Deciding to start a business is an unusual decision. It’s often considered irrational and yet for many it’s the best decision they’ve ever made. So we asked folks to think back to when they were starting their businesses and to tell us about their decision making process

Justin Hoyte | Founder & Producer of No Weak Opinions

No Weak Opinions came from the mindset of feeling alone. Each of us on the team, various forms of isolation for living outside of stereotypes. We never truly fit in because of our interests in music, foods, or activities. Being called passive aggressive names such as “Oreo” or “gringo” led to a lot of self denial and rejection until finally, we embraced who we are. After experiencing the happiness and joy in self love/confidence, we came up with No Weak Opinions to challenge each person to be proud & confident in who they are and become a catalyst to ignite that same inspirational spark in others. We do not see being different as a negative, but instead, beautiful. Read more>>

Margarette Swift | Social Worker, Doctoral Candidate & Fashion, Beauty, and Lifestyle Blogger

I remember sitting at work writing in a journal that I was decorating as my own. Then it dawned on me why not create my own. And I knew that journals were everywhere, so I had to ask myself what would make mine different? As I started writing some things down and thinking about my upbringing, I thought about all of the journals I wrote in. I had a very rough childhood from losing my mom at the age of eight, being kicked out from one home, to the next being sexually abused. I needed an outlet, and that outlet was going after God and writing in my journal, starting each letter saying, “Dear God, and that’s when it clicked create my own prayer journal. My goal is to spread awareness about who God is and how he has helped me as well as spread awareness about our mental health and how writing can be an outlet for anyone. .” Read more>>

Ray Sholes | Sommelier, Wine Educator, Wine Judge, and Founder of The Black Owned Wine Review + Content Creator

My thought process was one of simplicity, I stumbled upon it. I was a newbie in the world of wine and wanted to learn a lot in a short amount of time. The idea was to taste as much as possible; I decided to start tasting wine by varietal and included all the major regions of the world that it was known for (IE Pinot Noir from Burgundy, Oregon, Ca, New Zealand, etc.). As you can imagine it was pretty darn expensive and a lot of wine to drink. (This was before Coravin was invented) I then said to myself, “Self, why don’t you spread the wine amongst friends and ask them to pitch in to cover the cost”? I did this over the course of 6 months and started incorporating dinner as well, and discovered I had money left over sometimes, and then it clicked. I found a side hustle that made me some change as well as kept me submerged in wine (not literally of course although that sounds like fun) and learning all at the same time. it was the perfect team like the L.A. Lakers in the early 2000’s. This tasting, learning, fun club of friends gave birth to Royal Vines!. Read more>>

David Colby | Professional Solar Panel Cleaner

After a year of having my own solar panels on my home, I noticed they were dirty and begin researching ways to clean them.At that point I noted that there would be a need for this in South Florida and hence Solar Shine was started. Read more>>

Amir Eid | Owner of Miami Fitness Factory & International lecturer

The drive to start my own business started when I was a professional basketball athlete who had so much potential to grow, but injuries due to overtraining and bad training kept on hitting me down. My injuries pushed me to pursue my second bachelors in Physical Therapy which I thought was what I wanted to help other athletes get back in the game. Then, I heard of the Masters in Education of Exercise Physiology program at University of Miami that has changed my career and my perspective to sports injuries. I learned how to help athletes train to achieve their goals without being injured! when I came back to Beirut, I got offers from Gurus in the fitness industry whom when they knew I had decided to open my own sports performance academy concept ” Miami Fitness Factory” which also was my Final Year Project, told me that I will not succeed. Read more>>

Shadi – Omar Williams | Avid Cyclist

The thought process behind me starting my own business was to give back to the community as I’m always willing to help any and everyone to the best of my abilities and also knowing you can put a smile on someone face even if they are a stranger to you. Read more>>

Angel Murray | Loc Therapist

I realized that sustainable living will create the longevity that I’ve been searching for. I felt drained while I was working a job that I had to clock in for. Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with working for someone else. I guess you can say that’s how the world goes ‘round. However, I knew I had a special calling. I started tending to locs and natural hair and I felt liberated. I felt like I could move the world with my hands. Create anything I wanted! I also knew that I could take this career path to another level. The sky wasn’t even the limit. I knew I was intended to inspire others. Read more>>

Gabriela Chacon Bocanegra | Home Based Baker and Jersey Mike’s Franchise Owner/Operator

I have always loved baking. I remember as a young girl I would bake all the recipes from the Good House Keeping Christmas edition. I even remember one year making so many I sold a cookie assortment to my family friends. Fast forward to having my first kid, and I realized how much I enjoyed it. I started going on YouTube and learning how to decorate sugar cookies and cakes. I bough one of Martha Stewart’s cupcake books for inspiration and recipes. Friends started asking where I got the desserts from and were surprised that I was making them myself. They started encouraging me to start selling them. That is when I started doing research on what I would need to have my home based bakery. I have since them grown my business by going to local markets and events, partnering with local organizations, and growing my social media presence. Having the freedom to choose how much I can produce is definitely one of the biggest reasons why I chose to stay as a home baker. Read more>>

GiaRose Children’s Fashion | A collection of kids fashion hand-picked from luxury international brands. Every piece is unique and precious just like your child. 💗

GiaRose Children’s Fashion: A Passion Project Launched During Lockdown GiaRose was born out of two things: my passion for fashion and the love for my children (Gianluca & Alessia Rose). With more time on my hands to reflect during the pandemic on what I wanted from my career I deceided to take on a part-time passion that can hopefully grow into a full-fledged business. As a seasoned corporate brand marketer mostly in the beauty field, I have attended New York and London Fashion Week, I have always had a knack for fashion but after having my kids that obsession transfered to them, and dressing them. Read more>>

Austin Dowdy | Event Coordinator, Booking Agent, Fashion Designer, and manager of Brandon Lee.

Back in 2014 all of my friends were making music. I knew I was creative, but I’m not musically inclined plus I wanted to do something different. I decided to start a clothing brand which at the time was called Ratchetmobb. It was to go along with my friends music to help them get more publicity, events, etc. Then I thought to myself, “why just stop at making clothes? I can coordinate and put together events as well. I can advertise my clothing brand while helping give my musician friends a platform without having to deal with a middle man.” Read more>>

Schmeldrine St Fleury | Creative Crafter & CEO

To be honest, I was extremely scared to take that leap. It was never in my thoughts to start a business nor own one.I started off by just crafting for friends and family events. Over the period of time, they would make remarks on how I’m wasting my talent and that I’m giving awesome quality work for free. After a lot of push and encouragement, I took that leap and started Cre8tiveVisionz. And from that moment, my passion and drive kept me and allowed me to continue with Cre8tiveVisionz during the days I had no glue on what I was doing. I educated my self on any and everything business related and seek advice from my Entrepreneur friends and my confidence grew. And now I’m like, Yes I own a business. Read more>>

Lindsay Parkin | Wedding & Event Planner- CEO of LEP Weddings & Events

I wanted to do something that made a difference in someone’s life. I wanted to be able to bring joy to people. I found this through Weddings. After college, working for Marriott, and then working for a private event planning company, I was able to gain the experience that I needed to plan weddings on my own. In both of my prior career positions, I was responsible for driving sales and securing clients. I decided to do that for myself rather than for someone else. I wanted my company to represent an organized, stress free and FUN planning experience!. Read more>>

Dr. Marvin Dupiton | Entrepreneur & Doctor (PhD)

The thought process initially behind creating Sharp Crisp Clean was how can I create a style that caters to individuals that look like me as well as those who like to dress professional or causal or just like to look good yet expresses their personality to the utmost. Often times when shopping for ties and bow ties I felt they were extremely boring in regards to color, pattern, and even fabric. So as I began brainstorming it I began to see a greater purpose in what creating a business such as this would do for others as well as myself. Read more>>

Angelica Codner | Published Author & CEO of Angelic Cosmetic LLC

I didn’t know I was going to start a business. There was no blue print of what I’m going to do or how I’m going about it. It just happened. After losing my job due to racial discrimination, I found a hobby in making lipgloss that later turned into an online beauty store. Read more>>

Nastaran Whitson | Birth Educator, Trainer and Doula

I started my business because there was a need, not necessarily because I woke up one day and was like, “I want to work with hormonal women…this is exactly what I want to do with my life!” Haha. If only it were that easy, right? No, it was because a good friend of mine, Jess, approached me and said, “hey, I’m pregnant, what do I do?!” I looked at her somewhat bewildered and really did not know what to say or what to do. As a gym owner and trainer, I owned that and felt it was my responsibility to learn how to safely, properly and effectively learn how to train moms and moms-to-be. At that time, I didn’t have many resources so I went to work in learning as much as I could, attending workshops, seminars and more! Because there were so few resources in the northeast for athletic women and pregnancy, I decided to start my own business. At that time i affiliated with BIRTHFIT and became BIRTHFIT New Jersey….which has now evolved to Birthing Strong!. Read more>>

Teri Watson | Architectural Designer & Project Manager

The thought process behind starting my own business was to establish a bit of professional freedom. I had the urge to grow but wanted to make sure I was happy at the same time. I believe staying true to yourself and working on your own terms can be very beneficial. It takes a lot to stay in the architecture profession. We are drawn to design but the passion can get lost in the professional world through expectations and traditional paths. I wanted to control my narrative and most importantly, my portfolio. I wanted to define what types and portions of a project I was involved with. I believe this approach allowed me to stay motivated and eager to work. I am very fortunate to be able to have my own business and consult with larger companies which allows me to gain experience in multiple ways. Read more>>

Nataly Neuman and Margie Sernik Stein | Co-Founders of NAMAR

During Margie’s first time out to dinner during the pandemic, she couldn’t help but think “how can I trust that these utensils that I’m using are actually being cleaned and sanitized?” As she was leaving the restaurant, she saw plastic forks and spoons left behind on a grass area where people had just finished eating take-out. This is when the idea of NAMAR was born – an easy, on-the-go, personal and sustainable cutlery set that you can take with you ANYWHERE. Nataly, with a business background and a Masters in Psychology has always had a deep concern for the environment. Once she heard the idea, she immediately took action. From creating the design to developing the branding, Nataly made sure that NAMAR would become a product that is compact enough to fit in your pocket and impactful enough to make a difference. Read more>>

Jaryd Niles-Morris | Image maker, Art Director

It wasn’t really much of a thought process to be honest. It was the most logical solution for my vision and personality. I don’t know if it was the best decision but I don’t regret it. Read more>>

Vonisha Nelms | Skincare/Self- Care Advocate

The birth of my daughter, Aaliyah was the turning point and the inspiration for starting my company. My daughter has very sensitive skin and it was a daunting task trying to find the right product that would work best for her skin type. After researching and trying various products on the market for years, I became motivated to find natural ingredients that would provide some relief for her. This quest lead me to develop natural body oils that would address her skin condition and help others. Pieces of Paris Aaliyah was created in 2019 and formally incorporated in the city of Miami Gardens in 2020. Everything after that, is what I would call “God’s plan.” There are people all over the world who have probably tried everything on the market, and probably feel hopeless just like I did. My thoughts from the very beginning was how cool would it be to meet new people who I could help with their skin and body issues and also become someone who could inspire them to take their self care serious. Now that’s a goal! Read more>>

Derrionn Anderson | Author, Entrepreneur & Youth Advocate

My brand, Proud Chocolate Girl, was started because there has always been an issue of colorism in the world. As a child, I was taunted and teased for having dark skin. My mother tried to teach me self love at this age, by calling me her “little chocolate girl,” but it only made it worse. It wasn’t until college, where I attended school down south, when I was surrounded with other beautiful dark skinned girls who embraced their skin, that made me embrace mine. From there, I decided to share my story in the form of a children’s book and I entitled it, “Oh, Little Chocolate Girl…”. From there, my business, Proud Chocolate Girl was born. We now sell affirmation t-shirts, mugs and masks, along with the children’s book. Although it might be a brand NOW, it will forever be a lifestyle for us chocolate girls. Read more>>

Ashley Rouse | Founder + CEO

I don’t know if there was a specific process to it. I’ve always been into food so I went to culinary school. I’ve been in this industry for over 15 years now and have always had different creative endeavors that I wanted to focus on. So, jam-making was something I came up with at a time when I was living in North Carolina and doing a ton of cooking. I started doing a food swap with friends, where I would get a group of foodie friends together and everyone would bring small portions of an item and set it on a table. Then you go around, write your name down on the items you want, and you swap. That really inspired me because I saw a lot of different things that I hadn’t seen before. And it was experiences like that which inspired me to do something in the food industry that I loved. So, I wrote down this idea about starting a jam company, and then when I moved to Brooklyn, it just felt like the right time, and I started it from there. Read more>>

Jessica Desir | Owner of EarXecutive

EarXecutive is thee brand for exclusive earrings. My thought process behind starting my own business was to incorporate my love for fashionable earrings that will make a daring statement while building the confidence of women. The goal was to make sure that these statement earrings were not only unique but rare. It was very important that the exclusiveness of the earrings would enhance the beauty of that particular woman by making her embrace her own presence as she walks into a room with a pair of EarXecutive earrings. It is at that moment she will realize that every head will turn admiring the glow that she is emitting. Read more>>

Halima Samuel | Founder & C.E.O. of Wadadli Naturals

My family and I had thrown around the idea of starting a company selling our Shea Butter blend for awhile. During the pandemic when we all had a chance to reset our lives and priorities, my sister Camara reached out to start Wadadli Naturals. As a Black Owned, Female led business, we saw a gap in the natural skin care and wellness category for products marketed towards our Melanated needs. Our family is from Antigua, which has the indigenous name Wadadli, meaning “Our Own”. Thats how we came up with the name “Wadadli Naturals”. Within these products are a collective knowledge of natural ingredients that promote wellness, passed down from generation to generation. We’re using our ancestral knowledge and good science to formulate natural based solutions for our community. Through products like our Sea Moss Gel, Sugar Brown Shea Butter and Lip Balms, we are sharing that heritage of wellness with you!. Read more>>

NaKeitha Melton | Brand Designer & Subscription Box Owner

The idea of starting Biz Bestie Box came to me one day at work. At first it was never supposed to be a subscription box. I just wanted to create a brand that supported women in business and helped me find my tribe!. Read more>>

James Crawford | Writer, Martial Artist & Entrepreneur

Draper Norwood was born out of a desire to find the hidden connections that others either don’t have the time or ability to figure out. The company is named after the corner where I grew up. I was raised in a two-red-light small town called Ninety Six. Draper Norwood started out as a small consulting & marketing services company, and expanded over the past year into product and content development with an emphasis on entertainment and martial arts. From a young age, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I noticed the way others spoke. “Can’t wait til Friday,” or “Maybe someday we’ll hit the lottery.” I knew there had to be a better way. My childhood was mostly spent in books. I’d read these stories about people overcoming the odds and I thought, “Why not me?”. Read more>>

CHIVAS DAVIS | Best Selling Author, Artist, Speaker, Recording Artist, and Artrepreneur

I wanted to motivate people with my own passion ans purpose; Art. At the same time I wanted people to understand how to exercise and manifest their faith. Read more>>

Islin Alouidor | Photographer

Honestly knowing that if I failed I know I tried and I would try again until I succeed. Read more>>

Aneysha Bastien | Hair Stylist

I always wanted to be my own boss. Working a 9-5 full time never stuck with me. I’d have a different job every couple of months. I quit my last and final job to pursue my career in the hair business. With very few clients starting off it was a struggle for me but, I know timing is everything and that if I stayed consistent it would pay off in the near future . Which it did and I am beyond grateful. Read more>>

Pily Montiel | Designer & Entrepreneur

I always knew I wanted to have my own business. I think it’s in my blood. My grandparents migrated from Spain to Venezuela, looking for new opportunities and hoping to leave the struggles of a post-war Europe behind. With a lot of hard work, planning and execution, they were able to achieve that. My grandfather was the first one to do so, leading a very successful business, but my grandmother wasn’t far behind. She also had the entrepreneurial bug, and began her own venture as well. This business thrived and, years after, it even succeeded my grandfather’s. So for me it was just in my blood, I cannot explain it. Regardless of where life takes me, I know I will always have an endeavor of my own. Read more>>

Shandra Cornelia | Destination Wedding & Event Planner

After having worked in different jobs in the Hospitality and Event industry I often found myself wanting to serve clients in a different way, I wanted to be more involved and often found myself thinking, I wish I could do x,y or z and this wasn’t always possible. So I figured I could create my own company to serve clients the way I wanted to serve them. Also with having your own business you have the opportunity to stretch your creative juices and create a life you wish while doing something you love that helps others. Read more>>

Kayla Barnett | Social worker & Vending Owner

My thought process behind starting my own business was in 2019, I always wanted to have more than one source of income and I like to keep busy but I thought to myself what kind of business can I start and how can I start a business that’s different from others in my town. One day I was just scrolling on Twitter and there’s this guy who I been following on Twitter and that’s when the idea came to me and I started doing my research and taking classes. Read more>>

JIM PERIGNY | DJ, Radio Station Manager & Non Profit CEO

In the 1980’s & 1990’s, I witnessed and experienced the loss of hundreds of people that I knew to AIDS. At the time, I was into music and Nightclubs and had started DJ’ng. But I always thought that there must be something I could do to help in the fight against AIDS. Read more>>

Stephanie Menjivar | Art Business Mentor

While being the Head of Marketing for an artist-run textile company, I had the opportunity to work closely with artists and designers from all over the world who licensed their work to us. This experience taught me tons of ways that artists can succeed with their creativity that go beyond just consigning work to a gallery or showing at art fairs. The more I saw how these artists were developing their careers online, the more I thought to myself “why didn’t they teach me about these art opportunities in school?!” At that point my obsession with the art world and helping people reached new levels and I felt like it was my duty to tell other artists about these opportunities. So, one day I sat down and began writing my thoughts on what the art world is missing, what I can do to improve the lives of creatives, and how I can use my knowledge to empower artists to go further in their careers. Once it all clicked in my head, my purpose became clear. Read more>>

Marisol Consuegra Prado | Entrepreneur & Mental Health Advocate

I started Strawberry Planner in October of 2020. I had lost my grandfather to Covid-19, relocated to Miami after having been in Boston for 6 years, and was unsure about my career path. Shortly after, I had my first panic attack. I felt unable to help my body and mind. After trying to understand what happened, I came to the realization that at least knowing what triggered the panic attack will help me better prepare for next time. Wanting to prepare and, dare I say, prevent my next panic attack, I turned to self-care planners. Planners help us prepare and keeps us accountable. I decided that as I confront my mental health journey creating self-care planners, I could also help others by making my products available. Read more>>

Leonard Selmani | Professional photographer

I was working as a freelance and I came to a conclusion that I needed to have my own business. Read more>>

Nuveaux Lizaire | Visual Designer & Photographer

It wasn’t until fairly recently that I started looking at my craft through the lens of it being a cog in a system modeled to offer real value to those it’s made to empower. It took a long time to shift my perspective to that bird’s eye view of thinking ‘How can I create something that people will remember and value?’ Where I find my answers, I do my best to envision the components needed and identify how they would need to function together to operate best as a profitable creative engine. Before that, I guess the first chapter of my business would be when I made the decision to create an LLC for what I was doing as an artist. The idea came from the viewpoint of “Why not start my business now? That way I can keep track of my creative earnings and spending through a separate business account.” Small projects were coming through the door here and there so I figured I should take on the task of establishing where that money was going to go through. Read more>>

Cach Jerry Seymour | Running Back Specialist

My thought process about starting my own business was that I felt like my pay wasn’t nearly as good as my worth. I’m talking about every single job that I had. I was not in my element. Football is my element, I knew if I could get back to it some way then I would be able to eventually get paid was I was worth. So starting my own business was birthed from me feeling empty and wanting to fill a void in my life. Read more>>

Andre Webley | Chef

I’ve always wanted to start a business and I’ve started a few different ventures but always ended up fading back from as I grew in the restaurants I worked at. I mainly just wanted to create something that I know I enjoy and brings people together. And sitting down and enjoying a good meal with the people you care about is a great feeling and that was my thought process to starting this business, Frenchiesfoodworld .Creating a good time and experience through food. That may be with cannabis infused dishes , sweets , cookies, or just creating a special menu for a dining party. Just starting business that makes you feel good. Read more>>

Temiloluwa Egberongbe | Makeup Artist/ Beauty Enthusiast

There wasn’t much thinking put towards my business when i first started. I just wanted to capitalize off my hobby and talent, that was all it was. But as time went by, i realized i couldn’t just do that and expect growth. I’ve always thought of doing makeup as a hustle, but now i gotta think of it as both an hustle and a business. Read more>>