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Chandler’s Rising Stars

The heart of our mission at VoyagePhoenix is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of the Greater Phoenix area’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool. Check out inspiring stories from Chandler and surrounding areas below.

Johnny and Chris Rice

Our first meaningful encounter with music came during a family trip to Disneyland when we met the wonderful pianist John Hodges performing at the park. He has an amazing way of introducing kids to the piano by taking one of the child’s fingers under his own and having them “help” play the piano. He was the one who inspired us to start piano lessons, and since we were little kids would have us perform in Disneyland. He remains one of our dear friends, and closest mentors to this day. A few years later, we met our next music teacher, Taki Atsumi, professor of cello at Arizona State University and President of the American Cello Congress. In addition to teaching us cello, he also provided the opportunities for us to meet Yo-Yo Ma, and study with legendary cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. After many years of study here in Arizona with teachers such as Robert Hamilton, Professor of Piano at Arizona State University, we had the chance to participate in studies with professors around the U.S. and Europe, including extended studies in New York City, Vienna, Austria, as well as in Krakow, Poland. Read more>>

Michael Spangenberg

Founded in 2013 by local entrepreneurs, Michael, Stephen and Nicholas, State Forty Eight was born out of a shared passion and appreciation for the great state of Arizona. More than just apparel line, State Forty Eight represents a lifestyle, a sense of community and is an expression of pride. From sports fans and outdoor explorers to the more fashion-forward, the homegrown brand offers gear for all that’s both stylish and comfortable. Above all else, State Forty Eight is about redefining the status quo and inspiring others to rise up and stand for something they believe in. So, wear it loud and wear it proud, and let the State Forty Eight logo serve as a reminder to proclaim your passions but never forget where you came from. As of 2021, State Forty Eight continues to grow and implement new revenue streams, such as art and branding services and screen-printing and embroidery services. They have two retail locations and soon to be three, and have worked with over 500 organizations in the valley on custom co-branded designs. Last but not least, they created State Forty Eight Foundation in 2020 to support aspiring entrepreneurs. Read more>>

Sarah Kankiewicz

For most of us birth workers, our stories start from our own births. I am a mother of two cesarean babies, the first being forced upon me due to breech presentation at 36 weeks. I disagreed with my OB provider in that I HAD to have a cesarean birth for breech as my mom had a vaginal breech delivery with my sister. I pushed back and so the provider decided to GIVE me a reason for an “emergency” cesarean birth—–the next day. Anyone reading this might see the red flag there; this is not a true emergency if it can wait 24 hours, but I did not in the moment. Additionally, we did not have insurance, the OB knew this and the subsequent bills for this unneeded birth outcome was $60,000 out of pocket on top of the $600/visit we were already paying to the OB. So, when we decided to have another baby 2.5 years later I decided upon different care. I chose a nurse-midwife practice but felt like I was shuffled through their 10 staff midwives and had to continually repeat myself as I fought for my VBAC. Read more>>

Oleni Anitoni

I am a videographer and content creator. I knew early on in my life that my interests were around story telling. I am from a culture where almost all of our history and traditions were passed down orally. I know that my passion to document these memories go further than just creating content. I’ve come to realize that this is my purpose. To further the knowledge and history of our people. When I was young, I came across an old documentary film about traditional midwives and the pre-natal care for women. It drew my interest because the documentary was covering the traditional healers of Tonga. This is where my family originates from. As I watched this film, an older woman appeared on the screen. She looked very familiar to me, but I knew I’ve never met her. As she was speaking, the name appeared on the screen. I found out quickly that she was my grandmother. I’ve never met her in my lifetime. I cherished that moment. To be able to see a video of her smiling and speaking from a documentary that was filmed before I was born, made my heart full. I knew then how priceless these kinds of memories are. Read more>>

Scott Kisthardt

Coatings and More is a local family owned and operated company and is proud to say we use only American made products and tooling. The team is proud to serve families and businesses in The Phoenix Valley, Casa Grande and White Mountain communities. We are committed to provide an exemplary level of quality, durability and safe flooring solution and we back our products with a full warranty. Coatings and More offers a beautiful seamless flooring that transforms your garage, warehouse, basement or patio along with our high quality pool deck coatings. This highly durable pure Polyaspartic system is easy to maintain and is warranted to last. The 3 layer polyaspartic floor is built for durability and will keep its like-new look for years, without fading, yellowing, scratching, chipping, or bubbling! I started this business based off my past years of experience in the coating and construction field. Read more>>

Carol Mickey

After owning an interior design business for over 35 years, I decided to end that business to focus on my women’s clothing design business. I taught myself how to sew in high school and have been designing clothing ever since. Read more>>

Shae Freeman

I first became interested in starting my own CPR Training Center for a few specific reasons. First of all, the original motivation to become a CPR instructor was mostly due to losing my Grandmother in 2001. My Grandmother Nana died at the very young age of 59 after collapsing suddenly. While there are parts of the story that have never been told to me, it appears as though she suffered from what we now know as Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Unfortunately, help was not given to her in time. I was (and I am still) very much affected by her loss, and I wanted to do something to help other families hopefully avoid the “what ifs” that we have had about my Grandmother, and the possibility that she may have been able to be saved. In her case, we’ll never know, but it definitely inspired me to make a difference for others. The other reason behind starting my company was because I had attempted to teach for other organizations who just didn’t seem to want me to work for them (even though at this point I had years of experience). Read more>>

Stephanie Sorosiak

I’ve been baking since a young teenager. I became fascinated with food, food culture, and food science at an early age. Along with being sensitive to dairy, I was diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity at age 17. This transition to a more wholesome, less processed diet prompted me to learn how to bake allergen-friendly. Everything I’ve learned up to this point has been self-taught, through lots of trial and error. I started Sweets by Stephanie in October 2020 after taking on an order for a friend’s surprise birthday party. My cupcakes were a huge hit. I got enough positive feedback to feel supported enough for the next chapter. For my entire life, I have put baking on the back-burner as a side hobby, but I finally decided during the pandemic that I needed to cultivate my true passions. Since the beginning, my standards for Sweets by Stephanie have remained the same. I only use natural ingredients, meaning no added preservatives or artificial colors or flavors. I cater to those with dietary preferences, but ultimately I bake for whoever wants a sweet treat. Read more>>

Kim Kendall

I opened my brick and mortar store at 48th & Ray in February 2013. It was a dream come true for me. I had worked my whole life in various retail positions and had majored in fashion merchandising in college so finally, I was able to fulfill a dream I had always had. I started out thinking I could do it all myself but it didn’t take long to realize I needed help. I hired a part time employee and she was fantastic! I threw myself into the business, working every moment of the day and night. I joined the Chamber of Commerce, networked as much as possible to get my name out there and got involved with Phoenix Fashion Week. I wanted to put my fashionable stamp on Ahwatukee and Phoenix. After the first two years in business, I was exhausted and sales weren’t steadily increasing. I realized I needed to partner with someone equally as passionate as myself, so I joined a friend in her business where she sold mostly decor and jewelry and I sold clothes, seeming like a perfect scenario. We didn’t crush it like I was hoping we would and after a year, we threw in the towel. Read more>>

Imani Ayala

When I first started my business I had just graduated high school and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, sometimes I find myself running into that same problem now. Lucky for me I had a family member who was nice enough to let me work under her to get some experience and gain clientele. While working with each client I noticed that I was connecting with each and every client on a personal level. Now, when I was in school for Esthetics we were always advised to never get personal with the clients, but I could never get the clients to come back to me without getting to know them. So using that as my secret weapon, fast forward 4 years I have clients coming out of my ears and no time to spare. And that’s exactly how I imagined it 4 years ago. Read more>>

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