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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.

Bill Valentine

Bill Valentine, Sr., a Master Optician, began dispensing eyeglasses in the Glendale/Pasadena area around 1955. Bill’s son, also named Bill Valentine, began his career in the optical field after graduating from LACC in Ophthalmic Dispensing, 1971. The Vietnam war took Bill away for four years in the Navy. Working part time as an optician, Bill continued his education in psychology. Read More>>

Stevie Cruz

I’m a passionate dreamer, driven to succeed. I grew up in Southern California and recall the entrepreneur spirt of so many around me. Back in middle school, I use to walk to the local Rite Aid with friends to purchase a disposable camera only to rush back to the store hours later to have the film developed. It’s those special memories that a picture can spark, a time and a moment that is gone but not forgotten. Read More>>

Rafael Larin

I had long been a photography hobbyist and student of the practice before I had an opportunity to inject it into my business life. I used to work for a public relations agency before going out on my own as a consultant. I’ve served as a consultant for dozens of technology companies to help them manage marketing and public relations programs. The growth of social media and use of imagery for online campaigns led many of them to start asking for my photography as an additional service. Read More>>

Lauren Neely

My photography journey began when I was six years old, while my sister was in a film photography class at her high school. Even at six years old I was captivated by the beauty of the images that she developed. Fast forward to Jr. High, which was when I began to create my own “photoshoots” with all of my friends. Read More>>

Jessica Spinella

I’ve always been an artist. My mom still talks about a drawing I did of myself at age 4 of my reflection in our family pool. Apparently, this was impressive to her. Read More>>

Onochie and Emeka Chukwurah

Onochie is the founder & owner of Rhythms of The Village. His store is located in Altadena CA. Rhythms of The Village is a cultural boutique. Many of the products in the Village are handmade and authentic African goods. We import from many countries in Africa. Read More>>

Dan Whitmore

I founded Whitmore Rare Books in 2010, after a short stint in big law and a lifetime of voracious reading. I’ve been a collector for as long as I can remember: first rocks, sticks, bugs; then baseball cards and arrowheads; and finally, books! I was walking up Walnut St. in Philadelphia (while attending Penn Law School) when I saw a few dirty books and tapes spread out on a blanket for sale on the sidewalk. I picked up a copy of Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” for a couple bucks and walked home. Read More>>


Judd Wenzel started out repairing automobiles at the young age of 13. His older brother never seemed to buy a running vehicle, so on his free time Judd figured out what was going on with the car, and eventually fixed the problem. This became an ongoing process in which Judd was continually fixing the cars his brother would bring him. Read More>>

Miguel Valdez

White Sycamore was founded by good friends Miguel Valdez and Peter Hao in 2009. Both had a passion for high quality bags and leather products. As landscape architects, we appreciate the function and design of a bag. Our bags are vintage inspired, but most importantly we maintain simple lines and function when designing. Read More>>

Vernon Budinger

My parents had very nice cameras when I was a child: a Leica and a Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex. I always enjoyed looking at the pictures of our vacations; unlike a lot of people, I found the slide shows fascinating. I always dreamed of going back to those locations after watching the slides or looking through a photo album. I found the cameras intriguing and happily partnered with my father whenever he wanted to go somewhere to take pictures. Read More>>

Nori Kashiwa

When I was about twenty years old my close friend had decided to quit his part-time job at this piano store near my house in San Jose, and I took over. The job consisted of cleaning pianos, sweeping the floor, taking out the trash, etc., but then I learned to do some piano exterior touch up and action repair work. After couple years, I moved back to Japan and studied at Yamaha Piano Technical Academy in Hamamatsu for a year. Read More>>

Alaine Fulton

Short after moving from New York to California with just a car packed of tangible items in my early 20’s, I was hired by a direct carrier/ISP. Although I received good product and sales training, I was bothered by the fact that I could only offer one turn key solution. I was held down by quotas to make a sale, even though it might not have been the best choice for my customer. Read More>>

April Hicks

In my very early years, I worked as a hair stylist in local salons. Great experiences and mentoring opportunities resulted in the eventual ownership of my own salon, Head Trip, which has been going strong for 22 years now. A soft introduction of jewelry and eventually clothing in a dedicated space within the salon were organic additions. Read More>>

Errol Asayas

My interest in photography began in 2013, the year my wife and I decided to vacation to new and exciting places. I was mesmerized by the beauty I encountered on my trips from the sunsets on Maui’s unforgettable beaches to the spiritual red mountains in Sedona. I wanted to capture every moment, every experience that I felt as I admired the wonders of the world. Read More>>

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