We asked some of the city’s hidden gems to tell us about what they feel is the most important factor behind their success.

Jessica Aldridge: Serial Entrepreneur

Work! I think a lot of people have a misconception when it comes to “being your own boss”, the most important part of being successful and reaching success is putting in the work that is required to get there. I would also say patience, we are in an era that loves instant gratification, thanks to technology everything these days seems so fast, but a successful brand doesn’t happen overnight, you have to have the work ethic and the patience it takes to get there. Faith without work is DEAD! So you take the leap of faith you start your business but you have to do the WORK!. Read more>>

Classified Alias: Producer & Musician

Self-discipline, practice, and people that hold me accountable. I have a habit of focusing and practicing on something so much that I almost ignore everything else around me – Do I think that’s necessarily a good thing? Not all the time, but it’s definitely a trait that I have come to appreciate. With that, the people closest to me hold me accountable when I don’t leave room for those other things. It creates a healthy balance. I work hard and I have dedicated a lot of time and energy to my craft. Not only because I want to be successful at what I do, but because I feel like I owe it to the people that have helped me get this far. Read more>>

Marques Woolford: Actor and Personal Trainer

The most important factor in my career whether it be Personal Training or Acting, the thing I hold of most importance is doing great work, being professional, and treating everyone with the utmost respect. In both fields you truly want for people to request you over and over again. You can’t do that without creating an amazing work space and experience working with you. Read more>>

Sonya Vaverek: Owner, Head Baker, and Decorator

The most important factor behind our success is faith and family. Without family support, support from friends and community we would not have grown to the extent that we have today. Without faith we would not have the courage to pursue our dreams and passions. You hear community is very important in growth of a business, that is true. You also have to work to maintain those relationships and build that community. Another factor is constantly learning, you have to realize there is always something new to learn and you always have room for growth. If you get stuck in your ways without continuing to learn and grow, you become stagnant. We can not give enough thanks to our family, friends, clients, and community for their support. Read more>>

Cody Vondell: Multimedia Artist & Content Creator

I think one of the key elements of success in your brand is to stay active in communities, create work that other people want to engage with, and engage as much as possible with other people and brands you admire. Staying active in various online art and music communities has helped me become friends with some very talented creators and land some great gigs over the years. Read more>>

Monica Sabatelli: Professional Makeup Artist for Film and TV

When I was young I felt extremely out of place in the environment I was in, while everyone was talented at math, science and writing, I was saving every penny I could find to buy makeup. Looking back I spent many years feeling inadequate because I wasn’t great at school, meanwhile I had classmates lining up at my door for me to do their makeup, even nicknaming me “Makeup Monica”. I knew that there was something more for me past the four walls of a classroom. I knew that my skills would one day be valued and appreciated, but as a young adult that can be difficult to grasp. The following years I proceeded to go through the motions of community college to please my parents and do what was “normal”. I felt stuck, unhappy, and unsure of what my future was going to hold. I knew I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, I just didn’t know how I was going to get there. Read more>>

V Henny: Content Creator, Host, Media Personality, Manager, and Event Curator

Some important factors that helped me succeed within my brand would be to stay consistent, remain true to your self and relationship is currency. Read more>>

Kelsey “xandria.” Alexandria: Director | Performer

The thought process behind the start of my business is the same answer to the most important factor to its success: Making (sh)It Happen. I looked around and didn’t see as many opportunities for creatives that look like me. If being a black woman has taught me anything, it is that being a leader is not an option. If we wanted to play the leads, be taken seriously, or produce our own content, there wasn’t a choice. “Make It Happen” is The BlackOUT Company’s motto because it means being fearless with every choice and refusing to quit no matter the outcome. Read more>>

Samar Shah: Patent Attorney and Entrepreneur

One of the most important factors behind my personal success as an attorney, and the success of my law firm is to be radically outcome driven. We strive to turn legal questions into actionable steps that a client can perform to protect themselves or to avoid liability. That may seem like a normal thing to offer, but it is insanely difficult to get it right in the world of legal. My practice focuses on intellectual property law and patent law in particular. We help clients protect their intellectual property and turn that intellectual property into business assets. It’s a great job, but the problem with this area of law is that it can be incredibly complex—and their is a ton of ambiguity in our case law. Every question could have 10 different “right” answers depending on your particular circumstances, the competitive space that you operate in, your goals, etc., and many questions don’t have any “right” answers at all!. Read more>>

Blake Bolton: Fashion Designer

Consistency! If it is one thing I am happy I did throughout this journey, it is be consistent. And I don’t want it to sound like I was 100% consistent all the time, but I kept going, I never stopped learning, creating, networking, or trying to be better at my craft. With consistency comes growth, knowledge & experience and that is something you can’t buy. All of those things depend on consistency, for example, you cannot have experience without consistency. So because I have stayed consistent, I have been able to create better garments, a better working environment, a better knowledge and understanding of design & fashion, and just a better business in general. I am more qualified for the my job because of my consistency. Read more>>

Michelle Parrish: Bespoke Cake Artist & National Certified Surgical Tech

Success can be defined in many ways. With my business I have maintained stability by being consistent. The success of my brand has been defined by the challenges that took place and how I came through those challenges as well as being able to tell the story afterwards. I contribute majority of the growth to putting the client’s perspective first. I’m always evaluating “how I would I feel as a customer”. I give each client the same experience no matter they are returning or it’s their first time. Read more>>

Deborah McGlawn: Creative & Founder of Ch8sing Waterfalls

Purpose and passion are the most important factors behind our success and the success of Ch8sing Waterfalls. Our success unfolds in layers which are not one solo factor. You see we purpose to create a safe, healing space for black women as we forge diversity outdoors. This is my passion, this is my purpose. These are the driving factors behind the success of Ch8sing Waterfalls. Read more>>

Myles Powell: Founder & CEO of 8 Myles

The unrelenting hustle. The food industry is a tough place to be in. And there have been quite a number of ups and downs throughout the journey. Especially downs. But each failure just served as more motivation. And my desire to achieve greatness always overpowers fear or doubt. Read more>>

Quasheem D Herring: Actor, Director, and Producer of 2 Words CheckMate

First and foremost I would have to say my faith in God and my belief in true work ethic, what I mean by that is this God has blessed me with unbelievable talent, great hardworking individuals, and a never quit attitude no matter what stands in front of me. So with that confidence no matter how far it looks or how long it takes I see, feel, and know the success is coming even before it arrives. I believe you must visualize the dream and feel it in your toes before it truly comes to fruition. Read more>>

Klanea Evans: Fashion Stylist

My 4 most important factors behind my success are: My son, Resiliency, God and Trust. My son is the most important factor because his future will be majorly influenced on how I lived my life in front of him. If I fail, I make sure to get back up because he’s watching me. If I work hard, he’ll work hard. If I set goals I make sure that I accomplish them and explain them in the process. I remember growing up and having all of these dreams, but didn’t see many people accomplishing theirs. So, I wasn’t sure if dreams really came true. Now I wonder why they didn’t try harder or where was their own family, friends and support to help them on their way? Where were all the ones that have succeeded their dreams? So, instead of my son going through all of that and living in a land of wonder; I told myself that I’ll never give up. Read more>>

Anna Lonelle: Artist & Author

The most important factor behind my success is transparency. I believe the reason people are drawn to my ministry is because of my willingness to share the raw highs and lows of life. I believe I can make more of a connection and Impact with people by sharing the reality that no matter your past mistakes, or what life may throw at you to throw you off course, if you stay rooted in Jesus, you will win!. Read more>>

Tina Vercelote: Owner

The name, PIETRA Luxury in Stone. PIETRA means stone in Italian. We capitalize PIETRA like a registered trademark. Just as if it were a common brand name, such as JEEP or AT&T. “Luxury in stone” speaks to the exquisite beauty of our product and how the timelessness of natural stone can impact a kitchen, bath or any living space. PIETRA Luxury in Stone — Where art is our form and beauty is the function. Read more>>

Chanda Patterson: Cake Artist

The most important factor behind the success of Kice’s Cakes thus far is that I treat every customer with respect. Whether you’re purchasing cookies or a wedding cake your business is essential to my company. I also take pride in everything I bake and design. I’m my worst critic. I make sure that all items are fresh and taste good. A lot of my recipes were my grandmother’s that I’ve tweaked over the years. Read more>>

Kasha Fulton: Mom & Event Space owner

The most important factor behind my success is attributed to my customer service skills. While working my corporate job in the past, I took team building and customer service classes to sharpen my skill set. So, once I branched off on my own and started my own business, I made sure to apply those skills which has helped me develop relationships with my customers and I receive the most referrals from my clients due to my customer service and accommodating nature. Read more>>