Connect
To Top

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.

Sean Thompson

I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in Dublin, Ireland. At 23, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona to study Biochemistry. I’ve always had the dream of building a successful tech company and in my Junior year, I took a leap of faith, sold everything to travel and learned about businesses firsthand. I found myself traveling to business hubs such as (San Francisco, Japan, etc.) and learning as much as I could along the way. I saw that most successful businesses, economies, etc. had a strong bond with numbers and data and I also saw how important artificial intelligence was becoming in our modern world. After over a year of traveling, I came back to the US and joined a tech startup so I could get more in depth knowledge and experience with data technology. After a few months of soaking up as much as I could, I began working on KnwnAi (pronounced known-a-i) full time and I moved out to LA to continue building. Read more>>

Taylor and Jordyn Jackson

At just ten years old, my 5-year-old sister and I founded our own non-profit charity named Soaring Samaritans Youth Movement. We wanted to make a direct and positive impact on marginalized children. We are a child-sister team providing children the opportunity to develop an entrepreneurial mindset for social impact and sports balls for a healthy outlet. We’re passionate about using our ability to bond to empower kids to create, innovate, educate and discover their potential. That’s why we educate, engage in beading therapy, donate sports balls, play sports together, grant scholarships, and have created a fun BizSense 4 KIDS entrepreneurship program. Our purpose is to provide healthy outlets & vehicles of change to children living in difficult circumstances. Soaring Samaritans Youth Movement improves a child’s quality of life by providing education, sports, community, and positive play. Read more>>

Shahrzad

I was a heroin addict in my 20’s. That’s the short version. So, I had to do a lot of rebuilding in my 30’s– in the sense of scraping pieces of a life back together from nothing – but also rebuilding who I thought I was. I started using hard drugs at 19 and at my lowest, I was a college dropout with a family who wouldn’t speak to me, no job, health issues, no car, no place to live and with mounting legal issues. I became the lower companion and as they say, my standards fell faster than I could keep up with. So, when I turned 29, I was dragged into a seven months stint at Tarzana Treatment Center in beautiful Tarzana, CA. And something clicked. After my time there, I showed up to a sober living in Reseda with my food stamps and two trash bags of clothing and started to put my life back together. So much so that I remember getting hit by a car on my bike trying to cross Reseda Blvd between Sherman Way and Wilbur and when the ambulance came. Read more>>

Noreen Green

I was born in Los Angeles; my mother was actually a native Angelino, growing up in Boyle Heights. My father was born in Brooklyn. Music was very integral to our childhood. My brother started violin when he was three and I started piano at five.bI loved accompanying on the piano and guitar and I loved being in the choir at both school and at my temple. I would sing solos at services every Friday night. Music was also my social outlet; I was elected President of the school choir and would organize social musical events for the group. In my last year of high school, I learned how to conduct a choir rehearsal and was the student music director of the musical – Fiddler on the Roof! I remember thinking, “Oh, this is so cool! I want to do this!” and so I ended up doing it! I went to college at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. The choral director there was Dr. William Dehning, who was a star in his own right. He inspired a lot of great choral conductors. After graduation, I got a teaching job at a Catholic high school in the San Fernando Valley. Read more>>

Caleigh Hernandez

I never thought I’d own an accessories business! I was always interested in travel and giving back in some way. I was living in East Africa working for a nonprofit when I first came across our primary sandal supplier, Lydia in Kampala, Uganda after weeks of shopkeepers in the city telling me to look for this woman. “Not the skinny Lydia, she’s a big woman, the Kenyan. You’ll know her when you see her”. So after hours of searching, three motorcycle taxis taking me to the wrong part of the city, and several minutes of me cursing my inability to speak Lugandan and Swahili fluently, I finally found her. I can only imagine the sight I presented upon arrival – a disheveled, overwhelmed young person, trying desperately to explain to her how much I loved her shoes, wanting to learn more, to understand why she was in Uganda, etc. And yet we clicked right away. My Swahili and Lugandan might not have been up to muster, and her English wasn’t perfect, but we made it work. Beautiful shoes are universal. We sat on tiny wooden stools in one of her pop-up craft shops speaking for close to two hours. Read more>>

Stacii Floyd

The Brainstorming Epilepsy Festival Foundation and subsequent “Brainstorming Epilepsy Festival” campaigns were founded by Stacii Floyd, located in Los Angeles California, USA. Stacii Floyd has suffered with Epilepsy himself so has deep insight into the condition and subsequently has a strong passion for advocating Epilepsy Awareness and Support to the community. His 1st person approach of being a figurehead who uses his own experiences and face to tell stories using video media so that the public can relate – and empathize with – Epilepsy on a more human basis has been one of his great successes in developing an international reputation and following. Read more>>

Kayley Hamilton

I was mesmerized by the magic of Hollywood since I was a little girl — probably because it’s in my blood, sprinkled throughout my family history dating back to my grandfather who worked in the music industry at Capitol Records. The fascination of celebrity imprinted on me from an early age, growing up watching Entertainment Tonight with my mom after dinner, perusing the celebrity tabloids that were strewn across my grandmother’s coffee table… throughout childhood, the Hollywood obsession in me ran deep. The moment I graduated high school growing up in Colorado, I headed out west for college to attend the University of San Diego — with my sights set on Hollywood. Growing up, I always wanted to be an entertainment news reporter. I wanted to be on red carpets next to Giuliana Rancic interviewing the biggest stars at the biggest Hollywood awards shows. I wanted my name to be in Us Weekly magazine under the list of journalists in print. Even though this dream consciously intimidated me, I felt subconsciously that it was what I was meant to do — and that I was going to make it happen. Read more>>

Brian Greif

I worked in the television business for 34 years but painted and created art as a hobby. I lived in San Francisco from 2006 to 2014. At that time, San Francisco was a major destination for the world’s top street artists. I was very active in the San Francisco gallery scene and met major artists like Blek Le Rat, Ben Eine, Roa, Doze Green, Herakut and Rone. I was fortunate to become friends with many of them. Beginning in about 2010, when street art started to move into galleries, many artists would call me for advice or guidance on contracts, business plans and exhibits. In 2013 I decided to leave the TV business and start my own company. That company 2:32 AM Projects is now one of the largest management companies for mural projects, gallery exhibits and brand activations in North America. Since 2016 my business partner Eva Boros and I have coordinated over 80 mural projects including three of the top ten largest murals created in North America. We have curated 60 Gallery Exhibits including major exhibits in Miami, Toronto, Nashville, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Austin TX. Read more>>

Phillis Stacy-Brooks

I was working long hours for a well-known automotive manufacturer when I found that I was going to be a single mom of twin two-year-old boys. I knew I had to make a change because I wanted to always be part of their lives. But I loved what I did, I’d wake up every morning looking forward to working. I had to find a happy medium and that was starting my own business. Here’s what my day looked like; I’d wake up around 3:30 in the am and start working until 6:30 then I’d get the boys ready for daycare. Once they were in daycare, I’d have about 5 hours of uninterrupted work. Then I’d picked them up and it would be our family time. My clients were serviced and happy and so was I. It worked. This schedule lasted until they graduated from High School and funny enough, I still keep that schedule. Once again, you have to adapt to what works for you and your clients. Designing has always given me great pleasure. I’m very blessed to have been able to do the two things I love the most, raise my boys and design. Main Street is primarily now a branding and marketing studio. This is what I do best. I hope I’ll being designing for clients for a very long time!. Read more>>

Ksenia Valenti

I am from a very small town in Russia called Nakhodka! I grew up dreaming about coming to Los Angeles, I watched a lot of BAY WATCH, and I thought it was going to be me someday, on the beach.. in slow motion. And it worked out. I am in Los Angeles now, following my dreams. Read more>>

Mickey Kravitz

I moved to Los Angeles from Kansas City in the late 80’s, my band Harlow had got a record deal. I have always been a musician and started out in glam rock and as you know hair is a big part of that scene. I continued doing music in and out of lots of Hollywood bands (Baby Strange, The Smash, etc.) I’m also the type of person that likes to make my ideas happen. I opened up a pizza restaurant Rock N Roll Pizza just because I wanted the box to look like a record. I started one of the first internet radio stations to have live audio and live video rocknrollstation.com also did a radio show on KRLA here in Los Angeles and interviewed some of the biggest bands in the world and had so much fun doing it. I even spent five years directing and doing voice over for the EBRU TV network so as you can see if I get an idea, I will figure out how to make it work. 2012 I was searching for something and after getting asked everywhere, I went if I was a musician or a hairdresser, I got the crazy idea of starting my own product line. Read more>>

Tal Orion

In my previous career as a radio and newspaper investigative reporter, I interviewed some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood, like Mel Gibson, Jenifer Aniston, and Robert Downy Junior. I’ve lived in nearly a dozen different cities in Israel. At 20 years old, I packed one suitcase and a couple of hundred dollars and moved, by myself, to one of the most intimidating cities in the world: New York. I’ve been married, and divorced, and remarried two more times, raising three children along the way and traveling the world, too. Age and life experiences have taught me many things, and they lead me to my current career as a special events producer. Having come to this second career later in life, I believe I bring confidence and wisdom to my work that sets me apart. Read more>>

CM Addams

I was born and raised in the swamps of Alabama. Even as a youngling, I was a weird kid with a love for the surreal and strange. I developed a little later than most children, so I learned to non-verbally express myself in various ways: My main one being art and storytelling. I learned right away that art was my life’s calling. It was in my blood. It’s what came naturally to me. But living in such a small, conservative state that clutches their pearls at anything that doesn’t fit into their cozy little mold of normality, I knew my journey would not be easy. Impossible even. So throughout most of my youth, I kept to myself. I was always the quiet “weird” kid in the back of the classroom, nose deep in a novel or my sketchbook. My only real friends were online on an art website called DeviantArt; A place where artistic people could find like-minded individuals to befriend and even network with. I think being on that website is what truly lit that fire under me to really pursue art as my main goal in life. Read more>>

Kendra Minadeo

Growing up in the wintery tundra of Alberta, Canada, I read books ravenously, drew pictures, and watched all the cartoons the ’90s had to offer. I studied Arts and Cultural Management in Canada and 3D Animation in Ohio. I am a multi-disciplinary artist who has worked in experimental film, theme park design, and animation. My experience and interests have led me to pursue comics, children’s books, and surface design, and my best work thrives on playfulness, humor, kindness, and connection. Read more>>

More in

  • Hidden Gems: Local Businesses & Creatives You Should Know

    Every day we have a choice. We can support an up and coming podcaster, try a new family-run restaurant, join a...

    Local StoriesSeptember 22, 2021
  • LA’s Most Inspiring Stories

    Every neighborhood in LA has its own vibe, style, culture and history, but what consistently amazes us is not what differentiates...

    Local StoriesSeptember 20, 2021
  • Portraits of the Valley

    It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them...

    Local StoriesSeptember 2, 2021
  • Portraits of Hollywood

    It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them...

    Local StoriesSeptember 2, 2021
  • Heart to Heart with Whitley: Episode 4

    You are going to love our next episode where Whitley interviews the incredibly successful, articulate and inspiring Monica Stockhausen. If you...

    Whitley PorterSeptember 1, 2021
  • Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories: Episode 3

    We are thrilled to present Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories, a show we’ve launched with sales and marketing expert Aleasha Bahr. Aleasha...

    Local StoriesAugust 25, 2021
  • Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories: Episode 2

    We are thrilled to present Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories, a show we’ve launched with sales and marketing expert Aleasha Bahr. Aleasha...

    Aleasha BahrJuly 21, 2021
  • Heart to Heart with Whitley: Episode 3

    During Women’s Month I had the honor of having a heart to heart with two powerful women in the creative space....

    Whitley PorterJune 26, 2021
  • Check Out the Newly Launched ART SQUAT Magazine

    One of our goals at Voyage is to encourage others to start independent, non-corporate, non-VC backed media publications.  We think the...

    Local StoriesMay 20, 2021