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.

Michael Marquette | Master Craftsman

No real thought process involved. I have had a business since I can remember to offset my income. Being a US Merchant Marine when I wasn’t shipped out I would create items and some times they sold and people always said I should have my own place. To transition to full time all that took was back surgery and retirement. It made sense since I couldn’t work anymore for other people. Read more>>

Tejal Patel | Yoga teacher, writer, podcaster, and community organizer

I‘ve always understood the spiritual practice of yoga growing up in an Indian Hindu household. The challenge I faced was integrating my personal yoga practice with western yoga studio culture in a safe and welcoming space. I have often been impacted by racism, othering, and spiritual bypassing while practicing and teaching yoga. I remember in 2015 being told by a white woman studio owner that what I learned about yoga while studying in India and from my upbringing was wrong. That was so messed up. And that’s just one of the many stories I have about yoga gone wrong. Read more>>

Alyssa Harkoo | Yard Cardie and Pharmacist

The idea behind this business is simple. We wanted to share in people’s celebrations, create something beautiful and set the stage for lasting memories. When the pandemic hit, it seemed as though most people lost control over a lot, including myself. There was so much darkness and sadness in the world and I felt hopeless and helpless. I really tried to tap in to controlling the things I can. It seemed as though there wasn’t any good news in the world anymore, but then I thought “oh yes there is.” Read more>>

Jamie Frank | Cloth Diaper Educator and Advocate

Sweet cuddly babies lovingly expand our hearts and families daily. With their grand entrance, many moms never consider the problems with using disposable diapers. Disposable diapers are one of the biggest drivers of environmental and household waste. Inflation has done us no favors as the cost of this essential infant item continues to rise. Expensive disposables are a drag on a family’s budget, contribute to diaper rashes, and are the reason for one of mom’s biggest headaches – blowouts! Read more>>

Ariel Torres | Realtor

In high school, I started to grow the hobby for looking at houses and realizing that each house was unique in its own way. In my free time I would spend so much time searching Zillow and looking at all types of housing. IE condos, apartments, and of course single family. I was always the friend that wanted to know what peoples houses looked like on the inside. I always knew I wanted my own business but didn’t know how to go about it. I got into the Real Estate industry working reception for Keller Williams in 2017 and from there my interest grew even more. I got licensed in 2019 and and here I am today! Read more>>

Vina Le | Luxury Picnic Vendor

I have always had a constant need for a creative outlet all my life. As I grew older, it funneled itself into a passion of decorating, which also stemmed into hosting and decorating for such events, to share my passion with others to also enjoy. When the pandemic hit, we all became negatively effected in so many ways, but lack of precious time with one another became the biggest strain on our emotional well-beings. Many individuals around the world tried to resolve this by coming up with creative solutions that allowed people to still spend time together in a more open-space environment, where you can better appreciate nature, while simultaneously enjoying luxury qualities from dining at your favorite restaurant. Read more>>

Kayden Coleman | Transgender Advocate, Educator, Consultant & Keynote Speaker

I knew I wanted to make a difference and at first I wasn’t sure how. I remember laying in bed one night, unable to sleep and I came up with the idea of doing a workshop. I made a really crude flyer for it before I even came up with any of the content. I didn’t expect anyone to want to attend, if I’m being honest. But it blew up! I realized how much of a need there is for real education on trans masculine fertility and birth and decided that I would be the one to do it because I didn’t want any other trans people to go through I went through trying to navigate the medical system. Read more>>

Stephanie Bookman | All Natural Loctician

My thought process behind starting my own business was one of service. I wanted to provide a service to the community that I have not yet seen offered in the method I deliver. I provide All Natural Dreadlock Maintenance, with the cornerstone of that being Fresh Aloe Retwists. The benefits of an all natural alternative to the gels and pomades that are broadcasted in the dreadlock world, have truly changed the health of my clients’ crowns for the better. Read more>>

Michael Fontaine | Vice President of Project Management

I started Falcon Project Consultants to ensure that humanity has access to clean water. It is essential for human survival and I want to do my part in making sure that everyone has access to it. Water is the most basic human need, and yet 1 in 9 people around the world don’t have access to clean water. That’s why I founded my company – to make sure that everyone has access to clean, safe water. We provide sustainable municipal and industrial water solutions so that communities and enterprises can thrive, regardless of their location or resources. Read more>>

Ayanna XTRA Lopez | Co-Founder of Xi Delta Nu

Here at Xi Delta Nu or purpose is to To build, uplift, and excel as an ensemble to pour back into our community to develop a thriving village. Xi Delta Nu is a community service-based Sorority organization founded by two exceptional women in order to establish a sisterhood that can withstand eternity. Our Founders wanted to develop a safe space for women to grow, change, and develop themselves and the communities around them. Read more>>

Season Davis | Mom, Entrepreneur, Inventor, lover of all things business and people!

As a Serial Entrepreneur, business has always been something that excites me. When I was young, I couldn’t get a dog, so I started a dog walking business in my neighborhood. I created fliers and went door to door, sharing my business, so I could share their dog. Over 20 years later, 1 sold business/project, 1 failed business/project and currently working on at least 4 other projects with a goal to start a non-profit by the end of the year, while working full-time and homeschooling my son. Read more>>

Navul Nanda | Restaurateur

Wanting to be your own boss and unlimited growth to being the best. If you are an employee you will always receive a fixed paycheck and will never get the chance to be an entrepreneur who is rewarded for their efforts and business strategy. Read more>>

Jessie Singh | Real Estate Broker and Owner at JSingh Homes

She’d laugh if you’d asked the 20-year Jessie if she ever thought of herself as a realtor or owning her brokerage someday. I was a biology major and, after graduation, worked in Healthcare. In 2012, my boyfriend (now husband) moved to Australia, and I moved with him. When he got offered a great job back home, we settled in Houston, and it was the impetus of my real estate journey. I got my license in 2013 and worked at a big brokerage. Read more>>

Deron Gadsden | Cultural Advocate – BE Impactful founder

I’ve always said my greatest fear isn’t dying, but being forgotten. I’ve always wanted to do something that I could be remembered for. I also spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to give back to a community that has given so much to me. Those two ideas together really is the foundation for BE Impactful. It really just kind of came to me one day, and it was just a hashtag at first as I was out doing different community things #BeImpactful. But then I started having ideas, and I knew in my heart that I needed a platform to express myself and these ideas. Read more>>

Kyara Cortez | Owner

My thought process behind starting my own business was figuring out what I love to do the most. The question I asked myself was, “What can I do for a lifetime and love to do?”. I realized I love to cook. I went to college to study engineering and interior design. I realized I didn’t see myself in the field long-term. I started cooking at a very young age. When I was a child, I had an Easy Bake Oven and I made the brownies “fancy”. I would add walnuts to the brownie mix from the Easy Bake Oven. I learned and watched my grandparents cook dinner a lot. I was eager to learn how to cook and bake. Read more>>

Fariha Ahmed | Luxury Watch and Jewelry Broker… & Cyber Security Analys

I’ve always found motivation in being the underdog- in not being expected to succeed at something because I do not fit the “expected” image. I have a background in cyber security and that is where this mentality first was conceived, I think. It is a male-dominated industry, and I was definitely asked “Are you sure you are at the right building?” more than once when I first started out. This only motivated me to work harder and succeed at greater magnitudes. Read more>>

Jazmine Johnson-Black | Master Wig Artist & Braider

I initially was a local braider in Phoenix, AZ and had planned to do that full time then COVID-19 hit. At first I wasn’t sure how I was going to proceed until my Grandfather made a special request from me. He’s currently bald but wanted dreads for a trip he was going on to New Orleans, so I figured out a way to make him a dreadlock wig. Once I saw the finished product and how elated he was to have some hair, it hit me. I should start making braided wigs! There are so many people, myself included, that deal with some kind of hair loss or sensitivity. Read more>>

Priscilla Rosas | Event Coordinator/Market Host

I honestly had no idea what I was doing. I was so nervous because all I was used to was a 9-5 job. I have to give some credit to my boyfriend. Whom is an entrepreneur himself and has a storefront ‘American Hairlines Barbershop’. He has pushed me so far. He is what enlightened this fire within me. I started off as a small business vendor. Which I was then called ‘ Mont Vintage & Apparel’. I did everything from tie-dying clothing, making my own merchandise, etc. I started doing pop-up events, networked and made a lot of new connection and followings. I then built the confidence to start coordinating my own markets & boy let me tell you, its been a successful journey! Read more>>

Laura Burnett | Realtor & Social Media Creator

My thought process was simple after thinking about what I would want to change for my future and spend more time with my kids after working a normal job from 8 to 5 pm everyday. The idea came during the pandemic when I got laid off from my work due to the crisis. I then, start thinking what do I really love and make it into my business. If is something that you really enjoy and excited to wake up everyday to do that then is never really work. And that’s how from there everything great started for me. Read more>>

Ashlee Amano | Hairstylist & Owner

My thought process behind starting my own business was probably what most feel, TERRIFIED. It was the initial jump that had me questioning pretty much everything -Can I do this? Will I be successful? Am I crazy? Even though I had my fears of starting my own business, I knew deep down it was time to take the next step in my career. I was lucky enough to have a friend/coworker who was ready to do the same and we ventured off together and opened HairXCraft Barbershop & Salon inside Phenix Salon Suites – Houston Heights in 2020. Read more>>

Jennifer Nickerson | Jewelry Stylist

I began my Jewelry Journey 15 unbelievable years ago. I have always loved Jewelry. Initially it was all gold & diamonds for me. I would only admire the beautiful art forms of Costume Jewelry on other ladies. One day, I decided to try it for myself & I received so many compliments. At this point, Diva Designs By Jennifer was born. I started participating in any vendor show I could find. After doing over 600 events, I now offer several jewelry services that include Gift Concierge, Bridal & Prom Services, Jewelry For Photo Shoots, Luxurious Inspired Jewelry & Wardrobe/Jewelry Critique. My speciality is Fashion Shows & Large Women Conferences. We just opened a new mini boutique within Painted Tree Boutiques. Read more>>

Kresheera Helaire | The insomniac with lyrics and a camera

I decided to start my own business shortly after coming to the realization that my paternal grandmother (who raised me with the help of my grandfather) was battling dementia. The woman who helped to shape my outlook on just about everything was suddenly changing before my eyes. This constant fear of running out of time ignited something powerful within me. I wanted nothing more than to invest in myself and the talent that my grandparents’ support helped me to discover in the first place. I thought if she remembered nothing else, she’d know that all of their love and sacrifices made me a resilient fighter. I was determined to make a name for myself so the world could see and know THEM through ME. Read more>>

Silvester Robinson Jr. | Educator and Entrepreneur

For a few years I worked part time with a mobile paint party company here in Houston called Kolor My Kanvas and during the summers in Houston with a summer literacy program called HYPE Freedom School Inc. During my time serving as an event assistant, host at club and as a site coordinator I learned that I was capable of being an extrovert at times. Read more>>

Sharelle B. & Sierra T. | Co-Hosts of Headwraps & Lipsticks: the Podcast

Back in 2017, we really had some things that we wanted to say and was tired of using 140 on Twitter to get them out. It’s hard to be selected for a platform as Black women so we decided to take matters into our own hands. Headwraps & Lipsticks: the Podcast was founded after a meeting at Ink & Ivy, the purchase of two microphones and a mixer. That was 5 years ago. Read more>>

PAP GOD | The artist

My true purpose is to help spread peace and positivity throughout the world through everything I do from my music to my name PAP. I’ve always loved music but never thought it would be my calling until I had the crowd moshing at my first show. Ever since then I knew I had something from stage presence to the music I make. Read more>>

Jazmine Tolder | Event Planner

I started Pearls Balloon Bar right during COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to that I was working as a assistant manger doing loans right before I got laid off. When that happened I felt defeated. I was tired and knew I needed to come up with a plan. I was no longer settling for your good ,but its not your turn just yet. I was always the go to person ,but I never had anybody to turn to. I was done trying to fit in at companies that didn’t value me. I always had to work hard and smile even when I was passed up. So I told myself no more! This ends now ,and from that moment “Pearls Balloon Bar” was born. I wanted to be my own boss and work towards my own dreams. I wanted to create a space where I could be me on my own terms. Read more>>

Kesha Sonny | Brow Technician & Momprenuer

My thought process behind starting my own business was that I needed to be more available to raise my kids. I was tired of being/feeling stuck working for employers that didn’t care about me having a work/life balance. I am currently 24 and have three littles. My oldest son is 5, my middle daughter is 4, and my youngest is 10 months. Over time, I have learned that I will always have the chance to make money, but I only have one chance to raise my kids successfully. I want to be able to support them as they grow, while still being able to work my own schedule. Read more>>

Jordan English | Business owner, Entertainer, Influencer

I’m an entrepreneur by nature. From 13 years old I’ve always created ways to make money starting by selling snacks at school. INFLUENCE Bar and Grill is actually my third business and it started because I wanted a bar and a place to hold events and always have a space to vibe. I always enjoyed hosting events and creating a space where people can express, enjoy and be entertained. This is why INFLUIENCE started. Daily it promotes the Barbadian and other Caribbean cultures and is a great place to have fun with friends and make new ones. Read more>>

Cody D’Andrea | Notary & Graphic Artist-Marketer

When I first thought of being an entrepreneur I was in my 20’s and decided lets do it. I started my research on what I was going to do and how I can handle a work life experience that I didn’t get lazy on. Meaning behind lazy is getting up and doing what was needed to be done. Now I get up early and go to bed a little earlier. By giving myself time away from the family to concentrate on the goals gives me a good feeling for the day and my health. Read more>>