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.

Shilonda Jackson | CEO & Founder

My thought process behind starting “Giving Myself Permission” was inspired by giving myself permission to forgive, heal and love myself from the inside and out. This meant taking inventory of everything that I had been suppressing mentally and emotionally for years. On this journey, I of discovered that I wanted to be FREE so took off the limitations to allow myself to face the pain, disappointments and failures, and trauma in order to heal broken areas of my life. Going through this process caused me to realize that other women and men maybe going through the same situation which led to creating a safe platform for others to share their testimonies. My mission is to empower others with the tools, resources, and motivational workshops needed to help him or her unlock their inner beauty. Read more>>

Stuart Mullins | Brand Builder

When I looked at the leadership development community and the majority of the content within the industry, I noticed something. The majority of the content is very helpful and worth listening to. I would have never thought that was the case by the way it was presented, because it did not match the quality of the content. I decided that the leadership community needs the same quality production wise consistent with the content and so that is the niche I have placed myself into. Read more>>

Marcellus Haynes | Software Consultant, Founder & Director

First and foremost, I like to help people. And in my community there has always been a need to help people learn and use technology. From my very first business removing viruses from PCs to my current business Technologists of Color; the impetus has always been to help people with technology. Second, I enjoy the ability to conceive and construct everything about a business, making important decisions and the satisfaction (or even euphoria) of getting paid directly for something you created or a service you provided. Read more>>

Kijana Davis | Licensed Life Insurance Agent

My thought process behind starting my own business was I wanted to be in control of my time, and how much money I could make. After moving to Atlanta in 2006, I was loyal to a job that was not loyal to me. I dedicated 5 years of my young adult life with a company that made it clear that they were ok leaving us in the positions we were in (no room for advancement). I applied and was denied countless other positions within the company, and we rarely got pay raises, no matter how great of work we were doing. Prior to that particular job, every other position I’d ever had was in management, so to look up years later and I wasn’t much further than when I started was a HUGE problem for me. Interesting enough, my husband was pretty much going through the same thing on his job. Both of our grandfathers were entrepreneurs so I guess it was in our blood to be business owners. Read more>>

Kendra Collier | Candle Therapist & Candle Enthusiast

I have always wanted to be a business owner. I can remember being 6 or 7 and my grandmother buying me a typewriter(way back then…lol) and setting up a desk and work area for me and letting me pretend to be running my own business in her den. My mother was also a successful daycare owner. Entrepreneurship has always been all around me and almost like it was inevitable. The idea was finally manifested in 2019 while on family vacation in Florida. I woke up one morning and I told my husband “I am going to be a business owner.” His first question was “Doing what?” At the time I had no idea but as soon as we got home I started doing research. I have always been told to go into business something that you already love. My love for psychology and mental health and my family’s love for candles is how Candle Therapy Company was born. Read more>>

Ryan Pernice | Restaurateur

I’ve always been drawn to restaurants for the energy of a bustling dining room on a Saturday night, with a million different pieces clicking together to create an experience for people to enjoy. I call it the “cockpit mentality” when you’ve orchestrated the machinery of the restaurant to work together seamlessly. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does there’s no better feeling. Read more>>

Aubri Ebony | Model Counselor, Model & Actress

Starting the Model Counselor happened because I realized there was a gap in the mental health field as it pertained to models. Models experience eating disorders, casting anxiety, negative self image, depression from not booking and so much more and I felt like it needed to be brought to light. Especially in an era where models are speaking up about their traumas with photographers, I’m happy to be the one to not only help heal through the use of my Master’s Degree but also relate as someone in the industry. Read more>>

Sadie Holland | Creator & Owner

Freedom. I’ve worked so many different jobs: crossing guard, coordinator, film & production, Sumer camp director, you name it I’ve dabbled in it. I’ve built projects and produced events I made a fresh new look for my church . All of these things were great but the greatest of all is freedom. Freedom to set my own pace and use my own mind to create. I also understand what it means to allow things to happen and what I feel is truth. The thing about God (whatever you call him, it universe, vortex, Allah, etc.) He gives us the answers and grace we have to follow behind what our gut or intuition tells us and act. When I went into film I was working a job crossing children across the street and directing traffic I remember working both and I got the job by being consistent with my emails and asking for work every week from my mentor/(play auntie) I even told her I would work for free. Read more>>

Ryan Purcell | Photographer & Director

I was asked by a friend to shoot his wedding and I was not exactly excited by the idea. He said that I was the most responsible person he knew that could get the job done. What do you do with a response like that? After I shot his wedding, I posted the photos online. A friend saw them and asked if I would shoot their wedding. The same thing happened again and after shooting a third friend’s wedding my wife says, “I think we should start shooting weddings”. So to answer your question, it was nothing we really set out to do. When the opportunity presented itself, we just ran with it. As someone that helps people develop their brands I can’t stress enough that you should listen to your audience and jump on opportunities when they arise. Read more>>

Keva Wegman | Photographer & Entrepreneur

At the moment I have to two start up businesses. Jewlu, a bath and body company, was created by my mother in 2008. I currently assist her with visuals, promotion and product development. Photography was a passtime that turned into a business unexpectedly. I was the “go to guy” for friends selfies when out and a photography trail at a friend’s event led to my start as a photographer. Both of these ventures I use to highlight my love for black people–particularly black women! In the years going forward we need positive representation of our people and our women need to be championed as they are the backbone of our community. Read more>>

Arthlene Legair-Lawrence | Celebrity Fashion Designer & TV Host

Well, I Honestly didn’t start out with a new business in mine, when the opportunity presented it self. I designed and created a dress for my daughter in 2008 for the annual father daughter dance at our church. When she went to the event, her dress was a hit, it captured our pastors attention. The following Sunday my pastor cane to me and said he was impressed with the dress I designed and made for me daughter. He said it was very well done and he told me that I had a gift and he think I should do something about. He became my business dream coach for a few months and in less than six months I had created my first collection and hosted my first fashion show, which was sold out. Read more>>

Randall D Fox | Founder, Development, Production & Marketing

When we started AFFPS, it was built around the premises of “by Artists for Artists – by the Community for the Community”, with that, we brought together a group of local and regional artists and community leaders to build an Arts foundation that could give back in many different ways. As a means to create an environment for the folks in the community to come together and gather to mingle and be with friends, families, colleagues, and neighbors alike, and for the Artists as a way to display, market, and interact within the surrounding communities and sophisticated art buyers. Read more>>

Myca Harrison | Professional Resume Writer & Career Empowerment Coach

When I graduated with my Bachelors Degree I quickly realized how much I enjoyed anything related to English & Business. Fast forward a few years later when I graduated with my Masters Degree, I knew I wanted to take things to another level and embody what my graduation cap said, “Wandering Free with a Masters Degree.” I decided to turn my hobby and expertise into a business to genuinely help people achieve developmental gains through guidance. Read more>>

Mz. Tara | Ambassador Model & CEO

My thought process behind starting my own business was that I’m not an individual that wants to work for anyone all of my life and they’re many things that strike my interest for business and the Primary one is building a brand for short people opening doors for more opportunities because we don’t get all of the same opportunities as a tall person. For example; we get told no for many things simply because we’re not tall enough. So I started Fun Size Models Magazine building a brand for shorter models. It’s been a challenge but that was to be expected nothing comes easy but it’s going to happen along with the right people in my corner that supports my image. Read more>>

Kimberley Matthews | Event Planner & Event Styling

My thought process behind starting my own business was being true to myself. I was committed to corporate America for years without a real plan of elevating to the role that would pay me my worth and make me happy. So when I started my business it was driven by my love for interior decorating and styling over the top events. I really enjoy doing things out of the normal, and I love to host and entertain guest. I am the definition of an extrovert so event planning and coordinating is right up my alley. Read more>>

Sharane Johnson | Founder

My daughter wanted to be an entrepreneur and to learn how to become a BOSS. My mother has always made lemonade for family events and my daughter loved it! Because of this, we decided that she would start making her own lemonade. She has always asked about starting her own business and trying to take making lemonade to the next level. One day, a friend of mine, had an event and asked us to sell lemonade and needless to say, it sold out. Next, we started to sell Kay-O-Pops, or her version of popsicles. My daughter continued to come up with ideas and our customers loved it. The next thing, my daughter wanted was to have her own store, so we did. From the hand-paint on the walls, to the hand-built lemonade and ice cream stand, it was everything my daughter wanted. Read more>>

J.R. Born | Musician & Entrepreneur

Creating my Brand BORNFREE all catered to me not letting my past dictate my future. I wanted this brand to give you the feeling of being born again in a sense, a clean slate. If it my music, clothing, or even my catering company in the works. I want the consumer to feel the feeling of freedom and possibility. Read more>>

Nedra Nicole | Luxury Nail Artist

Growing up, I’ve always been fascinated by the beauty industry. From working as a shampoo assistant as my first job at age 15, to studying cosmetology in high school. As a young girl, whenever I would get my nails done, I was always intrigued by the process. I’d watch and ask questions about different products and would want to know the purpose of each one as they were being used. Fast forward to the last few years, that interest resurfaced and grew. I found myself being inspired by the black nail techs whose businesses I was a patron of. Their creativity and passion truly inspired me. That’s when I made the decision to enroll into a state-approved nail technology program. I wanted to turn my curiosity into an actual skill. I started researching products, purchased supplies, and even took additional hands-on courses from licensed instructors and nail techs to become more proficient. Read more>>