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Phoenix’s Most Inspiring Stories

The heart of our mission is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our communities. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some incredible artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with the incredible group below. Check out our favorite stories from across the Voyage family.

Kathy Tiberi

Making a professional change was the best “Mid-life crisis” decision I ever made. From Culinary school to starting my own business it was a win-win situation all around. Read more>>

Ashley Orellana

I started photography in the 4th grade, my dad was a media director and I would watch him create and design for hours. I started shooting on a point-and-shoot camera, and I simply wanted to impress my dad. I didn’t want an “oh that’s nice good job” typical parent answer, I wanted a genuine “that’s really good”. So, I shot anything and everything in my house, my little sister is 8 years younger than me and was putting on her shoe. I decided to lay on the ground and shoot a photo, and bam I got that genuine reaction from my dad of “hey that’s a really good shot!” My dad ended up bringing home a DSLR camera and bought me a stack of books on photography (no YouTube wasn’t really a thing). So, I would read and shoot and read and shoot. By the time I was in high school I was doing family sessions, weddings, and portraits. I graduated high school and started going to junior college. Read more>>

Adam Bateman

It’s 2002 and my downwind of Ground Zero Brooklyn apartment is empty and tucked in the back of my mind while instead, the black void of Barranca de Cobre gapes before me and the cooking smoke of Tarahumara Indians make the sunset a blood red. I’m leading a team of my peers as we spend nearly a month in the village of Guaramuchi to build garden boxes and rainwater harvesting systems and I’m hero-crushing my Mexico contact Juan Daniel, who is a half-time carpenter and half-time volunteer liaison with the local indigenous people, helping them find resources to accomplish the projects they deem most important. I briefly lament the fact that there aren’t people that need community service where I live—though only briefly, thank god, because, while maybe not as romantic as the Tarahumara, there are people everywhere in need of help, obviously. Read more>> 

Julie Schumer

I started painting at age 4 or 5 and continued till high school. My parents stressed the importance of being able to earn a living and so discouraged me from pursuing art as a career. Instead, I became a lawyer and practiced appellate criminal defense for many years but I always felt something was missing. Over 20 years ago, as my children approached college age, I began to feel an overwhelming urge to paint again and right at that moment ran into an old friend, now my spouse, who intuited this, came over to my house one evening, handed me a piece of wood and some acrylic paints and commanded me to paint. I did and the floodgates opened. Several years later he and I moved to Santa Fe and began painting in earnest. Soon I was exhibiting and selling my work. I did not actually retire from being a lawyer until a few years ago and for many years I was doing both businesses. Read more>>

Ashley Oakes

I have always had a passion for creating things. My dad was a graphic designer and I remember him asking me to come look at different designs he was doing and to pick my favorite. This was I think where my passion to analyze what a business was trying to accomplish and how the tactics that it went with needed to align. In high school, I became fully involved in our school newscast. I was always the producer leading the talent.  It was a natural fit for me to set my eyes on Arizona State University’s Cronkite School. I was pre-accepted after going to their summer immersion camp and from there my eyes were opened to all possibilities in media. I took a PR 101 course and realized that is actually what I wanted to do. As most college students do, I received an internship with one of the best boutique PR agencies in town. From these leaders, I learned how creative and fun PR could be and how to really apply these strategies to actual businesses. Read more>>

Ariel Miranda

My musical journey began when I was seven years old and got my first guitar. I started taking guitar lessons and from there on was never able to put it down – I just wanted to learn everything that I could. Singing had also always been a favorite thing of mine to do on the daily since I was young, so after a few years of playing the guitar, I realized that I could accompany myself playing guitar while I sang which opened up a whole new world for me. I started posting YouTube videos, doing talent shows, performing at open mic nights, and competing in various music competitions, as well as writing my very own original music. By the time I was 13 years old, I had released my first EP, “Golden Aces,” on all streaming platforms, which included three songs that I had written. Read more>>

Kalea McNeill

I am from Fairfield, CA where I inherited the love for stage performance at a young age, participating in school plays, church events, and various oratorical competitions. I attended Clark Atlanta University and graduated in 2009 with my Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts. While on campus I became one of the “go-to” hosts for events and shows, which slowly groomed my love for live performance. After college, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my acting career. The first few years, I worked in corporate America while trying to “act” and “do comedy” on the side. Finally, I had had enough and quit my job back in 2016. Things got VERY real VERY quick. I had to give my all to my craft. Once I did that, everything started to fall into place. Read more>>

Kris Adair

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to help people. I didn’t initially know in what capacity that would be and I didn’t want to wait to figure it out, so I joined the military at age 19. A few years after joining the military, I started taking college courses. I still wasn’t completely settled on what degree I wanted to pursue but I knew it required at least a bachelor’s degree, so I figured I’d just get started. The only trouble with that plan was that I was still active duty. After about a year of seriously committing to my studies, I got orders to deploy overseas. I nevertheless persevered and even while deployed I was able to continue completing courses through the education center at the base where I was deployed. With the constant starts and stops in my journey and military career, the typical 2-year track to completing all my pre-requisites took about 10 years! Read more>>

Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos

It all started with luck and being born to amazing parents. My Father, Christo, and Mother, Connie have made unparalleled sacrifices in their life to ensure that their children were put in a position to succeed. After immigrating to the greatest country in the world, my Father wanted to instill this idea that with hard work and discipline, we could be the master of our own destinies, just as he was when he moved here without speaking a lick of English.  My education started in our public school system, a product of Madison Simis and Meadows before moving onto Brophy College Prep in Central Phoenix. After my Jesuit education, I moved on to play college basketball at the University of Northern Colorado in the Big Sky Conference. Like every child hoopster, I dreamt of playing professional basketball one day. Read more>>

Gloria Jawaro

By day, I process documents for refinances but by night I am a Beauty Influencer. I have been in the Banking Industry for the last five years and when I am not processing refinances, I am sharing my beauty secrets online. Read more>>

Elden Andrews

My journey as a photographer began in October 2016. After graduating college with a B.S. in Accounting and finishing my lacrosse career I began to search for new hobbies to occupy my newly found free time outside my 9 to 5. At this time, I also began to study and sit for the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) exam. The search for a new hobby ended rather shortly as I always enjoyed taking photos with my iPhone or family digital camera during vacations and wanted to dive deep into the craft. It also helped that I had a friend at the time that was very involved in this hobby as well.  After sitting and passing my first part of the exam, I treated myself and purchased my first camera, a Canon Rebel T5 from Amazon. Upon receiving the camera, I was eager and enthusiastic to begin to take photos. At first, I had struggled to find the time to dedicate to honing in the craft and taking as many photos as I could because of studying and full-time work. Read more>> 

Still Motions

Still Motions was started in 2019. I (Thomas Brenneman) had been playing music in the valley for 15+ years in various bands but had never done anything truly based around my personal interests, I’ve always loved instrument/ambient music, movie scores and similar styles, but have a love for rock music as well,  We started writing throughout 2019 and piecing together the band. We entered the studio in min 2019 to start recording our first record. My goal for the project was to tell personal stories through the music, without any lyrics or vocals. More so an outlet for me, but to allow listeners to connect with the songs in their own way, however, they spoke to them, or however, they connected to it. The debut record released May 1, 2021, after signing a record deal with POST. Recordings. Unfortunately, our CD release show was scheduled for the same day and was canceled due to the pandemic hitting just a few weeks prior, forcing closures. Read more>>

Gabriela Contreras

I began my creator IG journey at the start of 2021 because I felt inclined to make a major change in my life. I had just started my first “real” job out of college and realized quickly the importance of having a creative outlet outside of work. 2020 was such a crazy year that taught so many of us major life lessons, and I think as devastating of a year that it was, it reminded us to live out loud. It was then when I began brainstorming ideas that would allow me to be seen as my authentic creative self outside of the traditional workplace. I’ve always been so into fashion from the time I was a little girl and have learned though life-altering experiences the importance of a healthy headspace. I decided at that point that the juxtaposition of fashion and self-care content on Instagram would be such a beautiful way to release, and may in turn, uplift and inspire others. To add, I felt like I was scrolling on Instagram seeing so many of the same beautiful faces. Read more>>

Adriana Villa

Our business story started with an idea between five sisters while spending quality time as we do every opportunity we get. Holidays, birthdays, or any occasion to celebrate each other. This is our way to capture memories that are loved for years to come by way of taking photos together.  During our gatherings, we always talk about life, our children and family, and how we might be able to dedicate our time as we get older. During one of our discussions, we concluded that we might be able to put our passion to work. Doing what we love best, which is to make sure everyone’s event is as special 20 years from now as it is at that very moment. A photo is worth a thousand words and always brings back those happy feelings. In that, the idea was to start a photo booth rental company as a family. This allows us girls to spend time together while we design a photo booth event unique to every client. Read more>>

Samantha Vargas

Not knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up weighed on me for a while. I tried traditional collage, but nothing stuck. I couldn’t find anything I was passionate about but after about 5 years I decided to go to an esthetician school, I also took a laser class during my time there and I found my passion. It wasn’t conventional, I wasn’t stuck at a desk. With laser I’m able to move around, it’s different, I have fun. It is a physical and demanding job but I like it. Overall, I’m happy to find something I take pleasure in doing. It’s also very satisfying seeing the results of your work. Read more>>

Willie J

Have I heard my calling? I had felt so underwhelmed once I became a young adult. One of my failures was not believing in my dream and not pursuing my foolish dreams of being a studio digital artist creator and producer.  I have always kept to myself, been a bit of a loner and introverted person, and probably often too serious. I lived an average life while somehow managing to do well in my work and education. I committed to making myself become like a business and so I’d usually process things to compete and be recognized as a quality brand. However, I wasn’t feeling fulfilled and I was desperately trying for many years to find my purpose. While I had been taking more control to try to better my life and my family, I was still falling back into despair. Read more>>

Julia Halina Hadas

As far as jewelry and energy work goes, it was actually on a trip to Sedona where my love of crystals and all things-energy-related began! I came across a metaphysical store there and instantly fell in love with stones and the energy they provide. When I got back to the bay, I found some local metaphysical shops and began investigating energy work, such as Reiki. In a desire to wear these beautiful stones for my own personal growth and healing, I researched wire wrapping and that’s how it all began!  As far as magical mixology and becoming an author goes, in the midst of finishing college, I decided to look into other income streams. I signed up for a random Groupon bartending class, on a whim! With my background in witchcraft at the time, and my experience working with the folkloric meaning and magic of various herbs, I instantly fell in love with the fresh ingredients, liqueurs, bitters, and shrubs of the craft cocktail movement, and the meaning and potential they could have when combined. Read more>>

Luke Metz

My work includes functional as well as decorative pieces and demonstrates various firing techniques including raku, saggar, soda-fired, wood-fired, and gas-reduction firing. Sizes range from a few inches to a few feet and prices range from $20 to $1000. Whimsy and organic are qualities I seek to bring to my work. My display is naturally eclectic with each piece being distinctive, expressive, and unique.  I developed a love and fascination for art as a youth in New York City. My diverse travels abroad exposed me to some of the greatest art in the world. At Columbia University I took many art history classes and some sculpture classes. I enjoy applying my sculpture experience to my ceramic art. Upon graduating I moved west. The Olympic Peninsula, Denver, Colorado, and then Wisconsin were my home for almost 40 years. During this time, I was involved with many diverse jobs such as teaching secondary school, repairing Xerox machines, computer programming, and computer systems analysis (to name a few). Read more>>

Patty Carlson

Better late than never! I should be thinking about retirement, but all I can think about is how my lifelong dream has finally become my reality.  Party in a Vase didn’t happen to bloom by chance, it was intentional and I had a vision of being surrounded by beautiful blooms while creating unique arrangements. I have a home-based studio and sell at local farmers’ markets on the weekends. I design ready-made fresh bouquets each week. Three years later at the farmers market, I still create unique flower bouquets and I offer seasonal arrangements including succulent pumpkins and hand-made fresh Christmas wreaths, as well as take customer orders and book private events. Read more>>

Mark Daguio

Aloha, my name is Mark Daguio. Born and raised from the great town of Sta. Cruz, province of Laguna, the Philippines. my home town is 3-4 hours’ drive to Manila, still depends on the traffic and day. but with the booming economy of Philippines, I could say that there’s a lot of changes since I moved here in Hawai’i. Growing up in a very humble house, my mom (Melandra Daguio) and my dad (Florencio Daguio) Taught me and my one and only sibling (Frances Mae) everything they know about life. Life in the Philippines was so simple for us. Like any other middle-class family, my parent was doing some extra side hustle to meet our needs. My dad will wake up early in the morning while my mom will prepare everything for my dad’s lunch, clothes, and of course a hot coffee. He works at a family own security company. Started as security guard, my dad earned his spot as an operation manager working for almost 20 years now, I saw and witnessed how dedicated my dad is. Read more>>

Justice Davis

I picked up the camera at a very young age and was always into taking pictures and creating art. My hobby has recently turned into a career and I love every part of it, the good and the bad. Read more>>

Kristine Harris

I have always had a passion for health and fitness and wanted to pursue a career where I could develop my passion into a way to help others. I became a Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor fifteen years ago and a Certified Pilates Instructor two years ago and have been doing a lot of work in physical therapy clinics for the past eight years with pre- and post-rehabilitative patients. I wanted to utilize my training and knowledge in a way that I could reach more people. I developed Kore Fitness as a platform to turn my dream into a reality. Read more>>

Josh Ostler

I work as a firefighter for the City of Phoenix… 10 years ago, my second job as a carpenter led me to want to design my own longboard. What started as a hobby in my garage, became a strong ambition to create a better longboard than what was out there. I started a company called Black Longboards with handmade longboards out of our garage. Each board was hand-pressed with fiberglass and took several days to make. I also made custom boards for local customers. This was fun and I loved how each board got better and better, but there just wasn’t a big market for the handmade cost. I then went on to create a second company called White Wave Longboards where my designs and ideas were manufactured elsewhere for much less the cost while using bamboo as the main core. Read more>>

Rachel Gibbons

I’ve been taking pictures for as long as I can remember. As a child, I constantly asked my parents to get me disposable cameras every time we’d go on a vacation or I’d go to summer camp. I always came home with multiple filled cameras to send off to be developed. When I got to high school, I took all photography classes my school offered; two semesters of film and two semesters of digital. When I got into the digital classes, my parents bought me my first DSLR, a Nikon D3000. I was on the Yearbook staff for my junior and senior year of high school photographing all aspects of high school life. It was in high school that I started doing my first paid jobs, photographing fellow students Senior Photos for their yearbooks at discounted rates in order to learn and gain experience. When it came time for college, my path seemed obvious. I was going to study photography. Read more>>

Delina Spencer

Passion is an understatement when it comes to the beauty and fashion industry for me. I have never dreamed or imagined a different career in my life. I understand the importance of beauty and the impact it has on society. The beauty industry is constantly evolving and I knew that it was something I wanted to be a part of. I did not grow up in a wealthy family so I decided to pursue my dreams by nothing but hard work and dedication. When I imagine my life, I see myself loving what I do and will stop at nothing to pursue my dreams. All my experience and knowledge I have worked tirelessly for and having passion for something in this day and age can only be half the battle. Nothing can amount to the joy I feel when I am making other’s feel and look beautiful. Leaving my hometown to pursue this vision I had, took courage and full dedication I picked up and moved from my hometown in Hartford CT to gain more opportunity in the industry. Read more>>

 Emani aka Lotus Spencer

For as long as I have been able to speak and create thought on my own, I have identified as a creative. My earliest memory of wanting to be forever involved with the arts was when I was seven years old in Georgia. I was asked to envision myself doing what made me happy, and immediately, I saw myself on stage entertaining the masses. As I grew, I found a multitude of ways in which I could express myself, including song, dance, acting, writing, painting, modeling, and so many other activities that allow me to speak my truth. I had always been a misfit to those around me; never truly understood and often regarded as strange. As a little Black girl, being different was considered social suicide, and meant you’d be alone more often than not. This had quite an impact on my self-esteem and my ability to confidently communicate with those around me. To escape from the teasings of my peers and everlasting feeling of being alone, I would sing…and write…and dance in the mirror. Read more>>

Sean Steimer

I am a third-generation Realty Executive and Arizona native. I was born & raised in Scottsdale and still makes Scottsdale my home. Having been a realtor since 2014, I have tried to make a name for in the industry hard work and market knowledge. I started out bartending nights and going to the office during the day. I prided myself on being first one in and last one out of the office, even on the days I struggled to go.  Myself and The Steimer Team have won many awards for our sales numbers and commissions earned, but I have also stood on his my with several accomplishments including 31 sales in 2020 for gross sales of just under $20,000.000. My partner, who is 30 years into the business, and also my father, together achieved over $50,000,000 in sales last year. Read more>>

Katelyn Gist

The Gist entrepreneurial spirit runs strong in Garrett’s veins, and although we have been successful in various roles in customer service, management, and the military, we both sought more challenge, independence, and control in our work. So, after my aunt and uncle decided to retire and asked us if we were interested in purchasing their pool service and repair business, we decided to buy and uprooted our lives from St. Louis, Missouri.  Together, with our 3 dogs, we embarked on our journey to Scottsdale, Arizona, and became the new owners of Spring Clear. And we are now happy to announce that we are a husband-and-wife team as of October 2021! Read more>>

Shannon Melde

I am a native of Arizona. I attended Chaparral High School and graduated in 1998. I’ve been baking for over 25 years. I went out culinary school (Scottsdale Community College Culinary Arts Program) high school. Sadly, I didn’t finish the program. I went on to working various jobs throughout my life (Outback Steakhouse, Dutch Girl Dry Cleaners, and Mayo Clinic.) I married my amazing husband, Jason, in 2004. We have 2 wonderful kids, Maddie and Brandon. Baking has always been a passion for me and I have always considered the possibility of one day opening a cookie shop, which has always been a dream of mine. After years and years of being unsure of my decision, a switch flipped and I was 100% all-in. I decided to make the leap to open my home bakery, Sugar and Chip AZ. I specialize in gourmet chocolate chip cookies. I truly love baking and I hope everyone who purchases my cookies enjoys them as much as I enjoy baking them. Read more>>

Mallory McClendon

I was new to Arizona, looking for a job in the middle of the pandemic and entering a new relationship. I was spending a lot of time visiting my boyfriend Clint, who had a single-chair Barbershop at the time. When Clint shared with me his vision of how he wanted the space to look and the direction he wanted to take it in, I kinda took the reigns and we built up a small coffee shop in the space connected to his Barbershop. Soon I was running the coffee shop! When we first got started, we offered Cold Brew that we made in-house and donuts on the weekends from SoJo’s, a local donut shop in Mesa. We had fresh vegan and gluten-free treats that we baked throughout the week. One challenge our space presented was a lack of foot traffic. We still did ok, just selling to clients of the Barbershop, but the dream was evolving.  Read more>>

Tony Pham

My story and motivation started when I learned about my mom’s story to make her escape to the US and the amount of mentality she adopted to survive. As I grew up, I realize her story wasn’t just unique to her but to many people that leave their homes in hopes of a better future for themselves and their families. Sharing her mindset to be resourceful and stubborn, I became the first to graduate high school and college. and resourceful has carried on throughout my life. With every obstacle and challenge I’d face, I approached it from a variety of different perspectives which inadvertently allowed me to connect with people from different backgrounds. Eventually, this led to me starting my own business and focusing on giving back to the community who basically helped me grow with their stories. Read more>>

Shelley Wenzel

Shelley Wenzel has always loved the Valley. Visiting Arizona at a young age with her father, Shelley fell in love with the charm of the Scottsdale and Paradise Valley region immediately. Appreciating the stunning beauty of the area and recognizing all that the desert community has to offer, Shelley told family and friends that she would live there one day. Shelley realized her dream 24 years ago when she left her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio to become a full-time resident of North Scottsdale, where she lives today.  After studying business administration at The University of Cincinnati, Shelley entered the ultra-competitive luxury car market and quickly became one of the top Mercedes-Benz sales consultants in the Midwest region. Soon thereafter she continued working with Mercedes-Benz in Scottsdale achieving similar success. Read more>>

Amerae Vercueil

Boemboe Foods was started by Malan & Julia Bartleman in Kwazulu Natal in 2018. They saw not only a gap for better wholesome Tempeh but affordable tempeh! A year later they managed to have the product stocked nationwide. As the demand grew so the factory did. After the pandemic, they noticed they would like to spend their time with their two sons in Julia’s home country, Holland. Boemboe was sold to a client, Amerae Vercueil, who had an established brand: Food that loves you back. I (Amerae) have been the new owner, running and rebranding Bomeboe to the product we see today. As tempeh has so many health benefits (gut, protein richness and it is a whole food) I felt this product would perfectly fit under the umbrella of a Food that loves you back! This product has been so exciting to communicate and educate to people in South Africa, we are hoping to keep the momentum going as tempeh should be as much of a household item as chicken is – Just better for you and the environment. Read more>>

Kyle Fedasiuk

I started my journey in the fashion and art industry in March of 2020. I started as a model. I walked for my first show for ASU’s fashion program. The university’s senior grad students display a collection of garments for their final project and I had the opportunity to walk for one of the student designers Christian Sol. Shortly after that, I joined a startup modeling agency called “Willow Scott Models”. The agency specializes in offering a diverse cast of talent and providing opportunities for everyone in the industry regardless of your size, shape, skin, sexuality, gender identity, etc. When Covid hit, I decided I needed a new hobby so I picked up a camera. Through self-portraits, I have found a way to execute my creative freedom and portray my own unique vision. Driven by a passion for emotional expression, I have found this hobby to redefine who I am as an artist. I consider myself both a model and a photographer. I started my own photography business, it’s still in the works. I recently launched my own website and had my first booking last month. I aim to expand my range of talent and grow with others in this collaborative community. Read more>>

Philip Gabriel Steverson

I was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the west side moving between different houses and apartments. I often would go off to Massachusetts as well for summers and school years to live my dad from time to time. Back in Philly though, it was my mother, two sisters, my younger brother, and myself living together. In the moment, my siblings and I did not realize that we did not have much because our mother made sure we we’re blinded from that reality. Philadelphia is one of those cities that will suck you in if you let it and I decided early that I did not want that to happen. I would always found myself conforming with my peers, sometimes even leading the chaos, but that is what you expect from a child. Around age 14, I had mastered the art of stealing from Dollar General and I stole my first notebook that I used for poetry and journaling. I was heavily influenced by Langston Hughes because there was a mural at James Rhodes Elementary in the auditorium of his “Hold Fast To Dreams” poem. Read more>>

Taylor Victoria

My parents have shared that before I could even speak, I would sit in my height chair and draw for hours. As long as I was given paper and crayons, I would be content for an unusual amount of time. Growing up consisted of me making crafts out of any and everything I could find around the house. I often spent hours alone in my room creating.  I was acknowledged throughout the years for my artistic talents from family, teachers, and peers. However, when it came time for college, I did not believe there was any career as an artist and pursued a degree in early education.  Sophomore year of college presented some challenges in my personal life. In a state of grief, I turned to my sketchpad for solace and began drawing every moment I had. Beautiful, symmetrical designs were filling my notebook pages, and I quickly became consumed with drawing geometric mandala designs. Creating these patterns soothed my spirit and became a very healing and meditative practice for me. I didn’t know it at the time, but it would also be the start of my entrepreneurial art journey. Read more>>

Trask Snow

I played a lot of Rockband and Guitar Hero growing up in California during High School. I could play Expert at anything but always gravitated towards the drums because it felt more natural to me. Fast forward a couple of years and I spent some student loan money on a DJ controller (not financial advice) to learn how to make electronic music. I quickly learned that I needed a DAW to make that happen and bought a copy of Ableton Live. Jump ahead a couple more years of learning and making terrible beats, I was finally able to buy my own drum set, which had been something I’d wanted since high school. I had been in and out of school and managing a local pizza shop, producing electronic music as a hobby, and playing drums in a local band called A Band Called Sports. Read more>>

Jodie Davila and Vanessa Quintero

Psicotuyo “your place, your space” was created by two women with a vocation to serve people. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people suffered emotionally due to all situation that came along at that time and still affect many others. Jodie Davila and Vanessa Quintero wanted to support the Hispanic community in Arizona offering Psicotuyo and its services as a way to contribute/support those affected. Now, Psicotuyo is focusing on promoting the importance of mental health offering professional therapy in Arizona and online around the country. Read more>>

Natalie Burnett

Originally, I wanted to be a jazz singer, but not only can I not sing, I also became a comedian  The childhood I had was hard. I have three siblings, and we all grew up in a poor community Our mother was going through a hard time being an addict finding herself in a way. At 7 I was placed in foster care. The only good thing was that my foster parents were the grandparents of my older sister, so we didn’t grow up with strangers, and then from then on, I had a good childhood. I was always quiet and never had a lot of friends, never spoke up in class or anything like that. My brother and my younger sister went with our aunt in Austin, Texas. I think from then on, I had a good childhood. Almost six years later I remember having horror in my stomach. I was so shy I thought I could do anything I wanted to be on stage, but was so afraid of rejection, and I think it took until I was about 15/16 to be able to do it, both my foster parents passed away and I was in a phase of finding myself trying to come to terms with my circumstances. Read more>>

Amanda Newton

It all started in 2012 when I was pregnant with my son. I wanted to give him an ASU-themed bedroom (my husband and I are both alumni), so I took some of our old shirts and turned them into a rag quilt. After sharing a picture of the quilt with some friends, more and more people started ordering them for their kids. I ended up doing so many that my old sewing machine stopped working and I needed to purchase a new one. My husband found a sewing machine that did embroidery as well. From that point on, I was customizing and putting appliques on everything! As I learned more about embroidery, I started attempting in-the-hoop projects like my sanitizer holders and elf clothes. I brought my products to two local shops and have been selling at both locations, as well as craft fairs and custom orders, ever since! Read more>>

Patherine Charoenmins|

I started Panther Eats as a way to remember all of the amazing date spots that my fiancé and I visited around Arizona. Now, Panther Eats has evolved to so much more. I use my social media platforms and blog to connect people to amazing restaurants and other businesses in the valley. From cool Asian makeup stores, bakeries, fast-casual spots to fine dining, I would cover them all (the ones that are note-worthy of course).  I am truly lucky to have this opportunity to share my favorite spots with my followers. It is really due to the support of amazing business owners who trust in my work and my followers who trust in my recommendations. All thanks go to them. Read more>>

Jarrod Coronado

All my life my dad was in the coffee business. He sold coffee and coffee equipment for many years and in multiple states and I had many opportunities to work with him, so I was raised with an appreciation for coffee. About 12 or 13 years ago he started to roast his own coffee, which my family and I consumed regularly, but it wasn’t until about 3 years ago that we decided to partner with my dad, starting a company to distribute the coffee he roasted.  Sadly, shortly after we began a partnership his roasting facility was completely destroyed in a fire. It was sad and devastating for him. Due to his age, he decided he would retire and no longer roast coffee. It wasn’t too long after that tragedy that I began roasting coffee for my family and I. I didn’t like drinking coffee that wasn’t specialty coffee, so I started to roast my own. It quickly became a favorite hobby and I roasted so much that we had to give most of it away. Read more>>

Mona Dixon

I was homeless for about half of my life growing up on the streets and in and out of shelters. I went on to become the National Youth of the Year for Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 2010 and received over $100,000 in scholarships. I also was recognized by President Obama in the Oval Office, was recognized by LeBron James, was featured in commercials, and was a part of many events with celebrity alumni, including Denzel Washington and Jennifer Lopez. I have successfully completed college, but I quickly learned that I didn’t want just any kind of job. I wanted to be passionate about what I do for work. I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I started out as a motivational speaker, and I still am one today. In that role, I started to create products that are also motivational, and I always send out my own custom greeting and note cards to say thank you and send special notes to people for different occasions. During the pandemic, people couldn’t be face to face as much and people loved my stationery and started to ask me to make it for them. Read more>>

Miguel Angel De la Cruz Flores

I studied my Fine Arts degree in Venezuela, my native country. From there I completed my postgraduate degree in color design and composition at the New York art league, I was awarded a scholarship by the Cisneros Phelps foundation to carry out different contemporary art symposia, I also did a specialty in color with respect to the work of Andy Warhol, I was recognized by the qcc art gallery in New York, as one of the best young Latin American artists, I also made a specialty in contemporary photography, I arrived in Miami in 2015, this year I moved here to phoenix city I love it, and I think you have to give it a lot of color. I have to my credit more than 50 group exhibitions, 4 individual ones. In 2013, the same year that I studied in New York, I was the winner of an important fine arts salon as the best contemporary draftsman, I was recognized in 2016 by the University of Miami, with the gold button from that university, I also have studies in law about art and I am currently exhibiting at the American embassy in Santiago de Chile. Read more>>

Hope McAlister

In 2013 I began my journey with the United States Marine Corps. After a short time in, and a few life altering circumstances, I began searching for distractions anywhere I could find. I stumbled across a mermaid photo on Instagram and seen that if these people could be mermaids, then I could be too. I’ve always been a strong swimmer as a part of the swim team for 5 years and with swimming in my blood, I was able to feel right at home in a monofin. Once absolutely confident in a monofin, I upgraded to a starter tail, which felt amazing. A short time after swimming with the starter tail, I was able to upgrade to a professional grade tail. During this time however, I began gaining weight and really struggling with my self esteem. But I eventually learned that I was my harshest critic, as the people I performed for -mostly children- only saw me as this magical mermaid. Read more>>

Richardson Donnat

About 6 years ago I was working for a company as a tax preparer. I had begin to fall in love with what I was doing and I understood that I was really in the business of helping people. However, I felt that the company’s mission didn’t no coincide with mine. I then went on a mission to start my own practice I saved every bit of money and without getting a loan I was able to start my own company. Prior to opening an office I was working out of my apartment and I had a good amount of loyal clients that trusted and allowed to work for them in filing their tax return. Opening the office was a major accomplishment for me, and I have maintain the mission to help others and because of that every year I have been able to increase the number of clienteles. Read more>>

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