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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.

Jennifer Montoya

I started photography about five years ago. My husband taught me everything I know about my camera. We would sit at the dinner table and I would be in “photography school” most nights while eating dinner. For the first three years, I would photograph everything to come my way. I would shoot maternity, family, engagements, and weddings alongside my husband. After three years, I finally felt like I was ready to chase a vision I had for a while, boudoir photography. I always felt like I could view a woman’s body differently. I wanted my boudoir photography to be unique. I wanted it to show that being sexy and classy at the same time is possible. Read more>>

Monique Mouré Chawora

I grew up skipping around the world. My father was in the Air Force and we moved every three years or so from Germany to the Azores, to Las Vegas. I had always had my hands in some sort of craft growing up, no matter where I was. I made and sold paper dolls, beaded friendship bracelets and was always puff painting someone’s Tshirt. In my 20’s I was living in Venice and started selling wire wrapped necklaces and hand-painted sunglasses off the Venice Boardwalk. I loved hanging out in the sun chatting with people and sharing my art. I had always just taught myself how to make things but I had desperately wanted to learn how to work with metal. I woke up one day and just decided it was time! I signed up for an eight week class in Santa Monica to learn the Lost Wax Method and was immediately hooked. Read more>>

Xander Montes

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to make movies and entertain. When I was a teenager, I remember this church I was attending would let me in to edit videos. I would stay as long as they would let me. This helped me work on my skills and really develop a passion. When I went to college, there was no doubt in my mind as to what I wanted to do. I made sure I was going to be involved in everything and learn as much as I could about filmmaking. It was here where I learned that I wanted to be a producer. After I graduated college, I went on to film school and focused on my producing skills. Other than just wanting to produce projects and films, I really discovered a lot about myself. Leadership and story were huge themes for me. Read more>>

Jennifer Sarabia

It’s a long story! It goes back to when I was nine years old. I was a musical theatre geek and wanted to do a little more so I joined Track & Field and fell in love with running. I was always one of the fastest kids and finished the mile faster than most of the boys in my class. I’ve been running competitive ever since. I continued to juggle theatre and running through middle school up until high school. That’s when I joined Cross Country & Track and when I realized I was a long-distance runner. My high school track coach was amazing! He taught me everything I know. I got my Varsity letter, broke some PRs (personal records) and even got an offer to run in college! I had a coach that showed a lot of favoritism and it made me not enjoy running anymore so my senior year, I stuck to only doing theatre. Read more>>

Ada Anumudu

I grew up in a traditional Nigerian (Igbo) household in Nigeria and as the oldest daughter (the “Ada”), I was always the go to person for most things which included help in the kitchen. I was often in the kitchen assisting my mom to prepare family meals and that’s where my love/hobby for baking and cooking developed. I definitely get my foundational cooking tips from my mom. We currently do deliveries and/or pick ups and hope to have a restaurant space of our own in the future. After moving to the United States as a teenager, I was even more intrigued by the different types of cultures and foods. I started incorporating some of these newfound flavors into my already familiar Nigerian foods. Read more>>

Richard “Reach” Guinto

I was in the real estate and corporate world all of my 20’s. At the age of 29, I started contributing content to a popular streetwear company, who then promoted me to Editor-In-Chief of their site. It was at this point that I knew I had to pursue my passions and take advantage of this unique opportunity. I was laid off from my corporate job around this time, too, which kickstarted my intent to wholeheartedly pursue my passions in writing, content curation, and content creation. My time at the streetwear brand lead me to becoming Managing Editor at a hip-hop/streetwear fashion-focused online publication, where I really felt the most growth. Read more>>

Sara Kil

As a kid, I like to talk to people to hear stories and read about stories in books. In high school, I was on the school newspaper. It was in high school when I was 16 years old when a teacher told me I wrote well. I didn’t think I was a good writer. I didn’t take writing seriously. I thought it was more of a hobby. Read More>>

Rose Kim

I’m an actor and theatre artist and I run my theatre company, Art Rat. Outside of Art Rat, I work a full-time office job to pay bills and fund our productions. I discovered acting in college. Acting was fun, it made sense, and I felt I could be good. One of those “click” moments where you’re like “Wow, I like doing this, I’m good at doing this, and now I’m obsessed with being the best……” Very soon after my first class, the theatre dept.’s new guest artist called for an entire cast of AAPI actors to do an old German tragedy. It was thanks to this very-color-conscious casting that I got a principal role on stage for my first production. Read more>>

Shelley Williams

I have always loved to teach. In college, I taught a small arts and crafts kids program at the local city park and loved it. It led me down the path to become a teacher a career that I have enjoyed for now 20 years. I’ve taught students, then taught teachers, and led teams who oversaw teaching programs. Quite a lot of movement and quite a lot of work. But one year, funding ended and I needed to find a new job. To keep the stress off, I made soap. Lots of soap. Diving into something new and so different fascinated me. I found a new job just eight weeks later, but I remember even now that those eight weeks were not so hard. There was a peace I experienced when making soap that it calmed me. I only applied for one job that summer and with all the clarity I had, I knew it was the one for me and I got it. I continued making soap and loved it so much I thought, ” maybe I could teach soap somewhere!” I thought I could teach on the weekends. Read more>>

Anthony Perez

As cliché as it may sound, it’s been a journey. For starters, I was not born into a musical family, no one in my household has ever learned how to play an instrument. I did not have family members that have had experience in the music industry at all, with the exception of an uncle who became a DJ. Therefore the idea of pursuing a career in music came about with a sudden realization. I love music, I am huge fan of listening to numerous amounts of genres and styles that are created on a daily basis. It was this love for music that had motivated me to try making my own. I had come across a YouTube video while in graphic design class in the ninth grade. The title hooked me in instantly. It was a video showcasing a step by step tutorial on how to make a “Kendrick Lamar Type Beat”. I had no idea how he was making those sounds at the time but all I knew was that I was fascinated with the process of making something so sonically pleasing from literal scraps of sound. Read more>>

Nappy 2000

I have been around music my entire life. My father Dio Saucedo was the percussionist with ten time Grammy Award Jazz Guitarist George Benson. He toured with him for 11 years. I spent the first six years of my life behind stage at venues all over California. I was always thoroughly impressed with the chemistry between the band and the crowd. From getting off the tour bus to soundcheck, to the concert. It’s a process that I’ve never really forgotten about. It was something that I always wanted to be a part of in some way, shape, or form. High school is when I really started to dabble in music. I originally started chopping and screwing music on a DJ program. One of the songs I made when I was 17 has a 500,000 views on SoundCloud. It was something that I thoroughly enjoyed doing. Read more>>

Juan Martinez

Growing up, I was involved in a lot of traditional competitive sports like baseball and soccer, however I never really felt like it was for me. There were too many restrictions on how and when to do things. I had always wanted to pave my own path in life even before I had known what that meant. In the late ’90s when extreme sports were at their peak of popularity in mainstream culture, like any other kid, I rode my bike and my skateboard around with the neighborhood kids. One winter morning my best friend at the time was riding around on a pair of aggressive inline skates and asked if I wanted to try to grind his rail his father had built for him in their front yard. I had rode speed skates in the past and heard about people having the ability to grind on skates but had never actually seen, let alone tried it, in person. Without hesitation, I gave it a go! To my friend’s and my own surprise, I pulled it off! It was at that moment I was hooked on rollerblading. It gave me the freedom I was looking for. I was able to skate how I wanted, when I wanted and with whoever I wanted. Read more>>

Leidy Macias and Jazmin Soto

We were both separate artistic entities that were encouraged by community members from Undcou Twitter to merge into a cohesive brand. The beginning for us seems so delirious due to the fear that we had released raw pieces with specific importance to us. After much thought, the birth of our website and first few designs were created with a slight case of anxiety. It’s taken positive reassurance from our chosen family for us to be able to acknowledge that we have accomplished as much as we have. Now that we have entered our third month since opening we are eager to say we have a timeline of ideas we want to put out. In these next coming months y’all can expect to see our little business expand to include a myriad of new items and collaborations. Read more>>

Galen Evans

I sing, I rap, I write, I’m a photographer, I style, I dance and some other things. Oh yeah and don’t get dunked on. I’ve always been a creative person but overtime growing up, I became more serious and lost sight of myself with family expectations of school and business. It took me some time to start realizing what I was truly meant to do in terms of creation and what impact I’d leave on this earth. Once I figured out how lost I was is when things got hard. I dealt with mental and emotional challenges I hadn’t endured before and my comfort, if any was that I knew those things would make me stronger and finally give me the courage to take accountability for my aspirations… As I completed school, I slowly started to find a few people in my life that started to try and tickle my interests and get me to be more (me). Funny enough they were just some other fools coming from Bay like me. Read more>>

Allison Spratt Pearce

My father was a marine so I was lucky enough to live and travel the world. Doing this, I witnessed the power of storytelling was universal in all cultures. I attended Elon U. for my Musical Theatre B.F.A. I then went on tour nationally and internationally with 3 Broadway Productions. After, I went to NY where I was in 3 original Broadway shows. I wanted to broaden my tool kit to Shakespeare and the classics. I was lucky enough to be admitted to the prestigious Old Globe/USD M.F.A. program. After graduating, my family decided to stay on the west coast. I have been here for the past few years continuing to work on stage and in television. I am also an acting teacher privately, for the team MTCA and for Universities and Colleges in the SD area. Happily balancing my love of performing and teaching, our daughter Ella is the true light of our lives. Read more>>

Jessy D’Auria

As a child, my sister and I loved drawing from the time we could hold a pencil. At the age of 14, I got my first tattoo (yikes, haha) and that is where the love affair began. It was many years before I got my apprenticeship, but the love was always there. I loved everything about being in a tattoo shop, the smell of green soap, the sound of the machines, the rough edges, I was smitten. Read more>>

Michael Cypher

During my junior year in high school, I got the drive to want to start sculpting and making my drawings into actual three dimensional creations. That year, I transitioned to independent studies so that way, I could also get into a college/trade school and start working on sets. That summer, I attended Cinema Makeup School so I could learn proper techniques for becoming a special fx makeup artist. I would drive out to LA at 16 and attend class out there. After I finished my classes, I began to look for work and started to work with Chapman University. Read more>>

Karim Abed

I started WYR Wear because I was tired of having to choose between overpaying for brands claiming they had the secret to “premium quality” or mass-produced big retail. I wasn’t interested in flashy shirts or big brand logos and just wanted the clean, well put together, effortless look with exceptional quality. All these things should be accessible without having to pay a crazy price tag of over $50! So I went back to Egypt to find the perfect fabric to truly elevate men’s essentials. WYR Wear uses the finest Egyptian Giza cotton from the Nile Delta region for our signature fabric designed for premium comfort and durability in everyday wear. We don’t use cheap polyester blends in our fabric like most other brands. Our signature fabric is made with 95% extra-long staple Egyptian Giza cotton and 5% Lycra. Read more>>

Cassidy Swanson

I’m a composer, sound designer, performing artist, and content creator. I started out playing guitar in middle school; mostly rock, metal, and electronica thanks in part to my dad’s interest in music. To be honest, I heard a friend in junior high play “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath and thought “Man, I’ve got a guitar at home. If he can do that, I bet I can do better!”. That competitiveness led me to years of practice, numerous music teachers, and inevitably student loans at CalArts haha. In high school, my parents saw my interest in music and got me a music teacher, Chris Sobkowich. He went to the Toronto Conservatory and was a huge wealth of knowledge. Read more>>

Bianca DuBose and Lydia Hobbs

Let’s just say God has a way of bridging two individuals to meet at his timing. Lydia and I knew of each other from church but never knew we would be asked by mutual friends to plan their dream wedding. God’s plan quickly unfolded at the initial planning meeting with the bride and groom expanding on how they thought of us as their planners. And it was during that meeting we knew it was only God who ordered our steps to meet and plan our first wedding/event together. Our attention to details and organizational skills just matched organically, we think so much alike to the point of finishing each other’s sentences/thoughts….we call it being on “One Accord” it’s our inside homage to God….. Read more>>

Allan and Candace Tea

We started Cali Dumpling Delivery right after we got married in mid-March. At the time, due to state mandates that halted all in-dining, we had to furlough all of our employees at our businesses, including Hello Kitty Grand Cafe and Capital Seafood/Capital Noodle Bar restaurants here in Southern California. We obviously could not go on a honeymoon so we decided to launch a new business. I grew up eating dumplings as an after school snack and remember how comforting it was. I always wanted to start a dumpling delivery business and with the pandemic putting all of our other projects on hold, we finally had the time to devote to getting this off the ground. During the first few months, we donated all profits of dumpling sales to our furloughed employees and others in the hospitality industry, more than $20,000. Once the state allowed in-dining (outdoor/patio dining) again, we were able to provide hours to our staff again. Read more>>

Jenny Chapin

I am a singer, songwriter, and producer based in southern California. I loved to sing as a child and was cast in many solo performances in school/church productions, but I stopped singing at the age of thirteen when I was voice shamed. I grew up going to a private Christian school until I went to public in 7th grade. Being a new student at a new school was obviously not easy as you can imagine. Especially in 7th grade with teenage girls. To summarize, I was invited to a karaoke sleepover the first month of 7th grade. Like I said, I had no shyness with singing, so I jumped right in and participated. One popular girl started laughing and whispering and started telling people that I actually wasn’t very good. It became the new topic of the girls at school, and I was teased for a while and was devastated. 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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