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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.

Tony Alger

Got into the whole music thing with actual depth my freshman year of High School back when my family was living in California. I had been playing instruments and even mixing records from an early age but I think my own style arose around that time. I got a microKorg, ripped a bunch of samples from sketchy online sites, and downloaded my first DAW… definitely not the popular software we use now but it did the job: let me lay down music. Back then I was going through a huge Animal Collective, Boards of Canada, and other electro-hipster bands with a splash of jungle and drum and bass.  Once I went up to Flagstaff to gain some knowledge at NAU, I started diving back into the DJ’ing thing. I mean it was perfect for me; I could still be at the gatherings and be an important aspect but also not having to really engage too deeply. Read more>>

John D’Acquisto

I started drawing in 1996 and continued on with my craft. I started using pencil and focusing on space learning about anatomy how to draw people in motion. Just the basics 101 art I took classes in 1996 in art and design art. Using different mediums like pencil, Pen, and charcoal really gave me a perspective of shading without color. Then my next step was to use color pencils and pens. I really like what I was seeing and my creations began to rise in promise. I then advanced my art mediums to water color and acrylic paints. Read More>>

Sabree Garcia

How I got started, I know 2019 I wanted a challenge with art, I wanted to go bigger and I started researching murals and fell in love instantly. I saw an opportunity and reached out to participate in Phoenix first mural project, because I had no experience, I was completely honest and even asked if I can volunteer or help in any way. Danielle had emailed be back and set me up with an amazing mentor (bacpac) to assist. Very grateful for her and the opportunity that changed my life, I would assist bacpac in 117° weather day and night & before night college classes, any free time I dedicated it to murals. I knew it was my purpose, from there I branched out to assist other amazing local artist who I looked up. After a year of assisting, I flew out of the art nest and was completely on my own. I’ve now have done over 20 murals, traveled as far as Louisiana, and still painting till this day. I am very blessed for companies and businesses who give the opportunities and platforms to create.  Read more>>

Sean Downie

I began training MMA right after I turned 18 as a new way to challenge myself. I grew up playing competitive soccer and baseball and after turning 18, no longer able to play youth sports, I found myself living a rather unhealthy lifestyle without the structure and physical push from playing sports competitively. I had a friend who found a place that was teaching MMA and I had recently discovered the sport and thought it would be a great new challenge. I focused on all aspects of MMA for the first 3-4 years but ultimately found my passion was Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I initially had set my sights on a professional career as an athlete, but at that time, the sport was nowhere near as popular as it is now so my goals switched to becoming an instructor and one day operating my own academy. As I was coming up through the ranks in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the West Valley was lacking a high-level Jiu-Jitsu academy that could cater to athletes of all skills and levels. Read more>>

Jeff Sutton

While in college at Northern Arizona University up in Flagstaff, Arizona, I started posting videos on YouTube, featuring automotive content as an outlet of expression for my interest in cars and trucks. The videos started as talking head videos with nothing overly interesting happening like I imagine most people start. Some of the content I wanted to produce I would run by people I knew and a few told me that wouldn’t work. Some of those videos are now some of the more popular videos on my YouTube channel so it’s pretty funny to look back at. I started making trips to Phoenix where I got to experience the car scene and explore more opportunities for content. I moved to Phoenix after graduating and became fully immersed in the car scene in the greater Phoenix area. This offered a lot of opportunities for content and connections until COVID hit and along with the city shutdown, all of the car events had to be canceled. Things were pretty grim as my options for content went down and I had to create with what I had available which led to a drop in content production. Read more>>

Cynthia Olivera

I am the educational director for Wisdom of the Earth essential oils… I am a medicine woman and sage, teaching people to use medicinal essences to help shift old paradigms and patterns for dynamic self-healing. As the director and founder of the Inner Landscape Work™️, a movement/meditation process, I travel internationally to teach plant consciousness to the growing movement of medicinal aromatherapists, meditators, and sacred anointers.  Wisdom of the Earth only sells a single pure essential oil. I have been with the company for 16 years. We are an educational facility and have teachers who teach our philosophy all over the world. In addition, we teach how to use the oils for physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual ailments.  I wrote a book called The Book of Anointing. A spiritual practice of self-love using the Plant Kingdom as your allies. The Book of Anointing gives insight into my personal journey and collects the important and ever-evolving compendium of earth wisdom that I work with every day. It helps others feel comfortable to develop a totally unique, experiential ‘well of knowledge based on my initial guidance, in fact, and form, and then, from their own inner work. Read more>>

Jarvis Guthrie

I thought I had my whole life figured out. I enlisted into the United States Army while taking college courses at Florida State College at Jacksonville in 2012. I recently graduated high school. This would have allowed me to leave as an E3 Computer Specialist. I had no idea that the road ahead of me would birth my purpose and passion changing my life forever.  Incarceration was the last place I thought I would ever attend. On the night of January 21, 2012, I almost fatally lost my life. I was at a house party binge drinking. I woke up in clay county emergency room with welps on my head and a closed black eye. I discovered that I got the houses confused and kicked down the door of a police officer. The gun jammed and he pistol-whipped until I was unconscious.  The case went on for 8 months. The judge gave me an ultimatum of pleading mercy or taking it to trial. I put my trust in God and pleaded mercy. I heard the Judges encouraging words and the gravel hit my heart with Two years in Florida State prison and Three years on house arrest.  Read more>>

Amin Brown

I’ve been a lifelong fan of boxing, participating in Boys & Girls Club and recreational programs in my early youth. I used it as anger management but kinda fell out of the loop during college in the late-90s, until around 2008-2009. I needed another safe outlet around that time to cope with some anger an addition issues which I was experiencing, so I began training in early-2010. In an effort to regain some self-control and stability, I began to throw myself into the sport by visiting boxing gyms, going to fights, and sharing my experiences with others when I came across a boxing podcast (e.g., Tha Boxing Voice) around 2011 which seemed to provide a platform where boxing fans can interact with each other as well as fighters and learn more about the underpinnings of the sport.  In time, I went from a regular listener to a regular caller, then to Caller of the Year for 2017 which eventually led to me becoming a correspondent and co-host for the program. It was also during this time which I developed my content on Instagram which is more of a personal reflection of my appreciation, perspective, and dedication to the sport of boxing. Read more>>

Kiva Meulenbeek

As a born and raised desert goblin, I had always sought out to find the things that sparked my interest in the open landscape of Arizona and chased after things that allowed me to create in whatever capacity that I was able to try. To feed the creative beast, as I like to say. My photography journey started about 5 years ago when one of my good friends gave me my first DSLR camera at the end of my college career. I attended the Film School at Scottsdale Community College with the intention of being a music editor. After realizing that I wasn’t built to sit alone in a dark room for days on end – I switched my focus to a strength that I had in project management: producing. After mounds of paperwork and obtaining a streak of grey hair I decided, at the very last minute, that producing was just something that didn’t fulfill me.  In my very last semester of college, I found documentary and my mentor Emma which sparked something in me that I hadn’t previously recognized. Talking with people, hearing their stories, and capturing just a part of their essence was exactly the thing that I wanted to do – regardless of how that took form. Emma kickstarted this world for me and taught me countless important lessons and tactics to take with me into visual arts. She taught me that it was all about connection, meaning, and a fun mix of light and darkness. The theme of most of our lives.  Read more>>

Kyle Hollenbeck

We started out with one food truck 8 years ago. We have grown it into four restaurant locations, 10 food trucks, two commercial Kitchens (Another on the way), and a full catering company. It has not always been easy from food trucks breaking down, employees quitting on you, or dealing with a pandemic but we have always managed to get it figured out. When we started this business, we just wanted to bring gourmet burgers to people off a food truck. We are now working towards creating shared kitchens to allow other small business owners grow and start their dreams. We rent to over 50 vendors and with the addition of the new Kitchen we believe we will more than double that by the end of 2022!. Read more>>

Michelangelo Caggiano

As a kid named after a famous painter, I grew up in the valley of the sun (Phoenix). Music started for me in junior high. I started to play the trumpet in the school band. I believe this is when I fell in love with the idea of telling a story through a single noted melody. I continued playing and high school opened my eyes to singing as well. In a nutshell, I felt I had my own songs to sing and perform.  While new to this idea, I studied music at Grand Canyon University. I had an amazing music professor who made me write one song a day for the semester. It had to be either a chorus, hymn, or melody that I could write out. He challenged me to open my brain to crafting words and music together.  As I began writing, people found out and invited me to perform some of my songs. I later formed a band called Michelangelo and The Difference and toured around the country making a few records. One of our records “Under Rower” had a little bit of national attention and we landed a distribution deal with Warner Bros/Elektra/Atlantic. Read more>>

Nan McCoy

The Walter Hive exists because we want to gift as many people as we can with the empowerment they feel when they learn that they’re capable of changing their world.  At the Walter Hive, we are interested in the future of our world. Our workshops provide opportunities for sustainable skill set development for our participants.  We also know that the power of connecting people through compassion, art, and creative expression is a way to weave positivity within our community. Read more>>

Kate Campos

It all started on TikTok. At the start of the pandemic in April 2020, like many other people, TikTok had me in a chokehold. During one of the many hours that I was scrolling on the app, I came across several creators whose content was about real estate and creating passive income. I have always set as a goal that I want to retire young but I didn’t know how I was going to achieve that so this opened my eyes. From TikTok, I spiraled into YouTube videos and podcasts in attempt to learn everything I could. I started practicing what I was self-teaching by analyzing real properties for sale in my area and little by little I learned how to spot a great deal. I was so passionate about everything I was learning that one day I shared it with my parents and my dad told me, “Let’s go look at houses”. One thing led to another which led me to finding my first home. In the middle of this crazy housing market, I found a house that had been on the market for two months, had several price reductions and was in a fantastic area. However, it needed a complete overhaul whether I were to resell it or keep it. Thankfully the hard money lender I was working with was willing to finance half of the renovation but I knew even then the house needed more work than what the rehab loan offered.  Read more>>

 

Chantel Harrison

My story is deeply rooted in my family values, Navajo culture, and community. During my early childhood, I grew up in Northern New Mexico, where my grandparents had a farm. The farm was a place where I felt a sense of community through large family gatherings. It was also the first place I had experienced growing food. I remember family workdays throughout the seasons – planting seeds, picking melons, harvesting corn, sitting in the apple trees, and watching my family make kneel-down bread. Besides the exciting part of growing and harvesting food, my family also taught me important life skills of caring for our land and respectfully interacting with plants. Something I still do today by acknowledging and talking to the plants in my house and garden.  As I grew up and moved to the East Valley, I missed the opportunity to be outside and to feel connected to the farm and the food growing process. This ongoing theme and my family experiences gently nudged me into exploring my interests in the field of nutrition. In 2010, I earned my Associate of Applied Science in Dietetic Technology, and in 2014, I graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition.  Read more>>

Amber Lynch Gowan

I’m a licensed and board-certified massage therapist, herbalist, and holistic nutrition consultant. Healthy living and a natural approach to wellness were a big part of how I grew up. I think these roots are part of how I got to where I am today! My passion for learning, my varied interests and hobbies, my love of helping others, and my desire to explore are all a part of who I am and how I’ve shaped my career(s) as a whole. Being a self-employed small business owner has been both challenging and rewarding. It has afforded me the ability and the freedom to shift and shape the way I work and live and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  It started in Chicago, my hometown. I was bartending in my early twenties and desired a change. It was time to figure out my true path and make plans for the future. My interest in health and holistic approaches to wellness brought me to the world of massage therapy. I loved learning about the human body and honing my skills. After obtaining my license and board certification, I was lucky to join a team of wellness practitioners in the northwest suburbs. Read more>>

Dragana Krstic

Grew up in southern-east part of Serbia, Europe, up to age of 16. In ’96 after my family’s business collapsed, my father decided to make a transition and to try for my family to come to America. My mom first initially moved to Michigan, where her brother and uncle were already living for many years prior. As much as I remember, life was very simple in Serbia, A strong sense of community, sharing of resources, and everyone knowing each other. Music, dancing folklore, summer soccer tournaments, and roasting corn by the keo (riverside) has been carried through generations. For about five years, our family had to wait for all immigration papers to be approved so we can transition smoothly and permanently. During these five years, my mom was working in America, chasing the system for paperwork, meanwhile, my father, brother and I had to live and wait in Serbia. This transition and my mother making sacrifices for her family had taught me lot (I was able to understand much more in-depth of this in my 30’s). In early fall of 2001 is when we got green light to finally come to America. Read more>>

Nicole Baker

I like to say I was born to be a realtor! My mom/mentor owned her own successful brokerage, which showed me what a realtor really does for families and what a successful real estate career can look like. Today I am lucky enough to be part The Garcia Group, a top Zillow premier team, and a top Arizona team! This business is stressful and the stakes are high but I am beyond blessed to be able to help many families every year.  Read more>>

Angela Lahman

I have been interested in helping professions since I was a kid and studied communication in college before teaching in the K-12 public school system off and on for 10 years while I had young children. I was a frugal, stay-at-home mom of toddlers who wanted to take care of their basic health needs without having to run to a doctor and pay high co-pays and deductibles. My mom gave us essential oils for Christmas and showed me how I could learn about what to use to support their bodies and give me emotional balance too! Because I loved the products so much, I started recommending them to others.  When I was going through a divorce in 2012, I was working long hours as a teacher with no guarantee my job would be funded the following school year. I was making barely enough to support myself and my 2 kids, but I wanted to provide a better lifestyle for us that included vacations and stability. I decided to start sharing my story about how much Young Living was benefiting our lives!! We created a community of ambitious, generous, and fun people that are transforming the future with a focus on wellness, purpose, and abundance.  Read more>>

Simone Davis

Woman of Purpose National United States Pageant was founded by me Simone Davis the former Ms. Arizona United States 2020. Before I went off to compete on the National Stage of Ms. United States National United States Pageant my platform M.A.D.E QUEEN had been discovered by Chandler City Council Woman Christine Ellis. After returning as fourth runner up to the Newly Crowned Ms. United States. Christine Ellis remembered my M.A.D.E QUEEN platform that was the foundation to empowering woman through Mindset Agility Determination and Economic Empowerment and introduced me to Betty Ramirez the founder of Fortis Femina. I remember sitting at the first event I ever attended for Fortis Femina November 20, 2020, thinking God I want to be a part of this sisterhood the bond was unconditional. Welp, God had something greater in store not only did I get asked to be a part of Fortis Femina but The founder Betty Ramirez asked me one question over breakfast that would forever change my life and would help me achieve my define purpose; “What do you want to do with your crown now that you have returned home?” I expressed that I wanted to empower women through pageantry. Read more>>

Nicole Carson Bonilla

I was born and raised in North Hollywood, California, and performed in a family wild west show with horse and dog acts. I was also a dancer and my hobbies included horses, dance, and art. I attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and earned my bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design with a minor in advertising.  I worked as an art director for an advertising agency in Orange County, California. Then my husband (also a designer) and I both started working from a home studio as Bonilla Design offering visual marketing materials including logos, branding, collateral, and website design.  In 2013 I bought my first Canon camera to add commercial photography and promotional videography to my creative services I offer my clients. I subscribed to some online photo/video courses, watched YouTube videos, and learned on my own. Adding these services allowed me to offer a complete visual design package.  Read more>>

Teri Ernst

My clothes hang neatly by category and then by color from light to dark. My sock drawer is organized the same way using a honeycomb divider to keep things in place. I’ve always been a natural-born organizer and I love helping others create calm, organized spaces.  My first experience with downsizing was over 14 years ago after my grandmother passed away and then again when my mom moved from her big house on the lake to a townhome. I learned firsthand how difficult it can be to let go of special items that may be of little monetary value but hold treasured memories. I also learned ways to cherish those memories without having to hold on to all the stuff. My background is in education, real estate, and yoga. I feel like my whole life has been preparing me to help others organize and create calm in their homes and in their lives. And I have to admit that my meditation techniques and deep, belly yoga breathing exercises have come in handy for clients when they need a helping hand.  Read more>>

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