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.

Et Alia | Theater Company Founded and Led By International Women

Et Alia came together because the founding members, Maria Müller, Ana Moioli, Giorgia Valenti and Isabella Uzcátegui felt the need to provide artistic opportunities for themselves. As international women, we oftentimes lack the chances American citizens have in the theater industry. Thus, through this theater company, we found a way to make ourselves seen and heard and to tell the stories we want to tell. Read more>>

Robert Pauley III | Owner & Head Designer

I started my business because I couldn’t find a coat I was looking for. I searched for about two years before someone suggested I try to make one myself. At first I was hesitant because I was still working in Corporate America and didn’t want to spend the energy to learn. After some thought, I took their advice and got my first coat made. I came out great so I decided to make another one. I started wearing my coats and people started stopping me on the street to ask where I got the coat from. Eventually, people started asking me to do the same for them. That’s when I realized, not only did I fulfill a need for myself, I could fulfill a need for others. I knew I had a good idea and wanted to see where I could take it so I quit my job and started my business. Read more>>

Renee Gutzwiller | Owner & Creator of Island Haus Co

I grew up around a lot of entrepreneurs in my family so it kind of was a no brainer for me. With my grandfather having his own lumber company with three locations back in the 60s-70s, my grandmother working for herself as a seamstress (she’s 83 and still sowing for her customers) and my father who has a thriving window and door business where he still works today! All of that on top of graduating from college in 2008 when the economy was at one of its’ lowest points really made me realize that what would make me happy is to be my own boss and create something that was all mine. So I went back to school- the Savannah College of Art and Design with the intention that I would gain all the knowledge I needed to start my own business. Fast forward to 2016 when I actually started my business as a side hustle and then taking it on fully in 2019!. Read more>>

Alamar | Music Artist, Merch Producer

Working for someone else was stressful and not very rewarding. I figured, if I can be dedicated to bringing another person’s dream to life and make them millions; surely I can reach those same goals for myself. If I was going to be stressed, at least it would be for my own cause and interests. Read more>>

Keyunna Baker | Clothing Boutique Owner / Entrepreneur

It was only a matter of time that I started my own business. I come from a long line of business owners/entrepreneurs and it was something that I have always wanted to do. I have an eye for fashion, putting pieces and looks together. I honestly never thought about starting my own clothing business until I was hired by a coworker to be her personal shopper. I did not realize how fulfilling and gratifying it was to help someone look and feel their best by helping them update their wardrobe until my co worker came to me the next day with her new outfit on . She was so excited about the compliments she received and I could tell her confidence had been boosted all because of what she was wearing. Additionally, volunteering as a Personal Stylist at Dress for Success and working in retail as a stylist , gave me the confidence I needed to start my own business. It feels good to be a trusted source. Read more>>

Shani N. | Beauty Business/Entrepreneur

As a young child my favorite words were “my own”. I’ve always been intrigued by hair products and hair styles. I would make frequent trips to the local beauty supply store in Omaha,NE and image owning my own store one day. When I moved to Atlanta I realized very fast that I wanted to start a handmade hair and beard business, but had no idea where to begin. I thought about all the skills my Granny Rachel had instilled in me as a child. I witnessed my Granny braid and press multiple peoples hair and also use specific hair products to achieve these looks. I was greatly influenced by her skills and work ethic. I knew then that my love for the hair industry and wanting to own my own business tied in together. I immediately began to research prices, turn around times, LLC cost etc. I then began to see what type of hair/beard products were in demand and how many people preferred that it be handmade. I knew it wouldn’t be a easy process,but I was willing to bet it all on my dream job. Read more>>

LaTeece Wing | Nutrition Coach & Personal Trainer

My thought process behind starting my own business is I wanted to truly be able to change lives. I feel that anyone can be a trainer but I wanted to be different. I didn’t want to be “just” a trainer or nutrition coach. I am truly passionate about helping others become the best version of themselves. I wanted to teach people to how live a lifestyle and get healthy from the inside out. I’ve been where my clients have been and I know the dedication, discipline, & commitment it takes to not only start your journey but to stay on it for years to come. My goal when starting “Wing 6 Fit, LLC “ was to have someone say that because of my guidance, they feel great about themselves and their life has changed for the better. Read more>>

Cornelius Washington | Artist & Owner

I wanted to make an Empire for artists by artists. Art empire focuses on art, and fashion at the moment but eventually it will focus on anything that has to do with the Arts like, art, fashion, dance, music, poetry, etc. it will eventually be a platform for anyone in the arts to show off their gifts and be compensated for their gifts. We are already planing some new events so stay tuned to see what happens next. Read more>>

Tatyana Fulton | Candle Guru

Being my own boss motivated me to start my business. Sounds cliché, right? But it’s so true! Turning something, I love into a profitable business has been so rewarding. When I first started Sweetwax Candle Co., I was nervous. I overthought everything but I did it anyways, scared and all. I had no plan; I just knew I wanted to make candles and sell them. A couple years in and my vision for my business has grown tremendously. Providing empowring candles to my customers have been the best idea yet! I am so grateful, that I stepped outside of my comfort zone because Sweetwax has truly been a blessing to me. Read more>>

LaMarcus Cleveland | CEO

The thought process was building a legacy that would last when I’m no longer here on earth. Within this, being able to help people whether it be emotionally, financially, or changing someone’s living situation played a big part in starting my own business. In My Own Skin, LLC is all about building people in any and every facet in life. Read more>>

Lauren Gall | Small Business Owner

The thought process behind starting my business was fairly simple in that I spoke to small business owners regularly in my job and they all had a need for this type of work. Two problems typically came up, they either didn’t have the money to hire someone in-house or they didn’t have enough hours to give someone full-time work. After realizing that, I thought there might be something there and we started VaVa. Soon after we started we realized how much of a need there really was and then the business quickly grew from there with dedication and hard work. Read more>>

Jasmine Suber | Lash Tech & Beauty Supplier

Being in the service industry, it requires you to look good at all times. I love hair and makeup and getting dolled up, so that was never an issue for me. Searching for beauty products was a long process and definitely put a dent in my pocket. I love keeping myself up! So I thought, could I find my own source and create a one stop shop to get all things beauty related? I was also in a position where I felt like I could no longer continue to work extra hard for another company and not obtain my own with the same work ethic. It was time to boss up. Read more>>

DJ Kamm | DJ & Journalist

I was nervous. I first knew I wanted to dj when I was 16 years old. My cousin was a dj and I would watch and listen to him and i was so intrigued by his skills that it made me want to start Djing as well. I started taking it seriously when I was around 22 years old and I was nervous, but I knew this was what I wanted to do. I knew That there were things I had to learn for myself all while learning from other DJs as well. I knew some family and friends wouldn’t take it seriously, but I did what I was passionate about. Read more>>

BeBall Jones | Basketball Skills and Performance Trainer

It was pretty simple for me, asi stated you see that my playing days within basketball were numbered, I knew that I wanted to stay within the game but didn’t know exactly how. I took time to research on what I career choices were available and training fit me the best personally. Then as I thought deeper about the “why”, I wanted to give the kids growing up around me a opportunity to go further than I could go. I didn’t have the help I wish I had or to have someone pour knowledge and wisdom on me so now I’m committing my life and business to being that person for younger players I get the opportunity to train. Read more>>

Nicholas Velasquez | Actor & Singer

In 2014 all I ever thought about was music. Music was and is still everything to me to this very day. It wasn’t until the Spring of 2016 where I took a trip to Long Beach California to visit my auntie and uncle where acting started to take a huge toll on me. My thought process towards starting my own business was very scary in the beginning but I think I am proud to say I have clearly grown throughout the four years of my career where I feel more comfortable in performing. Read more>>

Sukhman Kaur | Website Designer

If it were not for the Coronavirus pandemic, I probably would not have started my own business. It seemed like the entire country was in a state of limbo and we never really knew when things would go back to ‘normal’ – we still don’t! I was in my last semester of college when I was moved fully online because of the pandemic, so I was left with so much more time on my hands to do other things. At first I spent most of my time binge watching Netflix shows, applying for jobs and trying various viral Tiktok recipes… but then I decided to teach myself to become elite at Adobe softwares. I would spend HOURS editing photos and creating graphics, and I realized that THIS is what I wanted to do in life. I played around with the idea of starting my own website design company and did research on how to get started. Read more>>

Broderick Armbrister | Entrepreneur & Photographer

Mindfulness is something that I have recently learned and started practicing. This changed my life so much that it propelled me to work hard on the mindfulness journal/planner product launch. Both of my parents are entrepreneurially inclined. After learning through experience in life about the importance of self-care and self-discipline, I found myself finally ready to have my own business. The process itself was a little scary; the legal documents, the future worry about taxes, etc., had me a little nervous, but luckily I was into the business with some trusted companions. Read more>>

Whitney Butler | Public Relations & Marketing Specialist

My thought process behind WhitneyLauren PR & Marketing was to essentially push businesses to their next level. It’s like I have an eye and I see the potential in which that business can achieve. Naturally, I’m a giver. If I have it and you don’t, I will give you what I can!! After assisting a friend in undergrad with their business, I knew I could start a business that could help people. Then after researching media trends and how big of an arena social media and digital marketing was, I for sure knew that people could benefit from it! My main goal in working with clients, is making sure I take the stress off of the business owner. It is my job to handle the social media, emails, events or whatever they contacted me to do! I treat people like family and not a number. I can have 35 clients or one client, I’m going to treat them like a multimillion dollar company, because they have a service or product that is beneficial to their environment!. Read more>>

Catina Bryant | Designer and Owner of Dai Moda

When I decided to leave my 6 figure salary job and pursue being a Designer/Brand Owner full time, I was at the peek of my corporate career in the fashion business as the Director of Operations for Wish. Throughout my career, I was always the only person that looked like me at that level, so I had become numb to certain behaviors and being treated differently. But something transpired that prompt my breaking point. I made a lot of rich people even richer, and was rarely given credit for my contribution. I knew that I had the tools to have a successful brand, so I went to my car, said a prayer, and took a leap of faith. Read more>>

Mykerria Alston | Young Entrepreneur

During the shutdown, I watched a lot of YouTube. I saw many young people starting their own business and that inspired me to start my own business. Read more>>

Montana Lomnicki-Braun | Owner/Operator @ Hoolio & Goober – Woman’s Boutique

The thought process behind starting my own business (which actually started as a partnership with a really great girlfriend) was that I wanted to work for myself and create. I was able to create a business focused on woman’s fashion and accessories. This was a niche that was lacking in our small tourist town that is situated on the beautiful Lake of the Woods. I also wanted to give back in the community as much as possible. Each year (pre covid) I have hosted local fashion shows and been able to donate thousands of dollars to the local woman’s shelter as well as a local dog rescue, ” it’s a dogs life.” I was able to help design the look of our space and create a boutique that is fashion forward and welcoming. Read more>>

Joshua Muchison | Entrepreneur

Mainly, I wanted the freedom of working for myself. I wanted to do things the right way. Typically, the first thing entrepreneurs think about is money. I totally understand as I have thought about financial freedom as well. One thing I’ve noticed is that most people focus on the destination and not the journey. I decided to focus on the journey so it would get me to the destination. I wanted to be different. I focus on doing good business with clients so that my work would speak for itself. I wanted to stand out from the rest. These were the things I thought of when I was in the early stages of my business. Read more>>

TANISHA MACKIN | Author, Ghostwriter & Publisher

I started my business through a tragedy I endured when my husband was killed. I started off by writing about my story and how I continued to stand after everything I’ve been through. Once I started publishing my own books, I received numerous emails and calls from people asking if I could assist them with publishing their books. My thought process was, I could make a living by helping others share their stories. I also found passion in writing, so I combined the two and decided to ghostwrite and publish books for my clients. I turned my pain. Read more>>

Tabitha Elaine | Owner and Event/Culinary Coordinator

The vision for Eat La Vie LLC, is to become an umbrella company; to own and operate multiple businesses that are original concepts, give back to the communities in which they are placed, as well create lasting opportunities for the black community and the black dollar. My thought process behind starting my business, was creating a legacy for my son and providing opportunities my family. A brand they could be proud of and become apart of. I have a large family; my mom is number nine of ten children, and I have over forty cousins, first and second generation. Eat La Vie LLC, will be a legacy and my incredible family will be the building blocks of this, soon to be empire. Elaine’s, a creole cuisine brunch and tapas lounge, with live music and entertainment, will be Eat Le Vie’s first original concept business. If you are in the Atlanta are, be on the look out for Elaine’s, coming soon. Read more>>

Reisha Bullock | Owner of Les Bullock Candles

The thought process behind starting my own business was to create something with love, passion and integrity that I would enjoy and so would others. The journey of starting a business is full of excitement, nervousness, setbacks and so many other emotions that come with starting anything from scratch. I also wanted to start my own business to create generational wealth in my family. Candles are for sure a love that I have had for years in the making. I would drive across town for my favorite candle! I loved this particular scent by this particular brand and it was my go to candle for years. Well, I started to realize that my allergies would flare up when this candle was burning. So I begin the research of what was in the candle! Little did I know, I was driving across town for years buying and burning a candle that affected my health in a negative way. Read more>>

Kira Coats | Teacher and Quilter

I make some art quilts, but most of what I do concerns t-shirt quilts. The first ones I made were from my dad’s clothes for my grandmother, my other two sisters, and myself. I only had a little experience with quilting at the time, so I had to learn as I went. My dad’s death was unexpected, and I found a surprising amount of closure as I created memory quilts for my family. I started making them as a business for similar reasons – closure. For some, it’s the closure of a chapter of their life – high school or college graduation, for others it’s memories of events. But the ones I feel the most responsibility for are the memory quilts of loved ones lost. I recognize it’s a part of their healing, and I try very hard to do justice to their loved one’s memories and their relationship with that person. I try to get a feel for that person as I make the quilt and honor their legacy. Clothes are such a big part of who we are and how we remember people and events, so it’s nice to be able to use some of the biggest parts of our memories and give them new life as a quilt instead of letting them just sit in a bag in a closet forever. Read more>>

Calvin Jenkins | Director/Cinematographer

When I started Bus41 Films I had a vision to bring together creatives from all walks of life. My mission is to provide people a space to create stories that inspire, educate and give a temporary escape from reality. Starting my own business has allowed me to bring these projects to life and create opportunities for others without any boundaries. Read more>>

Kandy Parker  Health and Wellness Advisor

When I decided to create Detox Waters By KP the first thing I thought of was my late mother. I get my love and passion for people from her. She always was willing to help and make others better. My goal was to make product that could heal people from not just the inside but the outside as well. When people decide to lose weight or tackle any kind of weight loss goals they are often confused as where to start. That’s where I come in because I believe you have to be mentally , emotionally, and spiritually in tuned with yourself to start anything physical. When you gain self esteem, self love and self confidence that love and determination helps to achieve your goals. My detox waters are made with love to make my customers will loved and want the best out of a healthy lifestyle. Read more>>

Jasmine Young | Certified Public Accountant

I came from a home where my parents taught me by example that financial literacy is the key to living a financially healthy and free life. My parents worked hard, consistently strived to learn as much as they could about the things they didn’t know related to financial literacy, and held each other accountable for the household’s finances and their spending habits. As a result, it appeared to many of my classmates, some of which stated, that I was being “fed with a silver spoon.” However, I realized this perception only existed because many around me were experiencing a life of adversity and poverty, and it was their experience that birthed the perception that anyone who did not appear to be experiencing life as they were were, in fact, being “fed with a silver spoon.” Although initially infuriated by the perception, I chose to use it as my motivation to feed my community and all those I encounter with this same silver spoon – the silver spoon of hard work, education, and accountability that I was fed by my parents. Read more>>

Tari Kandemiri | Management Consultant & Beauty Tech Innovator

Having played field hockey and lacrosse throughout High School, in college, and recreationally, I started noticing dark spots and hyperpigmentation on my skin. I would go to different retailers and try to find the best products to address the issues I was facing, but found myself overwhelmed by the number of options on the shelf! Every product promised to help me and give me “the best skin ever,” but it was hard to know what exactly could work for me. I spent a lot of time reading reviews and watching YouTube videos, and what I realized was that this readily available product data, the information and reviews themselves, could be used to help shoppers quickly narrow down and identify the best products for their skin! I could use that data to answer my own question, “what is the best product to address hyperpigmentation for a 24 year old Black woman?. Read more>>

Sean Mills | Artist, Painter, Designer (He/Him)

What was your thought process behind starting your own business? I wanted to create something to address the needs me and my friends always faced. They say you should only become a Director if you can’t help it. Likewise, I keep feeling like SOMEONE should be doing what I am trying to do. To say it simply, I want to provide more chances for artwork in Atlanta. Those chances include showing artwork, sharing artwork with your community, and eliminating as many barriers as possible. The barriers of cost, access, and labor shouldn’t hold us back the way they usually do. Read more>>

Kayla Brown | Business Consultant

When starting my own business my thought process was my child. I always had to remember my why. I always had a CEO mentality because my father is a serial entrepreneur. I ventured from business to business for a few years to help me make extra money for my child and his education and I also helped people start and grow businesses. I soon realized that was my lane. I was good at helping people build solid business foundations and helping them grow. I had a natural talent of doing this and I didn’t realize it until I saw all the people who I had helped were now making money. I never charged anyone at this time for my services. I was simply offering them help and tips because I always saw the vision. Therefore, I went on to get my masters in Business Management to learn all the ins and outs about business that I hadn’t already done through my own research. I figured, if I’m helping all of these people around me grow for free, why not get paid for it? The concept for Shelicit started before it was born. Read more>>

Ashlan Riess | Fashion Blogger & Personal Stylist

When I decided to start my own blog and styling business I knew #1 that I wanted to do it solely because I was passionate about fashion and sharing my love for styling. It really started off as a hobby and flourished into the business I would come to really thrive in and eventually leave the agency I was working at to continue to build the business. My goal was to work on slowly working towards certain milestones… build content, make connections, educate people on my brand, etc. From there it really all began to fall into place. Not all that being said, there were definitely struggles and still to this day there are and always will be with owning your own business. I knew that if I could stay consistent, stay passionate and work to build relationships with people I could one day have a platform and a company that would resonate and help others starting with self confidence in how they look and feel…a good outfit can be a powerful thing. Read more>>

Lola B. Morgan | Author & Therapeutics Arts/Life Coach

In 2009 I began on a journey to find out exactly who Lola B. Morgan was. The one thing I knew I could do well was write, and curating the art of storytelling. Writing became my therapeutic tactic due to childhood traumas I endured at a very young age. These tactics are principles that I’ve steadily used to activate my voice. 10+ years later I continue to encourage others to do the same while promoting the importance of mental health in our local communities. I’ve found out exactly who that loving, bold, and resilient young woman is- Author, Empowerment Speaker, and Therapeutic Arts/Life Coach! Today you can find me teaching children how to develop healthier coping mechanisms through the 5 E’s in order to navigate life effectively including Affirmations and Journaling. These very same sources helped me overcome sexual and physical abuse. Read more>>

Shannon Cade | Owner of Butter Luv LLC

I actually didn’t start out wanting to start a business. In 2012 the idea I had was to make something that would control my young son’s eczema and was safe to use on his skin every day. I found Shea butter was a great moisturizer while also being known to soothe and calm eczema. I experimented with mixing the shea butter with different oils and skin-safe fragrances. I shared it with a couple of friends who liked it and asked for more. That is when I decided to make that move and turn it into a business. Read more>>

Ana Kevelin Reyes | Author/Mindset Coach/Speaker

It started behind me feeling tired of having to trade in time for money. the thought of having to go to a place i really did not like to sit there for 8 plus hours at times and get miserable pay; it just got so tiring. I also started noticing that people who have good thriving businesses have more time to do more of the things they WANT to do. I Went to college for health care, Respiratory Therapy to be exact, I don’t like it. SO I decided to learn and study on my own about Personal Development and how that can be a business. After 8 years of learning, AwereadyDone Coaching & Consulting, LLC, is here. Read more>>

Maurice Thompson | Innovator and Creative

Both of my parents are entrepreneurs, so growing up I was always around different business endeavors. I saw how they were able to make a living doing the things that they loved and I knew that it was definitely something that I wanted to do for myself. The actual idea for Shameless Society was my second attempt at starting a clothing brand, but when my friend Damo pitched me the name and the meaning behind it I knew that this was something that we could run with. We wanted to create a brand and identity around it that welcomes everyone. I feel like in today’s society, people work so hard to put up these facades, we just want people to be their authentic selves. Read more>>

Ca’Landra Blockman | Licensed Professional Counselor

When I decided to start my counseling practice I immediately thought of my community. I wanted to be a positive, familiar face for mental health. My goal was to advocate for those who look like me and help them understand that healing is a journey they do not have to go through alone. Mental health is nothing to fear when you understand, so I wanted to help lead the charge of educating as many as I can. Read more>>

Tayler Burke | Make Up Artist & Entrepreneur

As a Make Up Artist I take pride in using quality products on my clients and even on myself. The thought process of starting my business is I am a walking billboard. My clients literally shop off of me (i.e. “What lipstick is that? What foundation do you buy? etc.). Even after I do my clients make up and they call/text asking what was a certain product I used and where did I buy it? One day I thought about it. I’m familiar with ingredients and formulas, I know what I like and what I don’t like, and what are the attention getters when I’m approached about my make up? That is how Tayler Andrea Cosmetics was created. Read more>>

LeRone “Roc” Gray | Fitness & Performance Coach

The intent was to strive to strengthen each individual’s daily habits to perform better in life to ultimately “Grow in Greatness!” I achieve this by coaching the individual, not the goal which takes a holistic approach of sacrificing who they are for who they desire to become. I see many people go above and beyond to achieve what they want in life and to me that is all based upon their mentality. As a former athlete I know this process all too well and wanted to apply it to my gifts of helping others. That is where the idea of Go Hard Performance Systems originated. Read more>>