We reached out to some of our favorite entrepreneurs and asked them to think back and tell us about how they decided to start a business. Check out their responses below.

Allison Cantu | Photographer and CEO of The Aesthetic Co

My thought process behind creating and opening The Aesthetic Co started with a passion for visual arts. Since high school I have been taking photos, creating content, and obsessed with movies, photoshoots, modeling, fashion, and film photography. It was a hobby of mine, I would capture my life with disposable cameras, my old Nikon DSLR, and an instant camera. Read more>>

Allison Tryk | Founder & CEO

For better or worse, I’m an entrepreneur. That means that from a young age I was starting businesses (I had a summer day camp for neighborhood kids at age 12, for example – good thing no one sued for bee stings!) This is my fourth company as an adult (although only three made it to my LinkedIn profile.) So, having said that, when I get an idea that I’m passionate about, it’s very difficult for me not to move forward. My thought process is not “should I do this” but “what’s the best way to do this.” Read more>>

Haeley Weigel | Real Estate Professional, Graphic Designer & Small Business Owner

I was born an entrepreneur. When I was 7 I was charging people to look at my pet turtle. Around age 10 I would set up a stand with markers at my brothers track meets and give people tattoos, and the summers I made greeting cards and walked around my grandparents office complex selling them door to door. Growing up I’ve always done things that would make money but was also something I enjoyed doing. Read more>>

Baha Savage | Real Estate Investment Specialist and Commercial Broker

I understood the value of my time and who I am, and what I’m set on earth to do. I wanted to live a life full of meaning and be an inspiration to the youth that anything is possible if they set their mind to it. I wanted to show people that regardless of your gender, religious belief, having a talent and being able to break through a male dominating industry can be accomplished. Read more>>

Starr Craft | Interior Stylist & Upcycle artist

The thought process behind starting my own business was straightforward; I have been thrifting, cobbling, and upcycling furniture for as long as I can remember. I decided in 2019 to turn my hobby into a full-time business after many years of being a fashion stylist to friends, and upcycling furniture was natural for me. Read more>>

LaChrisha Chris Denae” Wallace | Esthetician

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit about me. So once I had obtained my Esthetician license some years ago I finally decided to take a chance on myself. I began planning what did I want my name and brand to represent, what clients do I want to attract and how do I create a business that people flock to. Read more>>

Juan Labra | Creative Director

I studied graphic design, and once I graduated college I was working in the western wear fashion industry where I got to learn a lot of new things about printing and textiles. I was also always creating logos and branded packages for friends and other small businesses so I thought it would be cool if I actually took care of the logo, digital assets, and merchandise for clients. Read more>>

Hanna Still | Cake Baker & Decorator

I did not initially start baking and decorating cakes with the idea of starting my own business in mind. It was something I sort of fell into after those I was close to started throwing out the idea of me selling them! It was daunting, to say the least, but I watched my mother own numerous small businesses growing up and knew that it was something I would enjoy! Read more>>

Reema Farooqui | Jewellery Writer

I have always loved jewellery and especially pearls. I am also very fond of writing. These two passions came together and in December 2018 I started my own blog, The Culture of Pearls along with an Instagram account of the same name. The idea was to learn more about pearls – their history as one of the oldest gem materials used in jewellery, Read more>>

Thomas Bell | Certified Professional Hypnotist

After 16 years of climbing the corporate ladder, I got to the top floor and jumped out the window. Landed in India. Sold my home, gave away my belongings. I spent 6 weeks in silent meditation and from there, two years as a full-time volunteer at a meditation center, essentially, living the life of a Monk. That experience rewired me from the inside out. Read more>>

Krista Cannon | Mindset Coach & Energy Healer

Going against the grain has always been my style and there’s a lot of entrepreneurs that talk about the things they didn’t want that led them to start their own business. Things like– I didn’t want to sit in an office, I didn’t want someone else telling me what to do all the time. Read more>>

Rileigh King | Cookie Lady & Revivalist

I’ve always loved baking drop cookies like chocolate chip or oatmeal, mostly as stress relief during college or a little family competition with my sister over whose recipe was best! I honestly never tried roll-out sugar cookies seriously until spring 2021 when my daughter’s first birthday was coming up and cute cookies for her party were on my mind. Read more>>

Karla Reyes | Businesswoman

We own some business in Mexico so when we arrived to the US I started thinking on something that I could do that will allow me to still take care of my children while still being able to provide a service with the high quality standards I like to have for business, Read more>>

Rhett Davis | Owner at The Fort Creative

Growing up, both of my parents were entrepreneurs, so naturally it kind of “ran in my blood”. My older brother now owns his own moving business, so it was only a matter of time before I started mine. To me, the freedom that comes with being your own boss is priceless. Granted, you do have to work harder and longer each day, but I wouldn’t change it. Read more>>

Kel Bonton | Director | Cinematographer | Artist

When I started my business, I had no idea I would enter the film and production world. However, my love for music and the arts led me right to film. I started producing my music videos and filming for college sororities and fraternities. Years later, I own a high-quality film production company with an extensive clientele list and notable clients. Read more>>

Compass Collective Consulting | A theatre consulting company ran by Aubrey Tarantino and Mindamora Rocha

Our thought process behind starting this business started with the desire to serve our theatre community in an impactful way. We both come to the table with varying experiences both inside and outside of the theatre. Read more>>

Janelle Luong | Owner of Crafted by Nelle

As a child, I have always found joy in crafts and creating. It was something I found peace in. I carried my love for crafts into my adult life. During COVID, Crafted by Nelle was first launched as an outlet to share my crafts with my friends and family. Before I knew it, I had people reaching out to inquire about purchasing my crafts. Read more>>

Kenisha Jones | Professional Closet Organizer

As a child, I started organizing my bedroom. I played music while moving my furniture around and ensuring that my closet and drawers were up to par. That love for organizing closets transitioned into my adulthood even more as my love for fashion grew stronger. Read more>>

Lawrence Grey | Associate Artistic Director LA TI DO DC/NoVA

In 2011 DonMike Mendoza and Reggie Cabico began an organization known as L TI DO. A cabaret format of weekly shows. The idea was to promote music artists and spoken word artists a place to be seen, heard, practice their craft, and hone their skills. I became involved as a performer in 2015. It was such an amazing unique format. A place to hone my craft, network with artists from the greater DC area. I became a regular. Read more>>

Aj Byrd | Natural Hairstylist, Artist, and Entrepreneur

I’ve been braiding and twisting hair since I was young, but I didn’t really get into doing natural hair until I started working at a natural hair salon. When I wasn’t at the salon, I was still making money doing family, friends’, and associates’ hair, but at home or doing house-calls. Fast forward to a little bit over a year, I wanted an actual space of my own to work in, so I could be more official and professional. Read more>>

Candi Marshall | Social Media Strategist & Fashion Content Creator

In 2018, I became officially “free” from an abusive marriage. For the next year I strived to begin the healing process. The most unexpected thing helped me put my life back together and that was fashion. A simple act of putting together a dope look helped me trust myself again. It helped empower me to be bold, to show up as my authentic self and so much more. Read more>>

Sydney Patterson | Health/Wellness and Fitness Trainer

Growing up, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial attitude, and I knew I would start my own business at some point in my life. After obtaining my degree in public health, it sparked my passion for educating and assisting people in facilitating mental and physical health practices. My love for health and wellness and helping others led me to turn this into a side hustle! Read more>>

Julia Duan and Srjana Srivatsa | Co-founders and Executive Directors of The Future of Code

Starting our own non-profit organization proved to be a daunting goal for Srjana and Julia, our co-founders. However, our deep passion for filling the lack of coding opportunities and resources for the youth motivated us to navigate through this uncharted territory. Our introduction to the world of computer science (CS) began during our first year of high school when we took a computer science course. Read more>>

Chonta’ Hickman | Fashion Designer

I wanted to give others the creative outlet I have to express themselves through fashion. Read more>>

Myesa Arora | Hockaday Student and JeeJi-hood Founder

I, Myesa Arora, have visited India several times, and the handcrafted products and exquisite fabrics in Rajasthan impressed me greatly on my most recent visit. India was engulfed in a tremendous lockdown during the early stages of Covid, and these artisans were unable to sell their goods. Read more>>

Lori Ann Peniston | Interior Designer / Realtor

My goal starting D2D was to help people transform their space and transform their lives. I worked with hoarders to help them get the help they needed and create a space for them to be happy and comfortable. I did land a few jobs but unfortunately hoarders have to be ready to really do the work. I really needed someone who specializes in this area of mental health to assist me in helping so I could focus on working with the client and leading the team. Read more>>

Walter Herron | General Contractor

I started the business to take care of my family. I was unemployed and couldn’t find a job. Read more>>

Christen Davis | Artist & Esthetician

Being artistically in tune as a young age gave me drive to start my business’. My thought process was “if I have this gift, why not share that with others”. Read more>>

Jenna Edmonds | Hairstylist

How can I be there for my kiddo and family-while still maintaining a fulfilling career? How can I have my cake and eat it too? I’m a pretty tenacious person and I have a knack for going after what I want. The pandemic gave me an eye opening realization that life is unexpected and I needed to find my happiness and focus on what matters most to me. Read more>>

Jeff Cerrito | President, Hotflips, LLC

I was recovery from spinal surgery and helping my brother sell comics at a couple of NY shows. I thought there was a need at the conventions that wasn’t being addressed. I saw all these people walking around with art, comic books and autographs and they had nothing to protect their stuff while constantly bumping into people. Read more>>

Lesia Mcclure | Boutique Owner & Fashion Expert

I started a business for women deserving of the best. Women are nurturing by nature but at times forget to treat theirselves to the best. I want women to feel like the queens they are in best of best clothing and jewelry! Read more>>

Shika Johnson | Hairstylist/Owner/ Operator

My thought process was going through the motions about whether to start my own business or just work in the beauty industry field. I thought it just might be more lucrative to start my own business and be my own boss. Read more>>

Jalicia Wingfield | Boutique and Beauty Bar Owner

To be honest as possible I use to steal clothes and sale them. I was what they call a booster what you would pay in store coming to me ,you would pay half instead of full price. I was risking my life and finally said “ Here I am selling someone’s else clothes and selling them when I can order and sell my own.” Less of a risk and I am able to be here with my kids. Read more>>

Justin Boswell Boswell | Chef, independent small town business owner

I was really pulled to the idea of working for myself while creating a unique eating experience in my hometown. Read more>>

Shawn Rule | Serial Entrepreneur & Investor

Starting a business to me came very easy. From the time I was a young man my dreams have always to be a businessman. I’ve always wanted to create and offer things or services to people that wasn’t given. I remember my very first business was selling candy and gumballs to kids in my class. I felt like I was the man. providing a product and making 50 bucks in a day was the life for me. Read more>>

Reid Meyer | Co-Founder and CEO of Athletes to Athletes

My thought process behind starting my own business was two-fold. First, I’ve never had a “9-5” mentality a day in my life. I’ve always enjoyed creative projects, large scale problems to solve, and have measured my accomplishments in deliverables rather than time spent on something. I always knew I would thrive in a job where I could choose my own hours and my own projects, and the only logical way to make sure that happened was to build something myself. Read more>>

Vanessa nava | Lip gloss & Kids toy

I want to be big like Huda Beauty, Too faced, Fenty Beuty. So I was in Alibaba.com looking for vendors to star my cosmetic line and I found some, but the shipping was ridiculous. I started to look at my local wholesale vendors and we’ll there’s not that many. I did find that kids stuff is a little cheaper so I started to get kids lip glosses and stuff like that. Read more>>

Victoria Olivos | Founder , Dog Mom, Food Lover

It was actually my mother who began the business back in 2010. She quit her job and invested her life savings into purchasing a food cart. With the help of my stepfather they operated this food cart and began selling what she knew best, Mexican food, in particular tortas and atoles. Soon the food cart became a must stop before work for breakfast tortas in the area. Read more>>

Marissa Hollings | Publisher/Editor in Chief

I have a very large family, therefor my thought process about starting my business was that I would be able to get my family involved to help me and then branch out to others with the knowledge of how my business would work, the process and steps needed to be done because I would have experience with the family first. Read more>>