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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.

Shannon Wallace, CDP, CDC

For the past 25+ years, I have been a professional vocal jazz musician touring the USA as well as into parts of Europe and Asia. As an advocate for the human’s adventurous and creative spirit through interactive expression and communication, six years ago I realized that I wanted to create more intention behind my music. It was then that I decided to volunteer my time to sing for seniors – – and it was then when those living with dementia became responsible for changing my career and redefining my life’s meaning and purpose. As a result, for five years (pre-COVID), I was offering an in-person, interactive, music, movement and memory workshop program for those living with dementia/cognitive impairment, along with their care partners, called “Musical Memory Care™” (MMC). Then COVID hit and the in-person workshop experience was no longer an option. Read more>>

Chelsea Vetsch

My career as a young professional began as a teacher in a title one school. I went to school for education and was very passionate about teaching. To make a long story short, my husband and I ended up taking in two students that went to my school and later were able to adopt them through the foster care system. Through this process, I began to see my career differently and wanted to step away from teaching as a profession. I became pregnant in my last year of teaching, which was a really great transition into doing something new. I wanted to do something flexible so I could spend more time with my three kids and have energy for our growing family. My husband is in architecture so I have been influenced a lot by his passion for design and interior spaces. I decided to take courses to get my real estate license so I could work with people— my biggest passion and also be surrounded by design. We actually started a company together this year, Design & Dwell, where we renovate and sell homes. It is so fun to work on projects with him and let our creative chaos collide. Read more>>

Lindsey Magee

Ollie Vaughns is a cafe and bakery in the Coronado Historic Neighborhood in downtown Phoenix. We offer an award-winning breakfast as well as a great selection of sandwiches, salads, treats, coffee and teas. I got started in the food industry working as a baker at Lux coffee bar and continued to grow my resume at other AZ favorites such as St. Francis and Pizzicleta. For a while, I also ran a weekly pop-up brunch event in my backyard called Monkey C. Read more>>

Chelsea Kunde

Building Blocks Family started shortly after I had my first baby. My career started in behavior intervention working for The Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center and then I went on to get my Master’s in Marriage and Family. I worked in community mental health for several years. My niche and favorite group to work with was families and couples socially focusing on parenting skills. I started Building Blocks Family to provide loving family solutions to parents around the topics of sleep, discipline and potty training. BBF started with just sleep training services and has evolved into the three other topics. BBF provides private consultations and also group teaching services online and in person. Read more>>

Ashley DelRosario

Call me Chef Ash! I’m a small-town girl at heart who loves the city! Grew up in the great Pacific Northwest and moved to Arizona in 2010 to attend culinary school! I have grown up in the hospitality industry, my dad owns two restaurants so it has always been in my blood. I have always been a creative person, always making something and working with my hands, cooking… never really knowing what, how or when, but I wanted to work for myself! I knew there was never a right time to start, I could never get my website perfect, etc., but I made the jump and launched “delRo cater co.” February of 2020 Personal Chef Experiences. I specialize in creating custom meals for women’s Retreats + Masterminds. Bachelorette parties & Birthdays are my other favorites to cater! I have made so many connections and have had amazing business opportunities throughout the last year, especially with Lindsey Schwartz and the “Powerhouse Women. Read more>>

Marcus Sanchez

The Window Coffee Bar was started from our passion for quality coffee and espresso. We craved something that was unique from the endless seas of Starbucks and Dunkins. We are one of Phoenix’s newest locally-owned coffee shops. With only about 100 square feet to work with on the backside of the Hive on 16th St, co-owners Marcus Sanchez and Homero Medrano decided the best use of the space was to cut out a space in the wall and install a window for customers to order from that faces a shared, open-air courtyard. The design and layout was fun collaboration with the new owner of the Hive on 16th (Tennille Neilsen) who transformed the backyard area into an inviting modern, pet-friendly courtyard that is also safe for social distancing. The Hive on 16th is a community enclave of local working artists and is one of the major elements that attracted Sanchez and Medrano to the space. Read more>>

Tyenesha Fields

Jacinths Homeless Foundation (JHF) Was founded February 2018 by Tyenesha Fields. She started JHF because she experienced the struggles of not having many options while being homeless. She was homeless two times in her lifetime traveling from many shelters with her young son. In order to qualify for a spot in transitional housing she was required to have been homeless for 2.5 years. This was one of the things that she wanted to change, no one should have to struggle and live on the streets for 2+ years just to receive assistance. While in transitional housing she was required to take parenting class and follow a three-strike method. She was penalized for enrolling into medical school because she was frustrated with the job market. Her second strike was received after having been in the transitional housing program for 1.5 years because she had found a work from home job and was working that job at her mother’s house. Read more>>

Style Twins

We started our brand almost six years ago, realizing we had a platform for petite women in fashion-emphasis on the blogger world! One name change later, three runway shows and countless brand shoots under our belts, we have become a Southwest Image Consultant duo with dreams of pushing into the West and East Coast. We pride ourselves on building authentic relationships with our clients & brands as our vision has remained the same from the beginning – empowerment. Truly walking our talk. We grew up in a single-parent household where work ethic, respect and drive were instilled in us from a very young age. Each of our strengths (Leslie Marketing & PR) and Lindsey (Esthetician & Operations) have helped us to hone in on our brand goals from where we started as bloggers with a dream in a tiny apartment to where we are now expanding & scaling our business. Read more>>

Jensen Cook

I first started my makeup journey at age 12. I was very interested in the world of special Effects Makeup doing gruesome cuts, wounds, zombies, demons, you name it. As time went on, I branched out into the world of beauty and fantasy makeup. Since then, I’ve been posting my crazy looks on Instagram and TikTok and have started gaining a large following on my platforms. I also do freelance work for brides, boudoir photo shoots, people who need makeup for Halloween, and all the girls who need makeup for our school dances. Read more>>

Leslie Nilsen

I run the Arizona Chapter of For Goodness Cakes. We are a nonprofit that started in California in 2016. We expanded to include chapters all over the country and I opened the Arizona chapter in 2019. Our mission at For Goodness Cakes is to give individual youth at least one special moment this is all abut them. By providing a child a birthday treat made especially for them, it gives them some much-needed time to not feel the increasing pressures of their socioeconomic situation, but rather help future optimism and confidence at a critical age. We receive requests from non-profit agencies who work with at-risk youth for orders of birthday/academic graduation cakes. Our volunteer bakers choose the cakes they want to bake and deliver them to the agencies. Our most favorite part is creating the biggest smiles ever. Every child deserves to be celebrated and at a minimum, on the day they were born! We have baked close t0 2000 cakes in the Greater Phoenix area. Read more>>

Amy Woodiwiss

We are a niche small business catering to the large Bully Breeds but to be honest, we see just as many small dogs as we do large! From Poodles to Presa’s and everything in between. Have you ever taken your dog to a retail location or local business? Depending on what breed of dog you have, you may get different reactions. We take pride in welcoming ALL breeds – from pets to working or service animals and show dogs we have something unique for any sort of furry friend. You won’t see any side eye or fear from us or our employees! We started out breeding American Pitbull Terriers back in 2003 and have had bully breeds our entire lives which has given us so much experience in the field. We both worked corporate jobs most of our lives and at some point, we both decided that while we were grateful for our careers, it wasn’t super fulfilling work and it was time to take our future into our own hands. Read more>>

Mark Farley

Twenty nine years ago, I was a broken man; hopelessly alcoholic and addicted to methamphetamine. In jail — again — for my tenth DUI, I was to be sent to prison. I was 30 years old and had estranged everyone from me in my life. As I stared into the piece of tin that serves as a jailhouse mirror, I suddenly realized that I no longer knew this person staring back at me. I got on my knees and said the only prayer I could at the time: “God, help me.” Almost immediately, things began to change. My cellmate had kept inviting me to the AA meetings, and until that day I never wanted to attend. The H&I sponsored AA meeting started with a very short man, who was not in jail, jumping up on a table and shouting, “If you guys keep on doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting!” It was the shortest AA meeting I have ever attended because that was all I heard. He offered a Big Book to those of us “man enough to ask”, so I asked. Read more>>

Isaiah Tilson

Isaiah Tilson, 23 years young, is an Edged R&B Pop Crooner. Hailing from Fairbanks, Alaska at a young age he moved to Phoenix, Arizona with his mother and sister. As a young child, he learned to play the piano and loved to draw. Needing an outlet to escape pains while growing up, Isaiah began writing lyrics and musical pieces at the age of 17. Previously producing Hip Hop as well as R&B music under the name of Izonist, he later pushed his boundaries and found his passion for singing Jazz and R&B for personal self-expression and growth. He has started to leave his mark in the Phoenix live music scene and setting the vibe for everyone to hear. June 30th, 2019 was a humbling day releasing his self-funded and self-produced first album “Classed Up”. Since then, he has released many singles and is currently working towards bigger projects musically. A creative of many mediums, Isaiah enjoys writing, producing, performing, acting, and much more. His driving force is to influence all generations to grow and accomplish what they set out to do, no matter the obstacles. Read more>>

Tatiana Young and Justice Tatum

Words & Wine is a podcast created by Tatiana Young and Justice Tatum. Two military kids that grew up in the west valley of Arizona and both graduated from Verrado High School as the first graduating class in 2010! We have been friends ever since and shortly after college, we reconnected to start producing our own art and poetry-style events around Phoenix. Justice Tatum an ASU alumni and well-known poet nationwide and Tatiana Young an event producer to some of the biggest fashion shows and art events in Phoenix put together their own series of events in 2016 alongside a longtime friend Brandon Greer aka MyBoyB. After over a year of cultivating creative showcases and art shows, we decided to collaborate on a podcast that still created a space for individuals to express themselves. Words & Wine was birthed in Jan 2020 a podcast where we dive deep into having intimate discussions over daily life topics such as relationships, career & community while enjoying our favorite glass of wine/beverage of choice. Read more>>

Redcoat Kid

Born in August 1994, Redcoat Kid has been involved in music throughout his life. Growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska, he got his start as a musician finding a true passion for playing the drums. If it made noise, he would create a beat on it. His musical talents started spreading when at a young age he was involved in band, and the Lincoln Youth Symphony, where he was trained in classical composition and musical literature. He then served as section leader of his High school drumline and was involved with the Reggae steel drum group ‘Pangea.’ Redcoat’s hip hop career began his sophomore year in college, when he recorded a five song mix-tape by himself in his bedroom, using his closet as his ‘home-studio.’ From there, He was featured in the UNL newsletter, had articles written about him on theoddessey.com, and was a star of the week in 1011 news channels ‘star city spotlight’. He was invited to participate in a Coast to Coast mixtape’s competition in Denver, Colorado in 2016. Out of 32 artists at the show, Redcoat was voted a 2nd place finish. Read more>>

Dr. Jeff Comer

I started out in undergraduate school as a psychology major who was involved with some pretty cool things in the military. After completing that, I finished my Master’s degree and followed in my father’s footsteps to become an acute care hospital CEO. Interestingly, while being a CEO, I found that I used my undergrad psychology degree much more than my graduate-level business training! So, I decided to pursue my doctoral education in psychology with research interests in evolutionary psychology and psychoneuroimmunology. I found that these two related areas of research, which are basically how your mind and body handle stress, underlie just about all human behavior. I now combine being a CEO with my understanding of stress to guide people in my hospital to handle their professional and personal stress-reactive processes in more effective ways. This yields better results for my organization and simultaneously leads to better staff morale and reduced turnover. I also bring my experience and education to others outside of my hospital through frequent speaking engagements and webinars. Read more>>

Amber Miller

I am the founder of “Pretty as Peaches” travel and lifestyle blog! My story is very unique as I started my blog about three years ago with zero plan of where I wanted to go with it. I graduated from Virginia Tech with a dual degree in Multimedia Journalism and Family Consumer Sciences, where I was also a D1 collegiate cheerleader for four years. After graduation, I decided as purely a fun hobby to start designing my website where I would blog about my life to continue my love for writing and share my passion for fashion, fitness, beauty, and travel. In the developmental stages of my website, blog, and social media platforms, I decided to walk in Miami Swim Week for Vizcaya Swimwear and compete in Miss Virginia, USA. This was such an amazing experience and solidified my passion for being in front of the camera and sharing my life with others. I started following other bloggers and influencers that I idolized to better understand the industry, researching ways to provide for my audience, and creating valuable content. This process was a grind — very transformative, experimental, and rewarding. Read more>>

Sara Martinez

I started drawing cartoon characters when I was five. In high school and college in San Jose, CA I tried to take art classes but I was set in my own artistic styles and became frustrated and dropped the classes. I could draw cartoons extremely well, but my dream, my goal was to draw realistic portrait drawings. In 2010 I started seriously working on developing my portrait drawing skills. I drew and grew my skills and was happy with where I was, then I started to realize my eyesight was getting bad. The eye doctors said I needed blood vessels in the back of my eyes closed and I had cataracts. In 2014-2015 I had to stop drawing while I recovered from my surgeries. Then I discovered my vision had changed from nearsighted to farsighted. I wasn’t seeing my subjects like I used to and my old methods no longer worked for my new vision. I was devastated, I couldn’t draw my pictures with the amount of details I could previously nor did they look as clear as my old drawings. It was several months later that I started drawing again telling myself the next one would be better, that I could use what works on the next and rethink what didn’t. Read more>>

Aaron Carstensen

I got started with music when I was in my early teens. My dad showed me how to play guitar and introduced me to some rock/metal bands that really intrigued me. I found out that music could be made completely digitally and from there, I started creating songs on the computer with a guitar tabbing software. Finally, I discovered the production software Ableton and now it’s been ten years working in that. During my late teens when I was in college, I descended into depression, anxiety and addiction. I knew my behaviors were not sustainable. I eventually dropped out of college to deal with my problems and that was a catalyst to me getting serious about music. As I have been working into my later twenties, I have been discovering my personal music style and becoming a truly professional mixing engineer. 2020 was my first year as a licensed business and I look forward to growing as a business and artist.. Read more>>

Sabrina Proffitt

I am an Arizona journalist. My journey started at Northern Arizona University when I first started working for The Lumberjack Newspaper. Here, and in my journalism classes, my love for writing transformed into a career. I began as a writer, then became an assistant editor, then the editor of the Culture section. Then, I was hired as the Managing Editor of the paper. During my final semester before I graduated, I was the director of digital content and was interning at the Arizona Daily Sun. Since then, I’ve worked for numerous blogs, newspapers, magazines, and more as a freelance writer. Recently, I started my own digital magazine, The Zillennial Zine with one of my best friends, Ash Lohmann. Read more>>

Yvonne Mugure

I’m originally from Kenya, Africa but I grew up mostly in Massachusetts and all over the east coast. I majored in Digital Communication and have always been interested in meeting and sharing stories through social media. Naturally, due to my background when I got covid-19 one of the first things I did was share my story on my social platforms. This was at the very beginning before people knew much about it so there were some misconceptions I wanted to correct. At the time, there were speculations that only people over 40+ years and non-black were getting Covid. Seeing how I was neither of those and had Covid, I felt a need to inform others and warn them to be careful. I wasn’t expecting my story to travel all over the world but I’m happy so many people found the things I shared helpful. The response to my story inspired me to pursue social media full-time. Now, I’m a TikToker (Yvonne.Mugure) and A TikTok Account Manager for an Ad Agency. So everyday, I get to see stories from people all over the world and continue to share mine as well!. Read more>>

Summer Grant

My love for reading and writing began as a child. My beloved mother always had us reading books and journaling. It stayed with me on my life journey and in 2004, I began writing my first novel. In the beginning, I wasn’t as passionate about becoming an author until both my parents died. Overwhelmed with grief, I started journaling again which led to me writing books. At first, I thought I just wanted to tell my story but once I began receiving great feedback on my stories the birth of an author transformed. The journey of publishing and authorship has changed my life. I love reading and writing it’s a therapy!. Read more>>

Margy Bons

My son, Michael, had deployed to Iraq so I was very intuned to the needs of our military and their families. Unfortunately, we lost Michael in an ambush while trying to save a hospital in Haditha. Iraq. I continued volunteering with a military nonprofit for a couple of years and was very passionate about supporting my son’s military brothers and sisters. After being contacted, by then-Mayor Gordon, regarding a soldier in need, I was approached by a national nonprofit looking for an Arizona President to lead a statewide military support organization. I accepted and started reaching out to anyone and everyone that I could to accomplish the mission. After a few years, I realized that I wanted to assist more than I was able to with that organization, so I started my own nonprofit and founded Military Assitance Mission. It is called MAM for short which is my son Michael’s initials. Read more>>

Katie Mercado

I’ve always had an undeniable love for makeup ever since I can remember. The first memory I have is watching my mom put on her red lipstick as she headed out to work and being fascinated with the difference that it made. One day, I took my mom’s lipstick and hid in the bathroom to put it on. Oh my goodness, I saw myself in the mirror and couldn’t stop smiling. I fell in love with how pretty it made me feel! Fast forward to high school… I got my first eyeshadow palette during my Sophomore year. I was so excited. I convinced my mom to buy me an eyeliner pencil and mascara to go along with it. That was all I wore until starting college and my first official job. THIS was when I really dove into my love for makeup. I started slowly buying new products and really educating myself about the artistry of it all. I started watching Youtube tutorials every night and would follow along as best as I could. I loved doing my makeup at night because if I messed up, it was ok. I was going to bed so I could just wash it off and try again the next day. Read more>>

Ariela HaLevi

As a child, there was a hole inside of me, a missing piece that made me feel hollow and unworthy. I was sensitive and emotional in a world that told me to be quiet, stuff down my emotions and be seen and not heard. A rupture in my family only enhanced this unworthiness, and I spent years pretending, lost, and felt vacant inside. I learned that in order to pretend to fit in, I could ignore my body and use my nervous system as a watchdog to make sure I was being who everyone wanted me to be. I also learned that life and adults were unpredictable, so I trained my nervous system to be unassuming and agreeable. This worked for everyone–but me. I found my magic and my true nature in animals, mountains and rivers and trees. Being in nature allowed me to relax my nervous system and listen to the soul whisperings and intuitive wisdom that I came into this world with. In this relaxed state, I found my magic. I would connect and talk to animals, feel their thoughts and their heart. Read more>>

Sheridan Collins and Amaya Damme

Amaya Damme founded Obtaining Social in March of 2020 in hopes of breaking out of a male-dominated workforce and building an empire that empowers women to chase their dreams and build powerhouses of their own. At only 19 years old, Amaya decided to drop out of community college to chase her passion of elevating small businesses online. Obtaining Social started as a small social media management company working with women-owned, small businesses around the USA. While starting her journey, Amaya began sharing her experience of building her social media management company with TikTok and quickly grew a fan base of over 70,000 followers within six months. Amaya encouraged young women to chase their dreams of also becoming social media managers themselves by sharing tips, tricks, the highs and lows, and being transparent with her followers. Read more>>

Sherri Jaster

I’ve always loved working with and mentoring children, even when I was a child (teenager). I was inspired to go into education to become a teacher and make a difference in children’s lives. I was a kindergarten and first grade teacher for six years. I worked in both Arizona and Oregon. I loved teaching and engaging kids in creative ways to learn and have fun. Read more>>

Brandyn Jenkins

I was on my way to a party back in 2017, and on my way there, all I could think about was going back home. This wasn’t because I didn’t like the people at the party—but because I loved staying home so much. When I arrived to the party, I said hello to everyone but only stayed for about an hour (right when my social anxiety set in). Once I left the party, I felt a sense of relief and began thinking about how other people would feel the same way. It was that moment when I came up with the name “Homebody Friends”. Homebody Friends started out as a small private group of Facebook. We talk about the joy of missing out to stay home, and our online community is growing. We now have an online storefront with the coziest hoodies, sweatpants, along with household items such as coffee mugs and area rugs. My goal is to take over the world one Homebody at a time. Read more>>

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