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.

Paris Rayamajhi | Jeweler and entrepreneur

I actually spent my teen working in jewelry. Then I was an intern at this software company on my junior year of collage. After working there for about a year, I realized I am people person and I don’t like how the corporate system is built. So, I ended up working for this family that had a jewelry business as a part time job while I was still in collage. And as soon as I graduated out of collage I knew it was about the time to start something of my own. Thats how I brought partners and investors and we start the jewelry business. Read more>>

Caitlin O’Dea | Plastic Surgery Nurse & Interior Decorator

I’ve actually been a heart surgery nurse my whole adult career. I was nursing at a pediatric hospital here in Atlanta during the covid pandemic and my role got so serious so quickly. My life was all about the hussle and bussle of surgery and on-call, that I realized I was losing sight of myself. I started taking classes at night after my shifts to have a “creative outlet”. I quickly realized how much I enjoyed interior design. I was so eager to soak up everything I could- classes, podcasts, working for other designers, etc. I started slowly, doing small jobs for friends and saw how quickly I can alive when my creative energy was ignited. I decided that it was time to jump into a new life, and I’ve never looked back. Read more>>

Jeff Dwoskin | Comedian and Podcast Host

It’s always been in my nature to focus my efforts towards something I’m passionate about and can bring to life. In the late 1990’s I started one of the first web development companies in the United States and have since continued to always dip my toe into entrepreneurial efforts. 19 years ago I started a side career as a professional stand-up comedian and when covid made that no longer possible with the clubs all closed I turned my create efforts towards podcasting. With my podcast I was able to suddenly talk to people I’ve watched in movies and on TV as a child and share that with the world. It’s been and continues to be an amazing journey of creativity and self discovery. Read more>>

Kay Williams | Publicist, Entrepreneur and Founder of KWPR

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so having my own company was always a part of my goal pipeline. Also as a mother, having flexibility and work life balance; as well as control over the type of clients I wanted to work with and the culture of my company, was extremely important to me. Read more>>


I wanted to go for my dream and find a way to make it a reality. I have just recently become a new father and I’m always going to encourage my child to be whatever they want to be. I figured I should be living my dream to show her she can live hers. Read more>>

Ranny Westby | Business owner and telecom foreman

I was tired of my Job, I was traveling so much. When I started my job it was great because I was a single guy, but as the years went by I became married and had 2 beautiful children so I needed a way to stop traveling but not take a pay cut and this is what made me want to start my own business Read more>>

Ashley Fuqua | Balloon Designer & Event Planner

When I reached my mid 20s, I starting looking into what I wanted my career to be. I had held many jobs, possessed many talents, and knew I wanted to work for myself. Knowing all of these things I had no real “plan” in my head. It wasn’t until I began to write everything down that app of the thoughts in my head began to make sense to me. I was able to execute everything I wanted to do. Read more>>

Aaron Horton | Creative Art Solutions Owner, Designer, and Fabricator

I started this business entirely by accident. Story Time! Back in September 2020, i had a close friend whose birthday was coming up and I couldn’t figure out what to get him. That close friend is a celebrity fashion designer and pretty much has and can get anything He wanted (“in my mind”) and I wanted to buy something meaningful but also on a budget. Since I’ve been to his design studio a few times I’ve always noticed how big it was with its high ceiling, painted white walls and plenty of space for photos, artwork, and memorabilia. From that memory i decided to make a larger than life sized piece of wall art that would mimic his brand logo. Read more>>


I absolutely loved movies and stills growing up. Saturday mornings when kids were watching cartoons, I would be watching movies like The Godfather, Pulp Fiction, and Goodfellas. I would love the artistic view and perspectives that the writers and cinematographers would give to the audience. At a young age I soon realized I wanted to make other people feel the same way with my photos and films. Read more>>

Seyana Martin | CEO

I started CrewLove Collection in hopes to show that women can dress comfortable and feel beautiful at the same time. I know there are certain standards that women are expected to live up to on how they should be dressed up in heels and skirts all the time but that’s not the world I and many others want to live in. Read more>>

Wilmont Berry | Realtor & Team Leader of The Berry Group Brokered by EXP Realty, LLC

Ever since I was kid I wanted to be in the buisness arena but I didn’t know what to do. As I grew older and started working different jobs, I began to realize that the majority of people that were wealthy and had control over their time were business owners. As I worked different jobs, my desire to be with my family more, have more control of my time, and to have my own (business) grew more and more. After searching and praying about what I should pursue as a business, the opportunity to go into real estate opened a door for me. Read more>>

Victoria Park | Owner

In the 1990’s, I had an unhealthy dog and I spent thousands of dollars on traditional veterinary treatments before I found holistic and alternative pet care. At the time, there was very little attention paid to diet and I was feeding kibble from the grocery store. My poor dog was miserable and the steroid, anti-biotic regimen the vet prescribed was not working, because it does not work long term when the problem was actually poor nutrition. I started reading books by holistic veterinarians in the mid 1990’s and I realized that until my dog had proper nutrition, his skin and ear infections were never going to get better. Read more>>

Chelsey Nelson | Multimedia Specialist

My thought process for XO Media & Design actually started off as a school project my senior year of college. After creating the idea of it for fun, I realized that I can do this as a real career since it included most of my self-interests. I graduated May 2020 when Covid first came about and shut everything down, which in a way, helped me have time to do my research about my industry and create a business that I could be very successful and before you knew it, I had my first client. Read more>>

Altonia Fowler Dugar | Beverage Caterer & Small Business Consultant

My business started from a need to generate income (immediately) after I unexpectedly lost my job on July 2, 2019. My lemonades and fruit teas were the signature drinks at events that I hosted in the Washington, DC area. On July 3rd a friend of my daughter’s inquired if she knew anyone who could provide drinks at an event that she was hosting on July 4th. My daughter inquired if I could do it- I said yes, and Bee’s In The Trap was birthed into what it is today. Read more>>

Law Willis | Curator

I have always been inspired by creatives and fashion and after serving in the Marine Corps I gained more of a global perspective. I have drawn on those experiences and once my tour was over I began to plant the seeds for the brand. I look at Albert Ray Collection as a creative outlet to message empowerment through the art that is fashion. I believe fashion is a canvas as the curator I bring “my art” to life and our patrons add their own personal style to that canvas. Read more>>

Pamela Askerneese Henry | Chef, BBQ & Smoked Meat Producer, Educator

For one, to rewrite the legacy of my family from being cogs in the wheel to bring our own wheel. I knew that the hospitality business traditionally is not conducive for women that choose to be mothers, especially those of us that want to be active in our child’s lives, so I had to create my own way while still working my passion. Read more>>

Ashley MCclendon | Makeup Artist & Entrepreneur

The Thought process behind starting my business was a student looking for away out of poverty. I had zero knowledge on how to run a business .I knew I had to do my market research. I thought its was now or never . I wanted to break generation courses and uplift my younger generation. I knew whatever I did could in the future could give jobs and boost women’s confidence. I had nothing to loose and everything to gain ,so I took my passion for Beauty makeup and cosmetics and jumped in deep. My thoughts are to build lifetime relationships with my clients and other businesses like Majorette teams or building Community recognition and sponsorships. Read more>>

Jasmine Wintons | Licensed Cosmetologist, Salon Owner & Wig Creator

I love any and everything hair, so why not start my own hair business? Thats it! That was the thought process. On a serious note, this passion not only for doing hair, but entrepreneurship as a whole, has burned inside me for years. Ive always NEEDED to be my own boss, to set my own rules, to cultivate my own culture for others to be apart of. I NEEDED the space to be able to create everyday. I NEEDED the opportunity to fulfill my own dreams. The thought process was clear, why not live doing what I love most, paving a life that offers me endless freedoms. It was an easy decision but the hustle and appreciation for my craft that I gained along the way is really what sealed the deal. Read more>>

Destiny Davis | Business Owner & Owner of Dessgalore

What made me want to start my own business honestly was to get away from the 9-5 job that I had . I’m 17 and I felt like even though ive only worked 2 jobs I couldn’t do it for the rest of my life . It just isn’t a thing for me.I had the determination that I could do something that I truly loved to do and make it my own thing instead of going to go do something I was dreading because I felt like I had to do it. I’m in love with smelling good and keeping my skin clear, I would always freak out if I even had a small little bump on my face you can ask my mom lol ,So I figured why not make my own skincare business, but with natural ingredients . Read more>>

Anna B | Music Artist

I’m an artist creating music, which automatically makes me an entrepreneur. I decided to start making music in 2019 because I wanted a way to vent. Everyone needs to express their feelings in some way instead of having them bottled up. I don’t feel like I chose music. Music chose me. Read more>>

Caity Marie | Artist & Events Coordinator – They/Them Pronouns

When I first moved to Atlanta I knew I wanted to pursue being an artist, and so I began vending markets around the area while working part-time in an office. As I grew more involved in the vendor community and met amazing artists and makers in Atlanta, I wanted to help others build their brands, network and profit while also providing group support and advice. I have been attending art festivals since before I could walk and they have always been my favorite events. Starting in college I began a small collective with friends, and we often sold art at monthly local events; I wanted to continue that and also focus on helping fellow artists while not depending entirely on my own artwork for income. Read more>>

Jennifer Medina | Interior Decorator, DIYer and Thrifter

Starting my business kind of just happened the way the universe wanted it to happen. My intention was to start off working underneath another designer/decorator and work my way up. I didn’t go to school for interior design. I am mostly self taught but took a few Continuing Education courses at Emory for interior decorating. Read more>>

Taylor Twite | Owner, Master Color Specialist

I started Hiraya Hair Collective because I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives– particularly other hairstylists’. In my ten years as a hair color specialist in this industry I’ve worked for a number of prominent salons in both the Atlanta and Minneapolis area and I wasn’t ever crazy about the company culture. It’s really difficult to find a salon that prioritizes making their stylists feel valued as both employees and as individual human beings, and that’s something I want to provide for anyone who chooses to work here. Read more>>

Keri Jones | Creative Director / Independent Female Filmmaker

Initially there wasn’t per se a thought process behind starting KTake Lab Productions , but more so an experience turned passion that led me to starting KTake Lab. Being a background actor on sets like ‘Shots Fired’ starring Sanna Lathan I saw production teams turn an entire night scene into day using lights and that was the icing on the cake for me. After being on those sets I later said to myself this is magic, I love it here, why not start making them on my own, and then create a name for my production business. Hence, ‘K’ (the first letter of my nickname ‘Keri’) , ‘Take’ (as in a film take 1, 2 ,3….) , ‘Lab’ (as in a happy place where I’m creating) , and the business will always produce ‘Productions’. Read more>>

Brooke Santizo | CEO of West Forsyth Internal Medicine, P.C. & Nurse Practitioner

As a daughter of parents who have owned a very successful engineering firm in Marietta, Georgia, business ownership has always been a goal of mine. The timing to open my practice in 2021 may not have been ideal — as I am expecting my second child this year — but I am convinced that the timing is never perfect. Read more>>

I own one of the few Nurse Practitioner owned medical practices in the state of Georgia. After 21 years in healthcare and networking with some of the best colleagues you could ask for, I opened West Forsyth Internal Medicine, P.C. in September 2021. My road has certainly been a windy one, but my story definitely proves God always has a plan for each of us. The freedom of owning my own business has been refreshing. The pandemic has certainly changed many aspects of all of our lives. I am grateful to now have an opportunity to provide un-rushed patient care while having the freedom to still be a wife and mom. Read more>>

Avonti Adizahyr | Entrepreneur & Creative Coach

My thought process behind starting my own business is simple. Anytime I see a problem or something that I believe can be handled more efficiently, I ask myself, “How can I either be the solution or help toward the solution?” A business may not always be the answer, but I know that creating a business allows you to give others an opportunity to make a difference. I believe in opportunity because it allows for others to see their potential and abilities to be and do whatever they want in life. Read more>>

Leanna Gabourel | Baker

It was the onset of the pandemic that brought on the beginnings of Sweet Sugar. Going from working consistently to four walls with everyone home made us get creative. As former Johnson & Wales students, my husband and I started showing our daughters cooking and baking techniques and we started having bake-offs to focus everyone’s energy and stave off boredom. While searching for recipe ideas that were age appropriate, I came across a website about cottage food businesses. The rest is sweet history. Read more>>

Paige Gaines | Mental Health Coach

The thought behind starting my business was quite simple I wanted to help people. After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I recognized the lack of resources and information provided in my community. There were many missing pieces and barriers to navigating the mental health realm. Many challenges included finding providers who were culturally competent and equipped with the knowledge of helping a minority living with mental health challenges was discouraging. Read more>>

Aaliyah Jackson | CEO of Goldendollhaircollection

I got the idea to selling hair when I was 16, I would spend hours doing research on different hair companies and watching reviews on the quality just so I would know who to purchase from. One day I just thought to myself why not start selling hair, at the time I was only 16 and aspired to go in the field of law so it was originally only going to be a side hustle just to make extra money but the more time and money I spent investing into testing the different hair companies & marketing and etc I fell in love with my brand, it’s literally my baby. I’ve enjoy watching it expand even though it isn’t quite where I want it to be it’s definitely growing everyday. Read more>>

Cierra Wiles | Career Matcher and Consultant

My thought process begin as being a person who didn’t have much career guidance early on and hopping job to job trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I was my first client. Moving on I gained majority of my work experience as an Employment Coach and Higher Ed administrator and found that majority of my clients were doing the same thing. Jumping from job to job trying to find their passion and make money while doing it. Read more>>

Jeffrey Young | Wardrobe Stylist & CEO of FY Models

Easy answer if because growing up I spent so much time trying to be like other people and do what other people was doing but it never felt right so when I found my place in the fashion industry and realized this was where my calling was I wanted to be the person to help other people who’s calling was in fashion but they just didn’t realize it yet. Plus, I also say every successful person can recognize that their success stems from one moment or one person that changed their life forever. I wanted to be that person for other people. Read more>>

Tierra Anderson | Boutique Owner/Entrepreneur

At a young age, my grandmother told me to make sure I did not just sit on ideas. She always encouraged me to pursue every dream with no regrets! My grandmother, who is no longer with us, knew then, that I always wanted to have my own business. I often shared with my grandmother, my passion and aspirations to provide a service or product line to empower women and to promote self –love. Women want to experience a high level of confidence that is inspiring not only to herself but to those that comes in contact with her. Whether it’s on a personal level or from afar. Read more>>

The Voice Of #TTB | CEO

Honestly speaking when I first started what has now grown into #TTB Entertainment – I didn’t have a thought process. I Just wanted a tumblr blog at the time I launched “Thirst Trap Boys” In 2016 & The rest is history. Read more>>

Jasmine Ratliff | Vegetarian Chef

That’s a tricky question, because I never wanted to start my own business, and Truly Vegan-ish kind of started on accident. The start of Truly Vegan-ish began when I decided to change my diet in hopes of easing some chronic pain; I was diagnosed with lupus, arthritis, costochondritis, along with a few other chronic illnesses. I shared my journey on my personal Instagram and Facebook stories, and then people started asking me to cook for them and/or start a YouTube channel. There’s plenty of money to be made on YouTube, I would always have content, because I have to cook in order to eat, I enjoyed editing my videos, and I refused to go back to an unfulfilling 9-5 job, so starting a YouTube channel was a no brainer. Read more>>

Da’Naja Ellerby | MUA & Activist

I was raised to never put ceilings upon myself. To dream, to inspire, to live to the fullest. And for me that could not be accomplished by working for someone else. I actually was not allowed to wear makeup until I was 16. When I was finally allowed, I watched 100s of videos and looked at countless brands. As a Afro-Latina woman it was hard in that 2016 wave to find beauty influencers that look like me and the WOC around me. It was always disturbing to me being lighter in complexion, that I was sometimes the darkest shade in a makeup line. The lack of representation and range was the catalyst for what is now The Clinic. There was not many videos on how to do women of darker complexion makeup. A lot of the famous MUAs that were gaining recognition at the time, lacked range on their social media business pages. I wanted to create something that was accessible for everyone no matter race or gender expression. Read more>>

Stephen Farrow | Studio Owner &. Studio Engineer

Mine was more of the if you build it they will come mentality. My name and brand was already established so it only made sense. Read more>>

David Ferebee | Freelance photographer / videographer/ Award winning Video Editor

Well. The main business is called The Edit Room, LLC which is mostly videography and video editing. E.R. Photography is the photo side of the business and operates under the The Edit Room, LLC brand. I started the business to give people professional quality videography and photography at a consumer price. I try to bring my 25 years plus of broadcasting experience to the table and offer it to the masses. Read more>>

Shane Quillin | Baker

I have had a handful of goals in my career, starting a business by the age of 30 was on the top the list. I was so set on the goal, it wasn’t a matter of if but when. If you would have asked me 2-3 years ago I would have been confident in starting a transportation optimization company (heavy background in transportation during my 8 year post college career). There was one probelm, I didn’t love supply chain/transportation. The old saying, you must start a business that you truly love is 100% accurate. My thought process for running a business was solving a problem, the one that should be the forefront of any business. The problem- offering a gourmet cookie in Atlanta, GA. Read more>>

Natallie Doram | Doula

There were numerous thoughts that ran through my mind when it came to starting my own business. I still have numerous thoughts. It first came to me shortly after having my daughter. The experience of parents during and after pregnancy is underrated and that bothers me. So many people assume that if we aren’t saying anything that we are fine and that’s just not true for all. I went through an intense postpartum period that impacted all of my relationships and if there’s one thing that stays consistent in my mind is that if only I had better support or knew about more resources. Read more>>

Senethia Johnson | Selfcare Coach

I have always wanted to be my own boss but didn’t feel confident enough to do so because of outside influences. I also wanted to wait until my children were older before I decided to step out on faith! It wasn’t easy for me because I came up with every excuse in the book to not do so. I kept telling myself “I’ll do it next year or when my children graduate or when I’m financially in a good place!!” I was also afraid of losing my health benefits by becoming my own boss. Until one day I decided “What the hell am I waiting for?” I prayed and sought guidance on whether or not I’m making the right decision. Read more>>