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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.

Better Practice

Nearly nine out of ten music teachers say that practice matters most and lack of practice is the top reasons why most music students fail. Knowing this and having a child enter an age to start learning music, I wanted my child to enjoy learning music and didn’t want to waste time nor money on an endeavor where the odds were stacked against us. Music itself is fun and joyful, but learning it can be tedious, especially for kids! In studying this problem, I identified that there was a huge misalignment between the needs of Gen Z (our young students today) and the way music practice is currently structured. Read more>>

Chary Sathea and Emily McMonagle

Chary, one of the co-founders, is originally from California. Chary published a story about the difficulties of making friends as an adult in a transient city like New York. This resonated with Emily, also new to the city, and she responded. The two sat down over drinks and talked about building a better community for like-minded individuals and taking that digital interaction offline to foster authentic relationships. Here we are now, two years in the making. Read more>>

Ray + Simon Barrett

On January 19th, 2017, Ray and Simon Barrett spent hours in deep conversation about what new chapter to write as they approached their 11th year of being in a relationship. One of the topics often discussed was the inevitable moment when the two decide to adopt children. Having been married for only a few months at the time, the two decided to focus on experiencing journeys together as a married couple first before bringing children into the equation. Together, they thought, “Hopefully, we’ll have something to pass on to him, or her, or them. We just want to be able to leave something substantial behind. A legacy.” Read more>>

Stephanie Weber

My love for photography began when I bought my first DSLR camera to photograph my little ones milestones. I purchased a pre-loved Canon Rebel EOS T1i… ancient, I know, but I loved it! I always tried to get creative with it, and document moments I shared with my family. I simply just loved and admired the art in a photograph and the story it told, but never really got out there myself. I guess I just never imagined that I would be able to build a career from this passion. My journey as a photographer finally began when my sister became engaged. Read more>>

LeeLina Martin

I’m pretty sure it all started for me with a Martha Stewart obsession. I loved everything her and her amazing creative team put together. Some twists and turns later I was being offered a job at a floral event studio. Getting my hands dirty was the best way for me to learn and it still is, I’m learning new things all the time. Looking back, I wouldn’t really change anything. The events business is hard work and I know for sure that if I didn’t love it, I definitely would not be doing it. Read more>>

Mona Niko

After many years of trying hard to create new paintings and present them in art shows. I finally decided to add a commercial division to my works, so I established my own brand of “Mona Niko”, which offers unique designs of my artworks on clothing and accessories… It was a great experience, but setting up a new business is not easy at all, facing many difficulties in terms of concepts and financially. I still kept continuing till I finally could open my first retail store in The Shops of Mission Viejo. Read more>>

Apra Bhandari

I grew up in Long Island, NY where I did my schooling and attended college at Cornell University. I was a communication and business major at Cornell. I started dancing and performing at the age of 3 and began my Kathak training when I was 7. Read more>>

Kristy Shean

Started from my love for Native American jewelry which aspires from my grandfather who was full Potawatomi Native American Indian. Once I finished getting my culinary certificate in college I decide to switch routes and start the practice of silversmithing. Read more>>

Anna Ackerman

In the midst of these changes, my vision was to connect with other wokring women to collaborate for success. to talk about the ups and downs and create “conneciton over competition” so a year ago-I birthed the ROAR Society. This started out as an “infant” and I am now chasing a “toddler” watching it grow and evolve, into a really special organization. Read more>>

Inessa Nichols

Working with and being around flowers is pretty much in my genes. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by a family of flower loving women. Not only were my mother, aunties, grandmothers and great grandmothers phenomenal home makers, they were self taught expert gardeners. Read more>>

John Gilhooley

John Gilhooley began his photographic journey in the late 1970’s shooting skateboard contests. Growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles John’s subject matter has always been a reflection of his lifestyle , after photo school in 1985 the journey continued. Read more>>

Miriam Moriah

I’ve had my hands in clay to acrylics, watercolors, charcoals, and pastels. Unsatisfied with the colors and consistency i finally tried oil paint. It was like i had found my soul mate. I need vibrance and depth when i paint. Theres this fulfillment i feel when i create, a sort of completion. Read more>>

Art Vega

I was born in Mexico City, Mexico where I spent my early childhood running around with other kids my age. When I was 8 years old, I moved to California with my mother; that is where my story truly begins. Read more>>

Stephanie Maldonado

In 2014, my boyfriend (who is Fijian Punjabi Indian) came across one of my old sketchbooks and encouraged me to try henna. Read more>>

Brooke Gudenau

I decided I wanted to pursue art when I was a youngin. I moved from Missouri to Southern California when I was 18 to go to art school. I ended up bailing pretty soon into it due to some super fun opportunities with TOMS shoes and Element. That was the start of my freelance adventures. Read more>>

Tom Tu

I hopped around from job to job to figure out what interested me most. I had spent time in the pharmacy and research but ultimately I decided to work towards a dental degree after working some time in a dental office as an assistant. Looking back, I was never truly interested in it but it seemed the best option from my experience. Read more>>

Vipe Desai

I got my start somewhat by accident when I bought a surf shop right out of college. I was instantly thrown into the world of entrepreneurship and had to learn a lot in those early days. During that period, I really learned a lot about consumer behavior and that I also had a knack for creating events and marketing. Read more>>

Robia Scott ~ Tools for Transformation

As soon as I could walk I was dancing. Like many little girls, I performed primarily for my family in the living room until “she” swooped in and change my life forever. As a teen, I saw the movie “Flashdance,” and for the first time realized that I could turn dance into a career. Read more>>

Lisa Gutierrez Martinez

Lark is what happened when I combined what I love professionally (producing) with what I love personally (people, food, wine & design). I have always wanted my own business (my logic being: if you are going to work, why not do what you love?) — at that time lark was solely focused on a brick and mortar marketplace that offered small bites and items for entertaining. Read more>>

Binal Naik

My Henna journey began during 10thgrade summer vacation. I joined henna class for one month. It was really fascinating. I started doing some henna designs (called Mehendi) here and there at relatives wedding function. My passion grew gradually. Read more>>

Omar Dandashi

Everyone has a story… Everyone has a vision of their story… The journey there comes through each step, each experience, and through each relationship made. Read more>>

Giuseppe Accardi

I came from a different kind of business before I started working in the restaurant. I was 7 years at ANQI, owned by the An Family of Crustacean in Beverly Hills. I opened my first restaurant here in Balboa Island. Read more>>

Brian Kranz

I have been training clients since the age of 18. Now 13 years later and certified with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), I bring an unrivaled and thorough approach to personal training. I’m a continual student of the practice of personal training and take a scientific approach to helping my clients reach their fitness goals. Read more>>

Nicole Kniss

I opened Newport Peach with the idea of a place for women to come and not only feel supported by other women but also find a deeper level of Self Love. Women tend to be hardest on themselves and not feel supported by other women. I also felt in the fitness communities that self doubt feeling can easily be amplified. Read more>>

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