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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.

Trisha Kelly

I started my career as a professional dancer dancing both nationally and internationally before retiring in my late 20’s. Some highlights include dancing for Radio City Rockettes, Cirque du Soleil, Rivernorth Dance Company, Ron De Jesus Dance Company, Todrick Hall, Beyonce, Elvis Costello to name a few. I transitioned to find more meaningful work by going back to school and getting my Masters in Advanced Science in Marriage and Family Therapy at the age of 28yr, where I spent the next six years providing therapy to underserved populations as well as recovering addicts. Read more>>

Xander Simmons

Xander booked his first commercial at 4 years old and has thrived being on set ever since. He loves to play serious roles where he can be emotional, cry and do his stunts and is often cast as the “troubled child,” “the bully,” or any role with evil roots and horror. But he is very funny and witty! He has experience in improv training and musical theatre performance and can capture an audience the minute he walks into the room with his wit and humor. Read More>>

Claudia Granger

Thanks for having me and letting me tell my unique story. I came to this planet with full conscious awareness. That means I remember the process of choosing this life as well as condensing my sprit into the physical world as I was born. My mission in this lifetime is to be a part of the end of all suffering. The human condition is hard and mental health is a huge concern these days. Read More>>

Morgan Hutchings

I remember up until I was about 19 years old that construction was going to be my ONLY career path. It wasn’t until I left my hometown for College that I realized there was an entire world beyond my short view. Fast forward through 4 years of college and a bachelor’s degree from Utah Tech University I had the chance to join Intermountain Audiology which helps treat patients with hearing loss. Since that time, I’ve lead America’s highest-rated Audiology clinic, been on several professional speaking stages, written my own book, and grew my beautiful family! Read more>>

Alison Niesen

When I was a teen, I struggled with depression and low self-esteem. I was paired with a therapist who helped me realize that I have the power to overcome my symptoms. This experience drove me to pursue a career in mental health. I knew that I eventually wanted to start my own private practice because it gives me freedom to tailor treatment to each clients’ specific needs and I hope to provide a supportive workplace for other clinicians in the future. When I was younger, I was told how important it is to explore other areas. Read more>>

Michelangelo Caggiano

I began my actual, intentional musical journey in the 5th grade when I decided to play the trumpet in my school band at Barcelona elementary. This is when I became hooked on melodies. I played through high school and thought I was either going to join the United States Marines band or play in college. Things changed at the tail end of high school when I ended up in the hospital after recklessly playing with some machinery at a large well-known church in Phoenix and falling from the ceiling in a cherry picker lift. Read more>>

Shiran,Marlene & Mandi SKM Aesthetics

SKM Aesthetics was created by three nurses Shiran, Marlene & Mandi. After years of working in the medical field, Hospitals and other Med Spas it was time to start a new adventure and work for ourselves. Shiran and Marlene met while working at a plastic surgery center and discovered where we discovered we had a lot in common and created a friendship. After both leaving the Surgical Center we kept in contact as we were both venturing out into the beauty industry. Shiran decided to get certified at NLI where she was trained in Laser treatments as well as other treatments.  Read more>>

Alexandria Carroll

The Modern Alien is saving the planet one outfit at a time. 80% of all the items in this shop are up-cycled and thrifted to be funky, unique and just all around fun! The Modern Alien is a women owned business operated by a retired raver named Alexandria. She has always loved wearing out of the box funky clothing, which made her feel like she never fit in. This is the foundation that The Modern Alien was founded on. She realized she can create anything her heart desired and help our beloved Mother Earth. She realized she had the creative talent to up-cycle clothing to create something even more amazing! Read more>>

Shawn Banzhaf

I spent 21 years on the Army National Guard. In that time, I served in combat in Iraq in 2006-2007 during a very volitile and dangerous few years of the war. My job was to find IED’s (improvised explosive devices) before they blew up on the convoy I was helping to protect. It was intense to say the least. We lost one Soldier during our deployment to an IED. The trauma of war really never leaves a person who has been a part of it but the story doesn’t stop there. Since we returned, my unit has lost 4 Soldiers to suicide. Both of these issues drove my passion to do something to help this cause. Read more>>

Cinque Smith

Well I have been creative all my life. Born and raised in Dayton Ohio my imagination knew no bounds I was fixated as a youth on everything from cartoons, comic books, to video games. My journey to where I am now comes with knowing that I have a strong support system. My family and close friends have been a constant source of inspiration. Today as a 40 year old artist I work hard to develop works of art that resonates with the audience. They are essentially invited into my collective paradigm, and are thrust into a vast euphoric sense of commonality with the subject matter. Read more>>

Dee Willis

I began coding websites back in 1996 when drag-and-drop options were not available. That was the only way to make my Black Planet social media page look good. Over time, I began designing MySpace Layouts, which turned into creating websites for small business owners in the community. Since 2003, I have been designing graphics and websites professionally. I’ve created promotion flyers, magazine layouts, paperback, and kindle book covers and interiors. I’ve owned multiple businesses over the years, including a physical women’s fashion boutique called Topshelf Fashionz in Mesa for a time. Read more>>

Luke Palmer

I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. I started writing music when I was in about eighth grade or so. I started out writing pop songs which looking back were pretty cheesy. I’ve always had an affinity for the English language. I was always a good writer. I loved poetry and the ability to manipulate words. Back then I didn’t play any instruments. I took trumpet for middle school band but I was unable to read music so that was very short-lived. My brother, who passed away, used to play the guitar. he was one of the best guitarist I’ve ever heard. Read more>>

Chiara Magni

Thank you very much for having me!!! My name is Chiara Magni, I am a professional painter from Italy. I’ve now been doing this for several years, my paintings are now collected all over the world, with a special focus in the US. At the end of 2020 I came up with a name for my painting style “Bright Expressionism”. I’ve always defined myself as an impressionist but the more I painted the more I understood that wasn’t quite correct , that label didn’t fit me well. After having painted and sold hundreds of paintings I felt the strong need to explain and name a new style. Read more>>

Anthony Sanchez

My name is Anthony Sanchez aka Professor Majïç®™. I am the founder of Majïç•Musìck•Records•LLC, CreAting wAveZ Marketing, and
MajiÇlothing Clothing Line. My story begins in California, I was born in Los Angeles and raised in San Bernardino. My childhood was being brought up in poverty with 5 siblings and a pair of honest hard working parents in a 2 bedroom apartment. I started rapping my freshman year in high school and am just like that kid in the movie “Dope”. Read more>>

Ashley Lachney

I started assisting on events in a corporate role beginning in 2012. From there, I moved to an internship assisting on ten weddings in one Summer AND planning my own wedding. I left my corporate role then and worked two solid years planning everything from meetings to weddings to charity galas, ensuring that every client felt heard, cared for, and supported in the journey of bringing their event to life. I’ve now been planning weddings and events full time with Alston Mayger Events for the past four years! Read more>>

Ebonette Vargas

Built on concrete Entertainment came to life over 10 years ago, However the last 3 years we have really been Developing our brand our label and our artist.
Since we last spoke we’ve done a handful of shows, we have hosted our own show brick by brick summer bash and we’ve also put out two albums one with Built On Concretes own artist GetMoneyGa$, Yung Cook and BWill We added BWill to Built On Concrete Entertainment at the beginning of the year And he is quickly gaining attention and fans around our surrounding areas. Read more>>

Laura Sharp

I’m a lifelong book lover, and owning a bookstore has always been a “castle in the sky” for me. In the last few years, our world has started to feel increasingly divisive; books, for me, are a way to change that. I believe that books can expose us to life experiences and people that we would never have otherwise had the opportunity to learn from. They can make us more empathetic and curious, and help us think critically. Opening a children’s bookstore specifically dedicated to stocking books that create connection, spark curiosity, and inspire joy, seemed like the best way for me to make a difference. Read more>>

Daniela Borgialli

I was an active and creative child. I loved to dance, swim, go to gymnastics class, ice skate, I even tried to ride my tricycle in new ways (until I fell off of it!) I performed my first solo at around 6year old. There’s a picture to remind me! I played piano for many years. I was part of a Theatre group in middle school and found my first “modern” dance class around this same time. In high school I was active in volleyball and dance. As I fumbled my way into college not knowing what direction to go – I received my BA in French and was also taking dance classes and was part of the Dance Theatre Group at Boston University. Read more>>

Kim Davidson

I found my path to photography, oddly enough by pursuing a career that was not a great fit for me. Straight out of college, I went to work in the financial industry. At that time, working in corporate America was my view of success. Work for a big corporation, 9 – 5, five days a week, benefits, paid time off, you get the picture. I stayed in the industry way longer than I probably should have. I met a lot of great people along the way, including my now husband, but I came home most days unfulfilled and unhappy. I have always had a passion for photography. Read more>>

Tanya Carroccio

I went from healthy to unhealthy in just over a decade. In my late 30’s I was an executive with a hospital/healthcare system. I loved leadership and had been climbing that leadership ladder for over 10 years, so I was excited to advance my career. Unfortunately, I felt as though I needed to prove myself every day. This mindset ensured I did not have a good work/life balance. I was working long hours, eating poorly, minimal exercise, ignoring stress…and slowly becoming sick. Of which I also ignored. I did not address what my body was trying to tell me. Read more>>

Brooke Csikos & Tyler Barnum

To begin this story we need to rewind a little bit. Brooke has a beautiful banded rock that she collected, while visiting the Grand Canyon; This unknowingly started it all. We decided to rescue a puppy, Max to keep our other rescue dog Cambria company. We have always lived an active lifestyle and enjoyed hiking, camping, fishing, and really any activity outdoors. Shortly after adopting Max we planned our first trip as a family of four. Kanab, Utah was the destination because it sits between multiple national parks and monuments. Read more>>

Jon Garber

I got started with an apprenticeship in St. Petersburg fl in 1998. Soon after relocated to Phoenix. After having worked in a few shops in the area and co owning a shop or two opened Dame of the west tattoo in Scottsdale with my business partner Josh Carter. We quickly outgrew that space and opened Grand majestic west. Our goal has always been to assemble the best team of artists possible, the biggest challenge has been to find artists that share the same drive and work ethic as josh and I, people who are self motivated and eager to be the best they can be, as artists and human beings. Read more>>

Greg Treviso

My story begins in 1992 at The University of Northern Colorado. I began my studies believing I would be a Psychology major. I was taking all general education courses along with a few Psychology classes. Then I signed up for a class that changed my life, Anatomical Kinesiology. I loved the study of the body and how it moved. I changed my major to Kinesiology and finished my required curriculum in December of 1996 but my major required a 400 hour internship in order to graduate. So I chose Cardiac Rehabilitation at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs. Read more>>

Simona Berger

Born and raised in Terracina, Italy, I grew up surrounded by history and beauty. I discovered a passion for photography when I moved to the USA, and my husband bought me my first camera. I studied Science of Photography at the Art Institute and the New York Institute of Photography. When my husband retired from active duty in the US Navy, we moved back to his hometown, and I decided to open a studio to share my passion with models and clients alike in Saint Peters, MO. Read more>>

Grace Mia

My career began about 3 years ago. I was always interested in modeling and the fashion industry. As my confidence grew after graduating high school and beginning college, I pushed myself to start doing more photo shoots with local photographers to get my name out there more. My passion for modeling expanded as I walked in my first runway show the Summer of 2021. It was such a surreal experience and I just knew it is what I am supposed to be doing in life. My absolute favorite type of photo shoots are editorial and runway because that is how I have always been able to best express myself – looking my best is how I always feel my best! Read more>>

Houston Towe

Child actor Houston Towe age 11, started acting at age 7. During our last interview he had completed season 5 of Animal Kingdom’s TNT. SInce then he has co-starred in Paramonut Plus’ reboot of iCarly playing young Freddie. He also guest starred in his biggest role yet playing Otis Van Wirt in season two, episode one of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Stories on HULU. His episode is called Dollhouse. Additionally he played a supporting role in the upcoming Rob Schnieder movie , Daddy Daughter Trip, which releases in local Harkins Theaters on September 30th. Read more>>

Casey Cheuvront

I haven’t always been a painter. Though I have always had a creative urge like many I have had to work to support myself, and like many (perhaps women especially) I was not encouraged to do…well, much, really. I do remember my mother saying “Why don’t you take typing so you can be a secretary?” I replied, “Mom, I want to HAVE a secretary, not BE one.” I did spend years in corporate America, went to school, worked in a variety of fields, but always did something creative on the side – dance, cooking, sketching, gardening, painting – always something. Read more>>

Amy Chandler

The creation of Heart 2 Home was accidental in nature and was a result from a mother trying to help her son. Due to a medical condition, for the first year of life my son underwent multiple hospitalizations, doctors visits and many rounds of antibiotics/medications leaving him with a severely underdeveloped ( I’d argue non-existent) immune system. I wish I could say I was exaggerating when reporting that he was sick every other week! So, after about a year and a half of constant illness I turned to ole-trusty Google to search for an all-natural form of immune support in hopes of getting my kid to a healthier place. Read more>>

Derek Hales

In 2014 my wife and I had recently married and were in desperate need of a new mattress. We started our searching in-store and were shocked by the prices. We’re pretty frugal people so we decided to try one of the new bed in a box style mattresses. We ordered a King sized Tuft & Needle for $600. While we loved the concept, we ultimately didn’t like Tuft & Needle, so we returned it and tried another mattress, the original Casper. Over the several months of mattress shopping I had compiled a huge amount of research into a document. Over a weekend I had a thought that others might also benefit from the research we did. Read more>>

Ariel Willow

I started my business back in late 2012 and grew it to where it is today through it’s many evolutions. Growing up I always knew I wanted my intuitive gifts to help others understand what can’t always been seen. Through paranormal investigation, study and pushing myself to my limits, I’ve learned more and more about myself and my abilities and how to help others hone their own. In 2020 when the pandemic started, I was homeless and living out of a van while working at a warehouse in Vacaville California. Read more>>

Dana Matthews-McNeil and Will Rogers

The RS RODEO company members consists of Will Rogers, Dana Matthews-McNeil and Jake Sporbert. The solid foundation of value and integrity has put RS RODEO at the forefront of the rodeo industry. We are a cowboy friendly Rodeo Producing company and stock contractor located in Arizona founded by contestants that love the sport of rodeo. 2X NSPRA “Stock Contractor of the Year” specializing in Senior Pro and Junior Roughstock rodeos with exceptional family fun rodeo entertainment. From concept to completion, RS RODEO prides itself in being a complete rodeo production partner. Read more>>

Shayna Hallas

I initially started my business as Arthur’s Pet Supply in January of 2020.. The entire business plan was emotionally driven and destined to fail. I had lost my dog, Arthur, traumatically in surgery on Thanksgiving and I was an emotional wreck with little-to-no support from my 9-5 job when I expressed how my mental health was being affected. My thoughts were, “If they don’t care about me, I’ll create my own company.” Arthur’s Pet Supply launched on January 1st, 2020 after only 1 short month going into business planning, financing, website design, contracts, suppliers, etc. Read more>>

Chris Arpad

Ok, well, in a nut-sell, I started life in Kansas, spending the first 17 years growing up in the small town of McPherson…lived in Wichita for 10 years where I studied music at WSU and ultimately discovered the steel pan…migrated to Los Angeles, California (where I’ve lived for the past 27 years) in search of perpetual sunshine and performance opportunities…and now I’ve been drawn to the Sonoran Desert of Arizona as I continue to follow my passion for sharing music, and life, as a solo steel drummer. Read more>>

Brian Lane

Whenever I find free time in my life, I am quick to fill that with a new hobby. Back in 2017, I went vegan for my health. I’m extremely grateful for how much I learned about what it means to be vegan in these years since, and I’m thankful for all the sustainable lifestyle changes I’ve made in my life too. Presently now I’m vegan for all the reasons, which are sustainability, animals, myself. My vegan journey changed when I acted on my free time after graduating from college and before starting my career back in 2018. Read more>>

Carol McSweeney

I am a passionately devoted watercolor artist, The path that led me to this amazing and fulfilling career was a meandering one, and my experiences along the way fed my career-to-be. Early on, my fascination with human resiliency and spirit led me to careers as a special education teacher, school counselor, and school psychologist. I developed an interest in photography and, although I photographed many subjects, I was particularly drawn to the challenge of portraying people and their emotions. Read more>>

Corey McGrath

So as far as where I am today, I’m very new, and have no clientele at the moment. How I got to this point is a lot of self-reflection on where I wanted to be, and what I wanted to be doing in 5 years. I knew in 5 years I didn’t want to actually be working for a company, and so that led me to want to own my own business. As far as what I do as far as my photography goes, I am self-taught. I went out and purchased books upon books on different aspects of the photography field. Including how to do ISO, exposure, depth of field, and many other aspects of photography. Read more>>

Brenna Testa

I was born and raised in Joliet, IL, a small suburb outside of Chicago. I attended a Catholic grade school and high school before making the move to Tempe, AZ to attend college at Arizona State University. There, I was involved in my sorority for all 4 years, serving on the executive board, planning events, making friends and having the best college experience! I graduated with a Business Tourism degree and a minor in Special Event Management, always knowing I wanted to event plan! While I was a senior in college I heard about an open position at Girl About Town as an event assistant and quickly applied. Read more>>

Kathryn Bojchuk

I started my entrepreneur journey as a pediatric nurse after graduating college before realizing I wanted to deepen my awareness of preventative medicine through yoga, mindfulness, & holistic nutrition. I ended up leaving Western Medicine and started teaching yoga while going to graduate school full-time for my Master’s in Nutrition & Integrative Health and my certification as a Holistic Health Coach. Fast forward after graduating with my Master’s, I started coaching clients 1:1 and saw firsthand the beneficial role that a holistic approach to health takes. I was hooked on changing client’s lives for the better! Read more>>

Colleen Conlon

13 moves before college. 10 years struggling with an eating disorder. 7 career shifts within 5 years, 4 abdominal surgeries. 1 lonely girl. That girl was me. I moved when I went into the 6th grade, from a small town in NH to an even smaller town in  ME. 3 elementary schools merged together and I was the one kid who knew nobody. Soon enough I met my best friend, Anna. She was just so cool. Like cool clothes, cool energy, lots of friends. Looking back I initially fit in well, I was a cool kid too, no problem going up to new kids and could make friends easily. Read more>>

Jesse Pekarek

Hello! First off, before I dive in, I want to first thank you for the opportunity of sharing our story! I sincerely appreciate this, for it helps spread the word of who we are and our purpose. Happy Hooves is the most recent non-profit I founded, just over 3 years ago, which provides animal assisted therapy and activities for those in need. Animals have always been a part of my life, especially having grown up on a small family dairy farm in Minnesota. I always enjoyed training and showing cattle each year at the county fair. Read more>>

Ula & David Bozek

In our early twenties, we started WMP Eyewear in 2011 out of our small apartment in Chicago, IL. We moved to AZ in 2017, found a warehouse space to expand WMP, and began growing our team. In 2019, we made Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies list! We always loved accessories and wanted everyone to have access to great quality without paying a huge markup for branding and a logo. Our goal was for customers to be shocked at the low price when they could physically see and feel the high quality of our sunglasses. We believe that staying true to our mission and working hard has gotten us to where we are today.  Read more>>

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