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.

Ashley Annice | Apparel Designer

Honestly, I didn’t come up with it. It was Spirit-led. At an HBCU, homecoming is a big thing and definitely for organizations. This particular year, I found myself conflicted about representation. Now I want to be clear, it wasn’t because I felt like I couldn’t wear anything else or that I couldn’t represent Christ dressed in anything else, but it was more about where I am with everything and that is based on Romans 13:14, “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ…” It was too easy to wear every other brand and/or organization across my chest to represent what I was associated with or what I liked, but I felt like it was time for me to do that with Jesus. I wanted to put on for Him. I understood that I didn’t have to walk around with a bible in my hand, but I could clothe myself in what I felt represented Him. I am honestly into outfits and accessories that are conversation starters. After really thinking about it, I deciding at the last minute to go to homecoming, but I was going to design my own shirt. And that was the birthplace of TWO. Read more>>

Piper Grigsby | Founder, Director of Care and Services & Professional Health and Wellness Advocate/Consultant

The idea was created from my 27yrs experience in healthcare, from hands-on therapy to care coordination in hospitals, Assisted Livings, home care and more. I didn’t want to build just another company that was here today and gone tomorrow. I wanted to make a greater impact in the lives of women, taking their health and wellness journeys from empowerment to action. Soon, as I regularly discussed with professional women their challenges with wellness and the healthcare system, I saw that change and solutions were needed in regards to the narrative and the support needed. There needed to be a greater connection, especially between them and their providers. With the drastic increasing disparities, rising number of chronic illnesses such as heart diseases among women and the loss of hope they feel when dealing with their own health, they needed a REAL solution. A solution that didn’t just feed them information but gave them personalized access to the best of the best health and wellness providers and services. Read more>

Devanté Bailey | CEO | Herbalist | Esthetician | Photographer

I came up with the idea of my business when I realized how passionate I was just by simply talking about it with others. I knew I had what it took to start, but I wanted to make sure I’ve done tons of research + testing. After getting so many good reviews and testimonials that’s when So Rich Naturals became a serious thing that I’ve created. A skin, body, hair, + overall wellness brand devoted to the highest quality natural products. Read more>>

Dr. Emmett (Dr. E) Shaffer | Founder and Pilot, The Parent Pilot, LLC

The Parent Pilot, LLC is the combination of my two passions parenting and flying airplanes. In my work with parents and students as an educator and therapist for more than two decades, I found my passion and life’s work in supporting parents through the turbulent but joyous years of parenting. When you become a parent, it does not come with a “how to” book, so The Parent Pilot gives parents the next best thing, a flight plan which in the world of flying is the way pilots navigate their flights. Similarly, the parenting flight plan gives parents the supportive resources to parent with courage, compassion, and connection. The parenting flight plan supports parents with resources that include Parent Coaching, Parent Education, Parent Advocacy, and Counseling all focused on helping parents become the parent they envision themselves to be. The Parent Pilot’s vision is, “To be the Leading Parenting Resource on the Planet.” Read more>>

Ronisha Davis | Owner and Creator of YUMI Cosmetics

During my early 20’s I struggled with self-love and insecurities and I started to focus on ways to love myself better. I was on the journey to find healing and I did so by investing my time in becoming a better and stronger me. After few years of studying about makeup and trying to learn more about the beauty industry I got infatuated with idea of creating my own brand. I realized my talents and had a desire for the sweeter things life has to offer, including all the candy in the world. Being a candy connoisseur, the name “YUMI” came naturally. In 2014, I turned that sweet tooth into a healthier hobby and launched YUMI Cosmetics in early 2016. As a woman who loves makeup and dabbles with freelance makeup artists, I saw the need to encourage women to feel confident in their skin. I hit the ground, running with goals of providing quality cosmetic products that do not mask natural beauty but enhance it. In the short time of operation, our company has blossomed into the trendy go-to beauty products that represent individuality, style, and uniqueness. Read more>>

Gerald Knight | Disc Jockey / Radio Personality

My idea came about in college. I use to sell bootleg CDs around the dorms. One day while having a study group a friend suggested I dj his birthday party based off the number of CDs owned at the time. From there my career as Dj was born. Read more>>

Sol Xprsn | Cofounder, Ufulu Child

Our story started out pretty rocky, to say the least! Tenci and I met one fun-filled night as performers during a mutual friend’s album-release showcase. Our friendship immediately took off and that made it a given that we would start working on music together. But as life would have it as soon as we thought we had everything figured out, something tragic happened: on New Years Day of 2016, Tenci’s mom, “Mama Peaches”, fell ill with a rare form of cancer. This was on top of her already troublesome type-2 diabetes! Not only that, but this came as a shock to the whole family because Mama Peaches raised her children to be vegetarian and everyone assumed that they were all healthy! As you can probably imagine we wanted nothing else but to see her get healthy again, so we began researching natural ways of healing the body from disease and pulled together everything we knew about the healing process, holistic remedies, indigenous herbs, mental mastery, and helped as much as we could. Read more>>

Corey Barnes | Owner – Kingsley Lane

I grew up around some pretty fashionable people, and being fly was always the thing. Brands like Polo, Tommy Hilfiger and Nautica were big. However, growing up I didn’t always have the money to buy those designer clothes or the latest fashions, so I would borrow different pieces from my friends to “keep up”. Since then, I always thought that it would be cool to have my own clothing line, similar to those brands that I grew up on. The name Kingsley Lane literally came to me on “accident”. In 2006, while on the way home from working an event for a client, I fell asleep at the wheel and ran into a tree in Norfolk, VA. By the grace the God, noone else was hurt, and I was able to come away from the accident with only a few scratches and a broken pinky toe. In a way, that accident woke me up because I realized at that time that there were so many things in life that I wanted to accomplish, but had yet to start, and a clothing line was one of them. Coincidentally. Read more>>

Mike Morrison | Personal Trainer & Coach

I began my career in as a sports performance coach for Division I and Professional Sports. In high level athletics, assessment, implementation, and performance are key factors in both distinguishing yourself and measuring success. We used assessments to identify and quantify potential risk factors to health and performance in the athletes. When I left the sports world, I began training clients 1-on-1. I quickly realized that while the specific goals were different – a higher vertical jump vs. jogging without knee pain, for example – they were still goals that could be quantified and worked towards systematically. I came to the realization that the human body is the human body, and there was no reason why the same diagnostic tools we used on the high level athletes could not also be used on everyone. Once I developed a system where I could more accurately identify the underlying causes of chronic pain or dropping performance, I felt I was able to set myself apart in two ways. One, I could help my clients understand the “hows” and “whys “behind their nagging injuries or plateaus in performance instead of giving them exercises without context and limits without input. Read more>>

Hannah Testa | Environmental Youth Activist, Public Speaker, and Author

The ocean has always been a major part of my life. But eight years ago, I realized the extent that plastics were destroying the ocean when I watched a documentary called Plastic Paradise. Once I watched that documentary, that really opened my eyes, and I learned the impact it had on human health and endangered species. Knowing that we destroy the ocean every day is heartbreaking. My goal has been to spread this message about plastic pollution to reverse that future.” From then on, I have been entirely focused on combating the problem. I started Hannah4Change at the age of 11 and advocate for a sustainable future for my generation and generations to come. Read more>>

Shayla Hill | Founder & Content Creator

I followed in my grandmother’s footsteps by starting up my own cleaning company. Not content with just offering services to clean other people’s homes, I really wanted to do something different for my clients. I decided that my own line of natural home cleaning products would be ideal, but a conversation with my mom was to lead to something even better. As my all-purpose soap was suitable for cleaning the home or your body, my mom tried a lemongrass scented one as an aid to help her sleep after the passing of my dad. The immediate effect was her first good sleep in months. This was all the motivation that I needed after losing my dad and to help my mom sleep better at night. Before long I had developed pillow sprays that were scented with lavender and lemongrass and had formed my own company, Hill + Daniel, named after my grandmother’s maiden and married names. Soon, I was experimenting with new and exciting fragrances, expanding my range with more complex, like woody scents, while still aiming to keep things simple and classic. Read more>>

Jack Griffin | Founder & CEO of FoodFinder

I was 14 years old and a Georgia public school student when I tried and failed to find a food pantry to volunteer at back in 2013. This surprisingly difficult experience and the lack of reliable information on social services I encountered led me to research the barriers that face hungry families seeking help. I then realized that access to technology was more limited on the side of the food pantries then the people who were visiting them. Smartphones and the internet were becoming increasingly accessible as necessities rather than luxuries, so the idea was to create a one-stop-shop where any food insecure student or parent could quickly and privately find reliable info on when/where to get help from food pantries nearby, Over the next 6 years throughout high school and college, I would launch and grow FoodFinder, a nonprofit organization whose website and mobile app show users when and where to get help from their closest food pantry. What began with a few dozen Metro Atlanta food pantries in a database has since grown into a nationally relied upon and award-winning resource in the fight against hunger. Read more>>

Jen Hettenhouse | Bespoke Cake Artist

Technically, I didn’t come up with an idea. My family did. Back in 2010, I was hospitalized and ended up missing my daughter’s first birthday. I was just devastated. I know that she would not have remembered it, but it was such a huge milestone and I felt like a failure as a mother. Sometimes, society places demands on us that we cannot help but feel must happen. Because of my displaced guilt, I insisted I had to go above and beyond for her second birthday. Here I was, someone who had never baked or decorated, trying to create a masterpiece. It was horrible but, not without some raw talent hidden within. I decided that day to try and see where that talent could take me. I had fun in the adventure. Every single success and failure was a moment to learn where I could go. When, in 2017, my daughter asked me to start baking for sale, and to name the business after her, I immediately agreed before even knowing if I would succeed. Read more>>

Rachael Hill | Cat Enthusiast

I grew up with cats and have always loved them. Every cat lover knows how much they clean themselves, and pretty frequently, they’ll put their leg straight up in the air. My cat Melvin was about 3 years old when I took a photo of him that eventually became the first “Straight Up Cat Leg” photo and the concept was born (September 2013). I was originally going to start a blog, but Instagram was becoming more popular so I started an account on that platform in December 2015. Read more>>

Aishat Oduola-Owoo | Astrology Life Coach

Astrology has always been a love of mine. Learning more about myself cosmically has been a part of my healing journey. Granted astrology is not the end all be all to life, but it helps you understand how to take part in kairos (which means divine timing). Everyone has a divine purpose and timing why not understand what astrology has to say about your potential habits and restrictions. I started AstroNaija22 to assist people on their journey to self discovery. I wanted to coach people through their understanding of astrology and teach them newer ways to understand the once complicated beauty of astrology. Read more>>

Juan Henry Montier III | Catering and Event Decor

Chez Montier is a chef-driven boutique catering company co-owned by me and my wife, Judith Service Montier. At Chez Montier, we believe every event should be a joyous celebration of life. We create incredible food, beautifully presented and flawlessly served. We combine that with floral arrangements, lighting and event decor – all designed to create one-of-a kind experiences for discerning clients. Our food is a sophisticated, creative and unexpected blending of international foods and unique flavor profiles. The inspiration for Chez Montier was born out of my background as an architect and interior designer. I developed a flair for cooking and designing at an early age. My parents, both doctors, were often too busy to spend time in the kitchen, so I learned the fundamentals of cooking from our housekeeper. While my friends were watching cartoons, I was learning how to bake bread and make the perfect meringue. My TV heroes were Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet), and Julia Childs and it was by watching them that I developed a passion for cooking. Read more>>

Katy Turner | Juicer & Plant Base Nutritionist

Before becoming a licensed nutritionist, a wellness coach, or even starting my premium pressed juice line, The Fake Vegan was born of necessity. After battling years of allergies, chronic eczema and being diagnosed with cancer in my early 20s, I was determined to heal myself. As a young black woman, I understood the challenges I was going to face in the medical industry as I began my journey to healing. I understood the racial and gender biases that existed in Westernized medical industry but never would I have thought that I not only would have to strongly advocate for myself so hard while battling for my life but my awareness was deepened when I discovered the lack of information, access and resources to my community would severely impact my healing. I turned to alternative healing methods, like juicing, to heal my vessel. I want to provide the same access to sustainable holistic healing practices to marginalized communities all over the world. Read more>>

Alexis Atkins | Self Love Advocate

I came up with the idea behind my business by turning my pain into purpose and being passionate about it. Long story short, I’ve survived 2 very mentally and physically abusive relationships, I’ve been bullied into depression and anxiety, as well as had my fair share of insecurities. The point of me sharing that is not to make anyone feel bad for me but I share my trials and tribulations to encourage others and that is how my business started. I want and need to share a space with other girls and women to let them know just how powerful they actually are even during their worst days. I am building a community that empowers and uplifts each other in every way. Whether you follow my insta blog, watch my youtube videos, or purchase an affirmation candle, I can promise there will be some inspirational message to keep you going, glowing, and growing. Read more>>

Quinda Barrett | Founder of The Assist Me App

One day I needed someone to ran an errand to pick up a few items for me while I was home alone sick. I thought to myself ” I wish I could afford a personal assistant”. From there an idea sparked to create a personal assistant service on an as needed basis. Since we’re always on our phones I figured a mobile app would be the perfect convenient way to request personal assistance services for handling tasks in the moments we could use assistance. For many of us we are unable to afford a full time assistant, but we are able to outsource help as needed. With this thought in mind, the Assist Me App was created. I also wanted to create a platform for individuals to earn income by using the skills and talents they already have. As we can see there is always a need to create multiple revenue streams. Read more>>

Maralene-Maatsaellah Ferguson Bates | Educator, Entrepreneur, Mentor

In 1990, I opened an alternative home learning center because my family was growing quickly and I could not afford to enroll my first 2 daughters in Montessori at that time. My husband and I also wanted more than a day-care center or public school setting for our education. I was ready and willing to take responsibility myself. So, I homeschooled my 5 children along with relatives, the children of friends, and other referred families for 18 years. My vision was to provide a stimulating program in a nurturing environment that would develop each student’s potential. My approach then was to teach to multiple learning styles and honor each child’s interests. The program focused on developing self-esteem, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. At the inception, I accepted children ages 2-7 years and added grades as the children aged. Over time, the curriculum included all core subjects for PreK-10th grade, computer literacy, foreign languages, public speaking, African dance and drumming, art, yoga, and metaphysics. Read more>>

William Crawford | CEO & Property Manager

The idea of my nonprofit, WJC Foundation came about through personal life experiences as well as my desire to help end homelessness. I’ve went through a journey in life where I was alone, without shelter and when I needed resources to help me there was very little. I’ve always wanted to give back even when I couldn’t give to myself. I feel that my passion in life is to not only recognize issues within my community but to also help solve them. This is what manifested my business. I did research not only within my local community but within the state and to my surprise no one offers everything that the WJC Foundation does in one setting. The WJC Foundation is a nonprofit organization that is on the move to provide youth ages 16-25 who are experiencing homelessness a safe haven from the streets while connecting them to resources to have them achieve what they thought they never could. Read more>>