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.

John Devereaux | Actor

Traveling as a performer (most recently in a little musical you might’ve heard of called Hamilton) sometimes made it difficult to find stability or a sense of home. To center myself, every time I’m in a new city I make it a point to get a candle with the same scent. This way wherever I lay my head feels familiar, comfortable, and a bit like home. Candles are my anchors. If they’ve done this much for me, I thought why not make some by hand, and share the sense of calm and peacefulness we can all use in these times. Moreover, with Broadway closures continuing into the summer of 2021 — affecting thousands of crew and performing personnel, including myself — it seemed all the more important for me to create a way to help bring people home in a sense, no matter where they are or what they’re going through. We all know candles can set the ambience of a room, but the closest of our senses tied to memory is scent. Read more>>

Flora Lucini | Bassist, Composer, Vocalist, Educator

My band MAAFA is my brain child and essentially was inspired by wanting to create the things I wish existed. I’m primarily a professional session and gigging bassist, born into a family of professional Jazz musicians which has afforded me the opportunity of belonging to several creative/artistic villages and tribes throughout my life. These experiences have influenced my styles and musical tastes and being a musician myself has helped train my ear to sometimes hear things in traditionally punk/hardcore music, for instance, that my not be common to others. A common theme in my life is being someone who bridges gaps between different communities, ideas and artistic outlets. That is one of my greatest super powers. For many years listening to hardcore and playing hardcore/punk bands I would always hear and envision what a percussion section or strings could do to highlight the rhythms and melodies those bands were trying to portray. Read more>>

Lisa & Bob Biesterfeld | “Boss Lady” & “Cowboy Bob”

My husband bought a Ranch the month before I met him. He was single, I was single, we met on Match.com. After our first date, which happened to be at the Ranch, after speaking on the phone for 2 weeks…. we were inseparable. I shared custody of my two boys so half the time we lived in Huntington Beach, CA and the other half at the Ranch, “The Condor’s Nest” in Pala, Ca. We loved gardening, we loved travelling and shopping and decorating! We spent all of our timing doing one of those things. Date nights were always “Home Depot” buying things to make the Ranch even better! We planted our Succulents all over the place! We had a neighbor in Huntington Beach who would give us cuttings, then we’d spend the weekend planting them all around the Ranch. Soon, the Ranch grew even more beautiful than it was to begin with! We would rescue animals, constantly! We had pigs, llamas -one lady had 20 to give us. Read more>>

Brianna Lipovsky | Founder of Maison d’ Etto

Most importantly, I was craving independence and freedom of thought, mind and time.  I always had a creative itch, but I never knew how it would manifest. Fragrance and brand building are the perfect medium for me to engage my creativity. With my past experience in building other brands I found space for a luxury brand that was purpose-driven, actively engaging with community, like many of the D2C brands, however ensuring that the products we put forth are the utmost of quality and craftsmanship. Bringing the utmost of luxury back, but in a modern way and utilizing the macro and micro shifts I was noticing in society. In addition, financial control over my life was a big one. I no longer wanted to be dependent on others to dictate my worth. Lastly, the perceived notion of having more time to spend with my family and competing in the equestrian sport of Dressage. Ironically, I now have little to no time!. Read more>>

Jacob Weisfeld | Founder of Chub Cruisers, DJ, Experience Curator

While working at my last job, I realized that my boss wasn’t smarter or more creative than me. That realization empowered me to believe in my own ability to create a brand and run a business. My thought process was…I’m young and have nothing to lose; playing it “safe” now is the easiest way to miss out on the life that I’ve dreamed of since being a kid. I looked at things I do naturally and thought about how to make them into a brand. I naturally push people to get out of their comfort zone and try new things, I also love skateboarding. The boards I make are easier than traditional boards, so my company ethos is summed up in our slogan “Hop on”. It’s all about hopping on and giving something you never thought you could do a chance. Read more>>

Mélanie Ellezam | Founder & Designer

I wanted to create a supply chain that has a positive impact on people and the environment. Entrepreneurship and the textile industry are in me – it’s inevitable. Using business for good – as an engine of change – is something that I find extremely stimulating. There is the cold here that we have to deal with. It was also a way of softening the ordeal that is for me winter with the happiness that brings me the work of designing a functional garment. Read more>>

Wynn Austin | Founder of Wynn’s Kitchen

When I was looking for an Asian sauce that didn’t have sugar, preservatives, and MSG, or gluten, I realized that there was a huge void in the grocery stores. I decided to experiment in my own kitchen and created my own version of Saté sauce, which is inspired by a Vietnamese sauce that I grew up eating. After years of sharing my sauce with my friends and family, they were hooked! It became a must have jar in their home and mine! I knew there must be other people that loves Asian sauces but are committed to eating a more health conscious diet. I decided to take a leap of faith and started Wynn’s Kitchen. Read more>>

Adrian Guzman | Entrepreneur and Content Creator

My thinking process have always been the same… I’ve always liked being involved in projects where I have the possibility to help people. I think that you need to get your high purpose projects and low purpose projects straight. What I mean by that is, that it might not always be as profitable as you would like it to. However, if you structure your priorities, you might get a lot of traction on your process. Money is fuel to keep the machine going, that’s true. On the same track, your mental state is also a fundamental piece, and if you lose that, it’s game over. I think the right balance for high purpose project is “Do you love (or like a lot) this? Will it get you a decent lifestyle in the future?” Whatever your preconception of “decent lifestyle” is. And for low purpose projects, which we usually know as income sources (no strings attached) is “I know this might get me some money… but at least I like doing this? Will I be able to delegate this in the future? How much time will I invest in this? Is it worth it?”. Read more>>

C-RIZ & Ileana Aka The Fab You | DJ/Producer / Head of Ocean Grown Records & Visual Concept Designer and Owner/Operator of The Fab Shack

When I was attending college at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, I had mixed ideas of what I wanted to do with my degree since it was so broad—I studied visual communications which is pretty much all visual design concepts from graphic design, to styling to making blueprints for a store front or business. I decided that LA wasn’t for me and once I moved back to San Diego I had a clear vision on what I wanted to do—and that’s how The Fab Shack was created! I knew I wanted to be my own boss so I could control all creative aspects to be able to fully express my art and designs. On top of being in an industry that is very competitive and a top polluter to our planet unfortunately (the fashion world) I wanted to make my business as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible. Those are my main focuses when I was starting my business—having good morals to not create more pollution and trash. Read more>>

Matt Garrett | Founder & CEO of TGG Accounting

My thought process behind starting my own business was that I didn’t want to get fired. Growing up in the early 90s, there was a recession that hit Southern California pretty hard and I watched a bunch of my friend’s parents get fired from big companies due to layoffs. It appeared to me at the time that they were getting laid off for no fault of their own. I didn’t want to end up in a situation where I was employed at a big company and going through a round of layoffs where I would get fired just because the economy went down. I felt like that was too risky for me so by starting my own company that meant that I couldn’t get fired. Read more>>

AJ Macasadia | Chef

Thought process behind starting own business was first the logistics.. I used my experience in the arena where I was the exec chef for 3 years. I just imagined a concession stand and the flow of what type of concept I wanted to do.. if you simplify what you do and do it well it will be a hit. Then from there I brainstormed names with the family and wanted the word “Mac” because of my last name and my sister in law said how about Mac on this?? And it stuck. Read more>>

DeAndre Stratton | Photographer and Videographer

I’ve always had an entrepreneur mindset. Even as a kid I had multiple side hustles I would do like selling candy, working in the barbershop or shoveling snow. So now as an adult I figured “why not make my passion an actual business”. It also allowed me to potentially have something to pass down to my future kids and gives me the opportunity to employ people who actually have the same mindset as me. Read more>>

Craig Levinson | Craig Levinson | Entrepreneur

I have had the mindset of creating a life that genuinely makes me happy and fulfilled. I am extremely hard working with someone I am passionate about, however when it’s a job I am not interested in I am not the greatest worker. This has pushed me to always do something with my life that bring that joy, something I can wake up and get excited to do. And the opportunity to work with my best friend as my business partner has pushed me further into making it happen. Read more>>

Keith Mooney | Bartending Staffing Owner/Dental office Manager

I have always had a passion working events and large crowds, so I started Fluid Bartenders. I have always preferred hosting events vs. going to them. And having a background in managing them, working at hotels in catering, and now as a dental office manager during the week, launching Fluid Bartenders came very easy for me. Fluid Bartenders gets to help our clients with their very special celebrations, and to me, that’s a good time!. Read more>>

Ragni Agarwal | RADical Artivist + Designer

By trade, I am a graphic designer and have worked for years in the start up world, some of whom I have retained as clients still. My passion is creating art both digitally and on paper which I have prioritized in the last year. So it seemed natural to combine both my freelance designing projects and personal and commissioned art projects into one business, Ragni Agarwal Designs, my umbrella brand. At RAD, I sell artwork and art merchandise, I also takes commissions and freelance projects and do partnerships with brands looking for customized artwork. Read more>>

Bailey Phommavong | Artist & Co-Founder of LarbLai

LarbLai began as our passion project with one goal in mind: creating products that connect people through our interests and culture. You could say that LarbLai is the product of our three roads intersecting. Jeanny had already been cultivating her own projects for some time and was greatly inspired by existing small businesses. LarbLai became the gateway to exploring the marketing world and to elevating her own creative works. Kandace aspired to create products with the sole purpose of bringing joy to others. Outside of her job as a healthcare worker, she wanted a way to integrate her creative hobbies into her daily life; LarbLai fulfills that wish. I am currently a full time art student, so selling my art and designing products has always been something I’ve wanted to do. LarbLai not only felt like an introduction to what I might experience as I continue to pursue a career as an artist, but has also become an outlet for me to create art of my own. Read more>>

Anne Woychak | Owner of aLouise Bridal

I feel like my whole life story has laid the groundwork for my own business. My upbringing has been far from conventional and I have always felt an itch to try new things. I am German, but growing up, I’ve lived in quite a few countries, explored numerous educational and career paths and I particularly loved doing things just for the sake of being different. From working in a book store, living in New Zealand for 6 months at the age of 14, to assembling pistons at a Ford engine plant as the only female or working in the beauty buying department at Harrods in London, arguably the most exquisite department store in the world, I tried out a lot. And although I thoroughly enjoyed particular aspects of each endeavour, nothing ever felt quite right, as trite as that may sound. Anyone who knows me, and knew me growing up, would describe me as a strong headed person. Read more>>

Robert Sung | Denimista

I started working in the denim industry in 1994 and opened my own denim manufacturing company in 1997. I’ve worked with hundreds of companies ranging from budget lines to high end collections. In 2010 I stared doing CrossFit and fell in love. The intensity, comradery, and health gains were addicting. After lifting for a while, I noticed that my clothes no longer fit the way they used to, especially jeans. I went to the stores to find something that fit correctly but was amazed that no one catered to the athletic fit market. In my 16 years in denim, I never imagined that an untouched niche existed. Did some research and found that the demand was there. Started looking for fit models by contacting fit model agencies. NO ONE had fit models for the jeans we wanted to make. Myself and my designer decided to go to a large CrossFit competition called OC Throwdown to find people to measure and get a baseline for the fit. Read more>>

Lindsey & Olivia Harris & Rakowski | Co-Founders of @theyogabus.co

Lindsey – I’ve never been afraid to start a new project or follow my dreams. My thought process behind starting my own business was along the lines of of “ooo this is a good idea… LET’S DO IT”! Every single one of us has great ideas… it’s those of us who take action, despite fears and reservations, that set ourselves apart as business owners. Olivia – I always thought I’d live the corporate 9-5 life, but once I actually began living it I realized it wasn’t for me. When the idea for The Yoga Bus presented itself I knew it was time to trust in myself and create the life I’ve always wanted – one of freedom and creativity. Everything just FELT right in that moment and I couldn’t be happier that I jumped at the opportunity to start a business that fuels my soul. <3. Read more>>

Angela Thomasson | Crafter and Retail Business Owner

Three Elle Creations came to fruition because I am a HUGE San Diego Padres fan! Being a Padres fan, there is not a lot of home decor to choose from and I wanted a wreath for my home. Instead of seeking someone out to make it for me, I decided to make it myself and see how it goes. Once I made it, i thought it was the best thing ever. Looking back now, it’s not one of my favorite works of art, however I made it and it’s a fantastic reminder of where I started out. Then the opportunity came up in January to become the co-owner of a business in La Mesa. It happened to be with the owner of one of the boutiques I had my wreaths in. We had numerous conversations about a concept, found a place that had been vacant for over a year and went with it! Now I’m co-owner of Thoughtful Creations in the heart of the La Mesa Village at 8270 La Mesa Blvd., Suite 101, with our official grand opening coming up on April 1st! Our boutique will be have over 60 handmade artisan vendors. Read more>>

RaSia Khepra | Artist & Storyteller

I considered my creative skills as only a hobby. I always knew I would start my own businesses, but I never thought my art would be one of those businesses. I enjoyed creating art and watching people interact with art, so I continued to hone my skills as an artist. Eventually, people started offering to pay me to create art, which helped me start to view my skill as an asset that could be built into a business. You know, when money is involved, it is extremely important to remain professional, and always provide a high quality service. Naturally, I learned how to provide a professional service through experience. Through my own experience, the experience of my peers and mentors, I’ve been able to kinda naturally evolve into a business owner. Read more>>

Sam Stofko | Photographer

I think there wasn’t really a thought to start it, it just kind of started on its own. I started working as a concert photographer for the radio stations I was working for and it transformed into crafting a business for myself. It’s been a lot of fun figuring out everything from selling prints to acquiring clients and working with people you’d dream of working with!. Read more>>

Elliot McMonagle | Artist & Queer Trans Life Coach + Hypnotherapist In Training

When I first began cultivating dreams around entrepreneurship I saw the many opportunities for financial freedom, personal autonomy, and thoroughly changing the trajectory of a young person’s life. As a young graduate from Colorado State University I found myself in a world with endless possibilities and nowhere to start. When I started working I realized how quickly I burnt out from sitting inside all day, dealing with numerous emotional needs, and a wage that would not expand upon its current rate without more schooling. I switched jobs and found myself in similar predicaments but what I came to find out more was lack of passion and lack of integrity within the workplace. This really bothered me and I wanted to make changes. I could see from many of my peers that having personal clients to coach, could offer more flexibility in my schedule and I could be in control of the rate in which people pay for my services. Read more>>

Heather Butler | Owner of The Fairway Collective

I started my career in marketing and advertising working in large corporate agency settings and it was very obvious that we as reps were part of a large machine, generating revenue with little regard for the clients. We were often encouraged to sell any product to any client, whether it was a good fit for their business, whether their business was ethical, values and opinions did not matter. I was also going slowly insane working long hours, with high-pressure goals, and micromanaging superiors constantly threatening our commissions and jobs. I saw everything that was wrong with the way digital marketing agencies were operating and I wanted to build something better. I wanted to create an agency for brands and businesses, where the goal is never to sell products but to provide the best services to fit their needs and reach their goals. I also wanted to ensure we were working with progressive brands, forward-thinking businesses, and hopefully encourage businesses to better themselves. Read more>>

Dwight Worden | Lawyer (ret’d) | Deputy Mayor City of Del Mar, Bluegrass Musician

I started a law firm in 1975. I wanted to make the world a better place, focusing on environmental issues. There were no existing law related opportunities to do environmental work on the “green” side” in San Diego at the time, so I started my own firm–Worden & Williams. Read more>>