Are you thinking about starting a business?  If so, we think you’ll enjoy reading about how these seasoned entrepreneurs thought about the question when they were in your shoes.

Katie Morone | Ballet Dancer & Stationery Brand Owner

To be completely honest I didn’t intend on starting a business, it evolved into one over time. I had another job – dancing professionally with a local ballet company – that left me feeling creatively unfulfilled in a very personal sense. While I loved my job it didn’t leave room for me to create what I wanted. As a dancer your constantly bringing someone else’s vision to life. So in my spare time I started drawing. Somehow, I don’t quite remember how, those drawings turned into cards and it just felt right. Stationery encompassed everything I loved – personal creativity, paper, design, meaning, connection, and on top of it all the stationery community is amazing; supportive, and lifts each other up. Overtime as I got more and more interest I decided to take the leap and two years later here we are. Read more>>

Amanda Flisher | Self-Leadership Coach

After many years of working in Leadership Development, I started to question how to bring what I was doing internally externally. I was working on leadership programs, coaching and developing many levels of the organization at the time and was about to become a mother. I was enjoying my role but as time went on, I knew that a) I really wanted to be home more with my son (and future kiddos) and b) that I wanted to work with more leaders across San Diego to develop them personally and professionally. Looking back I can see how my decisions repeat themselves. Before all this, I was in sales and was offered two positions – become a sales manager or become a sales trainer. My immediate decision was to choose trainer because I knew I could develop a whole lot more people that way than just a handful on my team. Read more>>

JaLeissa Speight | Mompreneur and Wellness Advocate

The process of starting my own business was actually something that happened as a result of a project I worked on for my son. Two years ago I became a mother and the road of motherhood has been absolutely more than I could have ever imagined. The special bond that a mother and son have is in unbreakable and indescribable so much so that I wanted to express my unconditional love for my son on paper. What started our as simply an open letter turned into a published children’s book. I would have never imagined that my first published piece would be a book dedicated to my son. Once the book was published and I saw the overwhelming reaction on social media, I knew that I had to branch off an create my own business to properly market the book. You Are My Sonshine is unique in the sense that it shares a story of the promise of a mother to love and always be there for her son. Not only is the book family friendly but it sheds a different light on how to open the lines of communication with your child even at a young age. Read more>>

Frank Martinez | Photographer

I honestly just felt that I had something for someone out there that they had not seen. I wanted to make that for them and it isn’t a monetary thing but for someone to recognize your value has meant a lot. Read more>>

Charlotte Smith | Chemist & Owner of Soaps By a Chemist

I earned my masters degree in chemistry in 2017 and already had one child. I knew I didn’t want to stick my children in daycare and I knew there were ways for me to earn money from home. I started with tutoring high school and college level kids then taught summer chemistry kid camps and also taught high school biology at a charter school. Then just before Christmas in 2018, I saw a friend make soap and it intrigued my chemistry mind. I learned it was completely a chemical reaction that could be done in my own kitchen so I started making soap and was hooked. All my friends and family wanted to start paying me for my soaps and my business just grew from there. I loved the idea of using my chemistry degree to make useful, high quality products with ingredients I could read and understand. And now I can share my love of chemistry with all my customers who also love handmade soap. Read more>>

Kris Warren | Co-Owner, An’s Dry Cleaning

Honestly, the spark that started An’s was the idea of working with my friends. I grew up with Travis Bailey (CMO & co-owner) and he’s been my best friend for as long as I can remember. He is an attorney and just an all-around smart and clever guy. I’ve been friends with David Aguilera (executive chef & co-owner) since just after I graduated college at UCSD and moved to Europe for a couple of years. He has made gelato for some of the best restaurants and chefs in Italy, Spain, & France. Lastly, I met Jimmy Blalock (CFO & co-owner) through Travis when they were in law school together. Jimmy is one of those people that you just click with quickly. I admire his work ethic and big personality. The idea of working with my best friends, especially as we get older, get married, have kids, and move away, was really appealing to me. Read more>>

Peggy Warny | Professional Photographer

My story may be a bit different than most people’s “origin” story. My passion was started early, I got my first camera when I was 9 years old, that camera and I were inseparable! I absolutely loved capturing images, and I was good at it, I loved the way the world looked through the lens and even more, I loved showing people how I saw the world. I have dyslexia, of course, in the late ’70s, I had not been diagnosed, instead, at that time, I was just the “dumb kid”. I felt like a failure at everything…I didn’t learn to read until I was 11 years old. The camera gave me the self-worth and confidence that I defiantly was not getting anywhere else. I was later diagnosed and was fortunate to have 1 amazing teacher (Mrs. Dodd) that believed in me and showed me how to unlock the power of my brain and showed me that I was not “dumb” but actually gifted and told me that I could do and be anything that I wanted to. Read more>>

Krys Cook | HBIC Cook Pigs/The Ranch, Lagree Instructor, Mom, Wife

Passion driven. Very personal. Based on my kids. There wasn’t really any thought it rolled into what it has become!. Read more>>

Marcela Cervantes | Image & Marketing Consultant | Fashion Stylist

It started in my teen years , wanted to do something for myself independently I’ve always been but as how I saw myself in the future doing , working and living. After dropping law school , took the time for me , to discover and learn new things ,opened even more my mind , experienced the magic of the unknown as I started from cero. First certified as a makeup artist as I entered college again decided my major in Marketing and as I was studying and working , certified in Parsons , University of Maryland , Complutense de Madrid via online as launching my own brand UNIQUE By Marcela started as a blog to inspire people to keep it real while dressing from their personal style , now we have different areas from image consulting , personal shopping , styling for public figures & editorial , online store and now a new platform of online webinars that unites the best from the beauty , fashion and health industry from binational region. Read more>>

Natalie Small | Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist & Founder of Groundswell Community Project & Sailing Captain

Groundswell Community Project was definitely not a “thought process”! It was a birthing process! Lots of listening, learning, honoring, and letting go of ego and the illusion of control. So much so, that as I felt her growing within me I actually asked for maternity leave from my job as a social worker at a homeless shelter. They denied my request of course, but offered me a position if I decided to return, So I took a 3 month birthing trip that involved surfing and exploring Cuba with one of the countries only female surfers and sailing through the Caribbean with an all female crew collecting ocean plastic research data and connecting with local communities on the impact of plastic pollution on their livelihood. (Yaya and EXXpedition) I came back to the states scared frozen, did I really want to have this baby? How was it going to change my life? How was I gonna be able to survive financially. Read more>>

Kelly Miles | Real Estate Agent and Advisor

I’ve always been the entrepreneurial type. So, to be completely honest, there wasn’t a lot of thought behind starting my own business, it was more so the natural progression to what felt most natural and comfortable for me. I’m a very self-motivated person and a self-starter. If I want something, I go for it. I’ve always been a firm believer that anyone can do just about anything, if they want it bad enough and they’re willing to work for it. I grew up in a family business, and I come from a longline of entrepreneurs and successful professionals on both sides of my family. Growing up around so many driven and accomplished people rubbed off on me; I am a product of my environment and I think business is just in my blood. After college I took a corporate job at a luxury hospitality company in Los Angeles where I oversaw marketing for some of LA’s coolest venues at the time. As a girl in her 20s, this was the ultimate dream job; access to the coolest nightclubs and restaurants in LA and the opportunity to rub elbows with Hollywood’s elite and famous on a daily basis. Read more>>

Caroline Kim Palacios | Founder, THE SMARTMASQ

The short answer is that I needed to help myself and my family after being laid off and I knew that serious athletes and people trying to stay physically and mentally healthy by exercising in the pandemic needed better options for face masks. After over a decade in the social sector, I was laid off at the start of the pandemic. At the same time, my mom, who is a first-generation immigrant small business owner, was beginning to feel the impact of the pandemic on her garment business. My husband was also preparing to start law school just a few months later. It was tough having those conversations around delaying his program and the possibility of losing our apartment. I knew that I needed to act fast and decisively to find income. In the first post-layoff months, the job search turned out exactly the way I thought it would with recruiters “ghosting” me or getting to the end of a process only to be told that a last-minute decision had been made to not fill the role because of budget concerns. Read more>>

Sawsun Khodapanah | Brand Founder & Student

It’s funny how life works. Sketches and incomplete ideas in the early 2010’s turned into the clothing brand I founded and am now building in 2021. I have always been entrepreneurially inclined, in favor of the idea of creating and building yourself. When I graduated UCSB in 2017, I started selling shoes on Instagram, under the name “San Diego Sneaks.” Basketball being my biggest love, I naturally grew to love sneakers as a kid and young man; I thought “Why not make something of all this time I’ve put into sneaker culture?” The page had started to gain some traction locally, and I had my mind on doing more. Come summer 2018, my hometown friend and I successfully debuted our first “San Diego Sneaks Summer Classic” annual basketball tournament in our hometown of La Jolla, CA. I designed shirts for all of the tournament’s participating players, and they became a hit – friends and people from the community wanted to know how they could get their own shirt. Read more>>

Steven Duncan | Artist

I had always wanted to work for myself and the stars aligned for me to start my own art business. Read more>>

Ashley Lanzarotto | Photographer

I always dreamt about starting my own business – but inside me I was to scared to take the jump, I was always known as an introvert at least to myself and that is the excuse I told myself. In 2019 my sister got married and that day I was watching her photographer and was amazed! She was doing something that I have always loved and enjoyed doing. At the end of the night I knew I wasn’t happy with where my life was in that moment and I knew something needed to change. I needed that excitement every day and the sense of fulfillment. So I picked up my DSLR and never looked back. So you ask what was my thought process behind starting my own business. My thought process was being able to do something that I loved doing that would never feel like a job. Creating beautiful images that people would love, showing them the photos I’ve taken and to be able to show them how beautiful they are through my lens and giving them a reason to love themselves to as small as taking a location that doesn’t look “photo worthy”. Read more>>

Melissa Bollea Rowe | Songwriter, Publisher, Author & Speaker.

I knew that if I started my own company I could determine my own path, my own worth, my own story and I would always have a place in the music business because I created one. I knew that being a Songwriter was who I am, what I live and breath effortlessly. I knew that for all of my life, music would be what I was made to do. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy but I would learn, I would grow, I would be able to help others and it would be worth it. And so I did and so it is. Read more>>

Carla Royal | Mindset & Performance Coach

It was clear early on in my life that I was not cut out to work behind a desk 9-5 for someone else. I took a stab at it but quickly discovered that I wanted more freedom and flexibility. I saw the toxicity of the rat race and I wanted something different. After receiving my degree in counseling and becoming a licensed therapist, I quickly made the transition to private practice. I stumbled along for quite sometime unable to get my feet firmly beneath. Running one’s own business is tricky! It actually took me a few decades to figure it out. During those challenging years, I burned out, broke down, came back as a certified master coach, and finally faced the backend of my business. I was a good therapist and coach but didn’t know how to actually run a business. The best investment I ever made into my business was to hire a business coach. Read more>>

Renee White | Black Women Entrepreneur

Growing up my favorite thing to do was going to the beauty supply store with my mom on the weekends. I loved everything about beauty from hair to makeup. I’ve always had a thought about why do I only see non blacks running these beauty supply stores catered to a black womens hair type. I always knew I wanted to own my own business, so in college in 2013 I started my online beauty supply store selling hair extensions. Since then I have expanded my products I offer and one day I plan to have a full store front beauty supply. Read more>>

Suzan Hernandez | Founder & CEO, MamaP

Over one billion plastic toothbrushes will end up in the landfill each year in the US. I started researching plastic toothbrush alternatives and discovered bamboo toothbrushes. But when I ordered them online, they’d come packaged in plastic in plastic envelope. The few stores that carried bamboo toothbrushes were packaged in plastic. It was disappointing. I was trying to move away from this plastic giant. It seemed no matter hard I tried, it was always there. I wanted something better for my health, that felt good using, that looked beautiful, and had sustainability built in from start to finish. So I decided to launch MamaP. Read more>>

Samantha Phillips | Wedding, Elopement & Couples Photographer

When I was growing up, I never had much direction when it came to a career path. I was always envious of those kids who knew exactly what they wanted to be when they got older. I went to college part time, worked odd jobs in the service industry and changed my major every other semester until I found something that stuck with me- business. I realized that I loved learning about marketing, accounting and all the ins and outs of running a business. I graduated University with a degree in Business and went to work at a Wealth Management firm. Although I loved that job, I found myself feeling miserable being stuck inside an office and sitting in traffic for 3 hours a day. The only thing I knew was that I craved being outdoors in nature and I would travel often doing landscape photography for fun. When I got engaged, I was introduced to the wedding photography industry and everything clicked. Read more>>

Michelle Van Der Water | Designer and Manufacturer

My business started as a hobby. I designed a rocking chair cushion after receiving a chair as a gift. After opening an Etsy shop I was surprised at the demand for my cushions. Shortly afterwards, I received requests from family and friends to do more “quick fix” furniture covers so they could renew their well-loved IKEA chairs, instead of replacing them. So now I focus on custom covers for IKEA furniture. Read more>>

Sarah Mondet | Owner and Picnic Designer

It’s a construct that’s been building within me for a long time through love for fine aesthetics, close connection, and delicious foods. I was always a wanderer, a hippie at heart, one who loved to escape city life at every chance and breathe in nature’s beauty while enjoying good company & great food. The idea to combine these elements and share them with others really sparked a passion in me, so I started offering unique and intimate picnic experiences with a bohemian ambiance inspired by travel and faraway places. With so many wonderful outdoor spaces to explore, from the well-known to those hidden and tucked away, San Diego was a perfect fit for the launch of Picnic by Nature. Read more>>

Jasmine Stewart | Ethical Body Care CEO

My thought process behind Ethical Body Care was to bring nature back into our daily self care ! Making clean , easy to read ingredients lists available to everyday people! No preservatives or chemicals just simple , natural ingredients. A Huge component to me starting Ethical Body Care was to become the brand that I always wanted ! This meant allowing the customer to get the inside scoop on what going on their bodies. And using my platform to make every body feel represented ! A safe space for all Body types , Genders , Race , Sexual Orientations & Cultures. Natural Ingredients , Transparency & Inclusivity is what Ethical Body Care takes pride in. Read more>>

William Raines | Sports Chiropractor, Strength Coach, Rugby Coach

The initial thought process behind my business was, broadly stating, to have a positive impact on my community through the scope of chiropractic. To put it shortly, I just want to help people. To speak more in-depth, I grew up in a family who all works in healthcare in some capacity. Through my own injuries and health challenges, I’d noticed holes in the system and recognized needs that could be addressed. My business was established and is ever adapting to the health needs of my clientele – from pain management, to physical rehabilitation, to lifting form analysis, the list goes on. Through that, we’re constantly looking at how we can better serve our population and what services we could offer to facilitate goals and educate the individuals we work with. Read more>>

Carlee Krichmar | Creator of Explore To Heal and Educational Counselor

When I created Explore to Heal, it was simply a game I started to host for me and two friends with the objective of cultivating important conversations around our different views, experiences and feelings, but in a playful way. I hosted it once a week for about a month, and started to include new elements and features that would strengthen the game’s purpose. As it evolved, I realized it could serve myself and others in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I began inviting more friends, and friends invited friends, and that formed what is now called Group Exploration, where five strangers gather over zoom and share their experiences, express themselves and get vulnerable with one another. The positive response participants had after each game made me want to share it with more people. Read more>>

John Evans | Bookseller/Owner, With Alison Reid, of DIESEL, A Bookstore

We wanted to open a store that was different from any bookstores that were currently in the area. We were experienced new & used booksellers and wanted to open a bookstore with a healthy work culture; friendly, welcoming and helpful customer service; rich selection of titles and authors; and a fun, light, and attractive atmosphere. This was in the Bay Area in 1989, in Emeryville, which didn’t have a bookstore and was an eclectically populated post-industrial town. Read more>>

Kaileen Palmero-Murphy | Florist

I fell in love with flowers a few years ago when I started practicing for my wedding because I wanted to make the florals for my own wedding. My husband and I had a long engagement, so I had time to practice and taught myself along the way. When the pandemic hit, we ended up eloping and I didn’t end up doing my own florals. Long story short, I had all this creativity bottled up and I created this project to pour my energy into. Read more>>