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.

Lisha Lupher | Owner of Sign Chick Yard Sign Rentals

Six years ago, I was “gifted” a stork when we welcomed our third baby. It was such a special surprise to drive home from the hospital and see the stork and sibling stars in our yard. Less than two years later, I received a phone call that the Cypress area was going to be opening up for storks because the original owner of Sign Chick was ready to sell her company. Our storks are trademarked and the owner of the trademark won’t sell her products to anyone within 21 miles of an existing partner. Since Cypress already had a stork partner, the only way I could become a partner was by buying an existing company. I jumped at the opportunity to buy Sign Chick from it’s original owner and on August 3, 2016 – I officially became a small business owner. I knew there was so much value in having a unique product. With the benefit of the trademark, I am the only stork partner in the Cypress/Tomball area. Read more>>

Celia Reyes Morales | Raíces De Colores, Owner

Ive always loved artisan work & every chance I had to visit Mexico I always found myself bringing unique items back home & styling each piece with my daily wardrobe. I wasn’t waiting for cinco de Mayo or a fiesta party to wear these beautiful pieces. I’d get many compliments from family & friends about the items It only made sense to find a way to bring leather huaraches, clothing and handbags for everyone. After meeting several vendors & getting to know more about their work I realized this was a great opportunity for them too. And that is how Raíces de Colores or roots of color was born. It’s mission is to show how traditional pieces can be worn with our daily wardrobe. Read more>>

Souki Fournier | Content Marketing Strategist

I wanted to create a marketing agency that specializes in content marketing. The concept of my business combines my Masters in marketing and my passion for writing and storytelling. Many companies hire marketing agencies to build their brand and extend their reach, but one thing that sometimes is missing in their strategy is the storytelling aspect of it. People are looking for brands they connect with and share the same values. My goals is to help businesses tell their story in a way their audience will engage with. Read more>>

Lindsey M. Jones | Founder of Love by Lindsey Michelle and Co-Owner of NIMERI Foundations, NIMERI Transports, and NIMERI Logistics

I’m a believer of hard work, and for most of my life I worked in corporate America, which required a lot of dedication, endless hours and feeling like I wasn’t receiving what I was putting in. Waking up early, getting home late, working weekends, unable to travel, missing family gatherings and missing church because Sunday was my only day off. Those were my realities. I was working paycheck to paycheck and nothing to show for it. I didn’t have any freedom or stability. What if the company went out of business? What if I get laid off? Why should my career be at the mercy of someone else? I had a lot of sleepless nights wondering how I could start a family with the schedule I had, let alone be there for my family. What would my legacy be? How will my actions and choices affect my children’s children? When God brings a man and a woman together for marriage, it’s not just to get married and start a family, and go on through life. Read more>>

Tia Robinson | Chef & Molecular Biologist

I started my own business based on a personal experience. My father passed in 2016 and he had many health complications. His food intake wasn’t the best and it made me wonder had he shifted his eating would it have made a difference? In most homes food and fellowship (i.e Weekly Sunday Dinners, Holiday’s) is a welcomed norm. In my home growing up, cooking was a gift of love…but food doesn’t always love us back. I’ve always loved to cook so I starting trying to replace carb loaded or unhealthy ingredients with more healthy & fresh ingredients. Many people suffer from food related ailments and I wanted a way to allow people to still enjoy their favorites with a healthier twist. It’s not a diet but a lifestyle change!. Read more>>

J. Dwayne Garnett | Personal Development and Community Enrichment

Simply, put unity. We recognize that there is a need to bring people together. The end goal is to help individuals obtain personal fulfillment and establish meaningful interconnections (relationships). We understand the value of relationships, relationship with self, and others. We have uncovered an approach and technique where everyone brings something to the table and focusing on the things that connect us. Read more>>

Shelbilyn Bibby | Stylist & Color Specialist

I have always gone at things full force. 100% commitment or nothing at all. So even at a young age, I reached for the stars. When I decided to pursue cosmetology rather than the marketing route- I told myself 3 things. 1. I wanted to be a blonding specialist. 2. I wanted to work in the Greater Houston Area. 3. I wanted to open my own salon. After just 3 short years , I accomplished 2 of the 3 goals I set for myself from the get go. The final goal to crush would be opening my own business. The thought of running my own business was scary but in a good way. I could fine tune every single detail and really make it my own by putting in the hard work and dedication. Riding out the good and the bad waves. So now that I have accomplished that last goal, I am working towards a new set of goals as a business owner to look back on and say “I DID THAT! I persevered when I thought it wasn’t possible.” Read more>>

Pierre Gibbs | Balloon Guru and Event Planner

The thought process of starting my own business really had and scary for me, to start my own business. Because there was so many people in the same industry, but I told myself I can’t be scared and trust God ,the process, of starting my own business. Read more>>

Karla Richardson HR Equity Partner | Employee HR Consultant

In the HR Consulting professional service space, consultation services are most often oriented toward business owners, managing leaders and peer HR professionals. I launched HR Uncovered For You to provide a service that offers HR/Employment Law consultation to Employees – everyday working people – who are generally, uninformed about the ways in which HR compliance requirements in the workplace and U.S. employment law intersect to ensure and protect their employee rights. Read more>>

Michelle Corder | Sound Healing Therapist

I wanted to share with other mothers and women what has helped me to find more joy and peace in my daily life. Years ago I found myself as a single parent with a toddler. While working full-time, dealing with the stressors of daily life and trying to be the calm, present mother I had dreamed of being, I found myself frustrated and exhausted. I needed to make a change, but I wasn’t sure exactly what that change was. I stumbled upon a Crystal Singing Bowl class and realized how different I felt after the class. I was peaceful and calm instead of exhausted and overwhelmed. I bought 3 Crystal Singing Bowls and started researching and learning as much as I could about the healing impacts of Sound. Playing the Crystal Singing Bowls on a daily basis allowed me to reconnect to an inner stillness. I was able to be not only be the patient, caring mother I had envisioned, but I also found a new energy and excitement about life. Read more>>

Zankeethia Mitchell | Caterer/Personal Chef

My thought process behind starting my business was puttting my passion into play. Though I make money from my business my clients orders are always gonne be full of love, passion, and soul because these are the things I put into my cooking. Read more>>

Shereka Jackson Better Known as PoetryLived | Poet and Founder of Breathe Poetry

Honestly to create a space for both aspiring and established poets to catch their breath. Poetry has become pretty political these days. Only allowing those with a following or those that are considered to be great at this thing a chance to feel the stage. Forgetting the true therapy behind the release. I want to grant all poets this opportunity in hopes to cultivate a community where we can freely create and be. Period. Without bias and built on the foundation of love and acceptance. Breathe Poetry Welcomes all of you. Whether you are reading off of your phone your paper or even if you have a cheat sheet written in your hand. We also pride ourselves in providing the poets with the knowledge they need to turn their passion into pay. Reiterating the importance of the fact that this does not just have to be a hobby but a lifestyle providing you with the means to survive. You can do what you love for a living. We believe in you. Read more>>

Leavery Davidson | Dr. Leavery Davidson, Owner, Instructor

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to own a business. The opportunity came in the Hemp/Cannabis industry due to my own personal chronic pain from sciatica. After trying CBD and realizing how well it worked for me, I thought about other people who might have similar issues. As an educator in the public school system, I naturally considered the educational approach to this amazing industry. Educational training sessions, workshops, hands-on projects and other opportunities be available, no matter which industry. So, we started the Houston*Sugarland Academy of Cannabis Science. Classes are online due to the pandemic, but still available. In fact, our next course begins March 27, 2021. Read more>>

Heather Coman | President and Artist Two Little Byrds

I grew up with an engineer father and an artist mother. I am a degreed engineer and I had spent over twenty years in the Oil & Gas industry. I am also a 21 year breast cancer survivor and my best friend had been diagnosed with late stage colon cancer. It reaffirmed my belief that life is not a dress rehearsal. I decided to retire from my career but knew there was something else for me to do. With the help and unerring support of my friend, I registered my company and got to work. Jewelry has always been a passion for me. Like canvas is to painters, precious metals are my palette. Two Little Byrds was born out of this idea in April 2017. Read more>>

Ellen Gugenberger | President, NOMAD Food Truck App

We created NOMAD Food Truck App because we wanted to bring convenience to ordering from our favorite food trucks. Houston has thousands of delicious food trucks, but long lines (and unpredictable weather!) make ordering from them challenging. Plus, we never know where our favorite food trucks are. My husband, Walter, is a software developer, and we decided to create a mobile app that allows customers to find their favorite food trucks and order from them right from their phones. You receive a notification when your order is ready, and you can even leave a tip that goes directly to the truck. With the pandemic, contactless ordering and social distancing became extremely important. So, not only does our app provide a more convenient experience, it provides food trucks with an important tool to safely serve their customers. Read more>>

Michesha Kelly | Owner of Topp Line Kids

Our brand exudes style, swag and comfort. I’m also a college professor, mentor, and mother. Topp Line Kids was inspired by my journey through motherhood, more specifically, my rambunctious toddler, Apollo. Becoming a first-time mother at 30 would seem ideal to some but as a newlywed and full-time college professor, I ended up sacrificing much more than I could’ve imagined. Post-partum set in quickly and as a then stay-at-home mom, I was very unsure of myself and how I could be truly happy in this situation. My beautiful and forever smiling baby pulled me out of my slump day by day. Seeing this helpless but optimistic and creative soul gave me something to look forward to everyday. I knew then, when he was 11 months, that I needed to find my passion and create something to pass on to him in my own right. On a personal note, I’m not the average height woman. I’m 6’2 and finding fashionable and affordable clothing for myself was very difficult and I quickly found the same issue for my sprouting toddler. Read more>>

Anesha Taylor | Cake Designer & Owner of Cake In Your Face!

My thought process behind starting my own business was a combination of wanting to live my dream, following in my parents footsteps and what I felt like my time in the Military showed me I could be. Watching my Mom own and run several businesses at a young age really put “being my own boss” within reach for me. She was always finding a way to acquire multiple streams of income and helped mold me into the type of business owner I am today. My father also contributed a great deal to my Hustle Spirit. He started out as a trash man and moved to the Post Office. While working these jobs he got his CDL and began a career in Class A Truck Driver. He worked with a few companies until he was able to invest in his own truck and eventually started his own trucking company. The almost 10 years in the U.S. Navy contributed to my strength and the power to keep pushing forward. It taught me that the word “no” doesn’t always mean “no”. It means think harder and try again! I feel like this was always what I was supposed to do. Read more>>

Dr. Rohan Patankar | Physician

I wanted to give health care business decision capacity back to the Doctors. In the current environment the endless drive of greedy and businessmen alone tends to run the medical industry. I wanted to let the Doctors make the decisions on behalf of their patients without worry of what the corporate medical world would think. Our group is purely owned by physicians and does not have anyone who is interested in profits only. I wanted Doctors to run the medical business not the medical business run the Doctors, which is the case now. Read more>>

Raphael Anderson | Photographer

With being a lover of visual arts, I thought it would be fitting to purchase a camera instead of using my phone to take pictures. I wanted to enhance my photo taking abilities and transform them into pieces that I can be proud of, while also making money. Read more>>

Austin Potts | Compostable Waste Collector – Health Coach

My composting business came into existence as a result of my love for nature and learning about natural processes. I began gardening and keeping plants, and learning about soil and the ecosystems that we live and thrive in. After a few years of gardening in the same spot, the soil there became barren, dry dirt devoid of much life, and the crops of that year showed it! They were smaller, grew slower, and didn’t produce as much. They also looked a bit more droopy than usual. Through experiencing this process first hand, I was able to witness how important compost is. Compost is organic matter that has broken down fully and is ready to be reused by other plants and insects. I learned not only of the importance of returning organic matter to our soils, but how our current system – all organic waste sent to landfills – is actually harming our atmosphere by producing 15% of methane across the globe, and preventing the food scraps from breaking down properly. Read more>>

Brenda Rivera | Co-Founder, Val & Tina Siabella

Our story, like many entrepreneurial ones, began when both unexpectedly found ourselves unemployed a few years ago. Holding on to our faith, we decided to embrace our situation as an opportunity for a new beginning. We discussed the things we were passionate about and discovered that we both have a lot in common. We both have been married for more than 20 years. We both have two kids, a boy and a girl, and in that order. And as fate would have it, it turns out that about a decade prior, we both had pursued jewelry design in our own ways. While I had bought books and sketched various designs, Iliana had completed jewelry design studies in New York. There is a common thread in the things we like. We are inspired by all things lovely: faith, family, friends, and fashion. We call our brand Val & Tina Siabella® because at the top of our inspiring list of lovelies are our daughters Valeria “Val” and Cristina “Tina”. Read more>>

Linzi Wright | CEO of Haute Haus

My thought process behind starting my business was basically a set up for my future. Growing up I never had the aspirations of wanting to be a doctor or an engineer like most, I just always knew that I wanted to be in an industry that revolves around fashion. When I was younger my parents always bought me fashion design books where I could draw my own designs out and that fascinated me. At the age of 15, watching youtube I started discovering boutiques and business owners switching over to E- commerce shops. I started planning out how I wanted to be a boutique owner when I got older. When I went off to college, I took all my past thoughts and finally put them into place and started my own online boutique, out of my dorm at Sam Houston. Read more>>

Jennifer Harrup | Interior Design Influencer & Content Creator

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I remember in 7th grade when my computer lab teacher taught us what the word “entrepreneur” meant and I thought to myself… oh that’s what I want to do! One of my favorite projects in elementary school was even coming up with a business idea and creating a project around it. I designed a school store concept that would be built into an old school bus- of course decorating the old school bus was the part that excited me most. I planned to gut the entire thing and design it to be a cool hang-out. This was the 90’s so of course blow-up furniture would have been involved. It was just a concept project, but I remember asking my parents if there was an old school bus we could get our hands on to convert… I desperately wanted to actually execute my idea. Fast forward 15 years and getting a job felt like the logical step after getting my interior design degree in college, but getting pregnant at 25 was the best blessing. Read more>>

Dai Smith | Professional Organizing Consultant

I have had a great corporate career but I always felt limited in my potential and my desires to work with people. I wanted to build something greater that I can have full creative control over. I love organizing and finding solutions for others and with my own business, I’m able to do that. I come from a family of entrepreneurs so I know what it takes to start and grow a small business. I also have experience that I bring from my corporate job into my business that has served it well. Read more>>

Teresa and Ami Agapiou-Young and Rodriguez | Educational Consultants/Curriculum & Instruction Specialists

We both were born to teach; but, we both had a huge desire and love for learning! This enthusiasm needed to be spread! We wanted to be able to make learning fun for all learners, both young students, and adult students, so we collaborated together to research up-to-date pedagogy to develop a curriculum that is engaging, enriching, and rigorous all at once. We notice and recognize that Teachers always go the extra mile and want the very best for their students, and we are here to support them as servant leaders. There are only 24 hours in a day, and Teachers are swamped with work which can take a toll on their mental health. So ultimately, our thought process behind starting our business was to be able to help our educators because their role is foundational in our learners. We are here for them by providing purposeful professional development to our teachers to help them with planning lessons, differentiating their instruction, classroom management, instructional technology, supporting and understanding mental health, data analysis, student interventions, student test-preps, and more!!!! Read more>>

Sonia Ali | Chic Lé Boutique Owner and Lawyer

Starting my own business was always something I knew I would do a some point of my life. I have always had a strong entrepreneurial mindset. So for me once I knew I was at a point with my legal career that I could also handle a small business I decided to finally open up my online clothing boutique. My thought process behind my e-commerce boutique was making women feel sexy and confident with what they wear. I’m a huge advocate of women supporting other women so a lot of what I carry on my site is made for that boss lady who can wear the dress to work, on the way to close a deal, and to a date night. Read more>>

Benjamin Smith | LMT, CPT, CKTP

I had always wanted my own business, I followed the usual course for education receiving my bachelor’s in business. Then things changed, I was never a fan of the corporate setting, and the lifestyle of trying to make it while living in California at the time was incredibly stressful. I decided to move back home with my father in Alaska, the winter of 2013. I did some soul searching that summer and explored the outdoors and mountains while deciding to pursue what I would come to find be my passion, helping people stay out of pain. I started studying massage and manual therapy to combine passions of traveling, bodywork, teaching, and went for it. I wanted to be able to help anyone anywhere in the world and used this career as a way to travel and help people. It has led me to work in multiple states and countries, working with Professional and Olympic athletes and coaches, and with people from over 30 countries, some of whom didn’t speak any English. Read more>>

Michael Ford | Owner of Liquid on Wheels

I have always been a person who loved to interact with others. I would consider myself to be a nurturing person and I believe customer service and positive customer interactions are very important. My previous occupation was in the medical field. I originally started bartending to save money to move to Houston, but instantly fell in love with it. It was then I realized that I knew I wanted to bartend and own my own company, but I wasn’t sure how that would look. So once I moved to Houston, I bartended in bars and for private companies. I loved working with private companies the most. Although I loved bartending, I felt that the service and the drinks that these companies were providing were subpar; there was nothing special about the experience. I knew what was missing: craft cocktails. So I set out to give people something different and new with Liquid on Wheels. I believe that mixology is a show and it is a way for you to engage with your customers. I want expose our customers to something new and make the drinks to feel personalized. Read more>>

Kirisa Mahon | Founder of Yummy Secrets Skin LLC

I believe there’s a lot of unexpected anxiety that comes along with starting a business. When I first started my business, It took me a long time to start because I allowed fear to take over me which delayed the processed for almost 6 months. Your mind will run wild with the free access you have to social media or the internet to soak up so much information. It can be overwhelming at times because you have so many people telling you the “right path” to be successful in the field you’re interested in. I started to enjoy the process more when I started incorporating more of my personality in my brand and added a sprinkle of other people guidance. I would recommend people to not get so consumed by the glitz and glamour on social media to keep up with the business race to success. I come to realize that you have to trust the process and know that every effort you put into your business is trial and error. Read more>>

Michele Hamilton | Mixologist

Black people are so under represented in hospitality, Black women especially. I wanna highlight how essential we’ve always been in this industry. Our unique palate, skills, & style of service creates such diversity. The thought was; an amazing story is great, to walk the walk though is not only inspiring, but impressive. Read more>>