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.

Alvin Johnson | Real Estate Developer

I needed to eat, I didn’t want to work for customers, so I started my own rehab company, working and redoing houses to my liking, and then selling them. This lead to my being in the mortgage business, which lead me more in to the field of real-estate, learning how things were financed. So this led to me owning apartments, and now building them. Read more>>

Breanna Alsouissi | Branding & Web Designer

I always freelanced when I was still working for agencies and corporations but when I got laid off from my agency gig back in 2018 I still wasn’t 100% sure so I found work at another small business in town. Unfortunately, that ended up being the worse job & boss I’ve ever had. Daily sexual harassment, a verbally abusive environment & threats of withholding pay all compounded into something I could no longer deal with. Read more>>

Tina Strickland | Women’s Portraiture Photographer

When I initially picked up a camera, it was a hobby. I photographed anything and everything. I didn’t have a niche. As I learned more and more about photography, I leaned more and more towards photographing women. My personal projects focused on women’s portraiture. There didn’t seem to be a large population of photographers who created themes for women’s portraiture that wasn’t focused on boudoir or fantasy. My images focused on documenting the beauty and resiliency of women. Read more>>

Erika James | Professional Content Creator

My thought process behind starting my own business has evolved over the past year. Initially I was a hobbyist turned freelancer looking to add income from my skills. After becoming official by obtaining an LLC, I became a solopreneur ready to help people with my skills. I am shifting into the mindset of a CEO and not just a business owner. My thought process of starting my own business is now rooted in solving problems for other businesses with my skills and adding value to their lives, Read more>>

Rachel Whaley | Chiropractor and mom of 3

When I was in chiropractic school I knew I wanted to practice with a certain philosophy and in a certain way and did not think that would be conducive of being an associate for another office where I couldn’t choose how to practice. So I decided to start my own business so I wouldn’t be limited in how I chose to serve the community and my patients and know that my success or failure wouldn’t be dependent on someone else. Read more>>

Arthur Black. | Musician

I never really looked at music as a business until I got deep into it and realized I could make a career out of it. All that took me there was passion Read more>>

Nts Staxx | Rapper/musical artist

I gotta do something lol. And I absolutely refuse to work for another person for the rest of my life. I have a natural desire to put on for my people and I wanna bring a smile to the faces of everyone around me. I simply can’t do that working a 9-5 forever it’s just not me. Read more>>

Michael Starr | Owner Blazing Star BBQ

I felt like I had a BBQ sauce that was different than anything on the market. Most sauces are more of a regional style, but my original BBQ sauce was more multicultural. I wasn’t sure where it would go, but I knew I needed to give it a try. Read more>>

Russ Mitchell | Movement Expert & Martial Arts Instructor

I work with a form of sensory-motor education called the Feldenkrais Method, which isn’t very well known to the public at large. It’s mostly (and avidly!) used in the fine arts community, and in elite sports. It’s a very powerful way of “creating talent” while minimizing repetitive strains, etcetera. The executive-summary version is “I can’t fix you, but I can help you get very comfortable moving, while helping you learn how to stop breaking yourself in the first place.” Read more>>

Kaitlin Ashley | Owner and Founder

When I started my business, I just wanted to pursue the passion for fashion that I had since I was a kid. As the years went on, I realized the incredible opportunities that businesses have to make a real impact on their communities. So today, my goals have changed. Not only do I want to pursue a creative career where I get to put myself and my thoughts on display, but I also want to utilize my business as a tool to create positive change. As a veteran-owned company, I hope to utilize our revenue streams to help disabled veterans and war-torn communities to recover and thrive. Read more>>

Thrudy Hamilton | Licensed Occupational Therapy Assistant, Chef, Health & Wellness Coach, Personal Trainer, Wellness Transformational Speaker

Growing up in Guyana, I loved sports and was the fastest sprinter in my school. As life progressed, I fell in love with cooking from watching my mother each day as she combined random ingredients in the kitchen to make a meal for her 5 children. Then as life would have it, one day my sister, Rhonda and I found ourselves combining random ingredients in the kitchen to prepare healthy meals for mom once she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. It was now personal to me, so I began researching and educating myself about health and wellness. Read more>>

Shawn James | Business Owner & Automotive Technician

The thought process behind starting my own business was not immediate. It took a lot of time and planning. It even seemed unfeasible at first. After working many years at shops, dealers, and independent mechanic companies. I got to see how customers were treated firsthand. I felt that I could do something different, so I conceived the idea and began educating myself on what was needed to start my endeavor. Read more>>


My first thought was “what did i get myself into?”i never thought i would be in the position within means of where my career has brought me; which is far. While working an actual 9-5 and balancing the gig life, djing became quite the circus act of “balancing from week to week. Planning and executing had to take place in order for me to be effective (completely) in my career. Along side with having an assistant as well, Lol. Read more>>

Jennifer Denby | Seer & Oracle

Simply, it was a deep desire to be of service to others. Before launching my business, I had already been using my skills to help those around me for free. Until one of my friends suggested that I could share my skills with others and make some money at the same time. I was both exhilarated at the notion and terrified. Terrified to not only take a leap financially but to also allow the world to see my inner truths. It’s a ‘big gulp’ moment when you step into the light so to speak and say “I’m a seer and consort with spirits”. Read more>>

Brad Labio | Recording Studio Owner & Audio Engineer

It was a difficult decision to make. I was fresh out of college with a degree in music and I still hadn’t found a relative job in my field so I was working as a bartender. No one else in my family did anything in music or even media and there was a lot of family pressure into pursuing a career in engineering, law, or even the medical field. That being said, I eventually made the decision to pursue the medical field and I was in college again studying radiology. I did that for two years but it never felt right. Read more>>

Kurtz Frausun | Filmmaker + Photographer

After graduating from SMU, I focused on a career in Marketing and Advertising, while film and photography were merely hobbies. Although successful, I realized that my past time had begun to overtake my career, in regards to desire, so I walked away from corporate America, and decided to focus on the arts as my true and only satisfying occupation. SMU taught me one thing: Everything is for sale. The entire system ensures you are owned, or you own others. Read more>>

QUAKEintl | Artist & Creative Manufacturer

I’ve always dreamt of starting a business since childhood. I remember I would create little fake businesses just so I could feel like I was doing something. Growing up my plan was simple: form a team in either high school or college and take over the world….yeah that last part hasn’t happened yet. Fast forward years later; I began trying to figure out what exactly I wanted my business to be. I knew I wanted one, I just didn’t know what. Just so happens the answer was right underneath my nose the entire time. Read more>>

Shakira Brooks | Entrepreneur

I had been working in customer service for over 10 years and I was honestly getting burned out when it came to rude customers, not feeling appreciated at my job, and not being properly compensated for my skills and work ethic. I quit my job about a month before the pandemic started and I spent my that time creating a peaceful space in my new home and enjoying being a house wife. Read more>>

Adidoreydi Figueroa | Owner of Kawaii Otaku Plus

My thought process was not the original goal in life. This started out when I went to an anime conventions, I was looking for a special type of figure. I was walking to each vendor asking question, but they were very rude to me. Some of them refused to sale me anything, thinking I didn’t have any money. Read more>>

Sheletta Brundidge | Bad Ass Boss Lady

Too often, the only appearance of a Black person on a newscast is in a mugshot from a police department. That’s part of the reason why the Los Angeles Times and The Kansas City Star both recently apologized to their Black readers, admitting their historically biased coverage of African-Americans. Read more>>

Caya Crum | Artist

I am an artist and entrepreneur based in Fort Worth, Texas. I have been making art since before I could walk and started selling it towards the beginning of 2017. I have been fortunate in my ability to create and sell art online via my instagram, website, art shows and Etsy store. I have also been commissioned to paint murals for several  businesses, nonprofits – and create a permanent installation for my high-school. Read more>>

Jamie Langston

As a nurse, I am interested in provided the best in evidenced based practice to patients. I have worked in medical research for 7 years and know that current practice often lags behind best practices. At the foundation of this lag is a combination of care protocols driven by insurance and the limited time physicians are allowed to spend with their patients. Read more>>