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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 Orange County’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 the Orange County’s rising stars below.

Haley Sanchez

We’ve always been the artsy/crafty type. I (Haley) grew up in a crafty house with a mom who collected E V E R Y T H I N G creative-related and organized every piece in perfect color order. The side hustle started at an early age when my mom would have holiday boutiques at our house to sell jewelry and I’d have a table set up in the corner of the living room selling bracelets, keychains or really anything someone would actually buy. Fast-forward 25 years and here I am. Eric was always creative and certainly ingenious. He’s always had an eye for detail and the ability to see something and gain great inspiration and then create breathtaking art from this inspiration. His college years were spent learning every medium of art and design you could think of but his love for graphic design and screen printing were always apparent. Fast-forward 18 years and here he is. Read more>>

Elisa Estrera

The common thread throughout my life has been transformation. Not the idealized kind of transformation like a Pokemon evolving into a new form, but more raw like a caterpillar breaking itself down into mush and rebuilding itself bit by bit, and going through that cycle again and again even before it finishes becoming a butterfly. My parents immigrated from the Philippines to Australia when they were in their mid-30s. Brisbane, Australia is where I was born and grew up for those formative years. Then my parents decided to pack up and start all over again in their mid-40s in the United States. This reinventing oneself time after time and regardless of age must have planted itself in my subconscious. What a lovely idea that it’s never too late for anything. I have memories of my mom learning to drive and getting her driver’s license in LA at almost 50 years old! Read more>>

Joseph Herrera

I became a personal trainer in 2001 after I had graduated college. It started off as a way to work in a gym as a personal trainer and get a free membership where I could workout and play basketball. I did not think it would workout like it did 20 years later in 2021. You see, after I graduated college with a degree in Health Science, I had my eyes set on owning my own termite company. I had worked as a termite inspector throughout the last few years of college to help pay for school and some bills. But it wasn’t until I went to a friend’s party and met someone who was working as the manager of the L.A. Fitness in La Habra. My friend Pete enticed me to work for him especially finding out that I was making only $500 a week which is what his assistant managers made. Read more>>

Nikodem Blek

I graduated with a bachelor’s in Criminology and Criminal Justice. My aspirations were to become an Interpol Agent, I spoke English, Polish, French, and Arabic but ten years later I forgot how to speak Arabic and my French is really rusty. I graduated in 2008 and job opportunities were slim to none so I started working for a family friend in an obscure and mostly unknown automotive oriented industry called Paint Protection Film. I fell in love with my job and worked 80-90 hours a week for three years helping build up a company in St. Louis, MO and then I moved to Corona to start working for a distressed company in Palm Springs. After about six months, I got them back on their feet. They then screwed me over so I finally decided to take the plunge and build my own business from the ground up. One of my biggest motivators is the fear of failure. Read more>>

Vanessa Ramirez

I received my cosmetology license in 2007 shortly after, I began assisting an owner of a salon and quickly became the salon manager. About a year in, I was assisting, managing, & taking on my own clientele during which time I was learning as much as I could and soaking it in. I continued that path for four years. That is really where I got a real understanding of how a salon runs by being a part of the day-to-day operations including collecting rent and running the socials. I started to feel as if I had consumed all that I could, and it was time for me to branch off and do my own thing. In 2017 I started at a brand-new salon which I got to witness being built from the ground up. I started on my own as a rental stylist specializing in balayage’s & hair extensions. I decided then and there I was going to take as many classes as I could learning how to brand myself. Read more>>

Jessica Harmon

I started my clothing design journey in middle school when I would cut up and alter my clothes to fit the way I wanted them to. After that, my mom got me a sewing machine, and I started making original pieces. Eventually, in high school my friend Alaia Merz and I started a little business called Demure. We would cut up old t-shirts from thrift stores and turn them into little mini skirts. We sold a bunch to our friends and classmates. That’s when I really knew I wanted to have my own business design clothes. Eventually, I went to FIDM to learn how to make clothes properly. After graduating from FIDM and overcoming my fear of actually doing it, I started ATTU. A few years later, we opened our first clothing store, KISKA, and a few years after that we opened our flagship store in Laguna Beach. Read more>>

Mimi Amaral

As far back as I can remember, I’ve felt a deep connection with fellow humans, which sparked a passion within me to advocate and help others. For example: My parent’s told me of an experience when I was age six in which I would not eat until my father fed two homeless humans who were sitting near our trailer while we were camping. At that point I did not realize I would later be implementing this passion to advocate for myself. From birth, I have faced and walked through adverse circumstances that led me to a diagnosis of death at age fifteen and a prognosis that I would never live past the age of twenty. I did not succumb to the belief set forth by doctors and at nineteen and a half chose to change my outcome even if it meant, “To live to live, or live to die.” In addition, as I matured, childhood wounds presented themselves and I chose to face, feel, integrate, heal, and change them to move toward a healthier self. Read more>>

April Rogers

I started as a punk rock rebel with a small cause. It escalated to realizing that I wanted to do something creative with my life and that was sustainable yet would make me happy. I got my bachelor’s in fashion design and shortly after graduation, I was not happy with how the fashion industry ran and didn’t want a part of it. I really wanted to make better for the world, yet I still had to pay the bills. Being brought up from an economically deprived family, I didn’t have any privileges and needed to support myself immediately after turning 18. I supported myself through college (paying for my tuition and working full time while being a FT student) and it certainly wasn’t the easiest. After graduation I got a taste of what the real fashion industry was and it disgusted me. I set out to make a small difference, but mainly hopes of educating people of the truth of the fashion industry and how to change it. Read more>>

Fr33 Sol

I appreciate the opportunity to tell my story as it’s been a voyage in itself! I was born in Philadelphia September 10th, 1994, a Virgo just like mom, and I spent a good majority of my life in a small suburb 10 minutes outside of West Philadelphia called Upper Darby. One of my earliest introductions to being a musician started for me when I was eight years old in the 3rd grade. The music teacher at my school was hosting auditions for the band and intuitively tried out for a position as a drummer. During my audition it felt natural as if I had been an experienced drummer already. I like to think of it as a past life continuation with my musical gifts. A level of connection beyond just this current realm. Read more>>

Latonja “Tonji” Randall-EL

Based in Los Angeles, Capsule by Tonji is a boutique dreamt up by me… Tonji a Washington, DC native who currently resides in Southern California. I started Capsule during the pandemic after selling clothes from my closet on Instagram when the mental stress of being cooped up in the house with COVID was starting to wear on my spirits. Before Reels were even a thing, I started filming videos of me in different outfits choreographed to trendy songs and people were ready to buy them all. After getting many DM’s from people who were inspired by my style but saddened by their inability to fit my size clothing, I thought… maybe I should sell clothing and accessories that I curate but that are available in all sizes. Read more>>

Paul Schaefer

I have been in the photography world since I was 16 years old! I have always had a true passion for taking pictures and creating immortal memories, it’s amazing. I have been running my own photo business for almost ten years now and it has been the most incredible journey! I have met the most amazing people along the way and been to some of the most stunning places, places I would have never seen had I not been a photographer! Read more>>

Shannon McDermott

I moved to LA in Fall of 2012. I had been planning on moving there eventually but decided to take the leap with only $2k in my bank account then because a producer had come onto me, then berated me for rejecting his advances, telling me I’d never leave my home state and that I’d never be successful as an actor if I wasn’t willing to fuck my way to the top. I wanted to stick it to him and prove him wrong, and I believe I have. I paid $400/month at first to live in a boarding house in Burbank, sharing a tiny room with a Supermodel. I met Chris Notarile of Blinky Productions shortly after. He cast me as the villain in his original series, The Retcon Chronicles, and the rest is history. To date, I’ve done countless original shorts, series, fan films, radio plays, and graphic novels with Blinky Productions, watching our viewership grow to almost 100k subscribers on Youtube and representing films I have produced and starred in at film festivals all over the US. Read more>>

Thalia Diaz

I am a mother of three. After I had my first son, I decided to quit my corporate job to raise my son and help my husband with our small business. I’ve always found ways to make extra money at a very young age. I want to say that my love for events and planning started at the age of 8. My father was a banquet manager at the Summit House restaurant which was known for their beautiful venue and lavish weddings. He would take me every weekend to help set up and that’s where I started learning the basics. As I grew older and had children of my own and after many different small business, some successful and some not very much. I knew I wanted to start something of my own in the event industries. I enjoyed planning my children’s birthday parties and I felt like I was very creative. One day I came across some very beautiful backdrops and just like that a million ideas came to mind. Read more>>

Hannah Spanke

I could easily pick a place in my adulthood to begin this story, but really it started long before that. I have always been very intrigued by sex, relationships, sensuality, communication, and personal growth. This looked like being “boy-crazy” really young, striving for the next challenge always through high school & college, and then stepping into the adult entertainment world at a wise 17 years old. I dabbled in the world of sex work through stripping, escorting, porn, and probably anything else you might think of too, for the next seven years. Throughout those years of sex work and telling myself how great of a job I was doing by calling all my own shots, I got to a point where I could no longer deny the fact that what I was doing was NOT a long game and my soul was not happy. Read more>>

Jesús “Chuy” Soria

It all started when I was 12 years old, I got my first curling iron at a Yard Sale, and I will never forget how exciting my walk back home was! I started by paying my clients (neighbor’s daughters) chips and candy, so they can sit and let me curl their hair, lol, and then neighbors started asking me if I may curl their hair for special events. After high school, I went straight to Beauty School, became a licensed cosmetologist in 2011 and worked at Start Threading & Hair Salon in Riverside Ca for seven years on and off until the pandemic hit in 2019! I left the hair industry and worked a full year as a caregiver caring for seniors in memory care. Where I got to use my state board bang and roller set skills I learned back in Beaty school with my seniors! Then COVID goes down and everything reopens, and I’m back to doing what I love and loving it more than ever! Styling Brides and Quinceañeras for their Special day has been a beautiful experience. Making anybody feel and look great, that moment they are admiring themselves with a big smile and a twinkle in their eye, that right there, is my Joy! Read more>>

Tian Liu

NewPort-In an advertising market saturated with traditional marketing agencies, Tigertail Pictures is rapidly on its way to become one of the top 5 female-owned agencies in Los Angeles – with Tian Liu at its helm. Tigertail Pictures is a Los Angeles-based advertising production house company providing high-end full-service production needs, including first steps of creative planning to post-production services. The company’s in-house team and vast network of filmmakers and photographers enables Tigertail Pictures to carry out all tasks with reliability, efficiency, affordability, and most importantly, wild success. Read more>>

Lawrence Williams III

L’s Grill was created in September of 2020. We are a small business catering company located in the beautiful city of corona, serving all of the Inland Empire, Orange County & LA County. We are members of the Corona Chamber of commerce since 2021. We specialize in BBQ Style food, but am not limited to just bbq! All our meals are prepared carefully with the best food safety and sanitation procedures in place.
Our recipes are old school recipes with a new generation twist. My passion for cooking and grilling is present in every bite. A side from catering, we attend local community events (pop ups) in a variety of cities! This is how you can definitely get a first hand experience of the back yard vibe that we bring to each event. Read more>>


  1. Samantha Sands

    June 7, 2019 at 16:45


    I have an inspiring story of a woman winning highest honors within her organization after facing trials and tribulations. Where can I submit this story for review?


  2. ebeni gppgle siksin

    September 17, 2019 at 07:30

    kodestede sana bol bol vururlar

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