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.

Brandi Nichols | BSN, LMFT

I started Hope for Healers as I watched the pandemic unfold with my new found privilege of working from home. I was in a unique position having practiced as a registered nurse and now being a therapist. I was watching the trauma and complicated grief transpire while being very aware of the problems within the healthcare system pre-pandemic. I knew that these doctors and nurses were going to need mental health support, as a result of simply going to work. Read more>>

Yekaterina Gyadu | Photographer

It’s interesting because I never really imagined that I would ever own my own business, I always just thought I would be a photographer who worked for someone else or a company. After I graduated from college I started working in the wedding photography industry, doing mostly post-production work and assisting. I ended up staying in this industry for about 5 years but still doing my own photography on the side, photographing mostly portraits, events, and personal documentary work. Read more>>

Dr. Sara Vogel | Sex Educator | Power and Pleasure Coach | Speaker

The dream of Ladybits and Leadership, LLC began when I was researching how women develop leadership identities in the Educational Leadership department at the University of California, San Diego. At the time, I was working at San Diego State as a Deputy Title IX Coordinator helping support students, mostly women, who were impacted by sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking. Working in that role, I learned that one in five women would become a survivor of completed or attempted sexual assault by the time they finished college. Read more>>

Dany Anka | Luthier and Musician

One of the main reasons is that i was sometimes unhappy with how my basses were built, how they felt and how they sounded, (I’m a bass player). Also, i was looking for a specific sound that no bass in the market could offer at the time, and that’s where i took advantage of my previous knowledge of woodworking and decided to build my first electric bass. Read more>> 

Aja Loyd | Artist & Founder

The thought process behind starting Taste&Paint llc came from one small question–why work for someone else when I can work for myself. We had the desire to have create a new space where people can indulge in their creative side and try something that brings joy and new experiences. What’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with? One piece of conventional advice that I disagree with is that it takes a ton of money to start a business. Read more>>

Debbie Hudecek | Salon Owner and Esthetician

Creating Lavish Botique Salon in San Clemente, CA has been a dream of mone for 20 years. I have always wanted to create a one of a kind, unique enviornment; a salon that is beautiful, functional, welcoming and one which is a reflection of the people working there. Read more>>

Natalie Vega | Office Administrator for a multimillion dollar Asphalt Company and President of Backfence Society

My purpose was just to throw all ages events. To create a safe space for all ages, backgrounds and genres. Read more>>

FRANK DOMICOLO | Restaurant owner

All my family is in the restaurant Business. So one day I decided to open my own restaurant with my Uncle Read more>>

Sean Seaman | Co-Founder / Mergers & Acquisitions Specialist

My business partner Dustin Sigall and I have known each other since middle school and have anyways had that entrepreneur mindset. We ran multiple surf camps as well as a successful house painting business during our college years and always knew we wanted to one day start our own Company. After graduating college and getting recruited as Financial Advisors we quickly began pondering our next chapter. In late 2006 we had the opportunity to become business brokers and work with a very underserved small business community. Read more>>

Hugo Marentes | Principal of Marentes + Architects

I consider that it was the fact that in my country there are no architecture studios specializing in Biomimicry architecture and Exo-Desing and I wanted to develop my ideas with a creative freedom that prompted me to open my architecture studio, since I was a student I had very clear to where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. Read more>>

Robin White | Small Business & HR Consultant

I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, working for family businesses from the time I was 13 (that was the year I could officially go on payroll) until I graduated college and went out in to the “real world” to prove to myself I could be successful on my own. Having my own business was always something I wanted to do. After a 10 year career in HR, I left the corporate world and went back in to business with family and co-owned and operated a 24/7 restaurant with two of my siblings and my mom. After selling the restaurant in 2018, I started working for a large employer organization as an HR consultant. Read more>>

Jody Bagley | Musician

I have been performing professionally since I was kid, but most recently had been focusing on teaching music lessons. I had worked for different music schools for many years and got to a point where I was getting so much outside work offered, both recording and performing music, that it was starting get hard to turn things down because of having lessons scheduled. Read more>>

Anthony Solhtalab Solhtalab | Hotel Guest Services & Travel Blogger

I am Anthony Solhtalab, I run AntSol Travel, a local & travel blog, primarily posting on Instagram, about my adventures and insights about places, destinations, and events in Southern California (SoCal). I would have started my masters for hospitality & tourism management in 2021. However, my new employer there will not allow me to cut a day of work for school, so I had to drop out since it was hard for me to balance both personally. I still loved writing during my free time about places in SoCal, now without the restrictions of the class papers, what is now AntSol Travel. Read more>>

Tim O’Connell | Tommy’s Place Founder

The thought process of starting Tommy’s Place happened all the way back in 2007. I had a life-changing event happen that changed the trajectory of my life. I wanted to open a year-round magical vacation home for kids fighting cancer. Read more>>

Amanda Landers | Owner of Print Shop and Business Center

My business partner, Shawna and I found each other in some of the toughest times of each others lives. We were going through separate personal problems, i became homeless, covid happened and lost my job all this while she was going through a rough divorce. We met through a friend and became great friends. We lost it all. Read more>>

Alison Rojas Metcalfe | Founder of Salud

My thought process behind starting my own business was less about logical thought and more about a inner awareness. Had I let my logic make the decisions, I probably would have stayed at my corporate job in sustainable fashion. My work took me around the world and into the specialization of design, product development, sustainable sourcing, and chemical management. Read more>>

Javier Toscano | Farmer

Since I was young, I had always wanted to have my own business. I am a self-thought person Read more>>

Melissa Nolan | L.Ac. Licensed Acupuncturist, Herbalist, Certified Sound Healing Therapist and martial artist

Well, starting my business mid-pandemic was a conscious decision. I wanted to provide affordable healthcare to an underserved community, my community. At the time access to many healthcare services, both western and eastern was limited, and as a result, many people were not able to receive proper care. So I felt strongly that I needed to step up and provide a place for healing. Read more>>

Josh Timpany | videographer/content creator

I didn’t want to work for anyone. Read more>>

Daniela Paolone | LMFT Living with Chronic Pain and Illness

My thought process in starting up my own private practice Westlake Village Counseling was that I wanted to really hone in on specific populations I felt I could best support in the therapy space. So deciding on going the private practice route was intentional. Especially as a therapist with chronic pain and illness, I knew back then that I had limits to my energy levels and energy reserves. I knew at that time that being able to focus my energy in helping those with anxiety, depression, chronic pain, chronic illness, caregiver support and medical trauma aligned with where I felt I would be the most helpful and effective as a clinician. Also by running my own private practice, it allowed me to better take care of my own health care needs. Read more>>

Gina Hensel Carrey | Artist stylist designer

GuruHustle was born out of love for Fashion, People , Indian fabrics and the poorest children in India. I want to create something fabulous and comfortable women will love. Nothing on earth is more flattering & fabulous than a kaftan or kimono by GuruHustle I want to give and to be of service to others so all sales benefit orphanages in India Read more>>

Jake Halstead | Surf coach

I’ve grown up in the surf industry my whole life. I started my professional surfing career at age 16 and knew that I wanted to be involved with surfing for my whole life. I went thigh a couple bad knee injury’s and would find myself Doing surf lessons and surf coaching while i was out of the water. After months of doing it I fell in love with mentoring and teaching people how to become a better surfer. Couldn’t be happier with where I am today Read more>>

Gabriela Escobedo | Small Housecleaning Business owner & Mother

I decided to start my own Housecleaning company with the thought of being able to accommodate my own calendar work days and schedule. Read more>>

Randina Marie & Kayleigh Alexa | Spiritual Entrepreneurs

We really wanted to expand our work in the world together to reach more people. We were already working together and we wanted to combine our love for beauty, elegance, spirituality, the Earth, and manifesting into a physical product people would feel good about wearing. We were driven by our passion for spirituality and wanted to spark connection and creativity in others through sustainable and ethical jewelry, while at the same time giving back to the world. Read more>>

Heidi Schwegler | Artist & Director of a non-profit

I woke up one morning in 2018 and suddenly realized that I had been in Portland, OR teaching for nearly 20 years! Feeling a sense of urgency, I knew it was time to mix things up, change the scenery and step away from higher ed. So in an extremely impulsive move (literally in the span of about 24 hours) my husband and I quit our careers and moved to the Mojave Desert. Read more>>

Vinita Navale | Founder & Designer

Business was never a plan from day one. It happened! Being in the jewelry industry and freelancing for a while I realized there is need to create something which is exclusive but affordable and also give that feeling of luxury. When I started Callista the thought was to create jewelry pieces which are bespoke, made with the same attention to details as fine jewelry but affordable and accessible to every woman. I love couture and high jewelry. Read more>>