Fedora Hats

With starting my own business the thought process came from me losing my confidence back 2019. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and lost all my confidence. I continued to ask myself, what was my purpose on this earth? When I finally gotten my answer it was to make people feel great about themselves and look good wearing their Fierce Fedora Hat! I continue to research the different styles of hats and of course, I gotten some for myself. I’m into fashion and have shown on my social media, the different ways to wear Fedora Hats. I believe that you wear the hat, the hat doesn’t wear you! Read more>>

Tiphareth Star | Hairstylist/ Adventurer/ Seeker

My thought process behind starting my own business is that I wanted to be in control of my schedule and be able to create a bicoastal life without feeling like I was under anyone else’s thumb. To make my own schedule and create the life that truly made me happy. Read more>>

Nancy & David Garcia | Owners of Kulture and Kolores

Kulture was established in 2005 in Midtown Sacramento. When we first embarked on this business venture we intended it to be a brick and mortar to sell our clothing line, Keepin It Paisa, out of. We started Kulture in Midtown Sacramento with our business partner., Cuahutémoc Vargas. Although Kulture started off as a vintage/antique shop (the location was an established antique/vintage shop and was purchased with all of its merchandise) it quickly evolved in to Mexican imports. Once we saw that there was a customer base for Mexican imports it all came together and we found our nitch. Read more>>

Isabel Moffly | Product Photographer

As a kid I was always starting little businesses, whether it was selling hand drawn stickers at the lunch tables in middle school or covering my friends white converse and vans in colorful customized illustrations in high school. I never really dreamed of a specific job I wanted to be when I grew up, all I knew was that it had to be creative, and I wanted to be the one to make the decisions. So you’d think that when I started taking up photography, I’d have another business plan in mind, but I really just started doing it for fun! Read more>>

Ali Hussainy | Founder, Alpha Plus Entertainment

It was quite the evolution when it came to starting my own business, I quickly became very aware of how bold the decision was. I was thriving as a Creative Executive at Sony Music, where I had been for almost eight years. I was directing campaigns, styling music videos, developing tv shows – it was the best education I could have asked for. But whenever you grow up in one place, you naturally want to see what else is out there and as my contract was coming up I knew it was time. Read more>>

Aisling & Jenny | Conversationalists & Curators

The act of communally engaging on varied topics – Blockchain, Tantra, Futurism – and the delight one feels by discovering new worlds & horizons as part of a group – is an intangible and hard to quantify thing. This is precisely what we strive to create at Faura – we want to open up discovery to the community. The thought process was how can we enable that in a way that feels fun, educational & meaningful. Read more>>

Hugo Juarez | Graphic Designer / Photographer

Pretty good question to start off with, I started very small. Though for me at the time it was a big time thing, to create from scratch when your starting to pursue your interests. You don’t just jump into it right away, I did small time gigs and photo sessions and taking any creative tasks, I was not yet developed in a targeted niche which is okay because you get to figure out where your strong suits are. Tie them to your passions and if its a compatible combination you start seeking those types of projects next. Over time you’ll build relationships and developing an influential circle in that targeted niche. Read more>>

Priscilla Moreno | Curator at GBTD

I wanted a creative outlet; it’s crazy to say that about meat and cheese, but these charcuterie plates are pieces of art to me. There are so many elements that go into creating just one graze I think it’s an art to be able to make it both delicious and beautiful. Additionally, I find the most joy seeing others enjoy my charcuterie creations. My family and friends were the first to see my take on charcuterie and they were also a big push for me to start Grazes by the Details, it’s been almost a year since I started. Read more>>

Megan Foutch | Founder & Designer

Fait par Foutch (which means “made by” in French) was born to be a brand for people who appreciate sustainable slow fashion and one of a kind pieces. “Slow fashion” is a concept which describes the opposite of fast fashion. It advocates for manufacturing in respects to people, environment and animals. Everything is handmade and reworked from vintage and/or deadstock fabric. It’s giving a second life to old materials which stops the overproduction and waste of the fast fashion market. The designs are unique and timeless … in my opinion 😉 The corsets and pieces reworked from vintage are completely one of a kind — I usually only have enough fabric for one or two items… so once its gone, its gone forever. its unfortunate that its so limited but also beautiful in the sense that no one else will ever have your same garment. Read more>>

DD Horns | Horn Section & Band/Recording Artists

We met at UCLA, where we were both Music majors. David was studying jazz performance and saxophone, and Danny was studying composition and trumpet. We had the same music theory and music history courses and were a part of an incredible class of musicians. We eventually became roommates, and would frequently have jam sessions focused on free improvisation. After graduating, we built our brand as a go-to horn section in the LA studio session scene, working on recordings by Iggy Pop, Regina Spektor, Snoop Dogg, 21 Pilots, Matt Nathanson, Hanggai, Chika, Rilo Kiley, Diplo, Once In Future Band, Anonymous Inc. and tons more. Read more>>

Yagiz Oral | Orchestra Conductor & Film Composer

Considering the art environment in which orchestra artists are in, the lack of an environment where orchestra artists can gain experience and prepare for their careers created the idea of establishing an orchestra by creating my own work. The orchestra we established set out to offer a solution to the problems faced by young artists. It has created an environment where many artists can gain experience by playing an important role in their careers with the concerts and masterclass events it has given so far. Thanks to this orchestra we established, a platform that I have experienced intensely as an orchestra conductor has been formed. Read more>>

Natalie O’Connell | Portrait Photographer & Fashion Model

When I lost my younger brother in March of 2020, a few weeks after the pandemic started to unfold, I felt completely lost and hopeless about how to cope with life without him. My world was on the brink of crumbling, and I while was desperately trying to catch sight of the light at the end of a dark tunnel that is grief, I decided to re-evaluate my life, and do more of what truly makes me happy. Read more>>

Jasmine Fuqua | Fuqua Realty – Realtor in California DRE # 01989755

I’ve always wanted to be an independent person. Independence is what lead me to become an entrepreneur. As an adolescent, while most may have thought of a managerial position, I always thought; “Well, how did the owner become the owner?” Enterprise has always intrigued me, but what lead me specifically to Real Estate, to become a Realtor, was my mom. There are two stories, that has played a role in my journey. The first story is” My mom was studying to become a Real Estate agent while I was in High School. I watched her study from afar, and the learning videos caught my attention enough, that I went to take my Real Estate Principle courses in 2006, right after I graduated High School. Read more>>

Shea Edwards | Creative Entreprenuer | Founder and Teacher at Faith Rocks Performing Arts Academy

When Covid hit, I’d just given birth to my son. Unfortunate circumstances forced my family to find new ways to earn income and pivot. Like many millennials, I was more interested in remaining in alignment with using my gifts and talents over pursuing work solely for money. After getting my M.F.A. from UCLA, I always said I wanted to teach after I had an established acting career. However, in the midst of covid, I realized I was sitting on my ability to dive further into purpose and entrepreneurship. It was such a blessing when my academy program was accepted at a local pre-school and we officially launched, “Faith-Rocks Performing Arts Academy”. Read more>>

Ian McClellan | Producer, Founder of Island Time Pictures

I found in school that I enjoyed sharing in collaboration with directors and creatives as a producer, and I didn’t mind bearing the price of responsibility that this position requires. So as I got out of school it was natural for me to create a structure where we could continue to make the movies we wanted to, namely a production company. I also love the independence of having my own production company. Read more>>

Sandra Dotson | Wire Jewelry Artisan

At first, I only wanted to sell a few pieces to finance my hobby. You know, pay for materials etc. There was no intention to grow Entangled Co into a full, self-sustained business. Then two things happened: 1. The pandemic hit and my maternity leave got turned into a stay-at-home mom position. So suddenly a little extra income became much more important. And my mental health aka sense of purpose required some care which my business was able to provide. At the same time I had to care for a little baby so I needed to be flexible. What better way to do that than work in your own home, on your own dime, setting your own hours. Read more>>

Catherine McCord | Co-founder of One Potato and Founder of Weelicious

After graduating I realized I could cook a gourmet meal, but had no idea how to make my new baby a great eater from day one. I began blogging on Weelicious daily and connecting with moms all over the world dealing with the same challenges feeding their families. Over the years I had people begging me to start selling Weelicious meals and that’s how One Potato was born. We took the data from the most popular Weelicious recipes and began sending semi prepared, organic meals with unique family pricing. Read more>>

Kellie Krueger | Artist, Singer & Teacher

Before creating my business, I had always worked full-time service sector jobs, like waitressing, in order to pay the bills, while squeezing in artistic endeavors (singing, painting) in the margins. I hold a Master’s and part of a Doctoral degree in Voice (I’m an operatic contralto), and so I originally came to LA 6 years ago to pursue Opera. I sang in restaurants and in very small, unpaid productions. I would paint at night just for my own enjoyment and expression; I had never considered selling my art or attempting to make a business of it. To be honest, I never held the belief that any of my artistic interests could ever make me money. 11 years of waiting tables was the only consistent money I had ever made, during my degrees and after, and so this is how my brain was programmed. Read more>>

Jason Lenzi | Co- Founder Big Bang Pow!/Producer/Writer

Well, I’ve always bounced between tv production work (host producing, writing) and voice over work throughout my years in LA. Sometimes it’s busy, sometimes it’s not, there can be significant down time. I started thinking of launching a business that might be an earner thru quiet patches, but that also could generate income on it’s own. A little coffee shop sounded nice, but ultimately I started Big Bang Pow!, because I’d seen a turn coming in the pop culture world. By 2007, any and every property was a possible collectible, not just genre titles. The timing felt right. Read more>>

Jaimie Milner | Photographer I

I always felt like photography chose me but when I realized I could influence culture is when I really began to fall in love with it. Imagery is a powerful vehicle for change. Read more>>

Lauren Satterfield | Founder @ The BRICC Foundry | Communicator @ DIRECTV | Learner @ Life

Simply, to be an answer. The dream behind my non-profit, The BRICC Foundry, is to be a resource, sounding board, and sponsor to women on untraditional journeys making their wildest dreams come true. Women of all colors and backgrounds face many questions when trying to navigate professional spaces. Finding a place to start is hard & we’re here to help! At BRICC, connect a multi-faceted group of extraordinary women to facilitate mentorship, experiential learning, and fellowship. We create intentional spaces that celebrate individuality & culture inspiring women to conquer their lions. And through these spaces we create, BRICC makes room for bright, bold, and beautiful stories. Because what is a business without storytelling to compel the masses. Read more>>

tracy hartley | Birth Doula and Childbirth Educator

I was 49 years old when I first heard the word and the concept of “doula.” I had a job that I loved and had been there for almost 7 years but, from the moment I understood what a doula was, I knew that was what I wanted and needed to be. There wasn’t much thought about the fact that I would be “starting a business” until I had already started a business! Learning to be a doula was the easier task. Learning how to create a website in 1996 was much more difficult! As my doula skills grew, so did my business skills and, within a few years, I had a viable business that has supported me for 25 years. Read more>>

Lena Ryals | Owner and Senior Project Manager specializing in Executive Support

My decision to become an entrepreneur was Faith based. I had a huge financial ask the year of 2019. Towards the end of that year there were rumors of a package being paid out. I didn’t think that I qualified for it so i hadn’t given it much thought. It was announced and i did qualify. When i thought about being a single mother leaving her job, i thought it would be irresponsible of me. But one night i was reminded of my ask and i realized that the package was my answer. I hadnt realized that the answer to my ask was come with an ask of it’s own- to leave my job and start a new journey. Read more>>

Weston Twardowski | Co-founder and Literary Manager of Third Culture Theatre

Third Culture Theatre grew out of absence. My co-founders and I had for years wanted to form our own company, and having made friends and connections in Los Angeles we began working with like-minded folks to develop the company we wanted. We were always explicitly interested in centering marginalized voices and creating art that responded to and engaged with the issues we feel acutely in our daily lives: race, class, gender, sexuality, climate change, etc. We wanted to make contemporary art that strives to set lofty goals and create real, on-going conversations about inequity and society. Read more>>

Karen Chinchilla | Tailor / Seamstress and Designer

I was working at Prada Broadway Epicenter in New York City as one of their four tailors. I really loved it and it was quite scary to leave. The team there was very supportive and encouraged me to keep growing. I felt like I had to push myself and start my own business in tailoring and making custom pieces. I wanted to be able to work with different stylists and put myself in positions where I could learn different brands and makes. Each fashion house has their own techniques and when you are opening up a garment to tailor, it is like surgery. You are opening a whole world of construction that you have to replicate in order for the piece to look like it wasn’t touched. The part I love about sewing and tailoring is that you are always learning. It’s a craft that takes many years to master so I felt that me starting my own business and being hired by different houses would give me the experience to master my craft. Read more>>

Sami Jo Justus | Shae Butter Creator & Laboratorian

Our thought process behind starting Babes N Butta was simply, “nothing tried, nothing done.” During the pandemic, we had time to re-evaluate our lives and really think about what was working for our family and what was not. One thing was for sure is that Britton and I recognized that for the last 6 years we have been working extremely hard and long hours. That was definitely not working for our family. We needed a change and an income that could be generated from home. Read more>>