Starting and growing a business is hard, but often deciding to start the business in the first place is even harder. We asked some successful entrepreneurs from around the community to open up to us about how they thought about starting a business.

Lurlene Sims | Owner of JunJewels an Independent Paparazzi Consultant

I started my business during the Pandemic while working from home. The idea was to give me something to do with the extra time I had since no daily commute was required. It was also an outlet for me to be able to interact with people while being required not to visit with family and friends. I also wanted a way to for God to use my ministry outside of the four walls of the church since we were not able to attend church in person during the shut down period. Read more>>

Tammy Allison | Federal Executive Clemency Expert

I worked as the second black person at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Pardon Attorney. I realized that underrepresented groups were serving disproportionately longer prison sentences for similar offenses of their white counterparts. I also noticed they were less likely to receive clemency. After a stint a federal prosecutor and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, I knew that it was necessary to leave the public sector as I believed my talents could assist underrepresented groups in the private sector. Read more>>

Carla Culpepper | Metal Jewelry Artist

I am a creative/business minded split meaning I operate out of both sides of my brain which can be a joyful conflict! Most careers moves Ive taking on must have a creative component yet I love understanding how different businesses work and managing teams. Over time I have worn many hats and still do. From Image Consulting, a Certified Aromatherapist, Kitchen & Bath Designer, to owning a Business Coaching franchise. Some businesses did great…some ok! I have also work with companies while trying to keep my “side hustle” when I could. Read more>>

Tyler Harris | Clothing Designer & Brand Owner

With my Dad being a business owner, I’ve always looked up to him and other people who own businesses. I’ve always loved fashion growing up and I wanted to create something that could speak for the youth, as well as the people around me. My whole purpose around my brand is that I create, in order to inspire people to chase their dreams and find their purpose. Don’t let anything hold you back and go after what you want. Read more>>

Beth Compton | Owner and Lead Designer

Over time I have helped different friends and family with event invitations. Soon after college, I was teaching and had my two sons, Lincoln and Eliot. Eventually I decided to stay at home and just pick up the odd job here and there, always taking on creative work when my friends and family asked (or even when their friends and family asked). Naturally, over time more and more of my life was revolving around my kids and their needs. but my sister-in-law, Heather, got married in Charleston in 2018. I created most of her design and print needs and fell in love with the process. Read more>>

Jennifer “Jedon” Hatcher Monique Shaw | Authors of “Walkie Check? Good Check”

industry we saw a large number of newbies that were ill prepared to work in the industry. Some PA’s had either taken a two day workshop or boot camp but they still didn’t know HOW to be a production assistant. They would find themselves hired to work on a project, for one reason or another, but they had no clue how to maneuver around set. They didn’t wouldn’t communicate properly over the walkie or they didn’t even know set lingo. We know because we too we’re these types of PAs early on in our careers. Read more>>

Tahara Saron | CEO and Head of Editorial

When I started BlackGold Publishing back in 2017, I admittedly could not yet fathom the immense significance behind what I was creating. In my mind, I was merely incepting a safe space for black and ethnic creatives seeking direct representation — a move that was largely galvanized by the racial discrimination I faced from a white publishing house, as a young author. My mindset shifted however once I realized that my experience was not unique and that there existed thousands of black authors who too, shared my story. That’s when I knew that BlackGold Publishing was vital. Expanding the visibility of black authors everywhere is my goal and purpose and I won’t stop until the need for inclusivity and diversity within the publishing industry is a thing of the past. We’re changing the narrative. Read more>>

Charmaine Gibbs-West | Organic skincare formulator & Holistic Beauty/Lifestyle Coach

EssenceTree began when I left my New York City investment banking job and moved to our family farm in Nashville, TN. Enthralled with the medicinal properties of plants and gemstones, I would create personal care products using whole herbs, essential oils and crystals. I would also lead holistic lifestyle seminars for women, teaching them how to use these ingredients to enhance their lives. Today, we still continue with our “nutrients-first” philosophy. We infuse superfoods and over 15 organic/wildcrafted herbs into our acclaimed skin and hair care line. Read more>>

Nia McKinley | Fitness Instructor

I’ve been running track since I was 8 years old so fitness has always been a passion of mine. Throughout college I knew I did not want to work for someone to make their dreams come true ; I have my own dreams. People are always asking me how I got fit, how I get my body to look the way it does, and if I can train them. I love helping people achieve their fitness/health goals and teach them that they can have their dream body by just simply being naturally healthy. I want to show people that it does not matter your size or shape, you can achieve your personal goals. This is what Mama Nia Fitness means. Read more>>

Lia Robinson | Event Planner, decorator, and rental service

Why not do something you love. I’m so creative, I love working for myself, and making others happy, so why not make it into a career! Read more>>

Courtney Thomas | Digital Content Creator & Social Media Coach

Like many other women in this great, big world, I wear several hats – wife, mother, corporate professional, content creator, entrepreneur, author, daughter, sister, and friend. Rather than limit myself to exploring one role, I have bravely decided to embrace each, and my goal with Cup of Consuella is to inspire other women to do the same. Read more>>

Jesslyn Rollins | CEO – BIOLYTE®, the IV in a bottle®

When my mom was going through breast cancer, she could not keep up with her Chemotherapy treatments without getting IV’s beforehand. My family was trying everything – sports drinks, children’s rehydration products, electrolyte powders – and nothing was keeping her healthy and hydrated enough for her treatments. My Dad, an Anesthesiologist and Pain Specialist, has years of experience tailoring his patients IV bags with nutritional supplementation to help them feel better. My sister, Sarah, came up with the idea to create a product that would bring the IV bag home to people when and where they needed it most, and my Dad had the experience and knowledge to do so. That’s how BIOLYTE was born. Read more>>

Cassie Carter | Soap Maker

Cheeky Maiden Soap Co. was started in 2006 with a passion and desire to create natural soaps that are safe for the whole family to use and yet still affordable. We when we learned how commercial mass-produced soap, body care products and cleaning products were made, we had to make a change. We knew there had to be a better, safer way to make these products for our family. Read more>>

Michelle Humes | Owner of Michelle Humes Group brokered by EXP Realty

I wanted to show people how I had built a career in real estate and it was important to me to succeed through others. Those two things combined with wanting the ability to have some of my time back created my real estate team. Read more>>

Christal Johnson | Wellness coach & motivational speaker

I started my business in 2019 after losing excessive weight on my own. After struggling with obesity for over 10 years, I decided it was time to reclaim my life. I started eating right, exercising and meditating daily. I stayed consistent at what I did and then started to help my husband to do the same. One day, I decided I wanted to help others get healthy and reclaim their life as well. Thats when Queen Resilient was born. Queen Resilient is more than just waist training, it’s about helping others lose weight so they can feel good about themselves and live a better life. Read more>>

Skyler Reed | R&B/Soul Singer & Vocal Coach

I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur and own my own business. It came to a point in my life where I wanted to control my narrative and live a more fulfilling life. I was called to it at the time I launched my business. I was even called to the city of Atlanta. I think it was destined. It felt time when I was building clientele I wasn’t even seeking out. I realized that I can touch ad inspire way more people if I focus on it full time. Read more>>

Tareta Hill | Consultant/ Founder of We Connect Atlanta

I’ve always wanted to help people in a certain capacity. I knew that there was no better way to help others the way that I dreamed of then to start my own business. Although, having the opportunity to build up my career portfolio while serving as an employee to various companies was and still is a big deal. I learned that working for others can sometime limit your creativity and or divert your true passions or purpose. Hence, We Connect Atlanta was birthed out the need of wanted to assist small business owners with their specific business needs while they are on their journey of building their company. Read more>>

Armando Chacon | Artist / Painter

Since young I always wanted to pursue my art career. Knowing that you have talent and not give it a shot, is like not living to your full potential. The most important fact in starting a business is commitment, not letting rejection and failure dictate your future. Read more>>

Will Pohlman | Automotive Photographer

For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to start my own business. Photography was always my main venture, a creative outlet that also allowed me to make money. One reason I wanted to start my own business is because I never liked the idea of having a “Boss”. Ive had many different jobs with the typical boss & I was never happy… I knew I wanted more. I knew for a fact that I wanted to be my own boss when I decided to drop out of College. That was what started the fire in me, if I wasn’t going to go the school route, I would have to discipline myself and work harder than ever. Starting a business & becoming my own boss came with a different set of challenges but, I wanted to prove to myself that I was capable. Read more>>

Gabrielle Henderson Wright | Gift Designer

It may sound crazy, but I’ve always felt that I could never work FOR someone else, only with them. I’ve always been a people person and I’ve always wanted my work to make a difference. Any work I’ve been successful in was in a collaborative effort where I was able to get to know clients and help them solve their issues in some way So when the pandemic hit along with all the social and political climate change, I saw all my friends and family on social media looking to buy from black businesses and send care packages, birthday gifts and similar things. It just seemed like the perfect opportunity since I love putting things together for others. I wanted to help both shoppers and recipients feel loved and acknowledged when the world wasn’t doing that Read more>>

404 Jayyy | Rapper

For me, it was about being able to call something my own. I started making music at about 16 or 17 and at first I started doing it for fun, but when I got good at it I got the idea that I could go far with it and I took the leap and now I’m chasing my dream. Read more>>

Kaya Mason | CEO/Consultant

Starting my own business was a method to changing the lives of my family and myself. I have come to realize that wealth building is the key to Live your best life. My family and I needed more Joy than a typical 9-5 Job (single income) can provide. Therefore, creating multiple streams of income will allow us more freedom to Live! Read more>>

Pinique Singleton | Founder of Entrepreneurship Is Dope

The thought process behind starting my own business was to create a life of freedom. I was tired of the 9-5 grind working for someone else. I wanted to be able to control my own schedule and my own salary. That’s when I started my videography business. My main source of income is creating video content for entrepreneurs and small business owners. I also teach photography and videography with my business partner, BrandonShotMe, through our course called Shooters Camp. I then started the Entrepreneurship Is Dope clothing line because Entrepreneurship really is DOPE! And I felt like it should be on a shirt. Lol. Entrepreneurship is Dope is not just a clothing brand. It’s a lifestyle. All entrepreneurs should definitely have this shirt! Read more>>

Shawnfatee Bridges Jr | Artist | CEO |

Being my own boss . I like to maximize all my time , and plan accordingly. I feel like no one can tell me how to execute my vision , so I decided to take the next step , and leveled up. Read more>>

Warren S. Galloway, Jr. | Capital Strategist

There was no platform for entrepreneurs to interact with microlenders, small business service providers, bankers, and government municipalities. It took five years to plan and eventually execute the first National MIcroloan Conference in 2019. Read more>>

Toia Wallace | Executive Director at JACE Laboratories & Screening (Drug Testing Center)

I have always been fascinated with the sheer extent of the transportation industry though never saw myself being on the road behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler. The transportation industry’s market stands at $1.1 Trillion as of 2020 and entails many opportunities for innovators to innovate. My shot came through Candace Holyfield, one of my spa influencers who suggested adding drug testing services to my spa menu. Read more>>

Kristy Neal | Owner of Nealscape Landscape Design

I always felt my background in psychology and love for helping others learn would make teaching a perfect fit for me. For 10 years, I worked as an elementary school teacher. Although there were many rewards in seeing my students make progress, the long hours and stress of the job made it difficult to balance my home and work life. I put a lot of time and effort into my career as a teacher, but it wasn’t as fulfilling as I thought it should be. After some soul searching, I realized I needed to make a change. I had to find what truly made me happy while still allowing me to flex my independent and creative muscles. Read more>>

Adrianna Ruiz | Chef & Owner at Plantiful

I had quite a few people come up say to me “I would go vegan if you could cook for me!”. Veganism for me is rooted in animal liberation. The way we can achieve that goal is through making veganism accessible through pricing points and working together to make food that accommodates allergens. In the past year, veganism has sky rocketed in popularity, which makes the gap for financial accessibility more difficult to achieve, and thus, Plantiful was born! Read more>>

Chauncey Jackson | Indie Filmmaker

Before starting my own business, I worked for CNN for six and half years before being laid off in June 2011. Before being laid off, I learned the skill of video editing and video producing. I’d never forget that day but it was the day that motivated me to create my own business. One Chaunce Media Group was simply created on Twitter back in November 2011. At the time, I was an aspiring videographer networking around Atlanta. Read more>>

Zahkia Morgan | Business Developer

I started my own business so that I could have freedom to do what I want. For some reason every time I put in a request to leave town I would feel depressed, anxious and nervous. One because someone else had control over telling me if I can leave town or not. So being nice to a person who cuts your checks just so you can get permission to leave town felt like prison. After working for others for 15 years i soaked in everything I needed to venture on my own. Took that jump and I haven’t been back to work for anyone since. Read more>>

Atticus LeBlanc | Founder and CEO of PadSplit

My background has been in more traditional affordable housing that requires direct public subsidy. I’ve owned and managed Housing Choice rentals for more than 13 years, was an early developer with HUD’s NSP program through the City of Atlanta, and I was part of the team that just completed the Academy Lofts in Adair Park by leveraging tax credits and public bonds. Read more>>

Jasmine Pickett, BHA, CPC, CPMA, CPC-I | President and CEO of iCode Academy, and iCode Healthcare Solutions

I always knew that I wanted to work in the healthcare industry, but growing up working in healthcare meant either being a doctor or a nurse in my eyes. After graduating high school in 2003, I immediately enrolled into nursing school. Now at the time I was deathly afraid of needles. But I told myself that if I just pushed through it that I would be okay. I spent the next year of college doing all of the basic English and Math classes that you have to take. Read more>>

Ekonade’ Skin | Plant based skincare & Wellness brand

Our founder, Shadonna Walker, created Ekonade’ with a personal story in mind, her love for nature, and love for wholistic health. As a young black girl, Shadonna was often teased about her skin tone. The issue was, there wasn’t a proper skincare routine which obviously reflected as such. She began to research and create her very own products as early as her undergraduate years in college. She produced her very own self product with the famous Shea butter, of course and from there she began to evolve and test other products. Read more>>

Gabriel /Tamita Jimenez/Brown | Farm Owners

My wife and I are both from the Caribbean, I am from Puerto Rico and she is from Jamaica. I grew up in the suburbs and she grew up in the countryside. I loved going to the countryside when I was growing up and, I loved it as an adult and my wife just LOVE the countryside. She always said, ” You can take me out of the country but you can’t take the country out of me” So when we started house hunting we knew that we wanted a house with a good amount of land in the countryside, we really could not do subdivisions. Read more>>

Jacqueline Hale | Nutrition Expert & Speaker

In 2010, I was 100 pound overweight. I’d never struggled with weight in my life but after the birth of my second child,I kept the baby weight plus some and I tried every fad diet on the market and nothing was sustainable. Having always been an athlete, I enlisted the help of trainers and none could help me understand how to eat for the results I wanted so I figured it out on my own by learning about nutrition, learning how to read food labels and many failures. Read more>>

Sean Sheppheard | Financial Planner & Accountant

When I was first starting out in 2019 I took that leap because of a need I saw in my community. Despite some narratives, particularly in Atlanta there are many thriving black professionals and entrepreneurs. Many of my own classmates went on to do great things like start companies, invest, or land high paying jobs. People began to come to me to discuss their new ventures and businesses. Often they had an amazing idea and good results but lacked a financial plan both personally and professionally. Read more>>

Jhonita Strait | Serial Entrepreneur

It was simple, get started right now, right where you are! Otherwise I’d be stuck where I didn’t want to be, which was in business for someone else. Read more>>

Aminta Ussery | Business Owner

My business was inspired by my mother who became ill for a while, so I started making waist-beads and other jewelry to help me cope. I have always been crafty and decided to turn my hobby into a business. I wanted to bring peace and healing to others that may have been going through difficult times. My mother passed away in 2020 and that made me continue my business in honor of her. Read more>>

Mapela Motshabi Custodio | Fitness Expert and Wellness Coach

I am a military spouse who had a career in Sponsored Research Administration but also had a passion for fitness. I used to work my office job in this day time and worked as a Group Fitness Instructor in the evenings, this was a happy place for me until we were given military orders to move overseas. While living overseas, there were not a lot of opportunities in Sponsored Research Administration and this led to me focusing mostly on working in fitness. Read more>>

VICTORIA MCCLENDON | CNA Program Director & Registered Nurse

One word EDUCATION. I had been mentoring and speaking with girls in nursing school long before I started my business. Nursing school is HARD, I’ve been there. I had a great support system that I could go to when I was drowning in careplans, clinicals, and tests. I wanted other nursing students to feel like they could have someone they could turn to as well. That lead me to formally starting Nurse Vik, RN as a business. Read more>>