We reached out to some of our favorite entrepreneurs and asked them to think back and tell us about how they decided to start a business. Check out their responses below.

Lariesa Bell | Pilates Studio Owner

When you recognize a need, fill it! I have always been passionate about health and fitness, but as I grew into an “adult” I realized that there was a lot confusion and struggle for most people in this area. I recognized that most people want to be healthy and fit, but they either don’t know how to go about it, they are confused about what the correct path is, or they just don’t believe enough in themselves to make it happen. In each of these cases, I knew that I could make a positive change in people’s lives! Educating, guiding, and encouraging people to be the healthiest and fit that they can be is certainly my gift, and I am excited everyday to be able to help people (and make it fun!) along that journey. It was a huge growth process to get where I am today, but every hurdle and success was worth it. Read more>>

Michelle Harvey | Real Estate Broker & Small Business Owner

With my real estate business, Harvey Homes, my thought process was that the ways of real estate brick and mortar businesses were changing. I could see that even back in 2005, there were plenty of ways to meet with clients that didn’t involve having an office space and overhead. We would utilize local business to meet up, use esignatures for documents, and as technology changed, we can face time or use Zoom to have meetings. With Covid, I am more than prepared to virtually and seamlessly manage my client’s home purchases and sales. I also wanted to be able to make decisions that were best for my clients, not a corporate brokerage. Commissions are not set, and I knew that as a Broker, I could make the same as with a brokerage, but I could pass the additional savings onto my sellers and save them thousands of dollars. With my method, I knew I could put thousands of dollars back into the hands of my sellers. Read more>>

Jul Thiebaud | Industrial Designer

Talking with various people in my car design network I had quite a few requests on how to sell these designers’ products, place them. After a while I figured I should just regroup everybody under one umbrella and organize this a bit! Read more>>

Valentina Orbit | Performer, Instructor & Producer

To be honest, when I started my business I didn’t think about it as ‘starting a business’. I thought about it as being my own boss. Having freedom and doing what I loved. I thought of it as being creative and living my life surrounded around my passions. I did not approach it in the way maybe I should have! I was 23 and going by intuition. I had no business experience or education. I had a tough first year after transitioning from working multiple part-time jobs to attempting to support myself solely through Unity Hoops. Many tears were shed that first year, much debt was incurred. I considered giving up but never did. I am so glad that I didn’t! I had a good support network of people who helped me through the tough times and loaned me money to get by. Read more>>

Kelsie Hancock | Travel Blogger & Digital Creator

Our time is extremely valuable. We are all taught what success is at a very young age. Do well in grade school, be in advanced placement classes, go to a good college, go work for a “great company,” and save for retirement so you can retire at 65. It’s this cycle of copy/paste societal success. It’s safe because those before us have gone and done it, and they turned out ok. But if you look at it, we will end up spending 80% of our lives around people who are not our family. We spend 80% of our lives not living our values because we are building someone else’ dream, in hopes to build our dream…but that doesn’t actually happen because we’re just living to work. After serving four years on active duty in the Marine Corps, I realized that I needed something different for my life which prompted different decisions and ways of thinking and challenged my WHY. Read more>>

Dave Kamena | Brand Architect

I was 28 years old and spending a lot of time on the beach surfing and playing volleyball. One of my surfer friends owned a clothing brand and i worked nights for him sometimes cutting fabric into pattern pieces. I saw an opening in the beach volleyball market for surf style shorts so I made some. Read more>>

Michelle May | President & Founder

After working for many years offering services – initially as a web developer and graphic designer and more recently as a health coach, culinary instructor and recipe developer, I decided I wanted to transition to offering products instead. It seemed like an opportunity to help more people and have a greater impact on the way we eat. Our products, Space Ice Kream & Coconut Jerky, are minimally processed and provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and unlike many other packaged snack foods, contain no refined sugar or added oils. By creating options that are healthy, satisfying, eco-friendly and easy to consume, I felt I could help fill a void in the packaged food industry. Read more>>

Mairene & Jimmy Branham | Founders & Nutritionists

We once saw a quote that said, “You can either wake up and help someone build their dream, or you can wake up to work on fulfilling yours”. This really spoke to us at that time. I was working in sales for a hardware engineering company making them millions a year and feeling underappreciated. I one day took that quote to heart and decided I could help my partner build a company where I could eventually reap my reward for my hard work. In addition, we decided while dating being engaged that we may want a family in the future, and having the ability to take off when we wanted could only be possible if we owned our own business. Jimmy had come from a background where his family restaurant taught him what it would be like to own a business, deal with costumers, finances, and such that it was a path he wanted to continue. Read more>>

Wendy Snyder | Positive Parenting Educator & Family Life Coach

Hey there, I’m Wendy. I host The Fresh Start Family Show, a feel good, helpful podcast for busy parents all about relationships & raising kids with integrity. I’m a relentless encourager & advocate for families and I create online programs through my company Fresh Start Family that helps parents take a break from hand me down, outdated parenting tactics by expanding their positive parenting toolkit, so they can create family legacies & memories they are proud of. I believe parenthood is a marathon, not a sprint and that it takes a village to raise good humans. Parenthood is much too precious of a journey to spend struggling every day. I’m here to help parents find more peace, more joy & more success in their daily parenting walk! Read more>>

Ryan Ward Bethke | Creative Digital Media Artist

Before starting my own business, all I knew was being employed by the government or corporate America. It was great in my early years: perfecting my craft and establishing my work ethic and professionalism. As an artist, I came to realize that you can be comfortable and make a good living working for someone else. But that is where it ends. The secure feeling that I felt was a mirage, as I was laid off after a merger of of two companies. I was at a fork in the road: become an employee somewhere else, or start my own business. It wasn’t till that happened that I realized the freedom that came with the risk in working for yourself. I thought about it for years, but it took someone else to pretty much make the decision for me. And to this day, I am forever grateful for that happening because I couldn’t be happier. Life works in mysterious ways. Read more>>

Hector Mota | Holistic Health Practitioner & Massage Therapist

Ever since I was young, I was always interested in helping others feel better – physically, mentally and spiritually. I enjoyed attending seminars about health and wellness as a young adult. I was working in another career field for decades, but then one day, I realized I had a calling to professionally help others with their health. I still worked at my regular job while attending a holistic health and body work school here in San Diego. The more I learned about wellness, the more I knew I was finally on the correct path. I graduated 15 years ago and started my own business as a holistic health practitioner & massage therapist. I also created a line of holistic Zen sprays that I use with my clients and also offer in boutiques and at makers markets. Every client I help makes me realize that their wellness is my reward. Read more>>

Samantha Anderson | Event Artist & Private Art Instructor

From day one, I’ve always been an entrepreneur. After moving to San Diego and looking for artistic jobs with little to no success, I decided to create my own brand. Because my brand is simply me as an artist, rather than a “party service company,” it gives me so many more options and opportunities to pursue anything artistic. For example, before Covid-19 greatly affected the party industry, I provided almost every party service you could think of ranging from Face Painting and Balloons to Henna and Painting Parties. Unfortunately, with no gatherings permitted, parties have just not happened. Having the freedom of being under my own brand, I was able to adapt my business to proceed mainly online by teaching free Painting classes as well as launching a Patreon, a way for me to teach even more content for those who want it. Read more>>

Tyler Luna | Entrepreneur & Tech Enthusiast

I have always had a passion for helping others and wanted to expand my reach beyond the 100 employees in the department I worked in at the County of San Diego. I identified a lack of friendly tech companies to help small businesses in San Diego so I decided to offer my services to companies with less than 100 employees as an independent contractor in 2007. I knew that I could provide the knowledge and skillset to companies that aren’t positioned to hire a full time IT person. After 6 years of working full-time and offering my services freelance, I decided to leave my full time position and form my first company. Read more>>

Annemarie Alf | Doctor of Physical Therapy, Performance Director, Strength and Conditioning Coach & Owner

I founded OLYMPUS MOVEMENT PERFORMANCE because I wanted to create a space that focuses on the WHOLE person and athlete. After spending many years in my younger professional career with youth and high school aged athletes, I returned to those roots in the foundation of creating Olympus Movement Performance. I want to offer a holistic approach to your health with a treatment plan specific to YOU. But Olympus doesn’t just focus on the young athlete. I have seen a huge void in the traditional medical and physical therapy settings in actually addressing the root causes of injuries and ‘diseases.’ For this reason I created the Holistic/ Integrated approach that Functional Medicine/ Nutrition and Hormone Balancing allows for to assess and treat the WHOLE person. Read more>>

Donisha Logan | Yoga Instructor & Sound Healer

I was inspired to start my business because I didn’t see many people who looked like me in wellness spaces. I remember taking a class and I left saying that I needed to bring this to my people. Yoga can be healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It can help us all remove a lot of stored trauma. The benefits are invaluable and I’m grateful that I followed through on my intuition to venture into the wellness space. Read more>>

Rachelle Domingo-Rogers | CEO & Principal

I’ve always wanted to start my own business. I decided after watching my dad, who’s a Civil Engineer and owned his own business, when I was much younger. I worked in his office when I was 12 years old, learned AutoCAD at that age, and was taught how to design roads and underground infrastructure. As I got older, he tried to encourage me to take over his business one day, but I realized that Engineering was not for me – it did have its take-aways though. I ended up leaving home right after high school to explore what life has to offer, because I was stubborn, rebellious, and wanted my independence. I went to SDSU for for a couple of years, studying fine arts and psychology, and lived in a dungeon-y old studio apartment near school with cockroaches and dead animals in the walls, and helicopters flying overhead often for crime and murders happening around my block. Read more>>

Freddie B. | Photographer & Videographer

I wanted to share my “vision” of the world, and those within it, with as many people as I could – I want people to “see my voice.” Also, I have been blessed with the ability to travel abroad on occasion to experience and see the different cultures and the beauty of the sights and people Using my camera to capture these “moments” in my own way, allows me to “give back” in bringing the world to those who may never be able to see it for themselves. Read more>>

Tiffany Schaaff | Salon Owner & Hair Stylist

For a long time I thought that there was no way I could afford to start my own business. I felt I couldn’t afford it not only financially, but relationally and personally. I knew to start my own place it would definitely take money, time, and attention, all things that as a working mom of 3 littles, I didn’t have to spare. Then life happens, and it pushes you to either sink or float. Makes you find your way. When I moved here I kept having issues at salons either because I am an all ages stylist (and not everywhere loves having kiddos in their business) or more often, “Tiffany, I’m sorry although very positive your energy and excitement is a little too much for our space.” That was a hard one to swallow. I am a hard worker, so I’ve not really had issues in the work place. Top that off with the fact that I was literally getting complaints about WHO I AM. Read more>>

Veronica Denne | Co-Founder

Both Jon and I, had successful corporate careers. We both were fortunate to have worked with talented people and had great mentors along the way. Over the years, Jon and I would talk about starting our own business and the things that were important to us. We had many ideas and business plans, but nothing came to fruition as Monday would roll around and we were on a plane headed to our next meeting. It wasn’t until Jon took the leap and decided if we don’t go for it, we’d never start our own business. We decided we would take all the skills and experience we had accumulated over the years and put them to work while focusing on producing products that we loved and would feel great about. Read more>>

Team Phun | Custom Apparel & Branded Merchandise

We wanted to create a one stop shop for our customers. A lot of general managers and business owners have apparel, signage and other promotional product purchasing added to their already very full plate of tasks. We make it easier for them by being able to come to one place to shop all of their products. Read more>>

Brian Kelly | Rendering Artist

My talent and experience lead me to a highly specialized profession that I can offer to many clients. Since I perform the service alone, it made sense to start my own business. Read more>>

Scott Stephens | Owner

The freedom of entrepreneurship is of paramount importance to me. I currently own and operate three businesses, with Liquid Blue being at the forefront. I wanted to travel extensively, and performing in a live band offered that possibility. I also wanted to be involved in an industry with a positive social impact. Most of all, I wanted to do something I enjoy. Managing a band is, for the most part, fun! I don’t perform very often anymore, but performing rarely feels like work, as any artist will tell you. I have put in 50 to 70 hours per week into my businesses for most of my life. But since I enjoy doing this, I hesitate to call it “work.” When you love your occupation, you don’t need as much recreational time. I don’t have to flip the switch between work and play. For the most part, it’s almost all play for me. Read more>>