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.

Kym Day | Oil Painter

When I began my art career, I thought that galleries and museums would have a large role in it. My undergraduate education seemed to ignore the entire concept of selling, and focused on other, sporadic sources of funding like grants and residency stipends. It gives the illusion that artists are adequately paid for their work and research, but the application processes for these kinds of funding is time consuming and unrealistic for long term sustainment. When my entire schedule of shows and festivals for 2020 was canceled, it was clear I needed to be able to reach an audience online. It was also very clear that galleries were not going to help me sell my work this year, but it made me realize that they weren’t helping me do that to begin with. In 2020, I invested in a website that would enable a fine art print partner to fulfill and ship prints of my work directly to my customer for me. My artwork is also way more accessible financially to my customers now. I think art school largely fails to prepare artists to run their own careers. Read more>>

Reginald Ford | Creative Marketing Professional + Brand Director

I became extremely passionate about creative design and branding. I decided to launch my business in January of 2015. This year, I celebrate six years. When I first launched, I didn’t have a website, a formal email, or an invoicing system just yet – I simply wanted to create. After a year or two, I developed a website, created an organized workflow and system, and created social media pages to help begin showcasing my artwork. My business has continued to grow in various phases. RF Design Studio initially started with only graphic design. We now offer web design, event management, and social media management. If you would have told me in the 10th grade that I would one-day freelance and design for non-profits, colleges, churches, or even major artists — I would not have believed you. My journey so far is only the beginning, and there is so much more to come. Read more>>

Chau Arnold | Wig Maker & Supply Chain Analyst

I found my dream job! I made it to the third round of interviews. We even made it to salary discussion. I asked for 8-10% more, due to the shift and availability they needed. I wasn’t being ridiculous. I literally couldn’t afford childcare on the salary they were offering. I got the decline email seems like immediately. It was heartbreaking. So, I created my own company, Siberian Mink Prosthetics, doing essentially the same thing. Medical Supply Chain Management. I can now work around my children’s schedules, grow my business and skill set. Read more>>

Kemuel Browne | Brand Manager & Developer/Music Educator

Freedom to express myself and to walk in my purpose. It’s so easy to just go with the flow as society has it setup, that we can miss our calling all together. I saw a need and wanted to use my expertise to find and provide solutions. Read more>>

Wade Burnside | A&R-Manager

The reason I wanted to become an entrepreneur is because of the wanting to get paid by doing what I love. Being able to set your own hours, helping others, and creating something from nothing is amazing to me. Read more>

RushDee Williams | Founder of BeGenius Records/MGMNT, Multi Platinum – #1 Charting Music Producer & Songwriter, Creative Director

Starting my own business became a thought somewhere between me being an artist wanting to keep creative control of my process, and realizing I already made myself a business by navigating, executing, and securing placement agreements within the music/entertainment industry. Starting my clothing brand was a bit different. One of my branding techniques since I wasn’t releasing music was to hashtag “BeGenius”. With that alot of people appreciated the tips, and knowledge that would come before it. And wanting to sure support they began to ask for “BeGenius” shirts, BeGenius Clothing was born. Read more>>

Scott Mitchell | Owner, Travis Jean Emporium + The Bohemian Den

I wanted to offer a space where local artists and artisans could showcase their work and fill a large gap in retail in downtown Macon. When I began, there were mostly restaurants that lined our streets and people were wanting great places to shop before and after their meals. As downtown has grown, I have grown along with it adding to my selection of wares that now include gifts from around the globe in The Bohemian Den which opened in January of 2020. Read more>>

Dr. Monique McMiller | CEO and Founder, Author and Executive Producer

In starting Sigma Tau Sigma Sorority, Incorporated my thoughts were that women needed a “Safe Place” to be appreciated in Sisterhood without judgment and ridicule because they were choosing to live a “Christian lifestyle. My second, thought was of redefining the definition of Sisterhood based on true respect, well-being and love. Read more>>

Kelley Wright | Creative

I wanted something that would live beyond me, be bigger than me. Something I could give my daughters. Two Dough Girls was an idea to put a greener, more ingredient-conscious spin on baked goods. I wanted to inspire people to not only think about what they eat, but what goes into what they eat as well as take account of the other things they’re consuming. The love received from our first public event was confirmation that we should keep at it… so here we are. Read more>>

Tami Lewis | Founder & Creative

My business was born out of my desire to spread love, light, and compassion into the world. In recent years, it seems the world has been more divided than ever and I wanted to show people that we are more alike than we are different. I have always been someone who leads with a kind heart. I have also always been obsessed with great smells and the way a scent can uplift your spirit, awaken pleasant memories and take you to your happy place. I wanted to find a creative way to combine my love of scents and acts of kindness and compassion, and candles became my medium to do so. Read more>>

Satin Marche | Ra Sekhi Kemetic Reiki Practitioner, Specializing in Aritu Ascension or (Chakra Alignment)

My thought process behind starting my own business stemmed from a place of root chakra imbalances; being in survival mode, always feeling like I was lacking in the financial area. I always tell people I had the best of both worlds. I watched both of my parents hustle, but their testimonies are different. Mother’s hustle came with a bit of a struggle & it was like that for a long time. On the other hand, I watched my father hustle until he went to prison. I was introduced to a “hustler” mentality at an early age because “if you aren’t hustlin’, you’re strugglin’.” I was tired of struggling, but I also was not fulfilled working for other people. While experiencing a struggle with my mother, seeing my father go to prison & struggling more than my peers in highschool & college, I was determined to figure it out. I tapped into different realms of creativity. I began modeling in 10th grade, I started my YouTube channel in college, I began getting crafty with my hands so I eventually started a business called “Sew. Stylish. Sache”. At some point, I outgrew Sew. Stylish. Sache & I transitioned into creating Divine 9 organization apparel for Fraternities & Sororities, all while still modeling in college. Read more>>

Toya Imani | Founder/CEO

Once I decided that I was going to be an entrepreneur, it was quite easy to decide that makeup was the way for me to go. If you follow me on any social media, you know that I do everything, including workout, with my lipstick or gloss on. I wanted to tie that love of lipstick with inspiring women through beauty. A lippie can make you pop, but sometimes we need a little reminder that true beauty shines from within. That is where the idea for the affirmations with each order came from. Read more>>

Jeremy L. Coleman | Chiropractic Physician

When thinking of starting my own business, the thought process started when I was a young boy watching how my grandmother would conduct her own beauty salon and the business etiquette that she had when serving people. I’ve always wanted to be a business man I just didn’t know how I would get to achieve that goal. When I attended college I was a biology major with the intentions of heading to medical school to become a medical professional. During the periods of waiting to hear back from professional school me and a friend decided we would start mobile detailing service to serve people through washing cars, pressure washing business’, etc. This was the time I has actually started to learn more about acts of service, and how to communicate from a business standpoint. This was also a time in my life where we had to learn how to market ourselves to the public to get the type of business and support we wanted within the community. The times leading up to me starting my own healthcare facility prepared me to understand how serving the public works, how business etiquette works, and how to keep pushing forward despite transgressions. Read more>>

Brenley Fouse | Love & Sugar Bakery Owner

Four years ago, I received an invitation to travel on a study trip abroad to England and Ireland. I was fascinated by the literary focus and the opportunity to see the world! However, this trip came with a significant financial obligation. My mom and I had recently taken a cookie decorating class, and although I started baking cookies for fun, I quickly realized that it could be a lucrative fundraising option for my trip. I immediately began researching state and local laws and policies for bake sales. After working to obtain business licenses with my local city officials and the Georgia Department of Agriculture, I took a leap of faith and started Love & Sugar, my very own bakery! I began selling cookies, cheeses straws, cinnamon rolls, and other baked goods at our local farmers market and through my social media page. Our community was so supportive, and my trip was quickly funded. Since then, I have used my earnings to fund another study abroad trip, provide financial donations and baked good donations to local charities, and even pay my initial college expenses. Read more>>

Eric Smith | President of L.E.O.T.O & Musician

The motivating factor behind starting my business, LEOTO [Living Everyday On Their Own] was rooted in my desire to help individuals with visual disabilities to gain a level of independence. I understand how important this is since I am personally affected by vision loss. Over the years, I have been able to receive assistance that created a great level of independence and confidence. I feel that being an example in the blind community speaks louder than words. Read more>>

Kate Okenatez-Mahoney | Owner + Adventure Planner + Lead Photographer

I had already been in business, owning a more traditional photography business for families, events, weddings, etc before I branched out. I loved it and loved my clients, but admittedly, one day, a friend from way back in college called me, and my world changed… …He and his fiance were looking to get married in a rock climbing wedding on a cliff top in Washington state. Awesome, right?!? If you can believe it (ha!), they couldn’t find a photographer who was experienced with weddings and who was also a rock climber. He knew I was a climber, and learned through social media that I also photographed weddings, so they were hopeful I’d be willing do do something “crazy” and put the two together. I said “YES!” without hesitation. From that amazing long weekend, out doing the things I love with people who also valued the beauty, uniqueness, and joy of the outdoors and sport, I was hooked. I knew from that moment that I wanted to make the move to adventurous weddings and adventure elopements as my focus, and so made the shift in mid 2018. While adventure elopements still aren’t all that mainstream, even back then in 2018, I believed in the possibility of it… I knew that there were other couples like my friend who wanted something different, something more personal to their story. Read more>>

Meron Tadesse | Business and Tax Attorney

I have always been a risk taker so I just went for it. I knew another law school classmate that started his own firm and asked how he started. The Georgia Bar also has resources to start your own law practice so I utilized that as well. Essential I took advantage of all opportunities including joining the Lawyer’s for Equal Justice program. Read more>>

Ray Haddad | Intuitive Filmmaker & Storytelling Consultant

I started my business (This Is Good) 5 years ago because I was sick and tired of creating videos that caused more noise. People are generally sick and tired of being treated as consumers, and the agencies I used to work for didn’t really care about being authentic. So I started showing clients how they could truly connect with their audience. And now, I help organizations that do good visually interpret and mediate the ‘why’ between what needs to be said/heard, and what needs to be felt in the heart through story. Read more>>

Chuck Of Canvas 55.50 | Art Dealer, Art Advisor and Curator

Recognizing a void that sorely needed to be filled. As my passion and affinity for the arts grew, without reason I found myself exploring more of the logistical side of the art world. And almost immediately I noticed yet again, another industry that lacked diversity and inclusion. Yes; artwork produced by black artists is becoming more and more revered by the masses, however, when looking at who was and is representing these artists on the business side, it was rarely ever by a person of color. Using the lack of diversity in the arts as my driving force. As well, noticing an existing network of creative friends I had accumulated over the years and recognizing that my way of connecting with visual artists was a talent within its self, helped me realize that I could be a major contributor to the change that was coming to the art world. I felt my purpose was greater than just something monetary which fueled me, It gave me the mental strength needed to overlook my fears and gave me the determination to find my way into an industry that historically shown that is was not built for people who may look like me. Read more>>

Charles Thomas | Screenwriter, Producer, and Podcaster

Both my podcast Atlanta Film Chat and my production company Hooty Hoo Productions were products of jumping at opportunities. AFC began because I noticed nobody was covering the Atlanta and Georgia film scene which was (and still is) exploding. Hooty Hoo was a result of a guest on AFC saying there was money to be made in unscripted content versus scripted films or shows. I had no interest at the time in doing unscripted work, but the chance to get some shows made was too promising. So off we went, and now we have a comedy special out on Apple TV and Amazon Prime that went #1 on iTunes. Read more>>

Kia Eaton | Women’s Fashion Designer

I saw a need for custom clothing to fit unique figures. It took a lot of trial and error but making custom clothing for women that couldn’t find clothes that fit their body type made me happy as well as proud I was able to fill the void even if it was a small one. Read more>>

Michelle Van Leer | Artist

I’ve always been a creative person and I’ve been drawing for years, so the thought of turning my passion into a business seemed like the next step in my creative journey. Having the ability to send my work to people around the country and maybe brighten someone’s day when they receive colorful and unique art pieces seemed rewarding and exciting! Of course I had those “what if” thoughts in the back of my mind. “What if no one buys anything?” I got over those thoughts instead of letting them hold me back and I created my online shop. When I made my first few sales I knew this was definitely something I wanted to pursue. Read more>>

Mhorgan Stephens | I am The founder of Mission Accomplished, An Advocate and HBCU Intern for Be The Match and a FOREX Trader & Mentor

I believe that starting your own business is one of the best investments you can truly give yourself. First and foremost I think you should pray on anything you do and just ask God for his guidance and clarity to help lead the way. Starting your own business not only allows you to live out your passion but it also provides you with another opportunity to impact your community and the lives around you. Starting a business is definitely not easy but it will also provide you with a chance to make more streams of income. The average millionaire has at least 7 different streams of income. Starting a business will require dedication, consistency, perseverance, creativity and a open mind. Read more>>

Khas Dock | Thought Leader, Author, Solutionist

If I’m being honest, my business started it self. It wasn’t my goal or plan to do anything that I’m doing in business today. I looked up one day and realized I was doing all of these things that, although never sought after, felt like my passion and purpose; and then it became my business. Read more>>

Ashton Huffman | Makeup Artist

I knew from a young age that I had something different. I knew I could make people smile and feel appreciated and beautiful. When I graduated college, I knew something was missing. So I took something I knew nothing about, which was makeup, and took what I knew which was how to make people feel wanted, and started a business that exceeds my expectations and fills my cup more than I could have ever imagined. Read more>>

Taylor Ri’chard | Writer, Director, Producer

In the beginning when I was working on getting my production company up and running it was really about telling the stories I wanted to tell. But that thought process has evolved over the years. The reason I started Lincoln Motion Pictures is because I wanted to give other filmmakers the opportunity to have their stories told. Initially with my production company, 3rd Fathom we were just about making movies, and still are, but now with Lincoln we have an expanded reach to help others get their films seen by millions of homes across the world. Read more>>

Tonya Beach | Owner, Westside Modern

I’ve been self-employed my entire life and was looking for a career change. Previously, I worked as a graphic designer for many years and knew I wanted to do something different, but continue in the design field. Through my lifelong passion for modern furniture, art and antiques, the dream of a furniture showroom that would encapsulate so many qualities I love most about the design field was born. The fun lies in searching for the unusual, exploring the designers of the past and discovering their most sought-after pieces. It’s like a treasure hunt. I get real pleasure watching someone come into the shop for the first time. When they truly understand the inventory and walk through looking at all layers of what we have to offer. The thoughtfully paired art and rugs surround the remarkable vintage furniture and accessories. Mixing textiles from the early twentieth century with mid-century furniture and accessories from around the world creates a mood we hope will inspire. I know I’m extremely fortunate to love what I do. And I hope it shows in what I find along the way. Read more>>

Marcus Merritt | Owner of 3M Marketing and Acquisitions

I really wanted to be able to control my own destiny moving forward. In today’s world especially with the pandemic, having the option to make your own money on your own terms is so important. Read more>>

Tanaisha Feimster | Owner

I watched my mother open multiple salons growing up and loved the idea of starting my own business simply by watching her. She is one of the most creative people I know, and I have watched her turn shacks into some of the most beautiful places with minimal resources. She closed her last salon about ten years ago and went back into the workforce, which limited her creative capabilities. I kept pushing her to start her own business again as an artist because I saw greatness in her. I also reassured her that she would not be alone with this journey, as I am an adult now and can assist her in areas where she was not as proficient as I am, so things will balance out, and we will be successful. As a professional, I have always loved helping others and did whatever was necessary to maintain my household, but I always wanted to jump out there and start my own business as well. I started making lists of things I wanted to do, conducted the research necessary to solidify my business, and created “placeholders” for dates when I wanted to begin my journey. Read more>>

Stylist Bella J | Wardrobe Stylist and Personal Shopper

My thought process in starting my own business was that there are women out here who truly struggle with finding their own fashion sense and creating a signature look. However, I love fashion and could help others do embrace it so easily. People actually wanted to pay me for something I loved to do. That is when I decided to turn my passion into a business. Read more>>

FOXYSWINE | Artists, Cartoonists

We really wanted to create a project together. We have both grown up with a love of comic strips, and since we are both artists, creating a Sunday comic seemed like the perfect fit. Read more>>

Justin Coelho | Fine Artist and Illustrator

I really like the idea of being my own boss, so pursuing a career where I have that kind of freedom is what really got me interested in starting my own business to begin with. An art career is an interesting choice because it only puts out what you put into it, so eventually you have this structure that has been molded and customized by the artist’s flair and business saavy that sort of reflects their inner spirit. Finding new ways to express myself through a business is also a very important factor for me. I enjoy the freedom to learn new things and find markets where my ideas are best suited. On the technical side, my thought process has been motivated by the philosophy of having multiple streams of income. Ranging my services from digital prints, limited screen prints, garments, and commissions allows me to dip my toes into different revenue streams, and find my own way. But deep down, I really wanted to produce the same kind of art and content that I love to see out there in the world. It’s all the art I’ve seen that makes me thrilled to be alive. I like the idea of contributing back to the universe, all those artists who love to dare, as a way of saying thanks.” Read more>>

De’Antwan Smith | Marketing Manager, Social Media Advisor, Israelite, Friend To All

Honestly, I just want to help a lot of black entrepreneurs spread their businesses while letting the world know they are not alone. Our saying is (We support all-black excellence everywhere. rather you have a blue checkmark or not. You are a celebrity no matter what, And success starts when you wake up). Read more>>