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Inspiring Stories from South LA

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 LA’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 South LA’s rising stars below.

Brittaney Kimmel

Getting here was an unexpected journey that started when I was pregnant with my first child in 2013 and couldn’t find skincare products I felt safe using. I wanted products that met the same standards I have for food: natural, organic, GMO-free and preservative free. Beyond that, I wanted SIMPLE formulations – ingredients I recognized in a list short enough to research on my own. When I couldn’t find products that met these standards, I started kitchen-crafting my own. Read more>>

Crystal Garcia

Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time of year but the day I returned from maternity leave, in December of 2019, I was told that the company was downsizing and my role as Executive Director was being eliminated. What a blow to the stomach, which was still healing postpartum by the way to be let go from a position that I truly enjoyed developing Executive Coaching programs for C-Suite leadership throughout the country. Read more>>

Jehad Choate

I came kicking and screaming into this world in the mid-1980s as a first generation of immigrants from the Caribbean. My father is from Trinidad, and my mother is from St. Thomas (USVI). I have two older sisters: Penny and Jenny. I would say my genesis in music really started with my family. It was a different era, and music wasn’t something we could easily attain. My mom’s records were like goldmine and those special occasions when she would break them out (usually while cleaning or if we had company) I would be transported to an era of Connie Frances, Elvis, The Temptations, The Fourtops, and of course the Beatles. Read more>>

M. Corey Whitted

Crenshaw Juice Co. is a cold-pressed juice company based in South Central Los Angeles. We prepare all of our juices daily using organic and/or locally sourced ingredients. M. Corey Whitted, the founder discovered the health benefits of REAL cold-pressed juices while working at his office in Larchmont Village, located on the Westside of LA. The daily consumption gave him great energy, focus, and maintained an overall great health. Eventually, he purchased various juicing machines to create pressed juice at home. After, through research he discovered the real cold-pressed methods and recipes. Read more>>

Dynasty Taylor

I was 23 years old when I founded my non-profit, “Dynasty’s United Youth Association” (DUYA), while attending the University of Southern California for my master of social work program. I noticed a need for quality afterschool programs in impoverished communities due to the juvenile delinquent lifestyle I encountered in my teenage life that once led me down the wrong path. So I reached out to the local library in my community and proposed a weekly Saturday program to provide free educational, career, and mental health programs to youth in grades K- 12. I started with just two students and one college volunteer. Read more>>

Bryan Talbot

It is a difficult task to tell one’s story as there are many facets to one’s life. In previous interviews, I have solely focused on my martial arts and martial arts business. It is true I am a martial artist and some refer to me as “Sifu,” but there is more. I am a father and I am a teacher. I am an artist and I am a musician. I am human, flawed and seeking the unattainable. On life’s journey, I have improved my skills in all. I have suffered setbacks. I have known success and I have failed many, many times. Above all, I have retained myself one foot in front of the next, holding on to the middle path seeking balance. I believe it is important to acknowledge the whole of your experience and being. What comes is what comes and it’s for you and you alone. Remember, no matter what you do, what goals you set, whether you succeed or fail, there you are and there you will be. Read more>>

Arif Hodzic

I started my journey as a music creator/artist at a very young age. By three years old I was marching around the dining room table, in Falls Church, VA, conducting Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture”. The neighborhood kids patiently waited for the music to end with the big cannon finale for me to finally come outside and play with them. Music was inside of me since I can remember and I’ve always had melodies and rhythms in my head. I wanted to play guitar when I was seven years old but my hands were too small to be able to hold down chords and I remember being genuinely upset by it. My mom suggested piano so I jumped into six years of classical piano lessons. Read more>>

Lajja Mistry

I was born and brought up in India and came to the states in 2021 to pursue a master’s degree in journalism. I fell in love with storytelling and now I strive to tell stories about people and things that matter. Not always. I was born into a privileged family and got the opportunity to study what I wanted. COVID disrupted many plans and it has been tough dealing with the anxiety of navigating alone in a new country. Read more>>

Chelsea Vinas

There are so many people and places that have led me to where I am today. I NEVER thought I would own my own business and even if that thought may have briefly crossed my mind, I definitely did not think I would run a business full-time in my 20s. I followed the rules most of my life, after high school, I went to college because I thought that is what you do and then after college, I went to graduate school. I was told when I was in high school by a school staff member, it was very unlikely I would even get into college due to my grades. I laugh now when I think of that memory because of how far I have come in my education. Read more>>

Dom Cutrupi

My career did not take a straight path, but instead, did a full circle. It took me many years of working in different roles such as a TV stage manager at the Vatican City Tv Channel, adventure novel author, documentarian, and running my own freelance video editing company before I realized that they were all “shadow” careers. It finally dawned on me that filmmaking and screenwriting – my childhood dream careers – were still my true passion in adulthood. Following this realization, I decided to minimize the time I spent on other paths to prioritize pursuing a career in film. I had plenty of scripts I wanted to turn into films, but I started working with simpler ideas to build momentum and hone my skills as a director. Read more>>

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