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.

BJ Rottinghaus | Founder of Houston-Based Charity Y’alloween

The process started with the idea of helping people. My family and I are huge Halloween fanatics, and we wanted to spread that joy to people who couldn’t experience it the same way we could. Through that, we created Y’alloween in 2021 and in the last two years have partnered with many other organizations like AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse) and HAWC (Houston Area Women’s Center) to give hundreds of costumes to kids in need in the Houston Area. Read more>>

PHILIP BALONWU | Owner/CEO Afrovibes TV & Radio Station

As an entrepreneur, my thought process behind starting my own business, Afrovibes TV and Radio Station, as well as Afrovibes Coffee and Technology Sure (an IT company), stemmed from a combination of passion, market opportunity, and a desire for personal growth. Read more>>

Adetutu Adeparusi | Ms Adetutu / President Double A logistics

Freedom and creating my own time. Read more>>

Megan St Rose | Small Business Owner

I wanted something that was just mine. All my life I have served people and worked to make others happy. I wanted to continue to do this but on my own terms. Read more>>

James Manley | Maker and metal worker

I’ve always loved building things, taking things apart, and on occasion putting those things back together; sometimes in new ways or with different parts. Even in my professional career I’m designing and helping build, repair, or replace critical infrastructure that is rarely seen or noticed until there is a problem. Growing up, my family has been involved in design and construction as well, so I guess I’ve always been around building and the concept of creating something new even before I realized it. Read more>>

Minh Do | Freelance Photographer

At first, I really had a difficult time due to not having about of business experience, and for me to be the only one working everything out took a toll on me for a while. I had to study and do research online to better understand the circumstances of running one. As the years go by, things slowly began to get better, but still had a hard time trying to get more clients. One tip I do want to express is go to the places you want to take photos at and start connecting. Showing them my work and being able to convince them has been one of the best feelings to get. Read more>>

Emily Vilchis | Cookier / Cookie Decorator

Ever since I became a mom it was very hard for me to be at work and have to miss out on some major milestones with my daughter. I took the tough decision to quit and become a stay at home mom. I still wanted to work and find something that would work for us at home and that’s when I started to learn how to bake and decorate sugar cookies. I saw this as an opportunity where I could still be home and take care of my daughter but also make some extra money. Read more>>

Ben Reynolds | CEO of Sure Dividend

I started Sure Dividend back in 2014. The idea behind Sure Dividend is that investing in high quality dividend growth stocks for the long run is a powerful and accessible way to build wealth over the long-run. Read more>>

TeezyF | Rapper Entrepreneur

Starting my own business has always been my dream since a child. I wanted to make a change in my community. I know in order to make change you must be the change. Music changed me and my music changes peoples lives merely off the love I have for it.I thought I could sale and be resilient enough to succeed in our society with my gifts. Read more>>

Danny Tran | Business Owner: Dash Camera & Insurance Office

My original thought was I wanted to spend more time with family. As I got older, I realized that I didn’t want to be out of my house 9-10 hours of the day to be at work for 5 days of the week. Then only have 2 days of off day to enjoy my time off with my family. I didn’t want to have to ask for PTO in order to be off and feel pressured to take it. Read more>>

Ashlee Patterson | Cookier

Never in a million years did I think I would own a cookie business. Some business owners think and plan for years to start a business but my experience wasn’t like that. When I started making cookies in was in that weird Covid time. I was a full time teacher who abruptly stopped teaching in March and was home for the year. I had 3 young kids and we were getting stir crazy at home. Read more>>

Heather Powers | Owner of Itz The Hair

Well honestly for starters I never thought I would be a proud business owner of ‘’Itz The Hair’’. What made me look into the industry of beauty, was after receiving quality of hair that I was not quite satisfied with. I began my journey by looking into different vendors, that was a long exhausting process. Some may think that once you find a vendor that’s the finished product, but that’s not the case at all. It’s more behind the scenes than some may assume, you really have to put in work to make your brand. Read more>>

Cecelia Nowlin | Startup Business coach

My entrepreneurial journey began in high school while watching “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” with my mom. Inspired by those successful business owners, I knew I wanted to start my own business. Despite being discouraged by friends and family who believed it was impossible for me, I held onto my dream. Years later, while working as a nurse and content with a steady paycheck, a subtle nudge from God sparked the idea of starting a real estate business. Read more>>

Larneka Lavalais | Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, Mental Health Advocate

My thought process regarding starting my own business came in the form of fulfilling a need in the community. I wanted to reach the underserved in the community that were often overlooked. I wanted to do it my way. I wasn’t concerned about quotas or how much money I would bring in. I just wanted to help. Read more>>

Loretta Ray | Licensed Counselor & Social Worker

The thought process behind starting my own private practice was to provide mental wellness and substance abuse counseling resources to employees in the transportation industry. My husband and I have owned and operated 18 wheelers for the past decade and one thing I noticed about safety sensitive employees is that there is little to no support for them, in regard to medical care, mental health or substance use recovery. My long-term vision is to continue providing direct services and become a nationwide resource hub for those in the transportation industry. Read more>>