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.

Sara Keith | Co-Founder, Illuminate Atlanta

The idea of Illuminate Atlanta was born during a long drive with my friend, and now Illuminate Co-Founder, Allison Jarek. We discussed how my current school, the Atlanta School of Photography, was filling the niche for adult education in the area, but we believed very strongly there should also be a non-profit centered around photography education and outreach. We were hearing from so many schools and organizations that photography education was inaccessible to them because of the cost of equipment, and even if they had the cameras, there wasn’t anyone on staff to teach. From there, we decided to work with our partners through the Atlanta School of Photography to provide lessons in on a small scale using donated cameras. This worked for about a year, then we finally reached the point where folks wanted to donate, and so we became an official non profit 501(c)(3). We now partner with places like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Hillside, Inc, Cool Girls Inc, and The Threshold Community Program. Illuminate creates curriculums and lessons that are best suited for their students intelectual, physical and creative needs. Read more>>

Ava Medina | Publicist/Creative Media Executive

I didn’t really come up with it…it kinda chose me. I had hopes to publish a magazine and couldn’t get a mentor or couldn’t even volunteer at a publishing house. I moved back to New York and studied for hours. I read every magazine and met everyone I thought I should me. When it all boiled down to it, I knew that I had to learn layouts, language and packaging…this is why the ‘deck’ is my specialty. Pitching television, film, creating marketing decks, sponsorship decks, designing EPK’s…I’ve learned unique layouts and language to successfully sell with strategic messaging. Read more>>

Margarette Coleman | Etiquette Trainer & Consultant

Having been a military spouse for almost 20 years at the time, my work in the field of Social Work had taken many twists and turns with our various relocations. When my husband retired from the Air Force and we decided to settle in Georgia, I had an opportunity I had never had before. Instead of looking for work, I could build something of my own. Our family was staying and I could grow roots here. I said to myself, “I think I will start my own business.” So I started thinking, researching, and talking. In 2014, I visited the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. Having been raised in a family that put respect for yourself and respect for others as top priorities, it was clear that those ideals were not universal. Seeing the state of women, of the poor, and of the disenfranchised around the globe really touched my soul and opened my eyes to some deficiencies in us as people. I recognized the decline in concern for the rights of human beings and what used to be common courtesies. What could be done? What could I do? I am just one person…an individual in this giant world. Read more>>

Chae Gardenhire | Apparel Entrepreneur and Mental Health Therapist

Chaespirations, LLC was created during the quarantine of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020; however, the idea of the apparel line originated in 2018. I have been a writer for many years (writing in the early 2000’s for Rolling Out and Upscale Magazines) and became a Mental Health Therapist helping clients acheive mental wellness for the last 10 years. I have always loved the magic of words and created original quote designs to advocate for YOU through the practice of self-LOVE, self-VALUE, and self-AWARENESS. Chaespirations inspires through WORDS.PHRASES.CONCEPTS. WORDS because they carry Power, PHRASES because they multiply Power, and CONCEPTS because they execute a Powerful Plan. Each quote is thought-provoking and is originally designed to enlighten and uplift. Read more>>

Jordan Richichi | CEO & Founder

I was in my final semester, going to school for graphic design at Syracuse University. I was taking a jewelry class and made my first rings out of keys from my late-grandmothers’ house. They were special keys to me because she lived next door to me my whole life. I realized later, that everyone has a special connection to keys— whether it be their first house or first car or a key to a loved ones’ house who has passed. Keys are small, but charged with infinite meaning. I decided to source more recycled keys and give them a new purpose as rings and JoJo Rings was born. Read more>>

Michele Barard | Founder & CEO, Urban Book Editor

In 2011, I became a volunteer reviewer for The Urban Book Source. They would send me three or four novels each month, and I would read and review them under my pen name. Most of the novels were self-published. Some of them told great stories, but I noticed one weakness across almost all of them. They were poorly edited. Sometimes it was so bad it drove me to distraction, which is a big no-no in fiction. Fiction requires suspension of disbelief, much like a movie does; you have to keep the reader in the flow of the story to maintain their attention. Lose their attention and they will most likely put down the book, and possibly not pick it up again. The errors sometimes drove me to distraction. One time, an author used the wrong word and it disturbed me so much that I stopped reading, went to sleep, and the next morning threw the book into my briefcase so I could look up the correct word as soon as I got to my computer at work! When I found myself adding “Edit, edit, edit!” to almost all my reviews, I decided to start the business. I thought instead of complaining about the situation, I should offer a solution. I realized that self-published authors were having trouble getting the editing they needed for their books. Read more>>

Juan Boyso | Graphic Designer and Screen Printer

The idea of a business should always start with a passion. As a kid I always enjoyed sketching cartoons and creating funny comic strips. There have been many different favorite genres such as Calvin & Hobbes, Archie, and the great anime Dragon Ball Z. It could be said that the art industry fascinated me since I could remember! The idea of drawings being used to entertain and tell a story to its viewers was something I fell in love with from the beginning. Of course as you get older you probably find yourself working odd jobs to make ends meet or to provide for your family. Even so, I would have great pride in the uniform I was given to wear as I felt like I was representing not only a company but a brand. As I made my way through the “limbo” phase after High School, I never let go of the love and skill of my childhood talent to sketch. With this in mind it was all about finding how I could make my mark in the world. Once you know what passion to base your business on, it’s good to find how it will help people. Everywhere I’ve gone, there’s a lot you can determine about someone based on looks (the cover of the book is the first thing I see). You can tell someone’s personality ,where someone might work, or if they even work at all. Read more>>

Andre Moulton | Microsoft Partner for Products and Services

As a child I was always fascinated with computers and the capability for limitless data which translates to knowledge. When I grew up as an adult, I realized that the passion and love for computers blossomed into Information Technology. Information Technology is the highway towards the future as it consists of endless information, knowledge, and advancement. This path lead me on the path of completing my degrees, then certifications, then to working for several fortune 500 companies. Eventually, I became weary of my future being in the hands of other people. I wanted to grab the reins and take control of my own future. As a result, I came up with my own company. Read more>>

Arrianna Marie | Co-Founder

Meeting in Atlanta in 2017 after moving from LA and NYC respectively. Both of us interested in the entertainment and entrepreneurial world, we decided to explore the city together to network and meet new people. After a few outings, we realized that there was a huge void in the Atlanta social scene. People were going to reoccurring events, hanging out in their secluded sections, glued to their phones rather than engaging with each other. The excitement and stimulation was missing from events; it was challenging to create organic connections. After months of analyzing the social scene, we brainstormed on how to fill that void. We came up with a new concept of unique programming that combined engagement and fun in an authentic way; where people could be themselves and meet new people. We took the old elements of relationship building and fused it with innovative elements of experiential activations; hence That Game Social was born. Read more>>

Ireland Lindsay | Pastry Chef & Teacher

I’ve grown up in a family where cooking & baking are a way of life. I was reminded constantly from a young age that baking would always be something special to me. When I first started out in the kitchen I always found myself asking the same question, “why?”. Why do we add the ingredients that we do?” I was eager to learn the science behind baking, and why adding those ingredients made our food taste good. Over the past 4(ish) years that’s exactly what I’ve done. I spent countless days in the kitchen, testing, failing, testing some more, taking a bite of this, then a bite of that. Learning the purpose of each ingredient helped me to appreciate the process and become the baker I am today. I knew I had to share what I had learned with others. My hope was that helping people learn the “why” behind it all, this would help them bypass all those years of experience and head straight to becoming a truly skillful baker. Since 2020 was officially the year of being at home in our kitchens, It felt like the perfect time to start. In August of 2020, I launched my online baking school “Bake it Smarter” fully centered on helping aspiring bakers to become both confident, and accomplished in the kitchen. Read more>>

J’Anmetra Waddell | The ONLY Live Past Crazy Specialist- Transformational Coach

I came up with the idea- when people kept telling people that “I knew crazy” and that my ex showed me how to specialize in it. They always laughed when I told them- and one day it came to me that I was the ONLY Live Past Crazy Specialist. I know crazy- and I know how to live past it- so why not share it! My business was born from that day forward. Read more>>