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.

Sherry Washington | Photographer

SCW Photography was originally birthed from the idea of a friend. After my God Father allowed me to borrow his “real” camera I was hooked; no more polaroid pictures for me. I bought my first camera and took pictures of everything. After the birth of my first daughter, I wanted to capture every single moment and I did. A friend saw my pictures and asked me to take pictures of her son, and she loved the final product. It was at her encouragement that I began my photography business. When I became a single mother of two; Read more>>

Shalika Roberts | Entrepreneur

I always been curious about ingredients that is in our hair and skin products. So I would research the names in the ingredients and realize some of those products do more harm then good on our skin and hair, which would explain why I rarely get the result I’m looking for when it come to my hair and skin. So I started researching what products is good for my natural hair (which is dry and very coiled like) and what is good for my dry callous hand and feet. Then I start experiencing and making my own products personal for me which turn into a business. Read more>>

Aerryel White-Clarke | Owner & Designer

The thought process behind creating B.Eclectic Brand is we believe style is a direct reflection of art. We create artisan handcrafted accessories that are timeless statements. Our pieces are inspired from our travels and love of culture and diversity within individual style. Crafting pieces which are beautiful and timeless is our pledge. Read more>>

Estella Collymore | Mom, wife, and CEO of Just Curly Cute

I am blessed to have two young and beautiful daughters with full, long, natural, and curly hair. I struggled to find natural based products formulated for kids that would not only keep their hair healthy and moisturized, but would also cut my washing and styling process in half. I realized that I have the perfect models and since I have to comb their hair everyday, why not look for the best ingredients and start a business. So, with that thought, Just Curly Cute was started. Read more>>

Tamika Dunner | Co-Owner

We have always been drawn to entrepreneuship. We decided to start our business because we love accessories and the wya they make us feel. Read more>>

Ta Shawna “Shawna” Baird | Lifestyle Blogger

Wow! where do I start? I was depressed prior to starting Shawna’s Open Book. At the time, I felt like nothing in my life was going right. Failed relationship, in between jobs, financial struggles…. I was In a a very dark space. I prayed everyday for a month, asking God to show me my purpose in LIFE. One day, I saw an ad on Instagram, it stated 10 ways to make money as a Boss Babe ( s/o to Boss Babe definitely inspired me to become a blogger) Read more>>

Saniyah D’nae | Young CEO & Fashion Blogger

I’ve always had a passion for the cosmetic industry, but I found it hard to find products that cater to sensitive teen skin. I suffer from eczema so, I wanted to create a line of all-natural body and lip care. Ultimately create a legacy. I understand one of the ways to build generational wealth and I know being an entrepreneur can do that. Read more>>

Taylor Hinds | Founder of Bare Warmth & Licensed Esthetician of PA

I kinda just did it lol. I never wanted to start my own business but it kind of just happened. I was waiting through a long interview process for a job in my field and I thought to myself, “Why wait when I can just make it happen myself?” I would never be able to give the experiences I give my clients now, working for someone else. I also wanted to change how people saw service providers in Philly. Read more>>

Don. oc | Creative

I’ve always been very artsy, when i was younger i used to write and draw a lot. My imagination has always been very vivid, i feel as though i live in my head a lot. My creative expression has taken different forms as time progressed, and i would say for the second half of my life till this point expressing myself through fashion has been the most dominant one. Read more>>

Kristi Heyer | Owner of Graze & Vines

I have a background in market research and took time off from work once I had kids. That was over 8 years ago! As my kids got older, I wanted to begin working again, but did not want to go back into the traditional workforce. I needed something flexible. I love hosting and helping bring people together, especially when it involves food! After making some charcuterie boards for family and friends, my friend, Leandi, suggested this should be what I start doing. Read more>>

Letitia (Kita) Greenway | Custom Gift Designer

I have been making custom items as gifts for several years in my spare time. I love giving gifts that people can use, like to look at and gives them the feeling that it’s just for them. I had always wanted to find a way to do something everyday that brought me joy. I wanted to start my own business but life kept getting in the way, so I was on the quiet side about starting Tee’d By Joyful Bridges. Read more>>

Jessica Pitre | Founder of Girlfriends Ink

Girlfriends Ink started as a passion project between my mom and I, and has since grown into a business we both saw a need for. My mom and I have always shared a love for stationery and cards. As a child you could often find me at the table writing thank you cards and greeting cards for Christmas. My grandma would provide me with paper, pretty pens and instructions for addressing a card to friends and family. Read more>>

Patrick Wiseman | Founder and CEO

Spaceship is the third business I have started — the other two were consultancies. Scaling a consultancy is hard work and often doesn’t provide the type of problems I am always excited to solve. Honestly I knew I wanted to found a product business after working to grow the teams at SalesLoft and Calendly. The bit that took the longest what finding the right idea that I thought we could build the best possible team to execute against. Read more>>

Joche Heard Brock | YouTuber, Content Creator & Consultant

I have always been into helping other people by sharing my experiences. My YouTube channel has allowed me to share some of my most intimate life experiences and lessons while also motivating others. The growth has made me realize that I can convert some of the free content to paid opportunities, so I see it as a win win when you can do something that you love and be paid to do it! Read more>>

Nikki Taylor | Landscape Designer/Perennial and Herb Grower

I always felt like I would be self-employed. In our industry (landscape design and construction and Greenhouse operations) the best way to move up is by learning from each employer and paying attention to how their order of operations works. Soaking up every bit of information that I could allowed me to think about how we wanted our business to be set up and what we wanted to do. Read more>>

JazmenGlory Kelly | Hair & Lash Artist

I wanted to create a lane for myself that not only felt like me but also focused on bringing back the art of actually caring for hair. I feel that we’ve gotten away from that and it truly makes me sad. There is such beauty in pouring love into the hair that you’re doing. I saw that there was a lack of that in my industry currently and I used that as an opportunity to not only create a lane for myself but to bring back a piece of history and nostalgia when it comes to those fond memories of the little girl inside us that loved to just sit between our mothers knees and have our hair taken care of and just feel completely safe. Read more>>

Aundrea Smiley | Educator, Wellness Advocate & Owner of Valor & Grace Literacy Cove

I wanted to have the flexibility to do what I love, on my own terms. I wanted to do something that not many others in my area are doing, and that is bring supplemental education and social/emotional wellness together. I wanted to create a place and a space for children (my clients) to work to their highest potential and be uplifted and inspired by doing so. Read more>>

Natalie Joe | Teacher & Owner of Branded By HIM

My mom would buy inspirational bracelets for my sister and I all the time for the holidays. I remember thinking to myself, “oh I would love to make inspirational bracelets for women!” I just did not know how. I eventually came across what I needed in order to make my own inspirational cuffs. Read more>>

Shiketa Morgan | Child Care Center Owner, Author and Coach

My business was a divine assignment from God. I was in a career that i loved and while in my basement in 1998 I was doing laundry and I heard the voice of God say, start a daycare. I rejected it at first and 6 months later I left my job as a Medical Assistant. In December 1998, I opened my Child Care Business with only $600. Read more>>

Danielle Denice Pointer | Hair Stylist

We’ll I honestly didn’t really think that I would be where I am initially. I just knew that I wanted to be a hair stylist. I had been in the Army for nearly 9 1/2 years active duty and I knew that I wouldn’t be re-enlisting and my plan was to go to Cosmetology school upon exiting. We’ll that’s what I did and I worked as a contracted photographer for an Army base in Atlanta until I finished school. Read more>>

Cindy E. Farrar | Owner of Massage Associates of Atlanta, LLC, Massage Therapist, Life and Business Coach and Qi Gong Instructor

Before massage, I was well ensconced in Corporate America. My time in Corporate America was very successful however, my body was manifesting the stress of the experience. I began developing some chronic health conditions. I began going to a chiropractor (Dr Ronold A. Weinstein, DC now in VA) who was big on educating his patients about the body and the effects of stress. Read more>>

Ajiana Dailey | Entrepreneur & Social Media Influencer

I started my brand JianaDai a year ago when becoming unemployed due to covid-19. Covid-19 forced me to think outside the box and allowed me to sit back and really think about my next move. JianaDai was that next move. I knew that I wanted my brand to be something that made people feel and look good,Fashion was the answer to that. JianaDai allows women of all sizes to be sexy, classy, and cute in their own skin by providing fashion essentials. I was a little nervous because I had never ran a business of any sort but with a great mentor (Kierra Perry) and a creative mind my first JianaDai Swim collection completely SOLD OUT and we have recently dropped a Top collection which also did extremely well! Read more>>

Taylor Goodwyn | Artist

To be honest it kind of just happened. I’ve been painting for a decade but never thought I could do it as a career. I was getting miserable with my 9-5 agency job, kept switching companies, but it wasn’t them—it was me. When I lost my most recent job during the COVID-19 pandemic, I didn’t take it well. So I started to paint more during all this free time I now had. Big bold colors and strokes on large canvases and huge textured paper. Read more>>

Dennice Hillard | Certified Public Accountant

Prior to even thinking about starting my own business, I wanted to work for the IRS or FBI. I applied to work with the IRS but ultimately chose to work for the state of Alabama as a Revenue Tax Specialist. I enjoyed working with the state and learned a lot about multi-state taxation, legislation, and working in a government environment. Read more>>

Dee Reed | Hair Dealer

my thought process was intially scared, but I will be doing something that I’m passionate about, I love hair extensions, I’m at the hair salon once a week & I want to purchase hair that I LOVE. But on the other hand i was wondering am I investing my money into something and not getting it back… but do I want to continue buying hair from people I don’t necessary love. Read more>>

Marti Jones | Owner and Chef

At the age of 4, I knew I wanted to become a chef, and everything I have done even as a child was to complete that dream. I started selling my famous pound cake at the age of 13 and it was the way I made extra money for the things such as trips and other wants. After business school and culinary school, I found out that I did not enjoy working in the restaurant setting. So I came home and decided I would start making cakes and bakery goods out of my parent’s house. After a very successful holiday season and my upcoming wedding, I decided to move into my own location and became a licensed caterer. Read more>>

Jocelyn Hopkins | Blogger/ Business Owner

I started both my blog & Jewelry line during the pandemic. The thought process behind it for me was to jump! These both were ideas and goals of mine that I had been working on for a little over a year and the pandemic provided clarity and free time to do so! Read more>>

Angie Webb | Commercial Photographer

I think I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I greatly enjoy building things, so while the act of creating images for my clients is always very fun and fascinating, I’m just as excited and intrigued by all the things that go into building the business itself. There’s nothing like charting a course and over time seeing all the pieces come together. Read more>>

Tiya Rabb | Digital Consultant & Social Media Influencer

I mapped out a plan to start my own business when I was pretty young. I saw early on that working for myself would yield a better work-life balance for the lifestyle I had imagined, so I made moves that would put me in position to be able to make that choice later in life. Read more>>

Alexis R | CEO & Master Cosmetologist

When starting House of Hair, my goal was to provide quality yet affordable wigs to no matter the budget. I want every queen to have access to luxury crowns without “breaking the bank”. Read more>>

Jeremy Teel | Start-Consultant/Creative Consultant

I wanted to create something that would keep change in my pockets, wouldn’t stress me out, and could be fun to do even if I was tired. Naturally, that was doing anything creative or organizationally driven so, I started a consulting business. I Quickly realized that young professionals, artists, new startups, and people in the dating pool at something in common. Read more>>