Starting a business is a commitment and requires dedication, resources and sacrifice. We asked some of the rising stars in our community how they thought through the idea of starting their own businesses.

Leontay Timmons | Beauty Entrepreneur and Makeup Artist

The thought process behind starting my own business was the desire to create freedom for myself in my life through working out of passion; The freedom to live the life that I want for myself and my future family. Working a 9-5 for the remainder of my life just won’t simply allow the level of liberation that I need. I have a servants heart so I knew that I wanted to fulfill my purpose in service by helping others. I prayed, searched, and waited for my purpose and passion to be revealed and once it came to me, I knew exactly what my business would be, and Glowsentials Skincare was born. Read more>>

Alexis Rainey | Artist + Owner, ATL Macrame Co

I’ve always been a crafty gal. I went through a phase with just about everything in the book – pottery, painting, weaving, crochet, knitting, you name it. Working with my hands has always been cathartic for me, for as long as I can remember. When I first met my wife, she picked up on this trait of mine very quickly, and one of the first gifts she ever gave me was an instructional macrame book. It can imagine wasn’t an easy task for her to find a craft I hadn’t tried my hand at yet, so kudos to her! Read more>>

Ty Colgate | Comedian & Event Producer

As a stand-up comedian, some of the earliest advice you get is to either start an open mic or start a show. There are a couple of obvious reasons for this: you get guaranteed stage time (which is is like gold when you first start out) and you can network with all kinds of comics in your city and traveling through your city. However, as time went by and I started to get people on board that weren’t comics, but just really appreciated comedy and wanted to work in it, we shifted towards larger events. Read more>>

Jovanna Robinson | Leather Travel Bag Designer & Creator

I’ve always wanted to own my own fashion company. After making a bag for a class project, I realized that my love for bags became something more when I enjoyed working with leather. I started making more bags and learning all I can about the craft and when I felt ready I started incorporating the business and putting my all into my newfound passion. Read more>>

Hannah Giles | Christian Writing and Self-publishing Midwife & Book Editor

My thought process began with a burden. In August of 2019, God began to allow me to feel some of the burden that He feels concerning His children who are too afraid to write what He is telling them to or to share their testimony. I have always been a writer and knew how important it was for me to be obedient to the call to write, but He began to reveal to me that there were a lot of His people who needed help being obedient as well. As I began praying for these people, He gave me the vision for a writers’ retreat. Read more>>

Natasha Henderson | Family Nurse Practitioner & Wellness Coach – Owner of Essential Life Hydration & Wellness

Starting a business has been a goal of mine for quite some time now. I’ve been in the healthcare field for almost 20 years and I knew it was time. I’ve had so many ideas and ways to promote health and wellness to the community where I was raised, grew up and now work in; and I every day I got up for work, I felt more and more drawn to creating a wellness clinic. For me, starting my own business was a way to not only create generational wealth but to truly make an impact in my own community. I knew it wouldn’t be easy at all and to be quite frank -I was terrified! Everything had to be just right… Read more>>

Donnell and Marion Johnson | Craftsman & Woodworkers

Our thought process was we ultimately wanted to create a business we enjoyed doing while also being profitable. Individually, we both had pursued different avenues in the past but nothing together. But woodworking and DIY projects for our home were something we both loved doing and were good at. Once we made a bed for our son, we realized this was more than a hobby. The overwhelmingly positive reaction we received from family, friends, and social media was the affirmation we needed to make this into a business. From there we started making things for neighbors, participating in local markets, and making things for those close to us. This naturally progressed to the beginnings of DeLowe Designs. Read more>>

Joe Jones | Joefazzo, suffolk va photographer

I found somthing that I thought I was really good at and made it into my dream. It was never a business at first but over time family & friends kept telling me to turn it into a business and so I did. Read more>>

Rocky Tallington | Entrepreneur/ Lash Vendor

My thought process was I want something for myself and to make money doing what I love. Working for someone else’s passion just doesn’t sit right with me, and receiving 1-2 weeks per year for vacation is not my idea of living happy. I always get compliments on my makeup and eyelashes so I decided to sell them. I love doing make up, and helping build someone else’s confidence to see them smile. Knowing my lashes contribute to their confidence is enough for me. Read more>>

Breonna Simmons | Dual Language & Literacy Provider

During COVID-19, many students lost access to learning services required for them to be academically successful. As a Speech-Language Pathologist, who is also trained as a Reading Specialist, I knew I could provide a service to families to help decrease the achievement gap in students diagnosed with speech, language, reading, and/or writing disorders. Typically, a student diagnosed with any of the aforementioned disorders would have to receive services from two different providers. Read more>>

Nicole Jackson | Founder/Owner of A&K Spices and More

Initially, I never saw myself as an entrepreneur. As I got older, I felt like there was more to me than simply working behind a desk or a 9-5. I also wanted to leave something for my children to help give them a sense of responsibility and entrepreneurship, and was determined to be successful at whatever I set my mind to. Failure was not an option, so I started doing what I knew I was good at: cooking! That wasn’t enough for me, though. Soon after I started catering, I created my own seasonings and sauces. Since starting out on a new venture, I’ve come to realize how much of a passion it has been with starting my own seasoning line. Being a new mother of two year old twin girls, I am more determined than ever to show them they can start one thing, begin another, and be anything they want to be or do, with a lot of hard work and dedication. Read more>>

Fear Vous | Artist

I wanted to create a brand not only that I could be proud of sharing with the world but also to help me create financial freedoms and putting my future into my own hands. I wanted to motivate the people around me. Read more>>

Henry Bell | Resume Writer | Career Coach

I knew that the world of resume writing and career coach was extremely competitive for two reasons – the barrier to entry is low and anyone can wake up the next morning and call themselves a Professional Resume Writer or Career Coach. Because of this I wanted to make sure I differentiated myself from my competition by allowing my results to speak for themselves. I prioritized this over chasing a bag because I knew the money would eventually come – and it did. Read more>>

Deznick Ellis | Real Estate Investor\

First I created a vision board. I’m a dreamer I have lots of thoughts and ideas on my mind at all times, I put literally every big idea I had on my vision board along with small goals that pretty much led to the big goals. Then I started watching motivational videos on YouTube every morning on my way to work. Then I started to apply pressure to my goals on my vision board and repeated everyday and little did I know I had created a routine and then things started falling in place. The biggest impact was my 9 to 5 I hated being told what to do when and when I can’t take vacations etc. so I started saying I’m going to build my own business where I can do when and what I want when I want to Read more>>

Coco The Conversational Freak | Sex Coach & feminine wellness advocate

I was working 16 hour shifts and putting in so much work for a company that did not value it’s workers and I thought “if I can work 16 hour shifts for someone else’s passion, I can do the same for myself”. After 9 years I was burned out and realized I was cheating myself by not valuing myself like I valued that job. Read more>>

Simon Needle | Music Educator, Multi-instrumentalist & Vocal Producer

I knew from a young age that I wanted to do music as a career, but what I didn’t know was that, because of this decision, I would never have a 9-5 from that day on. There just wasn’t as much thinking and evaluation as my folks probably would’ve hoped for me, but I saw that people made money in music (it can be done!) and I certainly saw the value in creating music. Read more>>

Joey Wiz | Owner/Operator

I was traveling and wanted to represent my home state. Nothing at local gift shops appealed to me. Everything you see at the airport is pretty lame. We were always edgy growing up – the skater, punker, metal kids. We wanted to wear something that resembled our state, but also the mindset and clothing we already wore. Eventually, that lead to United Skulls America. Read more>>

Lu Pizarro | Owner of LuFitlifestyle

Honestly I didn’t put much thought into it. I was laying in a hospital bed fighting and I remember saying to the most high, “If you spare my life, I promise I will use all the talents you’ve given me.” I literally was released 3 days later and I hit the ground running. Read more>>

Frederick Murphy | Mental Health Therapist & Documentarian

The opportunity to utilize my creative desires in story telling via my own independent platform was to good to pass up. I think often times because people receive degrees in certain fields and/or have been working in single field for a long time, it can create this monolith overtone which doesn’t have to be the case. Read more>>

Naraisha Rorie | Online boutique owner

Since a little girl I’ve always had a passion for fashion. Everything about it from accessories , especially clothing and of course shoes and handbags. I started off wanted to style consumers I styled a few people and realize I wanted to do more and showcase my fashion sense more so then I felt like I should start selling clothes that I would wear. I know typically your suppose to shop for what you think other people May like but I shop from my viewpoint on fashion because I definitely think my style is unique and outstanding. Read more>>

RaShona Clark-Flowers | Mother & Small Business Owner 

I was in an 8-year marriage that was ending and I was in a position where I now needed to depend on myself and do for my family. I have always wanted to be my own boss and this seemed like the perfect time. Creating projects and putting things together has been a love of mine for as long as I can remember and starting a crafting business seemed like the perfect next step. Read more>>

Damon Wright | Owner

God had been putting shirt design ideas in my mind for years but I wasn’t living the right way. I was straddling the fence and playing church. The pandemic, the unrest over the summer, and my steps to live more for Him than for me all factored into why I chose to go into this business. I saw a lack of people really being dedicated to following scripture. They would follow someone or something to make them feel good about whatever they did rather than what the Word actually says. It was more about being comfortable and God didn’t call us to be comfortable but committed. Read more>>

Shanetria Bady | Independent Public Relations Consultant & Entrepreneur

What is the one thing in life that money can’t buy and we can’t get back? Time! When I decided to start my business my main motivation was to gain back control over my time. With what the world has been through over the last year I am not at complaining over being traditionally employed. However, being told what family events and which child hood memories of my son’s I am allowed to attend does not seem like a feasible option for the rest of my life. There are entrepreneurs in the world who make money in their sleep, they have the option to attend all family events, go on vacation, see their child’s first steps because they made choices that would allow them to be financially free and time wealthy. Read more>>

Britney Ray | CEO | Self Company

In the midst of a global pandemic, I saw people struggling. Struggling, mentally, physically, emotional, financially, you name. People struggled between balancing jobs/looking for jobs and finding time to take care of themselves. At the same time I saw an uprising in black people creating businesses, so I wanted to think of a way to help people prioritize self-care and help support black businesses. Read more>>

Mike Kelleher | Physician Assistant, Cosmetic Injector, Founder (R)Evolution

I never considered myself and entrepreneur, nor did the thought of opening my own business even cross my mind until about 3 years ago. I had always worked under the umbrella of a large medical practice, med spa..etc.. Be that as it may, I worked very independently, and when I left a large practice at the end of 2018, I felt somewhat lost. Read more>>

Elaine Oudems | Master Stylist, Entrepreneur, Lifestyle Brand Strategist

I was a single mother juggling multiple jobs…..A master hair stylist as well, I knew that I had to serve my ‘WHY’. My children, our needs; our comfort level; me; my wants and needs and most of all, my self image. How I saw myself. Being an owner was not only essential, it was necessary and it was the driving force and thought behind starting my own business. Read more>>

Jazmine-Renae’ | CEO of Be-Jazzed Designs

2020 was full of challenges and new adjustments for everyone. It forced a lot of people to open up their minds and become more creative. With that being said, I started trying to brainstorm other ways and ideas to remain financially comfortable in the middle of a pandemic. So one night, it literally came to me in a dream. It started off as a small idea, then grew from there! Read more>>

Devon Harris | Real Estate Investor

The concept behind our business originated while visiting my wife in Greece a couple years ago. At the time, I was doing what I thought was my dream job- working for a fortune 500 technology company. I had the luxury of working remote and being able to travel when I wanted, but the thought of having to stop living my life to troubleshoot or update spreadsheets wasn’t cutting it for me. Read more>>

Gina Espinosa | Partner and Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Specialist

I started my business out of the necessity to reinvent myself. The passion that led me to become a journalist had evolved, and I was thinking about doing something different, but still in the same vein, when the 2008 Great Recession came along. I was and am still a communicator and storyteller, and the natural evolution of that is public relations. I started working in public relations for a nonprofit and later on, decided to start my own business.
I love what I do. I still have the same passion and luckily, I have met great professionals who have joined me and have helped me to grow the business. Read more>>

Shanika (Neek) Mason | Tv Network Owner, Producer, Director, Author and Publisher

I’ve worked in production, writing and publishing for over 1o yrs ,it has always been a passion of mine to create so after years of let downs, I felt it was time that I started making my own way because no one is going to believe in you like YOU!!After investing in myself I created a platform that would give others like myself an opportunity to get their movie, television shows from reality tv to true crime documentaries filmed, produced and put on television for millions to view on my network MAKIN’ MAGIC PRODUCTIONS NETWORK. Read more>>

Kyra Evette Bodrick | Multicultural Brand Strategist & Designer

“Have faith and go for it!” Was my initial thought behind starting Highfalutin Consulting… followed by thoughts of a million and one things that could go wrong. As a kid, I remember having a make-believe loan company in my grandparents’ living room and constantly harass family members to apply for a loan. Fast forward to now… I still have the same energy, just a different passion. Making an impact on someone’s business and life is all I’ve ever wanted to do I just needed to figure out how what and when. Every role that I’ve had since launching my career has been focused on brand management with an emphasis on connecting and improving the experience of multicultural clients. I absolutely LOVED working in that space and knew that my business had to reflect that in some capacity. Read more>>

Alexandria Jones | Handcrafted Accessories with Customizable options

When I started my accessories business I needed an outlet to help me through an interesting time in my life. I was reaching new heights in my career and needed a new outlet to express myself. I needed a way to unwind at the end of the day. This is when Jans Girls was born. Read more>>

Alicia Taylor | CEO & Momager

Like many other unique small businesses Beard & Butter was created out of necessity. During the early part of the pandemic I lost a long career in the insurance industry. My family had to cut back on some self care items which included beard products for my partner. There were not a lot of affordable options so i decided research some beneficial ingredients to make it at home and here we are 3 products later. My thought is to give as many grooming options to men specifically those with multi-cultural hair. Read more>>

Tre Lundy | Loctician

My thought process for starting my own business and being a business minded person was me not being as happy working for someone else rather working for myself. I started out dying and coloring the locs of my friends, roommates & pretty much anyone willing for free. While on the other hand going to work for someone and feeling like I’m just another employee isn’t as enjoyable. Styling and coloring my own locs, I used those skills in my own business. I use what I enjoy, the products I use and implement my own spin and style. Read more>>

Justin Holloman | Curator of all things culinary & Serial entrepreneur

My initial thought was I need to be my own boss I’ve had dreams of owning a restaurants being a serial entrepreneur in my respective fields but of course there was fear and doubt. I wrote everything out on paper and prayed about it; it took me years but GOD knew what he was doing so now I have multiple streams of income all in the realm of what I love to do. Read more>>

Maizie Clarke | Illustrator and Small Business Owner

My business was started as a result of necessity and a little bit by accident – as a poor graduate student, I needed gifts for friends and family, so I started creating paintings of place special to them: their first home, their alma mater, or the church where they were married. When friends came back to me, willing to pay to do the same for their friends and family – a business idea was born. But my entrepreneurial interests did not start with this current business: I had started a small mobile snack bar during my brothers’ sporting events when I was in elementary school and then later in high school, I made and sold jewelry to my classmates. So I think being self employed was always in the cards. Read more>>

Johanna Pan | Costume & Scenic Designer, Multi-Disciplinary Artist, Podcast Producer & Host

Covid hit and suddenly overnight all live entertainment stopped. I don’t know that I’ve started a business but what I have definitely pivoted to was this idea that maybe the live entertainment part of art was a) no longer in existence and b) maybe it wasn’t necessary after all. So I decided to start making art on my own, and honestly, it has been kind of liberating. The structure of a show in live entertainment is and always will be an exciting challenge but making your own art – its actually an open book. You can do/create/make whatever you want, you’re in charge. There’s no director, no artistic director, no playwright and sometimes that can be really nice. Read more>>

KRAMER DEANS | Craft Beer Enthusiast

My thought process behind starting my business was creating an avenue for the Black community to get into craft beer and earn the same opportunities in the industry as a non person of color. I wanted to become the representation Black people wish to see in any space they are in. Read more>>

Tessa Hanley-Cowlah | Creative Instructor

As a child, I would’ve never entertained the idea of fitness being fun! I always enjoyed being active, but only if there was a creative spin on it. I did however, always have a passion for dancing. Being an introvert, Dancing allowed me to escape, express and create. Years later, I took a Zumba class (a Colombian dance fitness program) at my local gym and I absolutely loved it! It combined my passion for dance with an intense cardiovascular workout without me focusing on the fact that I was exercising. The idea then sparked in my head to create a similar class experience that offered different styles and dance types involving hip hop and urban mixes. Read more>>

Article | Creative and Brand Ambassador of L.E.G. Brand

Ive always wanted to own my own. I really believe in generational wealth and having resources to pass down to my children and their children so they would not have to start from scratch. A cheat code to life if you will. Read more>>

Taylor Waters | Small Business Owner

Being a part of a Black Greek Letter Organization is what prompted me to start my own business. I wanted to find a creative and beneficial way to serve my community and young girls. I thought of Pretty Girl Bangles & Accessories LLC almost immediately, but I knew that jewelry and accessories is something every young girl loves. I knew that when you wear jewelry and accessories you feel like your most confident self, so there was no better option for me than to start a business that caters to the need. I wanted my jewelry to be handmade, affordable and trendy. I was able to create exact that with my brand. Read more>>

LaRitta Webb | CEO & Founder of The Profit Nerd, Fitness Guru

My initial thoughts were, “I’m taking all my expertise and experience that I’ve gained from corporate America, and I’ve giving them to a space & community that needs me. I’m going to provide solutions to a community of thriving business owners that will welcome my seat at the table and I will no longer prove I desire to be here.” A friend told me to give ALL my gifts to the world and not to stay in just one lane. So, I finally did just that. Read more>>

Rosetta Delancy | Social Worker & Candle Maker

I wanted the world to experience what I felt when I smell candles and participate in different forms of intimacy. I love candles and intimacy. Read more>>

William Satterwhite | Comic Book Creator, Illustrator & Designer

I wanted to help fill a need that was at the time being unmet by major players within the comic book industry, to provide worthwhile superheroes of color who could stand on their own and be as iconic as a Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. Read more>>

Michelle Mai | Master Cosmetologist & Entrepreneur

I was a makeup artist at a makeup store who had a love for sharing products with my customers. I’ve always loved to introduce new products to clients and see them try on products they never would think to try on. As I became really good at selling, I realized that the thousands of dollars are going to the company while I work extremely hard. I realized, I could be working hard myself and making that kind of money. It inspired me to branch out and do my own thing. Read more>>