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Phoenix’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 Phoenix and surrounding areas below.

Jared Mancuso

I’ve been involved in music, in one way or another, since I was a kid. It started when I was a baby and I was bopping in my crib to my older sister’s dance recital tapes. It snowballed from there. My mom put me in tap lessons, piano lessons, then when I got older around ten years old, I hopped into playing bass, taught myself how to play drums, then I got really into musical theatre, which is really where the whole thing ties together into the now. Read more>>

Amanda Granillo

I found myself looking for “moms like me” around the age of 21. While most parents seemed to use their nights of partying and drinking, I was always searching for the chill vibe. I ended up on a social platform for moms, and after still not quite finding my people, I started my own group. “Sativa Divas” was an incredible outlet. We were moms from all over the country, even some members from Canada. Read more>>

Kenny Weiss

Raised by struggling parents who had four children by their early 20s, emotions ran high in the Weiss household. Add in a father who was beaten as a child and a mother who was adopted, and it is easy to see why Kenny grew up in a home with a rage-filled dad and an alcoholic mother. Raised by struggling parents who had four children by their early 20s, emotions ran high in the Weiss household. Read more>>

Zach Haptonstall

I (Zach) was born and raised here in Phoenix. I lived here my entire life, with the exception of living in Colorado for a bit. I had a football scholarship and I realized I wasn’t going to make it to the NFL so I came back. I wanted to be a sports reporter, so I got a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Broadcasting from Arizona State University. I was a live news anchor and sports reporter on Arizona PBS for about six months. Read more>>

Maria Valeria “Val” Timin and Nelene Deguzman

Cero started as a daydream: a zero-waste store and community center where you could do all your home and personal care shopping but with none of the trash. We wanted it to have deep roots in the Tucson community, keeping us connected and allowing us to fill gaps in the needs for sustainability specific to our area. We wanted to be able to provide not just sustainable products but also workshops and resources for making sustainable changes on any budget. Read more>>

Kathleen Duncan

For 25 years, my husband, sons and I vacationed frequently in Rocky Point, Mexico. We loved the time we spent there during our many visits but also could not help but see the many young people living in poverty who clearly had little to no hope for a better life. I can’t count the number of times I said or thought over the years, “Somebody should do something to help these kids break the cycle of poverty they come from.” However, at that time in my life, I was busy working full-time. Read more>>

Larissa Jaquez

It started as a joke. Many of my friends were in love with the idea of a maid cafe however we never really had the thought that we could start one ourselves. One night in a group chat, we joked about starting our own and one of my good friends mentioned the idea of a drink themed cafe. I and many others were all in! I then thought about what “drink” was in romaji (a system of romanized spelling used to transliterate Japanese) and it was “dorinku”. We then starting seriously talking about starting a cafe. Read more>>

Connie Brannock

My name is Connie Brannock, affectionally called “Big Mama” by my bandmates. I am an Arizona transplant originally from Cambridge, MD. I sing, write songs, play Cajon, a bit of piano, baritone ukulele, and can shout out a few stabs on the trombone in a worst-case scenario. Most of my musical experience is as a vocalist with Luke, The Kinetics, Bill Brown Band, and Connie and the Rhythm Method in the 70s and 80s. After winning the Stroh’s Superstar Talent Search in 1986. Read more>>

Graham Greytak

I went to school on the east coast with the goal of a career in sports business. I was fortunate enough to land a job at the Phoenix Suns, which moved me out west to sunny Arizona. After four years of client relations with business owners and top executives, an opportunity presented itself at a data center provider in Chandler. From that experience, I was approached to become a part-owner in a data center hardware and software integrator. Read more>>

Waseem X

My whole life, I’ve always noticed I was different and that made me feel like an outsider sometimes, but not everyone is meant to be the same and that made me realize I was destined for great things. Unlike most life stories, my life has been everything but average which speaks for itself in my music. Music was my first love. I started singing when I was little because my Dad would always play music in the house. Read more>>

AzPPA Board

AzPPA is a non-profit organization for aspiring and professional photographers in Arizona. Founded in 1951, our goal is to foster learning in a friendly and sharing environment for the purpose of advancing photography as an art and profession. We are affiliated with the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), the country’s oldest and largest professional photography association, which dates back to 1869. Read more>>

Alondra De La Rosa

I’ve always been a shy, uncomfortable, and lonely girl; I never had anyone. It wasn’t until last year I really found my light; I couldn’t have found light without Alexandria Boos! Alexandria really helped me find my confidence. She beloved in me and my beauty that I couldn’t see. Read more>>

Jasmine Holloway

I first picked up my paintbrush at my in-laws home in their garage back in Kansas City. I was trying to create something beautiful with the large coffee table from the basement after my two-year-old at the time had his way with the red and purple Crayola crayons. I didn’t have many hobbies, and I was just thinking what could I do to make this table stand out again. Read more>>

Afsheen Damanafshan and Ivan Valenzuela

This is a story of two relentless wolves. The true American dream. Both sons of immigrants, Afsheen Intha of Iranian lineage and Ivan Valenzuela of Hermosillo, Sonora. These two have been on fire since launching ‘The Hvstle Brand’ late 2019, rapidly growing their organic following at an astounding rate that is already blossoming beyond their Arizona roots. From Phoenix to Tucson, it is clear that The Hvstle Brand is not your everyday start-up, but let’s start at the beginning. Read more>>

Sam Quintanilla

As a senior at Hononegah High School in Rockton, Illinois, I had big dreams of playing in the NFL. During the summer of 2010, I became a walk-on freshman at the University of Texas-El Paso and I quickly realized I was not the only one trying to go pro. I was the tallest member of the team but I looked like a basketball player compared to the other guys in my position. Once the football season ended, I started to question my future and decided to leave UTEP after just one year. Read more>>

Isaiah Barajas

My idea came to me in early 2016, I wanted to create my own line of apparel, just basic graphic tees and hoodies. The original name was just ‘Ivory’, being that the material Ivory is hard to come by, rare, and unique. I had no idea that my small idea would give me the career I know have. I did my own line of apparel for about a year or two with some success, but I knew I had to take it in another direction to really stand out amongst the crowd. Read more>>

Sarita Walker

I truly can say that my entire life has been guided. I know that people say our choices in life make up our destiny, but sometimes I don’t feel we really have 100% control over that. I think we make whatever choice we feel is going to benefit us at that time and the Universe puts it all together. Like one big experimental recipe. From losing my mother and moving to California and losing my father and moving to Arizona, I have had the weight of so much emptiness. Read more>>

Andy Sage

I started my journey as a photographer just a hobby in 2015. Just wanting to capture the moments in my life’s journey, knowing that there were hardly any photos of my mother. She is the reason that the company was started. She always talked about how she one day wanted to run a car show. She passed in 2005. She will always have a place in my heart. My very first photoshoot opportunity was at Westworld for Hot Import Nights. I had met one of the members from 93 AZ Car Club that had mentioned that they had two models. Read more>>

Tay Way

I’m originally from Cincinnati, OH. I moved to Phoenix back in 2016. I was actually moving to California with my brother but, as we all know, California can be quite a bit expensive. I was there for about a week in a half before my money started to slow up, my brother had to finish his schooling in Alabama, & I wasn’t quite ready to go back home to Ohio feeling like I failed myself & the people who were rooting for me. Fortunately, I had cousins here in Phoenix that welcomed me with open arms. Read more>>


I had been around the music industry for about a year and a half running my own event company and was managing two producers at the time. Every show my company was hosting, I was setting up and tearing down CDJs and hanging out around every soundcheck. Probably a little over 50% of the people involved in the company at the time were DJs and I was just constantly around it. Read more>>

Fauster Johnson III

I was raised in the projects and then some of the worst neighborhoods in phoenix. So my focus has always been to make something happen for the City that will in turn help the poor people. When I returned home from College, I saw many vacant opportunities in the city. First I opened a Barber Shop, and then a Recording studio, and then Real Estate. My focus has been to set an example for those that come from where I come from. Read more>>

Markus Kaliszewski

Full of fiery passion, of course, makes perfect sense for this Arizona born artist Markus Kaliszewski AKA MarKaliss. Heavily inspired at a very young start in musical performance, MarKaliss nowadays aspires to achieve one of his greatest dreams in this case, performing on stages across the world big and small with no limits between. Playing in an ensemble setting for most of his life heavily reflects another one of MarKaliss’ greatest goals on stage as he aspires to create a sense of unity throughout music in a way that speaks BASS. Read more>>

Joe Brown

I started HogOn Welding in 2017 after moving from Fayetteville, Arkansas. I started out working for a company that allows me to travel from Washington to South Carolina and all in between, we didn’t go to every state but we went to a lot of states. Putting up structural storefronts RTU frames and some moment welds. I use the finances that company to start my own company in Phoenix, Arizona. Read more>>

Tea Shepherd

Crisp is a Black-owned, Unisex and Genderfluid fashion collective. Our namesake pays homage to the unsung history of Crispus Attucks, who was the first person to die in the Revolutionary War. Attucks’ story inspires us to honor Black and Brown folx by highlighting fashion accomplishments of QTPOC innovators. At Crisp, we focus on bringing light to the margins, we collaborate with local and global community to highlight QTPOC fashion accomplishments of Blacks. Read more>>

Kiolli Sydnor

My journey all started back in 2012. Honestly, I always knew that I wanted to do hair so I enrolled into Cosmetology. At that time, I worked full time and was finally getting my feet wet with motherhood and with my mom being my biggest support, I knew I was able to make such a career change until life happened and she suddenly passed away. Years later, the opportunity presented itself again and I knew deep down in my heart it was now or never. Read more>>

Yogi Bryan

Bryan is a Yoga Instructor, Meme Maker, and Co-Host of The Yogi Show Podcast. It all started from creating an Instagram page to make fun of yoga. Yogi Bryan created an Instagram account in Jan 2016 with the sole purpose TO MAKE FUN OF YOGA. Before this, he dabbled with the practice. Bryan was first introduced to yoga with a Rodney Yee AM Yoga DVD. He liked this because it was only 20 minutes and super easy. He practiced AM Yoga for about two months regularly and noticed a big improvement with flexibility and anxiety. Read more>>


Joshua Strickland

I grew up singing in the church in Louisiana. Then I later joined the army and was sent to Afghanistan and would always sing to bring me peace and comfort. I then moved to Arizona and founded The Bayou Bandits. The Bayou Bandits are a premier southern rock band! They have been featured in multiple radio interviews and publications through the south and southwest regions. Read more>>

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