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.

Stephanie McDaniel | Graeme’s Mom and Founder

After losing our son, Graeme, I needed an outlet. I needed something to keep my mind busy, but all I could focus on was him and my heartbreak. I was so fearful his memory would fade. A few friends mentioned the idea of starting a 5k to continue to share him. I jumped all in. I received such encouragement and love from our beautiful community, while sharing his story and face. This also gave me the opportunity to slowly turn the pain I felt into pride from the work that was coming from his name. Read more>>

Tricia Hrapmann | Founder

I have always had the dream of owning my own boutique but when I rescued Briggs, that dream changed to owning my own doggie daycare. I wanted to get out of the corporate world and dogs make everyone happy! After participating in Houston’s Lift Off Program, I decided that I needed to do something on my own to make residual income to further that goal. I came up with the idea of making bandanas and taught myself how to sew…I was delighted to find out that others loved the bandanas as much as I did . Read more>>

Trevor Young-Simon, LPC | Licensed Professional Counselor

My thought process behind starting my own business was fueled by my lifelong passion to help others. Ever since I was a young girl, I have always had the gift of gab and as I’ve matured, I have also developed the the ability to connect with others in a way that has been described as healing. Entering the mental health field was a no brainer and has been one of the most rewarding decisions of my life. Read more>>

Chrissy Robinson | Chef/Holistic Health & Wellness Advisor/Intuitive/Astrologer

Quick backstory, I’ve always known how to make my own money and was the kid in school that was smart and multi-talented. I went from selling candy, to homework and essays, during middle school, and then learning how to braid my own hair and started braiding hair in high school. I remember my co-op job, in high school, at NASA. It was my intro into Corporate America and I hated it! I saw the systematic racism, politics, and classism live and in color, so I concluded that I would just go to law school, after getting my Bachelor’s degree, and figure it out. Needless to say, things changed and I haven’t gone to get my Juris Doctorate yet. Read more>>

Priscilla & Jessica Reyes, Brooks | Owners- Titan Comfort Solutions

Titan Comfort Solutions is built from two families that share the same views and ethics. As a family operated business we value honesty and integrity. We wanted to form a business that values employees and customers as our own family. We offer our customers solutions that best fit what they need, and only suggest products or services we would use in our own home. Our business was started by our passion for service and helping families be comfortable in their own home. Read more>>

Jonathan “Chop Up Jay” Cole | Barber

I just wanted to remove the glass ceiling from my earning potential. I wanted to know I could make more than what others are willing to pay me. At the time, it was a scary thing to do. Read more>>

Natalie Kirtley | Boutique owner

I felt like there was a huge gap in online boutiques. They were missing the unique and quality of hand picked items like normal brick and mortar stores. I wanted that high end look with out the high end price. All I saw on facebook was the same clothes and I knew there are customers like me who want that boutique line without the high price tag! Read more>>

Obiageri Ohayagha | Handmade Jewelry, accessories, and Homeware Designer

The journey to starting Studio Ohaya began in 2018 while dealing with pre and post-partum depression. I was diagnosed Hyperemesis Gravidarum which is severe nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. I felt so down, I told myself something has to give because I couldn’t go on feeling as terrible as I was. Creativity wasn’t something I explored as a child or adult because I believed I wasn’t creative. Read more>>

Sade Perkins | Market Manager

The Freedmen’s Town Farmers Market happens to be located in Houston’s oldest African American neighborhood. Founded right after emancipation. Unfortunately it is also a food desert. Our goal is to hi-light the amazing history of Freedmen’s Town while providing its residents with a weekly healthy grocery option to shop with local farmers, gardeners and entrepreneurs. Read more>>

Shana Balkin | Plant-Based Recipe Developer, Photographer, and Writer

As a former vegetable hater, I started my recipe blog as a way to help people of all ages learn to love incorporating nutritious plant-based foods into their diets, instead of eating them begrudgingly or avoiding them entirely. Until I was well into my twenties, cheese crackers and hot dogs were my BFFs, and I had pretty much no interest in even trying anything that grew from the ground. Now with the help of some amazing recipes, I’ve come to really enjoy just about everything and want to help others do the same. Read more>>

Tabitha Hendricks | Co- Founder & Counselor

We started working as colleagues 7 years ago in education during a time when there was a spike in police brutality against children of color. As educators working with this population, we decided that all children deserve to understand and build a better relationship with the police working in their communities. As well as the police should understand the population of the community they serve. We began working to develop this after non-profit/school program to help strengthen this bond while developing the soft skill all children need to be productive individuals in society. Read more>>

Rubyy Rosé (Rozay) | Personal Chef & Restaurateur

I knew I wanted to share my craft with others. I’ve been interested in food since I was 6. Watching my mom cook almost everyday really spiked my interest. She seen I was interested and invested in my aspirations. She purchased cook books and always let me help when she was in the kitchen. Once I got to middle school, I started with home economics and every year I stayed in the program. My senior year, I was managing the school “restaurant” and I knew from there I wanted to own my own restaurant. Graduating and working as a sous chef for a local lounge only confirmed my dreams. Working hard for someone with inadequate payout made me want to build my name and have my own. Read more>>

Taylor Baker | Airbnb Host & Interior Decorator

I’ve always wanted to be a boss, I just didn’t know what lane I wanted to be in. The pandemic put my creativity to the test. I have always been into crafts, so Glam Luxe Designs was birthed on Juneteenth of 2020. Glam Luxe Designs specialized in custom tumblers, shirts, badge reels, etc, If I could add epoxy or vinyl I could customize it for you. My business thrived for a while but it wasn’t my passion. In August of last year the real estate industry caught my attention. I started doing research and started looking more into the Airbnb world. Read more>>

Tammy Leigh-Goodall | Natural Product Developer

Over the past few years. I observed how we as Melanin Men and Women have learned to truly embrace our Hair, Skin and our Culture. Through out our journey, we have acquired more knowledge on how to protect our Mental with Self Care, Self Love and a Village. The Brown Collection was created to provide a system of products driven to enhance and cater to your Hair and Skin’s overall Health. When I created TBC, I was dedicated to helping African Americans perfect our communities while also providing a safe place for us to shop unquestionable black owned products with truly natural ingredients. Read more>>

L. Jiles | MC/Emcee & Fashion Designer

After working in the behavioral health field for so many years I started feeling like this can’t be my destiny. I like the work I do and very passionate about it but it can become emotionally taxing. I started talking with God and just prayed about manifesting His vision for my career. I’m great at what I do but realized it’s not what I want for the rest of my life. It just didn’t make sense any more to give heart and dedication to someone else’s business/company. After that I just started getting messages from the universe and dived in headfirst. About 5 years ago my “MC/Emcee” journey began with a close friend that was an aspiring DJ and she asked me to “MC” her gigs, “I was like okay let’s do it”. Read more>>

Gerren Rush | Speaker, Teacher, Author & Father

My thought process has so many layers to it, but it all centers around family. I am a teacher. I remember pitching my idea to a wonderful parent named Brene Brown. What she said struck me and has always stuck with me. She asked: “What’s stopping you?” She followed with: “I’ve had had enough ‘No’s’ to fill the walls of my home!” From then on, I went ALL OUT to finish the dream I began! Read more>>

Mye Allen | Owner

When I first started my business, I thought about the freedom. Honestly, I was a horrible employee. I mean I went to work and I did an outstanding job on whatever task was assigned to me. However, I was always thinking about how I could make someone else’s company better. I had a million reasons why my way was the best way and as an employee sometimes that can become a problem. My children were younger at the time and I couldn’t be available to them the way they needed me because I was confined to a computer for an entire shift. Read more>>

Ann Davis | Event Planner and Serial Entrepreneur

I prefer to make money doing what I love and not to make a rich man richer. Read more>>

Katie Cornelison | Designer & Owner

Before starting my own business, I had lost my steady source of income due to COVID. I was enjoying the time I was getting to spend with my one year old son, and had always loved the idea of working mostly from home. Something I’ve always loved to do is make jewelry. In high school, my mom and I made bracelets on the weekends, sitting in front of the TV. I had continued to make jewelry since then, and had always thought in the back of my mind, it could become a business. Read more>>

Lydia-Carlie Tilus | Birthworker – Neuromuscular Massage Therapist | Health Educator | Doula

In one word, Freedom. That said, the process behind starting my own business has been influenced by and is rooted in many facets of my life experiences. My parents are Haitian Immigrants and my dad ran his own business for the better part of 30 years. Growing up with that example I saw what flexibility my father’s business afforded our family. I also saw how married my father was to his business in a way that did not allow the business to flourish in a way that would have given him the space to be less hands-on. Read more>>

Andy Brown | Ballpark Artist

I didn’t really have a ‘plan’ as how i got to doing what I do professionally. It happened very organically. I had been painting baseball ballparks and culture around the world for around 8 years. I found it an interesting way to understand the culture of Korea, where I was living at the time. I then started exploring leagues in other countries in Asia and then moved towards Latin America and the USA. After a few years my art work started to gain more momentum and attention with the players who were in my paintings getting in touch wanting to buy them and find out more about my work and what i did. Read more>>