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.

Nicole Scott Bonilla | Owner of Magic Mirror Miami Photobooths

My mother came to this country as an immigrant at 26 years old, a two week visa and $100 in her purse. 3 Years after being in this country she was a citizen and opened her only salon. She has been her own boss for 34 years and she has definitely been such an inspiration that I too can be a leader and self employed. The perks of not having to ask anyone to take a vacation or being able to raise my son full time while being a boss mom was my biggest drivers to start my own business. Read more>>

Anouk Wipprecht | FashionTech Designer / Engineer

I wanted more freedom and the possibility to work on a broad range of projects, freelancing gives me the possibility to work with a diverse orbit of clients while working on themes like fashion, technology, interaction design, product, entertainment, automotive, and even aerospace and space tourism. It’s really fun – as every month / week you are doing something different!. Read more>>

Valeriya Forbes | Optometrist & Artist

I think I like to be challenged, to test myself, to push the boundaries and open horizons. I believe you never know what you are capable of until you try it yourself, speaking from a personal experience since I have tried multiple things over the past years. Read more>>

Lola Paul | Business Mentor

After being unemployed for 6 months with a wiped out savings account, maxed out credit cards, and no interviews or job offers lined up, I knew that I had to enter the driver seat of my life and create different lanes for me to navigate. That meant, I could no longer rely on just one stream of income and that I needed to put myself in position to generate multiple streams if I never wanted to be in that situation again. Starting LOLA MGMT, LLC put me in position to generate income from different avenues including but not limited to: doing social media management and marketing, creating my own online school and providing curriculum on social media marketing and small business startup, starting my own e-commerce store where I sell entrepreneurship apparel, doing consultations and trainings for small business owners who want to take their brands to the next level, and investing in real estate so I can make passive income with short term rentals. Read more>>

Christine Mills | Podcaster

I created The Veranda Entrepreneur podcast for creative women entrepreneurs to hear success stories. I find that is an exciting time to be a creative women and I wanted to showcase how women are excelling in the marketplace. Read more>>

Nina Smith | Creator of Edith Accessories

When I first decided to start my business, I thought heavily about financial freedom. I wanted to be more than just a consumer. I wanted to provide women with fashion accessories that will improve their looks and self-esteem. Read more>>

Danielle Callender | Creator of Affirmations Everywhere

Around the time just before starting the business, I was in a consistent routine of saying affirmations in the morning, setting intentions for the day and writing in my gratitude journal. I could see and feel a big difference in my day to day, but more importantly, the people around me saw that difference as well and started asking how I was able to maintain such a positive outlook no matter the situation. I knew it was because of the routine I had set in place and it was evident that others needed their own version of that as well. Therefore, I started the business with the thought process of “If people can say something positive to themselves, start their days with gratitude or a positive affirmation before bed, alot can change. If the products I create can change the trajectory of even one person’s day, week or year, I’ve contributed something great.” Read more>>

Dr. Loretta Faith Harris | CEO of Triumphant Living Enterprises, Inc

My journey to entrepreneurship started at the inquisitive age of 12 years old. I had a real gift for hairstyling and my mother agreed to be my manager. Until my senior year in high school, I enjoyed braiding hair and earning an impressive compensation. I later discovered that I had a real talent for writing, after receiving rave reviews about a play called, “Friendship” that I published in middle school. Just like my hairstyling business, I wanted to earn a profit writing children’s book. I always had a creative imagination and I thought that if I can just get started, people would purchase my books. Almost 30 years later and the same thought pattern has elevated me to greater heights of accomplishments. Now, I am the CEO of Triumphant Living Enterprises, Inc and I serve as a certified Life Coach and Business Consultant helping others achieve their own level of greatness. Whether it is launching independent companies, writing and publishing a book, or getting personal lives back on track, the services that I provide equips others to come into their own, successfully. Read more>>

Daniel Buruian | Hair Stylist

There is always something that takes some of us out of the comfort zone, and there is always room for everything to be done in a better way ! The Idea of better and improvement fueled my desire to bring my professional life to a more professional place in a bigger scale. Opening a business means to build a new dimension of professionalism and this is something that i truly and religiously believe in. This is something that creates a very creative environment, a place where you want to go get inspired and perform as a hairstylist ! As a business owner i am in charge of quality that i provide to all my clients , it is an achievement – a beautiful , shiny and healthy hair. Read more>>


When I moved to Milan to complete her master’s degree in management of luxury goods, I was struck by the pride that the words “made in Italy” inspired in those around me. This experience got me thinking about the label “handmade in Colombia,” and how I wanted to create the same value and pride for the people in my country. When I returned to Colombia, I decided to create Carola, a 100% Colombian sustainable handbag brand inspired by my own country and dedicated to empowering women and single mothers. When I returned to Colombia, I began to put the puzzle pieces together to create Carola. I knew she wanted to create a brand focused on sustainability, good quality products and unique designs. My mother, Maria Rocha, a civil engineer with amazing artistic talent, was and still is my support system she pointed out a fact that would become a cornerstone of my brand: in Colombia, 41% of mothers are abandoned by their partners and have to support their children alone. From this reality, the idea of creating a brand to empower and create opportunities for women, and especially single mothers, was born. Read more>>

Maral Arslanian | Passionate Home Cook

Looking back there really was no thought process. There was one thought – “I don’t want to continue working where I’m currently working” – and then life pushed me into jumping in and simply taking one first step. Read more>>

Ismael “Ish” Llano Darien ‘DJ’ Borges | Co-Hosts and Creators of The Pero…Let Me Tell You Podcast

As lifelong friends for nearly 30 years, we’d always thought we should have our own show…we love to talk about everything and anything so it just seemed like something we should do. Being two Cuban-American kids in Miami met (twice for the first time), we definitely have a perspective on things that’s informed as much by our culture as our city. A lawyer and ad guy might not seem the likeliest duo to host a weekly podcast, but we decided to do it anyway. Close as brothers, we tackle current events, pop culture, personal stories and anything else with viewpoints that could only be shaped by their Miami upbringing as much as each other. In the 4 years of the podcast, we’ve met many cool guests, hosted Miami events like Croquetapalooza and Carnaval on the Mile, even been on NBC primetime! In short, a typical week’s episode can be about anything, everything and absolutely nothing all at once…but always with a POV that’s 100% Latino y 100% Americano. Read more>>

Jakira Davis | Body Tight/Money Right (Black Clothing Line & Brand)

Starting my own business was a continuation of me stepping out of my comfort zone and embracing the new me. After 3 years of hard work, losing a ton of weight and transforming my body, it motivated me to share my motivational slogan with the world! Not only did I want to share how losing weight changed my thought process, I also wanted to offer stylish, and comfortable workout gear while getting it done. My goal was to produce a bold statement that when people would see it, they would not forget it. It’s said that health is wealth, my slogan, body tight/money right is saying the same thing, with just a little more flavor. Read more>>

Andres Montiel | Business Owner and Consultant

I always wanted to own a business that promoted health and wellness. My background is in fitness trainer and I was always very interested in the nutrition side of it. Therefore my thought process into creating Banana Berry was to have a place where people could eat healthy yet its recipes were delicious. A place where people that normally would never order a green juice for example be surprised by how amazing these healthy foods can be. Read more>>

Charles Osuji | Owner of Kingdom KEYS Mentoring & KEYS Aftercare & Tutoring LLC

Two reasons! The first reason is that I wanted to be in charge of my own time. Prior to owning my own business I used to work in management for some large companies. I used to work 70 to 80 hours a week, weekends, and holidays. I was missing so much valuable time with my wife and kids. My kids at the time was 1 and 3. I was missing out on key moments in their lives. After missing out on so much, God was pushing me to leave. The second reason is that I always had a burning desire to impact the youth in our community in a positive way. Since high school I was always that one friend that tried to bring the best out of you and tried to help you shy away from making wrong decisions in life. The combination of these two things gave me enough courage to leave my career and start a business that can potentially impact the lives of thousands of people in our community, It wasn’t the easiest decision either because my wife was in the middle of attending law school. But with knowing that I have God on my side I knew that this was the best decision for me and my family. Read more>>

Andrew Grifol | Ceo and Founder of Habitat Personal Training

After dealing with many different gym owners, learning what a o do and what not to do, I knew I was ready. I wanted to grow my existing clientele and create an atmosphere and culture you can’t find anywhere else in Miami. Read more>>

DAVID ZULUAGA | Music Producer-Keyboardist-Live Performer

I guess everyone who wants to start their own business, thought about the timing and processes, make a real checklist, in my case, it was all about passion for the music (including the steps I said before), the hardest part is taking the risk to start, after you start, you have the duty to mantain your business alive, innovate, recreate. You know in music, everything changes so fast, that´s a real challenge for you to be active and stay current. One of the most important thoughts you have to keep in mind, is patience, success is not inmediate. Read more>>

Chinelo Fleary | Founder & Owner of Ma’at Nail Polish. Teacher

Ma’at Nail Polish was was simple an idea that came to life with will, persistence, a little bit out self doubt and humbleness. It wasn’t so much about having this amazing idea of infusing CBD oil in nail polish but having an idea, revising, thinking about it for only a minute and going for it, Ma’at Nail Polish is what I call my ” COVID baby business”, was conceived in the middle of our local grocery store. The sole purpose of the company was just to push my boundaries, do what most people see as impossible and in the process be a instrument of inspiration and change, breaking generational curses and not only create generational wealth making paths for generational trailblazer, thinkers and innovators. Im not a beauty influencer, Im not a instagram model turned business women, Im simply a black women finding innovative and creative solution to the things that impact us most and reclaim our position where we have the most influence; the beauty industry. Read more>>

Alecia Peters | Realtor

I want to consider my story as her story. Simple because of the challenges that I have dealt with, many women have faced. The difference is how they handled it. Years back, I decided to leave a marriage that no longer served me well. As a single mother of two incredible children, I knew I had to do more which motivated me to start my own business. After all, my children deserved more! I wanted to ensure that I created significant opportunities and build generational wealth for my children. Not only that, I moved out of my home and knew we needed somewhere new to call home. I knew I needed a home, but I did not want to get caught up in the cycle of renting and having to move each time my lease expired. I wanted to create consistency and a more stable situation for my children. I began to research more into homeownership and drew a particular interest in real estate. HGTV started to become my favorite station, and I surrounded myself with real estate in every way possible. Read more>>

Ryan K | Celebrity Photographer & Content Creator

In this day in age multiple incomes is the only way to progress which is one of the reasons why I decided to pursue photography professionally and create a business around my craft. Creating content for others and capturing images has always intrigued me. The day I realized there was ways of making money and developing a brand around my skills was the day it became a business and not just a hobby. Read more>>

Herby Louijeune | DJ & Artist

I didn’t really set out with the intention of starting a business, I have always been involved in music. My passion grew from making mixes in my spare time to DJ’ing my friends parties. At the first party a friend pointed out my talent and suggested I take things to the next level. Through growth of being booked by friends and acquaintances DOUSS Entertainment came to be. Read more>>

Minh Do | Entrepreneur

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial sprit and I’ve spent my adult life finding new avenues to pursue in businesses. My thought process behind my latest business venture, Pho Bar Vietnamese Kitchen, was to showcase traditional Vietnamese home cooking in an inviting, laid back, environment. The recipes are inspired by the dishes my mother, my grandmother and my family have been accustomed to cooking for many years. In many ways, this restaurant pays homage to not only my family, but my country and the authenticity of the recipes that many people never experienced here in the states. I want Pho Bar patrons to experience Vietnamese food like they’ve never experienced before. Read more>>

Andrew Millar | Photographer – Digital Artist

I started my own business when I needed to make more money to take care of my family and to build a sustainable income. Which when it started I was able to build it fairly fast and maintain the business. Read more>>

Christina Scott | Podcast & Content Producer

Believe it or not my thought process behind starting my own business came from a few different aspects of my life. Number one being my mom! I watched my mom from a young age be her own boss and overcome every obstacle that was in her way Number two, the entertainment industry. I watched from a young age how the entertainment industry drives the culture and how you can change the world with your creativity. Number Three, Sean “Diddy” Combs. I have been looking up to Diddy for as long as I can remember. I want to be the female Diddy. Hard work, dedication, black excellence, respect, power, love and the people, those are the driving forces behind building a successful business in my eyes and those are the driving forces of my life!. Read more>>

Joi Turner | CEO & Founder

From an early age, I understood the concept of problem and solution, it was something I was taught in school and at home. When I got older and I started to see and understand the problems that were going on in my community, I knew that I could create a solution, or at least, be apart of the solution. One of the biggest problems that I see in my community, especially during this pandemic, is hunger and homelessness. So, I did research about it. I was about 9 or 10 at the time, and I thought that if I could understand it, so could other people. But, I didn’t just want to spread knowledge about the hunger epidemic, I also wanted to go out into the world, and help firsthand. And, that’s exactly what I did. I created Delivering Joi – Nurturing Bodies and Souls. I have always loved cooking and being in the kitchen, and my entire life, my family and I have been doing work in the community. Read more>>

Georgios Koulouris | Restaurateur

The tough process was that I decided to open my business during the pandemic and as you can understand not being able to generate sales, especially for a new restaurant it was the most challenging part. Read more>>

Vanessa Cashmere | Founder & CEO of The Smash Spot

I started my business after I hit a rough patch which ultimately was the turning point of my life. A few years ago I walked in on my live-in boyfriend with two other women. It escalated to a physical altercation and resulted in my arrest and discharge from the United States Navy. Consequently the charges against me made it very difficult for me to find employment as well as rent a place to stay. I found myself living in fear and uncertainty about my future. That’s when I knew that I needed to get serious about about creating a healthy outlet for myself, and others who needed it, to deal with the frustrations that come up and to prevent them from doing something they would ultimately regret. I had lost everything and had no choice but to reinvent myself. I knew that the life I wanted was up to me to create it despite the odds against me. Four years later, I opened up The Smash Spot and truly stand by the belief that you can overcome any obstacle with determination. Read more>>

Stephanie Quezada | Chandler

Starting a business can be terrifying but sometimes you just have to risk and consider taking pros and cons that come along the way. The process behind starting Scentz by Steph was to become my own boss. I wanted to see my work, skills, and client relationships grow in every way possible and truly and deeply feel that personal satisfaction with each successful and even unsuccessful project. My business came about when I needed to find a creative outlet for my time. Read more>>

Devarria Tillis | Small Business Owner & Travel Agent

I’ve always wanted to work for myself so my thought process behind starting my business was to create a business that I would always enjoy doing, something that wouldn’t feel like work and a business that I can expand/grow with. Read more>>

Tachiana Gunness | Founder & Owner of Sorted Olio

I am a born and raised Miamian, a first generation American, the youngest and only daughter. I grew up surrounded by a family full of entrepreneurs within a full range of industries throughout my life both domestically and internationally. Throughout my career I’ve held a variety of roles within different industries ranging from motorsports dealerships, corporate gyms to corporate America fortune 500 retail. Most recently I had the opportunity to move to California to be a part of a special project that shaped the future of brick and mortar retail for one of the world’s leading athletic and sportswear brands. I owe my love and dedication to create and build my own company, fueled by passion, dedication and a desire to provide to my family and my professional experiences. As time passed throughout the years while working for these global brands I knew that I wanted to create and start my own business. I honestly did not know exactly what or how but I knew that I did not want to work for a large corporation forever. Read more>>