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.

Kelli Cross | Lettering Artist | Copywriter | Encourager

In 2015, I discovered and started following some hand lettering artists on social media. I’ve always been pretty creative and crafty and loved letters, drawing, doodling – basically any kind of crafts. So I would use my budding lettering skills to create things for my home or gifts for friends, and before I knew it, I had a handful of friends and family asking, “Hey, could you make this for me?” My husband, along with some close friends, encouraged me to open an online shop and I took the plunge! Back then, I was a stay at home mom of three – ages 5, 3, and 1 – and was craving something for myself…outside of changing diapers and tackling laundry piles! It’s grown and changed over the years, but it’s been an incredible journey so far! Read more>>

Eric Thomas | Black Men Advocate

I created The Quintessential Gentleman back in 2016 because I didn’t see a platform dedicated to telling the stories of Black men outside of the fashion and music genre. I didn’t see any lifestyle platforms that solely focused on millennial Black men. I also didn’t see platforms that focused on the positive life of Black men. I created this platform to uplift, engage and educate Black men. I also had the hope of building a community of like-minded men who are interested in changing the narrative that was currently being circulated about Black men. Read more>>

Jackie Venson | Artist/Musician

I thought, “I can do this, I can run this and I don’t need anyone telling me what to do. I can do this and I can do a great job and so I will.”. That was the thought that started the fire that turned into my independent music career. Read more>>

Richard-Anthony Panier | Real Estate Coach & Investor

My thought process behind starting my own business is trying to scratch my own itch. If I have a problem that I can’t seem to find a solution to OR the only available solutions lack a certain quality then that’s when I see an opportunity to create. So it’s usually based off of either what do I need to make my life easier or someone else’s life better. This goes for all of the businesses I’ve started. Read more>>

Michelle English | Travel Specialist and Entrepreneur

Growing up, I had several family members that either traveled often or were entrepreneurs. Watching them made me want to get out there, be a business owner, and see all the beauty of the world. I wanted to see and experience different cultures beyond what was around me. As an adult, I started planning my own travel adventure’s then I started planning trips for friends and family. I never even thought about getting paid to help others travel until someone mentioned that I should become a travel agent. Looking back, I was doing all the work without getting paid. Today, I can honestly say I followed my passion, and I love my job. Even with the highs, lows and struggles we have had this year; I still love what I do. Read more>>

Charlette English-Wright | Certified Health and Wellness Coach & Wellness Coordinator

The thought process behind starting my own business was my journey and how it could help someone else. In 2011 we loss our first child. I was 33 weeks pregnant and went into labor the day before my baby shower and he was stillborn. This was the experience that first started my health and wellness journey. My spiritual life, our finances, my mental and physical health were all being challenged at the same time. Through the years, there has been a lot of healing and work done to bring me to where I am today. I wanted a way to combine my love for overall health and wellness, my faith, and my love for fitness under one umbrella. When I loss 55 pounds naturally, being a busy wife, mother, and full-time employee, I want other women to know that they can do it as well. Read more>>

Gigi Miller | Professional Organizer | Productivity Expert

Starting my own business was always in my blood. Both of my parents were business owners and I grew up watching them grow and nurture their businesses as well as adapt to the many changes and challenges that come with owning your own company. I always loved the idea of creating something on my own from the ground up. A job opportunity for my husband led us to Atlanta and it felt like the right time in my life to begin this adventure. I knew I wanted to do something to help people and I have always had an interest in home design and organization. Those three things combined with my work experience and skill set of creating and implementing efficiency in the workplace led me to my current path as a Professional Organizer and Vision Organizing, LLC was born in 2008. Read more>>

Bianca Mcmillian | Actress, Content Creator and Entertainer

My thought process was “hey I want to see women that look like me on tv , viral videos, commercials & owning their own shit” . I want to do what society thought couldn’t be done or shouldn’t be done because we’re not what they say “looks good” on the big screen or the ideal “love interest” plus I love what I do. I eat , sleep and dream acting and entertaining. Read more>>

Ashley Carlton | Cookie Innovator

Not As Famous Cookie Company is a gourmet cookie shop on wheels that caters to cookie lovers and others with a sweet tooth that desire gourmet treats. A great tasting cookie is an idea that my father, Mr. Ronald Carlton, envisioned many years ago. He created several recipes for gourmet cookies which he intended to market to various businesses that desired a gourmet product. Watching him develop the base of these great recipes has largely been the driving force behind my aspiration/desire/want to further the development of the business. Read more>>

Christopher Cater | Technology Success Manager

The business and idea called me. I was comfortable just helping my family and friends with technology and selling it for my profession. When I started getting approached by strangers who liked my personality and knew I was skilled in technology, it just made sense to make it an official business. Fast forward all these years later, and I am still doing the same thing is I was going before the LLC. Now I get to do it representing and building my own brand. Read more>>

Katya Vilchyk | Lifestyle & Brand Photographer

I started out as a mom photographer. I was obsessed with taking pictures of my daughter. Passion for learning how to get better at it took over me and lead me on the path of becoming a professional photographer. Read more>>

Samantha Norwood | Chief Editor

I wanted to create a magazine but I wanted it to stand for something. So I took a pack of index cards and wrote some the name Chic then I decided that it would be an acronym for Create.Help.Inspire.Change. Read more>>

Jeevan Brown | Author, Orator & Clothing Designer

The thought process behind starting my own businesses like The Maskquerade, Unite Apparel and my book A Lesson Learned was to create a product that would have purpose and serve the community around me. I’ve always loved clothes since I was a child. In in high school I won Best Dressed and always tried to be presentable with my own style. I’ve also loved English and telling stories, so I intertwined all of creativeness and birthed these businesses. My thought process for writing A Lesson Learned was to inspire and help the younger generation avoid the mistakes me and my friends made in college. Some would say me and my friends lived a “wild, but fun” college life and we learned many lessons from it – good and bad. So, I decided to write A Lesson Learned, where I interviewed 16 of my friends about their collegiate trials and tribulations. Read more>>

Kendra Lewis | Transportation Company

Have you ever read the book rich dad poor dad? That’s basically my story. My mom is a well educated teacher and my dad was an entrepreneur who owned several businesses and properties. Like many Young adults I often went back-and-forth about what I wanted to do in life. I went to college, I obtained my undergraduate degree and also my masters degree from Georgia state university. Even with those two major accomplishments I still wanted something to call my own. My business ideal wasn’t something I planned. I stumbled upon the ideal one night while I was out enjoying myself when I saw another transportation company. When I saw the bus I thought to myself I can do that. The special night took place in September . I purchased a bus in January. This process has not been easy however, through Perseverance I have been successful. Read more>>

Shaddon Balknight | Musical Artist

I just didn’t want to work under anyone no more and my music career felt like something I could realistically start building on to make that reality. It was more “Ok I’ve had enough let’s get serious about this.” Read more>>

Jennifer Punch | Cake Shop Owner

I wanted to find something I was passionate about but would also be able to be home with my sons. Read more>>

DØN DØŁØ | Recording Artist & Entrepreneur

Long story short, it was easier because I was already passionate about music and writing. I believe the talents that come easy to you but hard for others are ones you should never ignore. Read more>>