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Inspiring South Bay Stories

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 South Bay’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rebel rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool.  Check out the area’s rising stars below.

Mikala Wilson

When I was 11, I went to my first wedding. An older cousin of mine wanted an outdoor wedding in Wisconsin…in the Spring-April. Everyone told her multiple times that she needed to have a rain plan, but she insisted on having it outside because that was what she wanted. Of course, it rained and with no plan, the family was forced to move everything inside the church basement. Watching them transform the space was magical to me and I knew then, that I wanted to do that, transforms spaces and make dreams happen, for the rest of my life. Read more>>

Nicolette Bardos

As a kid, I found myself fascinated with my sister’s Polaroid camera, and had a little IZOD camera too. I took pictures of EVERYTHING. I remember setting up “family portraits” with my Barbies HAHA. Like what? But I guess that makes sense. Then throughout high school, me and some of my friends would do “fashion shoots” of each other just for fun and honestly it took off from there! (I should do a blog post of all of my first “photoshoots.” So adorable and also hilarious.) I shot and shot and learned as I went. Read more>>

Amparo Barajas

As a photographer, I am fascinated by the fact that I can stop time at any due moment that I like. The camera is my best friend, my accomplice and my best companionship. For years I have been trying very hard to find the missing link of myself. Now I have found it. That link is photography. Now that I have found my truth self I can explore new feelings. Feelings and emotions that I did not know how to interpret portray or control. I am my own masterpiece. The people that surround me are my mentors. I learn from them. For years I have been lost trying to find myself. Read more>>

Cyndi Kay

My path into interior design was an unusual one. After feeling burnt out from working many years in the advertising marketing I really wanted to go into business for myself. Not sure what I wanted to do, I tried to start a few different businesses that went nowhere. One evening while brainstorming my next steps over a glass wine my husband, who is a well-established custom home builder, he suggested I start helping him with the overflow from his projects and the rest is history! I spent several years helping with small remodels, large remodels, new builds, helping clients pick finishes, etc I had real hand on training and began to realize I had a knack for this. Read more>>

Dorian Bolick

Originally, I started out as a fabric and men’s clothing designer. Even while in the industry I had my eye on the Home Design field and always seem to find myself in furniture and home accessory stores. After 20 years in the clothing business, I found myself burnt out by the uncreative and cut throat culture that is so pervasive, so I started to explore new possibilities. I found myself joining an existing furniture boutique that specialized in teak furniture from Indonesia, what was so wonderful at that time was that it was so much more than just another ‘Pacific Rim’ inspired boutique. Read more>>

Damian Apunte

Hailing from the mountains of Western North Carolina, I discovered my fascination with film through my early obsession with video games, music videos, films, and ultimately, filmmaking as an undergraduate student at The University of North Carolina at Asheville. Now based in Long Beach, California, I have kindled my creative passion as Director of 4th Street Productions. My motivation for film was always rooted in existentialism, with a focus on coming of age stories, technology and its preventable perils, the importance of parenting, and current social issues. Read more>>

Joshua Fredenburg

Approximately eight years ago, I was traveling the country as a national speaker on college campuses and noticed that many college students were not being given the proper skills necessary to attain career leadership success after graduation. So, instead of complaining about the problem, I decided to create the Circle of Change Leadership Conference, which is a three-day national leadership conference that helps emerging and seasoned leaders in college discover the leader from within, develop the leadership and professional skills necessary to attain career leadership success, and inspire them to make a positive impact in their community, nation, and world! Read more>>

Daniel Schrier

We started our business in 1986, built from ground up with a full parts house, 12 bay repair shop and a full body shop. The company was named Japanese Auto because few companies did Japanese cars so we started with them, but over the years customer need their second car fixed and it was not a Japanese make so we expanded. We now stand at 28 bays 22 lifts and full machine shop/parts. Before starting the business with my father, I was a bartender, banker, waiter etc. My father asked what was I doing for the rest of my life and offer to partner with me in this new adventure. Read more>>

Nicole Lira

My personal story begins in 2001. Terry Antonelli (with a couple of partners) owned L’Opera, The Madison and Alegria. I began working at the Madison as a host, bartender and server, all throughout attending CSULB. Once I graduated with my BA in Communication Studies I became a manager and restaurant event planner for Trump’s golf course in Palos Verdes. About six months later I stopped by L’Opera for a drink and was offered an interview for an open management position. I loved working for the company throughout college so I thought, why not? L’Opera was close to home, felt like family, had incredible food and an impressive wine list. Read more>>

Toby Gant

I have always been a deeply spiritual person. As a child, my spirituality was expressed in a religious setting, since my parents had me in church at 8 days old. I always felt a deep spiritual connection to something much greater than my physical existence. Even in the religious context it wasn’t the rules and ritual but the connection to divine energy that captivated me. I continued on the religious path well into my mid-twenties. I even attended a Christian college and graduate school. In my early twenties, I started to become aware that I was receiving specific, intuitive messages to share with others. Read more>>

Miranda North

Like most high-schoolers, I took a photography class that sort of sparked interest, but truly it was not until I was 21 that I really pursued photography. I actually attended art school for a while for photography, but realized that the best lessons I was going to learn, was actually working in the field. I feel like often in school they have this ” vision” they put of success in commercial/fashion photography, so truthfully, I was not even thinking about family or baby photography when I was getting started. To soft of grasp what I wanted to do, I reached out with fingers crossed to one of the top fashion photographers, celebrity photographers and music photographers in LA in a random email asking to learn under them, and surprisingly all said yes! Read more>>

Shaunna Hatcher

I joined the team in 2006 at Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach. I was hired in the events department and worked my way up the ranks from Food & Beverage Director to General Manager to Senior Vice President of Operations for Zislis Group which we created in 2011. I am a fantastic example of our company’s philosophy to always promote from within and to nurture and grow our team so that we can provide both experience and opportunities to those that choose to join the Zislis Group family of restaurants and hotels. Read more>>

Vicki Turbeville

It began as a simple family vacation to the West….we were posted to London for five years and a couple of my English friends collected Navajo jewelry…. I felt homesick seeing this uniquely American wearable art and decided to make it to the West as soon as we returned to the U.S. I bought a few pieces and people began asking me to go back out and buy something for them…. I went out to New Mexico and bought a few things to begin doing small antique shows and selling to friends. I had just launched the website in October of 2004 and Nina Garcia, who was then at ELLE magazine saw me at a small antique show. She invited me to visit her offices and I loaned some jewelry for an upcoming editorial shoot. Read more>>

Michelle Castillo

During my undergrad, I discovered the art of mobilizing mass public events and that’s where I fell in love with the idea of planning and organizing events. With that goal in mind, I landed at one of the top universities in my area as the events planner and catering manager. Once I coordinated my first wedding (which was CHAOTIC, to say the least), I knew that’s all I wanted to do. There is an art to human relationships and connection and that’s what weddings allow for: bringing together a group of people and meeting people I would have never otherwise met. I always dreamed of being an entrepreneur so that coupled with 6000 events under my belt led to the start of Michelle Isabel & Co. Read more>>

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