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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.

Cameron Alford

I’ve dreamed of being an actor for as long as I could remember. Growing up, I don’t think there was ever a time where I wasn’t either in front of a television screen or in a movie theater. My father used to always take me to plays when we lived in Atlanta. I’ll never forget the first play I actually saw was Aida followed by The Lion King. I just always knew performing was something I wanted to do. So, going through high school, I stayed attached to Drama Club and participated in as many plays as I could be in. To this day, I still remember them all like it was yesterday. I was also a really big band nerd back then. I played tuba and, even now, I’m trying to teach myself piano. After I graduated from high school, I was accepted into the University of Alabama and I plan was to attend on a music scholarship. Read more>>

Monica Vetter

I was always active as a child. I did ballet for ten years, cheerleading, softball, track & field in middle school and high school. I didn’t start weightlifting until about 2010 when I met a trainer named Shaun who helped me get in the best shape I had been in. I fell in love with eating healthy and being strong. While attending college at SDSU, I started to party more, eat more, and workout less. I let these habits get the best of me. My true passion for health and fitness began the moment I was given a second chance at life. I was a passenger in an alcohol-related rollover crash back in 2014. I was so grateful to be alive. Looking back at photos of the car, I realized that it was a miracle that I wasn’t dead. Luckily I walked away with only scrapes, bruises, a minor head injury, and A LOT of pains. Read more>>

Maria De la Paz

Lolo Creations began out of a longing for independence and creativity. I am Maria or Lolo as known by family and friends, and now by our community. Creating things with my hands has always been something that makes me happy. After surviving breast cancer, I knew life was too short to not go after what brought me joy. If I’m honest, you never truly survive cancer, the physical and emotional scars stick around forever. However, I wanted to surround myself with people and activities that took away some of that pain. I began creating home decor and then switched to natural flowers out of mere coincidence. It was not planned, it just happened. I was scared to try natural flowers because I had the worst green thumb. I was the type of person that overwatered succulents. That didn’t stop me. I was determined and persistent. Read more>>

Qiana Miles

I started singing in the church choir at three years old. I went to a performing arts middle and high school singing for different functions, numerous talent shows, and competitions. I started writing and recording music in high school which really ignited my dreams of becoming an R&B artist. After graduating college and moving to Orlando, FL for grad school, I began to work full time at Disney World as a performer. Still, I desired to have a name for myself outside of the theme park so I began to start back writing and recording original music. Read more>>

Kate Camuti

Health and fitness have always been a passion of mine, starting all the way back as a young child. Throughout the years, I have channeled my passion of fitness through sports and group/personal training. Coming out of college, I pursued a job as an Orangetheory Instructor and have been excelling in that role for the past two years in San Diego, With everything going on in the world, I decided to take on a new adventure of helping those stuck at homestay active and healthy. That is when Booti By Camuti was born. Read more>>

Ursie Candelario

I’ve always loved skincare. As a little girl, I would make face and hair masks from things I found in the kitchen and garden. As a teenager, I avoided chemicals and preservatives in my food. As an adult and registered nurse, I learned that your skin is your largest organ and your pores soak up every ingredient applied to it. That lead me to playing around with some all-natural ingredients and making skincare items. Little did I know, that was the beginning of Ursie’s Apothecary. As I started to create more products and shared some with friends, I decided that it would be fun to try selling my products at a farmers market. I spent about four years adding onto my product list, working markets all around Southern California, and in August of 2019 I opened my first shop. It has been a crazy, beautiful and fun journey. Read more>>

Audrey Buchanan

If you asked me five years ago if I would be interested in owning my own business, I probably would have laughed at the idea. The thing is, I never planned on owning my own business but I have always been really passionate about helping others find success. After graduating from the Public Relations program at SDSU, I knew I had a knack for social media management and blogging. I was blessed to find an entry-level position that would eventually help me hone in on the skills that I’ve used to build my company today. Read more>>

Lisa Darcy

I’ve been an animal lover and aspiring animal trainer all my life. My parents lovingly tease me for training my childhood German shepherd mix using M&Ms when I was about four years old (oops – do not try this at home!). Once I moved out and finally adopted a dog of my own, my Great Dane Ned, I began to learn about the world of animal rescue. After adopting two more Great Danes, Drogo and Nymeria, I was quickly reminded of the importance of training and began to work with several Long Beach-area trainers. This was how I met my best friend and rescue partner Emily Peters, the founder of Live Love Pet Care and Animal Rescue. She was a one-woman powerhouse at the time (2014), and I felt an inexplicable need to get involved, both for her sake and for the sake of the animals she was rescuing. Read more>>

Kerensa Jorgenson

Growing up in an artistic family of painters and ceramicists, I was raised trying a variety of different mediums of art. Over the past four years, I have fallen in love with fiber and textile art. I first began with hand embroidery, eventually discovering woven wall hangings, and taught myself how to weave on a loom. What had originally started as a hobby became an obsession with all types of fiber and textile goods. Combining different color palettes and finding unique, one of a kind supplies continued to capture my interest. I began selling my work at small craft shows, eventually making my way to exclusive events with companies like Anthroplogie and The Lab Anti-Mall within Southern California. Read more>>

Carla Arcé

When I was little, my mom would sit me on the kitchen counter while she would cook dinner. I watched her cook for many years and most of it was Chilean food. My dad is Chilean and that’s mostly what he expected to eat, and he wasn’t a fan of much else. One of my favorite things she would make was pebre. It’s a really simple but flavorful Chilean salsa. It was also one of the first Chilean things she taught me to make and as I got older, it was what I would bring to parties and potlucks. Read more>>

Tanya DeFreitas

In 2018, I self-published my first book. I was unhappy with the final product and design that I paid someone else to complete. I am very computer savvy and looking at the finished product, I knew that I could do a better job for my own book. I began working on the format of my book until I was pleased. Once the design was the way I wanted, I re-published my book. That was the launch of my publishing company. If I could do it for myself, I could do it for others and I did! Read more>>

Ashlyn Rich and Pam Weber

Growing up, I was always into sports and fitness. As an adult, I took years of traditional Pilates classes, which eventually led me to Lagree Fitness. Lagree fulfilled all that I felt was lacking with my traditional Pilates workouts. Lagree incorporates cardio, strength training, toning, and flexibility all in one workout. I loved it because every class was different, yet challenging, and always had me coming back for more. In 2014, I opened my first studio location in Mission Viejo. It was there that I met Pam. Pam was a client, turned trainer, turned business partner, and now we own a 2nd location in San Clemente. My goals with opening Sweat House was to change lives through fitness, movement, music, community, and physical well being. Read more>>

David Dees

After surfing my way through college, I worked at several restaurants and resorts to get started in what at the time was my dream career of becoming a Pastry Chef. I was able to scrape enough money together with a friend and we went to France to study pastry for a summer. When I came back, I was offered a position at the famed Pebble Beach Resort that would lead to amazing opportunities and professional relationships that would change my career and life. When I was working in the kitchen, I was invited to a company wine club meeting. I knew very little about wine and wanted to learn for my own education, but did not know that I was about to realize the wine industry was not only my calling but my passion. Read more>>

Karen Marie Hernandez and Zach Huckabee

Throughout high school, I tried forming bands or joining a few, but to my surprise they didn’t want a “girl lead singer” or to write “girly music” and would much rather have me play bass or rhythm guitar in the background. It took me ’til I was 17 to realize that I didn’t need a band to play live music, so I began playing solo acoustic sets at small art venues and restaurants. By 19, I finally reconnected with an old musician friend who was at a transitioning point in his life where he needed to start anew. Showing him my songs I had written, he began to write drum and bass parts for them and liked this new but 90s reminiscent post-grunge sound I had presented. Read more>>

Kelly Shannon

I bought a house in 2016 and absolutely loved working on it… It was all I wanted to do. I wasn’t a designer, I worked in the automotive industry. In 2017 I ended up quitting my job and decided to start my own interior design business. I was obviously very anxious leaving a career I knew to venture into completely new territory at 34 years old, but I knew I would make it work because it always been something I’ve loved. During this time, a dear family friend called me and invited me over to see their new home. Within a minute after the house tour, she asked me to finish decorating their house for them. And that’s how it all started. The support I’ve received from my friends and family has been incredible and has given me so much drive to constantly learn more and do better each day. Read more>>

Xyleya

I started writing music in middle school with my friends while in an orchestral strings class. We started off arranging music from different TV shows so that we could play music that we found fun and enjoyable. By the time I was in high school, I began developing an interest in rock music and eventually started my first rock/punk band. By my sophomore year of high school, I began diving into recording and music engineering and absolutely fell in love with it. From there on, I’ve set my mind into making music as a career. By my senior year, I applied to Berklee College or Music and was accepted. I spent majority of my first year at Berklee learning to write and record music and decide to come home to start my own music career. Read  more>>

Michael Scott

Michael Scott is a SAG-AFTRA Actor, Voiceover Artist, Musician, Educator, Entrepreneur, and U.S. Army Veteran. Michael is an original member of the award-winning Improv Comedy Troupe “Bernie Mac & Cheese” @bmcimprov who performs weekly with a residency at the ACME Comedy Theater in Hollywood. As an actor, Michael has performed on a variety of on-camera commercials and is currently in production of his own international travel/adventure television show called Weapons of Fortune. He recently completed work as a Principal performer on a feature film directed by Robert Zemeckis, which is scheduled for release in October 2020. Read more>>

Raundi Kai Moore Kondo

Raundi is convinced that the Zombie Apocalypse is only another metaphor for poetry–which might explain her strange compulsion to want to infect everyone she meets. As the founder of For The Love of Words Creative Writing Collective, she has been offering uniquely designed creative writing and poetry workshops, for writers of all ages, since 2009. Raundi has been nominated for a Pushcart award and has two full-length poetry collections, Let The Ends Spill Over Your Lips and Death of A Snowman: What the Puddle Had to Say. Read more>>

Zachary Perez

I had taken a graphic design class in high school & I loved the projects we did. Then when I was 17, I got a job at a local streetwear store & had recently bought a camera just out of curiosity & so they asked me to take their website photos. I fell in love with taking photos & eventually when I stopped working as a graphic designer, I only wanted to focus on photography. I experimented with my style & I drastically leaned towards portraits. I constantly reached out to models on Instagram & had photoshoots constantly & built my name a bit. I started doing freelance photo jobs after previously working at a photo studio, which I hated. I shot photos for brands, rappers, & other businesses. I had come across a 35m film camera in my garage & I fixed it & tried out my first roll ever & I fell in love with shooting on film. Read more>>

Dean Kim

I first fell in love with baking while attending UC Berkeley for my undergraduate degree. I was working part-time at a local bagel store as a baker. I immediately fell in love with the smell of bagels. That’s when I knew I wanted to pursue baking instead of law school, and that’s how it all started. I attended the American Institute of Baking and the San Francisco Baking Institute to get a proper culinary education. I then moved down to Orange County and worked for Breads N Spreads. Several years later, with the support of my wife, I decided to open up my own shop and OC Baking was born. Read more>>

Danilo Batson

We started the idea for Spicy Green Book on June 2, 2020. The idea was created to help uplift the black community. We started a website where potential consumers could find black-owned businesses in the food & beverage industry. Still, we wanted them to be presented in such a way to help drive businesses so we started offering to help them with their online communications. At no cost, we offer professional photography, videography, design, branding, journalism, and promotional assistance. Read more>>

Alex Vaz

In 2016, I got heavily into adjusting my diet for optimizing myself and my performance. The opportunity of taking over a failing restaurant called Malibu Fish Grill presented itself. I saw what they were doing and realized I could do it much better. So I took it over and changed the name to Surf City Fish Grill. I focused on using better suppliers for everything, from the fresh fish to the vegetables. Once I established a better supply chain, then I focused on making the menu so much more than it was. I took all the dietary options of the day and incorporated them into the menu. I offered gluten-free, paleo and keto options which you couldn’t really find anywhere at the time. Read more>>

Mike Franchina

I’ve always enjoyed drawing and creating worlds, but it seemed a bit far fetched that I could make a career of it. I actually went to school at first for computer science. But I failed all my classes and realized I was drawing in all my notebooks, so I decided to switch to art. During college, I actually started doing some freelance art for some tabletop RPG companies and getting paid absolutely atrocious rates. I mean way less than minimum wage. But I just kept doing it and improving and getting better jobs. Read more>>

Jennie Quach

Coming from a small town and strict parents, I did not have many opportunities to explore and try new places. Once I moved to Irvine for college in 2013, I was blown away by all the various types of food in OC, LA, and SD. I now had the freedom to try them all! Whenever I found new, interesting places, I would immediately bookmark the location. I currently have over 2,500 bookmarks on Yelp. Crazy, right? From then on, my knowledge about the food industry grew. Read more>>

Alpha

I was always into the arts. I would always be caught making something or drawing on everything. As I got older, I decided music was the medium that best understood me. Like anything, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Even when my friends, teachers, or other adults in my life would try and dilute my passion into a hobby, I would never stop. It grew somewhat addicting to a certain point ya know? Especially when you find more and more amazing music, you never knew existed. Read more>>

2 Comments

  1. Samantha Sands

    June 7, 2019 at 16:45

    Hi,

    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?

    Thanks!

  2. ebeni gppgle siksin

    September 17, 2019 at 07:30

    kodestede sana bol bol vururlar

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