Interested in starting your own journey in arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Addy Gonzalez, co-founder of 11:11 Projects, located in San Fernando Valley, CA, USA.

What's your organization, and who are your members?

I co-founded a non-profit arts organization called 11:11 Projects. Our mission is to build a network of cultural oases by equipping artists with the tools to create socially-minded, community-uniting public art projects.

Tell us about yourself

What first got me into this business was the desire to change my own community through art and to have viable and accessible cultural spaces in the San Fernando Valley. The arts impacted me profoundly as a young, restless, and inquisitive immigrant young girl. Paintings, photography, music, and literature provided both a safe harbor and a place of exploration.

As a young kid, my mother encouraged me to read and write in Spanish every day after school so I wouldn't forget my native tongue. I begrudgingly complied. But because of this, I was able to enjoy the works of Isabel Allende, Laura Esquivel, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Pablo Neruda. These literary forces of nature allowed my imagination to soar. Frida Kahlo was a saint figure during my teenage years, and she led me to discover other giants of magical surrealism like Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington.

The music that shaped my upbringing was a combination of boleros and heavy metal. My experience assimilating to the US while honoring my cultural roots is inextricably tied to the arts because they served as a bridge to unify my identity as a Mexican-American woman.

What motivates me every day is the same desire to change my community through the arts and create safe spaces for everyone to explore their creativity and rid our local artists of the "starving artist" cliche.

What's your biggest accomplishment as an organization?

One of our biggest accomplishments has been the consistency of our work. We started out as a small grassroots effort, and now we're one of the most recognized arts organizations in Los Angeles. We recently partnered with the Getty and have been funded by local and state agencies, and we are continuing to grow!

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being an organization?

The responsibility to provide jobs and sustain the operating costs of the business. I never really set out to own my own business, but I have learned so incredibly much that I wouldn't trade it for a 9-5 job.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow an organization today?

Find what you love and do it! Bring in people you trust and rely on your network.

Where can people find you and your group?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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