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.

Dr. Ashley Elliott | Therapist, Mental Health Consultant & Motivational Speaker

I started my consulting business in September 2014. It was purely the result of hurt and rage. I was finishing my doctoral program and one of my advisors told me that I had to choose between “being a good mother or being a good psychologist”. I never forgot that. That conversation replayed in my head from the time it hit my pregnant ears and continued playing as I took care of my then newborn daughter. I’ve wanted to be a psychologist since I was 7 years-old as a result of my own trauma and experiences. Hearing someone tell me I couldn’t because I was a mother started a fire in my soul. One night I decided I was not only going to be a psychologist, but a consultant and advocate to meet the needs of my community. With no money (grad school keeps you broke) after a talk with God, I got online and started to create an LLC. I remember grabbing my credit card to pay and being met with a message that I needed to call the credit card company. Read more>>

Yurz Truly | Poet, Spoken Word Artist Actor, Mentor, Father

Honestly, I never thought of myself as a business owner. Growing up, especially in my community, you’re not taught entrepreneurship nearly as much as working for someone else. When the possibility of me being my own brand and starting my own company came up, I was extremely skeptical on my ability to do so. My manager, Karissa – author of The Popular Girl, definitely pushed the encouragement button on me though. She set up my email, social media, shows, and interviews thus giving me zero excuses left on telling myself that I “can’t” do it. It was just believing in myself enough to get it done and having the right people around me willing to help me succeed. I feel that’s what I have now. Read more>>

Germyah Heart | Doctor of Medicine Candidate and Entrepreneur

When creating WetSwim, I wanted something different. I feel like a lot of major companies do not have swim suits that fit my style, let alone my shape. I am a thicker girl, I do not want a swim suit super tight. In addition, the swim suits I used to see were too basic and boring. I am into bright colors, patterns and cuts. With that in mind, I decided I wanted to create my own swim suit collection. A company that serves all genders, shapes, and sizes. I sat down in my cousin Zitoria’s kitchen around May 2020 and told her I was going to start a swim suit collection. She was so supportive and told me to go for it! I sat down, created a business plan and got busy. I purchased my domain and began working on my website day by day. I was extremely excited to get started. I have a journal filled with ideas and designs that I wanted for my brand. Once I came up with everything, I set the launch date for August 2020. Read more>>

Sanjay Rana | Entrepreneur/Restaurateur

I believe this may be true of many entrepreneurs, but the driving force behind starting my own business was trying to gain a little more control over my destiny. This is definitely possible in a corporate environment with the pursuit of a career, but in my case entrepreneurship was a way to fully stretch my wings and and experiment with ideas at their fullest potential. There is a high level of risk involved, but also the freedom to try it all and learn at an unfettered pace. Read more>>

Cassidy Doucette | Esthetician & Candle Maker

In all honesty, I never planned on this becoming a business. I started this as a hobby. I have the type of personality that obsessed over one specific aspect of something in my life. When I was engaged, it was planning my wedding. (Spoiler alert, I didn’t get married.) When I was pregnant, I was obsessed with the future. With names, with cribs and clothes and even looking into pre k schools. I was still in the first trimester when I miscarried. After my miscarriage I took up candle making as an outlet to help me cope. I started posting my candles on my socials and people wanted to buy them. It took off from there and now I find it hard to keep my best sellers on hand. Read more>>

Kayla Nicole | Public Relations | Project Manager | Event Coordinator

My idea to pursue my own business came from working in a male-dominated industry all throughout college. Feeling overworked and underpaid, I started to pay close attention to what went into the entertainment and event industry. I soaked up everything I could in three and a half years. I often felt overlooked and too aggressive as the only female, but I always knew that I was more than capable of pulling off the same events-and bigger ones! While I’m grateful for the males who introduced me to a lifelong passion, I knew a lot time ago that I wanted to call the shots. I got tired of being told to dim my light for others in the room. I wanted to own the room, I wanted my own platform to serve different communities on! Thus, I branched off and started kNicole PR|kNicole The Brand. Read more>>

Millicent Butcher | Wedding Coordinator & Boss Lady

Being in the wedding industry was always my goal. I started out with an internship assisting events in college and knew I had to pursue this. After working for multiple venues over a few years, I knew I wanted to work for myself and be more on the event production side than the venue sales. Read more>>

Briana Banks | Boutique Owner

My thought process behind starting my own business was that I no longer wanted to punch a clock, nor work hard to make someone else’s dream come true when I could do it for myself. Don’t get me wrong. I believe that if you help someone achieve their dream, then God would surely do the same for you. It’s just that God has blessed with with many gifts and talents including creativity. I thought to myself, my season had come to an end for working for others. It was time that I branch out, take risk and do my own thing. I understand that becoming an entrepreneur is not for everyone. But I enjoy stepping out on faith and looking to see just what God will make of it. The first business that I started was Khain of Talents. This second business is Kloset of Tingz. Read more>>

Ebony Dycus | Licensed Massage Therapist

Every week my grandparents host a family lunch and gives everyone adjustments because he’s a retired chiropractor. Then my family would go to a franchise massage place. They all had different complaints about the massage places so I wanted to create a place for them to go to! I wanted to help my family members get massages at a reasonable price and in a nice and clean environment. Read more>>

Zulekha Addison-Kole | Visual Artist, Movement Coach & Entrepreneur

Addison Kole was a name created in 2015, it all started with a desire to first create a new alias that was associated with my many talents and skills. I wanted to finally start to step out and channel other sides of me, and that all started with the perfect name. Before I knew it, Addison Kole became a movement, professional dancer , dance class , creative director, legal assistant for entertainers like myself and today now today it serves as a an umbrella to my many businesses and creative efforts of Zulekha “Addison – Kole”. Now Addison Kole is more than just an alias for me, it’s a brand that showcases the many skills and business concepts created through myself. Through dance being the vessel that brought all my creative talents to surface, I was able to meet and build relationships with like-minded individuals, and explore my talents first hand,; rather that was on a stage, in a dance room, providing opportunities for creatives or just being a voice for creatives like myself…. Simply choosing to explore my arts provided me with so more clarity and insight to the many things I am capable of. Read more>>

Andrew Williams | Owner & Managing Director

After working in the travel industry for 13 years and getting the opportunity to see first hand how travel can change people’s lives, I knew that travel design was what I wanted to do. I was working for a good company but not all of our management team shared my vision. I felt that we could dig deeper and deliver more rewarding experiences to our travelers. I’ve always been of the mind that customer satisfaction is the key to long-term success, while they were more concerned with maximizing profits. I made the decision that the best way for me to serve my travelers and deliver the experiences I wanted, was to go into business for myself. Read more>>

Jereme Brown | Graphic Designer/ Illustrator

I wanted to start my own business. Originally wanted create my own entertainment access for artist and musicians but over the years my ideas change to where I wanted my own Design Team and firm. I’ve stuck with that since 2013 rebranding. Series Blu which is the company name originally started in 2011. The idea and name just came to me in a dream and I like how the name looked on paper. I want to be able to give artist creative freedom to express themselves and not work under the restrictions of the corporate world. It’s so many artist out there that is being limited. My ultimate goal for this is to give them quality clients and quality work that allow them to be who they are. Read more>>

D’Andre Good | Founder and CEO of Urban Eatz Delivery

My thought process started in 2018 when I noticed that there was a lack of minority owned businesses or smaller mom and pop places and their presence on the major delivery platforms that already existed and in every city that I have visited the best food comes from those places. Places that have rich history in their communities and I wanted to help draw attention to them and help them reach audiences outside of the confines of their specific communities. Read more>>

Klare Perez | Portrait and Fashion Photographer

I had always wanted to pursue photography full-time but the timing was never quite right. I always thought to myself, “It’s going to be financially difficult.”, “I’m not ready”, “I still have to do A,B, & C, before I can start.” or, “What if I can’t do it?”. So many doubts constantly crossed my mind. Towards the end of 2019 I was able to get a studio space and it got people really excited to hire me. Work was consistent and I finally felt like a “professional”. Closer to the holidays I had decided that maybe having a successful turnout with the studio space was a sign that I was ready and if I put more time into my work it could really go somewhere and I could do this for a living. I knew that if I didn’t start now, then when? That year in December I put in my 2 weeks at my job of 5 years and pursued photography. It’s been almost a year and half later and I haven’t looked back. I really believe that if you want something bad enough, everything will work out for you. Read more>>

Jeffrey Reich-Hale | Entrepreneur

I always wanted my own retail business and had several ideas and this was one of them. This was my passion project where I wanted to show people that you can practice conscious capitalism. I have volunteered for different charities since I was a teenager and have always given back to my community and those in need and I worked in a candy store when I was in high school and always wanted my own candy store. So I took my desire to have my own charity and desire to have my own candy store and combined them into one business. Our business model is to take 60% of our profits and donate it to our two main charity partners, the AIDS Foundation of Houston and Barrio Dogs. We do plan on working with other charities by selling at their fundraising events and takes a % of the sales from those specific events and donating them to that charity. Read more>>

Dazja Upton | Hair Exensions

My thought process on starting Golden D Hairline was me tired of buying bad hair extensions. Before starting Golden D Hairline I was buying hair extensions every couple months, the hair I was buying was not good quality and was not lasting worth the money. I decided I wanted to be the change and start a Hairline. I wanted to offer quality hair extensions that will last my customers. I searched and tested many different vendors before I found exactly what I was looking for. Here at Golden D Hairline we offer 100% human hair, hair that can be straighten, curled and also dyed/bleached. Our hair here at Golden D Hairline can last up to 2-3 years with proper care, so YES ladies you can re use hair. Read more>>

Ciara Shay | Owner of Ciara Designs

During the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic, I (like many brides) experienced a few hiccups with my own wedding plans… In the midst of the world’s undesirable predicament, I found solace by creating my own wedding invitations and signage. By keeping the creativity flowing, I was able to de-stress and discover peace of mind. Designing unique items to help personalize my wedding brought back the joy of wedding planning and restored what I thought I had lost. After designing several custom goods for my own wedding, I wanted to help other brides (and grooms) do the same! Consequently in April 2020, Ciara Designs was born. With the help of a few good friends, I took on a number of design jobs in the Manvel/Pearland area and spent all of my time promoting Ciara Designs on social media (Follow us @_ciara_designs_). Our mission at Ciara Designs is to make brides, grooms and their families happy through creativity and customization. Read more>>

Keisha White | Houston Boutique Owner

I knew that working a 9-5 fulfilling someone else’s dream wasn’t for me. I always felt like I was a better leader and team player than most of my managers, no matter the job. Once I had my daughter in December of 2016, I went on a 3 month maternity leave. That got me to thinking about what life would be like if I owned my own business. I thought about how much more time I’d be able to spend with my little one, without being on someone else’s schedule. Fast forward to July of 2017, I quit my job working for a Nissan Dealership in Houston, Tx. I not only went back to school, but I also started a small business. Seeing the amount of love and support that I’ve gotten over the years is what pushed me to continue to grow my business and customer base. All I ever wanted was to be financially free, and provide any and everything for my daughter and I. Growing up, my mom always worked two jobs in order to take care of me and my three siblings. Read more>>

Tamara/Tiara Castille | Tamara- Millionaire Mother in The Making/ Lover of all Things hHair. Tiara- Self Motivated, Girl BAWSE, EntreprenuHER

Our thought process was to combine our love for the beauty industry, enhancing women’s beauty, empowering self esteem, and our tenacious willpower to create generational wealth for our children and those to come. Read more>>

Savannah Vanity | Licensed Stylist & Boutique Owner

I had recently moved to Houston just married, 4 children no friends & broke. I’ve always had a passion for hair and fashion but after having children I kind of loss my love for those things being a mom. I was 3 years in & I was over working myself just tired, frustrated but knew I wanted more for myself & for my family. So I set on this journey of self awakening and began revisiting my talents, hobbies & passions. Read more>>

Mikki Loud | Eclectic Artist

In the beginning, my thoughts behind starting a business were to prove a point. I wanted to show people how much I am capable of despite the lack of support and acknowledgment of my talents. As I matured, that purpose became more evolved. I didn’t want to show what I am capable of in a demeaning way, I want to show people what they are capable of…live by example. I am creating a space where potential and passion cultivate success. I didn’t have start up funds, I had supplies from art stores and time to create. I spent more money than I made for years. I surrounded myself with other business owners and creatives. This afforded me a library of knowledge and meaningful connections. That library afforded me a better opportunity to grow my business and also be an influence to others who may be watching my progress. I can now say I’m in the business of using my gifts to touch people. Eventually this led to more earning opportunities and even more connections in the art and digital communication world. That was just the spark I needed to keep pushing, keep connecting, and stay LOUD. Read more>>

Jhanielle Brown | Creative Founder & Engineer

The thought process behind starting Pickney Pocket was simple. I wanted to allow individuals to be able to express who they are and what they cared about in an innovated & eye catching way. The idea of sharing what we cared about next to our heart was perfect. Read more>>

Veronika Latawiec

I had always been an artistic person, but I was usually pretty shy about it. I was definitely the kind of kid who was doodling instead of paying attention in class, but I never actually had any artistic training. Although I loved design and all things creative, I never really thought that it was a viable career option. So back in September, I was in a pretty rough place in my life. I was not enjoying what I was doing, and I needed something to help express my creativity, and share it with others. I was seeing a ton of people starting “hobbies” during the Pandemic, so I decided to give it a go as well. That’s when I decided to start my social media: Ronns Art. It was always about spreading positivity and joy through my work, I just wanted to help make people a little happier. I think that was especially relevant during the current global situation, and so a lot of people really resonated with what I was trying to say. Read more>>

Kathy Juarez | Event Decorator & Portrait Photographer

In light of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I found myself furloughed from my current job. I was concerned with being permanently laid off, so I decided to continue pursuing with my photography. I continued having second thoughts and doubts on beginning this journey. My thought process was always, “everyone is already doing it, why should I bother?” I found this was a very negative thought, and when I seeked the advise of my family and friends, I was convinced to start. Along with photography, I decided I wanted to venture out and try something new. I came across a couple videos on YouTube involving event planning. I was intrigued with balloon arches and garlands, and since I had a couple celebrations coming up, I made the decision to try it and do it myself. I am approaching my 1-year anniversary, and with the support and love I have received, I can say I made a great decision in venturing out and embarking in a new journey!. Read more>>

Reece Speight | Cannabis Advocate and Entrepreneur

The thought process behind building my business was to create a cool and innovative cannabis brand where consuming wasn’t about being a “stoner” but being an overall connoisseur. I also wanted a company that stood to fight social stigmas in a unique and new age way, one that people of all ages could enjoy and connect to. Read more>>

Shekia Murray | Entrepreneur & Model

One day I sat down and asked myself two questions. One “What do you have in place to keep you going if your main source of income were to come crumbling down right now?” & Two “Are you truly happy with clocking into someone else’s building producing for their future and not your own?” The answer to question one was “Nothing” & for question two “No.” I began to imagine the life I wanted to live. As I created this lifestyle mentally I then began to evaluate myself checking if who I was then a-line with whom I wanted to become. After fully accepting my flaws I was able to begin working on myself and correct the things within me that didn’t a-line with whom I wanted to become and where I wanted to go. I stand here today testifying that investing into yourself pays off in the end. Read more>>

Carolyn Parker | Birth Doula & Healthcare Professional

My thought process behind starting Your Doula Experience began with one question. “What can I give to the world that will leave a meaningful impact?” Working in healthcare for the past 15 years has allowed me to see many different aspects of patients, families, students, and other healthcare professionals. Providing support, sharing evidence based knowledge, and creating a safe space for everyone is a vow I practice everyday. My interest in Birth work started at a very young age. Becoming a Birth Doula has allowed me to connect with so many mothers, fathers, aspiring parents, other birth workers, and people who are interested about birth. I am happy to hold space for Moms. Their strength is so empowering! When I attended my first birth, I knew that becoming a Birth Doula would allow me to help many families have a positive birth experience. Read more>>

Jamar Latin | Fashion House

My thought process behind starting my own business was to leave the distracted masses and join the focus few. Read more>>

Disha Vora | Artist

I have been creative during my entire childhood and teen years. However, college and corporate work thereafter kind of put my creativity on a hold. I resumed art when I was caring for my newborn in this new country. In a way, this sabbatical from work was actually a boon for me and helped me rekindle my passion for art. Another added boon was that this allowed me to be with my child during the initial tender years. Read more>>

Korbin Lawson | Founder of The I Can Be Foundation

I started my foundation because I saw the things going on in my community and decided I wanted to be the change and not just another person who talks about it. I wanted to do what ever it took to see the scale tip in the favor of those who were not as fortunate as me to grow up in a 2 parent house hold and not have to worry about where my next meal was going to come from. I didn’t want the youth to turn to gangs and drugs and follow the path that so many have already been down that only leads to a tombstone or the rest of your life locked in a box. Even if it means putting up my own money and taking time out of my day, I’ll do it , because change starts when we put others before ourselves. Read more>>

Alexander FRE$CO | Photographer – Videographer- Music Artist

First thought was, how do I make this work. I weighed all of my options and made a plan for myself. Set achievable goals and fulfill them. I knew I didn’t want to have a “boss” anymore, so I hd to go all in, in order to make it work. And so far so good, we have been booming. Read more>>

Trey Bates | Entrepreneur & Creator

I have always had an immense love for all things geek (anime, gaming, comics, etc.), and always wanted to also have an outlet where I could create and showcase the things I love. The more I read and the more I learned, it made me realize that not only can I create, but I can monetize and create an income stream doing so as well! It’s taken far more years than I thought it would to create a presence like I plan on doing in the future but you also learn that the true joy comes in the process and I am LOVING this journey. Read more>>

Nikki Veal | Phlebotomist/Cheesecake Baker

By way of a Mary Kay business, that I no longer operate, and my love for Cheesecakes, I began to believe in myself. Read more>>

Cosha Joseph | CEO

I was so afraid. The unknown and thinking if I can handle it. It caused me to procrastinate on starting. I realized that I had to take a leap of faith. Read more>>

Fanisia Bundage | Owner, EMUNAH Creative Agency| Digital Marketing Specialist, Graphic and Web Designer

I started EMUNAH (Hebrew for faith) to help jumpstart my career as a communications and creative director. My focus was to provide visual art and strategic communication assistance to ministry-based organizations. Months in I found myself veering away from my concentrations trying to cater to all things communications which became overwhelming. So, I decided to turn my focus solely to digital marketing, graphic and web design. Starting my own creative agency also stemmed from wanting to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with services that they can afford without having to break their pockets but after each project I saw my love for my craft, the ingenuity, being able to discover something new through my imagination. This love wasn’t realized or taken seriously until I actually took the time to see how much effort, being a stickler for making the smallest details stand out, and being able to visualize things before my hands would touch a piece of paper or stroke a key on my laptop. I ultimately realized that I needed to stop short-changing my gifts and put a matching price tag. Read more>>

Joylin James Giles | Hairstylist, Master Wig Artist , & Raw Hair Supplier

I started my business as a hobby but then it became something I loved and an extra income for me to take care of my daughter. My only thought was stay patient, stay consistent, and practice. Read more>>

Charlicia “Lele Baby” Sample | Photographer & Videographer

My thought process behind starting my own business was wild! I just knew I wanted to be the best photographer & videographer ever. Although I wasn’t rich, I knew I needed the best gear & a set of goals. I went out and got what I needed & I never gave up. Read more>>