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.

Nguyen “Tom” Griggs | Educator & Martial Artist

My parents worked for other people and struggled due to ignorance, bad business practices and general entrepreneurial indifference. When they had the chance to work for themselves, they jumped and never looked back. In my 20’s, I worked in Insurance, Sales, IT and Education. I too face the same types of problems related to inter-team friction, poor leadership and sub par training/onboarding. Well one day it occurred to me that given my background as an educator, lecturer, martial arts instructor and my love of people, why don’t I start a company focusing on teams, leadership and conflict management. It turns out that my decision opened doors into the numerous challenges that so many people face at work and in educational settings. Recently, the focus on social justice access issues related to Education has led me to connect deeper with groups like TRIO and their programs. Read more>>

Alicia Porras | Wedding & Portrait Photographer

I have always been a photo lover. From a young age I loved my picture taken, & loved to take photos of others. I was that annoying child that would bust out a disposable camera and start taking photos of others. After I bought my first DSLR and the more I thought about it the idea of having a business was something I wanted to pursue. So in 2016 I decided to give it a go for a time without realizing how much truly goes into starting a business. I’m sad to say that after a few months I decided to quit and just kept it as a hobby. I could tell I just wasn’t ready to dive deep into photography how I imagined, so I took a step back. Fast forward to 2018 where I was still shooting for fun and feeling stuck with my day job. Read more>>

J’nee Adams | Dance Instructor & Creative Director

I wanted to give women the space and opportunity to find confidence within themselves, for themselves. It also helped me rebuild my confidence, when I was at a low point in my life. When I noticed that encouraging others was encouraging me, I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My classes are all about empowering, uplifting, and celebrating everything that is woman. No matter the color, size, or dance ability, everyone is welcomed! Read more>>

Coley Jackson | Tattoos Artist & Floral Designer

Thoughts of starting Tiny Tats ATX began 17 years ago, when I stepped into an intimidating tattoo shop in ATL for my first tattoo at 18 years old. The experience of being shunned for my entry tattoo, spurned my need to create an inclusive tattoo shop, for any size or style of tattoo, and for any client. Last year after having twins,and realizing I can do anything I set my mind to, I signed the lease on a dream location last year and it’s been a whirlwind opening Tiny Tats ATX! 3 Of Cups Design and Florals was as organically created after a friend suggested I part-time learn floral design in between jobs 7 years ago. After a few word of mouth weddings, our floral design work grew into a sustaining company, allowing me the flexibility to pursue tattooing. Read more>>

Rodrigo Vargas | Lead Pastor

God gave me a vision that I just could not stop thinking about… a vision that felt more like a burden to help people in this great city. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, day and night. I realized that Houston is vibrant, diverse, beautiful and thriving. Yet I saw so much pain on the streets. I would drive and pray for our city for years and would see homelessness, poverty, broken families, addiction and human trafficking all over our city. Read more>>

Darla Farmer | Founder and CEO

My husband and I both experienced traumatic health issues in 2006, I had a benign brain tumor, and my husband a massive heart attack. He was not expected to live but pulled through and is strong and healthy today. I lost the hearing in my right ear, and my husband had a stroke in both eyes and did not have vision in the upper portion of both eyes. He is half-blind, and I am half deaf, and we still make a strong team celebrating 40-years of marriage on August 15th. After these incidents, I had a strong sense of urgency to give back, to help, to do something, what was my legacy? A million thoughts were urging me to do more; little did I know it was staring me in the face. My friends, Hope and Eric Montgomery live in Richmond, TX. They have four children, Collin, age 17, and three little ladies we affectionately call the “Triple Divas.” The girls, Londyn, Lakin, and Lauren, age 14, are identical triplets, and all three girls have autism spectrum disorder (ASD or autism). Read more>>

Heather Woodcock | Jewelry Designer & Shop Owner

When I first decided to start my own business, I had purchased a leather cuff bracelet from someone with my children’s name on it. Unfortunately, it was poorly made and that got me to thinking that maybe I could do it myself. I absolutely love jewelry, especially leather bracelets and earrings. So I bought supplies and taught myself how to make leather cuffs out of old, recycled belts. The most important thing in my life is my faith and love for the Lord. At that time in my life, I had dealt with a season of severe depression and had a lot of anxiety just to go out in public, let alone talk to people. I have always wanted to do something BIG for the Lord and share His Word, but I was scared. Once, I started getting more comfortable making my cuffs, which I hand stamp words, phrase, and bible verses on, I also started praying to God to use me for His glory. Read more>>

Kimmie Doll Styles L.L.C.

I have always been a plus sized or what one would called “plush” sized woman and I’m also taller than the average woman, as a child I would always alter my clothing as to be different. That has grown into a passion for which I’m able to make everyone feel good about themselves while providing the “experience” of luxury services at an affordable price. Read more>>

Jessica Arriaga | Baker

Starting my baking business wasn’t planned, it was encouragement from friends and family. I started off just baking for family and friends. The requests became more frequent. I found myself taking on multiple orders and advertising and it has developed from there. I have always loved art and baking so this came naturally to me. Read more>>

Chelsea Salazar | Owner

I’ve been making elderberry syrup for my family for years but what prompted me to start selling it to my community was a really scary experience with my youngest son two years ago. In October 2018 he was sick a good week, we were in and out of his pediatrician’s office at least 2-3 times. His doctor at the time kept telling us he had a virus, let it run its course etc. Finally, the night before my twins 4th birthday his breathing seemed very labored and my husband said I should take him to the hospital. I did, they admitted him immediately. His oxygen levels were low-they gave him oxygen, they gave him an IV for fluids and all he did was sleep the whole time. He ended up being diagnosed with bronchiolitis and RSV. He was given some strong antibiotics, we stayed overnight and in the morning he woke up feeling so much better. Read more>>

Hang Bower | Team Builder & Executive Recruitment Expert

Our thought process for starting our own talent management and executive search business was to provide services that companies truly needed. Throughout the years of business development, owning a P&L, human resources and talent management industry roles, I recognized that my clients really needed help in communicating their brand, creating an engaging culture, articulating qualities of people they wanted to work with and implementing a full end-to-end recruitment strategy. We were consistently being asked to help clients with executive search projects and strategies on bringing in leaders to help build engaging teams. We are proud to help clients across all industries, from Fortune 50 to start up in the areas of Human Resources, IT, Operations, Finance and Accounting, Engineering and Sales. Read more>>