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.

Rodrika Bailey Scott | Business Owner, Speaker & Advisor

When it came to starting my business, my first step was figuring out if this was a SMART move. My business initially began as a favor that grew into a need. I have learned the best businesses are the one that solves people’s problems. In my case, I was solving a need for peace and cleanliness so my clients could grow their business in vacation rentals. Before I launched, I researched what I could about cleaning businesses. Everything from Formations, potential profits and the different avenues/niches in cleaning. And although I was unsure and inexperienced in my field, I decided to go for it. The freedom and control over my life was worth the jump. Read more>>

Destiny Quarles | Entrepreneur & Esthetician

I started my own business when I was a high school student.I worked two part time jobs at Chick-fil-A and home goods, but I always knew I had more to offer than just my 9 to 5. In high school I always had a plan, I knew that I wanted to go to esthetician school right after I graduated. I began to think of ways that I can start a business that would go along with my future career path. I took a leap of faith and decided to save up to invest in taking a mink lash extension class. My thought process was to start lashing in school and once I go on to esthetician school my services will align. I also had a collection of bracelets that I would wear on a daily basis with positive energy charms. I would always get compliments on the bracelets, one day I thought to myself how easy it would be for me to actually sell them with me being my own promotion. After creating a business plan I then came up with the business I now have today LinkNdMinksCo. Read more>>

Valda Blackmoore | Entrepreneur, Food Blogger & Recipe Developer

I wanted to do something that brought me joy. Something that I would do regardless of whether I got paid for it or not. That thing for me is cooking. I absolutely enjoy being in the kitchen, creating delicious foods for my family and friends. If I’m having a particularly stressful day, creating in the kitchen relaxes me. As a result, I decided to start a food blog, to talk people on a culinary journey with me. I share my recipes online, however it has been a long time goal to write a cookbook, sharing recipes of the foods that I grew up with, in Dominica. Another goal is to create a line of spices so that readers can recreate the recipes in their own homes, using the same spices that I use everyday. Read more>>

Stephanie Gerding | Voiceover Actor and Filmmaker

When I last spoke with VoyageATL, I was building my business as a filmmaker. Now more than six months later, I’ve worked on big-budget shows for both Marvel and Warner Bros. and have grown immensely in my journey to becoming an assistant director. But this past year has given me the space to rediscover my other passions, the biggest being acting. I grew up performing and was trained as an actor for many years, but my senior year of high school, I took a voiceover class that piqued my interest. Five years later, I started my voiceover business. It’s easy to struggle as an actor building my business from scratch. I’ve failed and I’ve fallen, but what keeps me going is my fear of staying on the ground. Doing what I love gives me motivation, and my faith has a lot to do with that too, knowing that there isn’t anything that I won’t be able to overcome so long as I get back up and trust that things will get better. There is so much planned for me in my future that I can’t imagine, and if there are things I haven’t seen or goals I haven’t reached, the mystery and potential of it all is too intriguing to give up. Read more>>

Janique Burke | Luxury Hospitality Expert

I’ve always had the entrepreneurial bug. I was a freelance writer and independent publicist for 11 years. I love the freedom entrepreneurship provides. I love to be able to work on my own terms, wherever I want and to create what I want. For me, it’s all about living your dream and being fulfilled and happy. I also have an 11 year-old son who loves that I’m home spending time with him and able to go to his soccer games. For seven years, I worked at Forbes Travel Guide as an independent contractor with the title of a luxury hospitality expert. I traveled around the country visiting luxury hotels/resorts, spas and restaurants evaluating them based on luxury hospitality standards then determining where they measured in the Forbes’ star-rating program. Luxury is a part of my life and that was the absolute best job, which led me to another dream, to create a community for women like myself who love the finer things in life: Girlfriends’ Guide to Luxury as well as my latest venture through my Burke Media Consulting LLC. called Short & Suite Luxury Services. Read more>>

Taryn Haber | Graphic Designer

It was honestly a little out of spite. I have many friends with small businesses who can’t afford professional branding/logos because the larger companies will charge over $500 for a simple design. I’m proficient in the same tools and skills that they are. Why not help out my friends who need these things to grow their business? Sometimes I trade with them for their products or I take small payments until they can afford to pay me more for my services, but I’m often still undercharging according to big design companies. I’m happy doing it. Read more>>

Faith J Harris | Life Coach & Photographer

I’ve always had the desire to be in business for myself at a young age. As I got older I wanted to show my children how not to be afraid to go after their dreams while facing adversity in life. Another thing is that I’ve been in the art scene and creating since kindergarten. It was always my first way of expressing myself and allowing myself to dream beyond reality. I want to teach my children that its other ways to grow wealth. Its nothing wrong with working in corporate America, but I want to teach them that is not the only option you have to take. Read more>>

Ebony Westwood | Serial Entrepreneur focusing on Image + Branding Consulting, Marketing Influencer, Fashion Instructor, and Mompreneurship

I noticed trends, such as female entrepreneurs suffering with imposter syndrome (the lack of of self-confidence), scarcity mindset, video phobia, and how to dress the part. These female entrepreneurs have the expertise but don’t know how to show up confidently in the market. And how do I know? Well, because I was once that female entrepreneur myself when first starting my own business(es). So what I decided to do was to do something about this. I have 5 tactical steps behind building my business that I’d like to share with you that helped me start my business(es). Read more>>

Brittany Holland | All Natural Cleaning Products

My thought process behind starting MaJur MaJik spiraled from me having a cleaning business and not wanting to use chemical based cleaners. My all natural cleaning products are 100% safe for children and all adults to use!. Read more>>

Dr. Dani Espino | Running Coach & Physical Therapist

I always knew that I wanted to have a career where I was able to help others, bring people together, and give back to the community. Working in the “traditional” physical therapy setting, this wasn’t really feasible, at least not the way I envisioned it. And so, I decided to start my own business. In doing so, I’m able to treat people one-on-one and really give them the experience in the medical system that they deserve. One where their concerns are heard and they are involved in discussing and deciding the best treatment approach for them. I’ve also been able to invest in our running community by partnering with other amazing run leaders throughout Atlanta, and donating my services or helping to host events to bring people together. Another big factor in deciding to start my own business, was being able to have the flexibility to spend time with my family and pursue the other things I love. To be able to take a week long trip to visit my family in Miami or travel to South America on a mission trip. Read more>>

Mary Beth Thomas | Co-Founder of helloHOPE

When our daughter’s doctor gave us her diagnosis, his first words were, “Don’t google it.” We quickly learned that waiting rooms were full of parents who, like us, were ready to learn all they could about how to best help and support their child, but the information lacked the emotional support component that is equally important. We knew that we wanted to curate a place online where parents facing a medical diagnosis could find hope and strength for the journey!. Read more>>

Catherine “Cwezy” Obanda | Creative Entrepreneur (Singer-songwriter, Music producer, Web Developer) & Aviator

I just needed control over my time and money plus ideas are constantly flowing in me. We grow up in a system telling us what to do and how to do it. Right from childhood, through school, and into adulthood. It’s like an infinite loop of waking up, suffering, and sleeping. It gets monotonous and we get drained especially if you’re in a career you’re not enthusiastic about. Not everyone has the strength and patience to sustain a 9 to 5. Dreamers and adventurous people like myself who enjoy some diversity in experiences may not fit well in a confined system. We love freedom and a sense of spice to life. Today I could be interested in product design, tomorrow I may feel like I could create the next AI marvel and that’s the beauty of starting a business. You create something and it could sustain you for years if not a lifetime! Every day you have the opportunity to diversify your business and incorporate new ideas using your own strategic plans and meet targets at your own pace. No external pressure, just steady growth. Creativity isn’t also limited to “company policies” and you can extend this freedom to those you’ve hired or work with to dream and incorporate your magic in what you do. Read more>>

Dr. Zarinah Hud | Physician, Author, & CEO of Nature’s Freedom Vitamins

Starting a business was not necessarily my professional goal. As a physician my goal was to be the best physician that I could be for my patients and to educate and empower them along the way. I quickly realized once I completed all my medical training and began to practice medicine in the “real world”, that many of the things that I wanted to do for my patients was met with limitations. Some of these limitations were due to the way that our current healthcare system is structured. This led me down the entrepreneur road of opening my own practice to be able to engage my patients with more depth, more autonomy and comprehensive treatment plans. This also sparked my interest in providing more resources to my patients and the world at large. I did this by writing a best-seller book and launching my product line. I knew what the void was, and I knew I needed to do my part to fill that void utilizing all my gifts and passions. Read more>>

Kimarie Morris | Hair Care with a Purpose!

If you know me, you know I’m team Peyton. I’ve always known my son would not flourish in a traditional school setting and I would not be able to support my family fully on someone else’s payroll. My family will need time and flexibility that a traditional job just doesn’t offer. It took me years to find a path and a way to start building that lifestyle. I knew nothing about starting a business when I jumped on this roller coaster. What I did know is that I didn’t want to chase a the dollar, but the growth. In a big picture for me, my clients growth equates to my own growth. If I can spread NuGrowth Oil and Hair Care across the country and everyone is growing, so will I. So I have to make sure I am putting out products that people can be confident in and excited to use. I have my own standards and my clients will appreciate that. Read more>>

Katie Davison | Cake Artist and Instructor

My little bakery was born out of my need for a creative outlet. I have always loved baking and all things art, I just never had the time to commit to being a better baker. After our second son was born, I started baking more while being at home with him. I took to social media to share my treats and the rest is history!. Read more>>

Felicité Cesaire | Creative Brand Consultant | Mental Health Advocate

I always understood there was a process. What I believed was success or would make an impact would NOT happen overnight. I knew there were levels, steps, layers, and so much healing in order to build something impactful. The Furnace Is For Gold was a tribute to my personal journey and people began to apply it to their lives as well. Read more>>

Noel Davis: Archaeologist/ Gym Owner

I never saw myself owning a business because I always dreamed of being an archaeologist and I was already living my dream by age of 21. In 2016, I was in a car accident that changed my life as I had to rehabilitate my back after having multiple bulging discs. After my recovery from working out and making it a passion for what it did for me, I got certified to help others with their fitness journey. I was nervous at first starting a business because I just moved to Philadelphia and I did not know how to reach the market here in the city but throughout the years I was finally able to make a name for myself. Read more>>

Ashly Costello | Owner of Island Squeeze Lemonade & Student

While on the beach one day I had forgotten to pack a cooler and I wished someone was selling something to drink. I was thinking about my family’s Sicilian Lemonade that I grew up drinking. That’s when I realized, there is a need for this product. So I called my family in New York and told them I had an idea – I want to sell our family’s Sicilian Lemonade on the beach. They said if I’M looking for something great to drink on the beach, other people will want that also. The next day I called every beach in the area asking if I would be able to sell my product on their beach. The answer was no, and then another no, and a lot more nos. Finally, I had luck with Ryan Gordon, the Supervisor at Oak Island Recreation Department. Ryan told me to come down and apply for a business license, and that I would be able to peddle on the beach. So in May of 2019, I took the 45 minute trip from Wilmington to Oak Island and ISLAND SQUEEZE LEMONADE was officially born. Read more>>

Chantelle Owens | CEO & Founder, GA Tax Lien Bootcamp

Autonomy is one of my most important personal values. I feel safest when I’m able to be the decision maker on matters that affect me. Being able to control my own destiny is priceless. Read more>>

Brent Leach | Father and Business Partner of Jack Leach, owner of Jack’s Cheesecake

Initially the business was just supposed to be a small venture for my autistic son Jack. He made a cheesecake with my mom and he asked her to buy him his own cheesecake pans. We started donating the cheesecakes he made to Oconee County Middle School’s Special Needs Program where Jack’s teacher Ms. Audrey Norman would sell them on her coffee cart by the slice to raise money for the program. The teachers started contacting us directly to get whole cheesecakes made by Jack so we started a home based Facebook Business for him. Read more>>

Laura Hamilton | Weight-Loss Addiction Specialist- I Help Women Battling With Their Weight, Break The Diet Cycle and Get Results

Starting my own business was not something I thought I could ever do. I just knew that I had a story to tell, and people to help.When I think about my own journey and how much I have learned and how much better my life has been since learning how to get healthy, lose weight and keep it off with just 3 main principles, I just wanted to share it with whoever would listen! Since my 9-5 was in the same field, I couldn’t help but feel trapped by the limiting beliefs of corporate business. I knew how effective my system was, I knew I needed to break out and start showing others how it was done, my way. Read more>>

Kelly R. Whaley | Author, Speaker & Relationships Coach aka “The LovePreneur”

In deciding to start my own business, the thought process was simple; BE AUTHENTIC. BE TRANSPARENT. BE HONEST AND BE REAL. I knew that was the only way to not only become successful, but to also help change lives. Read more>>

Monique Baisden | Executive Producer, Creative Director, Songwriter

Prior to starting 4 The Kingdom Entertainment, I had been an independent songwriter for about 12 years. Throughout the 12 years of being an independent songwriter, I had spent a lot of time networking with other songwriters and producers, and pursuing opportunities with other people’s record labels and attempting to write and compose music with and for other artists and producers, with no success. In 2020, I felt compelled by God to launch my own entertainment company because I wanted to wanted to create the music that I felt was missing in the music industry, but more importantly, I desired to give other songwriters, producers, composers, artists, and other creatives seeking a career in the music industry the opportunity to sit at the table that God was leading me to build. Read more>>

Cencere | Photographer

One of the main reasons I began photography was to apply a style and start trends that aren’t typically seen. I want to change how people perceive the world around them. I have always been interested in different perceptions of the world that can change how others think, act, and feel. Through photography, I am able to show all sides of my perspective and even change other’s perspectives. I have always wanted to show street culture being cohesive with high fashion not being just a trend supporting high fashion. I grew up in Atlanta and a lot of our everyday culture is celebrated as its own entity. I wish to capture this essence, and I think photography is the best avenue to do this. Read more>>

Grace Brown-Pouncy | Baker

I’d been toying with the idea of a side hustle for a while. Even while working professionally at a bakery, I would still come home and test recipes. I started Goodness Graceous Baking when the pandemic hit Atlanta and the city shut down. I knew it was the best time to get pastries out to the community. I didn’t have a big plan, I just figured I’d start somewhere and see where it takes me. It’s been about a year since I’ve started — I’ve learned a good deal and have some dreams for the future. I’m working on the next steps for how to make it all happen. Read more>>


Maurizio Bortolussi | Fashion Designer

When I decided to start Bortolussi it was showing everyone my background, my history, my life, brought into garments. I wanted to bring my Italian, Mexican and American heritage and bring all of that into my brand. When people see my brand it’s not something you would usually see at a store, these are more Avant-Garde, hand crafted garments by me and only me. I’ve never wanted a team to help me out designing my own thoughts. The people who buy my garments have a part of myself but they also resonate with the garment. They understand the meaning behind it and the hours put into it. Read more>>

Kyleigh Giddens | Owner

I Wanted To Start My Own Business Because I Eventually Want To Work For Myself. I Wanted Something That I Could Call My Own & That I Could Potentially Pass It Down To My Own Kids In The Future. Read more>>