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.

Elizabeth “Lizzy” Couch | Owner | Photographer, Elizabeth Couch Photography

Since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated by photographs and cameras. I picked up a DSLR camera for the first time in 2007 at a journalism workshop at The University of Oklahoma. A photo I took during the workshop went on to win a national competition hosted by the Dow Jones News Fund. As the years progressed, I continued to shoot and the thought of eventually opening a photo business lingered on my mind. After I graduated college in 2011, I shot a few weddings and quinceañeras but, ultimately, the demands of my blossoming career in TV news did not allow me to continue. In 2018, after leaving TV news, planning my own wedding and becoming inspired by my own wedding photographers, I decided to start my own photography business, Elizabeth Couch Photography. My company’s goals are: To to provide couples with bold, beautiful, romantic and timeless images they’ll be proud to show off and revisit in the decades to come. To bring value to my customers in any way I can, not just in the photos I shoot. To be more than their photographer, to become their life-ling friend. Read more>>

Raven Vincent | Social Media Influencer Strategist & Mental Wellness Coach

JUST. START. So many of us hopeful startup businesses, especially creative businesses, tend to put off production or launching because everything isn’t “perfect” or because we feel that we don’t know enough yet to move forward. The ironic thing is that we’ll never actually arrive to that “perfect place” where we know all there is to know about our industry. There will always be room to learn more or re-learn or adjust quickly…that’s the nature of business. New trends come out everyday! However, old fears/professional insecurities don’t go away. If you don’t start with the strength and resources and knowledge that you have now, you never will. Go ahead – Do it “scared”!. Read more>>

Ruben & Alicia Santos | Owners

We really wanted to open a family business in which our kids could be apart of! We wanted to make sure that it would be a great foundation for their work experience, help with the costs of college, and ultimately be there for them to take over one day if they ever desired to. Read more>>

Azra Hajdarevic | Co-Founder of Terra&Co.

My sister and I always dreamed of starting a business together but we never knew it would be the Oral Care industry until my sister got pregnant and she wasn’t able to find clean ingredient toothpaste that also whitened teeth. With experts help, we were able to develop high quality activated charcoal toothpaste, made in the USA at a time when black toothpaste was an unknown trend – we never believed that now in 2021 is a staple in most stores. My thought process behind developing a perfect Oral Care line is to design eco-friendly packaging with a clean and minimal look and feel. I am truly passionate about Environmental justice and I believe we have to create products with Mother Earth in mind. Read more>>

Keya Leslie-Girton | Online boutique & Real Estate Investor

I want to say starting your business is always an idea that crosses your mind. The part of actually putting more effort into the idea to make it into a reality is a whole other story. After job after job and feeling overwhelmed with tasks, always feeling like you deserve more on your pay check got me working solely on myself and my business idea. Starting my own business was an adventure I wanted to take with myself. I knew that I would have so many ideas and plans of different businesses but what really had me locked in moving forward was learning so much about things that weren’t taught in school and always about myself. I spent a lot of sleepless nights researching my industry and the business behind it to make it more than just a side hustle. Read more>>

Jessica Mendoza | Photographer

This is actually a funny story. I wasn’t even the one to think about starting a photography business, it was my husband who brought up the idea, and at 2 in the morning. I had already struggled to find a job in the past, and after having a baby, it was mostly decided that I would just be a stay at home mother. Every once in a while my husband would come up with options, but they would’ve kept me from being what I wanted to be, a stay at home mother, Now, I have always had an artistic side, and photography had always interested me. I just didn’t know how to do it properly. I will admit, my husband suggesting that I become a photographer, and making a business out of it was so random and out of the blue, but it also just made sense. I was finally able to turn a complete fascination and interest into hobby/business that makes me super happy. It’s also so fulfilling knowing that I get to be a stay at home mother, bring in another growing income, and still be able to bring joy to my clients and people so meet. Read more>>

Trey Howard | Fashion Stylist

Starting a business is hard especially when you don’t have all the tools needed. I hated working for others, while I spend 8 hours of my day helping a company make money and grow I decided to put that time effort into my own thing. J felt the need because I wanted t leave something behind with my name and my work. I think it’s very important to invest in yourself. Who else will?. Read more>>

Samantha Worrell | The Gift Tailor

After I had children, I ended my career as a litigator and went on a pursuit of that hallowed work-life balance between working and motherhood. That led me to a career as an in-house compliance lawyer helping firms get to know their clients deeper than is typical. As I researched all of these clients all over the world and saw all the wildly varying businesses and innovations in the world, it set a spark inside me. That spark was then ignited by my kids. One year they created their own choreography and performed it for me as a birthday present. It was so sweet and imaginative of them. Afterward, they lamented that because I had recently gotten divorced and they were just little kids with no money, I wouldn’t get “proper” birthday gifts anymore. Of course, I love anything they give me … the hand-made cards and drawings, and their choreographed performances but I realized they had a point, and thought surely I couldn’t be the only woman in that position. Read more>>

Dommini Guein | Founder/Director

After I noticed that my creativity was just a part of who I am I wanted to share it. I have a natural understanding and love for art and productions, so I’m not really doing anything that I haven’t been doing since knee-high. I was trying to figure out how to make my passion my paycheck but I couldn’t be everywhere and doing all of the arts at once. That’s how my camera came into play. I was forced to pick one of my arts so I chose the art of capturing other artists. Then boom, I share my art, you share yours and let’s get us some money. Read more>>

Shelby Wittie | Wedding/Elopement Photographer, Wedding Planner & designer, Owner of Styled Shoots by Witt

I have been a Wedding/Elopement & Family Photographer for 7 years now and I became a certified Wedding planner in 2020. 7 years ago I had goals of course, but I didn’t imagine in my wildest dreams of ever being where I am now. And I am so grateful! How I started on this path is very similar to how most other photographers began. At square one! When I first began this journey I was pregnant with son and had a very basic beginners camera. I knew I loved capturing everything, but mainly people. So I started there! At first I focused on younger kids and families because after having my son that was were my focus was. But then as I gained experience, practice and education on all things photography based my passion easily grew into a love for weddings & Elopements. And as many photographers know, photographing a wedding and wedding coordinating sometimes go very hand in hand. Read more>>

Allan Gonzalez | Professional Dance Photographer, Professional Headshot Photographer, Urban Photography, Studio Photography

I just loved taking pictures, and as I did more, I realized that it was something that I really loved doing. My wife always asked me what I felt like I was meant to do, and I don’t know if photography is a calling, but it sure is fun! Because it was so fun, I thought that I could start doing it for money. It took a lot of work, and my work has improved so much since I just began, but as I watched more tutorials and did free shoots with people, my work and my professionalism became more fine-tuned. Read more>>

Jason Brown | MAT Specialist/Franchisor

I felt that there was a missing link with body recovery compared to all the sports and fitness programs that are offered to not only adults, but youth programs as well. Whether you workout once or twice a week or are training for a goal, there is a need to stay ahead of inflammation and keep your body performing for the volume of training. This same principal applies to youth sports. Us parents have the mind set that kids can be pushed harder because they are younger, but what they forget is that back in our day, we had seasons, breaks in play, and didn’t run the same mechanical patterns that are demanded on youths that play one sport year round. Elixir Muscle Recovery Centers are the missing link to getting everything the body needs at an affordable price! Each individual gets unlimited use with their membership and we use the same recovery therapies that the professional athletes use to stay at the top of their game during the season and off season. Read more>>

LaSeanda Wilcott | Hair & Makeup Artist

I want to be successful with my talents and abilities. Oh only made sense to do what I enjoy and be able to monetize it at the same time. Read more>>

Stephanie and Karem | Designers and Small Business Owners

This all started as a way to translate our passion for design into something tangible. Early on in Architecture school, we were prepared and conditioned to use machines as tools for the design process for model making. We really saw this as an opportunity to continue our design learning outside of school. The best part for us was that we had control over the design process, prototyping, and making. When we were not slammed with studio work, we would try our best to go to markets and craft fairs on the weekends. As we received fantastic responses from our clients, we decided to launch our small store. You see everything started as a creative outlet, but once we noticed people were actually interested in our designs, it encouraged us to grow our business. Read more>>