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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.

Manny Garcia

I was born in Texas and raised in Michigan. I have always been inspired by creativity and fashion that makes a transformational impact on humanity. After a brief stint in Nashville, I landed in LA. Libertad originated as a result of a transformational trip to Quito, Ecuador in 2012. The trip was one filled with acts of empowerment leading to social justice and change. While in Ecuador, I came across many unsung heroes that had given themselves to the needs in front of them resulting in positive solutions and change. Read more>>

Ajay and Sanjay Brahmandam

Sanjay (SanJ): Growing up as a shy and self-loathing kid, school was just a plain nightmare with no friends and those I called “friends” were often people who bullied me the least. As if the already existing routine wasn’t bad enough, middle school offered what I would refer to as “icing on a shit cake” in the form of “activity class.” Since that was the only activity class that sounded cool, I decided to join, “space club,” that never really let us look at the sky. Truly, they killed a future astronaut. But anyway, I think I am better off doing something more fitting and appropriate for me. Read more>>

Brent Estabrook

Growing up I was always known as the “artist” kid. My parents encouraged and nurtured my creativity by putting me in various art classes, however, I never dreamed that art could be a viable career at the time so I made the ill-fated proclamation that I would become a dentist. I entered college/undergrad with the intention to become a dentist because it was a “safe” and “comfortable” career. Upon entering the University of Arizona, I asked my pre-health advisor which major would be best for my future application to dental school. Read more>>

Jack Kira

My father has been in the jewelry industry since I can remember. When he was first starting out in the 1990s, he worked for a number of jewelry manufacturers. After gaining the necessary knowledge and work experience he needed, in the early 2000s, he started his very own jewelry company that focused specifically on custom designed jewelry. I vividly remember him spending hours on end carefully crafting each piece. There was a computer software program called Rhinoceros 1.0 that I recall him using often. Read more>>

Vanessa Lee

When I was about ten I started reading my mother’s Cosmopolitan magazines, and by age 12, I was equipped with proper knowledge of bikini waxes, DIY oatmeal masks, and 15 ways to get him to commit. My favorite articles were the ones about beauty and skin. Of course, I wanted to share this newfound wisdom with all my girlfriends, so I started having sleepovers where I would prepare egg white and lemon masks for everyone. We were beyond our years, battling sun damage and sagging skin. I always say that this was the beginning of my career. Read more>>

Meena Zia

I grew up in Waukesha, Wisconsin, a city about 20 miles outside of Milwaukee. I love Wisconsin, but I always felt a little stir crazy. I had been dreaming of moving to California for many years, but the change seemed so scary that I put it off for a long time. I’ll never forget what my mom said on the millionth time I brought it up to her: “Well, you can move there, and if you hate it you can come back. Or, you can chicken out, stay in Wisconsin, and live with the regret for the rest of your life. Read more>>

Coral Lobera

I stumbled upon the art of hairdressing about six years ago when I started working at the reception desk at an established hair salon that primarily served an eclectic mix of queer folks in Los Angeles. Up until then, I had been a jack of all trades out of necessity due to my undocumented status. The many hats I wore in this quest of financial survival, helped developed my work ethic in many aspects, but I always had to settle for whatever job will accept me with an out of state ID and a Tax ID number. Read more>>

Megan Mueller

I’m from Manassas Virginia. A small-ish town in Northern Virginia and a suburb of Washington DC. My town is known for having two civil war battles fought in it. It was once rural but is now developed in the strip mall, lots of McDonald’s kind of way. I once heard that it has the most McDonalds per square foot but don’t know if that’s true and can’t be bothered to look it up. We did have a cool plant nursery in town, and for decoration, it had dinosaur sculptures with their arms broken offlining the entrance. I spent a lot of time going to my grandfather’s cabin in West Virginia on weekends and over school breaks. Read more>>

Dianna Martinez

I’ve grown up as an entrepreneur because of my father. He has had his own business since I can remember if one door closed he opened up another. He would always tell me, you decide who you want to be. Do you want to be the boss or be bossed around? I grew up asking myself that and quickly realized I want to be my own boss, my own creator, have my own business. But at the time through high school and college, I was indecisive as to what I wanted my business to be. I had various businesses before The LA Garden emerged. Read more>>

Kristopher Escajeda

NKRIOT is an electronic artist, label owner and pioneer to genre concept GOJI, the fusion of Electro-House and Rock. The artist born and raised in Los Angeles, California began as a cyber-punk project in the summer of 2013, that has now morphed into a powerhouse electronic cyborg combining all the elements and tones of full-scale electro-house artist, producer, and engineer. Having disassembled the insides of various unused electronic music equipment, such as KORG boards, NKRIOT developed a one-of-a-kind setup that would become known as the ‘RIOTLAB.’ Read more>>

Megan Geckler

Originally, I thought that I wanted to be a doctor, and I attended the University of Vermont’s Pre-Med program before realizing that I was more interested in Art. I went on to transfer to and then receive a BFA from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in 1998 and then an MFA from Claremont Graduate University in 2001. I started making the large-scale installation work in 1996, I was immediately hooked by the fact that immense, immersive artworks can effectively and immediately transport the viewer into a new environment. Read more>>

Megan Pogoda

The Tea Drop Trailer and all the accompanying projects related to it are all the result of ideas that have been brewing in my mind for years now. For over a decade now, I’ve been involved many kinds of festivals and events as an artist, performer, and photo/videographer. As a result, I’ve adapted to living a nomadic lifestyle by remodeling vintage travel trailers… some would say I’ve mastered the art of festival-ing in style and comfort. Read more>>

Melissa Rodriguez

As a little girl, I always loved either being a part of Weddings or attending Weddings. Weddings to me always seemed so beautiful, and everyone always looked so happily in love. As cliche as it sounds, I ended up watching “The Wedding Planner” with Jennifer Lopez, and I knew then exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. The problem when I grew up was, what were the necessary steps to achieve my goal. After High School, I actually struggled through College with no motivation on how to get to where I wanted to be, but after a year I realized that the best way to begin was to major in Business Management, specializing in Hospitality. Read more>>

Sheeba Alam

I started singing when I was about 15 years old. But just at home. Never in public and always just for fun! I always loved music from a young age but was terrified of speaking in public – let alone ever singing in public. My parents are from Pakistan and moved to Chicago about 40 years ago to live the American dream! Not only did my parents do just that – they moved the entire family to the states as a Christian family moving here for not only a dream but for freedom to express our faith and religion. Read more>>

Jason E.C. Wright

I’ve been incredibly passionate about sharing the stories, reverence, + contexts surrounding the artful craft of design for much of my adult life. Having a started with a passion for retail design specifically + commercial spaces in general, this branched into an interest in interior design, which led to a fascination with architecture + wayfinding interests, which fed into curiosities around urban planning, which grew into seeing how design just seeps into every part of a thriving ecosystem, of both nature + on an interplanetary level. Read more>>

Lisa Brester

In February 2016, my mother was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. I was living in LA at the time, but when I received the news, I immediately moved home to Lexington, KY to be her caretaker. Nothing could have prepared me for all of the emotion, stress, and exhaustion that immediately flew at our family. About two weeks in, Mom realized that I needed a creative outlet to help me cope. She suggested that I should pull out all of my old jewelry making supplies. Read more>>

Mariluz Gonzalez

Vesper Public Relations & Marketing was founded by Mariluz Gonzalez, after graduating with a B.A. in Latin American Studies from UCLA, began working in public relations with well-established entertainment labels. However, my love of Latino Arts & Culture and entrepreneurial spirit led me to successfully launch Vesper Public Relations & Marketing in 2008. In addition, my career has also led me to be a long-time co-host of KPFK’s long-running Latin Alternative music show, Travel Tips for Aztlan, bringing a deeper level of entertainment expertise to Vesper’s clients. Read more>>

Ace-Jimi

Wing Society started as a pop up at the Taste of Inglewood, a food festival in Inglewood California, on July 30, 2017, serving craft buffalo wings and sandwiches. Since then, we have been on a mission to provide the best quality food experience to our followers, which we refer to as the #WINGMOB. Wing Society only sources the best quality ingredients for our customers. All of our chicken is All-Natural, Antibiotic-Free. Chef Ace-Jimi didn’t always use a kitchen as an office space. Read more>>

Toni Torres

I grew up in Cleveland Ohio, Both my parents struggled intensely with drugs and alcohol, s I grew up fast and mostly playing a parent to myself. I didn’t do well in school; I was dyslexic and deeply troubled. I eventually joined the Air Force as an escape. There I was a Medic and worked mostly in Intensive Care. It was a hard job I was dealing with a lot of death while still recovering from my own trauma. Read more>>

Chris Chiarella

My CPG career spans the better part of 15 years. Most of that time was spent as a National Category Manager with major retailers that carry the natural foods and/or sports nutrition industries. This job title provided me a top-down look at all of the CPG products in these industries. It gave me a clear understanding of the products and the way the customer shops their pricing, promotions, and placement. I was personally passionate about the the products I was managing and the best part of that job was that it helped me to create relationships with the minds and founders behind the brands that I loved. Read more>>

Stacy Lemus

Well… I started my path on accident. I was attending CSUDH majoring in Mass Media Communications when one day Ski Beatz reached out to me on Twitter and said he wanted to bring Maschine Experience to LA (he was currently hosting this Beat battle in NY). Read more>>

Renee Cohen

I am a New York native and lifelong sports fan, I graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and pursued a career in sports media after moving to Los Angeles to accept a position with FOX Sports. I spent the next nine years working my way up through the ranks where I helped to manage the Pac-10 Conference sponsorship rights and launch the Big Ten Network. While a fast-paced work environment and passion for sports kept my motivation strong, wage disparity obstacles and a lack of mentorship on how to properly manage her money left me feeling frustrated and at the mercy of my financial circumstances. Read more>>

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