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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.

Brian Lee

I was raised in Orange County and moved to New England when I was 10. I remember my parents hiring a DJ for a family celebration – it was truly the first time my entertaining instincts kicked in. By the age of 14, I had enough DJ equipment to start teaching myself how to mix (the fact that my parents listened to those train wreck mixes over and over shows their true love). I soon started DJing for private parties and even my own high school dances. Fast forward 7 years and I would be living back in Orange County, DJing at nightclubs and the occasional wedding. While working weddings I noticed a huge gap in the market for skilled, beat mixing DJs (ones you would see headline at a club) that also knew how to speak eloquently in front of an audience and act as a professional Emcee. Read more>>

Jasmine Fitzwilliam

I’ve always been an art-maker, even as a little kid growing up in Montreal. I was meant to tell stories, but it was quite a roundabout way that I came to wedding photography. I studied fine arts and graphic design in college in Canada, but always thirsted for adventures elsewhere. After leaving the Canadian cold behind and moving to San Diego (yes, I miss speaking french and eating poutine), I ended up working as a brand strategist for quite a few years, while shooting portraits on the side. Eventually I found that working with big brands left a big gap for me emotionally and socially and left my batteries on empty too often. While working directly with real humans actually charged my batteries. Read more>>

Nikki Zamora

7 years ago my husband, Damien won a Nikon camera that arrived in a box on the porch. I love when boxes arrive!! When I handed my husband the package to open, he quickly handed it back to me and said, “it’s all yours honey, love you!” I was shocked to receive a new camera to replace the little square digital camera I had that was seeing its final days. My husband is an Entrepreneur and I am lucky enough to get to travel with him to exotic and beautiful places, not to mention lots of epic adventures. The combination of my new camera and visiting beautiful destinations were the perfect recipe to inspire my passion to grow and flourish. Read more>>

Julie Carmona Young

My musical journey – as composer, piano teacher, accompanist, vocal coach – started at the age of 5. My mom says she gave me a choice between piano and dance, and I chose piano. My teachers were college students and pastor’s wives from the Spanish Baptist church we attended. They soon found out I could play piano and I began playing for the congregation at the age of 10. Mostly hymn playing, but congregants would return from trips to South America with songs without notes and I began using my ear to find the pitches, and began improvising around these foreign melodies. I continued taking lessons, in piano and harpsichord, all the way through my collegiate years at California State University, Long Beach, earning a B.M. in Music History in 1985. Read more>>

Adeline Chien

Photography started out as a casual hobby when I picked up my first Canon point-and-shoot after an all-nighter at Fry’s for the Black Friday deal. From then on, I carried the camera everywhere I went to capture food I was having, amazing people I was meeting and wonderful moments I was living. At some point, a few friends and mentors mentioned that they like my photos and that I should look more into it. I didn’t think much at the time, but this hobby grew over the years and I have also inevitably upgraded from a simple point-and-shoot to a beginner DSLR to a professional DSLR. Read more>>

Travis Vu

I immigrated to the United States from Vietnam as a teenager. I had little support from my family at the time, who expected the children to become doctors or engineers. However, I remained passionate about the cosmetic and beauty industry. I decided to attend the Makeup Institute in Hollywood after high school. I got lucky and have had a lot of success in the business. It has been a steady career for me. We are a full-service salon which specialize in plenty of things. We have make up for all types of events such as celebrity events to weddings. We have color, cut, and blowouts for hair. I do mircroblading for the eyebrows. What sets up apart from others is our care and dedication to each and every individual client. Read more>>

Liam Howlett

I had been swimming and in my water almost my entire life and I had volunteered at my local library apart of their kids reading program so I felt I could really understand and reach children. A couple summers back I took those skills and went to work for a company which gave mobile swim lessons. I really enjoyed the work but the people I worked for had no understanding of 210 freeway traffic due to the fact they were not based out of LA. The next summer I worked on my own giving lessons casually here and there but decided I really liked it. During college, the following year I started to read Forbes quite a bit and invested my time in learning about other fellow startups and especially people starting the same type of businesses as myself. Read more>>

Debbie Mitsch

Owning a bookstore always seemed to be the ideal job. Especially after seeing the movie, Crossing Delancey, a romantic comedy starring Amy Irving whose character worked for a New York bookstore. A love of books plus being able to meet and socialize with authors was too good to be true. So after years of working at jobs to get some financial security, I was, hopefully, going to put my Literature Major to use and started looking into opening a bookstore. In preparation, I took a business course and started talking to as many owners/managers of independent bookstores as possible. Read more>>

Gabriela Gutierrez

My affection for Fashion and Art began developing when I was a young girl. What’s fashion without makeup and makeup without an artistic touch? Before the days of social media, my favorite makeup artist worked at the local MAC counter. The way she blended makeup colors to enhance my eyes inspired me to learn the art of makeup. Soon after, my girlfriends’ faces would become my canvas, as I helped doll them up for our school dances. After high school, I attended F.I.D.M. for fashion design. While working in the fashion industry for companies like Nordstrom and Giorgio Armani was fun, it was cut short when I started my family. Read more>>

Aileen Codesal

People have always been fascinating to me — all of the mannerisms, the history and soul that can be seen through the eyes and actions. Couples, in particular, really pique my interest. I grew up on chick flicks and Jane Austen films (I’m looking at you, Sense and Sensibility) and so love stories are a part of my soul. When I was a kid, I remember watching couples in public and wishing I could be older so I could have a boyfriend. (I blame Leo in Titanic). Originally, I wanted to be a writer because I’d make up stories in my head and write them in journals. But photography kind of snuck in there along the way. Read more>>

Brandy Sebastian

I can remember as a little girl full of wonder and cursomeiosity for my mother’s photography. You see she was a volunteer docentthe  at the Fort tWorth Zoo in Texas and occasionally I got to go along, I felt super special. It was incredibly exciting when she took me behind the scenes where the public was not allowed and having close up encounters with the animals was a super cool way to grow up. My mother and her mentor were responsible for the slide show presentations for the zoo and I can remember looking at those images with awe and dreaming of becoming a photographer in my own right. Read more>>

Natalie J. Duke

Natalie Duke is a Southern California gal who is a professionally trained photographer and blogger.  An alumni of Brook Institute of Photography, she has had the privilege of working with high-powered Girl Bosses in various industries along with blogging about how effective photographers can impact social media. CEO of Got You Social, she has parlayed her talents into helping small business with their visibility on social media. Read more>>

Matthew Olaya

I grew up in Palmdale California (High Desert LA County). I fell in love with competitive swimming at 12 years old. Swimming 6 days a week, 2x a day forced me to learn what priorities, sacrifices and commitment was. My Coach (Rocky Lopez) was my biggest role model to make the most out of life and never give up on my dreams. I never had the desire to go to college, but he made it a point to instill how important college was and how many different opportunities college can open up. Once I became a freshman in High School (Littlerock High School in Littlerock California http://www.lhslobos.org/) I committed myself to swim the next 4 years under Coach Rocky to get accepted into college through swimming. Read more>>

Sophie Sikora

I’ve always had a passion for flowers, the wonder of nature, and a well-told story. My love of flowers started at a very young age. Born & raised in Los Angeles, I grew up playing make-believe in our garden and exploring the verdant pathways of the Angeles National Forest right in my backyard. It was my own personal Wonderland, and I imagined myself as Alice traversing the Garden of Live Flowers, and took particular paints trying to make the flowers my friends. I became obsessed with learning everything about them and crafting stories with their textures and colors. Read more>>

Ashley Bemis

My love and passion for event planning started when I was in High school and part of a 4H program that raised seeing eye dogs for Guide Dogs For the Blind. I found my love for event planning when I was asked to plan a fund raiser for my 4H group and then after being told by many that this could be my calling I went on to head the event planning committee for the group and coordinated and planned that fund raiser at Downtown Disney every year until I went off to college. In 2010, I got a taste of the wedding world when I was offered a position as an assistant coordinator for an event planning company and fell in love with event planning industry all over again. Read more>>

Yasuko Kawamura

I found my passion in massage therapy purely by an accident. Originally, I was a computer engineer for 12 years. After leaving the engineering job, I was exploring different opportunities for several years. One day, I came home for lunch and encountered a scene of infidelity by my ex-boyfriend. When we confronted, he said she was a “good masseuse.” Because he said that, I started to look for a massage class to learn how to give a massage. Unfortunately, I could not find any classes for people who wanted to learn how to casually massage your loved ones at home. Read more>>

Ali Pourvasei

After obtaining my MBA and graduating from Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business & Management, I began exploring career opportunities. Having an analytic background, I was drawn to online marketing. I began attending internet marketing seminars and at one of them, I met the other two founders of LAD Solutions. At first, we combined our extensive knowledge of Paid Advertising and collectively began optimizing an online jewelry website, Dreamland Jewelry. This successful venture allowed us to become partners and create LAD Solutions in 2009. Read more>>

Kristie Garduno

I was in choir from the age of 7, and each time we did warm ups, we would be told to turn to the left/right and massage the shoulders of the person beside us. This part always terrified me – am I hurting this person? does what I’m doing feel good at all? I swore that one day I would go to massage school (“just for fun”) to conquer my fear and be confident in my massage skills. Fast forward to 2008, and I found myself sitting in massage school. One month into the year-long course, I began realizing I wanted to use my new skills to go into business for myself. I finished school 4 months early and ventured out into the business world. The first 2 years were horrifying. Read more>>

Ann Wayman

Thirteen years ago I got into the health and wellness field and I truly love to do. To start off my view on massage therapy is it should be looked at as part of one’s preventive maintenance for optimal wellness. Working in many spa’s in the Long Beach & OC areas I wanted to strike out on my own. So I started the business “Table for One Day Spa” as a mobile day spa that provided spa treatments for in-home clients, spa parties, corporate onsite parties and events. Traveling to the high-rises in the LA area for the corporate parties was so fun and the employees loved it. But I decided 9 years ago to return to a walk-in spa due to the many request from clients. Read more>>

Carol Chen

I’ve been into health and fitness for as long as I can remember. In elementary school, I did science projects on the 4 basic food groups (which has since been replaced by the pyramid). I taught an aerobics class to my fellow 7th graders. I wrote a letter to McDonald’s asking them to ban smoking in their restaurants (back in the 1980s). My senior year Biology thesis was on the physiological benefits of yoga. It’s just a part of who I am. My education followed the same path – Kinesiology Major with Movement Science emphasis, Masters & Doctorate in Physical Therapy. As a new PT grad, I soon learned that there needed to be more emphasis on the prevention side of the spectrum, to lessen the struggles of rehabilitation after an injury. Read more>>

Thien Tu Nguyen

My passion for music started very young, around the age of ten. Since I came to the United States from Vietnam, music had always stayed by my side. From being mentored as a boy to playing at venues and parties, I continued playing piano/keyboard and hope I never falter. Music is my life, and I honestly don’t know where I’d be without it. Continuing, The Live Rhythm Band officially started in 2005 with various musicians and singers whom are old friends. Since then, my band and I have strived throughout the years, performing mainly at wedding receptions, parties and other big events. Read more>>

Sarah Chong

After high school, I was unsure of what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was that I enjoyed acting and that I was very much interested in what goes on behind and in front of the camera. So I majored in Film. But while studying and searching for post-production editing internships, I still felt lost. I wanted to do something that I felt passionate about. A big dream. Something I would look forward to doing every morning. Luckily, throughout college, I had become close friends with some of the biggest makeup and beauty enthusiasts I have ever known. I naturally grew to love and learn about makeup through their influence. Read more>>

DJ Fast Lane Nate

Starting out as a hobby DJ FastLaneNate got his first experience DJing with his best friend’s dad at the age of 14. He went around the San Francisco Bay Area rocking parties, school dances, and special events. With a passion for the art of a DJing, DJ FastLaneNate took his show on the road and started his own DJ company while attending Oregon State University. He rocked college house parties and befriended many of the school’s top athletes (who he DJ’s private events for today.) He even had a hit radio show on the campus of Oregon State where he played the hottest tracks and showcased his turntablist skills. Read more>>

Elena Coyne

I have always had a burning desire to paint and write books. But all I can paint is rainbow and I am not very patient for writing. So the only way I could get my passion out of my system was by creating short movies. So my paint is the camera that can capture all colors and all emotions. And my words are my clients’ vows… Those words that make even a person who does not believe in love cry… Instead of making paintings and books – I make videos. I am also trying to figure out what the love is. My parents were divorced when I was 2. My grandparents we never married to each other until their 60s but had 2 kids together. My grandmother’s mom dies when she was 5. Read more>>

Heather Bredenberg

I started in fitness in 2008 mainly teaching group fitness classes and learning new formats as I went along. Senior Fitness, Yoga, Pilates, Aqua Aerobics, strength and my all time love, cycle. After a few years of teaching and realizing there is no real sufficient recovery time or time and energy to work out on your own, I decided to get my personal training certifications and keep doing what I love just shifting my focus to individuals rather than groups. After working in large gyms, I struck out on my own and found iTrain Fitness Studio. Read more>>

Rebecca Federico

As a young child, I had the influence of a healer in my life but I did not realize that her influence was what I wanted to become as well. One day during one of her sessions, I was about five I was being sneaky and I peaked in on their session and I see what she was doing to the person, I then became Intrigued as to what I was seeing. I watched her every movement and knew that she was helping the person on the table, when they left all I could remember was “massage face” lol. When someone has what we call “massage face” you know they’ve had a great massage session! Read more>>

Jenny Ahn and Jocelyn Fee-Miller

Jocelyn: At 26 years old I was a new mom, single, massage therapist, yoga instructor. I needed to move my Massage Therapy practice out of my house and out of other people’s facilities. I needed a professional setting that felt like home. The Long Beach yoga community brought Kailey, Jenny and myself together, at the perfect time, to create and collaborate on our shared workspace. When we started, we didn’t realize that there is an entire industry operating out of their homes- at Sacred Roots we have created a container to bridge that gap. Read more>>

Tiffanie Lee

My story starts with my very own wedding. I never realized how much joy I could experience in planning and creating my own wedding. The planning and design aspect came at such a breeze I knew I could help others experience the same ease. There is such a fulfillment in serving others when they need it most. If you ask any bride and even the groom, planning for a wedding is one of the biggest days in the life of any couple. Weddings are one of my favorite events to plan, although I plan an array of events, weddings hold a special place amongst the rest. Not only was my wedding day the event that started it all for me but it can be the same for many others. Read more>>

Audrey Rae, Kennedy Van Dyke, and Whitney Olson

The three of us first founded RA_ in 2014 after years of working together at Warren Tricomi. We had just a small studio in Beverly Hills which we quickly grew out of. We expanded our salon to RA_ Hair House in late 2015, transforming a tucked away West Hollywood bungalow into a salon oasis. Now, just last month we opened our second location in Downtown LA. RA_ Loft is much more than a hair salon. It is a Wellness + Beauty Co-op. We have combined forces with some other incredible brands to make the ultimate “one stop shop” for all things wellness and beauty. Read more>>

Arnie Graham

I moved to Los Angeles via San Diego in the year 2000 to attend school at Los Angeles College of Music in Pasadena (Formerly Los Angeles Music Academy/LAMA). I studied guitar mainly and focused on live performance as well as recording arts. The city of LA was an entire different beast than I was used to in the laid back beach communities of San Diego. When anyone moves to LA they must be ready to use and develop and evolve their networking skills. Everything is fast paced and everyone’s attention span even in the early 2000’s was so short you had to be memorable to stand out, especially in the entertainment industry. Read more>>

Becca Schneider

I guess I could trace my passion for creating pretty things back to when I was a little girl and would go to my grandma’s house. For holidays, she always had these elaborate fancy dinners with table scapes that awed. I can remember back to when I was in my teens and I was the one getting others on board to throw surprise parties. As I got older it became, weddings, birthdays, showers. People kept telling me, wow you put all this together, you should do this for a living. One day I decided why not try…. Read more>>

Marco and Brenda Huey-Rosas

Marco Rosas, current Pro World Salsa Champion with Omambo Dance Project, is a professional Latin Dance instructor, competitor, choreographer, and dancer. He is the founder and director of Passion y Tumbao Dance Company, where he is teaching beginners, intermediate, and advanced dancers, as well as building teams to perform at nightclubs, events, festivals, and congresses. Marco has also instructed teams and students that have brought home gold, silver, and bronze medals from the Emerald Ball Competitions for the past few years. Recently, Marco placed 2nd in the World Latin Cup 2011 Competitions in Salsa and first on a Pro team in salsa for the 2015 World Latin Cup. Read more>>

Kathy Corcoran

I was fortunate to learn as a young child that anyone can learn to dance. That is the message I want the world to know. I believe that given the time, I can teach anyone to dance. I can’t make everyone a great dancer but I can make anyone dance well enough to have fun and be proud of their dancing. When I was ten I begged for ice skating lessons. I was a good skater my very first year. My teacher recommended dance lessons because dance improves grace and timing. Dance also teaches expression and interpretation of music. I learned ballet, tap, and acrobatics. Read more>>

Angel Grill

Before at first sight came to be, my husband and I were trying to start a family. After about two months we went to visit my OB here at the Los Alamitos Medical Center and boy did we get a big surprise: not only were we pregnant but with twins! Neither of us had a clue that we could be so lucky. At the twenty week mark, she gave us the go ahead to get a look as to whether we were going to have girls, boys or a combo. Excitedly I asked her where the closest 3D/4D Ultrasound Studio was. Of course, I could have learned my babies’ genders at the medical ultrasound office but what fun would that be? I wanted to see their faces, their fingers and toes! I wanted to EXPERIENCE LIFE BEFORE BIRTH. Unfortunately, there are no 3D/4D studios here in Los Alamitos. Read more>>

Johnathan Adams and Gillian Wang

Both my business partner and I are passionate on VR. We loved this immersive, interactive experience and wanted to share our creativity and imagination with the world!  The VR industry is still in early stage. There’s no real handbook to follow. Also, the hardware costs which include a Gaming PC & HTC Vive/Oculus Rift is a little bit high for main stream users. That limits the market expanding quickly. We have an in-house development team creating VR content. We do VR software development, 720 degree VR video production and VR movies. Read more>>

Cristin Coke

I never dreamed I would become a massage therapist. I graduated college with a major in Communications. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I “grew up” but I had a pretty firm idea that I wanted to be self-employed. I worked in the retail and restaurant industries for a while and then worked my way into a self-created, independent position in advertising sales for Beach Happy Magazine, Full Speed TV and later Lava Magazine. Working in Action Sports was fun but not lucrative. It was also predominantly male. I started an annual networking event called “The Gathering of the Goddesses” for women in the Action Sports industry. Read more>>

Sandhya Ray

Wonder Years Montessori School was founded in 1990 by myself and my husband Ajay Ray. I have a long background in teaching of over 39 years. After acquiring a Masters Degree in Language & Literature back in India, I used to teach college level. My husband and I moved to the United States in 1968 and while my kids were still young and in school, I studied early childhood education and administration at UCLA and acquired the necessary child development units and Montessori training to teach early childhood education. I found it more fulfilling to teach young children during their developmental years than teach at college level. Read more>>

L.M. Arreguin

I’ve been writing songs since I was 8 years old. Into my 20s, music allowed me to dream of better days. I dreamt of playing keys with a band, writing songs that would change the world and singing to millions. I dreamt of philanthropy and touring in faraway places and delivering brilliant Grammy-award winning acceptance speeches. Then the 30-something years hit. At the time, I was a single mother in the 1980s, working 40 hours a week and going to school so I had no time to think about the possibilities of working my dream of becoming a songwriter and singer. Read more>>

Vonnie Scott-Schellenger

As a Singer/Songwriter, I had many friends and fans who would be curious about my story and how I got started. As I began to share my story with others, I was also asked from time to time if I ever gave lessons. And so, in 2004, Scottie Dog Music was born! I began to provide vocal coaching, guitar instruction, and creative consulting for adults as well as children ages 7 and up, and enjoy every minute!  My husband, Cliff, and I initially began Scottie Dog Music in Bloomington, Indiana. Upon relocating back to Southern California, we reopened the business in 2013. At this time, I was continuing to perform as an independent singer/songwriter, as well as homeschooling our two sons, Rex and Ross. Read more>>

Justine Arian

I always knew I was here to make a difference but never knew what that would look like, until I gave birth to my daughter. I had always questioned my own adequacy and ability to be powerful and influential, like the people I grew up with. It wasn’t until my natural home birth with my first child, that I came to know my own strength and capability. I was completely changed in an instant and I knew what my purpose was-to empower other women on their own personal journeys of self-discovery. In 2003, a year before the birth of my daughter, my mom introduced me to life coaching and immediately fell in love. I knew I had found my “thing”. Read more>>

Daydree Horner

Before MyOshun, I had a career as a performing artist but didn’t enjoy the fact that you could be talented and still not get hired. So I went into business for myself. I no longer wanted to be at effect of someone else when it came to having an income. Initially, when I started MyOshun it was a retail business with products that I created designed to draw focus to healing and empowerment for women. Many of the products were jewelry. However, once I discovered that I didn’t like making jewelry ALL of the time, I realized that it wasn’t so much about the jewelry, as it was about the concept – to heal the world one person at a time. Read more>>

Joe Homs

I got started with Orange County Hypnosis in a roundabout way. I went to college for Computer Science, not Psychology. I was the opposite of the type of person who even believed hypnosis was possible, let alone the most effective therapy, method of persuasion, and most useful skill I could ever imagine. After college, I was a management consultant. I traveled around the world helping clients with their IT projects and business strategy. I was fresh out of college and didn’t have much experience, so I learned a bunch on the job. Read more>>

Alexander Chang

Having graduated from NYU College of Dentistry in 2011, I have moved back home and started working in dental offices in Southern California. Fortunately, I was able to have the opportunity to work at different dental offices and see how operations are run, with some being more business-oriented and some more focused on well-being of their patients. Having seen how dental offices operate throughout the years, I decided to branch out and practice my own philosophy. This is why and how Formosa Dental Arts was created. Our goal is to build a long-lasting relationship with our patients while providing the utmost quality of healthcare. Read more>>

Arpit Mehta

About a decade ago, I started a music blog to share what I was listening to. Before too long, I had musicians, bands, and labels offering concert tickets to do reviews. So I started taking my dad’s DSLR to take photos for my posts. As I shared those images on social media, friends started asking me to take photos for them, and that set me on the journey ahead. Some of my first paid work was commercial in nature. Very quickly I got interested in fashion and editorial work as well, so I pursued that. When I met an established wedding photographer shortly thereafter, I offered to assist him to see how I liked weddings. After the very first time, I was in love. Read more>>

Calvin Ferniza and Isaiah Clayton

As a child I’d always have my mom by me a disposable camera whenever we would go on a family trip to LegoLand, SeaWorld or anywhere really. I loved taking pictures of things I wanted to remember and be able to look back on when the trip was over. I was very selective with my photos however because I only had so many frames available and I had to make sure each one counted. As I grew a little older almost in middle school I had gotten a polaroid camera and started taking pictures of family member asking them to pose and then giving them the photo as a memento. Read more>>

Justin Silva

When I started retouching, I was still working as a bartender. I have a friend that is a photographer and works primarily in the fashion industry. He explained to me how he would spend hours and hours with his editing process and how he had very little time for anything else. I mentioned my knowledge of photoshop and asked if he would be open to training me on his retouching process with the hope that I could eventually lend a hand. I spent a couple of weeks side by side with him learning the workflow and eventually built myself a portfolio, acquired new clients and taught myself more advanced techniques as I encountered different client needs for post production. Read more>>

Ivan Shapovalov

I’ve been playing piano for over 24 years so far and my first teaching experience was at age 17 but it really started in 2004 in Moscow, Russia. I moved to Moscow from my birth country Kazakhstan because since I was a child, I dreamed about studying classical music in Moscow, which is one of the best places in Europe for studying music. Right after I passed my entry exams at the Gnessin College of Music I met a couple from South Korea and they asked me to teach piano to their 4-year-old son. Since then I don’t know what I love more – playing piano or teaching piano. Even though for a few years I tried non-musical things, like working in TV production, advertising, events, sport, tourism and even night clubs, I never stopped playing and teaching piano. Read more>>

Eddie Lopez

About 2 years ago my father, Leo, got injured at his job trimming trees for the City. He had to get surgery on his forearm and also had to go to therapy. A year and a half went by and his arm just wasn’t the same anymore. He was always in pain and could not keep up with the work. Finally, my dad and I decided to start window cleaning. We’d figure cleaning windows would be less work for my dad and more comfortable. I was at the time working at a manufacturing warehouse called Iron Grip. Very tough job for me as well. We manufactured dumbbells and all sorts of weights for 24 hour fitness, LA Fitness, lots of universities, military, with customs logos. Read more>>

Ronald Kuy

The Lim’s Jewelry Co., was founded in 1982. We started in the jewelry industry in 1976 as a small family business, importing precious and semi-precious colored stones from Asia. The founders of The Lim’s Jewelry Company, Eavhuot and Mouykea (my parents), then opened their own store front in 1982. They started in tiny store in Downtown LA and grew the business to their current larger storefront and two more stores in Fullerton, California. I grew up in this business. Read more>>

Charmaine Alyce

I’ve always had an interest in photography, but didn’t take it seriously for years. I shared the passion with my grandfather while growing up and spent hours bonding over his talent. I eventually found myself in the field of Social Work, working with homeless and low-income families in South LA for nearly ten years. It’s something I’ve grown to love and appreciate in a way that’s hard to describe. Serving marginalized populations is what I consider to be one of my callings, but I always felt like there was a part of me that I needed to explore on a deeper level… my creative side. I hit a point in my career where I knew I had to feed my urge to dive into photography. Read more>>

Bryan Stone

It was around 23 years ago that I started selling candy at the local swim meets outside the actual swim meet competing with the snack bar inside. I remember all the kids would come by and purchase my candy not only because it was better and cheaper but they didn’t have to wait in line. The snack bar tried to shut be down but how could they shut down a kid just selling candy?! That was when I got my entrepreneurial itch at a young age. As time went on, I knew I wanted to start my own business of some sort but didn’t know what. I come from an entrepreneurial family so it was in my blood. Read more>>

Jeanie Berman

In 1998 I was a pioneer for the mobile grooming business. I flew to Arizona to purchase a 1973 grooming van. When driving it to O.C. I put a rod through the engine. I had the van toes and I then spent the night in Palm Springs. The next morning, I rented a flatbed truck and brought the van to O.C. I put a new engine in the van. I then started working I would make enough to continue to upgrade the van and my equipment all so had the van painted the van white. (it was orange) I had one small stand up dryer at that time. I continued to ad equipment. Read more>>

Kerrie Burg

I danced a little bit here and there as a kid…I have worked in retail, customer service, overnight in a laboratory, bagging groceries, doing medical coding, and day care. Both of my kids danced from a very young age and after watching their classes for a few years I went to the owner of the dance studio where they danced and said I would like to learn how to teach. I started with 4 classes per week and over the years taught up to 15 classes per week and directed 5 dance companies. I worked at a couple of other studios before one of my former students’ families approached me about starting my own studio. Read more>>

Brian Bianchetti

Our rich history and tradition is one of our most defining characteristics. People’s Choice Beef Jerky has over 88 years and four generations of experience handcrafting premium meat products in the heart of Downtown LA. The company was founded in 1929 by my great grandfather, John Bianchetti. He started with nothing more than a few dollars and an indomitable will to succeed. His vision was to build a neighborhood meat shop that sold high quality products with honesty and hard work. He proved the validity of that vision in 1939 when he moved his growing business into our current location at 1132 East Pico Boulevard and changed the name to Peoples Sausage Company, solidifying our legacy in the specialty meat space. Read more>>

Bob Heiple

About forty years ago, I rented a house that had been burglarized before I moved in. I bought a Doberman to prevent that from happening again. I quickly realized that all dogs don’t automatically protect. I bought some books and starting training my dog. Unfortunately for my dog, I didn’t know what I was doing and had to start over a few times. She did so well that my neighbors started asking me to train their dogs. Before long I had to decide to either continue teaching school or devote my full time to dog training. Read more>>

Riley Hodges

I grew up in the bar business from a young age. My parents opened Shannon’s Bayshore Saloon in 1995. Years later, after graduating college, I was able to focus on our family business. I found a strength in working with good people to get things done. In 2006, we opened our second bar location, Shannon’s On Pine, in downtown LB. We kept the same approach in being a friendly neighborhood bar. I was able to grow as a manager through many challenges in developing a solid team of what is now about 70 employees. Read more>>

Lanna Borom

1979: Chuck Borom, the owner and president, started by making frames in his own garage. He then decided to travel the world selling framed art. Starting with the letter A, the adventure began in Alaska, onto Australia, then Africa. Cut to 1989: Never made it to B… instead Chuck decided to create Belle Arte. He settled down by opening his own factory in Los Angeles and by getting married to me. Together we created a business that we love, providing quality framing services to local artists, designers, and neighbors of Los Angeles. Read more>>

Lisa Foster

I was an Assistant Store Manager, however, I had made the decision to “homeschool” my youngest daughter, and wanted to find a way to devote my time to her schooling, but would still need to pay my bills. I began searching online hoping to find an opportunity that would allow me to do both. I have a Degree, I’m certified with the SBA in “Helping Small Businesses to Succeed”, and have an abundance of experience that I wanted to put to good use while helping others. I know the market and have seen how “digital” devices have obviously changed the way we do things. Read more>>

Edgar Garcia and Israel Roldan

It really happened by chance, we’d always collected and traded games but in 2011 we came across the retail space on Vermont after the previous business closed in the middle of their lease, we agreed to take over and with minimal changes and set up shop. We both had the idea that this was a temporary thing, but as we gained more customers and trades our inventory grew. We also started local tournaments. Then came the request so we ventured into new games and consoles. Read more>>

Annette Hoegner

I got started in events while working for a clothing company in Orange County in the year 2002. They didn’t have any employee appreciation events in place so I decided to organize them. Shortly after the company sold and I had to get another job. I just couldn’t find anything I liked doing more than event planning, and I knew I LOVED weddings! So after some soul searching and being blessed with my second child I decided to look into what it took to be a professional event planner. After taking an accreditation program and shadowing another event planner I launched Classic Touch Events in 2005. This is our 12th year in business and we are still going strong. Read more>>

Josh Buxbaum

WebPurify launched over a decade ago. As user-generated content exploded on the internet, there was a clear need to help sites keep their users safe by moderating the text other users were submitting. More importantly, young users were being exposed to offensive content, even on sites that were geared towards kids. Responding to this urgent need, we launched the WebPurify Profanity Filter solution, an easy-to-integrate service that offered pricing levels for websites with a wide range in scale, from small blogs to Fortune 500 companies. Read more>>

Joel Dessaules

I grew up in a custom home building family in southern Rhode Island and I learned a lot about how homes are put together from a very early age. While other kids may have been at camp or working as a life guard on summer break, I was working on site. When I was young, I would clean up the job sites, vacuum between stud bays after the plumber and electricians made holes for their systems, clean and organize, etc. As I got older and more capable, I was there for all phases of construction and learned the basics of all the trades. I spent an entire summer as a teenager doing millwork prep, so you learn a thing or two about how things should be done. Read more>>

Joseph Henry

I initially began shooting photography at 12 years old with 35mm disposable cameras by taking pictures of my dog and getting the film developed at Wal-Mart. In high school, I discovered film photography with real 35mm, 120mm, and vintage plastic toy cameras like Holga’s and Fisheye Lomography cameras, then developing it myself in a dark room in my high school. Directly following high school, I began my career as a musician and during that time traveled world-wide full-time and I set my camera aside to shift focus. Roughly a year into traveling, I decided to invest into convenience and I purchased my first digital camera. Read more>>

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