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.

Steven VanDyke | Fight…Win…Survive

The most important factor behind my success and the success of my brand is having something that everyone can and at some point, in their lives will relate to. Life brings us to moments where we all have to Fight…Win…Survive, it’s truly inevitable. In the midst of presenting and building a brand one must also learn how to develop into being a brand in their own sense as well. When you hear the name Steven VanDyke you should think of Fight…Win…Survive, and when you hear the name Fight…Win…Survive you should think Steven VanDyke. The same comes in to play with our emergency app 911 Alert. When you hear any of those three names successful branding makes you think of all three. Here’s a perfect example, Bad Boy Records. Who is the name that comes to mind? Sean “Puffy or P. Diddy” Combs, right? When you think of the name of the individual what’s another thing that comes to mind? Sean John clothing or Cîroc Vodka?. Read more>>

Sarah Scott-Posey | Founder

If there is anything the last year taught us, it’s that we need to be flexible and ready to pivot our plans at any time. As a marketing agency owner, that fact couldn’t ring truer. My team and I have to be willing and ready to think on our feet at the drop of a hat. Read more>>

Maria Liatis | Education Director for Sketchworks Comedy

Sketchworks Comedy owes its success to the people who make up its community, aka The Cogs. I use the term community, because that is exactly what we are. Plus, we have a Community page on Facebook so it kinda makes it official. Since 2001, Sketchworks has produced award-winning sketch shows, filmed sketches, and classes for all ages. Our actors, writers, and coaches are industry professionals with years of experience, who are passionate about spreading laughs. In addition to their talents, our community is also made up of people who are supportive of each other; whether it be helping friends out on their own video sketches, proofreading a friend’s script, or helping get rid of rats in the old theatre (for real, I heard that happened), you can always count on SW Cogs to lend a hand. Read more>>

Busola Saka | Founder, Black Boy Thrive

As we know, success is relative. As a communicator, I firmly believe that a brand that has a defined target audience, and knows how to speak to and connect with that audience, is already successful. In launching Black Boy Thrive, I went through an exercise where I identified who my primary and secondary audiences are. This made it much easier to focus my efforts in the right place, and to determine where to spend my energy. Success is understanding that your message or brand is not for everyone, and defining your audience is key. Read more>>

Dewond Louis | Music artist , Photographer & Clothing Designer

The most important factor behind my success is trusting GOD and having a loving wife & children who love & support my art & creativity , They believe in me and they believe in THE BRAND. Read more>>

Destiny Williams | Theologian & Photographer/Creative Director

The most important factor behind my business is my relationship with God. Consistency, dedication, determination, and love are all key factors one should have while being an entrepreneur; however, for me, it has been the factor of faith that has brought me this far. At the beginning of Launching my business, I was consistent at marketing; however, nothing seemed to stick. It wasn’t until I took a pause one day and said, “God, I trust you to bring the clients.” Had I not implemented the faith factor amongst my consistency and love, I would have given up and gone differently. I genuinely believe that submitting gifts back to our Lord and Savior allows those gifts to transfigure into something we would never have imagined. I remember, in 2019, sitting in the cafeteria of my alma mater (Alabama State University) looking at a film crew work on a commercial just a few feet from where I happened to sit. Read more>>

Horse Wren | Actor & Director

I was raised by a God fearing family and that has kept me focused on remaining humble. Success of my brand is tied into always being creative and mindful of how I am a reflection of my upbringing. Read more>>

Byron Wiggins | Alabama Radio Co-Founder

Success- I had never thought about getting behind the microphone until my wife Janine told me one day I should try podcasting as a new hobby in late 2018. Initially, I was skeptical but agreed to try it along with the new microphone she had bought me. I downloaded recording software and then began to record everyday life situations and jokes with my dad Eddie and my cousin Tyrone in January of 2019. The episodes started off as a pastime for us to spend time but quickly became serious as I discovered that I was really good behind the microphone along with Tyrone. Dad would join every so often, but Tyrone and I became serious and spoke of success. Over the course of 2019, our episodes landed us on IHeartRadio along with a host of other platforms and we were actually seeking corporate sponsorship. Read more>>

Jordan Scales | Corporate Account Manager & Aviation Consultant

The most important factor behind my success is the sincerity I input into every aspect of my work. When I do something, it’s with passion which I believe is very visible. Positive energy is infectious. When you inject positivity into the workplace, you’ll notice the efficiencies – people work harder because they enjoy what they’re doing and who they’re working with. Anyone who’s ever heard me speak publicly knows that there’s a handful of subjects that I am extremely passionate about. Once you get me started talking about these topics, it’s pretty hard to get me to stop. Passion is what really drives my will to succeed. Read more>>

Mandisa Favors | Bakery Owner

Stay focused and stay consistent. Don’t allow fear to get in the way of trying. Read more>>

Ashley Lewis | Recent Law School Graduate & Mentor

The most important factor behind my success would be my family, mentors and sorority sisters. They have encouraged and motivated me every step of the way. The journey has been hard, but it has also been rewarding. I also think that hard work and sacrifice are other factors behind my success. It takes grit, hard work, and a lot of determination. Read more>>

Michael Jordan | Photographer

This most important factor was to keep going honestly. There have been many times i wanted to give up or getting in ruts. Photography has been life changing in so many ways,has helped me see the world around me in a totally different life. I’m always at peace whenever I’m shooting or being around photography in some manner. I’ve been blessed to come across other photographers (@mrbandcamp,@mdotbrown_, @lordoftheoutsiders,@versaphotos) they really helped me in a lot of ways when I first got started. Read more>>

Pamela Branch Sherman | Jewelry and Greeting Card Designer

The most important reason my business is successful is that I have faith. My strong faith has been the key to overcoming the obstacles that are inevitable when you are a business owner. Read more>>

Jessica Winnie | Retail Curator & Owner

The most important factor behind the success of MN Black Box is the relationships we have built with our partner vendors and our guests.¹ Read more>>

Aye RK | Hip-Hop & R&B Artist

Continuing to remain authentic in every aspect of the music that I make. I feel that creating a facade and fake lifestyle would morally take away from my music. People also tend to gravitate more to realistic music that they can relate to. Read more>>

Arsheana Rhodes | Hair stylist & Salon Owner

The most important factor behind the success of my brand is my passion and drive to hustle. I grew up learning from my grandma, who was a businesswoman and hustler by nature. She taught me how to endure and overcome many obstacles. Since the age of 14 I’ve strived to build my skills and character as a CEO which ultimately pushed me to effectively thrive in the hair industry. Read more>>

Lauren E Abes | Dentist

Pre Covid I would of said.. my smile and my teams smile but now Bc in my dental office, Dentique we are wearing masks all the time our actual smiles are covered up. But.. A smile shows confidence and happiness. Even before pandemic times. The most important factor behind my success is my beautiful, hard working office team. From the front to the back, they make my office and me a success. I couldn’t do it without them. Read more>>

Sonya Clay | Salon Owner/Hair Stylist

I believe that the most important factor behind my success is first and foremost my faith in God. I depend on Him as an entrepreneur to succeed. Success to me is being and doing what He wants me to do. My brand is based on my motto “One on One Care For Your Hair.” I believe in providing one on one care for my clients and I believe that because they receive this type of service that that keeps them coming back. Read more>>

Terrica Swanson | Business Owner Of Brainwashed LLC

My brand is called: BRAINWASHED LLC. The most important factor behind my brand is knowing thy self! The successfullness of BRAINWASHED LLC comes from the support of my brothers and sisters among me today! Without Them There Is No Success ! Because To Love You Is To Learn You, We should understand what we dress ourselves in from our skin care regimen to the brands that we wear daily . It’s all worn on us!
“We are all “BRAINWASHED ” by something with No PROOF until we get KNOWLEDGE! -Brainwashed; Its All In The Mind!. Read more>>

Ashley Crockett aka Slink | Influencer

The most important factor behind my success is never forgetting where I’ve started, how I’ve started, and where I’ve come from. Success isn’t just based on being the richest or having the most followers. Success comes from being able to start somewhere in life even if it was at a turning point, the darkest moment or even the saddest moment in life. Another important factor behind my success is being able to be transparent and honest within myself. Learn to know what I’m capable of and how to strategize any plan or goal that I have. You have to want better within yourself. You want to have the mentality of “I can do anything” and set no limits on what you can do. Read more>>

Adriano “Bubba” Almony | Award Winning Celebrity Bodyguard

The most important factor behind my success is God, my faith and prayer! They are everything and they belong with all the glory! God is love!. Read more>>