We asked some of the city’s rising stars to reflect on what made a difference in their journey. We asked them to tell us about what they think the most important factor has been behind their success.

Anthony Ferrell | Visual Creative

Nowadays, anyone and everyone can take decent pictures. So I often question why still clients preferred to work with me when there are many options to choose from. I found out that it all boiled down to the experience. I realized that everyone could pick up a camera, but few could create a connection with their subject in front of the camera. Portraits shouldn’t just be about creating “perfection” in a picture; I like to focus on the emotions of an image. The success behind my brand comes from being able to create a comfortable environment, allowing anyone I work with to be captured in their genuine expressions. Read more>>

Ratino Sherrod | Wardrobe Stylist

The most important factor behind my success/brand is to make others feel happy and good about them selves and working with me! I’ve always felt the best when I have a nice outfit on, so I put that to use and decided to become a wardrobe stylist so others could experience that feel good feeling! Read more>>

Samjah Iman | Writer & Fashion Content Creator

I attribute the success of my brand to authenticity. Regardless of what society says, what is popular, and what everyone else is doing – I stay true to who I am. My brand succeeds because it is totally me, and if there is one thing I am good at doing, it is being myself. I have to be able to look myself in the mirror at the end of the day, and if I am faking the funk – that won’t sit right with my spirit, and being authentic feeds my spirit. I’m able to keep my brand afloat because my spirit is being fed. I’m able to weed out opportunities that don’t fit my mission quickly because I’m aligned with my authenticity and spirit. Being true to myself and my brand isn’t always easy, especially in a world that glorifies capitalism over truth, but it is essential for my soul and for the young girls who are coming up after me. Read more>>

Ebony Hayes | Creative Director/ Photographer and Brand Owner of E.B Visualz

The most important factor behind my success is consistency I would say. If you are consistent in something that you value, you will have a greater return. By continuing anything for a long period of time, you will always flourish. E.B Visualz is a creative brand I started just last summer and since I started I haven’t stop expanding my knowledge on my craft as well perfecting my natural eye for photography. When you ask the most important factor behind my brand, I believe that would be me. If you start anything as an entrepreneur, YOU determine whether or not your business will achieve or fail. The more work and dedication you put in during the beginning, the greater the return will be at the end! Read more>>

Mark Baggett | Owner of Markster Con Productions & Events

One of the most important factors behind Markster Con’s success if offering safe and well-organized events for cosplayers to express themselves while socializing. Cosplay has become a huge part of many people’s lives over the past several years, including my own, and Atlanta is a true cosplay mecca. When I first started Markster Con in 2012 there weren’t that many reputable events that focused on cosplayers. That ended up being a driving force as well as a foundation for all of Markster Con events moving forward, even more so when I started incorporating talented photographers at the events that could work directly with cosplayers in attendance. Another important factor behind the success of Markster Con and it’s unique geek-themed events is always delivering what is promised to attendees and not overlooking the small details. For those who take the time out of their lives to attend a Markster Con event it’s important that they are given a unique and worthwhile experience that leaves them wanting to return again in the future. Read more>>

James Clerveau | Co-Founder. Tosin Aguebor- CEO,Founder

When starting a business it is imperative to differentiate yourself, which is exactly the approach Tosin and James wanted to take. As former athletes, they both understood the correlation between mental and physical health. With the benefits of CBD, they wanted to create a brand that helped people mentally and physically; which is where ANIMA came into play. The word anima is from Latin origin, which means mind and soul. If their CBD products can help an individual live an active lifestyle, they will also be enhancing their mental health. Another point of importance was to eliminate any negative stigma about CBD from uninformed individuals. Many people automatically associate CBD with THC and it’s psychoactive effects. By selling THC-free CBD in topical form, ANIMA feels they will be able to connect with a broader range of people who might have been skeptical to try it. “We want to educate individuals about CBD because we believe it can enhance the lives of a wide variety of people with its plethora of natural benefits”, Tosin Aguebor. Read more>>

Cara Thurman | CMT, Business Owner

Our success comes from hard work and truly caring for our clients and our employees. I believe in adding kindness to the world and meeting people where they are. People are doing the best they can and when they show up to a Wellness Center many of them are looking for help to feel better in their bodies and minds. We genuinely want to help people and are grateful for each client including the hospitals that contract with us throughout the metro Atlanta area. We are grateful that they are willing to take a chance on a small locally owned business and we go above and beyond to make sure they know they came to the right place. Read more>>

Lorraine Lai | Mixed media artist & Paramedic

I believe the most important factor behind my success as an artist is to not limit myself or box myself in to a specific media. I enjoy exploring different mediums and I think that keeps my ideas and work fresh, it is also a great way to overcome the “dreaded artist’s block”. Not only do I use various mediums, but I also dabble in other creative outlets and incorporate them in to my art as well; namely, writing and photography. Read more>>

Janna M. Hall | Brand-Obsessed Digital Marketing Strategist; CEO, Leap Innovative Group

Without a doubt, my relationships are one of the largest drivers of the success I’ve had in business. In the five years I’ve owned my marketing and branding agency, nearly 100% of my business has come from referrals, word of mouth, and current/past clients. Many entrepreneurs feel like being a great salesman is all you need to increase your customer or client base, and while you DO need to understand sales, we can’t discount human connection and reputation. I’ve taken the time to carefully nurture my relationships. Sometimes, that looks like staying connected online and engaging with them in more casual ways like social media. Other times, it looks like collaborating with other entrepreneurs or referring my network to them where possible. I make sure I’m intentional about seeing the good in others, cheering them on earnestly, and supporting them in meaningful ways. As a result, I’ve received that same energy in return. Read more>>

Jordan Campbell | Co-Founder

The most important factor behind our success is belief. Belief is a tool that we use to create, collaborate and lead. Alt Space Chicago originated with the belief that we could be a faith based artists driven NPO. With this uncommon merger we looked to our talents and faith in God to reclaim the narrative of Chicago. Through this merger we have created original functional art installations such as alt_Market and alt_[b.in]. Our projects are a testament to the relationships we have developed with our neighbors and enterprises. We believe that that each partner is special and necessary to our overall success; and that is nurtured with transparency and integrity. Read more>>

Shannon & Shirley Austin | Relationship Influencers & Mindset Coaches

At Marriage Inc. we have an acronym that we stand by and its, H.O.T which stands for “Honest Open & Transparent”. God has shown us over the years after working with countless couples that their freedom, healing and growth stemmed not from the book knowledge we possessed but exponentially more from the experiences we’ve expressed with courage and honesty. When we committed to the process of changing lives we made an agreement that our challenges, experiences and years of living in hell were not going to be in vain but the building blocks by which we present ourselves to the world and our brand. Over the years we’ve been able to connect our success to our commitment to being H.O.T by the conversations clients would have with those they would refer to us. Most couples said they were sold when they heard how honest we were about our brokenness and the baggage we brought into our marriage and how that affected us for many year as well as our hardcore no nonsense yet compassionate approach. Read more>>

Brett Newton | CEO LA REELS & Weekly Audition

The belief in the product, consistency, and hard work. Read more>>

Alieshia Nunnally | Millennial Podcaster & Travel Blogger

The most important factor behind the success of my brand is representation, for a while I feel like a lot of my identities were not being seen or heard from in the media ( black, millennial, women) and I wanted to create my own narrative for us so thats why I created my podcast Millennial Thoughts and my travel blog AlieshiasAdventures. With these two brands I am showcasing and showing up being able to speak and share my experiences and also help other millennials, and black women aspire to share their voices as well. Read more>>

Doctor Amber | Student Success Coach

The most important factor to my success is by far my Faith in God. I have lots of success tips, tricks and advice that I’ve taken over the years, but nothing compares to my Faith. It is so important because it has kept me grounded, and it kept my pushing when times were hard. It is my major inspiration to touch so many people, and the reason why I am where I am today. My success is based on the standard I set for myself that represents who I am and who lives in me. Read more>>


The most important factor behind my success is actually three important factors that all businesses would want and should have. Factor number one is to provide excellent customer service. There are so many businesses out here now that carries the same product, it’s such a competitive field that you must provide the best service otherwise people can and will shop somewhere else easily. Factor two is to provide the best quality of product. If your quality of product is poor then expect your business to be poor as well. Factor number three, is to always remain humble! Being and remaining humble will open doors as well as place you in rooms filled with success. Read more>>

Melissa Gibson | family and senior photographer

The most important factor behind my business brand/success would be that I’m 100% relatable, my personality is laidback and fun and I have a super quick turn around time on product delivery and communications. Within my client base (and when they describe or suggest me to friends), they think of me as fun and colorful. My style isn’t trendy and I don’t chase after the next “cool” idea or edit. Instead, clients view their images as classic; never going out of style. Something their grandmother would like, but also a big hit with their high school senior. What makes me unique/successful around here is that I’m funny and can relate to little bitty kids and also seniors (because I have both). Not only can I photograph them really well and can capture their personalities, but I can RELATE to them. It doesn’t take me any time at all to jump in and pull out some silliness to get kids on “my team”. Read more>>

Khaila Cofer | Owner + Principal Designer of Framed Interiors

Accessibility is the single most important factor behind the success of Framed Interiors (FI). I believe that Interior Design is one of the most intimate forms of art and science; it is a livable form of expression that everyone should experience. Often times I find my peers, especially, feeling as though they do not have access to resources and individuals that can help cultivate their vision for their spaces. The primary goal of FI is to ensure that everyone has the ability to refine their homes, no matter how large or small the project is. We are proud to say we do just that while being easily within reach. Read more>>

Jeremy Love (DJ LovesKey) | DJ & Co-Founder of allLOVEall, LLC clothing brand

The most important factor in my success is being a good human being. When you treat your customers/clients with the same care and respect as you would like, the success and money will follow. It’s all about priorities. Everybody wants to make money when they start a brand, but make sure you address the human element first, and success will be waiting for you. Read more>>

Juanita Montgomery | Visual Artist, Poet, Muralist, Curator, Art Director, Model, Author, Designer Graphic/ Fashion

The most important factor behind my brand is PURPOSE. I think when we as people garner the the perspective of what our purpose is, then we become more effective in what we are called to do. Artist start creating on a different frequency, writers create with truth, we start using our art as roads of redemption and bridges. Why? Because with purpose comes VISION. When we have vision, no distractions, no mountains, and no strongholds can lock us in rooms that are not meant for us. Though the obstacles have a way of knocking us off our pivot for a bit, it does not hold the power to trap us in those corners. Purpose is the zoomed out, overhead view of our initial end goals. It’s the part of the map they tells us that though we see all the traffic and obstacles that are in front of us that our purpose is ultimately greater than us, and our only job is to reach the end, whatever that may look like. Read more>>