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.

Chester Wilson | Consultant and Trainer

Being the little boy from the “hood”, I never imagined I would or could be a business owner. Being a first generation college student was a major milestone, but I did not know entrepreneurship was attainable. However, my thought process shifted. I figured if I was good enough to be hired and promoted by a large firm, then I had something they needed. That thought grew and I cast my net. Each time I cast it, the return was larger and larger. It was then I knew I could do this. Read more>>

Ivory Chana | Fashion Stylist

The process of starting Chana Chic was honestly a random thought. I wanted something different and edgy to express how I felt every time I put a look together. It came to me just like that! In that moment, I knew that my brand would be everything and more. It was something about the way my name flowed with the word chic. I was like “YEP, THAT’S IT”. Chana (CHUH-NAE) is my middle name and I always loved the edge it had. Adding chic with my name is the same way I like to add a chic touch to all my styled looks. From day I created Chana Chic until now I have been able to find myself and my passion! The process isn’t over yet, the best is yet to come. Read more>>

Stan Jackson | Gemini2Face/Caricature Artist & Illustrator

Initially, drawing and creating cartoons was a hobby. Over time, I started to develop a fan base. That’s when I recognized God gave me an artistic talent to share with the world instead of being content with working for someone else. I wasn’t a traditional portrait artist, so starting my own business was a great opportunity to show that you can generate income as a caricature/cartoon artist. In addition, it’s a cool and fun career not corny like some people may think. Read more>>

Aniya Reed | Baker / Cake Decorator

When I first started my business I was nervous , I didn’t know much about starting my own business . I thought this would be a task and a challenge to me but eventually , as time went on I overcame my fear . I learned many new things I’ve learned during this creative process no challenge is a challenge . Creativity has no limit to it just have to put your mind to it and work hard for what you want. Read more>>

Levina J. | Actress, Digital Content Creator, & Mompreneur

Honestly, I didn’t want to punch a clock anymore! I realized the things that were truly in my heart no longer resided In having a 9 to 5. More importantly, the impact I was having on my children by not sending them to a childcare provider everyday was significantly changing their behavior. They were happier and that was a game changer for me. There is nothing wrong with a 9 to 5 by the way. Working parents especially moms have to do what they have to do to provide. But I was personally ready to venture off into making my vocation my occupation. 10 out of 10, I highly recommend. Read more>>

Arlene Starr | Founder of 180 Degree Box

The thought process behind starting my own business happened while i was going through a self care and lifestyle change. I thought i know there are several other persons who needs encouragement and some interesting items to help them to enjoy their selfcare and lifestyle journey. So i created 180 Degree Subscription box, I knew i could send each individual a sense of pause and something to look forward to that is special just for them, to take a moment to breathe and discover so many ways to take a moment for them to recover and or just slow down. I already loved doing gift packaging, so its now like creating a special gift to give each individual the opportunity to discover items they never. Read more>>

Sheree Knowles (She, Her, Hers) | Founder & CHRO

I founded HR Knowledge Source (HRKS), a global faith-based human resources consulting firm, with the ‘little guys’ in mind. I worked for many start-up organizations and often found myself to be the sole HR practitioner. It was very challenging not to have someone else to bring in diversity of thought and expertise. I knew there were other professionals who felt this same level of ‘pain’ and so I founded the firm as an answer to my own, and their, frustration. Because of my involvement with start-ups, I knew that the traditional ‘one size fits all’ consultancy model would not work. I know, from experience, that growing companies need a firm foundation in HR, both from a people capital perspective and also from a business operations perspective. They often cannot invest in full-time senior level HR leaders but they need the talent of those senior level HR leaders. Read more>>

Desmond Robinson | Traveling Personal Chef, Recipe Developer, Food Blogger, Culinary Instructor, & Etiquette Coach

I actually was never planning to start a business. I just wanted to cook. Initially, I was planning to start a food blog where I was learning recipes as I went along. The goal was to teach myself about culinary arts through exploration and documenting it. I ended up catering one event which begin my journey as a chef and business owner. At the point that I recognized I had a viable business on my hands, my goal was to be as innovative and authentic as possible. I knew that if I continued to make the types of food that I love, present it in a way that’s organic to my presentation style, and offer the type of customer service that is true to my Southern Charm, Id get to where I needed to be. Read more>>

Murad Nadir | Fitness Instructor

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit last March there was one thought that rang through my mind, “I gotta make it to the other side of this in a better position than I came into this.” I immediately diversified my fitness modules and began practicing Zoom training sessions with anyone that was bored enough to join my classes. When I became confident in my program- I began pitching my brand on different social media programs. In my first year of business; I have over 20 clients, ages 15-59, from all across the USA. I believe there will be two types of people on the other side of the pandemic: those sitting on the Good Morning America sofa speaking about how they changed their lives during Covid-19 and those watching-wishing they did the same. I’d like to be on GMA!!. Read more>>

Annie Jamison | Founder (The Real Journey of Grieving Mothers, Inc.)

My thought process when I began my non profit was “how can I be a help to other moms who have suffered child loss”. I wanted every mother who walked this journey to know they were not alone and someone else understands. It all started one evening while sitting on my bed with tears rolling down my face. I was so consumed with grief. My heart literally felt like it was coming through my chest. Even after two years I still couldn’t believe that my only son was no longer here on earth with me. The son I birthed, raised and thought I would get to see grow old, well at least older than 21. As I sat there all I could think about was how I hoped no other mother was feeling this pain. However, I knew somewhere out there another mother was feeling the same way. I also knew in my heart that mother may have nowhere to turn. Read more>>

Hannah Brawley | Photographer

When considering my optimal career or “dream job,” I envisioned myself doing something that exercised my skillset, added social value, and compensated me enough to meet my cost of living while maintaining a free and flexible lifestyle. Being a self-employed photographer and artist allows me to accomplish all those things; however, it presents challenges and requires hustle. Read more>>

Nikia Kenneybrew | CEO of Her Kloset Plustique

As a child growing up I’ve always been heavy in size, and as I got older I continued to see the lack of fashionable clothing for plus sized women, I knew my business was needed to solve a problem and provide what we were missing, fashion!. Read more>>

Myriah Sparks | Fashion Style Consultant & Personal Shopper

I just went for it. It sounds cliche, but I overthink alot. So if I waited until all my thoughts were perfect and aligned, I would have kept finding reasons to not do it. It actually started with me being inspired from a Paris trip I took at the end of 2018 and my friends pushing me that propelled me into launching The Closet Whisperer. Once I launched, I figured things out as I went. I had the benefit of this not being my full-time job, so I treated it as a side-hustle. I learn by doing, so it is still trial and error, but I have found my niche and what my audience needs and wants so it makes it easier to create content to meet that need. Read more>>

Stephanie Wright | Dinner A’Fare Founder

I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. My father, my grandparents, and my great grandparents all started their own businesses. Each business was completely different though. I always knew that I wanted to own my own business but had no idea what I wanted to do. In some ways I feel like it was harder going about discovering what you want to do in life by doing it this way. Ideally you are really good at something and you decide to pursue that as the business you want to start. I started the other way around. I knew I wanted to open my own business but had no idea what that would be. I spent a few years during and after graduate school doing many different things to try and discover what that might be. I was a substitute teacher, worked at Martha Stewart, I worked in an art gallery, and in a paint your own pottery studio. Ultimately my first business was opening a paint your own pottery studio because I felt that that was the business, I knew how to run the best and thought that it would be the most fun. Read more>>

Adam Charles | Beard Serum Chemist

As I began my search for products to satisfy my skin and body’s needs, I found myself searching far and wide only to find a few products for men’s care. When I found one I liked; it was on a sale shelf with no way to purchase again, or they discontinued the products. Beard oil was becoming increasingly difficult to find in stores and the products offered online were either too costly or didn’t have the ingredients that I knew I wanted for my beard and skin. I thought to myself enough is enough! I decided to take matters into my own hands and start creating my own oils and soaps – I ended up loving them! So much so I want to share them with the world! Once a recipe was created, my product offered me results that the products sold in stores that I used in the past did not. My beard was growing exponentially, my skin was smooth and free of blemishes, and the best part. Read more>>

Ms. Salter | Entrepreneur and Bartender.

The thought process behind starting my own business began while experiencing a developing success servicing family functions. Doing what came natural to me gave me freedom. The idea of being free from the limitations of working a traditional job allowed for self expression to flow and grow into creativity. “Why not turn this into a business,” I thought. The joy I felt watching others have a good time, and playing a role in that contributed to my ambition of starting a business of service. How will I make this official.? What licenses do I need? I will eventually have larger events that I can’t service alone. I am going to need help. How will I market myself? I will need to open a business account. All of which are just a few thoughts I had at the beginning. Read more>>

Lisa Fields | Beauty Supply Store Owner

The thought of having my own business has been something that I believe I was born with. It seems so natural for me to think of ways to earn a money without answering to anyone. Miss Ebony’s Beauty Essentials, a venture both myself and my husband recently embarked on, was a collaborative choice. We thought, why not give our people a beauty supply store like no other. A place where they can come in, receive a consultation regarding their hair, and not be watched as if they came in to steal. We wanted to offer a place where our people can come and feel welcomed while being treated with the highest quality of customer. Read more>>

Anisa Palmer | Purpose Strategist, Public Speaker, Combat Veteran & Author

I was born an Entrepreneur! I saw my mom and dad excel at entrepreneurship so well when I was young. Dad owned a medical lab and Mom was an artist and teacher. At age 17, I was working at an early learning center with two side gigs (babysitting and a hairstylist for children). Palmer Firm is about building a legacy. As a new mom, it means so much more to me now than it did when I started it in 2012. I have met so many people all over the world who were not living in their purpose or those who wanted to serve but did not know where to begin. Our Firm trains, coaches, and inspires people in various ways. We help people get over their fear of public speaking, find their purpose, start a nonprofit organization in 3o days, and speak at events all over the nation on leadership and health. Read more>>

SharRon Jamison | Life Strategist, Culture Shifter, Minister, Mom

My business was divinely inspired to address 5 key areas: Healing, Self-Liberation, Self-Love, Justice, and Fulfillment! I wanted to address those core, foundational needs because everything people want to create, challenge, and contribute in the world depends on their ability to heal their souls, acknowledge their innate gifts, trust their inner wisdom, liberate themselves from societal norms, and love themselves. When people honor themselves, they can usually honor and respect others. Without honor and respect, there can be no justice and peace. Everything is connected, The individual always affects the collective. The personal always affects the political. The spiritual affects the systemic. And the private affects the public. I wanted to address those inter-related needs and offer services that helped people be more whole, humane, and grounded in God and themselves. I wanted to help people SOAR!. Read more>>

Maires Jung | Owner, Homy Home Sewing / Seamstress

In fact, it was just to be a hobby, I did not have in mind to turn it into a small business. I’ve never had sewed before, but had the desire to learn, just to do few things to myself, my family, friends. One day, I’ve decided to start, I had some ideas of pieces I would like to sew, so I’ve got my sewing machine, turned on the computer, search for videos and started. I still have a long way to become a great seamstress, and one of the ways that I’ve been learning is through my mistakes, understanding, and correting them. Talking to a friend and searching in the internet I’ve learned about Etsy, then I thought, why not? This friend of mine encouraged me to sell my pieces on Etsy, so Homy Home Sewing was born. From a desire to learn something, today I am able to put in practice my sewing skills, as well as my creativity to invent and reinvent sweing pieces for people that share the same passion for handcraft pieces. Read more>>

Alesia Huff | Event Planner

My thought process behind starting Salt. was to take my strengths (planning) and what I love to do (planning and serving others) and create a business that does more than just plan events. My goal from the initial thought process to now has been to reach people through my service in a way that gave honor to God and to serve the Christian community with my talent and gifts. Read more>>

Akenah Walker | Creator of Divine Sweets and Customized Treats

My thought process about starting my own business was to serve lovers of sweets and treats , event planners , party throwers and worldwide customers who enjoy decorative, delicious desserts. Read more>>

Brittney Hayes | Entrepreneur

Since I have been in the working field I have always wanted to be my own boss, I didn’t know where to start or how but I knew since working at McDonald’s as a senior in high school that I wanted to have a product or service benefiting to the community. It took me years before I took myself serious and really sat down and contemplated my goals and dreams and the things that I loved to do. I had so much fear of failure because it was new to me and I knew what I wanted to do but wasn’t sure if I had the right tools to do it right, but I thought about the saying ” Fear is temporary but regret is forever”. I understood that failure is also a part of success and if I wanted it bad enough I will have to go for it no matter the outcome I could tell myself I chased my dreams and didn’t let fear hold me back. Read more>>

Jache Kelley | Exercise Physiologist

I just wanted to help my community and I wanted to leave a positive impact and message. Read more>>

Matthew Coleman | Lender / Builder / Developer

I had a passion for business as a young child. I would shovel snow and cut grass to make money. I also detailed cars and that really showed me that it was not just about the money, but the fact that I could take something and make it better. The fact that I am bringing someone joy is icing on the cake. I know that a lot of people are infatuated with the thought of starting your own business. The fantasy of running your own business is not just traveling around the country and free time. The dream can come true but before that you have to put in a lot of hard work and smart choices to win!! I feel like entrepreneurship is like being an artist. The commitment to excellence is the formula for being a successful business owner. Each business owner may value different aspects of there business. Some owners work for different goals. What every you value will motivate you but you have to put the actual blessing first. Read more>>

Sashay | Entrepreneur & Model

My first thought process was how was I going to obtain inventory , with no knowledge of companies who supplied the materials I needed. I began to research on my own and take advice from fellow small business owners. Read more>>

KayLee Michelle | Entrepreneur, Author, Artist, & Entertainer

“A bad situation was the reason that a great opportunity was birthed” Hi, I’m KayLee Michelle and I was inspired to share my adventures with the world after being disappointed about losing a writing contest at school. I was also disappointed about how a new student in my class was not able to make friends as easily as I did. I was especially concerned about kids who moved to new places and had to make new friends. I believe that I am far from average, and very sensitive to and mindful of things that kids like me have to transition through daily. I too have been the new student before due to family changes. My life has taken a lot of turns these last 8 years. It has been an adventure. When I came home with the bad news, my mommy, Hashondra, published author and founder of Manifest A Deliverance (MAD), encouraged me to turn a not-so-good situation into opportunity and purpose that would change my life and the lives of others. Read more>>

Francheska “Fancy” Felder | Publisher/ Editor-in-Chief/ PR Strategist

I decided to go into business for myself because I knew that I am a creative person, and I wanted to do something that I loved. I knew a magazine would allow me to tap into several creative areas while also changing the narrative around Black people and giving back. Plus I realized that I didn’t do well working jobs for others. I’m very introverted. So workspaces were always very uncomfortable for me. Read more>>

Sandy Saintilus | Interior Designer

I started SANDY. STUDIOS for two reasons. One, representation. Representation is important and I didn’t see a lot of women of color in mainstream interior design media. Seeing people who look like you, doing what you want to do, lets you know what’s possible. I hope that growing my business (both by helping clients and building my YouTube community) encourages others to pursue their passion for design. Two, the struggle is real when it comes to decorating your home. I believe a space catered to you can truly improve your quality of life. The four walls around you shouldn’t suck the life out of you, they should pour into you and make you smile. I want others to know that interior design can impact your mental health and good design makes for happier people. Read more>>

Michael Lane | Personal Trainer and Risk Management Professional

For years my wife and I have been passionate about health and wellness. I never realized how passionate I was about health and wellness until I sat down and thought about it. It had always been a part of my life and a part of me. Many of my friends and family encouraged me to get involved in the space but I wanted to do something that was authentic to myself, my family, and our lifestyle. Once we figured out what that was and the best way to do it the Lane Wellness Co was born. Through Lane Wellness Co, we will address activity and nutrition for today’s modern partnership/family through exercise, food recipes, and mind/body connection. Read more>>

Kay Jones | Alignment Coach, Herbalist, Pleasure Enthusiast, Entreprenuer

When starting SheOrgasms, I wanted to create a natural product that will bring the joy back in intimacy. In a world where all the sexual help was for men, I knew from personal experience, from friends, and associates that women could use a little attention as well. When I heard there were women who felt that sex was a chore, or that they didn’t come from vaginal penetration or that they no longer got wet because of their medications, I knew I had to create a lifetime product and not a quick fix. I have a deep desire to help women, to know they are experiencing the pleasure they deserve. Through SheOrgasms I am building confidence and saving marriages. Read more>>

Kathi McCarty | Business Owner | Meth Toxins Awareness Alliance

Life happens when you are busy making other plans – John Lennon Why Meth Toxin Awareness Alliance Was Created Turning my “mess into a message to help others” My name is Kathi McCarty and I spent 25 years in the charming community of Evergreen, CO. I worked hard, creating financial stability over three decades, raised my 3 children into adulthood, and was on track to having my home paid off just in time for retirement. And then life happened. A major health situation took me out of my career. I wish I could, but I cannot sugar coat this. My story is not sexy or funny, but it is about resilience and impact, turning my mess into a message of purpose with passion to prevent this from happening to others. At the time I fell ill, all 3 of my kids were at various stages of college and I chose to rent out my home temporarily to help offset the mortgage payment and unexpected medical copayments. Read more>>

Kenya Johnson | The Curl Coach® & YouTube Content Creator

I have been caring for and growing my natural hair for 11 years and for the first 5 years I struggled with my hair in a way that affected my self-esteem and self-confidence. At least once a month when I would be struggling through an especially intense detangling session, I would think to myself, “If I ever figure this hair out, I am going to help other people do it too.” My passion is helping women understand their natural hair so they can let go of the stress, fear, and lack of confidence that comes from feeling like they have no control over their crown. Once I figured out exactly how to grow my hair as long as I wanted it to be and keep it healthy, I began sharing my journey on YouTube in 2016 for anyone who may have been lost as I had been. This led to me creating my natural hair coaching business in 2018 where I help women learn their hair, reach their hair goals, and transform their life. Read more>>

Martine Resnick | Co-Founder of The Lola. A Womxn’s Club, Workspace and Digital Community

I started working for big companies, “corporate America,” right out of University, and that was great for a long time. I grew up in the UK and lived in London, then New York for 10+ years before moving to Atlanta to get married and start a family. Corporate life can often be a grind as you don’t always have control over your schedule and technology means you’re “always on,” but it was after having my two children back to back that the cracks really started to show. I was exhausted and drowning in my to-do list, I realized the traditional corporate environment no longer fit my life. I started to notice the same feelings of frustration from my friends and peers, so while I was making my exit plan I also started studying the problem, looking for solutions and building out ideas. My search led me to the conclusion that the way we work is outdated, women are taught to fit into a world that isn’t built for them in the first place, and conforming to these socially accepted boxes isn’t working for any of us. Read more>>

Kaylee Crossfire | Musician & Entrepreneur

I realized early on how hard I was working to build someone else’s dreams. So I made a decision in 2016 to Quit my Job and focus on my own brand. Read more>>

Nathan Martin | Founder and CEO

Go Forth Goods is my third company, and I was looking for an exit strategy out of the Marketing Firm I was running. I stumbled into leather goods when I had a bag break on me while packing up for a family vacation. When looking for a replacement bag, I could not find an American made bag, with quality materials and simple design. So that’s when I got the idea to make my own. Read more>>

Michela Williams | Black Too Earth Co-Founder

My parents are entrepreneurs. My mother is a doctor who owns her own clinic and my father has a windshield business he started when I was a kid. Seeing my parents start their own business and really be successful with it fueled me! Also, Tony and I aren’t interested in working for corporations. We are also tired of non profit, for profits, and organizations using the social capital of the 400 year black American struggle as a means of pushing their own agenda. We wanted to create an organization that really represents our community and how we support each other!. Read more>>

Jai’Lyn Lover | Photographer

I have always been a person of promoting self love. Because in this world that we live you tend to see a lot less of that for various reasons. Particularly in African American women. As women we tend to find flaws in ourselves. Our midsection, butt, face, anything. When I began taking photos people would always ask “Can you edit my stomach, can you whitening my teeth, make me look like a model?” I would simply redirect and tell them that you are beautiful just the way you are. In order for someone else to love you, first you must love you. Our of this birthed my photography company “Unfiltered Photography, LLC” hence the name “UNFILTERED”. When you shoot with my goal is to make you fall in love with every aspect that my camera captures. I have been blessed to be in business going on 3 years now. Read more>>

Dev Rajkumar | Filmmaker

I know I had a passion for filmmaking that I wanted to share with the world. I wanted to write, direct, edit and shoot videos for others. Once I practiced helping out and shadowing friend’s first about a year, I decided it was time to start my own business. That is what motivated me to start my business, Lutrotes Studios. Read more>>

Sandra Porter | PMA & MPH

I wanted to create a brand that did not only leave your skin looking flawless, but also treating other imperfections. I wanted to build on a brand that catered to sensitive skin and very affordable. Read more>>