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Inspiring Stories from the OC

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 area’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 OC’s rising stars below.

Hania Hussein Photography

Photography first piqued my interest when I was a teen, traveling to faraway places like Egypt and Rome- at the time, I just had a little point-and-shoot and would capture whatever I could, during those brief, yet inspiring family trips. I went to Orange County High School of the Arts, where I majored in Creative Writing. During my senior year, I took a black-and-white photography course, and that’s when I really fell in love with the medium. From that point on, I would go out on little photo-taking adventures all over, documenting what I saw, with my Canon AE1 film camera. Read more>>

Michael Yuen

My family survived a horrible genocide while dodging landmines and cruel soldiers, suffering from heat, exhaustion, thirst, extreme hunger, and unspeakable acts of cruelty by strangers — all the while my mother was pregnant with her second son. The strong will to survive for the love of their children compelled them to never give up, be humble and thankful for anything good that came along the way, be kind to others, give their best in everything they do, and always try to see the positives in every situation. Their story of love, strength, and pain had been a guiding light in the way my siblings and I have grown up. Read more>>

Emily Beth

My background is in the arts and I graduated with my BA in music. My dream was to be on Broadway. Despite all the singing and performing, I’ve always loved taking photos. In High School, I had quite a love affair with the Kodak throwaway cameras and trips to Costco to develop my photos. It wasn’t until after college and my husband (then boyfriend) surprised me with a little Canon point and shoot for our 1st Christmas that I would have ever considered going past the throwaway level. He was really the one who started the fire and continues to push me now. Read more>>

Maria Nicholson

I am a first-generation immigrant in the United States. I came to this country in 1989 with $100.00 dollars in my pocket given to me by my mother who at that time was still residing in the Philippines. My parents’ dream has always been to send us to America where we will have opportunities for a much better future. Read More>>

Andrew Tang

I discovered my passion for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) at a very young age. My passion was profoundly influenced by my father, a doctor who has been practicing TCM for more than 30 years in Taiwan. TCM has evolved over thousands of years and was built on the foundation of Holism. Read More>>

Erin Vaughan

In May of 2012, I graduated with my BFA in studio arts from college. I had focused much of my time as an art student in drawing/painting, design and illustration classes. I was surrounded by a few professors that really instilled in me good work habits in the studio and belief in me to pursue illustration as a career. Right after I graduated I went full time as a freelance illustrator and Etsy shop owner. I just decided I’d rather just give it a go and see what happens, then spend my time doing something I wasn’t passionate about. Read More>>

Petre Spassov

I am a Bulgarian-born graphic designer working in Orange County, California.

My name Peter, spelled Petre, due to a mishap at immigration services that unfortunately stuck. Read More>>

Justin Kim

I consider myself lucky that I have been able to pursue my passion for photography and wedding photography for the last 19 years. My day to day job allowed to financially start up my business, JustinKimPhoto, 11 months ago. As with most any small business startup, I had some bumps along the way. I had zero experience running a business so as excited as I was to have a business doing what I loved, I had to learn some hard lessons along the way. Read More>>

Jeff Levine

As a kid, I always liked computers, in my early teens I combined my love of hardcore music, skating, and computers and started learning how to design. Started freelancing while I was still in high school, was going to attend the art institute in Florida but at the last minute, I decided not to go and instead took an internship in NYC. Worked my way up from intern to art director going through a few studios and agencies and eventually went on and freelanced under Fake-Up. Read More>>

Trevor Wernisch

Ever since high school, I had been interested in some facet of visual design. It started with web design, and evolved into print media and photography; shooting and designing globally pushed magazine ads. From there, as a hobby and soon to be profession it was vehicle entertainment touchscreen and dashboards. Strange jump right? Eventually, I made my way from Florida to California to work in the video game industry. I figured, hey, I already spend a good chunk of my time playing video games, why not start designing them? Most recently I was given the opportunity to work abroad in the United Kingdom, where I still work in the video game industry. Read More>>

Jared Freitag

Animation has always been a dream of mine but it didn’t come without a struggle. After I graduated college, my expectation was that I would find work in the wonderful world of animation. After all, I did just spend a small fortune on an education, that should give me a foot in the door, right? I was wrong. The next few years were spent applying to various animation studios, some big, some small but all had the same response, and that was no response. Read More>>

Mark Cherney

I actually got into being a Professional Wedding and event DJ and Emcee after finishing my degree in Communications (radio and TV broadcasting) and working as a commercial on-air radio personality. I really enjoyed the music aspect of being a radio DJ and I really enjoyed interacting with my listeners while on the air but hated being in a 12 x 12 room by myself for 4-6 hours a day. I used to always get into trouble for leaving the booth to go talk with office personnel while I was on the air. Read More>>

Molly Webb

The business started out with just me running voice and piano lessons out of a studio in Costa Mesa. My dad helped me put up my first website, and I went through the awkward growth period of driving to the studio for one client and then driving home. Over the years, business grew until I was teaching a full schedule of students six days a week, sometimes getting off as late as 10:30 PM. Read More>>

Miguel Diazleal

I am the Chairman for Pack 75 for the Cub Scouts. I am also the Scoutmaster for Troop 75. In addition to these two positions, I also volunteer at the district level to be the district webmaster and Membership Chairman. I started about five and a half years ago when my son joined Cub Scouts. Read More>>

Leighton Hubbell

I am the guy behind the one-person design shop,, and Hubbell Design Works. I started out many moons ago working in several capacities in the communication arts industry including employment and project work at various design firms, ad agencies, and promotional branding agencies. I am most widely recognized for my logo design, even though I offer a complete range of other design services. Read More>>

Matthew Assell

While growing up in the midwest, I got into riding BMX through copying my older brother. This introduced me to all of the media tied in with the sport. After quickly finding out that I wasn’t going to turn pro anytime soon for my riding ability, I started to slowly fall in love with the attitude and visuals that came from the community. Read More>>

Trina Parkin

My career began in high school with a very influential photography class. I decided this was going to be my path. It was not too long after I began college that I decided I was better suited for graphic design, from yet another influential class with Professor Lana Grover in “Design and Color”. I made it a priority to do as many internships as I could. Read More>>

Raven Cruz

My passion for design and illustration started when I painted my mother’s beautiful white carpet green when I was 2 years old. From then on everyone knew I was going to be in some sort of creative field. Throughout my public school career, I continued to take as many art classes as possible. It got so crazy, I was taking double art classes by my Senior year in high school. I originally started as a watercolourist, but then one year in high school we gained a new teacher who was into digital art and she was the coolest person I had ever met. She told me I could scan my paintings and illustrations into photoshop and make digital collages – this blew my mind. After that, I attended the Art Institute of Phoenix, Arizona, got my BFA in Graphic Design and then everything just blossomed into today. Read More>>

Jamie Stark

My career as a graphic designer, art, and creative director began 20 years ago in New York City. I worked in the Flatiron district, which at the time, was teeming with designers, photographers and ad agencies. The entire area was as specialized and unique as the field itself, and it was brimming with creativity. At that time, I was fortunate enough to work with and for, some of the true creative geniuses in our field. I interned and later worked for, Larry Lurin, who designed the movie posters for Raging Bull and Platoon among hundreds of others. I worked for Joe Caroff at Kirschener Caroff Design who designed the James Bond 007 logo and the West Side Story poster. It is these creative roots that enabled me to continue to build my own business and go on to freelance for ad agencies like Ogilvy & Mather, and then go on to run my own design studio with fortune 500 clients. My client list includes Pepsi, Avis, Milgard, Ocean Spray, Dannon, Mearsk, Equal Sweetener and many more. Read More>>

Justin Jones

Growing up I was constantly creating stories, characters, videos, drawings, etc. I grew up in the late 80’s / early 90’s and looking back I feel like it was so saturated with new and interesting things for kids my age. Ninja Turtles, Batman, Spider-man, X-men, Star Wars. All of those classic cartoons / movies really drove my imagination forward. With all of that influence, it made sense that I originally wanted to be an animator. Read More>>

Ren Rudner

I’ve always been an artistic person. Growing up you would never catch me without my sketchbook and I knew early on that I wanted to be in an artistic field. By the time I had made it to high school and early college, I had tried my hand in a few other artistic areas like musical theater and improv, but ultimately decided to turn my focus back to art and majored in graphic design. While I was at college, I busted my ass carrying a full-time school schedule along with a 40 hour/week job working for the forum host, There I started in community moderation but transitioned into a graphic design role that gave me my first dose of professional experience. By the time I had graduated college, I had learned to code and had a decent body of work my belt. From there I went on to work for a few other agencies doing UI and UX work while maintaining a hefty amount of freelance on the side. Read More>>

Eva Lempert

While studying photography and studio arts in college, a friend of mine asked me to photograph her wedding. I always knew I’d do something in visual arts, but never really thought about what I would do with a photography degree. So, what would any starving college student do? I offered to shoot it for the cost of my film and a free dinner. Read more>>

Andrea Domjan

I’ve become a photographer because of a bad decision I made 10 years ago. It was never on my list to pursue my career as a creative entrepreneur. Today I think of that ‘bad decision’ as the best thing that could have ever happened to me. With a bachelors degree in economics in my hand, I was working in corporate for almost a decade. Read more>>


I used to live overseas with my husband and I loved capturing the beauty of all the countries we visited. When we moved back to the US I took that love of photography and started using it to photograph my newborn son. Soon people began to ask me to take photos of their kids, families, and celebrations. What began as a hobby blossomed into a business. Within a year, I had great group of regular clients and I was photographing everything from maternity sessions, newborns, family sessions, birthday parties and baptisms. I wanted to stretch myself and I was really drawn to the story-telling aspect of photographing weddings. Read more>>

 Lesley Sattin 

I studied the sciences and never imagined being an entrepreneur. Having kids changed everything. My husband and I quickly realized that one of our careers would need to take a lesser role and since he, being an entrepreneur himself had the higher earning capability, I quit my job and studies to stay home with the kids. I needed a flexible job that would allow me to raise our family, be there when they needed me and also satisfy me intellectually and hopefully financially. There are not many employers that offer those benefits. We went to the Anaheim garden show in 2003 and there was a booth there offering a home based business opportunity selling promotional products. I didn’t even know what they were but I was transfixed. Read more>>

Koranit Tangthavorn

Being from Thailand, I am very proud of the art of Thai massage. It’s something I have always wanted to share with the community. Thai massage is fairly new to modern spas can be quite expensive. I wanted to create a business that combined Thai and Western massage which would also be affordable so everyone could experience the benefits. I believe a successful business is measured by how many people you end up helping. I am proud of my Thai heritage and chose to promote it through Panwa Thai Massage. It is especially important to me that it made affordable enough to as many people as possible. I don’t think massage should be considered a luxury. Read more>>


Susan Rueb

In 2006, our family discovered the reality of our own daughter’s brain challenge and we realize that challenge continues to impact us to this very day. After being told that Kristin was schizophrenic and needed long term mental health care, we began a journey to find how who and what would be helpful to our daughter. We were shocked to find the resources to be scarce and the living facilities available to our daughter were way less than adequate. Our experience within the county mental health system often made us wonder who the patient was. Read more>>

Danielle Bayer

A friend and I originally wanted to open our own clothing line called La Petite Chenille (the little caterpillar) based on the idea that caterpillars eventually turn into butterflies. However, clothing lines involve a lot of time, effort and money and although we could afford to put effort and money into it, we both didn’t have a lot of free time. We both worked full time jobs and both have families. However, although we had temporarily given up on following through with that, I still wanted to do something. That’s pretty much how the store came about. Read more>>

Sherri Loomer

My dream job was to work with dogs since I was a child. I have always felt drawn to them. I have been very fortunate to achieve my dream after 20 odd years working for other people in various industries. About 16 years ago, I lost my mother to depression and then suicide. After this happened it motivated me to make sure that I was happy because life can end at a moment’s notice. I started my company Your Animals Best Friend and never looked back! I started by offering services to my clients in their home and neighborhood such as dog walks and pet sitting visits and overnights when they went out of town. This has evolved since starting to having a location in addition which we call The Dog House where we offer day and evening care, socialization and dog sleepovers. Read more>>

Kait McKay

In a nutshell…I chose passion. I chose happiness. I went off-trail and forged my own path. It was in my home state of Massachusetts where my passion for photography began at a very young age. Remember the days when you couldn’t instantly see the photos you’d just taken but there was trusty one-hour photo printing? Well, I do. My mom would dash me to CVS after every event (even field trips as a kid) because I’d be beyond excited and always anxious to see my images. I didn’t know it then but that fire and excitement I had back then for capturing a moment and documenting a memory led me to where I am today. Read more>>

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