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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.

Hanna Sint

It was February 6, 2019, my birthday. I had just gotten a text from a friend but it wasn’t a birthday text. It said “hey, I gave my photographer your number.” He didn’t say Happy Birthday at all actually and I was kind of mad that he was exploiting me without asking first. Little did he know, it was the best birthday gift anyone could have ever given me, an opportunity into the modeling world. I started off as a photographer. I enjoyed shooting and I always veered toward photography art classes throughout high school and college. When my friend’s professional photographer texted me (not even 10 minutes later) about needing a model for the sunglasses ad that he was making on Instagram, I of course said yes. I showed up that weekend ready but not ready enough for the four other very talented photographers and the Chinese New Year parade that I was going to be partly leading. As all of them posted my photos overtime, they opened me up to a whole world of photography on social media that I didn’t even know existed. This led me to be able to work with other extremely talented photographers and that’s how I got into modeling. Read more>>

Vahe Garabedian

Vache and I have been working together since childhood, producing 3D computer-aided cad designs for our father’s jewelry manufacturing company in Downtown Los Angeles. This is how we developed an eye for good aesthetics and commercial design, along with strong a work ethics in production manufacturing. We took our skills to the entertainment industry for major studios including Nickelodeon and HBO, and that’s where felt our passion for movie-making and storytelling. We scored two major movie deals with HBO and Cinemax networks, followed by worldwide distribution for our award-winning films. During the late ‘90s, we began partnering with local and state attorney associations, filming and selling recorded CLE educational seminars on VHS tapes and DVDs under the name Legal Educational Consortium. Read more>>

Vanessa Meza

It all started on the Christmas of 2019 we were all gathering at my mom’s house. My sister Brenda put together a small charcuterie board for us to snack on. That was actually the first time I had ever tried it. I specifically remember trying the blueberry goat cheese paired with salami on a sesame seed cracker and I’ve been hooked ever since. Soon after covid hit, my husband and I developed a habit of weekly charcuterie date nights where he would cook up steaks and I would put together a board for us to enjoy. I fell in love with the process from start to finish including shopping for different meats and cheeses. As I posted my creations on my Instagram family and friends expressed interest in me making them their own charcuterie spread. I loved the feeling of making someone smile through food especially during covid. Read more>>

Mei Tang

Through my life, I’ve always felt called to help people and others. Naturally, healing and bringing light to people came to me as I loved to be an entertainer (as I used to dance and perform from age 5 to my late 20s, also studying psychology for college, wanting to understand myself better as well as the human mind, volunteering for children at risk to senior homes, to being a case manager, group therapist, leading up to realizing that most of these things filled me, but there’s something deeper in how I wanted to help and reach out to others. Through personal life experiences not growing up as an only child, first-generation to move to America at the age of six, and all of the challenges I’ve faced in life from a not so well off financial family and more, it motivated me to learn so much about myself and catapulted me to push myself further in helping myself so that I can help others. People always came to me for advice in love, life, and all the things naturally, from young to old… I studied psychology and alternative healing as well as receiving and learning from gurus, healers, mentors, and more… I went through my own big awakening and realized the Universe put me on a unique path now. Read more>>

Trevor Marca

I was the owner of a publishing business from 2016-2021, but COVID-19 brought about a lot of changes in the industry. During this time, I was on the Board of Directors at the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, and I had the opportunity to speak to restaurant managers and owners in 2020. I was surprised to consistently hear one of their major grievances during this time was the corporate delivery apps. They complained that their rates were high and their service was terrible. It gave me the idea to start a locally owned delivery service centered on lower rates and quality service. I launched Simple Life Delivery in 2021. What I soon learned was how under served the locally-owned restaurants were compared to the corporate restaurants in the delivery space. While the delivery apps offered large nationwide chains lower rates, the one-off ma and pa restaurant were often charged up to 25% more. This is when I decided my niche would be serving the locally-owned restaurants in my community, and I would strive to close that gap to help the small guy compete with the big boys. Read more>>

Sara Gutierrez

My culinary adventure began in 2009 when I attended Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. In order to complete my studies, I had decided to venture out of California and headed to Big Bend National Park in Southwest Texas where I landed my first line cook position. My studies had originally been directed towards patisserie and baking in culinary school, but when I arrived at The Chisos Mountain Lodge, my interests shifted to the savory side of the kitchen. This is where I learned how to work both hot and cold sides of the restaurant and flourished. My Chef at the time had been an inspiration and gifted me my first Wusthof chef’s knife, he had strongly advised me to keep striving as a savory chef as I held so much potential. After spending a year and a half out of state, I decided it was time to come back home and continue to feed my desire for cooking. In October of 2011, I had big dreams of working in Beverly Hills at Thomas Kellar’s Restaurant “Bouchon’s Bistro”. I was determined to get in and luckily began my four day stage in their prep kitchen. The restaurant was a dream, and after my first shift, I spent over two hours watching the line cooks during dinner service. Read more>>

Cerise Caicedo Valdez

I started singing at the age of six. My mom put my older sister in choir and of course monkey sees monkey do. I remember not to enjoy choir so instead, I would write my own song’s in my purple fluffy journal. I would write and create melody’s over what I wanted or what I was feeling that day. From there, I started singing at church and experienced an intense amount of stage fright. I would shake and stutter on stage but for some reason, I knew that the stage was exactly where I was supposed to be. I even experienced a lot of discouragement from close friends and family. I was told my voice and songs were horrible. Unfortunately, I got stuck in that negative mentality and struggled to release music out of fear. So I moved to LA with my husband with $50 to our name and enrolled in music school. There, I gained the confidence that I needed to move forward and released my first single “disco baby”. I’m where I’m at today because I finally broke free from the negative voices who said I couldn’t do it. I look at my mom who is recovering from cancer. Her strength and faith reminds me that it’s possible to break free from what feels like hell. Now I have a glimpse of what I’m capable of and I have so much more music to show the world. Read more>>

Majenta Strongheart

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a maker. As a kid, I loved to bake, sew, build, and try any new tool I could get my hands on; beading loom, staple gun, overlocking machine, to name a few. With the support of my awesome family, early role models, and teachers, these interests grew into passions for fashion design, furniture design, architecture, ceramics, and fabrication of all types. (I’m really lucky to have grown up with parents who have incredibly talented and creative friends.) These passions led me to pursue an education in industrial design and sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I truly honed my fabrication skills in the wood and metal workshops on campus. Between my last two semesters, I interned at Supplyframe’s DesignLab and accepted a full-time position there upon graduating. Since then, I’ve worked my way up to Head of Design and Partnerships at DesignLab, collaborating with engineers, designers, CEOs, and community leaders to foster and grow our mission of championing open source hardware and making electronics product design more accessible. Read more>>

Jamie Nichols

I was the Artistic Director and founder of the Pasadena-based contemporary dance company Fast Feet for 23 years and self-produced my work in festivals and venues throughout California until retiring the company. My life was very busy for ten years as Executive Producer of the successful critically acclaimed dance event, Celebrate Dance at the Alex Theatre. Celebrate Dance was an annual dance festival presenting professional dance companies representing diversity through dance in a world-class venue, and at the same time, offering an accessible family friendly evening of dance to an audience of any age. I was the marketing director, fundraiser and sole producer of the event and sold out the house consistently, a feat few producers in large venues can claim. Celebrate Dance also had an education program I created funded by the Flourish Foundation. We engaged hundreds of young students. Read more>>

Nalani Hernandez-Melo

I am a proud first-generation Mexican visual artist and portrait photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. My family originally immigrated to Pasadena from Mexico City in the mid-’80s but our love for our culture and heritage never left us. My life always revolved around the arts, creative expression, and storytelling. Having studied the visual and performing arts since elementary school all the way up to earning my BFA from the San Fransico Art Insitute, I naturally weaved creativity into any field of work I explored after college. However, it wasn’t until I started working in editorial, producing photo/video shoots, that I finally realized there was a way to bridge a sustainable career with my heart’s passion and purpose to create with my hands. Read more>>

Lauren Randolph

In early 2020, my sister-in-law and I found ourselves at the kitchen table discussing the impact that George Floyd and the BLM movement had on us. This led to a discussion of how we could take action. We both wanted to make a more conscious effort to buy from Black-owned businesses. The more we talked and shared the more we longed for an easier way to buy Black. We found that there were multiple websites and resources for Black-owned beauty and fashion businesses, but something we both loved and wanted to support were Black-owned food companies. After some research, we were disappointed to find the same 20-30 brands being quoted and represented. We knew there had to be more companies out there. We then had a “lightbulb moment” and thought what if we started a subscription box where we would do the heavy lifting so people could easily discover new Black-owned food & beverage brands from the comfort of their own home. Out of this idea Kin Collective was born. We shipped our first boxes to friends and family in June 2021 and have now shipped our quarterly box for three quarters straight. Along the way, we have worked with multiple companies to create custom curated gift boxes for events and corporations. Read more>>

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