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.

Sylvia Kampshoff | CEO & Founder

I worked as an attorney for top tier US law firms for over six years. Even though I liked the job, I was never passionate about it and always had the dream to build something myself and even more importantly do something in the space I love, what is health & fitness. When I had my son Tristan, it was clear to me that I have to give it a shot now and it was now or never. I never regretted walking away from law and absolutely love what I do, changing peoples lives through fitness. Read more>>

Brenda Lopez | Photographer & Co-Founder

After 5 years of freelancing in the wedding industry, we knew we wanted to create Bella Lumi with the sole purpose of creating an elevated, and most importantly, a more personal photography experience for our clients. In addition to capturing beautiful moments, our priority is to really connect with all of our clients. We spend so much time with these people and are part of some of the most intimate moments of their lives. I don’t believe someone would be able to ease their subjects into such a level of comfort where they get to capture those amazing, raw emotions without connecting with them personally at some level. I’ve cried at these weddings. I’ve laughed at these weddings. Every one of my clients means something to me. Read more>>

Ken Boyd | Comedian

I felt I owed it to myself to at least try my hand at something that I was such a huge fan of, which is stand up comedy. Also, as a child I was always the class clown/comic relief in school and around friends and family so it was kind of a personal challenge to see if I could get the same reaction from perfect strangers that I did from everyone else. Read more>>

Ashley Yearby | Experience Curator & Foodie

In 2014, I woke up to my apartment in flames and essentially lost everything. Luckily, I didn’t lose my life and found my desire to create something. I started a walking food tour company called Foodie Foot Tours. This was my way of bringing my blog to life and sharing my dining experiences with others. Through that journey, I realized that my tour was just the blueprint for helping people step outside of their comfort zone while making it not feel so uncomfortable. Just like taking the guesswork out of dining, I created The Adventurous Bartender to help take the guesswork out of cocktails. Read more>>

Lisa Boesen | Speaker, Writer, Beekeeper & Recipe Sorceress

I have a healthcare background that encompasses both clinical and Human Resources. My family started MLC Associates LLC in 2009 after both our parents died and I took it over for my speaking business. My last corporate position was in organizational development and leadership training. I gave a lot of presentations and training! My first thought was to focus on training and speaking. It began with compassion in the workplace because that spoke to me and was relevant at that time (I still think it is!). I was still putting on my HR and OD hat and consulting, along with career coaching and resume writing. One of the best things I did was become a Certified Master Coach. I loved it al that but when my husband had health issues and we became plant-based, my writing, videos, and podcasting pivoted in that direction. Read more>>

Neiki Jones | Founder

The thought process behind starting A.L.A.Y.A Ministries, a non-profit organization, was to create an organization that would equip others to know that they are leaders. Growing up I did not believe I was a leader because I did not know my own self-worth or own self-identity. For so long I allowed others to define me by how they labeled me as. I was more a “people pleaser” than a leader. I did not understand that there was in fact a leader within myself that has always been there but dormant. Hence, A.L.A.Y.A stands for (activating leadership to accomplish your ambitions) therefore, the leader that was on the inside has always been there but I needed to connect myself to the right source to activate that which was dormant. Read more>>

Greg LIlly | Owner & Operator Underground Graphics

Wow, now we’re going way back. I had been working for a couple local sign shops. After leaving Sign-A-Rama, and starting at another small privately owned/run shop, I quickly showed my skills and was given a satellite location to run. It wasn’t long before it clicked, “I could be doing this”. I actually bought my boss’s old plotter and software, started up at home in my study and installed in the garage. It wasn’t long before he let me go, as my own work took over and I was quickly on my way of starting Underground Graphics. Read more>>

Azarah Rodriguez | Specialty Baker

Honestly, there really wasn’t one when I first started. It started out as a hobby selling pies to make some extra holiday money. And just by word of mouth and some good tasting pies 😉 it eventually turned into a small business, now Uptown Bakes. Slowly I started getting cake orders and I realized that was more of my niche and I fell in love with the process of decorating cakes. Now I specialize in mainly custom cakes, from wedding cakes to baby showers to birthday cakes, but still offer pies, specialty desserts and much more. Read more>>

Mikey Kendrick | Furniture Designer & Maker

About 6 months after graduating in the fall of 2015, I found myself at a cushy o&g position and absolutely miserable. The job offered virtually no direct potential for intellectual stimulation, spiritual growth, positive social impact, or even general personal fulfillment, and – what’s more – it was with one of the many organizations across many different industries that are directly and knowingly contributing to a massive ecological train wreck. So, I left. Year of None began as a thought experiment focused on environmentally conscious entrepreneurship. I made an honest assessment of the skills I had at the time and compared that list with one consisting of types of work that I might actually enjoy doing for a living. Read more>>

Diane and Willet Feng | Co-Owners

When starting one’s own business, the thought process typically starts with, “Am I ready?” I still didn’t know the answer to that question after cooking for other people and under different chefs for eight years. For me, I think one is never truly ready, but there comes a point where you just have to go for it. Once the decision to open your own venture is set, it’s a matter of priorities. You can’t accomplish everything, so what matters the most? How do you want to set yourself apart? What are you going to do differently from others you’ve worked for? These questions are the most meaningful. If the answer is “nothing” and your plan is simply to emulate, then I don’t think you should start your own business. You aren’t adding value to your industry. I may not have felt ready, but I knew what I wanted to improve upon. Read more>>

Lori Machiorlette | President

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. In grade school, I painted barrettes and made extra money on the side. Since those days, my founding principle was that every problem needs a solution. My first venture was a dating service. Yes, before the internet even launched, we would match people with personality tests and in-depth interviews. Over 3 years we have 7,000 members in the Houston/Beaumont area and helped people meet like kinds. We sold that business and moved into consumer goods and the mantra of solving problems continued. Our first product was a luxury wood HVAC grille that paints the color of the wall or trim. I disliked stamp metal returns and always thought they were an decor eye soar. After engineering and finding an importer, we started offering homeowners an attractive alternative. Read more>>

Stacy Thomas | Photographer

I just created a business out of something that I am passionate about. Read more>>

Patrice Lindo | Career Nomad & Coach Strategist

My core thought process for starting was based on cultivating and leading a community of like-minded women through the transformational journey to personal and professional growth, empowerment and success. Specifically, I help women uncover their limiting beliefs to increase clarity and develop a strategic career growth plan. Read more>>

Rising Artists Houston | Film Organization

There had been a moment in the middle of an acting class, I thought to myself “it would be nice if I could share all this information with actors who aren’t able to travel to NY or LA for exclusive industry masterclasses.” And here we are. It’s not easy to obtain without the proper planning; it took research and perseverance every single day. It has been the best investment to us and those around us. Read more>>

Bobbi Boss26

I love being a Leader and the Queen in charge. Mix that with the fact that I love making money, I loooooooove jewelry, and I am extremely extroverted -I couldn’t think of a better reason to be an entrepreneur! I’ve worked in the customer service industry and project management for years; and I’ve always had a dream of creating my own brand and brand boutique – a space to release the most interesting ideas and projects; while creating an experience for the most fabulous of fabulous customers. Read more>>

Alyssa Gruber | Foundrix & Designer

I was traveling in India, and the aesthetics there can be so stunning. The jubilant colors left such an impression on me, coupled with the deep holiness of the people. Upon return back to the USA, I was literally stopped on the street by people noticing my jewelry. For confessedly, on my previous trip to Jaipur, I purchased some gorgeous handmade gemstone and gold jewelry. And to be clear, the pieces were fabulous! Made by a 4th generation family jewelry business, the stones were ethically sourced and hand facetted by their stone cutter. The pieces spoke to India’s tremendous artisan expertise. Cut to the chase, I met said family, told them I felt inspired to create jewelry with them…. lo and behold, we have been partners 3 years and I consider them MY family now too. Read more>>

Melanie Moye | Chandler

I have been creating candles for 10 years. My love for candles started with my obsession of lighting a candle after a long day of nursing school at PVAMU; trying to wind down and study for the next day. So fast forward to January 2020 I decided to share my passion with a few friends and family members and the feedback was unimaginable. Honestly I was nervous to launch my business during a pandemic, but I knew taking a risk is a necessary step for success, you will either win or lose but will definitely learn from every experience encountered. Read more>>