Thinking through whether to start a business – whether to take the risk, whether to go out on your own – isn’t easy. So we asked some entrepreneurs we admire to tell us about how they thought through the process of starting a business.

Sara Brook | CEO & Founder

Dessert Gallery Bakery & Cafe is the third business that I have started and owned. When I was 21, I sold my first dessert business, “The Executive Sweet,” which flourished from 1979 until 1988. One week later, I launched “Sara Brook Desserts,” a dessert catering company that I operated out of the River Oaks Grill. When customers repeatedly asked for a chocolate sauce I created, I decided to devote full time to marketing and selling that sauce, “The Great Chocolate Cover Up,” nationwide through specialty and gourmet food stores. In 1992, I sold that company and continued working with the new owners as a consultant for two years. In 1995, I finally founded my third (and favorite) dessert company: Dessert Gallery Bakery & Café! Read more>>

Katrin Canlas | Soap Maker

Even though I majored in Economics and my current job is in oil industry, I have always been an artsy person: from gift wrapping to painting with watercolors, from creating and selling gift cards to being published in a DIY section of a magazine, art has always been my passion. And what started out as a simple internet search morphed into a passion in a short amount of time. In 2017 during Hurricane Harvey, my husband and I evacuated from Houston to Dallas to wait out the storm. Trying to keep my mind off the flooding and destruction that was affecting my family, friends, and city, I randomly researched “how to make soap at home.” I quickly fell in love with the concept as it gave me the ability to blend science and art to create unique soaps that were not only practical for everyday use but also attractive to the eye. Read more>>

Deborah Gaffney | Health Advisor

2020 started out in a less than stellar way for me, just like everyone else. What I thought was going to be a fantabulously productive year began with an amazingly harsh allergy attack that has continued for the last nine months. Did I mention our entire country went in to house arrest, I mean quarantine thanks to a buggy little virus named Covid19. I felt the need to try and help others, in some way; anything to help my desperate need to get out of the house and do something. I joined USHealth Advisors because I really liked their product lines. The ability to help others steer their way through the insurance Marketplace seemed like a win/win scenario. I obtained my licenses to sell health and life insurance in Texas, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Louisiana, Virginia, Kansas, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Read more>>

Tanya Rosenzweig | Brand Specialist & Gif Maker

There are a lot of factors that determined my decision to start my own business. 1. I never had a boss that I felt should have been my boss. From dysfunction in the workplace, not being qualified to lead a team, to just being bad at their jobs. 2. As a Latinx female in the corporate world holding higher positions I was often alone in boardrooms and held to higher standards than my peers. 3. I hated the idea of working hard to make the same amount of money for myself and more money for someone else. 4. I wanted to build something of my own that was held up to my own standards. Read more>>

Damion Walker | President

After being incarcerated for 17 years, from ages 16 to 33, I faced many barriers to employment. It is easier for formerly incarcerated individuals to own businesses than attain employment at times. Though I have a degree from the University of Houston and have been able to find employment, moving up in a company is difficult because of having the stigma on being in prison. Read more>>

Edward Baray | Teacher & Artist

You know it sorta came naturally. At first it was just a hobby, something i did just to see if i could do it. The. It took off from there. I think the business man in me started when i was in middle school, selling bags of candy and gum just to have extra lunch money. I knew how to earn a buck, but wasn’t sure how it would help me later; buying used Jordans, doing art on them and flipping them. The business side of it didn’t really become a reality until i started posting more pics and people were hitting me up more frequently. It was then i realized this could be a business and earn some serious income. Read more>>

Slade Ham | Comedian, Writer & Explorer

I don’t think I was ever really motivated to start my own business. It’s the old Sherlock Holmes’s method of eliminating the impossible so that whatever’s left, no matter how improbable, must be the answer. That’s me as a business. I failed as many ways as one possibly could as an employee, and the fault was mutual; those jobs never did anything to convince me it was worth it either. Now, deciding to stay in the entrepreneur and entertainment world is all intentional. If you have to live in a house, you might as well make it nice. Read more>>

Sarah Lowe | Owner & Creative Director

The Art Cellar of Houston was created to provide individuals with the ability to “make paintings their own” in an amateur painting class. We wanted to focus on creating from the heART because when one follows their heart in ART, people are always satisfied with the results. Initially, our classes included Acrylic Painting on Canvas and Paint on Glass. Eventually, we evolved to offer 3-D paintings, Alcohol Ink Basics, Acrylic Pouring, and Watercolor classes for children and adults. Our motto is #makeityourown, so we provide those attending our classes the basic skills required in each medium to create a masterpiece in an amateur painting class setting, We also offer the Mindful Movement Summer Camp inclusive of yoga, art, art history, and an alternative art hour. Read more>>

Candi Brooks | CEO & Artisan Designer

My thought process in starting a business was, how do I better serve the community. I am aware of my needs. I personally need to continuously relax, renew, and revive. How can I bring the joy of self-care to others? We choose to focus on the benefits of aroma therapy & Holistic body care because everyone has their own path towards pushing through the ups & downs of life. The mission of Blessed & Kech is the give the community the encouragement to push through the now and LIVE BEYOND! Read more>>

Ashley Snell | Wedding Planner & Registered Nurse

I have worked in the healthcare industry for quite some time now. During this time, I have had amazing encounters with patients, physicians, and coworkers, but also experiences that have been completely draining and overwhelming. I came to a point where I found myself reflecting constantly and really evaluating things that are important to me and my family. I know life is short and things can change constantly, so it became important for me to live in the moments and ensure the moments that I have are spent doing things that bring me joy. These thoughts were heavy on my mind during the same time I was planning my wedding and I began focusing more on the idea of wedding planning. Read more>>

Aries Cuevas | Eyelash Extension Artist

Before starting Aries Beauty, I knew I wanted to start something that would allow me to stay home and raise my daughter. I wanted to be my own boss so that I’m able to set my own schedule. If I needed time off I didn’t have to “ask” for permission. I knew I wanted to do something in the beauty industry since it’s something I’ve always be into. I wanted to stay out of the ordinary corporate America jobs but I wasn’t sure on what to take on at first. Initially, it started with photography, although I am good at it, it wasn’t something I looked forward to doing. It was more of a hobby and I really wanted something I could wake up and be excited about. In the midst of doing research, reading books and watching YouTube videos I found my love for eyelash extensions. It then turned into my passion as I started Seeing more clients through the year. Read more>>

Tolu Oshikanlu | Founder, CEO, Nimerex

The desire to connect Africa to the world and make West African a net exporter of finished product, led to building Nimerex. As many of us know, West Africa, has been deprived of quality services and exposure; however, I believe only Africans can solve these unique challenges, by building capacity and getting into strategic partnerships with organizations around the world. Our goal at Nimerex is provide a platform that helps black/African businesses succeed in North America and help reputable (USA) businesses succeed in Africa. In a nutshell, We connect the world to west Africa and West Africa to the world. Read more>>

Kemberli Clark | Owner, Founder & Professional Cleaner

In the beginning starting a business was never the idea. Cleaning was a way to recover financially from debt due to a divorce. There were many financial struggles I encountered during that time and getting another 9-5 job would have taken me away from the things that mattered the most to me; MINISTRY! As I began to clean homes I found out how much I enjoyed changing the atmosphere, hearing the sighs of relief and compliments from my clients, and the idea that one who wasn’t physically able to clean due to health reasons could enjoy a space they deserved. After many cleans and much thought I desired to turn my side cleaning into a full time business but wasn’t altogether prepared for that leap of faith so I waited and continued to learn the many fundamental lessons of running a cleaning business. Read more>>

Kaius Austin-Bey | Food Artist

My thought process behind starting my own business was “I really need to walk into my destiny.” You ever get the feeling that you’re bigger than your surroundings? Or the feeling that you are here for a greater purpose? That feeling haunts me. I always had a heart for people and being born in the south (Montgomery Al,) food was our way of bringing everyone together. With the many trials in life, I didn’t always know how I was gonna successfully get the business going. I just knew it had to be done. Read more>>

Rome Henry

Romenarts was created to provide my glow in the dark pieces (glow babies) a platform of exposure, illuminating the homes and offices of all my private collectors. Romenarts purpose is to add another dimension to art, literally. Read more>>

Mercedes Walker | Trapeze Yoga, Inferno Hot Pilates & RYT-200Hr Certified Instructor

Since the pandemic I have missed the energy from group classes so I decided to start my own studio to keep us all connected. Read more>>

Russell Montgomery | Knife Maker

I started my own business because I wanted to build something with my hands. I really felt the need to see what I accomplished at the end of the day. Being able to take a step back and look at something and say, “I did THAT today.” Read more>>

Mija Cultura | Latina Streetwear Brand

We always knew we wanted a business but didn’t know exactly what. For a year it was like that, the “not knowing what you want to do”, and we felt like we had a good sense of fashion sense & we were both latinas. So we thought, why not put together what Latinx’s would want to wear! It was a mixture of that with a little help from our friends pushing us to start that actually motivated us even more. Read more>>

Ashley Rapalo | Cake Decorator & Sugar Artist

I had just become a mother. I remember one day coming home from work and my son had just taken his first steps, and I was at work. I missed that milestone, granted it was on video, it wasn’t the same as being there in person. It dawned on me that this wouldn’t be the only thing I miss. I’m very involved with teaching my children, it didn’t sit well with me that others would be shaping there thoughts and morals. However like many other families in this world, I couldn’t afford to not work. I was presented with an opportunity to be an apprentice to an amazing cake decorator. She taught me the ins and outs of cake decorating, not to mention the business part of it as well. So after much prayer, I decided to quit my job and start being a full time cake decorator/baker. Read more>>

Rotyra Anderson | Owner

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to create a prosperous legacy for my family. Before salon suites were the new norm, I dreamed of owning an all-inclusive establishment where people could get everything beauty/fashion/health related in one spot. It wasn’t until the death of my mother from brain cancer that I knew I had to step out and make my dream a reality Read more>>

Queen O | Podcast Host & Digital Marketing Strategist

My thought process to creating my own business was pretty simple. I wanted to have a place to house my creativity and the ability to foster and grow my ideas. I’ve learned that when you work for someone else there is only room for the companies objectives to be met. I enjoy having my own business and space where that is possible for me. Read more>>

Samantha Snabes | Co-founder, Catalyst of re:3D & Captain in the Mississippi Air National Guard

Although this is my second company, I never considered myself an entrepreneur and seemed to have stumbled into both ventures with friends in pursuit of solving a problem. While working as a contractor for NASA I met Matthew who was in the same Directorate. We also were both volunteers for Engineers Without Borders NASA JSC, a group of NASA astronauts, engineers, and scientists who wanted to translate what they were learning about solar energy, confined spaces, water quality, and water purification and take it to the developing world. We received the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua, Uganda, Rwanda, and saw a lot of frustrations around dependence on aid & imported goods, as well as high unemployment and the problem with plastic-based waste. More importantly, the people we met were really brilliant. Read more>>

Leah Faul | Digital Strategist & Business Owner

Initially, I started my business as a technician who understood how to drive, create, and execute business growth and digital strategy. Upon success doing that, it came time to scale. That’s when I realized there is so much more to running a business than just understanding your trade. At that point is when my personal growth and entrepreneurial journey really began. With the support of mentors and fellow business owners I have learned so much in the area of business in the last 5 years. I’m immensely grateful. Read more>>