Thinking through whether to start a business – whether to take the risk, whether to go out on your own – isn’t easy.  So we asked some entrepreneurs we admire to tell us about how they thought through the process of starting a business.

DeShaye Lee | Social Media Coordinator & Brand Manager

Initially I just wanted to create a platform for women to uplift an empower one another. After so many setbacks and hard lessons, while dealing with individuals who were supposed to help guide me through my branding process, I began to research and learn things on my own. At this point my mission was to help other entrepreneurs to hopefully prevent them from going through some of the things I went through. Read more>>

Braylee Flaska | Fashion Designer & Stylist

I’ve never thought about anything else! When I was in elementary paying soccer I would tell my mom I HAD to become a professional because I HAD to have people wearing my name on the back of their shirts. Which clearly translates as to why I became a fashion designer and stylist. My favorite part of school was getting ready in the mornings. I never had a certain style specifically, I would switch it up every day. I often found myself wanting clothes I was sketching, but couldn’t find in store. My mom would help me make clothes throughout high school until I learned the proper process of garment making in college. People really liked what I wore and made so I started selling. It all came very natural to me and there’s not a day that I’m not excited to create something! I always say- if it’s not fun, I don’t want to do it!. Read more>>

Greg Hallmark | CEO

“A TASTE OF THE CARIBBEAN WITH REAL TEXAS HEAT!” Klowns on FireDuring a trip to St. John, VI in the Caribbean in 1994, a few close friends and I experienced a taste infused with the perfect combination of tangy sweetness from the local island fruits along with the right amount of heat. For years’ we’ve tried to create this type of sauce to no avail until early 2016 when the last piece of the puzzle was solved with the 20th ingredient added to finally create… “KLOWNS ON FIRE” TASTY HOT SAUCES” Fantastic on Grilled Chicken, Chicken Wings, Beef, Mexican Cuisine, Lasagna Pork Loin, Pork Ribs, Cream Cheese and Goat Cheese. Even fed some to “Tabasco Kitty” on St. John many moons ago! He was skinny when we arrived, but by the end of our vacation, he was a “PORKER”! If “HE” loved it, I knew we were on to something great! We are extremely proud to make this taste from the Caribbean with a Texas twist available to give everyone that wonderful fruit taste that starts out sweet but bites back with the perfect heat combination with the Carolina Reaper pepper. Read more>>

Tamara Batsell | Content Creator

When I hit the age of 40 I felt “some kinda way”. I did a pause and thought where did the time go. Am I now considered old? As I observed conversations with women in this age bracket it appeared that many didn’t feel good about being in this chapter of life. They were struggling with feeling undesirable, invisible, and lost about what direction to go in life. Once I had my momentary “pity party” about turning 40 I realized how blessed I was to feel good and be able to create whatever life I wanted for myself. My constitution in life has always been to not excuses but to make changes. A positive mindset is everything and I wanted to share this with the tribe of women who were over the age of 40. So, I started a fashion/lifestyle blog to celebrate the woman over 40. For many years I have been involved in the beauty industry. Although I have over 20 years of work experience in social services/health care in my spare time I did some modeling, personal styling, and makeup artistry work. Read more>>

Tanner Cartrite | Hairstylist/Owner

There really was no thought process when it came to me starting my business. I was thrown into and just winged it. It took a lot of trial and error, figuring out what worked best for me and my clients. Here I am 5 years into having Running with Scissors and I still always tweaking it. Read more>>

Shedrick Collins | Clothing Designer

I knew by the time I was 20 that I did not wanna spend the rest of my life working for anyone besides myself. So with that , I started to look at some of my hobbies to see what I could do to make some extra money. Ding ding ding , photography. I had taken multiple photography classes in high school and at the time had a personal camera so I started small and worked my way to being a professional. In the mist of all that my mom has started making custom T-shirts . That sparked my interest in having a clothing , within less than a month I started Blasé. Read more>>

Aaliyah Griffin | License Medical Esthetician

My thought process behind starting my business. “How would I do this?” “Where would I start?” “Will I succeed?” These are all the questions I asked myself before starting my business. It’s scary at first, your not sure where to start, where the money would come from, or if it would be something worth standing. But I put all that to the side and started preparing. The first thing I did was set goals, big goals! Most people would say be realistic but what does that mean? Settle? I made sure that my goals were so big, they scared me and they did. The second thing I did was seek advice from a person of wisdom and a business owner. That person for me was my mother. I tried not to think too hard or too long and I just did it. Read more>>

Sterling Arroyo | Actor & Theatre Marketer

I had recently left Los Angeles where I took overpriced classes, sat in on casting sessions, interned for a talent agent, auditioned during the day, and did staged readings at night. I was also a cater waiter, barista, dog walker, or babysitter on any given day (ah, the actor’s life). But when I arrived in Dallas, none of that seemed to matter. I was starting from ground zero. So I created a resource I wish I had when I moved to Dallas. Where is the best place to get headshots printed? Who are the most trustworthy talent agents? Where are we going for drinks after this show? It’s all being crowd sourced and documented at @artsdistrictpod. I want my platform to serve as a bridge. I hope it connects people in the audition waiting rooms, I hope the kid who just moved here knows the best place for comedy classes, I hope the young Shakespearean finds that free, online seminar to watch. I’m also pretty passionate about making sure live theatre lives to see the next generation of audiences, so if I can show locals that theatre is truly for everyone; every culture, every race, every economic status, every neighborhood… that would be thrilling. Read more>>

Doriel “Roscoe” Yeager | Entrepreneur & Fashion Designer

My thought process behind starting my own business stemmed from God putting it on my heart to break the cycle of poverty in my family and creating generational wealth and also being apart of multiple network marketing companies and being exposed to books such as “Business of the 21st Century” “Rich Dad Poor Dad” “Think and Grow Rich” and many other books that I read while being apart of various network marketing teams. I learned how business are ran and how people became wealthy and maintained their wealth. The Cash Flow Quadrant really opened my eyes to see the difference of wealth between an employee and a business owner. Once I was exposed to these things i began to work on building my own brand from scratch using the knowledge that I had learned and seeking mentors to learn from their mistakes so that I would not make the same mistakes. I thought about my passions and things I enjoyed doing and decided to create a clothing brand that not only focused on clothing but educating people about financial literacy through my merchandise. Read more>>

Stefanie Moschitta | Baker, Photographer, Business owner and Mom

I have always been very artistic and creative person for as long as I can remember. I knew I wouldn’t be happy in a corporate job or even one working for someone else like I had in the past. After I had my son in 2016 I decided I wanted to do something that helped my creative side as well as let me still be a full time mom home with him. With that I decided to start Shane’s Cookie Corner. Read more>>

Reginald White | Father & Owner of The RW Brand

It was kind of twofold, I wanted to create something that would have positive impact on my community but I also wanted to create something I could hand down to my daughter. RW Brand (Respect Women Brand) was created to be streetwear meets positive words of affirmation towards women. I wanted people to see my shirts and know exactly what I stood for. Hopefully through dope clothing with positive imagery we can help make this world a safer place for all women. Read more>>

Britney Thompson | Entrepreneur & Content Creator

In 2018 I had been sharing my bullet journal designs on my youtube channel for a while and started getting inquires about making custom bullet journals. I started getting questions about my handwriting and how people wanted it for their journals. I also realized that in terms of WOC I could bring a different look to the planner world. Melanin Eclectic was just my channel at the time but I decided then that it would be my entire brand. So I went through the process of turning it into an LLC and here we are today. Read more>>

Michael Gonzalez | Entrepreneur and Content Creator.

The thought process when starting my business was to create a business that helped people, companies, and brands share their voices and tell their stories. I wanted to give everyone the opportunity to have a platform. Whether that be a message that needs to be shared with customers or a story that needs to be told in order to bring understanding and inspiration. Visual Voice Media has always strived to make the storytelling process easy, fun, and affordable. Read more>>

Snookie Rochelle | Luxury Raw Hair Supplier & Custom Apparel Creator

All of the people closest to me had some type of side hustle/business as their “extra baby” and it made me want to have a baby of my own. I just didn’t know exactly what I wanted it to be. My friends told me to just think about what I enjoy the most or what I’m most passionate about and the first thing that popped in my head was hair. I’ve always dubbed myself as “the weave connoisseur” because I’m such a weave/wig fanatic. I would spend stupid amounts of money on bundles and wigs so it only made sense to spend that money on my own brand instead. So I did heavy research and spent hella money sampling hair from different suppliers until I found reliable suppliers with quality hair. And that was the birth of Snookie’s Hair Boutique. One of my best friends, Chassidy Nacole, owned a custom apparel company and she made all of my custom wig storage bags, bundle bags, and other swag items for my hair boutique. Read more>>

Shalisa Smith | Owner and Operator of Exquisite Tax Service

My thought process behind starting my own business was to give my clients the opportunity to be educated and comprehending taxes and being comfortable discussing very secure information rather than scared when taxes are involved. My goal is to always give my clients what they NEED and deserve. My customer service is my number one goal as I look forward to building a positive relationship with them to be a returning client as well as to bring friends and family along with them. I wanted to break the barrier of being mistreated and cheating during the tax experience. Read more>>

Dr. Alise Cortez | Management Consultant, Inspirational Speaker, Radio Host, Author

I started my business in March 2003, a month after my daughter was born. I fully intended to continue working as a new parent, but wanted to do so more “on my own terms.” In other words, my husband worked as a consultant and traveled 100% of the week. I did not want to have a job that would require me to place my daughter in day care where I’d have to drop her early in the morning and collect her late at night. So, I decided to work for myself and hire a part-time nanny instead. I wanted “it all.” and felt traditional employment in a job would not allow me to do this. Read more>>

Hector Kriete | Ceramic Artist

My thought process is constantly evolving. Sometimes I have to move away from making art towards making money to survive for the sake of continuing to do what I love. Art school doesn’t emphasize enough how important business and marketing are to an artist’s living. Read more>>

Dr. Sarah E. Carlson | Licensed Professional Counselor – Supervisor, Registered Play Therapist – Supervisor, & Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher

I started Mighty Oaks Counseling with a vision that combined my clinical work, and my own personal growth experiences. After years of working in clinical, school, and agency settings, where I supported children and families through trauma, grief, abuse, bullying, and other difficult life stressors, self-care, mindfulness, and movement became an important addition to my personal and clinical work. I felt that I could provide more wellness and healing services, outside the confines of an agency setting. The main vision of Mighty Oaks is empowerment, individually, and as a family system. We provide individual play therapy, adolescent counseling, adult therapy, family therapy, social skills groups, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness classes. Additionally, I wanted to provide services based on the families financial needs, not based on an insurance company’s dictation of what happens in therapy. Read more>>

Noura Saif | Owner Crescent Moon Bookstore

Crescent Moon Bookstore came from a need for my own children. There was no one place to find great quality curated books for Muslim kids. Literally within a week of having the idea, I built my own website and started gaining inventory. Still almost 5 years later, it a passion to bring the best books from around the globe to families everywhere. Read more>>

Cicely Carr | Creativepreneur

I was exposed to entrepreneurship at around 7th grade. I participated in Young Entrepreneurs, an entrepreneurship program where we were taught so many business concepts and skills and explored creating a product to sell. I was hooked. I developed a “hustle” spirit and have had many small businesses ranging from MLMs to women’s accessories to handmade items and now books. I really love the idea of “pushing my passion” more of my love to uplift and inspire others. One of my purposes here on earth is to show and give love and I knew that my business had to do the same. I couldn’t just sell to sell and I couldn’t sell something that wasn’t my passion and I knew this because I was SELLING… I didn’t want to sell, I wanted people to experience my passion and love. Read more>>

Kae Saephan | Florist

I started my business through encouragement from my husband as well as a good friend. Like most people, we were struggling with the pandemic. I wanted to help relieve the burden my husband had to carry but I was really hesitant. We were in the midst of covid and just wasn’t sure if that was a good idea. There were a lot of uncertainties and unknowns. However, if I had to be real honest, I was also afraid to fail. What if people hated my work? What if all my efforts were a complete waste? Lots of what ifs. I’m glad I didn’t let fear stop me 🙂 My kids are doing virtual learning so being my own boss has given me some much needed flexibility. They think I’m a full time chef haha! I have a day job but I love being a florist! I get to tap into my creativity without restrictions which is amazing!. Read more>>

Stephen Paprocki | Owner

Like most i got tired of working for other people and making them money. I know that I wanted to be my own boss, and knew this project would be able to help me achieve that goal. Read more>>

Tamara Walker | Federal Contractor, Freight Broker, Trucking Company,

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. My plan was not only to become an entrepreneur, but to be successful in starting a real business, employing people, and providing a real service to customers. The only way I knew to get started was by learning a marketable skill and getting to work. In my experience that’s where the ideas, opportunities, and partners seem to generate. It takes an enormous amount of hard work, but that just comes with the territory. Read more>>

Cruz Rendon | Model and Writer

I took modeling a little more serious around the same time I became a fashion writer. I became inspired after making theatre costumes in high school. I loved putting costumes and outfits together that told a story. I also didn’t see many models that had the same background I did. That pushed me to break out of my comfort zone. I often saw beautiful models, but none that looked like me. It was a challenge to my own confidence, which wasn’t very high at the time. However, I saw a need to tell my story — there is a need for Latinx representation and there is a need for queer, Latinx representation in media and in fashion. I put that drive into my work as a model and as a writer. Read more>>

Linda Tietje | Entrepreneur & Marketing Executive

From a young age, I’ve always had a ‘thing’ for stories and storytelling. Real-life stories are especially fascinating to me. In the end, our life is about the moments we share with those we love. Our most precious memories… After losing the opportunity to capture my grandmother’s life story, I wanted to find a way to help others preserve their stories. But it took COVID-19 to make this dream a reality. Like many people around the world, I was devastated by the pandemic and coped with it by leaning into those close to me. I was reminded about the importance of preserving and sharing our special memories with those we love. So, in the fall of 2020, I teamed up with my cousin Anika and we co-founded Storyna. Read more>>

Vicki Baker | CEO & Designer

I was inspired to start my handmade business by watching my mother make quilts and pillows and selling them at local craft shows. I wanted to do the same but wasn’t sure what to make. I experimented with a few items over the years until I found myself in need of a quality sleep bonnet. I taught myself how to make a satin bonnet not realizing that there were many women that also wanted a well made satin bonnet. With support from my family I made enough satin bonnets to do my first craft show. Afterwards, I was hooked that I finally found a product and an audience for Mattie’s Bonnets. I really didn’t have a plan other than to do as many vendor and craft shows as I could. Then Covid hit and all shows were cancelled. So, I had to refocus my attention to my website. I’m fortunate that I’m still in business but I prefer to do shows which are actually less demanding and more predictable. Doing live shows is more rewarding because I get more pleasure meeting my customers and seeing their joy when purchasing my handmade products. Read more>>

Monique Allen | College Enthusiast

I wanted to shine light on the difficulties faced during the college experience of low income students. I wanted to show students that although college is a privilege faced with many difficulties, there are people who have made it through, many do care about your journey. My goal would be to take those difficulties, and determine a solution that would benefit the students while alleviating some of those difficulties. Read more>>

Alex Francis | Founder of Bona Blends Beauty

My thought process was actually pretty simple when starting Bona Blends. I really just thought about working for someone else for the rest of my life doing something I really didn’t love doing or being my own boss and allowing my passion to provide me income. The choice was simple. Read more>>

Adam McConnell | Accountant & Auto Detailing Owner

I saw owning Eco Car Spa as an opportunity to do something I love, while providing a service to others. Vehicles are most people’s second biggest purchase after their house and I think having a clean car is something that you don’t realize how amazing it feels until you do it, and then it becomes addicting. I’ve always loved detailing cars and really enjoy the reaction people have once their vehicle is truly clean. Owning my own business is something I’ve always wanted to try; I just didn’t realize when we decided to take the leap that the following year we’d be in the middle of a pandemic, so it’s been more of a learning process than I ever could have imagined. Read more>>

Kimesha Jackson | Owner of Tickled Pink Event Planning/Public Relations Agency

I’m a brand ambassador, influencer and brand manager. I manage artists,  djs, creatives etc. I’m a publicist for small businesses, comedians, Instagram personalities and athletes. To be completely honest, I HATED working for someone else. Corporate America was never for me. My Mom always told me, “you aren’t built to sit behind a desk.” Ever since I was a little girl. She said my destiny was much bigger. I didn’t know what that meant as a little girl, fully, until I got in high school. Being told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it never sat right with me. Now, I was always, always obedient. I literally never got in trouble growing up. But, I always knew, this isn’t for me. Basically, my main reason for starting Tickled Pink was to work for myself. Easy as that. Read more>>

Blanche J | Vocalist, Songwriter & Artist

Freedom! Bringing a vision to life w/o having to consider the noise of unwanted opinions. It’s not easy but the reward is indescribable!. Read more>>

Melissa Lopez | Owner, Bella Brides

As a woman with an entrepreneurial spirit I wanted to shine a light on the bridal industry and empower people who work with me along the way. I took every negative corporate experience I had and allowed those examples to guide me away from what I didn’t want my business model to be and in doing so I have created a pretty awesome team within a happy environment where my team feels valued. Read more>>

Shaitece Trigg | Sport & Mental Performance Specialist

After graduating with my Master’s degree in Movement Science: Sport & Performance Psychology, I simply wanted to kill 2 birds with one stone by combining the mental and physical aspect of sport performance to facilitate functional cognitive athletic behavior and well-being. Mental performance is one of the biggest holes within the sport/performance industry as it is pervavsively overlooked by athletes, coaches and trainers, yet it is the most critical component of how athletes (performers) will perform. Therefore, why isn’t mental performance training at the forefront of every athletic development program? Many preach “mental toughness”, but don’t know how to teach it. Trust, it is far from surfaced level and can get pretty complex depending on the athlete’s or team’s presenting issues or as I call it “areas of dysfuncton”. With that being said, I started my business to increase the awareness and value of mental performance training while helping athletes reach optimal performance and well-being through a holisitc approach. It is more important than the physical. Read more>>

Adina Rich | Educational Diagnostician and School Consultant

Having been an educator in both the private and public sector, I had the opportunity to work with a lot of students. Many were successful with traditional teaching approaches. But for every one that was, there were three that weren’t. Those students tended to become discouraged, withdrawn and ultimately, lacked so much confidence in their academic abilities that they gave up.. I felt there had to be a better way to support these students and their parents who also felt the effects of frustration . I saw clear communication gaps between schools and parents. Parents did not always understand how to talk to school professionals because they did not understand the lingo that the school was using, and many times school professionals were not able to recognize parent concerns because parents were not specific enough in articulating what was working and where their child was struggling. Read more>>

Kaneaka Brock | Owner/Operator

I am black and am I raising a black queen. However, as she started to get older I didn’t see many images of beauty that look like her as we would go to the nail salon and spas. We had gone to a few nail salons and spa’s but none that spoke to her beauty and what it means for her to feel beautiful. and confident. I figured if I was looking for these type of services not only for minority children but for children period other parents possibly were also. When we go to the nail salon as adults most time those places are not equipped to service children properly. I wanted a place for girls ages 4-14 to go and get pampered, have fun, and work on character building all at the same time. Thus LIVI’S GLAM SPA & MORE was birthed. Read more>>