It takes a lot more than an idea to build a business, but there can’t be a business without the idea. So we asked folks who’ve built wonderful businesses to tell us about how they came up with the idea in the first place.

Melissa Yes | Artist, Educator, and Founding (co-)Director/Curator of Vinegar

I have spent most of my life in Alabama, but moved away from Birmingham to pursue grad school and other professional opportunities. I moved back in 2018 after being away for 6 years and was thrilled to see that Birmingham mad grown a lot; there are so many new restaurants, bars, and shops. I was disappointed, however, to realize that there wasn’t a matching boom in art spaces. There are heaps of talented artists in Birmingham and, being an early career artist myself, I recognized that there was both a need and an opportunity to contribute to the growth of the creative community here. When I moved back, I asked my facebook community to connect me with other artists who are working in “emerging practices.” Someone put me in touch with Ann Trondson, and upon our first meeting we decided to put our heads together and make something happen. Read more>>

Jennifer Pernia | Singer, Actress, Podcaster

I grew up in Bogotá, Colombia, and whenever I would go to the theater I would see the diverse world that I lived in represented on stage. I wasn’t fully aware of the lack of Latino visibility in the arts, and I think it was maybe due to the fact that I didn’t live with the weight of it on a daily basis. That being said, I noticed content produced in other countries is homogeneous and lacks the proper representation. Specifically, with respect to Latinos, we are consistently portrayed in ways that highlight negative historical elements and don’t fully capture the spirit of our culture. When I moved to NYC to study musical theater, I noticed that the word “type” would show up a lot. When it came to some ethnicities and communities the word “type” was reduced to very damaging stereotypes. I would also hear that if you had an accent, or looked a certain way, that maybe those dream roles were not going to be available to you. Read more>>

John Schmarkey | Singer/Songwriter/Keyboardist For All The Locals

First, ATL group co founder, Ty Barksdale, and I needed to establish a talented band for our burgeoning ideas. It’s hard to find a close knit of best friends, from your home city, that happen to enjoy the art and business of music. But, we got to work quickly. ATL officially started rehearsing full band in January ’12, with the first public performance at Vinyl (Midtown ATL) in late February 2012. Things were rolling quick for the group and we released the first self titled EP that summer, with John Briglevich, at Sonica Studios ATL. I find that the best ensemble of people succeeds, due to its chemistry on and off stage. But, we didn’t want just any band of locals. We found that many of the acts around town were stuck in a specific niche or style. We wanted something original that portrayed the sounds of our hometown. If you know Atlanta at all, that means you need to be diverse and unique. Read more>>

C.J. Ridings | Audio Engineer & Mixer

I got into recording and mixing as a teenager just because I played in bands and we wanted recordings. I slowly expanded my knowledge and tools until here we are 15+ years later and I do it full time. Read more>>

Tab Manning | Women’s Empowerment – Author, Coach, Speaker, Podcaster

I always try to find a condensed answer for this question and somehow it is still a long story, lol. The inspiration behind W.E. WIN LLC is my mother Paula Johnson. I lost my mother to substance abuse when I was thirteen years old. My mother had a traumatic childhood and struggled throughout her life to overcome that trauma, she found her escape in substance abuse. I started W.E. WIN to help women. I always felt like maybe if my mother had access to an organization like W.E. WIN she would have felt more empowered and supported, she could have found healing and peace and turned her life around for good. Before W.E. WIN became an actual business, it was me just wanting to help my friends and women who were dealing with things. In 2008, I was working in Ministry at my church with Teen Ministry and I would have dreams of speaking on huge platforms of women. Read more>>

Hector Flores | Creator and Host of The “Insert Name” FC Podcast

I had some classmates that were interested in doing a podcast with me. At the time, I never thought about having a podcast, but I told them that I was down to do it. I did not hear back and when we did, we talked about ideas, but nothing came from it. So while I was not bothered by it, I decided to explore what it takes to create a podcast. I already listen to some podcasts already, so I had an idea of how most are performed. Once I did my research, I decided to create one. I love sports, specifically Soccer and I knew I can talk hours about it. I also knew I did not want the podcast to be just me, so I recruited my best friend Edward because we both love Soccer and we had chemistry because we’ve been best friends since I was 4 years old. And just like that “Insert Name” FC was born. Read more>>

Jokoria Talton | Sweet Treat Creator

For many years, I was always considered the party planner and enjoyed creating custom treats. I would only expose my craft among family and friends. Two years ago, I decided to expose my passion to the public by creating Jkori’s Sweet Treats. Jkori’s is originated from my first name. Today, we are launching our new apparel and accessory line called YummySUGAcollection. Online grand opening coming soon! I would love for my customers to enjoy my sweets and be stylish at the same time. The acronym S.U.G.A. is sweet, unique, gorgeous and amazing. Read more>>

Jasper Moore | Triple Threat | Journalist, Lover of Beauty, & Ambitious Woman

When I began my career I had no idea the path I was going to take to get to where I am now. At a young age, I had a strong desire for the beauty industry. From hair to makeup to skincare. I had a dream of working in the Spa and making people feel good. After graduating high school my dream changed and I attend cosmetology school at Empire, Morrow, graduated 3 months early and started working in the hair salon. Unfortunately, when I came into the real environment of the hair industry I lost my passion for it. In the beginning stages of starting adulthood, I was looking for a way to still do what I love without losing my ambition for beauty. I was introduced to the fashion industry from a networking event in Atlanta, Georgia, and began traveling working backstage at shows and events. As a behind-the-scenes makeup artist, I met so many creative people from models, designers, painters, singers, beauty influencers and the list goes on. Read more>>

Darshun Kendrick | Corporate Securities Attorney and Registered Investment Advisor

My law firm, Kendrick Advisory and Advocacy Group (KAAG’s), LLC, is not a new business in the sense that it has disrupted an industry with technology or its an entirely new concept. But what is new about it is that is is reaching an underserved market in a way that’s easier to access, understand and afford: corporate securities legal services for founders of color and women founders. Therefore, we are the premier corporate law firm & investment advisory firm (GA) providing strategic legal and business advice, particularly to black & women founders, which includes capital raising compliance and strategies, AND developing investment strategies for individuals and organizations to reach their financial goals. Normally, in order to access competent and comprehensive legal services when a company is raising capital you have to go to a large law firm that is either too expensive or not willing to take on smaller clients. Read more>>

Amanda Abernathy | Baker & Treat Artist

I believe the idea was always there. My love for baking and cooking started being in the kitchen with my mother. I was always intrigued by all the dishes she would create. Out of my mother’s three daughters I was the most interested in learning. While in high school one of my extra curricular activities was Home Economics. That’s where the idea formed to become a pastry chef. During my senior year I applied and was accepted to the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. Due to funding constraints I didn’t attend. At that time I didn’t believe becoming a Pastry Chef was in my reach. After some years and life happened , my dream was reborn after the birth of my second daughter. I knew I wanted to start a business. Before than I would always cook and bake for my family and friends but never considered a business. My passion for creating again was born when I worked on my own treat table for my second daughters baby shower. Read more>>

Kia Edgehill | Entrepreneur/Content Creator

My business idea was birthed out of lack of self-identity. When I surrendered my life to Christ, August 2018, I strongly believed I was automatically healed, whole, and confident. However, deep down I struggled for so long viewing myself the way God sees me. After a year being swayed by my past, what the world said about me and what I said about myself, God completely stopped me in my tracks. He affirmed me that the old has past away, therefore I no longer need to see myself based on my past actions; He reminded me that He sees me as wonderful, as a treasure, more precious than rubies. He also reminded me of my worth, and my ability to hold myself with standards because I am a daughter of a King. Through this refining/molding process, I began gaining confidence and not just regular confidence but confidence in the Lord, that if He created me this way He will see me through. Read more>>

Debbie Borrego | Crochet Artist

It all started back in 2009 when I became a stay at home mom to a 1,2 and 6 year old. I wanted to find something creative I could do to help keep my sanity being around toddlers all day. I started seeing pictures on social media and Pinterest of crochet items and loved they way they looked, and thought to myself “I want to learn how to crochet” I remember running to the craft store and buying crochet hooks and yarn and coming home and feeling so excited to start. But I didn’t know where to begin or how to even start a chain. I spent several days on YouTube watching videos and learning different stitches. I experienced moments of extreme frustration. This lead me to considering giving up. This feeling came and went and became a personal challenge. Over the years I started feeling way more confident in my work and posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram and friends and strangers started to really like my work! It was a great feeling. Read more>>

Sonya Clark | The Mocha Girl

I came up with the idea for my business by brainstorming a unique yet catchy name. I have always been obsessed with my brown skin. My big cousin always called me Mocha. My goal was to create a brand that is a reflection of me and those who I want to serve. Many big brands, businesses, and designers mission are to serve people who do not look like me. We as a collective spend our money with those same businesses and brands. I decided Mocha was a perfect idea. Many of us in the black community are shades of Mocha. I knew then The Mocha Girl will be the perfect name to promote change, creativity, positivity, and offer style that potential customers and audience would essentially make a lifestyle. Read more>>

Tiffany White | Owner & Creater

I made salsa for my boyfriend “now husband” and he kept raving about how it needed to be on a shelf somewhere. We started doing farmers markets & I had the idea to jar my salsa… it evolved into LGP. Read more>>

Madison Blackburn | Bridal Boutique Owner

I worked at a couple chain bridal stores as well as a boutique prior to starting my own bridal boutique and saw all sorts of things at each place that I liked and disliked about each. I had an instant love for bridal after working with my very first bride at my first job in the industry, at Impression Bridal. Then after hopping from shop to shop, trying to find a good fit for me, I stumbled across a little shop in down town Alpharetta, Atlanta Bride Couture. Everything seemed great… but, shortly after I started there, I got a call from my neighbor saying she was listening to The Bert Show on her way to work and a bride had called in warning about ABC. She said her wedding was quickly approaching, the owners had been dodging her, and she swung by the shop to try to talk to someone in person about what was going on and found the shop completely cleaned out. Read more>>

Jerome Cofield | President and Founder of The Empowerment 3D Inc. Program

This is such an amazing question. I came up with the idea for my business while walking down the hallway of an elementary school in 2006 where I was volunteering and mentoring the male students of that school. I asked a 9-year old student just as a conversation piece as we made our way to the storage closet that had been converted into a small room for me to meet with the students on a weekly basis. I asked the student, “What did you get for Christmas?” His answer to me was; Mr. Cofield I didn’t get anything for Christmas but my mama had surgery that took cancer out of her body so maybe I will get something for my birthday next week. His reply to my question unlocked my gift and passion for my business/organization. The following week my family and friends put some financial resources together and purchased items for his birthday and I started what was known as the Make a Child Smile Foundation Inc. in 2007. Read more>>