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Mesa’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 Mesa and surrounding areas below.

Samantha Randall

I grew up surrounded by immensely gifted and intelligent people. My mom introduced music, film, dance, cosplaying and the creative arts to my brother and I at a young age; our parents were a huge influence and always challenged us to explore our talents. Upon my teen years, I found beauty makeup to be transforming and fun, but I always pushed the boundaries. I had a love for old movies including classic horror and was fascinated by what it took to create the characters. Read more>>

Leif Lewis

I’m a freelance graphic designer, illustrator, 35mm photographer, and occasional traveler. I’m based in Mesa. I’ve been drawing all my life but it was after living in Europe for a couple years I got serious about that and design in general. It’s something I love and take great care while crafting logos or whatever design need a client may have. I’ve been able to grow and develop my style through backpacking and traveling through many beautiful and unique places shooting street photography and street art with 35mm film. Read more>>

Jarom Smith

I grew up an actor when I was a child but studied Heath and Wellness in College. I started up in the Film business again in my early twenties after serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for two years. I learned a lot during that time. When I was about 24, I started working with Nancy Criss and Tracy Wright at Nandar Entertainment, and we became good friends. Nandar Entertainment is a production company based in LA, but whose owners live in Queen Creek. Read more>>

Breana Edwards

I grew up in northwest Washington state, and am the youngest of four girls. My home was a place full of creativity and lots of people. It was kind of gathering place for friends and family which was super fun growing up! Very early on the “girl boss” life really appealed to me, so I studied hard to make sure I could eventually work a career that I loved. I lost my mom in 2011 at seventeen years old, and while obviously, that was a devastating loss it was also a very big push into the creative field. Read more>>

Reshween Subramaniam

I was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and I am the oldest of three, I migrated to the United States when I was 11 years old, I am now 27 years young. I have always loved taking pictures and getting my picture taken. My family and friends know me as the “Selfie Queen”. Photography is my outlet of escape from reality, where no judgment is allowed. It is an outlook for me to be able to express my creativity as a model and to inspire others to embrace their uniqueness because I do not look like a “typical” model, I was not always a swan in my story. Read more>>

Bridgette Borzillo

I graduated from ASU with a BFA in Dance/Choreography in 2007 and started teaching Ballroom at Arthur Murray shortly after. I danced with 32 Flavors Dance Company, Scorpius Dance Theater, and Dulce Dance Company before I started CaZo Dance (CaZo is the first two letters of my maiden Name “Caron” and two letters from my Married Name “Borzillo”). We were established in November of 2014 and bounced around the valley with rehearsal space until we became 4-month residents with NueBox at Phoenix Center for the Arts in 2016. Read more>>

Kathy Canuel

I didn’t find jewelry making, it found me. I was walking through a craft store 18 years ago as a pregnant teen, having freshly started college for my senior year instead of going back to high school. I was looking for something to channel my restless creative energy into and there was a book on wire jewelry making I just had to pick up. I didn’t own an anvil or a special jewelry hammer. Richly stocked mainstream craft stores and YouTube didn’t exist back then, right? I just did all of my hammerings with a regular hammer on the concrete floor of my garage. Read more>>

Ben Rhodes

From a young age, I’ve always had quirky entrepreneurial tendencies in one way or another. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, my pre-kindergarten start was selling painted rocks door to door to neighbors, shoveling snow, raking leaves, and that eventually morphed into starting a neighborhood ‘lawn care’ business when I was 12. Later, in a high school art class, I learned the most basic form of engraving glassware – we had a project to hand cut a stencil and use acid paste to engrave an image on to a mirror. Read more>>

Vanessa Thomas

In 2016, I started modeling and ended up winning a mall competition and did a couple of photoshoots. I won a contract but unfortunately, I did not have any of the looks they were looking for and it ended up being a dead end for me. I was super disappointed and decided to put the modeling dream on the back burner and start my family. I had my daughter in March and decided in May I would do a photo shoot for my husband for father’s day the following month. Jacob O’Neal was my photographer and he made me feel comfortable and he is a part of the reason I continued to model. I was given words of wisdom from him. Read more>>

Erin Rodriguez

After I had my two kids, I became interested in making household items myself to reduce chemical and unneeded ingredients. I started with laundry detergent, unpaper towels, and cloth diapering.  One of the things I wanted to make was soap, but I was nervous about using the lye. After doing a lot of research, I decided to try and absolutely loved it! I could make it. However I wanted… scented anyway, designed beautifully, and I could even control the bubbles size and bubble concentration. As a result, I ended up making much more than I needed, so I decided to sell it. Read more>>

Ella Martin

At the end of my junior at Mesa High school, with the fear of no scholarships or ways to pay for my college education I made the last minute decision to enroll myself in the EVIT (east valley institute of technology) program for cosmetology. I saw this as a practical decision that could benefit me in the long run. This meant long days, extra online classes, and a lot of faith that things would work out. Upon finishing my 1,600 hours of hard work, I had completely fallen in love with everything that had to do with hair, and all thoughts of a traditional college degree faded off. Read more>>


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