Starting and growing a business is hard, but often deciding to start the business in the first place is even harder. We asked some successful entrepreneurs from around the community to open up to us about how they thought about starting a business.

Jorge Naranjo | Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Art Director & Brand

It’s a longtime dream. In taking inventory of my career, the thought of pursuing a life in design and having my own studio is at the core of it all. And now that I’ve embarked on this new path the idea has been the fuel behind all my efforts. After nearly 20 years in the graphic design industry – experiencing economic ups and downturns, being apart of small in-house marketing jobs to large corporate brand gigs (and a brief stint in the mid 2000’s of living the studio dream with a few partners), the goal and the passion to become independent and to create a space where I can thrive, while practicing the craft I love remains. NittyGritty emerged from that same passion. Its fundamental pillars were envisioned to be antithetical to the soul-crushing realities of the corporate grind: 1. Do fulfilling work 2. Do no harm 3. Work with minority and misrepresented groups in our communities and 4. Don’t work with assholes. Read more>>

Lindsay White | Songwriter & Lady Brain Presents Organizer

I originally set out to combat the growing sense of isolation, competition, and despair that permeates our social media-addicted culture. With Lady Brain Collective, I hoped to replace those negative aspects of everyday life with a community where local womxn and gender non conforming creatives could feel comfortable leaning on each other, learning from each other, and showing up for each other in physical spaces. In turn, I hope to showcase their amazing work to the community at large and help foster a more tangible sense of the reciprocal relationship between creators and their communities. When we truly recognize and compensate womxn and artists for the value they bring to those around them, everyone benefits. The pandemic has thrown quite a wrench in the manifestation of this vision since much of our efforts are built around the idea of gathering in physical locations, and since so many of our members have limited creative capacities right now, having been forced to prioritize their time and resources toward their essential survival needs. Read more>>

Michelle Barth | Chief Escape Organizer

To create one-of-a-kind escapes across the globe for travelers. Read more>>

Katie and Brooke | CBD Innovators & Entrepreneurs

Initially we were two friends who were passionate about starting a business together. Brooke was always interested in the marketing and design aspects, while Katie just loved experimenting with formulations in the kitchen. So naturally we made a great team at the start! The introduction of CBD came a little later when Brooke was exploring natural remedies to help her achieve a seizure free life without the debilitating side effects of increased medications. She tried diets, teas/herbs, supplements, etc… and nothing was working. Once she discovered CBD and Katie made up a small batch- it worked immediately! Better mood, more positive attitude, energy increased, and she felt great for the first time ever! So we new we had to pursue this much more and learn everything we possibly could. Read more>>

Yana Matosian | San Diego Family Photographer

I’ve always loved photography and have been taking photos for over fifteen years. I did not get seriously into it though until eight years ago when I had my son Mason. I remember always having my camera nearby and snapping photos of him almost everyday wanting to document every special moment, every milestone. We loved going for long walks in the park as a family and I’d always make sure I brought my camera so I could take some photos of my son and my husband. As you can imagine, we have a ton of photos of the two of them but very few of Mason and me and even less of all three of us. I knew that a lot of moms could relate to me — we are the ones taking pictures of our kids days in and out and rarely getting in the frame with them. So I really wanted give mothers like me an opportunity to change that. Read more>>

Tanner Saraspe | Fisher & Owner

As fishermen, we are blue collar people. Simple. Growing up, I was raised in a non-traditional setting, both parents were self-employed running their own businesses. Pops ran the family fishery and our fleet, while captaining his own boat. My mom, Sarah started her fish processing plant in the early 2000’s. Lifestyle definitely came into the picture when I considered starting my own business. I have never been a 9-5 person. I love early mornings, and I will work until the night to see my business prosper. I graduated from USD with a degree in Neuroscience and biochemistry. My plan was to go to medical school. Naive to say the least, I was diligently applying for medical schools throughout the U.S. To be honest, one of the biggest factors contributing to my decision to start my business, was being near my family. My entire extended family is based in San Diego, CA. Read more>>

Tracey Raz | Interior Designer

I am creative and love meeting new people and creating new experiences. I love the flexibility that comes with owning my own business; Deciding who I’d like as my clients, what creative projects I take on, and being able to set my own schedule so I am not committed to being in an office from 9-5. Read more>>

Kyle Preish | Director of Operations

You mean that you are supposed to PLAN on starting a business?! No one told us that! Upon graduation from the Masters of Architecture program at NewSchool in 2011, there were not many available positions at the local architecture firms. In lieu of a difficult job hunt, several recent graduates (friends from studio) began tackling small scale design and build projects. We worked on the lobby design for a local software firm, interior build-outs for loft spaces in Barrio Logan, and designed and built the pig on top of the original Carnitas location. We compensated for our lack of architectural office know-how with constructing the projects ourselves. Projects snowballed over time and we added team members as our projects grew in scope and scale. Fast forward 8 years and at heart we are still the same team of designers, tinkerers, and builders, working on creative solutions to better the built environment. Read more>>

Lunar RIptide | Post-Rock/Indie Pop Band

Cole and Deric both liked playing music and just casually started jamming together in 2015. Deric: “Cole and I both liked playing music and were influenced by similar artists when we first met back in highschool, We just wanted a way to express ourselves musically so we started jamming once in a while at Cole’s house. We got tired of doing covers one day and started writing our own music. That later turned into something more consistent which led us to eventually release our debut EP April of this year.” Bryan: “I joined off a whim because they needed a bass player, Cole told me one day at work “you’re not down” and here I am one year later.” Read more>>

Lily Zhou | Entrepreneur & Tax Strategist

My experience in both the restaurant business and corporate communications fueled my interest in starting my own personal tax preparation service. My personal philosophy that research, knowledge and implementation of a proven strategy are critical to success are the foundation of my business. Rather than just being concerned that my children and our community were not receiving the most current advice, I expanded my skill and proficiency by completing the Stanford University tax preparation course. Homelessness is a growing crisis throughout San Diego County. Along with my colleagues dedicated to public service, we are committed to assisting the homeless population gain self-sufficiency and return to full citizenship in our community. Read more>>

Kaitlin Brooks

Have you ever been in the grocery store and looked up and down the wine aisle thinking, “how the hell do I choose one?” Or even better, been in a fancy wine shop or restaurant and had someone treat you like you didn’t belong there because you didn’t know how to choose a wine? I think most people have had these experiences–hell, both of us have and we’re actually supposed to be wine experts. Britt and I have been best friends since high school. Over the years we have each worked a bunch of service industry jobs eventually culminating in us individually collecting various wine certifications and accolades. We’ve always lived in different towns and had this dream of someday living near each other again. Once Covid and quarantine hit, we realized that like us, so many other people were isolated from their friends and that also like us, wine was likely keeping them sane. Read more>>

Jean Quinn

I used to sew baby clothes as gifts. I was surprised when friends started asking if they could buy my items. I realized pretty quickly that handmade clothing was a “thing”, and Nini Del Mar was born! Read more>>

Kaithleen Apostol | Digital Storyteller, Designer & Clay Artist

I like to say I’m a creative who is always looking for new mediums. I am a digital marketer by day, but a podcast host, creative consultant, designer, and clay artist by night. Everything I am passionate about allows me to let my creative juices flow. I found clay art two years ago when I fell in love with wearing polymer clay earrings. I’ve always admired makers and loved seeing how they can create such beautiful art with simple tools. With my desire to find a new way to express myself and make more sustainable, ethical decisions in my everyday life, I decided to invest my time learning how to create jewelry and accessories using polymer clay. I’ve always enjoyed creating for other people. Something about wearable art has always intrigued me. I decided to create Ligaya Klay Co. as a way to spread love and light through the pieces I create. Read more>>

Jonathan Lavan | Nature Photographer, Naturalist & Environmentalist

With nature photography (or almost any photography for that matter) its as much about art as it is about business and with nature photography it is also about teaching. These three things are the reason I wanted to start my business. To collect beautiful images of the natural world and share them with others and teach those who have interest about whatever fascinating creature might be in the photograph. If someone ends up purchasing an image that’s great but I find that, that is a lot more likely to happen if you teach people about what they are looking at and get them excited and invested in nature. So, I started my business to reconnect as many people as I can to nature and potentially give them a moment of calm everyday when they get to enjoy one of my images. And that calm is something sorely needed these days. Read more>>

Marina Boubion | Real Estate Investor & First-Time Novel Writer

That was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made and at the same time has been the most rewarding. I always dreamt of having my own business, being successful and in control of my future. I always knew I could do better and that what I was presently doing, However, I was afraid of failing. Then one day I decided that it was time to make the jump from a comfortable 8-5 job to being an entrepreneur.. I came to the conclusion that if I did not made the decision, I would never be able to forgive myself for not pursuing my dreams, And at the end of the day life is short and one must take advantage of whatever is given to succeed. And dying without pursuing my dreams was not an option anymore. Read more>>

Adina Onda | Event Floral Designer

When I started my Business I was still single and had yet to start a family. But, deep down, I knew that someday that might change. I knew that operating my own business would allow me the flexibility to build my life the way I wanted to. Also, to this day, I love change and didn’t want a career behind a desk with the same view and the same job requirements day in and day out. I love how one day I’m out looking at locations and building a different vision for each client, and the next day I’m going to different flower growers and design houses to pick up materials for my events. Owning my own business has given me the power to schedule my time as I see fit. It also provides a constant variety of creative situations which I love. Read more>>