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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.

Jessica Robles

I started shooting film when I was a teenager. My passion for photography grew over the years! I continued going to school for film photography. I’ve had a lot of photography jobs over my photography career, and I’ve enjoyed them all for different reasons. Fashion is my favorite as of right now! I love being able to represent WOC on the pages of a magazine! I enjoy meeting everyone I get to shoot with! It’s been rough and tough if I am being completely honest. Growing up lower middle class/poor and deciding on an expensive career at age 15 is difficult. Read more>>

Linda Sue Price

I worked in video production for many years. As part of that job, I created motion graphic titles for the videos. In 2004, I took a class at the Museum of Neon Art on making neon sculpture. I found working with neon appealing because of the similarities to television–the luminous light, animation and color palette. Traditionally neon tubes are heated and then bent to a pattern on a workbench. I bend free form which means after the tube is heated, I come out of the fire and bend in the air. Read more>>

John Joseph

Growing up, I was very fascinated with Disney movies, especially the lion king. I would watch it about two times a day and sing the songs at every chance I could get. Then when I was five my uncle gave me a Britney Spears cd and from that moment on I knew exactly what I wanted to be; a pop star. I would go on to do talent shows, choir and community theater until I was 17 and got my first record deal! I thought all my dreams were about to come true; I was wrong. When I was 18, I got out of my recording contract and started taking voice lessons with celebrity vocal coach, Nick Cooper, he’s worked with major artists like Kesha, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj and now me! We then started to work on my own original music, and the rest is history. Read more>>

Ben Zucker

I started taking photos in High School, but I’ve never taken any photography classes. I played music in High School so I would also take photos of the bands that I was playing with. I also shot a lot of landscapes while growing up on the Central Coast of California. I wasn’t sure where photography would take me at the time, so I ended up just shooting any sort of photos I could. I was shooting landscapes, music, weddings, and eventually starting to do some video as well. A popular local band eventually asked me to go on tour with them for five weeks, so I left my job and started touring. Read more>>

Laura Reid

I started Ethics around five years ago. I had come out of a very abusive relationship and found myself seeking solace and resolution on the trail. Mostly in Ojai which is near my home & Zion National Park in Utah as well as Big Sur. I found the quiet healing, the trail became a metaphor, the decision it offers at its crossroads sometimes. The rocky terrain is leading to the reward of the summit. It was upon the red sand soaked earth of Zion that I discovered I had to go a new way, that I had to choose joy. It was so unfamiliar to me, coming out of all that pain but I knew the next few steps in my life would determine its outcome. Read more>>

Daniela Rodriguez Martinez

I am a Director of Photography, living in California. I was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and after a nomadic life’s journey, found myself pursuing cinematography in Los Angeles. Being a cinematographer has taught me to be more aware of the world around me, and it has taught me that there is much more to tell than what is on the surface. There are countless tales waiting to be told, everyone has one, myself included. My goal is to use this visual medium to help reveal the human experience and connect people across global lines. Read more>>

Nirasha Rodriguez

I am a southern girl who grew up in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. I moved to Santa Barbara to pursue a photojournalism degree but realized I was a better cook than photographer. People started talking about how great my food was, and then they actually started to pay me to cook. I never looked at it as a profession because the hours were so grueling, but I could not escape the demand for my food. I started working for a caterer out of Ventura on the weekends and then quickly landed a job in a high profile family’s home in Montecito as their Private Chef. Read more>>

Jenny Jew

Around 2.5 years ago, after having my first child, I (Jenny) developed a sensitivity to everything I can smell, especially fragrances. It was to a point I couldn’t wear any fragrances other than high-quality parfums with a balance of feminine and musk. I slowly started to reincorporate dryer sheets with fragrance, hints of floral in soaps, body wash, and the list goes on. My sensitivity to smells didn’t have any negative effects, but it was enhanced where it was overwhelming. Read more>>

Jennifer Ramos

I started my career in marketing in 2002 with the Los Angeles Daily News, and I have worked with The Signal SCV, The Antelope Valley Press, Santa Clarita Valley Living Magazine, The Gazette and now, The Magazine of Santa Clarita. Working in the news industry keeps me close to the heartbeat of local networking & community events. I enjoyed everything I attended and was able to connect with many people who are still in my circle, yet I felt something was missing. Read more>>

Janet Crandall

I was born in Minnesota where my parents owned and operated a restaurant for almost 40 years. After graduating from high school, I worked in a variety of kitchens and managed a few. I went to beauty school around 1987 and became a makeup artist which was the reason I moved to New York City in 1989. I worked in the beauty and fashion industry for many years but felt something was missing. I left the beauty industry and decided to attend culinary school at The French Culinary Institute. Read more>>

Liz Sherrier

From a young age, I was interested in making things, figuring out how things went together, and manipulating things so they could be viewed in different ways. I also absolutely loved movies and the magic that they could create. It seemed like such a far-off world that I didn’t think it was something I’d be lucky enough to be a part of. In high school, I discovered the field of architecture and decided that was it. I went on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Northeastern University. Read more>>

Courtney Coles

I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, and as far as I know, I’m the only artist in my family. My parents were always documenting me and my siblings on family trips or on our birthdays, and as I got older, I couldn’t go on a class field trip without my own disposable camera. Fast forward to college: I switched my major from journalism to photojournalism and eventually left journalism for art school. I was 20 when I moved to Portland, and I soon realized you could take the girl out of journalism, but you can’t take the journalism out of the girl. Read more>>

Loren Smith

I have two passions, Music and People. Three if you count desserts. I was born in Oakland, CA to a huge musically gifted family that created and nurtured my love of music. I sang my first solo at the age of 3 and never stopped. I’ve been blessed to have my solo vocals featured in the motion pictures “GET OUT,” “Lincoln,” and the viral video smash ‘Back to the 90s’ among others. My original compositions have been on TV’s “Jane the Virgin,” “Lucifer” and ‘The Today Show.” I’ve sung on recording projects for Nick Carter and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Read more>>

David Pinder

My story begins at the age of 12. I grew up in Fargo, ND, a city made famous by the film Fargo. When I entered middle school, I was given a choice to be apart of the choir or band class. Long story short, I ended up choosing to learn to play percussion in band class. The drums are an instrument that I had always admired, so this was a very instinctual decision. I made it about two years in a band, before getting kicked out for being “too loud” and was told to start my own band. Little did I know that this was going to be just the beginning of my musical career. Read more>>

Andrea Barrera

Gracious Om was officially born in 2018 after fully committing to my own self-care and deciding to leave my 9-5. I worked in the mental health field for nearly a decade. After grad school, I became a supervisor for one of the fastest growing mental health companies in Northern California and the lead research specialist for a prominent Neuroscience lab in San Francisco. I pursued these two titles for years, thinking happiness was just on the other side of achieving them. Read more>>

Corey Emanuel

I was born and raised by an incredible single mother in a little town called Belton, South Carolina. After graduating from college, I decided it was time to spread my wings and spent my late 20’s living in New York City where I worked as an editorial trainee at CNN for the documentary unit, Black in America. While at CNN, I began earning a master’s degree in communication from Columbia University which fostered a love for producing content and storytelling. Read more>>

Laura Moll

I got my first camera six years ago when I traveled to Lima, Peru. I lived in Lima for about five months, and during my time there I photographed anything and everything. I was enamored by the way I saw things differently and creatively when using my camera. As soon as I got back to LA, I began looking for opportunities to get involved in the business side of photography. I interned for a well-known photographer in Orange County while I worked in retail. Read more>>

Patricia Perman

I started drawing at three years old, inspired by my Father, an artist himself, who nurtured my skills with daily creative assignments. My favorite subject back then were princess portraits which in my teenage years morphed into grotesque portraits of aristocrats followed by portraits painted on life-size crosses in my 20’s. After moving from Germany to LA in my early 20’s, I quickly connected with other artists and started participating in local shows such as Create: Fixate, X-Position and Sneaker Pimps – great times! Read more>>

Tay Watts

Back in 2014, I began experimenting with candle making as a hobby and gifting candles to family and friends. It wasn’t until 2016 that I decided to take it more seriously as a business. Of course, I received the push from being a full-time graduate student and learned that I am pregnant shortly after resigning from my job. Pressured for a source of income, I decided to turn to rely on my talents so that I could remain in school but I didn’t realize candle making as an option until later. Read more>>

Chandler Juliet

I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley of two driven studio musicians, Bob McChesney, and Calabria Foti. They moved to LA in their twenties to pursue careers in their respective instruments – trombone for my Dad, and violin and voice, for my Mom. They have done so well for themselves, been a part of hundreds of timeless records and television shows like the Simpsons, Family Guy, and so many more. Over the years they discovered their joy, ability, and talent of produce their own records of jazz and the Great American Songbook over the years, and have found success in that as well, with one of their singles, “Let’s Fall In Love”, Featuring Seth MacFarlane – a Frank Sinatra cover – received a Grammy Nomination! Read more>>

Andy Lipkis

While attending camp in the San Bernardino Mountains, I learned that certain tree species were dying because of the air pollution. Gathering my friends, family, and community, I planned and led a tree planting in order to replace those dying trees with a species that was smog resilient. From this event, TreePeople was born, and it’s why we believe that everyone can make a difference. Read more>>

Naon Chun

I was taking a shower one night, thinking about what I would call my future clothing brand; but I am not much of a namer, so I asked God for some help. Instantly, I received the name “Sewing Seeds.” That’s kind of how it’s been with Sewing Seeds. I feel that it is not my own. It is a project I am working on with Jesus. I’m not sure exactly what it will look like in the years to come, but I am taking it one garment, idea, open window or door at a time. Read more>>

Greg Monterrosa

I grew up in the heart of Los Angeles on Jefferson and Vermont; in my mid-twenties, I asked myself, where does the wealthiest person I know live? Which what led me to Westlake Village. Here in Westlake Village, I launched a startup that ended up outgrowing me ( where I hired my replacement who continues to grow my business, which led me to travel the world and help startups globally. After spending time in France, and hanging out at amazing spaces like NUMA Paris and bringing value to organizations like TechStars, and decided to bring it home. I got inspired to do something like this in my city. Read more>>

Jake Akuna

Everyone will tell you that there isn’t one way to do it, but they don’t usually begin by directing a TV show for Time Warner fresh out of high school. Somehow, between recreating John Woo movies in my backyard with friends, performing magic and graduating, my short films caught the attention of a local celebrity DJ (Kutmaster Spaz) who was launching a TV show and looking for a director to join the roster. So before my 19th birthday, I officially had my first paying gig directing. Over the next few years, I shot, edited and directed about 200 half-hour episodes–which for better or worse, all aired on television. However, I wanted to learn more. Read more>>

Jaclyn Friedlander

I moved to Los Angeles to be an actor, and in between doing national commercials and animation voice-over work, I started volunteering at an aquarium. While there, I saw a need for marine science and conservation content that was accessible to a wide audience, and that’s when I created Friends with Fins. I produced the first Friends with Fins video, which is half-animation and half-live action. Craig Frank and I star as Maine Messengers in the underwater dome, and we help animated sea creatures with their ocean pollution problems. Read more>>

Jeremy Sygh

Flaulis was just a childhood group back in the mid-late ’90s. Early 2000’s, I decided that it could be more than just a group name, so I kept the spelling and name a secret until 2015. In between that time, I taught myself how to design graphics, photo manipulation marketing, and website design. As those skills developed, I began to do research on how to start a clothing company on a small scale while I was traveling over the road with a railroad company. Gathering the basics needed to begin to start my brand, I obtained my copyrights, made a couple of samples via print on demand method, designed my website, and obtained my trademark. Read more>>

Pitango Trotoush

Born in the Middle East in a crazy but loving family. Quit school when I was 15 because of a serious Issues of being unfocused on any subject in school. When class starts seriously couldn’t keep my head up and after a short time will fall asleep. Instead of school, I started going to underground clubs and became a big-time music lover that was probably My first door to art. When I was 19, I had to join the army (that was mandatory), and after three years of that, I knew I must go far from any war zone. Read more>>

Tabitha Makes

Many years ago after my divorce, I turned to internet dating. I had been off the market for a while and was unprepared for how dating had changed. I found solace and laughter in talking to other people about their terrible dates. It was helpful because it hadn’t occurred to me that my experiences were funny. Someone suggested I write a book about internet dating and a seed was planted. I wrote about my experiences with that intent but no idea how to write or publish a book. Read more>>

Liz Baghaei

By the time I was seven, my family and I had lived in four different countries spanning three continents. When we finally immigrated to Vancouver, Canada I was truly excited by the prospect of not having to learn any more languages. I moved to LA in my early 20’s to pursue a career in radio and television and although it seemed glamorous at first, it didn’t resonate as my calling or path in life. Read more>>

Tiffany Abney

This company is named after the street I grew up on in West Philadelphia. I created this company as the embodiment of my passion for entertainment and technology. As an acclaimed actress, stunt woman, and former competitive athlete, my work has always represented the act of discipline serving as a catalyst for professional excellence. I believe that diligence and adaptability are key factors in success and therefore decided to pursue a corporate venture that would reflect the much needed societal adaptability to business trends in entertainment and technology, – and hence “53rd & Gainor” was born. Read more>>

Nikki Rahimizad

I started my journey about two and a half years ago, and I weighed 298 lbs! I was told by my doctor that I was at high risk of heart disease as well as diabetes and high blood pressure. My mother was so worried and wanted me to resort to surgery because she was scared I couldn’t lose the weight on my own. I was introduced to Mike Anderson, my personal trainer who motivated me and sparked my love and passion for fitness. Read more>>

Federica Carlino

I was born in January, the 23rd, in 1991, in a little city, not far from Milan, Italy. My mom used to be a marketing consultant she had to leave her job in 2009 due to following my dad. My dad has been working in a helicopter corporation for years; his job brought us around for a while. I actually grew up in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, then I came back to Italy right in time to attend elementary school, and I was quite confused because the kids around me thought I was a foreigner. Read more>>

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