Starting a business is a commitment and requires dedication, resources and sacrifice. We asked some of the rising stars in our community how they thought through the idea of starting their own businesses.

Lauren Ferree Bash | Sustainability Content Creator

To be honest, I fell into running a small business, kinda on accident. Like many folks, I was unemployed during the pandemic, and while I thought I was going to work on sets as a video producer, all productions were on a halt and I went back to the drawing board. And like more folks, I downloaded TIkTok, and starting making videos. Read more>>

Amanda Aicardi | Oncology Nurse & Owner of Tie Dye Cozies

My initial thought process behind starting my own business was to do something fun outside of work. I have been working as an oncology nurse for 13 years. I love my job but have always had a creative side that I have wanted to experiment with. During the pandemic my job became increasingly more stressful and I thought this is the perfect time to utilize my free time to do something fun and different. I also realized that the mental health of health care workers was at risk due to the staffing shortages, and the stress of not having families able to visit patients, it was a lot of stress on us. Read more>>

Christie Abascal | Summit and Sur Photography

Soon after the pandemic began, I found out that I was at risk of losing my teaching job due to budget cuts and a school closure. It was the second time I had been in this situation at the school within the last few years and I was terrified of having no other income to fall back on if I were to be let go. Thankfully, I was able to keep my job but it was exactly the fire I needed to finally start my own small business. Read more>>

Gabriela & Ivana Tovar, Quintanar | Gabriela: Head of Marketing Ivana: Head of Graphic Design

Incógnita Estudio was founded because there seemed to be a need for a creative market within our city. We believed it was best to fuse equal parts marketing and graphic design to hone in creativity and to offer a rounded marketing service to the consumer. Read more>>

Kelly Foulk | Artist and owner of ‘Branch + Sparrow’

Since I could walk, I was drawing, building, and creating. I’ve made thousands of works of art, shown my work through the US, sold paintings, and taught art. I have defined who I am through this skill and desire to create. I love making art, it’s therapeutic and a way for me to capture and interpret my experiences in this life. Over the years, I developed this skill that I knew I could be using for more than just interpreting my life experience- I wanted to use it to make this world a better place. Then an opportunity came up for me to use my skills in art to create and volunteer for a non-profit organization based in New Mexico. Read more>>

Emanuel Basnight | Perfumer & Skincare Entrepreneur

To be completely honest, I didn’t have one. I’m one of those cliched entrepreneurs whose hobby became a business. At the time, in 2017, I was studying permaculture with the Black Oaks Center for Sustainable and Renewable Living in Chicago. That was my formal foray into the plant world. Learning about building sustainable environments, plant properties, and herbal remedies encouraged me to experiment with natural skincare applications like balms, butters, and oils. Read more>>

Christoph Pierre | Marine Biologist & Founder of was created to provide an intuitive, visually pleasing and reliable marine forecast. People have grown accustomed to mediocre weather forecasting websites that are bogged down with advertisements and bloat. We use our years of professional experience on the water in southern California combined with next-level data analytics to create weather forecasts that are accurate so that anyone heading out on the water can have the information they need to make safe and productive decisions. Read more>>

Chris Ryall | Comic Creator, Editor, & Publisher

Some of it was circumstantial, in that my employment status changed due to outside factors. Which was what convinced me to see what kinds of steps I could take to ensure that I had more direct control over my employment status. And my plan was to stay in an industry in which I was very comfortable, established, and knowledgeable, so I also had a desire to bring that knowledge and experience to bear in all the ways that I thought could benefit a new venture. Again, in an effort to assert more direct control and influence over the kind of company and the kind of operating structure I thought it should have. Read more>>

Lauren Barrera | Owner & Creator of Love, Seresa

The question of “what if” always weighed on my mind. I had spent years after college trying to discover what I was meant to do with my education and my skillset. I always gravitated toward jobs in mission-based organizations, that gave back to the community. From working at cancer support nonprofit organizations, to organizations that raised money for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, being able to see how I could make a difference in my community was eye-opening. Read more>>

Em James | Owner of Spill The Tea Photography

During the pandemic, I started feeling overwhelmed by the news and claustrophobic being locked inside. I was living in scenic Santa Rosa, California at the time, so I started taking day trips to places close to home, but far from the general public. I was able to take photos that under normal circumstances would be impossible, either because I was too busy or the location would have been cluttered with people or vehicles. Read more>>

Francesca Petrolo | Movement trainer and Project Manager

My thought process behind starting my own business was at first to be able to help people by sharing with them all my knowledge, as a trainer is important to teach people how to treat right their bodies and mind. The second thought was to be independent to make my own money without asking anything from anybody. Then I thought that it was really important to wake up every morning and go to sleep every night happy and proud of myself and of my good work with no stress of any boss can give to an employee. Read more>>

Dale Suggs | Teacher, Spiritual Director, Chaplain & Pastor

When my wife, Shelly, and I launched the nonprofit, BELOVED Compassion Network (, we were less interested in starting a business and more interested in helping others make compassion a way of life. I had been introduced to the Compassion Practice in March of 2015. The Compassion Practice is a contemplative practice that cultivates compassion for oneself and for others. Most importantly, it teaches how to put compassion into action. By the summer, my life was being transformed. Read more>>

Corinne Matovich | Nature School Teacher

As a woman working in the Outdoor realm, I began to notice that science-based Environmental Restoration jobs as well as Environmental Education head positions were rather male dominated. As the years went on, I dove into eco-feminism as my deep knowledge and respect for California Native Ecoysystems grew. The mother-daughter bond was so relevant to me in my life and work, so supporting the dynamic growth of said bond, by supporting children in their early years and guardians in the social emotional support of their child, really felt like a calling, a natural next step. Read more>>

Jesi Gutierrez & Celi Hernandez | Co-owners

As queer artists we love the idea of creating our own blue print in everything that we do – there is no one path to creating when it comes to starting a business. In fact, our approach and model is not business centered, alternatively the axis upon which our lil shop revolves around is that of community. We recently were able to witness the first queer coffee convention in SF and heard a fellow queer business owner describe what we aim to do perfectly; they shared that everyday we are attempting to “expand beyond what business can be and rather focus on what community is”. Read more>>

Lina Saba | San Diego Realtor

Ever since we purchased our home about 12 years ago I fell in love with the process and wanted to become a realtor. After having a long career as a stay at home mom, being married for 16 years, and now that my children have gotten older it was finally time to make the career move to Real Estate. My sister was a big driver behind my decision to start an entrepreneurial business,. Immediately after my I got my Real Estate license, I was able to help my sister fulfill her dream of buying a home on her own. Helping families is what inspires me on a daily basis! Read more>>

Ángel & Ángel | Promoters of traditional Mexican cuisine

For us, making the decision to become independent from a conventional labor system was a decision that did not cost us much to make. We felt frustrated about those long hours of work and we took the initiative to begin to shape our dreams. We both have a great passion for cooking, and we knew that working in a restaurant kitchen was not the best option for us. That is how we began to develop products and cooking workshops with a healthy and traditional approach. Read more>>

Valerie Poirier | Nutritionist

I was working in the music industry for over 20 years, and I still do part-time as an artist manager. Four years ago, one of my best friends, Onika, who’s a personal trainer, told me about a certified nutrition coaching job. I have had diabetes type 1 for over 25 years now and always knew a lot more about nutrition compared to the majority of the people out there. Coming from Montreal, Canada, when I moved to the US, I realized how if you don’t pay attention to nutrition labels, food can literally make you sick because of all the preservatives, corn syrup, and other ingredients they may contain. Read more>>

Bryan Salinas | Entrepreneur/ Business owner

I decide to make my own business when I was working 3 jobs at the same time. I always seeing how my employers they were successful and been a business owners. I’ve been working in the hospitality for 3 years when I came to the US from mexico city it was inspire to create my own business and don’t work for another person. I went to interview a lot successful people, business owners, politicians, investor to see what was the secret to be successful in their life’s. Read more>>

Nia Ruth | Founder & CEO of Nia Ruth Wine Club

While learning more and more about wine and completely falling in love with the process and the people, I started sharing about my wine travels and experiences on social media and my blog. During this time I also saw the magic behind small production wine, from the care taken in the vineyard and winery, to the stories behind the bottles. As I shared more about my wine experiences, the flow of requests for my wine recommendations steadily increased, but I realized that the small-batch wines I wanted to recommend weren’t easy to find or accessible as they aren’t available in your local wine shop or grocery store. Read more>>

Shyla Slavin | Founder of

V-Luxe is a very personal business for me. My journey with starting this business came from a personal issue that many women experience, but most of them do not feel comfortable talking about. I was diagnosed with recurring bacterial vaginosis a few years ago. This is a very stubborn infection that 30% of women deal with (about 21 million women in the USA alone every year!). While my doctors tried to do their best to help me find a solution, they have very limited options and I was left on my own to figure out how I can solve this. Read more>>

Jayson Hisel ORDM. | Owner/ Commissioner of VWE

Venue Wrestling Entertainment came about after someone approached and said you been in the entertainment business for years have you thought about doing lucha libre? At that time I was heavily in to club and concert promotions. I went to a few local shows. Seen what they did and didn’t do. Put together a plan. and here we are months away from VenueMania VII. Read more>>

Andre Arellano | Evolutionary Astrologer

While I was in college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in because I enjoyed various subjects and didn’t have clarity as to what kind of career I wanted to pursue. Geography was the major I went with because I was curious about how the world functioned and could also see how I could make money in the real world with a degree in it–which isn’t the number one reason why anyone should pursue a career. Read more>>