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Inspiring Stories from DTLA

The heart of our mission at VoyageLA 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 LA’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 LA’s rising stars below.

Danielle DiVello

My story takes career turns that brought me through the news industry to marketing to criminal justice back to marketing, then to politics and back to marketing then to teaching and then my final return to marketing where I established Cupid Designs LA in 2012. Read More>>

Kelsey Doorey

I got my first taste of the bridal industry working for a high-end wedding planner in New York, while I was earning my degree from Columbia University. It was incredible being exposed to the top-of-the-line wedding brands! Then in my early 20’s I began serving as a bridesmaid in friends’ weddings. While being a bridesmaid is an incredible joy and honor, it became a very expensive honor. This is when I came up with the idea for Vow To Be Chic. Read More>>

YUI OKAMOTO

I decided to come to the United States when I was 20 years old. I wasn’t sure what I wanted for living back then, just enrolled in a community college in Santa Monica and took the cosmetology program for fun. Since I attended the University of Science in Japan, the chemistry and anatomy classes were familiar and fun. working with other classmates in hands on classes were exciting. Read More>>

Paul Madahan

After getting my Cosmetology license, I set up a small station at home seeing a few clients a week. This gave me the opportunity to master my craft and build my clientele. Soon after, I began working with several magazines and fashion companies which allowed me to gain exposure. After a few years, I was able to build enough clientele to open my own salon. Read More>>

Dan Moran

Private jeweler and diamond expert Dan Moran is well-known for his different approach to buying a diamond and designing an engagement ring. He works with clients from all over the world and has been featured in Bridal Guide Magazine, Brides, Modern Luxury, The Huffington Post, Women’s Health and more. He’s also a private pilot, and will often fly his handmade custom creations to his clients himself. Read More>>

Nozomi Kon

I attended to local psychic meetings and attended classes to develop my skills for couple of years. I am also a certified yoga teacher. Currently I do not teach yoga; however, I do see very close connection between Yoga and Reiki. Read More>>

Shaun Leverett

I was born in the heart of Los Angeles, CA. An angry child with a lot of aggression, I gravitated towards sports as a way to avoid the nuances of my neighborhood. As a teenager while visiting my brother in Okinawa, Japan I was introduced to the art of the 8 limbs called “Muay Thai” kick boxing. A few years later, I had the opportunity to visit the country of Thailand and train at a boxing camp. Not only the sport but the culture of Thailand has been part of my lifestyle ever since. Read More>>

Christian Cianfrani

Born and raised on the streets of Philadelphia, I joined the US Army. After a few years, I became an Officer of Aviation. I received the Army Physical Fitness Platinum Award but my real goal was to help other soldiers. While being the Executive Commander of an Aviation Company, I also was the Army Physical Fitness Officer. Read More>>

Matt Chase

The Bayou opened in October 2012, with a New Orleans theme. The main idea was to create a fun, stress free environment and it very quickly became a spot for locals calling us the ‘Cheers’ of Weho. There are 2 happy hours every night, 4pm-8pm and 10:30pm-12:30am. Through the years, we have created weird and fun cocktails on draft, such as the Mardis Gras rum bucket. Read More>>

Laura VanDenBergh

As soon as I was able to write, I put my experiences down (they mostly had to do with my cat….) in journals, and created short pieces of prose and poetry (also, mostly about my cat). In high school, I was lucky enough to be in a film program where we made our own films from screenplay to premiere. I co-wrote two films, wrote two films myself, and directed two films as well. Since then, I’ve written many of my own screenplays, but DILF Diaries is the first project I will bring to completion since high school. Read More>>

Samantha Bryan

I live in Los Angeles, CA originally from Sydney, Australia. My company is Bronzed Aussie. My shop, Bronzed Aussie, in Downtown LA gives you the BEST cuisine Australia has to offer. Walk through my doors and you’ll be greeted by the sights and smells of a traditional Australian Pie Shop selling the iconic Aussie Meat Pies, Sausage Rolls, Fish & Chips, Lamingtons… YUM! The pie menu includes varieties of Beef, Lamb, Chicken, Vegan & sweet pies; Bronzed Aussie offers them all. Read More>>

V Nguyen

The Meal Prep is a talented team building a service that changes the game. We’re a startup founded in 2015 using technology to deliver healthy wholesome meals. We pay attention to quality instead of quantity, ensuring that each meal is cooked with our hearts. We believe good food should be convenient, diverse, healthy and frankly taste good. Read More>>

Steven Lieberman

Pet Independence is the outgrowth of our love for running small businesses, home decor and cats and dogs. We love creating an appealing home environment, want to give freedom to our pets, but often that can mean damaging the decor and design we strived so hard to create in the first place. Read More>>

Anar Dadashov

The story began in Azerbaijan in 1941. My grandfather, Shukur, survived during the war by using his cart and 2 horses to transport wheat, butter, and flour to the different villages. This was essential for the life of many people because during this time there was a famine and food was scarce. Read More>>

Ilsa Ambika Ryan

For me, it all started on a soul seeking adventure looking to find more depth in life. I began by traveling, searching and seeking. I finally realized that I already had the answers, I just happened to be running from them. We all quite often work in this way. Looking for answers to our problems with substances, places, and external things. Read More>>

John Shinavier

I’ve always volunteered usually once a week. In the beginning, it was at Project Angelfood. I liked to volunteer for several reasons; I liked helping others. It took my attention off of myself and I always meet some wonderful people. Read More>>

Debra Lacey

My first passion is dancing. I started as a young girl and have trained and danced professionally all of my life right up to the present. Throughout my career I have always been intrigued by my impressions, and have wanted to capture them. Once I began to really delve into and study photography, the years of focus and rigor that is required for a dancer informed this new passion of mine. I have always had a strong desire to learn, explore and create, and this has led me to develop my business to where it is now. Read More>>

Michael Anderson

I got into personal coaching about 5 years ago when I lived in Atlanta. I was in school at Georgia State University where I was studying marketing and really excelled in the program and had a lot of offers from big companies to come work for them. At the time I was just going to a CrossFit gym to stay in shape and I really enjoyed the sport of it all and taking classes in a group setting. I got more involved in the community at the gym and the owner approached me one day and asked if I would be interested in becoming a certified CrossFit instructor. Read More>>

Jason Hanan

I went to business school and moved to L.A. with hopes of pursuing a “creative” career. After trying a bit of everything L.A. has to offer including the film and tv industry, I decided I wanted to do something in music. Music is probably the one universal thing in the world that everybody loves — I was no different. I thought if I could find something in music, I’d never get bored in life. Read More>>

Brett Hennessey

Since its founding in 1963, Hennessey + Ingalls has grown to fill a unique niche in American retailing. We are the largest art, architecture and design bookstore in the western United States, and probably the largest retail operation in the country dealing just with books on the visual arts. Founded by Reginald Hennessey as an outlet for rare and out-of-print architecture books and is still family-owned and managed by his son, Mark Hennessey. Read More>>

Sylvie de Gil

I am a French business woman who have parlayed my fashion expertise and life-long visual arts experience into an innovative fashion industry business. I started Jomsy Fashion Consultant in 2010 with the goal of coaching emerging designers towards building a solid foundation for clothing line production. A foundation that clients can apply again and again no matter the type of clothing collection. Read More>>

Eric Turner

In 2007 I graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a degree in English and a Minor in Cinema-Television, at what many people consider to be the beginning of the “Great Recession”. Although I didn’t exactly know it, the economic conditions and resulting job market played a huge role in drawing me towards entrepreneurship. As a native, born and raised in Los Angeles, I tried my best to leverage my network but from about 2007 to around 2011, I mostly bounced from job to job trying to patch together an income from any work I could find. It was around this time that I started my first business, rescuemycellphone.com. Read More>>

Patrick Cain

About five years ago I was dating someone who – unbeknownst to me or any of her friends – had a serious mental condition, multiple personality disorder (low end of the spectrum). At the same time I was trying to renovate and beautify my building near USC. What started as a project to put wood planters in the ground as stepping stones quickly became a therapeutic endeavor to try and make sense of what my live-in partner was saying and doing. So, I sanded. And I kept sanding .And, you know, when you’re behind a belt sander the noise is so much you can’t hear anything other than the motor and your own thoughts. Read More>>

Alissa Jacob

Reservoir was born when co-founders Alissa Jacob and Aliza Zelin Neidich (lifelong best friends from NYC) recognized the need for a fresh and unique shopping experience in Los Angeles. By leveraging Aliza’s background in fashion and public relations with Alissa’s background in business and marketing, Reservoir provides the thriving community of fashion-conscious women of LA with a one-stop-shop to purchase anything from a great dress, a cool t-shirt, a unique ceramic teapot and contemporary piece of art all in the same place. Reservoir is more than a store, it’s a lifestyle community offering collaborative events with local influencers such as yoga and meditation, succulent workshops, trunk shows, in-store pop ups, seasonal parties and much more. Read More>>

Aya Sumika

Midori was founded by my Mother, Midori in 1989. My Husband and I purchased the business in 2010 taking on the challenge of infusing new Creative energy into the business, building upon the established brand. Read More>>

Taryn Collins

SoCal Wedding Consultant began in 2007. I’m the owner of the company and we have an AMAZING team of lead and assistant coordinators. After creating the business in Southern California, I spent several years in New York planning weddings while our team continued to cover SoCal. My background is in musical theater direction and that very easily lent itself to wedding planning, they’re almost identical in every aspect. Our couples love that we treat their wedding day as an event and that we manage every single tiny detail (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sewn a button on!) Read More>>

Donna Hofstee

I started out doing Princesses parties for a San Diego company in 1989, I then moved to the Inland Empire and started my own Entertainment company. It took off. I found that my love of painting on skin was my passion so I leaned toward that part of the business. My creations range from monsters and creatures to fairy tale and fantasy makeup. Read More>>

Cody Aldridge

West Grove Bouncers was a previously owned company by my neighbor Greg two doors down the street. When I was 18 Greg approached me one day offering West Grove Bouncers to me by paying him off each month. I relaunched West Grove Bouncer 2014 January and paid off the company with in the first year. I could not have done it without the small loan my aunt gave me along with the constant support my friends and family gave me up to this day especially my little brother Spencer. Read More>>

Noelle Grant

I have my degree in visual communications with an emphasis on event planning. That being said, I love a good party! When photo-booths started making their way back into the event scene i was stoked. I was (and to be fair, still am) that one girl at a party with a glass of wine in hand taking a million photos at the photo booth that the attendant is annoyed with. Read More>>

Adam Kleifield

My immersion into photography started when I took a Santa Monica City College photo class. From there I eventually transferred to Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. All the while I worked odd photography-related jobs, shooting everything from graduations to weddings to bands. After Brooks, I came back to LA and got involved in the commercial photo industry, assisting many established photographers on advertising and editorial shoots of all shapes and sizes. Read More>>

Kerry Vitiello

I met the super talented Diana Jacobs many years ago. I was just a “kid” from Massachusetts looking for a cool PT job when I spotted a magical ad for “Artist Assistant Wanted” . I knew that job was for me. I was surrounded by art and animals all day long. The rest is history. We discovered we enjoyed collaborating. We worked on projects together – worked on a book – rescued animals – organized artists boutiques – did some road trips – sorted through owl pellets – and started a jewelry company called DUSTMUFFIN! Read More>>

James Yoshizawa

My father was a Japanese woodwind specialist who played on many movie soundtracks and my mother was a classic rock and 80’s pop fan, so I was around music my entire life. In elementary school, I enjoyed math and science classes and loved animals, so I was set on being a veterinarian. But as soon as I started playing music at age 10, it immediately felt like I found what I should have been doing all along. I played my first paying gig at age 12 with a Japanese folk music group called Matsutoyo Kai for the summer Obon festivals in Little Tokyo and continued playing with them throughout my teens. Read More>>

Lynette la mere

I had done catering in LA before getting married and having children. I remembered loving it very much, long hours, hard work, but I loved creating beautiful events. My marriage didn’t work out. Just before the boys started school I moved to Santa Barbara, got a divorce and full custody of my sons. I always joke that all I got was two kids and a big pot, but it’s pretty close to the truth. Read More>>

Tahira Yousuf

My born & brought up is from Pakistan. After completing my B.S Hons in English Literature and Mass Communications I moved to Dubai, UAE for Job purpose. And I worked as a Senior Events Coordinator to the Managing Director in an Events Management Company that used to deal with Government and Semi Government dept. for Cooperate events a.e Fashion Shows, Exhibitions, Seminars etc. Read More>>

Amber Amos

Westside Taco Company was born out a love for street food and the need to share something we couldn’t seem to find up to par. People kept asking us where we go to get the best tacos, so we decided to make them. We took the leap and when we announced we were open, we were booked 6 weeks in advance. 4 months later, our carnitas taco took 2nd place in the people’s choice category of Tacolandia in LA. The rest is taco history. Read More>>

SuperTallPaul

The Jive Joint is a music and comedy art collective and production that has been performing events and music festivals for over a decade. From Coachella, Bonnaroo, EDC, Electric Forest, Lightning in a Bottle, and many more. Last year we started a local monthly event at an amazing vegan, Vietnamese restaurant called Au Lac. The DTLA version has a small speak easy in the back called the Fedora Room. Read More>>

Carly Williams

I had graduated from college right as the recession hit and job openings were few and far between. To be fair, I still had no idea what I wanted to do for a career path so I took a temp job in the medical field. During that time, my very best friend got married in Washington and I was able to help assist her with the final stages of planning her wedding. It was from there that it struck my interest in project managing and event production. I came back and quickly picked up an internship with a planner and shortly after assisting her on a few jobs, I launched a Facebook page for my new business. Read More>>

Geoffrey Umpleby

I have three press releases that cover my first four years. I can supply you with the articles . Just send me email address you want them sent to. But simply, I was in the restaurant business for 30 years. Got laid off. Read More>>

Audey Shen

My dad got me my first DSLR for a middle school graduation present after he noticed that I had been shooting in our backyard with a point-and-shoot. Throughout highschool, I would go on workshops led by Aperture Academy where we would take day-trips throughout California, shooting everything from landscape to macro, and learning proper photography techniques along the way. I took a 2-week photo program with National Geographic Student Expeditions my sophomore year, and this is when I realized that I am most at ease when I’m with my camera, surrounded by the beauty the world has to offer. Back in school, I would learn about photojournalism and sports photography while shooting for our school’s newspaper, and I got into shooting portraits for the upcoming seniors my last year of highschool. Read More>>

Amanda Doskocil

Simply put, I was forced into photography. In early 2013 one of my former college classmates got engaged, and in her search for a wedding photographer she asked me—point blank—if I would consider shooting her wedding in exchange for photography education. I have an amateur background in graphic design, and I am naturally pretty creative, but at the time I had never held a DSLR camera in my life, so I was a little taken aback. She was a budding photographer and desired wedding photos taken in “her style,” but didn’t know anyone who could give her that result for a decent price, so she figured she’d train someone to shoot and edit in the exact same way she did. Read More>>

Ivo Peshev

Ivo, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My name is Ivo Peshev and I am from Bulgaria, I have been bartending for over 13 years now in both Europe and USA. I signed up for a bartending school at the tender age of 16 and I can honestly say that the time I spent in that Bartending School in Sofia is to this day the best time of my life. My academy focused on teaching classic bartending with cocktail knowledge and heavy emphasis on product knowledge and proper techniques. In addition “FLAIR FOREVER ACADEMY” (the name of the school) devoted a good amount of time to teaching Flair Bartending – like Tom Cruise in the movie cocktail. Read More>>

Tom Scott

The company was conceived by me after working as a body-painted “Oscar” statue for a special Academy Awards party in CT for 3 years beginning in 2011. Since I’ve been in fitness all my life and like modeling and acting, which I’ve done for 12+ years, I was thinking of a creative way to leverage being a “statue” into other similar work. After moving to CA three years ago, I recruited Raheem and Julian to form the business. I was specifically looking for other heavily credentialed guys to showcase our talent. Read More>>

Tracy Kiggen

I have been an artist my whole life and dabbled in many aspects of art from a young age. When I was fifteen, in South Africa, I saw a body art show and decided then and there that that would be my passion. Two years later we immigrated to the US where I met my ex husband on Melrose Avenue. We started working as DJ’s and ran the underground club scene in LA for many years to follow. Read More>>

Daisi Pollard Sepulveda

I’m  a beauty queen/model and I’ve always had a strong business sense. I was way ahead of my time 12 years ago when I opened an influencer-esque studio. It was the early days of Myspace and I knew digital media was going to be a thing. I knew “talent-first” content was going to be big. Read More>>

Sheryl Contreras

I started doing hair 13 years ago. For 7 years, I worked for the same salon. You could say I was comfortable, but not happy. 4 years ago, I was taken off work after I caught someone while she passed out and herniated every disc in my neck and back on the left side. After calling OSHA, I learned we were all being poisoned with the deadly form of black mold growing in the AC unit. Read More>>

Zelina Medina

I grew up in Highland Park, in the 80’s and 90’s when it wasn’t the easiest place to live. It was notorious at a national level for gang violence and was very unsafe. Read More>>

Cari Schaefer M.A.TCM, L.Ac.

At 17, I developed my first health challenge. I was told by my doctors that there was nothing I could do and I just had to live with it. Unfortunately, this advice led me down a road towards worsening health. Read More>>

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