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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.

Eric Drazin

For eleven years, my wife and I have lived and worked in Oak Glen, California. Over the course of years, I had developed the hobby of premium cigars. I was intrigued by the process of storing, aging, and tasting what the world of cigars had to offer. Later, we were given the opportunity to lease a spot in the historical Wilshires Apple shed here in the Glen; a 1913 train car attached to an outside patio. Together, my wife and I started ‘Oak Glen Tobacconist’; a refined cigar shop offering boutique cigars, house blends, and pipe tobacco. Outfitted with inch-thick Spanish cedar boards, we converted one half of the train car into a humidor, complete with shelving, lighting, and a humidifier. The aromatic quality of the cedar imparts a unique flavor to our cigars, aiding in the maintaining and aging. Our outside patio is covered in a large event tent, easily equipped to handle the elements here in the foothills. Read more>>

Jeff Smith

I was raised in a very musical family. My dad was a band director, and while growing up in Oklahoma, I was surrounded by a wide variety of musical influences. I started on piano when I was five and then joined band in the 5th grade. I started out on saxophone, but my dad made me switch to the bassoon when I was in 6th grade. His justification was that saxophone players are a dime-a-dozen (no offense to my awesome sax-playing friends), but if I got good at the bassoon, I would have a good shot at music scholarships for college. Turns out he was right. I was recruited by dozens of college music departments around the country. But, I ended up staying close to home and accepting a scholarship offer from the University of Kansas, where I majored in music education and music therapy. In junior high and high school, I also developed an interest in singing. In particular, I fell in love with vocal harmonies and singing in smaller vocal groups. Read more>>

Norma Cruz

My family and I have lived in Westminster for about five years. What inspired us to start this business is the very few options available in this area for fresh & fast healthy food. Our mission is to make healthy and fresh food and easy access to our local community. Food, Smoothies, Acai Bowls and Fresh Pressed Juices that are made from the freshest ingredients and 100% natural whole foods. Read more>>

Hayley Gonzales

I began playing soccer when I was four years old. I grew up playing in Long Beach and then eventually came south into Orange County. I played club and high school soccer in the Costa Mesa area. I had an unorthodox college career as I had transferred three times and graduated at the college I had begun at. I had a lot of ups and downs in every facet imaginable but soccer always kept bringing me back. I used to hate my story as an athlete but have grown to love it as I have been able to help guide and advise the next generation into making smart decisions as well as encourage those who may be taking a little bit of a different route than most athletes in their position. During my sophomore year of college is when I began private training and coaching. I needed a little extra money and I thought sharing my knowledge of the game would be a great way for me to be doing something I love as well as using my natural skill set and experience to help others! It was shortly after that I got guilted into coaching his team and that is when I fell in love with being on the other side of the sideline. Read more>>


This Brand is a perfect visual of two hard-working women wanting more from and for their community. Coming from San Bernardino, you find your life’s passion from the things that make you happy. The founding of our company started off with a simple Twitter conversation. Just two women passionate about the hair industry wanting to make a name for themselves and provide an affordable yet quality resource for the girls in our community. We spent countless hours comparing our visions and goals for our company and then The Vainxish Brand was born. The Vainixsh Brand is exactly what we imagined it to be, even down to the name. The goal of “vainxish” (pronounced vein-ish) was to represent those who are unapologetically vain and what better way to do that then to offer products and services that help make people feel at their most sublime. We are rebranding the word “vain” from its usual negative connotation and giving it a powerful, self-confident and self-conscious definition. Becoming a brand allows us to branch out into the entire beauty industry and not just hair. There aren’t many genuine beauty business owners in our community or the hair industry for that matter. Read more>>

Ayana Cobb

Throughout the years, I would often attend events and/or be around artist that shared frustration with the music industry. After reviewing some of the immediate roles around a music artist (i.e., road manager, artist manager, publicist, etc.), I found that artist management was my niche. and decided to create my business in 2014. The first thing I did was establish my own brand and get my team set up (i.e., entertainment attorney, website, business license, business registration, CPA, etc.) before I could bring an artist on board. It is extremely important to be resourceful and get comfortable with the word “No”. It was also important to understand that everyone had to start somewhere and learn a lot of lessons along the way. In the beginning, I conducted a lot of research, asked plenty of questions and made a lot of cold calls to entertainment areas. I was able to speak to a booking agency early and they provided me valuable information regarding what they look for when booking an artist. I wanted to be able to teach artists the importance of the BUSINESS of music vs. primarily focusing on their craft. Read more>>

Angie Rodriguez

I am a person with many passions including fashion, helping people, animal rescue and creating a space for women to feel empowered and grow. I started Mad Glam Boutique as a creative outlet to channel my passion for fashion and empowering women to feel their best! One day I had an epiphany that if I wanted to start a women’s clothing business, I could be successful because of my passion and work ethic, and I am so glad I acted on that idea. I started Mad Glam with only $100 and invested it in clothing. I reached out to everyone I knew and shared about my new business venture. My growth was slow but I somehow always felt successful. Everyone sees and identifies success differently, but to me, I was building relationships and still making profits at the end of the day and that was enough to keep going! Owning my own business has been one of the biggest blessings in my life, and I wanted to find a way to pass those blessings on while integrating my other passions in life. My profits are now shared with animal rescue organizations in Orange and Los Angeles county. Read more>>

Doug Burns

I’ve been in love with music my entire life. I’ve played piano since I was about 12 years old (22 now), and in high school I joined jazz band as a pianist. Rap started for me the spring of my senior year in high school, about a month before I would turn 18 I left my home in Beaumont, CA. A family member had continuously abused me, so one Sunday morning I climbed out my window and walked 35 miles to Palm Springs. I walked from 6am-8pm and found a children’s shelter called Safehouse. (They take in youth ages 13-17 who are being abuse, have drug issues, or are in need of counseling). It was there that I met a kid by the name of Leo Serafin. We would write raps while in the program together and he really opened my eyes to the genre. I had been heavily influenced by jazz in the past but, rapping became a whole new love for me that has stuck ever since. Read more>>

Rupali Ingle

As a kid, I was always into sports but then in school, I was introduced to Calligraphy, that’s when I started gaining interest in the arts. When I was nine years old, I wanted to become a fashion designer which led me to know about Central Saint Martins, UAL. I got in touch with Edwise International and got to know about ‘London Arts Academy’ where I was accepted after my 10th grade on trial basis. Usually, the course is for students who have passed 12 grade but I insisted them to please let me try and fail but I passed that with flying colors under my professor Archana Patel. After my 12th grade, I went to study the Textiles portfolio short course at Central Saint Martins in 2014 for about three months. Later, I came back and enrolled for BFA Applied Art in University of Pune as I couldn’t afford to study fashion abroad. I didn’t wanted to study fashion in India so I decided to just get a degree in fine arts. In the same year, I got accepted into Glasgow School of Art directly for second-year BA (Hons) Fashion Design but again couldn’t pursue that because of financial issues. 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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