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.

Robin Rockey | Owner of RockSpark Communications + Marketing

Everything we do at RockSpark Communications + Marketing is designed to spark engagement, spark connection and spark action. I was inspired to launch a full-service agency specializing in government, consumer and B2B communications, marketing, advertising and public relations to help brands ignite the spark that takes their communications strategy to the next level. We opened the doors to RockSpark Communications + Marketing in July 2020 – a time when many businesses and government agencies were slashing their marketing and public relations budgets and scaling back their in-house communications teams in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, it was more urgent and important than ever for organizations to keep stakeholders and customers engaged and updated with the latest information in a rapidly changing environment. Read more>>

Jenn Smith | Baker

It happened very organically. (No pun intended.) My whole, extended family is really into food. When we get together for the holidays (something I’m really hoping we can do this year), we sit around talking and eating for hours – and then still have leftovers for everyone to take home. In the 1960’s, my Dad’s parents actually had a small restaurant in the sketchy part of Washington D.C. He and my uncle like to complain about what hard work it was, but the two of them still joke about opening up another restaurant together someday. My grandparents barely had enough food to eat in the villages where they grew up, so they reveled in being able to offer their grandkids an abundance of food. It took them a long while to get to that point. There’s a story about how when I was a toddler, the Asian pears were so expensive that they’d buy just one at the supermarket – for me. Only recently, my Dad shared how rarely they had treats when he was young. Read more>>

Patty Roe | Co-Founder and CEO of Pink Haze

I entered the cannabis industry in 2016 when I started the licensing process with the City of San Diego for a dispensary. During that time, I started a delivery service to get a head start on marketing for the dispensary. After nine months, the approval for the license was unfavorable and new regulations forced us to close the delivery. What I learned as a delivery owner was that no flower products targeting women existed. Flower, the term used for dried and loose cannabis, was my choice of consumption and so many women had few options beyond masculine or stoner-branded products. We saw an avenue to develop a female-targeted product that celebrated femineity and luxury. When the dispensary license fell through, I knew we had to fill the void and start a cannabis brand that focused on women to support them to enjoy life and live beyond the stigma. We created Pink Haze a luxury cannabis lifestyle brand for women. Read more>>

Hashemi and Elizabeth | Founder / Owner

We never intended on having a full time eBike rental business let alone a full service electric bike shop. in Huntington Beach. Our thought process was to have a weekend, part-time business while still working our other jobs that would earn us another stream of income. After one year of operating ‘Fat Bike Rentals’ on weekends only, we decided to go all in and work full time to build a new kind of bike shop that specializes in electric mobility. In year two, we also launched our own brand of American made electric chopper style bikes, PLUM Motorbikes. What started off as a passion and hobby has now turned into our sole source of income and livelihood. Read more>>

Alicia Griffiths | Interior Designer

I never thought I’d start my own business. I started my professional career in PR and I’ve always worked for larger firms that I thought were ‘safer’. But after moving back to the US after 10 years living and working in the UK, I started going freelance to give me more flexibility with my young family. At the same time, I realized my passion wasn’t in PR anymore. Having kids really made me rethink how I spend my time, and if I’m going to put in the hours and hard work, it better be for something I love. And I’ve always loved design. I’m the kind of person who watches a film and can’t remember the plot, but can remember the wallpaper and furniture arrangement… So I went back to school to study Interior Design, and eventually started freelancing for other designers and helping out friends which then led to my own clientele. I think those early days of going freelance were so pivotal, as they gave me the confidence that I can make a living working on my own, which eventually laid the groundwork for me starting my own interior design business. I’m still working hard, but I’m so much more energized and fulfilled doing what feels most natural to me. Read more>>

Larenzel Jones | Clothing Brand Owner

The thought process on starting my own business was to do something to express my pain and show people there’s someone that relates out here. just keep being an influencer or creator in your own way for you own peace. Through all life disasters! Lone N Disaster. Read more>>

Kelly Etter | Found & CEO of EtterOps LLC

In 2016, I wanted to make my own way in the professional world. But at the time, I was knee-deep in my identity as a Teacher, as a Wife, as a Mom. And within each of those identities, I was overloaded with responsibility and guilt for not being all-present in any one role. So, when the opportunity came up to start my own business, I vowed to create a safe space for me and other women to have both career and flexibility, to have accessible levels of responsibility, and most importantly, to know they work in a place that understands womanhood and motherhood are essential to societal growth, not hindrances to it. I wanted to create a company where I, and women like me, could carve a professional space for ourselves on our OWN terms. While supporting our small business clients in the process. Five years later, I’m proud to say we’ve been able to hire six women (and my husband!) who thrive on that flexibility. Read more>>

Shannon Hickman | Underground Sludge | Artist

I was already creating art before I even thought of starting a business. It wasn’t until a friend of mine reached out for a custom piece that I realized I should start selling my art! So I built my website and it really all started coming together from there. Passion into profits. Read more>>

Dan Graupensperger and Carol Graupensperger | Woodworker and The Brains of The Operation

Basically we fell into the business we have now. I was a firefighter for 36 years but also had a cabinet business for about 25 of those years. As time went on the cabinet business grew and customers asked me to make non traditional wood based items. I have made wooden ladders, reconstructed wooden chassis for antique cars, and display stands for Olympic torches. When I retired in 2011 I still liked woodworking so I was doing small odd jobs but nothing serious. During that year a friend of Carol’s who was in charge of administering a holiday boutique for a local charity asked me if I would make some cutting boards and trays to sell at the annual Christmas Boutique. We sold everything I made the first day, We kind of had an “aha” moment that this could become a business and so Pacific Mountain Woodworks was born. Fast forward to 2019 we as a husband and wife team are working full time to keep up with the demand from artisan show sales. Read more>>

Christina Rounds | Realtor®️ and Property Manager

I was mainly a stay-at-home mom of 3 kids, who dabbled in Real Estate. My husband had just told me that he wanted a divorce after 5 or so years of marriage. I, naturally started to freak out so I answered a craigslist ad. Someone was looking for an assistant at a Real Estate/Property management brokerage. I started working for $10 an hour for a few hours a day, while the kids were in school. I hadn’t told my husband that I had started working, I just started to pay some bills. Eventually, the Broker asked me if I wanted a couple of properties to manage, which I so gladly accepted and it was built from there. I had my own portfolio and found that I have a knack for property management and genuinely enjoy the challenge and relationship building of my career. I have since moved on to another brokerage and run the property management side of things. Read more>>

Maria Martir | Founder & CEO of Maria Innata

I was born and raised in Nayarit, Mexico, a country with plenty of culture and traditions. Although I have moved to other cities in the course of my life, my roots always came with me everywhere. Because of the passion and love for my roots, Maria Innata arose. Maria Innata wants to be the voice of the Artisans, the voice of remote communities, of the indigenous people, that are not spoken about often, but they are the reason for our origin. Maria Innata wants to contribute to the cultural preservation through craft, to show the wealth of colors, texture, visions. I am fortunate to live in an incredible place, even if it is far from my homeland, It has enabled me to reach new spots, new people. Maria Innata is a new brand but a brand with a lot of vision, dedication, and love. Read more>>

Vitor Viana | Photographer & Director

Since I was a kid I had this thing in my mind saying I would end up working with art. I have always been interested in the aesthetics of things and it kind of built the way I see life, I feel every single thing either physical or not has a certain value and what makes it more valuable is the way we see and treat it. Read more>>