We asked some of the city’s hidden gems to tell us about what they feel is the most important factor behind their success.

Grafx | Musician

The most important factors behind my success are consistency and self-belief. Read more>>

Chantal Massuh | Model & Filmmaker

The most important factor behind my success is my tenacity and determination. My careers in film and modeling would have never flourished if it was not for my will to keep going in the face of rejection. You’re going to face so many closed doors, and people telling you that you are not good enough but I never listen to any of that and keep going. I know I meant to be doing the things I’m doing and perseverance always pays off. Read more>>

Dionte Brooks | Athletic Skill Coach & Fitness Trainer & Mentor

First off one of the most humbling person you can meet. Most important factor is how hard I work for my team and clients. I have a great way of understanding on how each individual is different and knowing how to push them at a high level within their limit. Identifying weaknesses rather physical or mental and coming up with different strategies to beat them. Best thing I get I get out of it is having someone saying I did something I thought I would never do. That’s really the success behind my brand. I make it comfortable for everyone to feel like they winning. Read more>>

Brenna McGowan | Copywriter & Email Expert

I think there are many factors to my success, but the most important factor has been pressing forward—even when I have felt insecure, unqualifired and overwhelmed. I’ve had to rely on taking small steps in the right direction in order to slowly lay a foundation and gain momentum in my business. Read more>>

Emanuel Giella | BMI Latin-Recording Artist

I would say that the most important factor for the success of my brand is the commitment to push my own boundaries. As an artist, it is very challenging to remain focused on the one thing that inspired you to become one in the first place. Nowadays, especially in the era of social media, where standards have shifted, artists find themselves having to re-adjust for the sake of gaining followers. For instance, I have never been the kind of person who spends hours on a social media platform, neither am I the type of person who likes to post stuff about myself on a daily basis. But because of the nature of the business right now, I need to step up into a world I don’t feel comfortable in. That’s how much commitment I have towards my art. If I need to evolve in order to succeed, and for the world to experience what I create, then I will. Read more>>

Jared Saia | Talent Buyer and Concert Promoter

I think that the most important factor behind the success of The Spotlight Sessions has been my unwavering transparency with artists and venues throughout the community. I have always taken pride in the fact that regardless of the circumstance, honesty and thoroughness takes precedence. Before starting this journey, I had heard so many testimonies from artists who had given up on bookers and promoters in the scene because they felt like they were always being dealt a bad hand. The amount of unethical practices taking place throughout the industry was borderline criminal. When I entered this side of the business, I knew that I had a responsibility to reform a broken system and try to set an example for every new promoter and talent buyer merging into the scene. Read more>>

Lizz Picini | Performer, Educator, Creative

Authenticity. The more I fall in love with being transparent and owning that I have “nothing to prove” to myself and others, the more successful I am. My hope is that people want to connect, train with, and partake in a community surrounded by other real, down-to-earth, authentic humans. Especially in an industry which can appear “surface-level” at times, it is nice to practice healthy authenticity and walk-the-walk. Read more>>

Tempany Deckert | Novel Writing Coach at Write a Novel, Change Your Life

Providing a high quality, needed service for a huge gap in the market – when I created my online novel writing videos, I knew my class was a stand alone; no one was teaching how to write an entire novel in 10 weeks. There were online writing classes, but most were theoretical or only got you through the first fifty pages. My class actually teaches you step by step how to write the entire book and you actually do it with each class you watch. After teaching my course in person for over a decade, I’ve made sure that any pitfalls or weaknesses in the class have been ironed out – trial and error in real time is invaluable for making sure you are offering a stellar service that people will recommend to others. Nearly all my students are word of mouth from the glowing praise the course receives. Read more>>

Taylor Rochestie | Professional Athlete, Author, Speaker

The most important factor behind my success is my mindset and positive filter on life. I have reprogrammed success in order to define it on my own terms. I am in the pursuit of success through happiness, not happiness through success. This keeps the focus on the journey, my goals and aspirations, instead of the outcome or giving in to external influences and pressure. In order to live my best life, and create the world I desire for myself, it’s important to be authentic in finding what it is that I truly desire. To get to the core of who I am, and realize that what I want might be hidden behind expectations, fears, and a society telling me what it means to be successful. When you clear your mind, and ultimately all the obstacles in your way, then its about designing a path that is authentic and optimistic towards your goal. Learn from people, become a student of the world, and realize that socially defined “failure” is basically a prerequisite to success. Read more>>

Belinda Donner | Lifestyle Blogger. Over 50

Authenticity is a big factor behind my brand and it’s success. I am a no bullshit person with no pretensions, I tell it like it is. I am true to my own personality, spirit, or character. When people read my posts on my blog, they get the real me and authentically enjoy what I have to say. I have four children, 27,24,21,17.  My oldest is my son Chase.  This summer he moved from LA to New York.  He teaches art in the day to children and at night he is a drag queen.  He used to do a lot of shows in Hollywood. @CHASERUNAWAY.  My 24yr old also was living in LA moved to Newport beach during covid and is currently in school, acting, and is currently working on an adult cartoon that we will all be seeing soon.  My 21 year is in the business school at Boulder, co. My daughter who is still home and online is a junior in highschool.  She just started a new clothing line called current generations. Read more>>

Ariel & Dominique Wilson | The Word Queer

There are many factors that contribute to our success, the most important factor being love. We began The Word Queer as a way to further our journey ‘out of the closet’ and normalize our Black queer love within our immediate circle. As our brand grew, with it grew a community of queer people expressing to us the need and importance of sharing our story. Although things are getting better everyday, the LGBTQ+ community still faces much homophobia and bigotry; couple that with being Black and queer women, the struggle gets even harder. This is why we believe wholeheartedly in the powers of representation and visibility. Too many times are we bombarded with an LGBTQ+ story in the media that is rooted in trauma and pain. Although pain and trauma happens, we agree that it is not the defining aspect of LGBTQ+ relationships. This is the reason we decided to continue building our brand on the foundation of love. Our love shouldn’t be stigmatized, marginalized, or politicized. We owe the success of our brand to the authentic expression of our Black queer love. Read more>>

Paola Ruiz-Beas, LCSW | Licensed Clinical Social Worker

The most important factor in my success is not seeking success. I have learned that it is okay to be selfish and take care of my own needs and healing journey first and the rest will unfold at its own time. I have a mentor who would say “slow is fast, fast is slow.” I interpret that as not rushing into anything rather being intentional with what wants to birth into world from the inside out. It is easy to get caught up in the quick results and fast paced society that we live in. However, in my experience, when I have nurtured myself and taken time to pause, I have been more clear about how I get to show up in the world versus what’s expected of me. I define my own success. Read more>>

Archana Liggins | CEO, Founder, Community Builder

I have worked hard to have a positive impact in various communities and working with families in need. In my professional role as a food banker in Illinois and in my role as a CEO and Founder of BAG Lady Outreach. I am passionate about everything and do everything in excellence. I have ensured that the families, in need, have access to nutritious meals on a consistent basis, hygiene products, and PPE during the time of COVID. I have been a proven leader due to tenacity and dedication to serving those in need and that’s due largely to having the heart to serve people and being committed to building the community. The success of BAG Lady Outreach and myself is due to being community-driven and believing that everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect! Its one thing to provide families with providing basic necessities, but the other is to impact their life. A smile, a fist bump or kind word is lasting and can empower their day and restore hope. Read more>>

Monika Santucci | Singer Songwriter

I really believe as cliche as it sounds that my passion for music is the single most important factor behind any of my success. My passion is what has driven me through and kept me going during some of the most challenging moments of my career so far. At no point have I ever considered truly giving up because I love music so much and I can’t imagine not writing or singing regardless as to whether it’s for an audience or for myself. I don’t think of myself as having much in terms of natural abilities I think that my consistency and dedication to the craft is what has landed me any gigs at all. Read more>>

Matthew Tarutis | Writer | Producer | Entertainer

Resilience. I’ve had every opportunity to break down and give up fighting but the only reason I am where I’m at today is that I continued moving forward no matter what the circumstance may be. We will always face adversity, it’s inevitable, but the only pathway to success is through it. Read more>>

Megan Gillikin | Wedding Planner & Industry Educator

I think the success of my business comes from one of my company and personal core values which is Under Promise and Over Deliver and follow through on your commitments to others. In my industry (events), clients spend thousands of dollars to hire professionals to bring this one day to life and they want to feel seen, heard, and valued and not just like a check in someone’s bank account. Going above what the bulleted list of services is on their contract and surprising them with an amazing client experience is honestly what has set up apart from the competition. Relationships are the best form of marketing and referrals. Read more>>

Mickey Darius: owner/founder of Broken Clover Records (record label) – GM of The Lost Church (music venue) – owner/founder of Ivy Agency (booking agency)

I would have written in response to a few of the questions you posed (re: what we do for social impact, whether to give up vs. keep going, taking risks, and what makes me happy). I’d say that the most important factor behind our success (if you’d call what we’ve achieved up to now success) is that the mission has been kept simple…we make records and give a shit about people. Everything that happens with/for/through BCR has that stuff in mind and if there’s a project or campaign on the table, it’s not difficult to decide if it’s the right thing for us…does this project help make records and/or does it help sell records and/or does it do something to benefit the community (immediate or far-reaching). Literally anyone with a few bucks can press vinyl and call what they do running a label. It’s vitally important to me, and I believe it’s a fundamental piece of why I’ve been around these few years, that we not only put out the good shit (which I’d say we do pretty damn well), but also stick out our hand to hold/lift up those that need it. It feels like a factor in our success, but also something of a responsibility. Read more>>

Teri Hofford | Body Image activist/author/photographer/educator

The most important factor behind my success has been trusting and betting on myself and following my intuition. I am definitely a visionary thinker, which means I sometimes see where things are going but the world may not be there yet – instead of letting that stop me from pursuing the things, I recognize that if I get there “first” then I become a founder of big movements. It’s hard to explain, but I just know in my body when an idea is one that NEEDS to happen as opposed to one that would be good if it happened, but isn’t a priority. I think it is a combination of intuition and strategic thinking that can see where trends are forming and then I act on those to create ideas, experiences, and products that serve to fit niches were there is nothing. Read more>>

Asya Shein | Cultural Marketer & Event Producer

As an entrepreneur I created an online platform that was based on a need from the community that I represent, those that live for soul & world music, hip hop, jazz and deep house. A marketing service for a niche audience that, at the time, did not have a resource for an event calendar for our culture which was why I created it on a hyper local and also national scale. Through the now almost 18 years, since the fall of 2003, first in LA and NYC presently in over 20 North American markets, myself and Fusicology have maintained the manifesto to the lifestyle we represent and to our subscribers, sticking to what I love and know best and providing a targeted service for the artists and lovers of global soul music alike. Read more>>

Jessica Totillo Coster | eCommerce & Email Marketing Strategist

My business so far has been built organically on social media and through referrals. I get referrals from previous clients and from other business owners who serve the same client as me, just in a different capacity. From hosting events together, to guesting in each other’s programs and even directly referring clients to each other, the relationships that I’ve built with my peers has been amazing. Plus, it really does make the entrepreneurial journey much less lonely. Don’t be afraid to connect to other people in your space. There really is room at the top for all of us and no one does what you do exactly the way you do it. Read more>>

Erica Whitley | Graphic Designer

I wouldn’t say there’s one factor….but two. The most important factors behind my own success is my ambition and not caring so much about the outcome. There are literally millions of designers. Some know exactly what they’re doing, others (like myself) are just winging it. AND THAT”S OKAY! As creatives we sometimes struggle with those annoying, every day thoughts of “What kind of designer am I?” – “What am I going for?” – and the new classic “What’s my aesthetic?”. Once you let go of the narrative…..the story unfolds itself. In 2019, I could not design anything from my own mind for the life of me. I was stuck. Work was exhausting, life was changing, I honestly didn’t have the capacity to design for myself. I wanted to, but didn’t have the confidence. When I met a new coworker (who is now one of my closest friends), I saw how ambitions and bold she was. She was designing things that almost didn’t make sense….but it just worked. And it looked great! The way she spoke about her art was the way I spoke about food…….with passion. As the year rolled by, I was overwhelmed and dissatisfied with my design career. I finally got the push I needed to look for a new job. Read more>>

Dianna Graves | Travel Agency Owner

Owning my own travel agency is a dream of mine that came to fruition. The most important factor for Mom Loves Travel Agency is our independent contractors/agents. Our agency builds upon being a family and our agents are a part of the Mom Loves Travel family. Our agency/agents’ network with each other, support each other and will be there to get through the tougher times, like COVID 19 has brought upon the travel industry. Our agents will even pass referrals on to our other agents, when they feel the client would be best suited with the other agent’s specialization or particular knowledge of the travel. Mom Loves Travel agents are committed to their clients and develop lasting relationships with them also. Mom Loves Travel agents are there to really help travelers book their dream vacations and at times, I see, the agents more excited about the travel booking than the client initially. Read more>>

Sivonnia DeBarros | Lawyer, Protector of Athletes, Best Selling Author, & Speaker

NO FEAR: It took me moving from behind fear to realize my greatness, my passion, my purpose. I often tell people that it wasn’t long ago that I was sitting in my home office thinking about how I wanted to represent professional athletes and that I wanted to speak to them through a book. Yet, I began to doubt myself and fear crept in. Fear kept telling me that writing a book was too big for me – that people will criticize it. Yet, it was up to me to say “No to Fear” and move in spite of the fear around something great. It’s amazing how many limitations we place on ourselves because of fear and I was about to fall victim to it once more. I made a conscientious decision that no matter how afraid of this I was, I was moving into my next chapter with no fear. Subsequently, a beautifully inspiring and motivating book was created. That book led to my current podcast, “What Are You Sporting About?” and continues to touch people all over the world. Had I given in to fear, none of this would exist. I would be one of those entrepreneurs who simply dreamed of something great, yet never realizing that I was great enough to accomplish that dream. Read more>>

Frank Krueger & Jessica Heath | Owners of The Annex Acting Studio

The Annex Acting Studio has always tried to put the student first. As artists ourselves, we understand what it takes to be successful in this industry. It takes dedication, faith, and of course, money. That’s why we offer a MasterClass that uses the “pay what you can” model. We want our students to be able to study without worrying about what’s in their bank accounts. We also try our best to offer outside industry insight at least once a month. We bring industry professionals in to encourage our students. We’ve had producers, casting directors, managers, and so many others who have inspired us to keep reaching for this dream. We consider our students family here at The Annex. It’s what has allowed us to thrive and be successful. Read more>>

Regina Knoll | Model

I believe the most important factors behind my success are my dedication and my work ethic. I am dedicated, reliable and responsible. Everyday is a new day to prove myself. Read more>>

Devon Day | Owner/Agent, DayReps

When you own your own business, you immediately have to put the people who are paying you first. ‘The client is always right.’ is essentially the mantra, however we are also advocates for our artists so there’s a delicate line in keeping everyone happy at the end of the day. I believe in playing fair and not taking myself too seriously really aids to our clients coming back to work with us and our artists year after year – and the word spreads. We are easy to work with and aim to please. Advocating for our artists is just as important. If they don’t feel supported, the relationship ultimately will not work. We take a lot of pride in growing with them and being there for them throughout the highs and lows of their careers. Maintaining both client and artists relationships in a positive light is crucial. (I’m repeating myself here but you get what I’m saying. :)). Read more>>

Fatimata Sanogo | Founder and CEO

1. A vision bigger than myself I find it essential to create, or some would say catch, a vision for yourself and your life. Having a vision gives you clarity and grounds you. It also gives you a powerful access to being successful. This is because when you have a vision, it alters your sense of being and rewires your brain in a way that the actions you take are actually informed by the future (your vision) rather than the past (your perceptions, your fears, your old thoughts patterns, your past failures, things you already know.) A vision alters the way you see things, your perception of the world and yourself when that shifts, you see things differently, you hear things differently, you see opportunities that you couldn’t see before, you become interested in being successful, and you start seeing the many ways you can make it happen and you start being motivated to take inspired action. Read more>>

Samantha Labrecque | Actor

That’s funny, I actually laughed when I heard this question. The beloved impostor syndrome at work. The concept of “success” is one that I’ve continuously battled with, especially in the last couple years of my life. This Arthur Ashe quote helps summarize how I’d like to think of success: “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” And that’s not to say I’ve achieved this quote myself, but it’s something that I’m working to integrate into my life as an actor and creative, in hopes to avoid spiraling down some deep, dark, soul-sucking holes. Personally, I’ve found that persistence, self growth, and a willingness to learn are the biggest factors in continuing to work on my career as an actor. Professionally, I’m very motivated, passionate, and savvy in many fields. And societally, my skin tone, body type, and need for validation also play roles. Read more>>

Sydney Tripoli | Photographer

I don’t think I could narrow it down to one single thing other than just keeping my drive. Every single day is such a journey as an artist and making sure that you continually are working on your craft and putting yourself out there is all important! The people in your life is also crucial to your success, so make sure the people you surround yourself with are lifting you up to be the best version of yourself!. Read more>>

Rachel Bruno | Makeup Artist & Photographer

Passion , commitment, loyalty , dedication & faith. Read more>>

Caroline Quigley | Actress & Performer

The most important factor behind my success is going to the mat each and every day. My artistic growth as an actor depends on this commitment. I believe that forward movement equals happiness and my creative journey begins and ends with this process. Incorporating this form of thought on a daily basis keeps me on track and has quite often led to new opportunities! By keeping in touch with my mental wellbeing and physical health, I’ve learned to adjust my methodology accordingly, which is especially important when my schedule begins to feel too full and exhausting. Working in this way puts control over my career as an actor into my own hands. I am in charge of making the choices that will improve my craft. Quite simply, the creative hard work must be done every day and it feels so empowering!. Read more>>

Nichole Perkins | Crusader For a Clean Food Supply System

I think of balance as having one foot on each side of a seesaw scale. Rather than a static state that we achieve, balance is constantly shifting, depending on external circumstances. The key to maintaining balance is a) getting clear on our life purpose and our intentions (what matters most), b) supporting our mental focus, which keeps us homing back in on what’s important, and c) caring for our physical and mental wellbeing. We can accomplish this most sustainably by getting clean on our diet and lifestyle by cutting out sugar, highly processed carbs and excessive caffeine, as well as regular exercise and sleep. Read more>>

Olivier “Hero” Dressen Director, Photographer, Producer.

I am from Belgium originally. A small country divided into 3 languages, French, Dutch (Flemish), and German (minority), also home to the surrealism movement and European headquarters. My country is only 10 million strong, and even we all agree on chocolate, beer, and Belgian fries* the politics of this country are constantly divided. When I was living in Brussels, I spoke English to avoid any political disputes since languages can be a source of discords in Belgium. * And yes, fries come from Belgium, not France. taught me to be a better diplomat in my everyday life. As I travel a lot for work, I have some good abilities to deal with conflict, language barriers, and different frictions onset levels or with different clients (agency, brands, creatives, etc.) Read more>>

CJ Catapia | Founder & CEO of CJC PR

I am a firm believer in your background and upbringing having the largest impact on an individual. I’m originally from the Philippines but was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. I come from a family of six, two sisters, a brother, and the strictest parents you could ever imagine. I was fortunate enough to attend a private, Catholic school from kindergarten to eighth grade. My parents made sure religion and faith were ever-present in our lives. They wanted my siblings and me to be God-fearing and to rely on the church when all else fails. Since my parents worked 24/7, they kept us in extracurricular activities throughout grade school (but also thought it would keep us out of getting into the wrong crowd if they knew where we were at all times). I was in the Filipino church choir, an altar server, took piano lessons, played tennis, enrolled in Kumon, and played recreational volleyball at my local park and on the team at school – the whole nine yards. As much as I hated it at the time, I look back at everything my parents stressed me to be a part of as the biggest blessing. Read more>>

Aidan Elyse McCollough | Actor, Writer, Filmmaker

As a native of East Side Los Angeles, I was always fortunate to be surrounded by Mexican culture, art, food, and music. Though I come from a multi-cultural background of mixed European, Latin, and indigenous descent, my Mexican heritage remained the most prominent in my upbringing due to my family, city, and education. In the late 1940s, my family were the first Mexicans in the City of Lynwood. The first Mexican ever accepted into the USC Engineering School, my grandfather later became a highly successful satellite engineer in the space industry. A gifted seamstress, one of my great aunts sewed dresses for the legendary Dolores del Río. With such a profound Chicano legacy, I’ve always had pride in my heritage, family, and community. When I began kindergarten, the public school in my area provided a Spanish-language immersion program comprised of education in Mexican history, culture, and language. Though I didn’t realize what a true blessing this was until adulthood, those elementary school days shaped a deep love and appreciation for my heritage. Read more>>

Matilda Dahlin | Fashion Model

I have gone through many obstacles in my life that have taught me to never give up on my goals and dreams. If plan A doesn’t work, you work on plan B. Staying on track and being motivated has been a major factor in my success. Read more>>

Weiting Liu | Film Critic/Writer & Film Festival Programmer/Curator

The most important factor behind my success as a freelance writer is: I try my best not to take rejections personally while still keeping my ego in check. I write film reviews and features for various reputable publications and websites. Working as a freelancer in the publishing and media industry, I have to go through a challenging pitching process every time I try to find the right outlet to publish my article. When my pitch gets rejected by publications, sometimes it can feel like an attack on my own character – especially if the pitch is about a personal piece. There is much gatekeeping and randomness in the world of freelance journalism, but I convince myself that there are also plenty of opportunities if I persevere through trials and errors. When I encounter rejections, I grow a thicker skin, take constructive criticism, and keep trying with another publication until the pitch is accepted somewhere else. Read more>>

Alex Malcolm | Music Industry Professional & Home Chef

The most important factor is authenticity. There is not a single thing in my creative process or professional work that will ever be fabricated or made to fill someone else’s agenda. It’s important to know who you are, what you want to accomplish, and then never let anything deter you from a set goal. Once you put out energy that is truthful (and 100% YOU) that is the most gratifying success you’ll ever receive. When I started my food brand (Eats.By.Alex) last year, I went into it with my whole, goofy, personality. I stuck to a schedule and held myself accountable to encourage others to cook at home + get creative during quarantine. My real goal is to showcase how food, cooking, and physical exercise helps stabilize mental health + a balanced lifestyle. I’ve received copious DMs from old friends I lost contact with and fellow community members, who either ask for recipes or want to say they appreciate the content that my brand stands for – and it’s those messages that keep me motivated to grow: both with Eats.By.Alex and personally. Read more>>

ardelli | CEO and Founder of Modern Homes Realty

There will be many times as an entrepreneur when you feel the stress pile up and you wonder if you can continue. Whether that be making payroll, dealing with difficult employees or difficult clients… Patience with yourself and with the process is everything. Lessons come and go along the way and you grow from them. Never give up, just tweak your company and your way of handling things. It forces you to grow. Read more>>