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

Lex Ramirez | Hip Hop Dance Instructor & Choreographer

The most important factor in my success is my belief that dance is an inclusive tool to feel joy and connection with yourself and with others. I had a really bad, unwelcoming dance experience when I first moved to Seattle and I realized that this experience wasn’t unique to me. Sometimes studios and dance crews can breed this competitive, perfectionistic, highbrow attitude in people. It’s toxic and intimidating as hell! Definitely not the space for people who love dance and want a safe place to learn it. These spaces, though not intentionally, can support appropriation, size exclusivity, financial inaccessibility, racial homogeny and more. I modeled my classes and crew based on what I didn’t ever want people to feel- unwelcome and unrepresented. What I offer people is a safe, supportive space where dancers of all experience levels and backgrounds can thrive. All you need is passion and a desire to be part of community. Read more>>

Sarah Peacock | Singer/Songwriter & Author

Real success and real money finally began to come when I started treating my art like a business. That’s not an easy thing to do for many creatives. By nature, artists are whimsical, spontaneous, a bit flighty, and we tend to have a reputation for losing track of time or being unorganized. As an artist, making art was all I really wanted to do or cared about doing. It was all I was trained to do. No one taught me how to run a business. We didn’t learn that in music school. But I quickly figured out that if I wanted to turn this into a career that I needed to learn how to monetize my art. Read more>>

Sarah Jarrett | CEO and VP

Our success is due to our team. We use this term a bit broadly as it not only includes our valued employees but also family, friends, spouse, networks, our community – heck down to the lovely bodega owner that would give us our first-of-the-day cafe con leche. As business owners, we have a large team, an ecosystem that has led to our success in the 30+ years we have been operating as a family-owned small business founded by our father, Dr. Jose Rigoberto Perez Diaz. Read more>>

Claire Grellier | Clarinetist, Educator, and Entrepreneur

Passion is the most important factor behind any success. I started the clarinet at the age of 8 at the Music Conservatory in Nice, France. I do not remember why I chose the clarinet but my parents told me that I chose the clarinet after attending an orchestra concert. As a kid, I spent my summers playing the clarinet and particularly music from play-along books. My favorite one was a Brazilian music play along book that I would proudly play on my portable CD player in my childhood bedroom for hours. Read more>>

Daryce Tolliver | Salon Owner & Texture Expert

My name is Daryce Tolliver and I founded, A Curl Can Dream hair salon, in January 2019. The most important factor behind my success and the success of my business is the ability to pivot. I made a decision a long time ago to marry the goal instead of the process. I recently read a quote that restated this same sentiment, “ write your goals in pen and your process in pencil.” What both these statements mean to me is THINGS WILL ALWAYS CHANGE. Read more>>

Michaeljohn Gonzalez | Acting Coach for Film and Television

First and foremost I love actors. I get them. I get their desire, need and passion to make their dreams come true. I relate to the actors who tell me they were “born for this”, but having a desire isn’t enough. Building on that desire with hard work and dedication to your chosen craft is what drives me. I can take a spark from an actor and shape it into a career. I never lie to an actor. I tell them it’s a tough career so get ready to put the work in. That work includes not only the basic study of acting, but how to build a character, break down dialogue and make intelligent choices based upon the material given. Read more>>

Elle Hope | Spoken Word Artist & Curator

A major factor in my success is that my community has always looked out for me and continues to lift me up. I would not be the poet I am today with folks giving me opportunities to be myself and most importantly believing in me. I feel like people under estimate the power of networking. Most of my biggest gigs/shows have come from me developing strong relationships with folks. Genuine relationships are key. My wish is to return the love I’ve received back into the community. Ive been luckily enough to start my own open mic specifically catered to poets called Spotlight Poetry (@spotlightpoetrylv). I know starting a career as a spoken word artist can be extremely intimidating and lonely at times. As my platform grows I know I have a responsibility to help others find their path in poetry. I strongly believe that when we rise as a community together it makes it a lot easier for all of us to win. Read more>>

Mikiko Yamabayashi | Graphic Designer

Never reject any creative offers no matter if they’re too small or too big. Trying to keep creating positive work that will lead me forward….to where I am now. Read more>>

Ashley Rawlins | Car Crash Ash, Personal Injury/Accident Attorney, Owner/CEO of Rawlins Law, APC

Putting God first in all that I do. When I started Rawlins Law, APC I was not interested in a tagline, but chose Micah 6:8 for the firm, which states “do justly, love mercy, walk humbly.” Staying grounded and true to myself. Read more>>

Abby Fitzgerald | 3D Character Animator

I’ve found that success in artistic branding is often tied to two things: passion and personality. An artistic brand isn’t something that you sit down and make up on the spot; it’s less “What should I be?” and more “What am I naturally?” Look at your work as whole and pinpoint the patterns. Are you drawn to morally rich narratives? Are you fond of one-liners and slapstick comedy? Are you just really into designing steampunk wizards? Whatever it is that you’re passionate about often manifests in all of your projects in some way or another. Read more>>

Kaz Matsune | Founder, Team Building Events Director, Sushi Expert, Author

What is the most important factor behind your success / the success of your brand? If I were to pick just one factor that led to my success, I say it’s my determination. “Determination” may sound like a big thing, but in reality, it comes down to “a single choice.” It’s very simple. It goes back to when I started my sushi career in the year 2000. I was hired on the spot during my first job interview despite my lack of restaurant and professional culinary experience. But I made one simple choice to work and be a successful sushi chef no matter what. Read more>>

Toni Smith | Living Unapologetically & Free

My success is built on transparency. My company is a beckon in empowering women to be the best version of themselves. therefore it is imperative I’m transparent and telling my story. TPS Enterprise motto is let your clothes speak for you; Let me bring your words to life. Words evoke conversation and allow you to wear their truth. It is my mission to bring light to the things that keep women from living their best life. Living unapologetically-Living Free. Being true to oneself. I’ve taken my pain and turned into a movement. The I Know My Worth Movement is a platform that offers a safe place for sharing their WHY. I live my brand, TPS Enterprise is who I am!!! Read more>>

Vikas Arun | Award Winning Dancer, Choreographer, and Teacher

By far, the most important factor behind my success is tenacity. No matter how talented you are, as a dancer, if you are not tenacious you won’t survive. As a dancer from a plethora of heavily under-represented backgrounds (south asian, gay, male) there have been plenty of times where I was not a right “fit” for a given show. In an industry that continues to struggle to make space for a diverse array of talent, its been extremely easy to want to give up. I auditioned for STOMP 4 times before I got cast, I got cut from every Broadway show because of my “type”. Read more>>

Hailey Jayne Smith | Model, Influencer, Athlete and fashion blogger

There are many factors that go into my success. Work ethic, determination, and scheduling and planning Read more>>

Lillian Hanako Rowlatt | Co-founder & Entrepreneur

Being consistent in the core values and message of our company and what we’re striving to achieve. Our mission has always been to share high-quality, artisanal products from Japan while supporting our local farmers, producers and their communities. We want our company to reflect the authenticity, integrity and traditions that go into our products and try to carry this into every aspect of what we do. When we first founded our company 2.5 years ago, we explored different marketing options, but quickly realized that if something wasn’t authentic then it wasn’t a good fit for our company and our long term goals. Being honest and authentic has been such an important factor in building our loyal community and strong brand. Read more>>

Talia ” Tata H” Hollins (MBA) | Certified Facebook Power admin of @blackwomenwholoveplants and Founder of plantblk.com

One of the most salient things that attribute to the success of my brand is perseverance. Being an entrepreneur and curating your brand can be a daunting task. The fear of not being successful can cause one to encounter many barriers. However, embodying the idea of “keep going.” Pushing thru helps build character, humility, and of course, a solid brand. Read more>>

JP Faúndez | Professional Drummer / Musician

Personally, the most important factor behind my success is my faith, I am a Christian. After that, what I consider important to be a successful musician is the perseverance, discipline and be resilient to be able to grow from zero. Also, for me is really important to be honest with my art and have a clear concept of what I want to express in my music. Read more>>

Elvin Hoxha Ganiyev | Solo Violinist

One secret to success in life I would love to hold on to is being in touch with people I love and care about, with people I play for. During the pandemic, I was far away from them, and it made me realize that music can only come alive when you have someone special to play for. I may have my violin, my inspiration, and my creativity to thrive as a musician, as an artist. However, lately, I have realized that my violin and I drew that inspiration from the people around us. Read more>>

Angie Chua | Stationery designer, illustrator, hand lettering artist, and muralist.

Branding. Branding. Branding! For a long time, I thought of branding as visual appeal- a strong logo, color story, fonts, etc. Branding is so much more than that. It’s the foundation, core, and essence of the products you create and the emotional resonance behind the story you tell. People don’t buy “things” anymore. In a commodity world, it’s important to build trust with your consumer. People invest their money into products that fit their lifestyle, personality, and encourage and enable them to be better individuals. Understanding this helped me craft better messaging, develop better products, and build trust with my customers and it has changed my business 10 fold. Read more>>

De Ann Singh | Calligrapher and Calligraphy teacher.

I’m really good at what I do and I just love doing it. I found that I’m even better at teaching my art to others than actually doing my art. I have a really great repoire with people and I really love helping them find the joy of expressing themselves through my art. I watch them grow either in the art or in the social aspect of my art classes. I’ve seen it change lives and totally enrich their lives. We learn and create together to make our lives richer and more fulfilling. It seems to work for many of us. Read more>>

Katherine MURILLO | Life Coaching/Consulting & Podcaster

Success to me is quite simple, it’s the peace I feel from walking in my purpose. I know that wasn’t you question, but stick with me for a minute… I understand there’s a general idea of what success is “supposed” to look like, “fame, fortune, accolades, etc.,” but I’ve been around enough people with all of those things (and more) to know that many of them don’t “feel” successful after attaining everything they thought they wanted. In fact, many of them felt more empty than before because it didn’t feel the void they thought it would. The word success defined in the dictionary is: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Read more>>

Luna Garcia | Vintage Home Decor & Jewelry Seller

The success of my brand has largely been driven by sharing the journey with my customers and followers. Since the beginning, they’ve been along on the ride with me. When I visit an estate sale I’ll film it and it’s as if they are there with me, digging through boxes in an old attic to find something incredible. Even from an operational standpoint, I always ask them first what they’d like to see. Read more>>

Akio Evans | Creative Artist & Storyteller

The most important factor behind my success of my brand starts with the story behind my brand and passionately sharing my gifts Read more>>

Mia Kelly | Creator – MMM Fudge

Quality and determination are the two synchronous factors that lead to the success of MMM Fudge. I use the best creams (organic Straus and organic coconut) and premium belgian chocolate to create the rich, not-too-sweet chocolate sauce that grew into MMM Fudge. I was willing to cold-call local grocers and specialty stores to get our product out there. No one will learn about your business if it lives inside your mind. Read more>>