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Inspiring Stories from the Valley

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 the Valley’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 Valley’s rising stars below.

Merrie Dudley

I am a designer that even as a kid was obsessed with bridal gowns. My design career started in toys & I was lucky enough to work on great products including dolls such as Strawberry Shortcake & My First Disney Princess. That allowed me to be a bit of a fashion designer at times. Read More>>

Eric Hanusa

I have been in the fitness and health industry of my entire life. I started out playing competitive sports. I traveled around the country on a select soccer team. I was ranked ball stage in Illinois and was the captain of my high school soccer team Read More>>

Viktoria Tabak

I grew up loving to cook and entertain. I landed in culinary school in Florence, Italy shortly after high school, then followed up my education under a French chef in Laguna Beach. After working behind the scenes on restaurant lines, I really found myself craving for guest contact. Read More>>

Ali Salomi

I first started in business in the year 2000, when I was 18 years old. I started an online business which was essentially a chat forum for middle school and high school students. This business net great profits, however, the word PROFIT was extremely relative at the time. Read More>>

Melissa Johnston

Cuddle Bear was our real-life kitty, and he was the cat’s pajamas. Everything you could ever want in a friend, he had it. He would go for walks with you, read books, play board games, watch movies. You never wanted to leave him, and he was the best reason to come home. Read More>>

Nafiseh Hashemi

Dr. Hashemi graduated from Iran university of medical sciences in Tehran. After finishing an internship in general surgery and internal medicine, she completed a residency training in ophthalmology, an adventurous spirit and deep compassion for those in need inspired her dedication to preventing blindness and visual impairment in underserved areas of Iran for 5 years, while providing training for medical students and ophthalmology residents. Dr. Hashemi’s rigorous medical training continued after immigration to the united states including a surgical internship in the university of Tennessee, Ophthalmology residency in the university of Texas health in Houston and neuro-ophthalmology fellowship training by mentorship of world renowned neuro-ophthalmologist, Dr. Andrew Lee, in Houston Methodist hospital. Read More>>

Gary Douglas Ashby Jr.

I had this idea of starting my own business, a family business. At first, I thought it was just a dream and that it wouldn’t be possible. I was afraid to take that leap from a guaranteed paycheck every week to having faith that ends would be met every week. Read More>>

Diane Dawson

My employer, Universal Studios, encouraged me to get involved with helping my Community. After adopting a German Shepherd, I decided to start volunteering at a local Dog Rescue. My journey began in 2001. Read More>>

Chris Pearson

The starting point for my pursuit of a career in photography came when I attended a friend’s wedding around 10 years ago. My closest friends gathered for the event, its actually one my favorite memories. I took a small camera with me, intent on capturing moments that I felt were personal to me and to my friends. Read More>>

Nika Roback

Interior design is my second career. I received a bachelor’s degree in Texas for Marketing. During that college experience, I took assessment tests that continued to say you have a proficiency for art but I didn’t know in what capacity I could be creative. Read More>>

Ishan Puri

Ishan Puri founded Synocate with a team of Harvard, Stanford, and UC graduates who set out to simplify and explain the US college admissions system and guide parents and students through the increasingly competitive process. We use a holistic approach to college counseling where we help with every aspect of an applicant’s application: building the college list and determining ED/EA strategy, advising on course selection (AP, IB, honors, etc.), planning SAT/ACT strategy, improving student’s extracurricular activities, applying to summer programs, and most importantly, essay editing from top essay editors (Ivy League humanities majors). Read More>>

Frank Barragan

I feel like I’m a late bloomer. I’m 42 years old now, and I took the entrepreneurship plunge only recently, at 38. I had a checkered past, dropping out of High School in the 12th grade and roaming through community college for a while before transferring to Cal State L.A. and finishing my Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. Read More>>

Marilyn Kastner and Bonny Butler

Opening day was October 17,1987. Dogs Etc. started as a small local grooming shop and over the years became one of the best and busiest Dog Grooming shops in all of Santa Clarita Valley. The success has been due to some of the hardest working and most dedicated loyal employee friends ever. Our community has entrusted us to be their pets advocates and we thank them all for that. Read More>>

Natascha Dammann

I was hired as a German teacher at Language Door in Irvine in 2009. Later that year, I started working with the office and in 2010 part of my responsibility was to get involved and overlook the different locations, When the previous owner wanted to retire two years ago, it was an easy decision for me to take over the business. Read More>>

Troy Yu

I’ve had an entrepreneurial streak ever since I was a kid. My grandparents used to have food stands at state fairs and I inherited one of their old cotton candy machines. I used to sell cotton candy out of my garage in middle school. Read More

Anatomy Of Style

Jennifer has worked in the design industry since 1990 as a Visual Stylist, Set Designer, Fine Artist, Design Consultant and Interior Designer. She started her business in 2004 in San Diego and has since relocated to Los Angeles. Jennifer is dedicated to client satisfaction and will bring you the latest materials to enhance your lifestyle and endure for years to come. Read More>>

Rebecca Dmytryk

Grew up in Bel Air, Hollywood Family, moved to Malibu when I was about 11 years old. Got into nature and wildlife and have made a career out of working with animals. It’s been amazing – many people to thank who made my journey what it was and for what we have today. There were (are) always money issues when you’re trying to make a living working with animals, but I think we’ve found a niche. Read More>>

Tara Kenavan

I was always organizing as a kid. My aunt and uncle took me to Lake George when I was 7. After a full day of activities, the story goes, I couldn’t wait to get back to the cabin to organize and re-organize my dresser every night. All I remember is I loved that trip! Read More>>

Olinda Romani and Lance Reynolds

R Furniture manufactures the items in Peru at their own factory and import to the United States, Canada and elsewhere. Our Baroque furniture, Gothic furniture, Hacienda furniture, Italian Villa furniture, Medieval furniture, Mediterranean furniture, Italian Renaissance Revival, Spanish Renaissance Revival, Old World furniture, Palladian Villa furniture, Peru Baroque furniture or Brazil Baroque furniture style, California furniture style, Rococo furniture, Spanish Colonial furniture, Spanish Eclectic furniture, Spanish Revival furniture, Spanish Palace furniture, Tuscany furniture style home decor furniture line is designed and manufactured in Peru by Olinda Romani and her family. Read More>>

Laura Powers

In 2009, I was in a really bad place; I was physically ill, unemployed, in a bad marriage, and unhappy. Even though everything seemed hopeless, my situation became a catalyst and ultimately helped me to make some pretty drastic changes that transformed my life. I completely changed focus from working in politics and public administration to becoming a professional psychic medium. Read More>>

Joelyn Joaquin

All my life I’ve been an animal lover. But it wasn’t until 2003 when a shy, scared Terrier mix from the SPCA chose us to be her forever family that we became crazy dog fanatics. Dad named her Ohana, from the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch, because “Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind…or forgotten.” Read More>>

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