Deciding to start a business is an unusual decision. It’s often considered irrational and yet for many it’s the best decision they’ve ever made. So we asked folks to think back to when they were starting their businesses and to tell us about their decision making process.

Araia Chanel | CEO of Araia Chanel’s Essentials

I created Araia Chanel’s Essentials (ACE) because I love to take care of my hair and embrace my natural curls. Something about lighting a candle and listening to your favorite songs, while sectioning your hair to prep it for the next style is therapeutic to me. It brings a sense of self-love, and I wanted to be apart of that for people. Read more>>

VIET MAC | Creative Director and Founder | Mac House

Not much of a thought process. I just wanted to do something I enjoyed doing and was passionate about. I wasn’t thinking about building a business I was just hoping to make enough money to pay off my student loans Read more>>

Chiquita Patterson | Licensed Mental Health Therapist & Entrepreneur

First and foremost, I had no other choice than to create a legacy for my child. I also had no other choice other than to respond to a need that children suffered without. I firmly believe that it takes a village to raise a child and I knew this is where I could do my part. Read more>>

Nami Bey | Creative director- aesthetic artist- musiciann- entrepreneur

I had two goals in mind, the first was to create an neon museum\ event experience with my neon artwork and aesthetics The second goal was to name diiviinetime something that represented a divine timing of things, all musicians, artists, members of the lebgtq communities and Others can vibe in harmony and turn up ! It’s a time to be diiviine ! Read more>>

Orlando Dixon | Artist/Entrepreneur

As the owner of my own clothing line, #BlackBoyJoy® Apparel, my vision was to promote positive imagery while celebrating my community in an empowering way. The idea was birthed from a song, #BlackBoyJoy, I wrote and produced in 2016. I felt there was a need for more black-owned, street style apparel options in the market, much like what I experienced growing up (i.e. FUBU, Phat Farm, Sean John). My hope is to use my platform as a means to shift the narrative and bring awareness regarding issues specific to the Black men and women. Read more>>

Daria Robinson-Ernest | Movement & Pain-relief Coach

I never knew my true hidden super-power, until I was forced to find it. And I never knew how to help my clients until I discovered how to help myself. 11 Years ago, I was high on life, happily married, mother of an eight year old, expecting my second son. When my second son was born however, he was diagnosed with a life-long condition, Cerebral Palsy. This shook my world upside down. Physically, mentally and emotionally I was totally off balance and sinking fast. Read more>>

Macey LeVahn | Teen Macrame Artist & Entrepreneur

I learned how to macrame in March of 2020, at the beginning of the global lockdown, and the abundance of free time (with school off) led me to grow in my skills rather quickly. I had experience with running businesses before, running the Etsy shops of both my parents, so I knew the general skills it took to be an online business owner. After a few months of making products, I finally opened my shop in early June of 2020. Read more>>

Emmalyne Vickery | Makeup Artist

I had gotten back into acting through our community theater in fall of 2015. In each play I performed in, I found that my castmates would ask me to help with their makeup. I became more and more confident in my makeup skills, and in April 2016, I started Emmappropriate Beauty offering airbrushed makeup application. I wanted to help people learn how to do their own makeup as well, so I started offering makeup lessons. Read more>>

Allegra Joanna Mbwetshangol | Student & Entrepreneur

I felt unsure for a while. Not of the impact it would produce, but of how I could make it possible and reach the vision I held. As a student, I was scared of how to find enough funds. For this reason, I am eternally grateful to have my parents, family, and close friends who support and embrace my vision as their own. Every time I lacked, they stepped in to make sure the business would move forward. Read more>>

La’Asia Johnson | CEO

Starting Elle Jae Essentials has been one of my greatest accomplishments. My business was born because there was a lack of access to clean beauty products for Black Women in my community. At the time, I was only looking for a solution for myself and my family members. I quickly found that there was a large gap in the market for the same products I was creating, in my own community. Seeing how frustrated other women were as well, I knew I had to take action! Read more>>

Amber White | Founder & CEO of Molded N’ Modesty Boutique

My thought process behind starting my own business was to create a clothing line that serves as a bridge between the conservative community and high fashion/chic fashion trends. In today’s society, many women are faced with the challenge to pick between the two. But I want it my business to prove that the two can definitely coexist. Read more>>

Chelsea Warren | Fashion Designer

It all started with a random conversation! I remember talking to my mom and explaining to her how I wanted to design this 80s/90s collection! At that time, I was using the “gym” as an outlet to release my frustrations, anger and any emotional feeling, on the other hand, I was striving to become fit. Sometimes, it would be hard for me to actually get in the gym. and I figured if I dressed up it would give me that boost I needed to go! The thought of a cute neon bodysuit with the matching leggings and headband was promising, and I remember sketching it in a notebook… a notebook that I didn’t open until two years later! Read more>>

Chris Taylor | Photographer/videographer

Well the thought was I wanted to have the freedom and control to be creative, because sometimes I feel as if when you work for others sometimes they can dim your light and I’ve always wanted to be the brightest light in the room to actually bring others who Light is dim to making them bright as well Read more>>

Will Darden | Creative

Honestly, I don’t know that I had much of a thought process behind starting my own business. I understood that I was miserable working a 9 to 5 and that I was ready for my life to change. I would never advise anyone to take the route that I did, which was randomly wake up one day and put in a 2 week notice. I had no strategy and backup plan and looking back now, I’m grateful that it worked out for me but there was no wisdom in my process. I knew that some people said that I was pretty good at photography and videography and that’s the path I chose to pursue. Read more>>

Faith Evans | Esthetician/Wax Educator/ Lash stylist/ Entrepreneur

My whole thought process was to have more creative control. I wanted to create a whole culture around my company and brand. I want the whole experience at my business to be personal and up lifting. Read more>>

Cam Rickers | Founder, Creative Hustle USA

Ever since I started following the underground music scene in Atlanta several years ago, my mission has always been to help the artists. At the time back in 2018-2019, I was no longer managing any artists. I was throwing shows occasionally but really just enjoying the live music, meeting new people, and helping connect dots for a few artists. Read more>>

Nelldra Allen | Real Estate Agent

When I first started my business it was because I was working for an online company and I was trying to get around receiving a reduced commission. The only way I could do that was by opening an LLC. Later I used the same business to report the sales of my children’s book that I wrote and now to report my earnings as a real estate agent. Read more>>

Gianni Moore & Ona Bray | Co-Owners of Legally Attractive

We came up with Legally Attractive because we work together at a law firm and we would always compliment each other on our office outfits. It was only right that we teamed up to embrace other women working in the legal field Read more>>

Jenny Jackson | Farmer

Jenny had a strong desire to come back to her family property and grow something, we just weren’t sure what until we began practicing on small vegetable farms as vounteers through the program WWOOF in Hawaii (Willing workers on organic farms). Read more>>

Catherine Mitchell Jaxon | Co-Founder of Mission MightyMe and Mom of 3

Mission MightyMe was born out of our family’s personal struggle with food allergies and our desire to help other families avoid them. Our oldest daughter is allergic to most nuts. When our third child came along, the landmark clinical trial called the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) Study found that early and consistent peanut consumption, from the first year of life until age 5, could prevent up to 86 percent of peanut allergies. Read more>>

YP The Prophet | Founder of ESPE & Beat Roulette

Initially I didn’t have a thought process behind starting up. Beat Roulette started out as a creative way to hone my craft of creating and performing. It started as something I just loved to do. I would Recite original poetry on crowded trains of Washington, Dc many would listen and some wouldn’t. However, that never deterred me. I decided to go bigger by incorporating music into it. Read more>>

Krissy Meriwether | Podcast Editor and Manager

Starting my own business was never on my radar. It was never something that I thought about or wanted for myself. My background and previous career is in early childhood education. After teaching for several years, I really wanted to find something that had more flexibility and was something I could do from home on my own time. I had looked into this when my children were born, 15 years ago, and never found anything outside of MLM’s or filling out reviews online. Read more>>

Ross Gordon | Photography & Aspiring Social Worker

The main thing that pushed me to do it was being my own boss. When I first started my photography business I was working a job I wasn’t truly happy at, making barely $9.50 an hour. When started doing photography every time I picked up my camera I was elated, and made more than I would make working an 8hr shift in just one hour. I knew at that point having my own business would bring me the happiness and freedom I desired! Read more>>

Taja Binford | Fashion Designer and Stylist

My thought process behind starting my own business came about once I graduated college. I was attending Western Kentucky University in the year of 2011 and enrolled in classes for the fashion design department. Year of 2013 came and I had gotten really sick and that kept me out of school for two weeks. Some instructors were really understanding and had given me the opportunity to make up work and sadly, there were some that didn’t. Read more>>

Ryan Rozier | Model, Business Owner, & Licensed Agent

When I started Monroz, I basically just wanted an outlet for things I personally enjoyed, which was taking risqué pictures. I wanted to be able to be my true self and service other women who enjoyed being sexy. Moreover, I was at a point where I really hated my job. I wanted to make enough money so I would be able to leave that job. Read more>>

Symphony Blue | Actress, Creator, and Business Owner

I graduated peak pandemic. March 8th was my birthday and by March 12th NYU had shut down and evicted me with two months of my last semester left. I abruptly found myself alone in a state that I had never lived in, fighting scorpions in Nevada. Kind of like Indiana Jones, but it’s a Black girl in the desert with a can of Raid. I imagined my graduation surrounded by grimy New York waters and a smooth transition into a corporate job. Read more>>

Re’Onna Vines | Poetic Activist & Teen Entrepreneur

I took a business class during a Summer Camp program with the Atlanta Teen Leader Academy the summer before my junior year of High School. That Summer, I was working my first job as a camp counselor and while the job was fun and the checks were nice, the reality was it was only seasonal. I was interested in all of the things we were learning in the academy. Read more>>

Stephanie Stapler | Yoga Instructor & Data Analyst & Handmade Jewelry Maker

Covid-19 shutdown ignited my thought process to start my own business. Prior to the pandemic I worked full time in corporate America and also taught at local yoga studios. I’d teach 5-7 yoga classes a week so when the pandemic caused the yoga studios and gyms to close I was left with so much extra time. With that time I was also missing my personal yoga practice and teaching practice so that’s what really set the thought in motion. Read more>>

The Franchise Jay Claxton Dr. CaSay | Franchise Radio

Our thought process behind starting Franchise Radio came from our media experience. Jay Claxton – Celebrity DJ , On Air talent for almost 20 years and Dr. CaSay – television and radio producer, publicist referred to in the industry as The Media Maven. We knew that the music culture was definitely missing something . Artist with good music have been getting passed by because of the politics in terrestrial radio. It was our thoughts that the change has to come from us. Read more>>

Monica Carter | Stylist|Thee Beauty Bandit

I have always been one to think, what’s my purpose here on this earth? What am I here for? From knee high, especially in the Black community we’re always taught graduate, go to college, get a degree, and go get your dream job in which you work for 25 years and then you’ll be able to retire. Read more>>

Brittany Briscoe | CEO & Owner of 2 be Adored

When going through the thought process of wanting to start a business I knew that I wanted to do something for women that would make an impact but also something that may not be as popular. Lingerie popped in my head, most of my adult life I was overweight and I know how hard it is to find your size in store or if you find your size, finding something sexy and cute to wear. Not only did I want it to be appealing I wanted to make sure it was affordable. My goal is to make every woman feel beautiful and comfortable in her own skin. There’s so much body shaming going on in society when all we really need to do is mind our own business and embrace each other. I’m all for women empowerment and body positivity. Currently my lingerie ranges from sizes Small to 5XL with plans of expanding in the future. Read more>>

Sam Miller | Director of Marketing at a FinTech, Filmmaker, and Founder of Vidjam

My filmmakers obsession began as a child, carrying around my dad’s old VHS camcorder and creating my own “talk shows” and skits. This evolved into more skits throughout my teenage years. After school, I had secondary education in Information Technology, but always wanted to revisit film and video. Read more>>

Lexi Merritt | Founder, Pretty Decent Internet Café

When I first started working for myself, it was absolutely out of necessity. My Dad passed away and suddenly there was no way I was going to make it into an office every day. My mental health demanded a more flexible schedule. Read more>>

Danisha Bailey | Parent Support Specialist and Founder of TMIT- Touch Me I’m Tellin

My thought process behind starting my own businesses was ultimately to provide needed resources. Bailey’s Parent Support focuses on aiding parents with ensuring their children are academically success and meeting all the developmental marks in their current grade. In my 10 years of educating, I have witnessed numerous students lacking academic confidence and entering school so behind. I have discovered that many students don’t receive additional academic practice outside of school which can make all the difference. Read more>>

Kookie Kisses | Aesthetician & Brow Studio owner

To be completely honest, I was forced into starting my business. I was working as an aesthetician brow specialist in a well known store doing 40 hours a week for months to only doing 10-15 hours a week within a few weeks of getting a new manager. I had to find something that I could control & make my own hours and my own money. Read more>>

Megan Dougherty | Nine Thimbles

Honestly, I had never even imagined starting my own business. I’ve always been told “You’re so creative!” and I think 2020 really catapulted me into something else. In August of 2020, I lost my grandma to Stage 4 breast cancer. She had been battling it for years and we both knew that it was coming, but I wasn’t ready for it. Read more>>

Katrina Julia | Multi-passionate Creator, Traveler, and CEO

The thought process behind starting my own business included a mixture of faith, transformation, and aligned action. Step by step, my own transformation to create a life and business I love helped me see clearly to help others create and scale a life, business and community they love. Read more>>

Kris Hale | Puzzler and Owner of Dope Pieces Puzzle Company

I started doing puzzles with my family when I was maybe five years old, as I became an adult and wanted I wanted puzzle that were more than just something I would do and put back in the box. I had a hard time finding puzzles that were a reflective of me, the things I liked or that even looked like me. I would walk up and down the isle trying find things that I connected with. Read more>>

Krystal Matthews | Owner of Krysentials and Licensed Esthetician

Starting my own business hasn’t been easy but the thought process behind it was. I’ve always been a do-it- yourself kind of girl. As a Licensed Esthetician, I’ve always had a vision of walking into my own Spa or place of business and seeing my own products on the retail self. Over the years I’ve tried working “jobs” but it just wasn’t for me. I’ve always wanted to start my own business and share my gifts with the world through service. it was something I feel like I had to do. Read more>>

Snap Shot Anderson | Music Entertainer/Hippie Artist

After Serving In The Armed Forces (Army) I Attempted Many Jobs To Further My Finance But To Finally Come To Terms With Working For Myself Was The Biggest Step For Me. I Knew At Some Point I Would Face Challenges But Learning How To Work For Yourself and Eventually Provide A Means For Others Was Important To Me At That Time Read more>>