We reached out to some of our favorite entrepreneurs and asked them to think back and tell us about how they decided to start a business. Check out their responses below.

Kai Cash | Artist, Author & Entrepreneur

My initial thought was to always be the owner of what I had going on. I hadn’t ever had the desire to work for anyone other than myself , so when I started my first business it was based on that in addition to me wanting to bring my creativity to life. With that I started my clothing line “God, Glory & Gold”. Read more>>

Timiya Abrams | Boutique Owner

I have always dreamed of having my own boutique. Growing up I always knew I wanted to be in the fashion space, whether that be designing, styling or having my own store. I love the ability to be able to express yourself through your personal style. So my thought behind starting my own business was simply creating a space for my to do something that I am passionate about and on my own terms. I knew that I wanted to also create opportunities for others in the community that aspire to be in the fashion space as well. So when I was in high school I began to actively work on how I would make having my own boutique a reality for myself. Read more>>

Adriana Giordano | Shop Owner & Groomer

I’ve wanted to work with animals since I was a young girl, but it never came to fruition. While traveling with my husband for work he and I had this idea of opening a pet boutique after we retired. We decided to open one earlier when we were looking for warehouse space for his business and came across a space that we thought would work for him and for myself. This coupled with the fact that our kids are in college/working and have lives of their own left Me with a lot of time on my hands. We also have 5 (yes 5) dogs of our own that we wanted to be able to include in our daily work life as well. Read more>>

Hannah Aryee | Graphic Designer & Photographer

My thought process behind starting my own business was believing myself to not go back to work in the corporate world and be able to become an entrepreneur full time. It was scary at first, but I pushed that aside and worked hard on being a entrepreneur. Read more>>

Marchelle Davis | Firearm Instructor

I am a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence. The thought process behind starting my firearm instruction company was making sure that no other woman experienced that type of violence in her life. I learned certain self defense skills while serving in the military and I decided to use them to start mu business when my enlistment ended. My goal is to teach 1 million women how to defend themselves with firearms. Read more>>

Jateya Jones | Strategy and Communication Consultant & Clarity Coach

I started the business to help the younger version of myself; a multi-passionate entrepreneur in need of clarity on how to identify the common thread in what I do and how to effectively and efficiently communicate that. It was imperative to master this skill in order to obtain clients and or funding. Prior to obtaining clarity I was frustrated with not being able to concisely explain my vision to others without sounding all over the place, discouraged and isolated by not having a community that understood me, as well as, struggling with burnout due to not being able to transition my passion into a revenue generating business. Read more>>

Dr. King Imani | DE&I enthusiast and Operational Efficiency Strategist

My thought behind starting my own business was I’ve always only wanted to be my own boss. I knew I had the skill and business savvy to be successful and I wanted to be the boss and employer that I never had unto others. Read more>>

Sophia Redding | CEO

My thought process behind starting my own business is to be different from any other cleaning company in this cleaning industry I want to be separated from competing. Read more>>

Holly Swoosh | Serial Entrepreneur

It was actually more so a “knee-jerk reaction” than a thought process because if I actually thought this through, I’d just get a job lol. I had been working for other people since I was 12 years old and I was growing extremely frustrated at this point with working. I unofficially started my business in 2017 and made my first sale in 2019 but I still didn’t really grasp the business portion until end of 2019 beginning of 2020. When the world shut down March 2020 my mind went into overdrive and I started figuring ways to actually brand my business as a real business. Read more>>

Debra Smart | Owner

My thought process behind my business amazingly was just a fun hobby in my spare time that immediately became a way of living for me. I always questioned myself daily about the jobs I was working just wasn’t enough for me and that I needed a way to make extra money and this hobby turned into an income that has grown tremendously over the years. It was a no brainer for me ti commit to what I enjoyed doing full time and make it my main source of income. Read more>>

Frank Lewis | Massage therapist

I think for me it was about faith that i could do it and the fair that was holding me back.. Not knowing what would be the next step but trusting it would work out…one step at a time..day by day…i knew i wanted to provide a service that bless people.. Read more>>

Gabrielle Gates | Owner & Cake Artist

I’ve always loved baking, ever since I was a little girl. But to be honest, becoming a business owner was fueled by a few factors. During my academic career, and every job I’ve ever had, I baked as a hobby because I loved it & it was therapeutic. When I had my son, I realized how much I hated being away from him, I’d spend so many days at work wishing I was home instead & feeling like I was missing out on the most important thing to me. It was that feeling that fueled my decision making, My then-boyfriend, now-husband, was super supportive so I was able to quit my job when I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore, At that point, it was easy to naturally just fall into something I was already good at. Read more>>

Kandra Lumpkin | Entrepreneur

My thought process behind starting my own business was freedom. The ability to work for myself and not having to clock in working 40+ hours a week chasing someone else’s dream didn’t make sense to me. Being a wife and a mother of three, I understood the importance of my time. I want to spend it on things and people that mattered most. Read more>>

Kamari harris | Freelancer & Clothing designer

My thought process behind starting my own business was easy. I always had a mindset to create and let my work be presented to others. Designing clothes and filming and editing let’s others see my designs and interact with me with projects i have created. Read more>>

D’Andrè Janaè | Makeup Artist & Business Owner

In more or less words, I had to resign from teaching in March 2021. After delivering my first child in September at 8 months pregnant. My thoughts are simple: I’m a mom. I have a family. How can I provide for my family? Bills? And then it clicked. “Girl! this is your chance to work for yourself while doing what you love most.” I live for anything haircare and beauty! I enjoy teaching black women how to care for their hair so I launched Puff Haircare. My products are infused with the best essential oils and butters designed to moisturized and support the health & maintenance of our hair. — and for my girls who love makeup I create looks for the DARING and provide tutorials on TikTok/IG @dandrejanae. Read more>>

Amari Malone | Creative Director

I am a third generation entrepreneur and originally I just wanted to make money while home during covid. I started off with one client editing a podcast using skills that I’ve learned from using technology over the years. After a few months of working on the podcast my editing skills landed me 4 – 5 new clients and a lot of credibility. This is when my possibility of business became endless. I began exploring new skills and investing my time and learning my craft. Read more>>

Debra Taylor | Event Planner & Business Coach

I wanted to impact and help as many business professionals as I can because I have been in the business for a few years and experienced the struggles in building a successful business. Seeing amazing people with skills and talents but lacking the knowledge and information needed to grow the business became a passion of mine. I knew then that I wanted to teach others the road map to success. Read more>>

Barbara Sharpe | Hemp: Georgia Grown Georgia’s Own

Rebel for I Am, Inc (parent company) was begun in 2003 for the purpose of investing in Real Estate. The first property was purchased on February 14th. From there we started a T-shirt business. At one time we even owned and operated a Coin Laundry business in Southeast Atlanta. Then in 2019 with the passage of the “Georgia Hemp Farming Act” by the Department of Agriculture we thought it would be a good opportunity to utilize a portion of the property we own in Southwest, GA to grow hemp. Read more>>

Kia Anderson | Entrepreneur

When I started my own businesses I honestly started it because I needed extra money. I had just lost my 9-5 because of a charge that I caught and at the time my son was 3 1/2 so in my mind all of these holidays coming up I need to start making money ASAP because I don’t know where my next check will come from. I seen a girl in my city that was doing lash wholesale so I tried that and I sold out instantly she was so shocked at how fast I did it at that point I knew I needed to open my own business. I just went for it and i never wanted to look back. Read more>>

Taylor Page | Founder and CEO of Mystic Cinema

I’ve been in the film industry for over 6 years. I’ve been in most of the main departments people get into when they start out, and it took me a long time to figure out where I land. For me, it has brought me to the management side of the industry. I enjoy being around how projects are created and planned out both logistically and creatively. Making content itself, is pretty straight forward for me with my past experience, which is why I decided to take the process into my own hands and start a business. The real challenge now is on the actual business ends of things. Outreach, marketing, networking, finance, the whole nine. I believe though as the company grows and we get better and better, that we’ll be a worthwhile force in the industry due to all the knowledge and experience I’ve gained along the way. All gains no loss. Read more>>

Derik VanVleet | Owner and Builder

I took an unconventional path into starting my custom furniture company. I went to college and graduated with a business computer degree and went into the field of Information Technology. First as a systems administrator and then as a consultant. During that time, shortly after getting married and buying our first house; which was a major fixer-upper, I got into building furniture. As I think back, it really started because we did not have a lot of money in order to buy furniture, so I just started building it. Read more>>

Pierre Dubois | CEO & co founder

That is all I know ! I have founded or cofounded 3 companies these past 20 years. So when we landed in Atlanta with my family 4 years ago, after a year to settle down, I started thinking about the business I could start here. Read more>>

Jazz V | Entertainment Promoter, Entrepreneur

My thought process behind starting my own business was, Once I figured out what I wanted to, how I could do it required a plan. My plan was, I had to INVEST in myself. If that meant becoming an employee until I could become the employer, then I had to Read more>>

Laurel Buchanan | Event Musician – Harpist and Vocalist

It was not until I was frustrated practicing the harp one day when my parents told me that if I learned how to play ten songs perfectly that I could be paid to play at weddings. I knew I wanted to do something more than just practice for the next week’s lesson, and practicing for lessons was just not fulfilling my natural love of music and performing. I grew up singing in school talent shows and at churches, which is where I got a lot of feedback about my music where audience members would tell me how much my music made them feel happy and relaxed, and how they would pay to hear more. Read more>>

Will Hardy | Founding Partner at Invisors

Invisors is actually the second company I have founded, and the third in which I was an early Partner. The first time that you leave a “traditional” job to create a company is the most difficult. You feel like you have the most to lose as you leave the corporate career ladder. However, after you have successfully done it once, you are able to see it for the incredible opportunity that it is. In the case of Invisors, we wanted to recapture the challenge and excitement of starting something from scratch. For some people, all the decisions and possibilities of a startup can seem overwhelming, but for my business partner and I, starting with a clean sheet of paper was incredibly fun and rewarding. We’d rather write the rules for a brand new company, as opposed to working within the rules at an already established business. Read more>>

Imani Gaddy | Real Estate Agent & Founder of Belle Âme Box LLC

I always saw starting a business as one of the best ways I could connect with and serve my community. The motivation behind becoming an entrepreneur stemmed from the belief that consumers rarely experience the customer service they deserve. Real estate is all about meeting the consumer where they are. My real estate business was built on the foundation of not only being able to meet the needs of a buyer or seller the way they see fit, but also anticipating the needs of a consumer. Anticipating needs is a big part of providing exceptional service. I have found that starting a business allowed me the freedom and flexibility to truly reach the consumer in a way a traditional job or company may limit you. Read more>>

Rodney Livingston | DJ & Music Producer

I really wanted to work for myself on my own time. Time is really one of the things I value most & being able to do things when I wanted to, really attracted me to it. Once I was able to figure out how to make money without relying on having a boss, everything went up in the right direction. Read more>>

Tony Jackson | Founder Pat’s Poutine

There were so many thoughts that crossed my mind when starting Pat’s Poutine. Initially I was solely motivated to introduce the American public to the Canadian poutine. I first tasted the dish in 2011, while visiting family and friends in Ottawa, Canada. I fell in love! Not only was this delicious “…Tasty Mess”, but I witnessed how integral it was to every aspect of the Canadian food scene, from private to public. Poutine is a culinary, albeit whimsical, staple served at festivals and sporting events, restaurants, pubs, clubs, bars, and family functions. My taste buds were triggered and his entrepreneurial eye was opened and I began to formulate plans to recreate this yummy and unique Canadian classic and serve it here in the US! In my home “test kitchen”, I got to work formulating my own version of this classic dish. Read more>>

Ashley Smith | Founder and Director of M Perfectly Non-Profit

Having spent 10 years in medical device sales and 3 years coaching c-suite executives from LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and more with global communications company, Own the Room, my passion for communications only increased. My awareness for voices heard & unheard also become keen & my heart extended to women who conformed to societal expectations which have crippled their ability to strive for excellence over perfection. Feeling inferior, unworthy or not good enough are common emotions most all women have experienced at one point in their life. Read more>>

Harrison Caldeira | Music Producer

At the beginning of 2020, I traveled back to Toronto, Canada, from Seoul, South Korea. After spending the year teaching and producing music in another country, I realized that I wanted to work full-time in the music industry. I thought working at a music studio would be the gateway to making a career in music: an idea planted in my head ever since I started producing music. So I searched job postings, internships and went to networking events for months, meeting people and learning as much as I could about working in the industry. Looming in the background, I knew for sure that I wanted to produce for other artists. Read more>>

Shareace Dillon | Digital Artist and Painter

When I began my business it was for the full time continuation of a passion that I’ve had since childhood. I’ve only recently began focusing full time within the last year of 2021, however I’ve always created in one way or another within different mediums throughout my life. I knew that I wanted to expand my creativity by channeling my emotions, experiences and personal beliefs based off the chapters in my life and lessons learned. My artwork is a showcase of these things and the collection of my wisdom from self reflection and my spiritual journey. Read more>>

Dwayne Ellis Jr | Brand designer & basketball coach

Personally my 1st jobs were a passion of mine but didn’t pay well. I wanted to create a business that I loved doing & was profitable at the same time. Read more>>

Kimberly Dabney | Salon Educator, Hair, Fashion and Life Stylist

Entrepreneurship was a journey I believed I was born and destined to take. I decided to take the plunge and stepped out faith to become my own boss as the thought of working for others didn’t suit me well. It wasn’t that I couldn’t work well with others I desired to fulfill my God given purpose and sincerely wanted to make a meaningful impact in the lives of other people while manifesting my dreams. The driving force behind me starting my own business sparked out of my desire to to control my schedule and income earning potential There was a fire burning inside of me to be the master of my own destiny. Read more>>

Cynthia Decker | Co owner and designer of LiviRae lingerie

We started LiviRae Lingerie in 2006 to help all women. It is named after my daughter Rainey and mollys daughter Olivia. We saw a need for all sizes and body types to be helped. We also wanted to be able to help mastectomy patients. I have been in this business since I was 18. It has been my passion as well as my career. LiviRae was never given a loan so molly Hopkins and I started this business on my personal credit, after being denied loans from several banks. As two women opening a small business, we thought we would be able to get help, but it was not easy. Read more>>

Ashley Chappell-Rice | Photographer

I wanted to do something I enjoyed. My photography business started really by me showing myself on IG story learning and doing photography. From there I started to book clients. I didn’t have a name, business cards, or a real price list. Yet the clients continued to come. As time went on. I began to work on small task for my business as needed. When I felt I was under pricing myself. I sat down and made a price list. When I knew a big client would tag me I created a name. As I grew I made a website. So for me my thought process was I’m following my passion and from there a business was created. Read more>>

Adrienne Mays | Store Owner

My whole reason why I started a business is my son. My son is on the autism spectrum. I was working for an insurance company and I never got to see my son. It was hard getting appointments for him that would work around my work schedule and it was hard scheduling time off. Something had to give. Being a single parent is hard but being a single parent with a child on the spectrum is super tough. One day I was sitting in an office with a parent of a teen young man that is on the spectrum and she was talking about how her son wants a part time job so bad but no one would hire him. Read more>>

Martell Beall | Photographer & Cinematographer

How can I create work to not only influence those around me to tap in they individuality, but how can I help inspire those in my position creatively to be more innovative. Read more>>

Tashamonique Puckey | Wedding & Boudoir Photographer

I was newly married to my husband for about 10 months when I quit my 6am-2pm job. The position I was in didn’t bring me joy. I was around at minimum 60-70 females all day long, sewing hotel curtains together. Funny thought, when vacation, I always check to the curtains to see if the facility made them. Anyways. I was sick and tired of making a company millions of dollars and having nothing to show for it in return. I originally wanted to be a stay at home mom but quickly put the flame out on that idea. My husband Corey made the suggestion that I put up my camera and put it to good use. Read more>>

Niesha White | UX Designer & Community Builder

Deciding to become a full-time entrepreneur was not an easy decision for me. It took me reaching full burnout before I realized that the stress that I was feeling was optional and that I could take control of my career. I realized that there’s so much more to life than a job and that I had the freedom to explore the things that make me genuinely excited. After writing out the pros and cons of staying in a place where I was unhappy, I knew what I had to do. The writing was right in front of me. It was time for me to let go of what no longer served me and allow myself to bloom creatively. So I took the leap into entrepreneurship! Read more>>

Jamillah Miller | Herbalist & Reiki 2 practitioner

I wanted to help educate my community on natural medicine and how it helped me. Our world is changing and while we are living in a time where things have evolved one thing that has remained is what nature has to provide. The more we move forward the more we revert back to things that were a way of life. Our goal is help facilitate and guide those to the healer within. Read more>>

Candice Douglas | Owner BKTUMI

During the pandemic I was riddled with anxiety and looking for something that would allow me to channel my energy and tap into a creative outlet. As a waistbead wearer for some time, I wanted to get a new strand to symbolize the work I was doing on my personal healing journey. But due to COVID I wasn’t able to get them from my usual source so I decided to make my own strand. I made one and it sparked that creative bug. I started to create even more and posted my work on social media. I made some for friends and a few people reached out to inquire about purchasing. So I decided why not turn this into a way to make the joy of waistbeads available for more women like myself? Read more>>

Red Hits | RedHits entrepreneur, songwriter and poet

11Eleven Spiritual is a brand that I created to spread positivity and enlightenment. I have found that so many of us dwell in the negative. I know because I was one of them. There were many times in my life and in my journey where I felt hopeless and stuck in a cycle of repeating the past and negative self talk. It was in these times that I began to work harder than ever and embark on a spiritual journey to build myself to live up to my greatest potential, but many times I fell falling back into old patterns and not taking heed to the divine guidance I was receiving. Read more>>

Marilyn Martinez | Owner & Creator

My thought process was why work 40 hours a week for someone when I can do that for myself. Read more>>

Ericka Smith | Personal Organizer

I had always wanted my own business but I knew I didn’t want to sell anything like other people and I knew I wasn’t in the beauty world like most females that could do hair, lashes, nails or sell clothes. I wanted to do something in my own lane. I had to constantly think about what I was good at without even knowing it was my organization skills. My room and closet would always be a certain way and I would always know if something was missing my how I kept it. Read more>>

Arianna Baker | Child Boutique Owner

Gloss Babes is a business based out of Grand Rapids Michigan, by a mother Arianna Baker setting her daughters up for success. Co owners Avah & Arabella, started at the ages of two & five year old entrepreneurs. We started off just selling vegan homemade kid luxury lip gloss & added clothes & accessories to our inventory. Our goal is to offer fashionable products to all of our young customers at affordable prices. Read more>>

Normadelle whittle | Artisan & Art Educator

The thought process was initiated through conversations with my daughter Kristy who was living in Chile at that time. We both wanted to create a business together that focused on healthier, cleaner choices for better skincare as well as, a business that allowed us to use our hands and creativity to formulate our products and design our packaging! She wanted to focus on different types of body scrubs and I wanted to focus on soaps and body butters, the main ingredients being as natural as possible, organic and plant based. Sea Island All Natural Skincare was born out of our collaborative exchange of creative ideas! Read more>>

Elisa Fontanillas | Freelance Photographer

I started by taking headshots and capturing the productions of my High Schools drama club in my junior year of high school. At the time, I didn’t think too much of the work that I was doing other than that I loved holding a camera and bringing an artistic lens to a technical art. Soon enough, this pastime snowballed into more work, practice, and consistency. I started to think about how this pathway could potentially turn into a viable business that people would take part of, and I then officially launched Festiva Studios in 2019, the summer before my senior year. Although I grew slowly at first, since starting my degree at the University of Georgia in Athens, I’ve had the opportunity to delve more into senior and grad photos, event photography, and creative photography. Read more>>

Phillip Dias | Creative Director

When I started photography initially I had no intention of starting a business. I would take pictures and post them on Instagram. Over time, I had people ask me if I did events or intimate photo sessions. I started with doing a maternity shoot, and that was my first paid gig. Then the same client asked if I did events, soon after I did a baby shower. This all happened within 2 months’ time. I was on youtube learning how to be more efficient with my workflow, especially since it was just me. Within the year I contacted my business friend, and he helped me price my work. I started doing portrait sessions and weddings. In regards to my thought process, I wanted to create iconic images for my clients. I treated each client as if they were an A-list celebrity. Read more>>

Faith Desiree | Serial Entrepreneur

When I decided to dive into entrepreneurship it was because I wanted the freedom and flexibility to build my own empire rather than someone else’s. When I realized I was worth much more that an hourly wage, I decided to come up with an exit plan. I took business operating gems from the morning huddles and weekly meetings and applied to my own business. Now here I am, alongside my business partner, preparing for the Grand Opening of a luxurious full service beauty bar in West Midtown Atlanta! Read more>>

Selena Figueroa | Communications Officer & Make-Up Artist

I got into makeup back in 2009/2010 when I became a freshman in high school. I used to do my own makeup almost every day just for school. I felt really good about it, because I taught my own self how to do it. I gradually started doing makeup on others starting my senior year of high school. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I just wanted others to look good, so they can feel good! As the years go by, I’m practicing on myself and others, I was improving, building up my makeup supply, and more & more people wanted me to do their makeup. By 2021, I decided to make it official. I am a mother of a beautiful son, and I am a full time 911 dispatcher. I started my business because not only was it something that I enjoyed doing, it was also another way to earn income. Read more>>

Brittany Howard | Mobile Bartender

I originally started my business at first it was a Hustle but I then gained a lot of knowledge by creating a way for me to make extra revenue doing what I love which is being a chemist. bartending is nothing but chemistry and I always loved chemistry in high school creating new things to make something better improve it or creating something new that nobody has ever seen before Read more>>

Kesha Oates | Mortgage Broker

The financial gap and imbalance of household salaries between the wealthy and less fortunate was the motivating factor behind me starting my own business. I learned early on that there was misinformation or a lack of information for people that wanted to break generational curses attributed to their upbringing and/or environment. Real estate has always been a means to build wealth as well as the knowledge of proper credit utilization. Being a Mortgage Broker provides a platform that allows me to educate the masses and reach communities beyond my immediate circle. Read more>>

Chelsea Guevara | Entrepreneur // Cookie Dealer

My thought process, was survival. I was in the process of finding myself , becoming a better person, overcoming alcohol and drug addiction and being a young single mom. I struggled for most of my teenage years and into my early twenties, really struggled. Rarely had a job for any extended amount of time, no car, no savings, no bank account, couldn’t pay for my own phone bill, didn’t graduate , and had a baby alone in the world. About 2 years into this new me I was attempting to create, I found the art of cookie decorating. It just fell into my lap, like here I am this secret skill you’ve had all this time and never even knew. I was amazed at how quickly I I learned and I was good at it too. I thought wow, im actually getting some great feedback from people and I wasn’t even taking it seriously yet. Read more>>

Shawna Beckmann | Sales Coach and Mom of 6

While I finished up my last semester of college, ready to graduate a year early and get to work, I noticed this strange bloating on one side of my stomach. Thinking it was something that could be resolved quickly with a nurse call over the phone, within a week I was having major surgery for a form of ovarian cancer. My doctors immediately removed my right ovary where a grapefruit sized tumor was growing and portion of my left, with a second tumor. After being wheeled out of surgery and upon waking up, the doctor said, “if you want to have children, you need to have them right away.” I did want to have children, my high school sweetheart and I wanted to have a big family. Read more>>

Mona Patterson | Certified Advanced Nail Technician/ Master Pedicurist

I saw a need for a under-served population. Prior to opening my own nail care facility, I worked for your average run-of-the-mill nail salon. day in and day out all I ever heard was pick your color that was the only concern of the owners and employees. I also saw the blatant mistreatment of those who had certain foot conditions as well as the uncleanliness. What was sad to me was that many people felt as though they had no other alternative but to visit these types of establishments. I wanted a place that would be welcoming to all Read more>>