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.

Dani Fontanesi | Founder & Managing Partner

I always knew I would start my own business one day. It was an instinctive drive since I was a little girl. What I didn’t expect was that I would start my own law firm. I studied Business Administration in college, and after working for a few years, I decided to go to law school. The first law firm I worked at was made up of many brilliant women — but very few of them were at the top. The partners were almost exclusively male. I learned from my mom that if I didn’t see a path to get to where I wanted to go, I’d have to pave one. So that’s what I did. I worked my way through the ranks of private practice and in-house counsel before finally taking the leap and starting my own practice. I wanted to be my own boss, set my own terms, and break the glass ceiling. I was inspired by other San Diego women who’d done the same thing: They created the life they wanted to live, and they didn’t let fear and self-doubt stand in the way. Read more>>

Donnya Negera | CEO of YUUMA | Motherhood & Lifestyle Nano-Influencer

When starting my brand YUUMA, I was focused mainly on mother’s like me. We all face the ordeal of having to purchase diaper bags that never last. We also get stuck into this identity as “just” a mom when carrying a less attractive diaper bag, so making this brand was truly to help celebrate individuality within motherhood! YUUMA means, “mother” in Nigeria. It also is stated in a respectful tone when approaching a woman, who happens to also be a mother. This really resonates with the modern-day mom because we are pushing through boundaries. We are mothers with businesses, careers, degrees, and more! Even if you are a stay at home mom, your role is the most important because you have given your all into raising good people! I truly hope YUUMA’s founding story is seen through our designs, our community, and most of all; through the modern-day mom. Read more>>

Queen Maya Lassiter | 21st Century Renaissance Woman.

I’ve been in the entertainment industry as a singer/songwriter since I was about 11 years old. I knew that I was going to be involved in music all of my life. I came up with Intertwined Entertainment based on a music business course I was taking in 2017 and it just all made sense to me. I am a vocalist, rapper, songwriter, producer, educator, painter, photographer, herbalist and chandler. Everything I do is Intertwined! I knew for a fact that I could not live a happy life working for or under someone else for long periods of time. I wanted to create something that no only provided entertainment so you can vibe, but provide healing tools for you to thrive and give love so you survive. Read more>>

Chris Kent | CRAFT & ARTS Head Homie (a.k.a Stamp Pop Art)

I love to create, I love to drink beer, and I love to get the best out of people… CRAFT & ARTS was born. Well, more so, as a craft beer drinking artist (a.k.a. Stamp Pop), every friend said I should do a Beer and Paint type night. But I was never interested in how you just paint what the instructor’s painting, and therefor the same painting as everyone else; felt to be stifling and not really challenging the creative mojo in people, and I saw an opportunity that utilized some of my skill-sets. The name CRAFT & ARTS comes from CRAFT BEER & ARTS ‘N’ CRAFTS, as I saw there is a strong parallel between the two communities; people who love the variety, the beauty, the creativity, and the fun. I figured, if people are able to come to my event at a local Orange County brewery, order the beer you want, then you should be able to paint what you want. And, if you can’t paint, then I don’t care cuz I got stencils, and markers, and magazines, and wheat-paste/decoupage, so you kinda can’t NOT make dope sh*t. See, everyone IS creative, and you’ll prove me right. I have a process that helps draw the dopeness out of you that starts with describing your beer, plus a winning personality (so I’m told), to help guide you and get you in the right mindset for creating, and learning to create, a piece of visual art that aims to be more OF your experience that night. Read more>>

Irma Haiman | Owner of His Princess Graphic Tees

It all started with a God given dream. The dream to encourage women and remind them of who they truly are in Christ. They are God’s daughters. Each one of them is His Princess, hence the name. I then thought, what better way to let them know than through fashion. Pick your favorite tee, dress it up or down and be confident walking in your royalty. Read more>>

Tyson Motsenbocker | Singer Songwriter and Composer

I started my business on accident. I was asking for more and more time off work to tour and one day I left and never came back. I believe that our occupations have almost nothing to do with status and almost everything to do with time. I started making music full time because it’s what I wanted to do all day, other jobs were simply distracting me and making it more difficult to progress and get better at the things I loved to do. I never really cared about being a musician vocationally, I just wanted to write songs and record them. Read more>>

Mindy Tanimoto | Mindy Tanimoto Photography

My tbought process for starting my business’s is a funny story. I have two boys and they both were in the modeling and acting community. We would always have to update headshots about every 3 months and it gets expensive to always pay for that. So I started taking the boys images myself. One day my oldest son Justin says to me, “Why don’t you find someone else to take their picture. I am tired of you always taking my photo.” I thought to myself that’s a great 💡 idea and I started connecting with other kids that were in the talent industry. I took classes and learned from other photographers. I teamed up with agents as their preferred photographer. Before you know it I had turned a complaint into a business. Read more>>

Rachel Ness | Floral Artist | Jewelry Artist

I have never been one to find comfort in working a 9-5 that has little to do with my life’s purpose or who I am as a person. The long list of part-time jobs helped me get to this point in my life, however; I always told myself that these jobs were temporary. I knew that one day I will work for myself and start my own business and since then I have persistent with that goal. The entirety of who I am thrives on using my creativity to its fullest potential. I started my own business / artistic career because I love what I do and I wanted to fully commit my time to my artistic expression. I create because I am called to do so and meant to share my expression with the world. Read more>>

Ashley Nelson | Founder, Tenth on Hudson Consulting

When I first started my company I had just come out of being in large PR agencies for quite some time working with clients that I wasn’t personally passionate about or large fortune 500 companies that had a lot of red tape and a number of decision-makers. I knew that when I went into business for myself I wanted to make a direct impact with my clients and I also wanted to choose clients who share the same values that I did. Over the course of time I’ve been fortunate have to work with incredible start up brands, A number of female founded brands and some of the largest companies in the world. I’m incredibly passionate about the brands that I do get the opportunity to work for. Read more>>

Jill Reilly | Cake Artist

I’ve been an entrepreneur most of my life. After college I worked in various advertising/creative jobs, but found myself “out of a job” when I became pregnant with my second child. Not working wasn’t really an option for me personally or financially, so rather than leave my fate to another employer, I simply decided that I was smart enough, talented enough and just stubborn enough to start my own business doing something I was good at! I was raised to believe that talents are God given, and if you use them to do something good, you’ll be successful at it. I was given an artistic eye, and the talent to make things pretty and appealing to others. Both of these talents helped me be successful with my first business as a graphic designer. I was also given the gift of hospitality! I love to entertain and was trained by some of the greatest southern ladies on how to make people feel welcome in your home, and how to feed them food that brings them comfort. Read more>>

Kelly Dominguez | Realtor, Lover of Nature, Writer, Dog Lover

I had always been in the restaurant business, which I enjoyed. I loved the fast pace, the people, the teamwork, the fact that everyday was different. But after a few years in management, there came a point where the time spent at work was taking time away from all other parts of my life and there wasn’t any balance. That’s when I decided to get into real estate. Read more>>

Emily Sanchez | Small Business Owner, Content Creator

Before starting my business Classy Casita, I shad first created an Instagram page to share my love for home decor and plants. When creating this page and then blog, I knew I would eventually want to monetize from it and develop products for people that also shared my interest. Its been something that has given me so much joy which is what I wanted from the beginning, the freedom to create and share my love for home decor and plants. Read more>>

James Brendlinger | Performing Arts School Owner

After teaching high school theater classes for 24 years, I owned thousands of costumes and thought I would go into business for myself renting costumes and teaching acting classes. When I shopped around for a location to open a shop large enough for both activities, I found I was priced out of stand-alone retail buildings in my area, and the warehouses spaces I could afford did not include enough parking or street appeal for parents dropping off children for evening arts classes. My former administrator from the high school asked me if I had looked at retail space in our local mall. To be honest, I hadn’t visited the mall in years–it was a beautiful place in the nineties, but like most suburban shopping malls, it was struggling to survive. Two of the anchor stores had closed, and there were many empty storefronts. I met with the mall manager who was very excited about the of having a performing arts school and costume shop in the mall. I signed a lease on a 2800-square-foot former pet store, and soon annexed the space next door and renovated it into a blackbox theater. Read more>>

Rafael Peterson | Wine Director, Born and Raised

Like most during this crazy year, we were forced to pivot and adapt. Restaurant and bar workers made up 74% of job losses in December and were the leading industry for pandemic unemployment for the 11th straight month. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t come out of necessity. That being said, my passion IS wine. I’ve worked in the industry almost 15 years and I love what I do. Now I have the opportunity to continue doing what I love in my own way. I’ve always been inspired by people who connect others with wine, make it approachable, make it fun… that’s what I’ve set out to do with the HospitaliTV wine club. Read more>>

Yvonne Metz | Crafter

The thought process behind starting my own business was due to wanting to be able to be a stay at home parent but also bring in an income. At the time my daughter was going to be a Freshman in Highschool and my son was not here yet. But really felt the timing was right to start. Read more>>