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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 recent weeks we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of West LA’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.

Anthony Silva

I fell in love with photography when I was in 8th grade, I started taking photos at my little brother at his baseball games. Then entering Highschool I was fortunate enough to have multiple friends convince me to start photographing more then just sports, “baseball” being the only sport I’ve photographed. Read more>>

Kimiko Chong

Hello everyone my name is Kimiko Chong, a Motivational Beauty Influencer, professional dancer, and international retail/wholesale cosmetics seller. I apologize for any grammar mistakes, as English is my second language. I was born in Thailand and originally moved to America in order to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a professional dancer. Read more>>

Julian Leiva

I have been into cars for as long as i can remember (my father, mechanic/racing driver), but just lately i was able to start working and modifying them as i wanted. I always care about people’s personal looks, style, clothing, etc (my mother side) and for a long time now, i wanted to mix both to bring car enthusiasts a brand that matches their style. Read more>>

Nelson Rodas

I grew up in a very modest neighborhood in Reseda, California. I lived in this cozy one bedroom apartment with my father, mother and sister for my whole life. I realized what I really wanted to do with my life at the young age of 3. I recall asking my mom how I can get into the tv while watching the fascinating movie Ace Ventura Pet Detective. Read more>>

Judy and Jerry Ryckman

My husband Jerry, after being diagnosed with bladder cancer at the age of 65, was unexpectedly terminated from the Law Office he had worked at for 45 years. We had a son in college and a daughter in law school. We needed to generate a quick income. It was one of those “necessity is the mother of invention” moments. Read more>>

Andrea Barbato

I was born and raised in Naples, Italy. After studying literature in university, I began to travel. I found myself in Australia and began working in Italian kitchens. It was there, in the Land Down Under, that I discovered my passion for cooking. Read more>>

Eduard Khachatryan

I’ve always had interest and passion towards building homes, helping others sell or purchase their real estate. Years ago when I was much younger I started working for a major bank. After multiple awards for achieving and exceeding my goals I have been constantly promoted and transferred to the main branch to assist high net worth individuals with their banking and financial needs. Read more>>

Dustin Brooks

I was raised in the small town of Paso Robles, California where there really isn’t much to do. I grew up a sports fanatic because thats all there was to do around there. I played every sport from hockey, basketball and baseball. I love anything that is competitive but once I was introduced to skateboarding in 1997 it changed everything in my life. Read more>>

Chipper Pastron

I started my first restaurant job at a sandwich shop near UCLA at age 13, and by 17, I was managing a kitchen staff of over 70 employees at Gladstone’s 4 Fish in Malibu. My partner, Sal Casola Sr., and I started MCC Hospitality Group in 1987, with the opening of Rose City Diner in the formative years of “Old Town Pasadena.” Read more>>

David Dion

Two friends, who met in the late 60s’, who were class mates in junior high school, were inspired by the Beatles. As a result they learned to play guitars. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, there was plenty of reason and inspiration to hone their musical craft. Read more>>

Robert Lowery

I have always had a passion for the performing arts since I was in Jr. high school by joining the band. As I progressed over the years playing percussion and being the drum major for the high school band. After High school, I begin teaching local high school drum lines in the Virginia Beach Area. Read more>>

Margarita Reyes

I am a mom, actor, producer, director, documentarian and educator. I didn’t have the traditional educational path of most others in my field. However, I am proud of my story. At 19, I was modeling and was hired to work on a few music videos. Read more>>

Seika Simon

I grew up in the Santa Clarita Valley as a ballerina. After fifteen years of dancing, I developed quite an affinity for hair and makeup for the stage. Nearing the end of my dance career, I decided to pursue my interest in hair and makeup from behind the salon chair. Read more>>

Dani Luv

I’ve been painting since i was a kid and music has been something I’ve been doing professionally since I was 16. I wanted to combine my love for art and music and teach it to others in a way that wasn’t intimidating or stressful.  started Paint Rocks! in 2016 after attending similar social paint events around the city and said why not incorporate more of a Rock N Roll theme! Read more>>

Suthukazi Arosi, Herling Mavuthela, Ikenna Okeh, Peter Hesen

We Are UbuntuFM. UbuntuFM is a media organization – virtually based in Johannesburg, South-Africa and built around the ‘Ubuntu’ philosophy of contributing our individual membership towards the wholesomeness of the human community. Read more>>

Michelle Tritten

While between jobs designing apparel (my career since 1989), one of my best friends, Dr. Liz Koskenmaki from Media City Animal Hospital suggested I start my own business helping pet owners. She claimed there was a genuine need for pet care services. Animals have been a passion of mine since early childhood. Read more>>

Michael Matsuda

My journey began when I was around 8 years old. I was a skinny, skrawny kid and was an easy target for the school bully. My father enrolled both my brother and myself to the judo school at the Sun Valley Japanese Community Center. Read more>>

Christiaan Luneberg

My high school friend and I reconnected after college and were both searching for something that would create a career for both of us. After 13 years of persistence it finally paid off! During that time I worked a number of jobs that would help me develop the skills necessary to run a business like Boulderdash, from ski patrol to waiting tables. Read more>>

Jennifer Amezcua

I’ve been an esthetician for 12 years. I fell in love with Sugaring five years ago when I myself got the treatment done. It was so much quicker than waxing and far less painful. I was hooked! I’ve always dreamed of having my own little studio. Read more>>

Jennifer Sellz

When our younger child was 9 months old, he woke up in the throes of a serious respiratory infection-blue lips, caved in little chest, crying, etc. This was the beginning of many trips to the ER for breathing treatments and lots of medications. Read more>>

Rhonda Vigeant, Phil Vigeant

Founded in 1971 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the company, which was originally called Super8 Sound™, pioneered the belief that the Super 8mm film format had tremendous potential as a production medium. A small group of inventors and entrepreneurs designed a line of specialty sync-sound full-coat (audio tape that has sprocket holes) and cassette recorders, editing benches and crystal sync modifications to Super 8 Cameras and other production accessories. Read more>>

Andrew Shearer

When my business partner, Michael, and I first met we talked at length about Cosmetics and Special Effects. The high performance aspects of Special Effects products was intriguing and we explored integrating this high performance into Hair Color. Read more>>

Ann Nord

My husband and I started our business about 9 years ago. We both work in the entertainment industry and had collected a lot of props and furniture from shows. When i started in the art department , my goal was to own a prop house one day. When I met my husband , that was his goal as well. Read more>>

Lara Azoy

As a young child, I was always a diligent student and hard-worker. In college, I had little external guidance since my parents did not obtain college degrees and I am the oldest of 3 siblings in my family. I was unsure of what goals I should have and how to plan for them. Through my peers and groups on campus, I was able to gather the knowledge I needed to begin to develop a career path and goals for myself. Read more>>

Paul Pondella, Colette Pondella

Paul Pondella our Founder, has been rescuing wild animals and bringing them to safety his entire life. A dyslexic and troubled child, his education came from his innate connection to animals and nature. This gave him a sense of purpose that ultimately saved his future. Read more>>

Heather Newgen

For the last 12 years, I’ve worked as an entertainment reporter in LA interviewing the industry’s top talent. It’s been fun and exciting, but also a struggle to fit in because my life wasn’t always so glam. At 14, I went to live with my grandparents, and while they provided a home, they weren’t able to offer guidance and encouragement. Read more>>

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