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Inspiring Stories from Pasadena

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 Pasadena’s rising stars below.

Amanda Hummes

I’m a Brazilian 30 years old woman. I have a chocolate labrador called Billie (Holiday), who brightens my days. I started to work with clay in 2016 in Brazil when I was doing my bachelor’s degree for visual arts. I really loved the feeling of touching the clay. The organic raw material that talks to you while handling it. It can be malleable and at the same time, it can be rigid if you don’t understand what it tells you. Though, in fact, I believe that all of us have had an experience with clay, at some level – even without realizing. I moved to California with my husband, who is a musician, in 2017. Right at the beginning, I looked for all the ceramic studies in the LA area. I enrolled in some wheel classes, but I confess that I was not very successful. So I decided to study on my own. I bought several ceramic books to learn how to use the different tools and techniques. Since then, I have developed my way of working. I keep studying this craft every day, including on the wheel. Read more>>

Melinda Hendrix

I first got into art out of boredom. In elementary school, I had many years of unenthusiastic teachers who left the class to their own devices. To fill the time, I began to draw. As my pencil etched the paper, I could imagine new worlds, new characters and escape the doldrum of the classroom. By the time I was in middle school, you could not put a blank piece of paper in front of me without a drawing emerging on it. As I got older, my love for reading and history also grew and I began to translate what I imagined in my head to paper. I became more attentive to the literature we had to read in high school and began drawing the characters. I was particularly fond of period horror and science fiction like “Frankenstein,” “Jekyll and Hyde” and H.G. Wells stories. For months, I would go through obsessive phases where a book, TV show, or movie would inspire me and it was all I could think about and draw. The more obsessed I was, the more emboldened my imagination became, the more I dreamed of creating my own characters and worlds. Read more>>

Hal Mertz

Red Cap Cards is a celebration of art and correspondence. Based in Los Angeles California, husband-and-wife team Hal Mertz and Carrie Gifford have collaborated with some of the world’s greatest artists and illustrators creating one of today’s most well-respected, carefully curated art and design stationery brands. Each illustrator is hand-selected for their stunning work, individual point-of-view and notable achievements in children’s book illustration, animation, design, and modern art. Red Cap Cards is a platform for artists to reach a broad audience, bringing together the artist’s work and the importance of a handwritten letter. Every artist is a visual storyteller, contributing a unique perspective and connecting people through their art. Read more>>

Caitlin Minges

Fun Club (like most businesses) has taken a winding road to get to where we are today. In 2015, I wanted to throw a surprise party for my then boyfriend (now husband) and wanted to find some party decor that fit our humor. I was looking for balloons with funny, sarcastic sayings on them and found nothing. I had a few custom made, and people loved them! I was working full time with animals at the time, so started selling a few balloon styles on the side on Etsy. A store reached out to me asking if I offered wholesale products, and I actually had to google “How To Sell Wholesale”. I eventually added stationery and some other items and quit my full-time job! We started under a different name, and I quit my job and rebranded my entire company in 2017. I started in a tiny front room of my house, moved to the back studio, eventually took over the garage, and then moved to our own warehouse! We now offer a ton of gift items, not just party decor. Read more>>

Camden Crane

I grew up with movement been such an integral part of who I was and how I expressed myself. From a young age, I was a competitive dancer, soccer player, and just an all-around active kid. However, when I got to college (and I was extremely grateful to go to UCLA) I realized it was time to look at what was going to lead me to finding a “real job”. I studied psychology and was looking to go into nursing, but as I was serving overseas in a hospital in Bolivia I realized I was forcing a skill rather than sensing what made me come alive and using my passions to serve the world. When I graduated college, I decided to move overseas to Ethiopia. What an adventure! I got to work in orphanages and schools it was here where I would come to witness the power of movement and how it can be used to transform communities. I had the absolute honor and privilege working with street youth there as we created a NGO called Change for Change Ethiopia. It was within this group where I got to utilize dance, creative art therapy, sports, and mentorship to help create a new life for these individuals that had been told they would never amount to anything. Read more>>

Zara Jamieson-Stinson

Zara Jamieson-Stinson was born in Canada and raised in California. Although her career has always been in the corporate sector, she has held a fond love for writing since secondary school. After experiencing a series of challenges and setbacks that taught her valuable lessons in life, she immersed herself in her love for writing as both a form of therapy and to pass on critical lessons about life, love, and relationships with God and man to others. Read more>>

Anna Miles

Born: California, the middle part. College: Chicago (BA in Creative Writing and Theater from Northwestern University). Grad School: Providence, RI (MFA from Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company’s Programs in Acting and Directing). Now: Back to California, this time the Southern part, where I live in over-decorated boho bliss(ish) with my partner and my two cats.​I spent most of my life pursuing a career in acting, a pursuit which spanned from childhood youth theater productions to regional theater, to college, to grad school, to summer stock, back to grad school, back to regional theater, to elementary school multipurpose rooms, to medical school labs, to the Hyperion Theater at Disneyland, and to my agency, Firestarter Entertainment, with lots of artsy self-produced work in between. I’ve been very lucky to have been able to make a living as a performer throughout my adult years thus far. But while I’m not giving up acting completely, I’m now in the process of shifting my focus primarily to directing – a pursuit which has also been with me from childhood to Disneyland. Read more>>

Chelsea Plumb

I spent YEARS sitting behind a desk while helping someone else achieve their dreams. With every soul-crushing 9-5 job, I found myself yearning for something more. Sure, I had helped several companies successfully implement and grow their marketing strategies and social media platforms, but I spent my evening scrolling and dreaming of a different life. Then Covid-19 arrived and shattered the economy. I received a call from my 9-5 saying that my position had to be terminated until further notice. Panic set in. How was I going to pay the bills? How long would this last? The unknowns swirled in my head. As a few days passed, my feelings started shifting. I felt relief, excitement, joy. This was the “out” that I needed. Sometimes we need a swift kick in the rear to leap into the waters of possibility. I immediately felt the fire in my soul ignite. I was motivated and ambitious. I knew it was my time to shine and to help others with my skills and passions. I whole-heartedly started researching, studying, and absorbing everything that felt “right”. I considered myself an expert in marketing, social media and mindset, but I also knew every successful entrepreneur had a mentor to guide them along the way. Read more>>

Jill Williams

I started my healing gemstone jewelry line, jillijewels, in 2003. I was looking for a new career that would be creatively fulfilling after deciding my current career of singing in Musical Theatre wasn’t working for me anymore. “Be honest with yourself about what you are naturally curious about” was the quote that inspired me. I always had a special love for jewelry and design and was always interested in the energy of crystals and gemstones. The impetus for my business was to make a special healing jewelry line that was also aesthetically beautiful. I also decided to include a personally handwritten intention card for each jillijewels to remind the wearer of the energy. I landed the prestigious Ron Robinson account at the original Fred Segal store right away and remained there selling jillijewels for 17 years. Over the years, creating special jewelry for my clients has been more fulfilling than I could have imagined. My line can be found in a few stores across the country, but now with COVID closing many of them, I am updating my website on a regular basis and custom designing for my private clientele. I am very grateful that I am able to remain safe and creative in my studio. Read more>>

Chris Arredondo

For the last 20 years, I’ve worked in the live music industry both as a musician and on the production side. Unfortunately, this industry took a gigantic hit when Covid-19 came around. Not knowing how long it would be until I would be able to tour again, I needed to find something to keep me busy. My wife brought up the idea of getting a new coffee table for our house to which I said “I’ll just build one.” And that’s how it started. After posting a pic of our new coffee table on social media, I started to get messages from friends asking about building pieces for them. I would build what they wanted, they would post pics on their social media and then I started to get more and more orders. My love for woodworking took over when my love for music was unexpectedly put on hold. As broken as I was when all of my upcoming tours got canceled, I am incredibly happy with where I am now. Read more>>

Mia Zhang

I was born in China but came to the US for elementary school, then moved back for middle school and came to California for high school, and I’ve been here ever since. Basically, I’ve moved around a lot all my life, and every time someone asks me where I’m from, I have to give an elaborate explanation. But throughout my whole life, I’ve always been drawing, and it was kind of set in stone for me that I would want to do something art-related as a career. I started drawing in kindergarten and progressed from copying Pokemon art with crayon to posting my cringy original anime characters on Deviantart. I started taking art more seriously in high school and started taking portfolio-building classes to get ready for college. I’m currently attending Art Center College of Design, and I’m about to graduate soon. Art Center actually wasn’t my first choice of college, but looking back there’s no other school I would have rather went to. It’s been a tough four years that felt long and short at the same time. I’ve learned so much and met some of the best people ever. Read more>>

Shi Yan Xu

“Yan Xu, why don’t you stay in US to spread the culture.” Once Abbot Shi Yong Xin spoke that sentence, I knew my fate was sealed, and my own version of journey to the West would begin. Grand Master Shi Yan Xu is an accomplished Zen master and teacher of traditional Shaolin Temple Kung Fu. He is the founder of the Shaolin Temple Cultural Center USA and the former Head Coach of Warrior Monks for the Shaolin Temple of China. From an early age, Master Yan Xu began his study of Kung Fu in his hometown with a family who descended from a Qing Dynasty General. As he grew older, Yan Xu saw that there wasn’t much to offer a fledging Kung Fu master in his hometown, so in 1994, the quest for knowledge led him to pack his bags and travel to a place he only heard about in stories. The Shaolin Temple of China. Once arriving in Shaolin, Master Shi Yan Xu studied extensively with grandmaster Shi Yong Zhi and later became a disciple of Abbott Shi Yong Xin concentrating on the study of Chan (Zen) and traditional Kung Fu inside the temple. Read more>>

Patrick Rieger

In 2007, I moved to Los Angeles as an actor. My parents were both exceptional stage actors in the Twin Cities and I grew up in a proud tradition. By 2012, my business portion of acting had waxed and waned to the point of spiritual fatigue and I needed another outlet to keep some ballast as a storyteller. The role of Bandleader fell into my lap as acting jobs ironically led me to more musicians. I found a lot of therapeutic consistency in being able to pick up a phone, hire musicians and book a gig. Founding a hard-working folk-band of profoundly talented musicians changed the course of my life. 47 plus gigs/festivals a year, infinite incarnations of family/musical chemistry and two albums later, I couldn’t be more grateful for this divergent path through the woods. Our band has held communion with the most rich and deserving audiences Southern California had to offer. Read more>>

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