Are you thinking about starting a business? If so, we think you’ll enjoy reading about how these seasoned entrepreneurs thought about the question when they were in your shoes.

Kelly Hooper | DJ & MC

The process of starting my own business was to network and meet other people within the event industry. I knew I wanted to entertain and music was my first love so with the help of my dad and many industry professionals, I started DJ Kelly Hooper and Push Play DJ Services. Read more>>

Lianne Wallace | Business Owner

I wanted to bring handmade jewelry and accessories to the forefront of local fashion. When I started my business, I wasn’t taking this challenge on completely in the dark- I’ve been creating jewelry since age 8, and have recently expanded my skills into crochet products. My work is inspired by Panhandle locals, Texas terrain, and bold color palettes. Read more>>

Kevin Nevels | Martial Arts Instructor

Ha! This is a great question. I wish I had more thought process when I decided to take the plunge into the world of the entrepreneur. What I knew is that I didn’t enjoy my current job. I worked in a petroleum plant doing quality control testing on gasoline and diesel fuel. It was a boring job that was VERY repetitive. I’ve always considered myself a very dynamic person who loves being around people. The lab life was not for me. I knew that I had a passion for teaching martial arts and I felt very strong that I could be successful becoming a martial arts business owner. It was very simple for me. Martial Arts made me happy so my wife and I opened our business! Read more>>


Why start a new business amid a pandemic? Well, why not? A year ago, my husband and I headed west to the “Big D” for a new adventure. It’s been a whirlwind year, to say the least, with many ups and downs, incredible opportunities, lessons learned, and of course, the unexpected impact of COVID-19. Through it all, I’ve learned a great deal and met so many exceptional individuals. After a lay-off in July due to the virus’s impact, I reminded myself that I am resilient, adaptable, and hopeful for the future. I committed to continuing to lend my time and talents to organizations in need and encouraging others to do the same. I promised to remain flexible and ready to learn. Read more>>

Anastasia Munoz | Executive Artistic Director & Theater Maker

As a professional working theater artist in Dallas I was looking for a place where I could continue educating myself and others in my art form, a place where I could be free to create and collaborate on new bold work, where we could dream big and fail and then rise up and try again, a cultural incubator. I wanted a place where artists and arts lovers could grow together to create a richer community. I didn’t see that place in Dallas yet, so I wanted to build it. Read more>>

Mike Ziemer | Music & Marketing Entrepreneur

When I was in high school, all my friends were playing in bands but they couldn’t get gigs. Most places that bands played at the time were bars or 18+ / 21+ clubs where even if the band could get on the bill, they wouldn’t get paid. I wanted to solve this problem so I started putting on all ages (alcohol free) events in the suburbs of Dallas, Plano to be specific. I didn’t realize that I was starting a business when I put on the first couple shows, I was just helping friends and doing something cool for my classmates and the community. As time has gone on I feel like this is my approach to any business I have started, I see a problem with the way things are being done, I want to fix it, so I do it my own way. Read more>>

Rebekah Zonozy | Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Functional & Integrative Medicine for Childhood

In some ways it feels like it has been years in the making. I have been in pediatric health care for over 15 years, almost all of it working with children diagnosed with cancer. I have loved every minute of my career, and always say that i gained more from the children and families I worked with than I ever gave to them. Over the last 5 years, I have been on a health journey for both myself and our family. As a mom of 4, I really believe teaching my children healthy habits and practices in every area of life is the best way to set them up for lifelong holistic wellbeing. Throughout this journey for me and my family, I have felt a deep internal pull to bring more functional & integrative medicine to the pediatric realm. Because there really isn’t enough of it. Read more>>

Michael Coleman II | Co-Founder & CEO

Michael and Rickey met in college, and we both shared a love for mentoring, education, and youth development. We were talking one random night about the BET Awards Show, “Black Girls Rock”, and thought that it would be impactful to start a similar, “Black Boys Rock” show. We wanted to find a way to highlight black boys and men in our community, sharing our successes and spreading positivity. After more conversation, we eventually concluded that God wanted us to do more with this idea. How could we make a deeper impact in the community around us? What is a gap that we can work to fill? Crowned Scholars emerged from this, and we began the work to create this organization that was going to intentionally serve young black kings in our city. Read more>>

Jocelyn LaFerney | Ledger and Ladder Studios Creative Director

Entrepreneurship was always there, somewhere, in the back of my mind. But I think our generation tends to be pretty risk-averse. You get the degree, put in the effort, and work your way up in someone else’s company. So I did. I had a great job as an accounting consultant, with stability and a good paycheck. I was checking off all the boxes everyone said I should. But when my husband and I renovated our first home 9 years ago, I experienced the creative process in a new way and kept finding projects to keep it going. After a few other house flips, I knew this was what I had to do. I was finally working toward joy, rather than just putting dollars in my clients’ accounts. I felt like I was giving back to the world in this truly tangible way. When you walk into a home that’s beautifully designed, you can feel that. It matters so much. Read more>>

Prejith Pillai | Information Technology Expert

From my childhood days it was fascinating for me to read about business tycoons and to choose a path less travelled to achieve something crazy. It is easy to follow the usual society norm to get a nine to five job and lead a regular life. I don’t mean that it is wrong or the success is not there. It is the perception of the life through two different aspects. The kick or the happiness what I feel is to do something challenging and achieve your goal. So I find my happiness in starting my own business in the field of my passion that is technology. I had a strong inclination towards coding and computers so in the beginning it was more of a passion than business. When I see my brand labeled in our products it gives me a feeling of satisfaction. The appreciation from the customers for our hard work gives us the boost to work more efficiently with more creative ideas. Read more>>

Vijay and Jay Shah | Vijay: Co-Founder, Director, and Socratic Guide, Jay: Board Chairman

It’s funny, I still, to this day have never thought of myself as “starting a business.” I just feel almost like a curious child, (some would say I look like one too!) who has engaged in an amazing educational experiment. Also, I just don’t like thinking of The Humanist Academy or any educational setting as a business. When common business terms like “profit, revenue, etc.” overshadow the infinite potential of each child, or the sacred learning process, then the noble work we are trying to do comes into question. There has been a lot of thought behind starting The Humanist Academy, but I think the biggest aspect of our thought process is this: children, the future leaders of the world, deserve so much better than the accepted norm we call “school.” Read more>>

Sonal Gohel | Candlemaker & Occupational Therapist

Starting my very own business was something that I had dreamt of right after graduate school. I come from a family full of Dentists, I was the first one to branch out and pick Occupational Therapy to be my career path. Once I finished my schooling, began working, I just knew that there was more to my being. I knew I wanted to channel out my creativity. I knew I wanted to make a difference. This deep inner desire to create a product or brand was so strong – that I could not and did not want to ignore it. When exploring my strengths, I began questioning, how can I make a difference with a product? I knew I was onto something when I started looking inward, specifically into my self-care routine. To practice self-care, is to feed yourself positivity, to know what your body/mind/soul require to refuel and re-energize. Read more>>

Natali Jones | Actress, Producer, Coordinator, AD, to aspiring Pilot

Right out of high school, I went to an acting conservatory in Dallas, but that also taught us the starting point of the entertainment industry business side of things, which I’m so thankful for, but made me fall in love with both sides of the camera, being an actress and producer. Also, being in the music industry for two decades now . I’ve been in and out of the music scene with booking live bands to music supervision in film. I did also audition to be an MTV VJ, when that existed, but that’s a different conversation. Read more>>

Jaelyn Grier | Entrepreneur

Kenzie’s Korner, a girls boutique catering to infants, toddlers, and big girls, was created solely for the purpose of leaving my daughter a legacy. I found out I was pregnant with MaKenzie my senior year of undergrad. I was extremely emotional, scared, and confused but I know that God never puts more on us than we can handle. Giving birth to MaKenzie changed my life. It lit a spark under me. It brought out this inner go getter that I didn’t even know I had in me. I finished college with two month old Kenzie on my hip. She is my very own bestfriend & certainly the best thing that ever happened to me. Currently, I run Kenzie’s Korner as well as my own Branding & Graphic Design business called Branding by Jae. We offer website design, graphic design, and branding services. Read more>>

Aron Phillips | Attorney At Law

Two major ideas contributed to jumping out and starting my own firm: 1. I wanted to build the kind of firm that I would want to work at. I had several experiences early in my career within firms that were led by attorneys who knew how to attract clients and practice law, but that weren’t necessarily great at managing people. Growing up, I’ve found myself in leadership situations many times, and have worked on my leadership skills throughout my life, so I believed that I could lead and manage better than those I had been underneath up to that point. It’s something I continue to strive for, reading books and engaging with opportunities to expand my leadership skills. 2. I wanted to be able to create an environment that allowed me to prioritize my family and my health over my work, something that the legal profession doesn’t always do a good job with. Read more>>

Maria Araujo | Designer

I wanted to create a jewelry line that embraced individuality and self-expression, creating seasonless collections that offer timeless pieces with quality, comfort, and sustainability in mind. I wanted to break away from the “fashion calendar” and just do fun drops to keep people interested. ​Read more>>

Ken Valencia | Retail Business Owner

The thought process behind starting our own business was relatively simple and was based on one core idea – we wanted to open a “lifestyle” store to provide unique, one-of-a-kind merchandise that would be attainable for most. The idea was to offer merchandise that looks more expensive than it is. My business partner and I both have extensive backgrounds in luxury goods, but we knew there was a way to offer the same look and quality and an affordable price. Read more>>

Lauren Marks | Destination Wedding & Editorial Photographer

I come from a family of entrepreneurs so I had always known I wanted to own a business one day. As an artist, I desired a career that could also serve as a creative outlet. Photography was a natural direction for me as it was something that had been a hobby of mine for many years. Having the freedom to decide when, where and how I wanted to work was probably my biggest motivator when I started my business… and still is to this day. As a single Mom to 3 kids, I do not take the time I am able to spend with them for granted. Read more>>

Rebekah Durling | Master Tea Blender

I graduated from Homeschool Highschool in 2007 and soon decided that I wanted to pursue a business that would allow me to work from home. After several years of trying many different avenues, nothing clicked. Then, in 2015, God gave me the idea for my first tea blend, Sweet Anna. Named for my sweet little black poodle, Anna, who had recently passed away. I debuted my company, Black Poodle Tea Co. on what would have been Anna’s 14th birthday; October 23rd 2015. Read more>>