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Meet Cherise Masukawa of Cherise and Shine in Ventura County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cherise Masukawa.

Cherise, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Travel has always been an integral part of who I am. My first international trip was when I was 7-years-old to the former Yugoslavia to visit long-lost relatives. Some years after this, my family packed up and moved from our sleepy town in California, and we bounced around from country to country in Asia. While I now reside in Los Angeles, I am proud to identify as a TCK (“third culture kid”) and can call both the vibrant cities of Shanghai and Tokyo my former homes.

It was inevitable that a passion for adventure would be instilled in me. I often spend my free moments searching for affordable flights and feel anxious if I have no upcoming travel planned. Travel is in my blood. At the same time, though, it’s not something I would want to do 24/7. Despite this love, I also have another passion, and I’ve known it since I was a little girl writing stories under my covers late at night by flashlight—it’s the full-time career I chose in the entertainment industry in the bustling city of Los Angeles.

So many people talk about leaving behind their entire lives and quitting their 9-5 jobs in order to see the world. This is admirable in itself, but a lot of us love what we do and don’t want to give up our day jobs. It’s easy to feel torn between two identities when comparing these loves. The mistake, however, is believing you have to choose one or the other.

My travel website “Cherise and Shine” was inspired by my own passion to travel with a full-time (and non-travel-related) job, and fueled by a desire to encourage young working professionals (especially within the USA) that globetrotting IS possible, whether you get four weeks paid vacation or a max of 10 days off a year. I believe that if you have an open mind to travel where opportunity takes you and are strategic about your plans, it is possible to travel often and well on a limited timeline and budget.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The biggest challenge of content creation is bridging the gap between having a hobby and a having business. So much of what I do is by trial and error—and lots of Googling! I have no professional background in photography, editing or website design, so everything I have published is the result of asking many questions and conducting much online research. And just as I am grateful for those in my community who have been willing to help me, I am always more than happy to share whatever I have learned with others.

It’s a steep learning curve and a constant balancing act alongside my actual job and my personal married life. I’ve definitely spent many late nights at my desk falling asleep at my keyboard while trying to publish articles for my website and simultaneously reviewing documents for work. But the challenge is part of what makes it fun and worthwhile. I am proud of the skills I’ve developed and content I’ve been able to share!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Cherise and Shine – what should we know?
I strongly believe that travel is one of the best ways to grow, learn and contribute as a member of the global community, and that travel is the only thing you can spend money on that will make you richer.

I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with many incredible brands whose products range from environmentally conscientious luggage and healthy snacks for the on-the-go jetsetter to beautiful clothing and luxurious hotels. My website shares optimal itineraries for cramming vacations into tight time frames (particularly 24-hour trips!), tips for weekend getaways and travel hacks that create affordable opportunities for adventure.

What sets me apart from others is that everything I do and share is from personal experience. I always strive to be 100% authentic about my content, and I think my followers/readers can sense and appreciate this about me. I am also very candid about the editing in my photos, and always share the process with my audience to make it as accessible, realistic and fun as possible.

Success – How do you, personally, define success? What’s your criteria, the markers you’re looking out for, etc.?
An easy trap to fall into is defining success by the numbers. While I am quite happy with my readership and engagement, it’s also such a saturated market that I could easily become discouraged if I started comparing myself to others.

The most valuable measurement of success for me is when the content I’ve shared has actually helped someone actively in their own lives—whether in the form of travel strategies, photography tips, editing tutorials or simply reassuring them that they’re not alone.

Success comes in the little things. Success is a Christmas card from a follower, a tagged reference as someone’s favorite page for travel inspiration or a note from someone thanking me for an itinerary I’ve shared because it was helpful on their travels.

Nothing is more rewarding or heartwarming than seeing someone with a renewed excitement to explore the world, and knowing that I had some part in helping them go beyond their everyday and travel passionately while also working hard and succeeding professionally.


  • Photography – Sessions starting at $75/hour

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Camly

    February 14, 2019 at 14:53

    Awww thanks for sharing dear!!! I am so grateful for your presence in my life! And thanks for bringing us along on your amazing adventures!

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