Many books on startups and business talk about how there are right and wrong reasons for starting a business. So, we asked a handful of successful founders about their reasons and the thought-process behind starting their business.

Meghan Hogrefe | Fashion Designer

I started Work in Process clothing line because I was looking for ease after working out, mainly surfing in the morning before work at the time. I needed clothing that was professional looking yet resilient to the factors of my lifestyle such sand, salt, seaweed, sweat! I also needed a clothing line that was easy to get into when getting out of a wetsuit and or sweaty work out clothing! I looked at so many luxury brands and department stores, at the time, 2016/17 there was not many choices that could bring me to the level of corporate dress. That is when I decided I would solve my own problem. I started seeking material that was reliant and I thought why not material that is similar to wetsuits. After so much searching I found a neoprene blend that was not only resilient yet super smooth and flattering. Thus Work in Process was born! As a nod to my inspiration of the surf industry, I created a dainty and pretty pull zipper for all my dresses. Similar to a wetsuit, you can pull the back of the dress to zip it up with a pretty ribbon of my logo! It is function meets fashion. Read more>>

Aida M Valencia | Visual Artist

Opening a Gallery was a big challenge specially because of the venue and the time it was opening when all the market was crashing ,I looked at it as and opportunity ,I was a 5 year struggle and finally we had to close, but we created a very good reputation and we launched another project called the Latin American Art Fair again with the purpose of promoting the art form the Latin American Community .it was a successful event again for a 5 year period . This year we are rethinking our way of promoting the arts to create a new platform and to be ready f=for what will be our next project. Read more>>

Kenneth Uipi | Recording Artist / Entrepreneur

My thought process when it comes to a starting a business is who can i help while helping myself in the process. Also accepting the reality early that you might take more losses than victories when you start out. Another thing is patience , without it you will not have a clear head to make the executive decisions that come with the position you want to be in. I value time more than money. When the time is invested right , the money comes anyways. The understanding also that most of the money you make when you start , is going to go right back in. Finally that if you want to run your own business , you cannot treat it with a 9 to 5 mentality , when it demands a 25/8 mind state. I feel you need to figure that out within your own will before moving forward with anything else like having a plan and all that. A plan is nothing without a goal and work ethic. Read more>>

Xaivier Ringer | Muralist & Community Engagement Designer

I lived and worked in the Dominican Republic. I loved the purpose behind my work yet found that I always managed to implement murals or art within it though it wasn’t directly related. I started The International Muralist because I wanted to work independently and dedicate myself full-time to engaging communities via mural art. After success with workshops and collaborating with governmental and community organizations I also had first-hand evidence that my work has an impact. Read more>>

Elijah Reyes | Director/Creator of Sidewalk Serenadez & Professional Performer

I needed to think outside the box and come up with a way to provide SAFE live entertainment for those still celebrating life’s special occasions. Performers were in need of a place to keep their art alive and clients needed to have a mobile contactless service to call upon. Read more>>

Megan Nicotera | Ballet Dancer and Jewelry Maker

Like most people, my world was turned upside when Covid hit. All of my dance jobs that I had worked so hard to make a reality, have been put on a long hold. I had started making earrings in the summer to help keep me creative, and decided to segway into Mask Chains and have had a lot of positive feedback! My jewelry line is called Kusari, which means chain in Japanese. Read more>>

Lauryn Allen | Lauryn Allen, Graduate and Self Tight Jeweler.

In high school I was in all the art classes but I never saw the practicality of making a living off the paintings I like to do. I wanted to make wearable art, because wearable art is something everyone, every body, can indulge in. So when I found jewelry and discovers how extensive of an art form it could be and the beauty of the gems that inspire the canvas I was hooked on making it because I wanted to have all of it around me. From the beginning of when we start thinking ” what might I do with my life? How might I make a living?” I knew I wanted to be passionate about the job I would have other wise what would be the point? My point is i had to have passion for the business I started and I found that in Jewelry. Read more>>

Michelle Montrose | Professional Artist

I always knew that I wanted to be an artist, but I didn’t consider it a career until I was a junior in high school. I knew I would be applying for colleges, and so I had to start seriously thinking about what I would do long term with my life. At that time I didn’t suspect that I’d go the fine art route- I thought maybe art therapy or even teaching. But as I completed coursework at SDSU it became apparent to me that I wanted to be an independent artist with a little contract work on the side. I graduated SDSU with a degree in Fine Arts and a certificate to teach English (because it was free, and I wanted a backup plan!) I ended up getting a graphic design position at a company during my last year of college. Unfortunately they couldn’t afford to have me full time, so I got a second part-time job as a afterschool program coordinator for a non-profit. The graphic design job hit some legal trouble, and I transitioned to the non-profit job full time and continued to do my paintings during the downtime. During that season I was working, a lot! Between making my own artwork and my day job I was feeling overwhelmed. Read more>>

Katie Dickens | Designer & YouTuber

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what it was that would make me happy. I really began figuring this out by pinpointing what made me unhappy. I spent so many years of my life married to the time clock – punching in for hours upon hours at a job that wasn’t fulfilling (quite the opposite of fulfilling, really) to try and make the money I needed to enjoy my life. And in turn not having any time leftover for my “life” because I was always at work. Once the pandemic hit and I spent a lot of days at home, I realized there was one thing I was in search of: autonomy. That’s what I wanted. That’s what I thought would make me happy… and it has. I knew there was more to all of this than just making money at a job I hated. I had an intense passion for interior design and always had this strong inkling that I wanted to start a YouTube channel. Ultimately, I wanted to combine the two, but I was always too afraid of putting myself out there. I finally got the gumption to do it and realized that I can be part of this cyclical process… doing something I enjoy & have the skill to do, while making money doing it, embracing my creativity in multiple ways, while being my own boss. Read more>>

Dinesh Tadepalli | Nature Loving Entrepreneur, Angel Investor and a hardwaree Engineer. Love Adventure, Hiking and Making This World a Better Place.

As young parents, we wanted to preserve a cleaner environment for our children. That’s the seed of our entrepreneurship. We love being outdoors and were aware of the harms plastic pollution is causing this Planet and with deep passion, we committed to making a change we wanted to see. I used my paternity leave in search of a best alternative to single use plastic and met few innovative fellow entrepreneurs, and in that journey met our manufacturing partner Kruvil Patel from India. After selling my home in the US, we used our proceeds to build the facility and further improve the production capabilities that led to introducing our first edible spoons on Feb of 2019. Read more>>

Steffanie Dotson | Founder of San Diego Craft Collective, Mom, & Craft Advocate

I should start by explaining that technically San Diego Craft Collective is not MY business. Since it’s a nonprofit, it belongs to no one… or rather everyone. However, my ideas and experiences are ultimately what guide the current direction of the organization. Since nonprofit organizations have a 3-year hurdle to get over before most large foundations will allow them to apply for grants and funding, it’s very much like running your own small business at first. I founded San Diego Craft Collective because I wanted to make a positive difference in my community. There’s many people out there doing good in the community, and the fun part is that each person brings to the arena a bit of their own flavor. For example, I deeply and passionately believe in craft as a vehicle for self expression and building confidence. I founded the Craft Collective because craft and woodworking are my passions, and through them I believe a positive impact can be made in our community. My hope is that it will be a lasting impact. Even if it’s just a small ripple of change, I so truly want San Diegans to embrace working with their hands, and to appreciate the handmade even after I’m long gone. Read more>>

Linda McDonald | Photographer/Owner Jalea Photography

Starting a business was never really something I aspired to do. It’s just something that happened organically as I grew in my photography skills. But I’m really glad I did because now I get to do something I love, that’s challenging and fulfilling. I also get to be an example for my children so that they can see the benefits of owning a business and how it can enrich their lives. Read more>>

Cintia Soto | Food and Travel Photographer

I start my business when I realize I found finally something I really enjoy and have passion for. I had been working on my career for more than 25 years but since I back home to San Diego after many years in Europe I realized that I needed to do something I really like. Read more>>

Robin Przybysz | Artist/Designer/Teacher

I’ve been teaching art for over three decades now, and will hopefully retire from the classroom in the next ten years. I wanted to be able to move from teaching to my own business in a smooth transition. I have always been drawn to the tactile arts. That is how I came up with my business name: Art in Texture. It’s the actual touch as much as the sight of the creation that brings me joy. . I love creating, and enjoy sharing my designs with others in a tangible way. Read more>>

Maya Madsen | Owner/Founder

I was in the fitness industry for nearly thirty years and on my “cheat” days, I couldn’t find what I was looking for on the market. I just wanted a crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside gourmet cookie. As a vegan with a sweet tooth, I decided to craft my own recipes. Over the years, I would bring those cookies to my kids’ events, fundraisers and so on and other parents would ask me to bake for them! I have three sons and two of them were in college at the same time and I was faced with those double tuition bills. I knew I needed to find a way to contribute to their education. So I started Maya’s Cookies. Read more>>

Alyssa Daniels | Health Coach and Plant Medicine Educator

Living with chronic illness and autoimmune disease my whole life, I always had to do my own extensive research and learned the hard way that I had to be my own loudest advocate for myself. There is a huge need for support and information that is easily accessible to those who struggle with chronic health issues. I strongly believe in healing the root causes versus just managing symptoms and in my experience, it was hard to find medical professionals willing to hear me out and work with me in that aspect. So, through trial and error and LOTS of research, I finally started uncovering answers and became really passionate about sharing my journey in the hopes of helping others sift through the “noise” on the internet and experience healing themselves. My business naturally was born through sharing what I was going through in real time. I now have several nutrition certifications, am in a coaching certification program and have created the brand “Your Wellness Bestie” on instagram to help women overcome stress and overwhelm in their lives through healing and plant medicine. Read more>>

Julie Russell (Pinto) | Photographer / Graphic Designer / Bee Rescuer

I think over the years I’ve discovered that I have a passion for ideas, visuals and helping small businesses (and not so small) achieve success through imagery and design. I love the creative freedom that owning my own businesses provides as it allows me to experiment and wear many hats. But most of all, I wanted to help make an impact with local small businesses because their success improves our community. Read more>>

Christina Johnson | Artist

When I initially chose to take on the pursuit of creating my own business, I was chasing freedom. Freedom to travel and to have the opportunity to consistently reignite my source of inspiration. To explore and create on every level. I loved the idea of inspiring others to chase their dreams as well. Read more>>

Courtney Carter | Dance Instructor and CEO of Brazilian Dance Co.

There was actually very little thought. I attend a Bible Study with my friend one day and hear the Pastor say “why are you waiting for the perfect conditions to do what God has already told you to do? If He told you to do it, He will make a way for you.” That statement inspired me so much so, that that very night I resigned as President and Dance Learn of a dance group and started my own business the very next day. Read more>>

Viktoria Rusnakova & Samuele Bagnai | Love Takes You To

By day, we are both accomplished business professionals in finance and accounting whose hobbies turned into something more creative than just numbers. The idea behind our business became clear soon after we met. We both moved from Europe to opposite coasts of the United States in our early twenties. Five years ago, in a series of peculiar coincidences, we met in San Diego. Inspired by our common background and interests in writing, travel, humor, and photography, we started the Love Takes You To website. Our blog topics were first related to traveling, sprinkled with humor and our European-American perspectives. Then, we ventured out to more personal topics, including family and relationships, which from our perspective, are an endless source of humor. Most importantly, we began the Love Takes You To website as a fun pastime for ourselves with the objective of reaching a happy audience that likes to have fun just like us. In 2019, we both published books: Enthusiastic All the Way, written by Viktoria, and The Tuscan Who Sold His Fiat to the Pope, written by Samuele. Read more>>

Megan Kelly | Real Estate Photographer

My main thought process behind starting my own business was about being able to make choices. I had worked for a lot of companies that I felt I didn’t have many opportunities to make choices and decisions. With my own business I liked the idea of having influence on how processes and decisions are made. With my business in particular, I can always be changing my style, editing and learning new techniques. There is a lot of creative freedom when I am allowed to decide on what works and what needs to be changed. Read more>>

Reine Krief | Jewelry & Accessories Designer

My thought process behind starting my own business was actually triggered by a life threatening incident that happened to my husband a few years ago. Thankfully he survived, but It was the one thing that made me realize I needed to be able to stand on my own two feet, to establish something I could depend on and had some control of. Until then, I was oblivious to the fact that I could or needed to be independent. For many years, in Montreal, Canada, I worked in both fashion and interior design gaining experience and building a foundation for myself and the future. After I was married, I helped the family retail business and eventually shifted to interior design & decor taking on select jobs that allowed me to prioritize my children and to help my husband who was a freelance footwear & accessories designer. His work, mostly with American companies, took him around the world every season leaving me to care for our four children and the day to day for weeks at a time. Read more>>