Thinking through whether to start a business – whether to take the risk, whether to go out on your own – isn’t easy. So we asked some entrepreneurs we admire to tell us about how they thought through the process of starting a business.

Ashley Joyner: Owner and Founder of Cinched Collections

There are so many curvy size 6 or 8 women struggling to find properly fitting clothing, but there have been very few brands that cater to this niche market. The average size woman in the US is currently between a size 16-18. Cinched Collections, is an e-commerce apparel line that is specifically curated and designed with curvy women of color in mind. Read more>>

Derek Dugan: Creative Agency: Creating personalities for business through branding, marketing, and communication

I’ve always been an entrepreneur, even after finishing school and being in the corporate saddle. My background has always been on the creative side, so being a freelancer while working a full time job, afforded me plenty of opportunities to grow revenue and make the necessary connections to grow. Read more>>

Melissa Shipman: Educator

Honestly, I just saw the need for what Learnwell offers. I speak once or twice a year at international education conferences for expats who are involved in humanitarian and missions work overseas. After my sessions, parents would stay to talk with me, and for so many, their frustration was palpable. Because of their location, many of these families had to homeschool in order to provide a decent education for their children. Read more>>

Monique Tolbert: Business Owner

I first started buying all natural or hand made soaps in every places that I had visited. Then I would find places online that would sell all natural soaps and order from them. Eventually I begin to order for other people as well. I thought to myself if I am putting in so much effort in buying these soaps from others, I should learn how to make them myself and start my own business. Read more>>

JC Gardner: Award winning author, writing coach, ghost writer and speaker.

Hi there. Thank you for this opportunity. Please note I work during the day job and after hours, I do “passion work.” Passion work is my own business as a writing coach, ghost writer, author and speaker. As a coach, I help aspiring authors bring their projects to life through the power of the pen by helping them write their own books.  Read more>>

Lenora Bowler: Founder of MAI Box

I started MAI Box when I was experiencing a shift in life. I was self-employed, a mother of an infant and a 2-year-old and separated from my husband. I was taking care of everyone but myself and stressed out daily. I had completely lost myself and needed some help getting back on track. Read more>>

Dara Jones: Dara Jones- Stay at Home Mom / Ivory Stinson- Lab Analyst

Following the birth of our children, we both struggled to adapt to motherhood. Breastfeeding issues, postpartum anxiety and depression, and just plain old missing the single life made our adjustment pretty rocky. We knew we couldn’t be the ONLY women with these feelings, but finding one who looked like us and willing to talk about it was difficult. Our own personal experiences led us to create a space to uplift other women dealing with similar situations. Read more>>

Christina Muhammad: LumiBeauty, Skincare Brand Founder & Creator

I wanted to create natural skincare products that help problematic skin, without the use of harsh chemicals or medications. I grew up in a home where the first entrepreneur I ever saw was my mom. She worked so hard to provide for us. She did hair, planned events, and cooked for people. She taught us the value of hard work and dedication. Read more>>

Aaliya Bashir: Health/Beauty Business Coach

The light bulb went off to start Aaliya Loves You ( after realizing that so many health/beauty businesses had to close their doors due to the pandemic. As the founder of Warrior Body Spa, I’ve been able to maintain operations and flourish for over 8 years by growing a reliable loyal client base with systems that allowed us to continue to generate revenues when we had to close our doors due to the stay-at-home ordinance. Read more>>

Reginald Delva: Co- Owner

It was very natural for me. I was able to see my family operate as entrepreneurs early on. My grandpa had a boutique, my dad and uncles had dry cleaners, laundry mats , and an electronic store. Afterwards they went on to real establish so throughout my whole childhood I saw the ups and downs of owning your own business.  Read more>>

Erica Strickland: Natural Products Specialist (Body Care)

Starting a business can be terrifying. Weighing the pros and cons, the risks, and other considerations can be overwhelming. I never intended on starting a body care business – I simply grew a love for clean products. I spent time researching natural ingredients that were beneficial to dry skin. I developed my own body butters and noticed a difference in my skin. Read more>>

Asia Woodard: Fashion Designer

I started my brand after not being able to return to college due to financial issues. I had originally went for apparel design and merchandising, but after leaving college something shined inside of me. I knew I couldn’t allow my dreams to stop there, so I had to hustle. When I came home I immediately started making distressed tees, hand sewing sets, bandana slides, and fur slides. Read more>>

Lesly Devoliere Jr.: Co-Founder of Quality Movement Restoration | Doctor of Physical Therapy

I felt I wasn’t being valued at my previous companies with being furloughed at one, and having to take a pay cut at my new one. I knew I had skills and personality that connected with people I worked with, and decided to create my own practice to where I can reach more people and provide my value directly without taking a pay cut or losing my job. Read more>>

Janice Robinson-Celeste: Founder & Publisher

My original partner and I started Successful Black Parenting magazine because we wanted to see more Black babies on the covers of parenting magazines. This was in the 90s. Today, parenting magazines have gotten better at putting diverse faces on the covers of their publications but they still can’t cover cultural norms as we do with every topic from Black hair care to health care. Our motto is to help Black parents not only survive but to thrive. Read more>>

Isabel Garcia de Quevedo: Public health geek, mom & side husltler

I was born and raised in Mexico and moved to Atlanta in 2009 to study public health. PELiAtlanta was born because I wanted to stay connected to my roots and share a bit of my culture in Atlanta. PELi is a global collective of Mexican women entrepreneurs that want to transmit in each of our handwoven bags the colorful, creative and beautiful culture that Mexico has. Read more>>

April Smith: Founder of The Survivor’s Nest

“Empower survivors to take a holistic approach to healing” When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, I immediately went to Whole Foods, popped open a Natural Cure for Cancer book, and researched how to naturally heal from cancer. I bought every herb the book suggested. With my faith and herbs in place I was determined to fight and win. Read more>>

Niyah Symonee: CEO

The thought process behind Niyah Symonee Beauty was, “there aren’t many black owned cosmetic lines, so why not start one?” Also, I thought about how some makeup products are uncomfortable. When I say uncomfortable, I mean things such as sticky lip gloss, smudging eyebrow pomade, and paste-like eyeshadow. Read more>>

Constance Panton: CEO and Founder – Bifties Gifts

In 2015, we were dealing with Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Freddy Gray. It was overwhelming and as you know they weren’t the only ones. I was getting depressed and thought what could I do? I wish I could hug our entire community, show love and support to us as a whole. I was invited by aunt to join a holiday gift exchange, the idea was fun and you would be sending a gift to someone you never met. Read more>>

Rod G. Newman: Conceptual Performance Artist

The moment I went to my first job interview and started my first real job working at a factory in High school, I knew that working for someone else’s dreams was not for me. Corporate America was not in my genes. The principles and ideas that I stood for did not match the way of the world. I knew I was different and I wanted to create a business built on a God-given purpose and plan. Read more>>

Sheena Hanley: Owner/Fashion Designer

My thought process behind starting Shanley Custom Fash’uns was that I want my children and their children and their children’s children to have a family legacy. I want them to be able to look back and say “I come from something! I come from an entrepreneurial family! Read more>>

Briana Fountain: Wellness Blogger + Wellness Designer

I didn’t always take care of myself or invest in my wellbeing… In fact, just a few years ago, I went through my quarter-life crisis about a year after college. I was at my lowest. I felt fat, hated my job, was fighting with my boyfriend, and lost contact with my friends. When the summer of 2018 began, I started my blog and began reflecting on my life in college. Read more>>

Nik Starrett: Founder of You Grow Girl Women”s Ministry

When I began my ministry, You Grow Girl, it was very much God-ordained and Spirit led. I have been sharing God’s Word for years and felt it was time to take the next step and create a place where women could come together virtually to connect and learn more about Christ. My hope and goal is to bring women together from all across the world and having an online ministry allows me the opportunity to do this. Read more>>

CaTyah Pendermon: Candle creator

My business Stax of Wax Collection is a hand-made soy candle collection and it was inspired by my love for candles while using environmentally friendly products. I recently graduated from Winthrop University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and I wanted to make sure to incorporate my environmental beliefs in my brand as well. I never thought that I would be an entrepreneur, I would see many people with their on clothing, hair, baking, photography brands, etc, and I definitely salute everyone with their own businesses but I knew none of those were for me. Read more>>

Raneisha “Ms. Classy” Toombs: Credit Guru | Financial Advisor

“Your boss will never pay you enough to be his next door neighbor.” I was tired of living paycheck to paycheck. I wanted to break the generational curse for my family. Read more>>

Jaleesa Hardy: Your Financial Accountability Partner

It took a lot of encouragement from my friends and husband, to be honest! I’ve always been great with numbers and budgeting/planning for trips or among other things – called life. But another main factor was the pandemic. I personally felt the need to reassess my budget but also hearing how people were losing jobs, pay cuts, etc. I felt this was the time more than ever to stress the importance of financial literacy. Read more>>

Terrance “Deuce” Edwards: Entrepreneur

I wanted to create something that I would wear and my friends would too. Read more>>

Krystal Horhn: Photographer

Photography started off as a hobby for me. I just enjoyed capturing the love between people in their natural element. As I started sharing my work with others, I noticed people were willing to pay me to take photos. So in 2015 I decided that it was time to turn my hobby into a legitimate business. As a new mom at the time, I was tired of only having blurry, unflattering photos of myself with my family. Read more>>

Cheryl Mosley Micah Cobbs: Delish! Sweets and Treats Co-Owners

Delish! Sweets & Treats began in December of 2009 because we wanted to make homemade cake pops as Christmas gifts for our family. With great feedback from family and friends, we began to experiment with other desserts, such as cakes, cookies, and other small pastries. From that point, we decided to try our hand at creating an official business. Read more>>

Ebony Karim: CEO & Founder

I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. Since I was a young child, I’ve had a passion for helping others. Initially, I thought that would come in the form of pursing a career in Pediatric Medicine. However, after getting married while still in undergrad, I ended up moving into the business world. After almost 15 years in the public sector, providing information technology management consulting services , I decided to branch out back in October of 2013 and began my own practice. Read more>>

Sonita Michelle Gray: Founder/Creator

I was inspired by my clients and their needs. I wanted to be able to offer them skincare products for at home that were safe, effective, and that I could stand behind, so I created Skin Techs. Read more>>

Stephanie Johnson: Behavioral Health Consultant and Intuitive Mental Health Coach

When I started my company in 2015, I knew I wanted to help people navigate the mental health care system easier. I worked in psychiatric clinical research for about four years prior to starting NaviPsych, LLC. While doing this work, I realized that many of the patients and their families I encountered on psychiatric inpatient units whom I interviewed for research studies had attempted at some point to seek mental health help. Read more>>

Ellen Monen: Brand Specialist + Graphic Designer + Creative Consultant + Owner of SeeMeDesign

Well, it’s funny. My business sort of found me. In college, I was looking for a domain name to create a portfolio website… my intention was to use it to find a job. I tried everything I could think of until I finally found was actually available. I built the portfolio site, and it did what I needed — helped me land the job and then wound up getting me freelance projects here and there over time. Read more>>

Shell Waller: Spiritual Life Coach

Funny you ask! My coaching business was sort of birthed by mistake. In 2015 I was in a dating relationship and committed to dating in a way that brought God the most glory. My brand, aRadicalRelationship, was born during that time from a desire to help other women through my transparency. I knew and understood the wrestle that women had with contentment in their single season and wanted to help cultivate hope for others while also helping them to think soberly about dating and romantic relationships. Fast forward a few years and lots of life has happened. Read more>>

Danielle Marshall: Patch/Appliqué Slayer/Designer

My thought process was really simple, I wanted to do something different that I loved doing. I love to create/design things. I sat down and said I’m gonna do a service that I’m having a hard time finding someone to do for me and that’s when Patched by Peetie was born! Read more>>

Letitia Council: Founder/Executive Director

I never imagine becoming a business owner. It wasn’t until my daughter was in a tragic accident that Declared her life endless! While she was hospitalized in ICU around day 3 that I knew I had to do something dealing with the youth! My daughter was diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury. On January 16, 2020 while laying on the couch in my daughter’s hospital room is when God gave me Nasia Foundation after I was asked if God has mandated me to something that was relative to my then current situation. Read more>>

Mariah Carbajal: Virtual Assistant/ E-commerce Owner

I wanted to create freedom of time, financial freedom, and generational wealth. Having my first son in 2019 inspired this change. Read more>>

Rock Hunt: Online Business and Marketing Coach

To be honest, it was out of need. I was General Manager for a flooring company for years before I found myself unemployed due to downsizing. It was a tough experience, I couldn’t find any other work with similar pay because I didn’t have a degree, and even entry-level manager positions labeled me as “overqualified.” Read more>>

Robin Harris: Owner and Operator

My thought process behind starting my own business was very bold and undeniable. I knew for sure that I needed and wanted to break this generational curse I often felt bonded to. The generational curse of working until you can retire. Read more>>

Kira Gittens: The Paint Babe

3 Babes & A Brush came to me years ago as a way for my sisters and I to take on our Father’s business when he was ready to retire. Unfortunately, things had fallen to the wayside due to major changes in everyone’s lives. Read more>>