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.

Stephanie Gonzalez | Content Creator

When I started creating content on YouTube back in 2012, content creators had just begun making an income from it. I saw the future and the value in the platform, and that was a huge reason I started my business. I went into it with the understanding that I wanted to turn it into a business. I feel like I’m one of the few that thought this way because many creators will tell you it accidentally became a business. I thought YouTube was a good fit because I could share what I loved and did naturally, at my pace, while building a business. Read more>>

Karina Guzman | Interior Design & Feng Shui Certified Consultant

We all have gifts and talents that make us unique and different to anybody else. Being able to share mine was the inspiration behind my present career: wouldn’t it be great if we all could share our natural ability with the rest of the world?” And so, after some time pondering and convincing myself, I decided to go after my dream: To create a company where I could share my passion for beauty and energy applied to the spaces where we live and spend our days and nights. Read more>>

Ironelly Ozuna | Eyelash Technician & Hair Stylist

Being a business owner was not in my 5 years to 10 year plan. I was to go to college , get my collage degree and just get a job in my field. It all changed while in college and I wanted my hair and lashes to always be done but I couldn’t afford it. I quickly learned how to braid my own hair and do other styles by watching YouTube video’s. People constantly praised how good it looked and from there the idea of becoming a braider came to life. Read more>>

Zeenat Sheikh | Founder & CEO of L’Zur Skincare & Cosmetics

My passion is to help women who have been oppressed and/or are in distress. My brand, L’Zur Skincare, and Cosmetics didn’t start as a skincare and cosmetics company. It started as a non-profit organization, The Voices of L’Zur, which caters to women in distress, and also women who feel as though they are physically/emotionally abused. Read more>>

Barbara Samuels | Type 2 diabetes Reversal specialist

My thought behind starting my own business came from need to help others live a life without the burdens of Type 2 diabetes. After helping my husband transform his life and reversed type 2 diabetes, I realize i was no longer as comfortable doing what I did. I wanted do do more. I want to help, others break free from this disease. I realize most individuals were unaware that it was possible to actually reverse type 2 diabetes. Read more>>

Taylor Awqua” Mckie | Photographer “

It all began with me seeing the talent I held within myself. At times as an Artist, I felt as if my work wasn’t worth sharing or a skill to share with others. But as I stayed consistent with it and saw how each and every photo improved, I came to the understanding that if I continued, kept a tunnel vision and an open mind I would be successful regardless of whatever negative thoughts may come to mind. Sometimes it’s hard, but the self gratification that comes with noticing my own improvement, is enough to keep me going. Read more>>

Megan Smith | Real Estate Professional/Entrepreneur

I’ve always envisioned a life for myself that surpasses any realities that I’ve had as a child, a life that is limitless, a life that is joyful. After leaving the Air Force 3 years ago, I started to find a new freedom, but I would have never imagined that becoming a full-time entrepreneur was in the plan. I’ve always wanted to buy a home for myself and begin to build wealth for myself and my future family, but I knew nothing about Real Estate so I figured what better way to learn about the process then becoming a Realtor. Read more>>

Nicole Retchin | Chef/Entrepreneur

Since as long as I can remember I knew I wanted to be a teacher or a chef. I wanted to make an impact on others. I’ve always had a passion for food, health & fitness. I decided to go into culinary arts where I graduated from Johnson & Wales University. As I grew my business I worked at a local Eating Disorder Facility where I was able to help women and give cooking/nutrition classes. Since then I have expanded my business immensely. Read more>>

Aaron Hall | Software Data Analyst & Photographer

Originally, my late grandfather was a photographer who specialized in nature shots. He would make different types of calendars every year and my family would always say that he should sell them because he was so talented that they genuinely thought he could find success in doing so. Throughout my life, I had seen my grandfather as someone who just loved the arts but would never want to get into business with it. It wasn’t until after he suddenly passed away in 2017 that I would learn he had tried to sell his photography for years but never found success. Read more>>

MarQuita Jones | CEO & Owner of Klarity Kosmetics

There were a couple of factors. I wanted to find something at the time, that would allow me to stay at home with my then one year old son. Daycare was so expensive, and due to me not having a reliable babysitter, it caused me to lose my job that I had. On top of that, I was working so much before getting fired, that I wasn’t getting home until super late and I wasn’t getting to really spend time with my son. Read more>>

Valeen Bhat | Founder & CEO of Private Picassos

I started my company when I was 24 years old after I struggled to find an interesting and exciting position in 2006. After graduating with a master’s degree in Art & Design Education from Pratt Institute, the only jobs I found seemed to focus more on the parent’s expectations, rather than what excited their children. I wanted to create a program that started with children and their exploration of art, while also allowing myself the freedom to listen to my students and modify my projects and program around them. Read more>>

Carlisa Thomas | Mother, Advocate, Chef, Entrepreneur

Purple Ribbon Chef was birthed through my pain from lupus and domestic violence. I started baking to help raise money for my soon-to-be nonprofit for lupus and it reminded me of why I went to school for culinary arts and baking and pastry arts. After I had a rough couple of years struggling with my lupus and being fired from my job because of it I decided to go back to my love for cooking all while leaving my domestic violent marriage. Purple Ribbon Chef allowed me to not only provide for my children but spread awareness for lupus and domestic violence with the awareness ribbon for both being purple I knew this would be much more than just a business but a mission! Read more>>

Dr. Joseph Gretzula D.O., F.A.A.D. | Board Certified Dermatologist

1) The concept of “Beauty Within” was born during the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time period I was unable to work and had over 4 weeks to contemplate on this very unusual pandemic affecting every single human being. During that time sequence, I began to reevaluate my own personal health and also decided to mirror what I practice in my own life and share those concepts with others. The concept first evolved at approximately 2:30 in the morning when I texted a dear friend of mine who is an artist in Vienna, Austria. I have always been fascinated with the beauty and the understanding of one’s eyes. It is based on the concept that the eyes are the entrance to the soul. Read more>>

Ivana Pejdanolvska | Founder of Wood & Wick Co.

From a young age i got to see my parents run their own business and i remember i must of been in elementary school i would get so excited to go help my parents at the store after school. My grandparents business was also next to ours so we had the whole family together. My parents used to have a clothing boutique they named after my name “Ivana”. Over the years the business mentality and the passion to one day owning my very own business was always there. Read more>>

Mariana Godinez | President- Tiniciti Preschool

I was a single mother of two in a new country. I had no help or support system and I realized that I wasn’t alone in this. I had a background in education and decided to open Tiniciti with the “new family” model in mind. Read more>>

Michael Haddix | CEO of Scout and Former Division 1 Basketball Player

For me, it was about building what I wanted to see in the world. I did not know much about investing in high school or college, but when I moved to New York City, it was everywhere. I also quickly noticed that the earlier someone invested, the bigger impact it could have. Access to information is a big factor in making these decisions, so I created Scout. I wanted to blend teaching and action and help everyone create the financial future they wanted through investing, no matter their background. Read more>>