What’s Your Story? Walking Down Memory Lane

How did you get to this very moment in your life?

What specific events happened that changed your direction?

As an entrepreneur, our business reflects our personal story.

When I talk to other entrepreneurs the reason they usually come up with the idea is because something happened in their personal life and needed a particular product or service. Or they wanted to create a movement and change the way people thought about certain things.

As a person that has built many brands I see an evident trend. The most successful brands are the ones that people can relate to, connect with, and have a clear story/mission. As a business owner I used to hide behind the logos of my business. I didn’t want to embrace the idea of sharing my personal story. But as my businesses grew I realized the reason was because I became more and more open to sharing my journey as the person behind the business. More importantly, I realized that my story mattered.

When I look back on my journey now I still can’t believe how things played out just at the right time. A lot of different things could have transpired, but I believe that God had a hand in my path to where I am today. Along the road to full time entrepreneurship I had many choices and opportunities. I had the free will to choose where I wanted to work, what I wanted to do. With a lot of prayer and tough decision making, my choices brought me here to the present day.

*cue time travel sound effects*

During the end of my final quarter at FIDM I decided I wanted to start my own business. I was drowning in an ocean of final projects, tests, graduation, working at a bridal shop 35 hours a week, and dancing in my free time. I have no idea how I pulled it off, but I did. Having all those things on my plate showed me how to multitask and handle multiple projects at once. At the same time I started my first business, Daydreamer Events, a wedding and event planning company. The wedding industry showed me how to be a people person, how to be more outgoing, and was my first taste in customer service.

Daydreamer Event Planning
Daydreamer Event Planning by Carissa Solomon 2004-2011

Post-graduation I was running my wedding planning business and was working full time for a print company. Charlie’s experience and my experience in the print industry inspired us to start our first business together, Inked Print and Graphics which later turned into CO Creative Cartel after we got married. The print industry showed me how important it is to have strong business to business relationships. 

Inked Print and Graphics, 2006-2011
Inked Print and Graphics turned into CO Creative Cartel, 2006-2011


CO Creative Cartel, 2011-present
CO Creative Cartel, 2011-present

2007 was the start of the great recession and that was the start of a lot of ups and downs for my family. I was very lost during this time. Everything I had known started to turn upside down. I had different jobs on and off during the next few years to help supplement income, when my mom convinced me to get my real estate license. I was still running both my wedding planning and print businesses, but things were slowing down. This time in my life taught me about perseverance and how necessary it is to adapt to change.

Original Ninong's Logo, 2008-2013
Original Ninong’s Logo, 2008-2013

In 2008, my family opened Ninong’s. Oh boy, if you knew the story of what happened before we opened in Granada Hills. It was really really hard for us, let’s just say that. It was new, it was exciting, but it also took a toll on all of us physically, mentally, and financially. We are finally starting to see the fruits of our labor and are extremely grateful that we didn’t give up. Charlie and I got engaged shortly after and 2 years later got married. Those years were an extreme transition time for us. We had so much to look forward too but there was an immense weight on our shoulders. After our wedding I worked a few contract jobs and found myself as a manager at a stationery company before I went to work at Ninong’s full time. Working as a manager showed me how to lead a team of people and set milestone goals which was extremely useful when I transitioned to Ninong’s.

New Ninong's Logo, 2013-present
New Ninong’s Logo, 2013-present

2013 was when I really went full time into entrepreneurship and it was the scariest time of my life, both professionally and personally. When I first started I was the first one at work and the last one to leave. I would work 14+ hour days and come in on my 1 day off a week. Guys, I think I cried every day for almost a year. I realized as an entrepreneur you just have to do what you have to do to stay afloat. You do it because you love it and believe in it that much.

A month after I started my mom found out that she had cancer. That moment was the turning point for me and my life completely changed. Things became clearer, more real, more complicated, but also more meaningful. I knew that this was going to change ever aspect of my life and my outlook. During that time I realized that all the odd jobs that I worked helped give me the experience I needed to run my businesses successfully. I stopped crying ever day lol! I became stronger and more in tune with myself as an entrepreneur. I realized I had all the tools I needed because of my journey. My long and winding journey shaped me to the person I am today.

Today I run our cafe Ninong’s, a stationery company CO Creative Cartel, a Real Estate business, and a Youtube Channel The Good the Bad the Foodie. This is me, this is my life, and this is who I am – an entrepreneur passionate about business in every way, shape, and form.

If you’re out there this is my message for you. You are going to experience a lot of ups and downs during your time, but it’s all about how you persevere through the tough times and the grace you show during the good times. Trust me, it’s always worth it in the end.

I believe we all have a choice which path we want to take it life, I truly believe there is always a choice. It may not always be easy, everyone has something that holds them back or they struggle with. But take it from me, the journey is the most important part. Cherish the journey, learn from it. Embrace it and be proud of your story.



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