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Inspiring Stories from West LA

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 West LA’s rising stars below.

Christine Sofiane Katzenmaier

The making of my business was a serendipitous journey. I grew up on a farm in a tiny village called Lingelbach, Germany. Playing out in the field, riding my bicycle to school or being on the tractor was part of daily life, which I enjoyed. At the same time, I had this dream of living in a foreign country, in a big city. Fast forward to adulthood, I find myself in the metropolis of Los Angeles, which I’m fortunate to call my home now. Read more>>

Alexis Schomer

I started my entrepreneurial journey in college when I had my first idea to create an app to help create recipes from leftover ingredients. I took an entrepreneurship class and learned about the fundamentals of validating an idea and developing a business model. What really launched my career in this industry was participating in and winning a startup weekend. Based on an idea I had from being a competitive cheerleader, my team and I presented a healthcare solution and won $10,000 for the idea. Read more>>

Shiho Yoshikawa

I met Zoe Nathan, the owner of the Rustic Canyon Family while we worked together at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. I came down to LA to help her open Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe; then I met her husband, Josh Loeb (also the owner of the restaurant group). While I was helping, I shared a dream of opening my own bakery/ice cream shop in Hawaii, where my husband is from. Josh asked if I wanted to move to LA and start an ice cream shop, and I said yes! We opened our flagship store at the Brentwood Country Mart in May 2010. Read more>>

Amanda Huggins

After spending nearly a decade in the startup space, I finally broke past my own fears to follow my calling for helping leaders break past internal barriers of self-worth, fear, and anxiety. About six years ago, my life was perfect on paper: I worked at some exciting companies, I was well-traveled, and I had an enormous circle of friends, but on the inside, I was riddled with deep self-worth issues, depression, and anxiety so powerful that some days I could hardly get out of bed. Read more>>

Jesse Bainbridge

I received my Bachelor of Arts in Photography from the University of Houston. After graduation, I went back to school to get my teaching license and then taught 4th grade bilingual for six years. At the same time, I was acting as a hobby in community theatre when I decided to take an on-camera acting class. That turned into landing an agent, auditioning and booking. In 2009, I came to the decision to do something crazy and pursue something that was always just a fantasy, acting. Read more>>

SUM

My professional life and my life as an artist began at roughly the same time. They have always run in tandem and hybridized each other. As a writer, I started out around 2001 as a freelance music journalist, which is right around the time I decided I wanted to dedicate my life to my songcrafting. Since then, I’ve been carving out my own space as a writer and creative expert. This journey has taken me from magazine editorial and market research to ghostwriting and digital persona crafting for some of entertainment’s biggest brands. Read more>>

Jared and Andrew DePolo

We have always been involved in music, but we weren’t fully awakened to our gift until we were 19. Our mom is a professional artist and met an indy film-maker at one of her shows who needed music for his short which just wrapped in Italy. We did the project pro bono as a “Hey, I think this would be fun, and why not!? Let’s give it a go”! He loved what we did and little did we know what other projects he had in the pipeline; thus the journey began. Shortly after, we did an advertising campaign and a documentary narrated by Danny Glover which premiered at the United Nations in NYC. Read more>>

Diana Patricia Moya

I studied Fashion Design at Otis Parsons. Throughout my studies, I won a couple of Best Designer awards including the Rudi Gernreich Award in 1996. After graduating I moved to Italy, first Rome then Milano where I did a Masters in Fashion Design at The Istituto Europeo di Design IED. Immediately after graduating I got an offer at Armani as a designer, He had chosen me among 75 other candidates. It was a great honor, although finally, I could not take the offer since I did not have the proper working visa for the EU. Read more>>

Judi Lee

I am an Interior Designer from Singapore. I was born and raised in a city that is full of surprises. It is such a crazy modern city with traditions and cultures that never left us (citizens). The opportunities in Singapore are in abundance, and my career in Interior Design came by luck and took off pretty quickly. At the age of 18, I dropped out of Fashion Design school because the curriculum was simply unaffordable. I started working at a luxury high-end shoe store as a sales assistant. Read more>>

Devin Haman and Dan Holtz

Devin’s Story: I grew up in a small farm town in Indiana then received a football scholarship and attended Valparaiso University and received a BS in Mechanical Engineering. I was very active in college and was President of Theta Chi Fraternity. About one week after graduating from VU, I packed my car and moved to California. I received three job offers the first week in Los Angeles and took a job as a Project Manager for Marvin Engineering which is an aerospace company where I worked for three years then launched a promotional company called DASK Productions where we hosted many large charity events and parties throughout Southern California. Read more>>

Dianna Brescia

My name is Dianna Brescia 29 years old native New Yorker that became a proud Angeleno three years ago! I am the Founder and owner of Bon Appetit Agency! So excited to share my story with VoyageLA and fellow entrepreneurs! Bon Appetit Agency got started about a year ago when I decide to put my love for healthy eating/cooking & personal assisting together! For over ten years I was a personal assistant to high profiles and celebrities clients throughout LA and NYC! Read more>>

Richie Stephens

I worked in construction in San Francisco until the summer of 2011. I was working on a remodel of a house, when a beam fell down and hit me, knocking me off a scaffold and breaking my back. That was the end of my construction career. At the time I was a carpenter, with no thoughts whatsoever about working in show business. My goal at the time was to have my own construction company. A few months before the incident I had just passed the test for my contractor license and was about to set up a company. Read more>>

Cyrielle Gulacsy

I have always loved drawing for as long as I can remember. When I was a child becoming a painter was the only option that was possible in my mind, until people told me that it was not a real job and that I’d better find another idea. So by lack of encouragement and without even realizing it, I put aside my childhood dream and slowly turned to graphic design. I studied visual communications in Paris, and I learned a lot, but I soon realized that it didn’t fascinate me. My passion for painting and drawing came back to life little by little. Read more>>

Cristian Quintanilla

I was born in El Salvador and was raised there until I was ten years old, by my grandparents, aunts, and uncles. My mother had to leave El Salvador when she was 18, due to the civil war going on in the country. She had to come to the United States, leaving me behind at the age of 1. It was not until I was ten years old that my mother was able to bring me to the US to live with her, my step-father and sister. I have been living in Los Angeles ever since. I take a lot of pride in my Salvadorean roots. Read more>>

Adam Koral

I started my career as a young cook out of culinary school. I started working at 2 Michelin Star restaurant Melisse in Santa Monica, where I learned the art of fine dining cuisine. After almost two years on the line, I decided to put down my knives to explore my entrepreneurial desires. I was fortunate to meet my now business partners John Terzian and Brian Toll, who took me under their wings at The h.wood Group. At the time, there wasn’t much of a company, but within a few years, we had opened multiple successful venues in Los Angeles. Read more>>

Kirill Klochkov

The story could be very long as the range of my interests and activities is diverse and very wide. Moreover, it was not always a smooth highway to success. By chance 15 years ago, I was introduced to the technology of large-format printing. Five years later, my team and I began to develop new equipment and faced the problem of finding quality inks for our technology. As a result, I went into ink development and started experimenting in this field. Later, one of our series of inks, developed with my direct involvement, received the prestigious European Digital Association Award. Read more>>

Rob Lawless

In November of 2015, I set out on a mission to spend 1 hour, 1:1, with 10,000 different people. Inspired by my time as a student at Penn State, I wanted to regain the sense of familiarity I felt after meeting so many new friends through clubs and activities on campus. I had recently moved from the suburbs of Philadelphia into the city for a sales job at a tech startup and decided it was time to start working an entrepreneurial endeavor of my own. I met the very first person of my project on November 11, 2015, and over the next eight months met over 100 more people until I was laid off at the end of June of 2016 due to my company being acquired. Read more>>

Nik Shaw

I grew up in Los Angeles, and my whole family works in the film business. It was kind of natural for me to be on set or in casting rooms. So If I had to start from the very beginning, it was 6th grade, and my crush Tabi told me she thought skaters were cute. So Naturally, I started skating and made a bunch of skater friends. I realized I wasn’t good at skateboarding, but I wanted to keep my friends… well all skaters need a filmer! I started filming the skaters and editing videos, and before I knew it, I was addicted. I watched every YouTube video on how to be a filmmaker and watched film riot tutorials. Read more>>

Chelsea Bratches

I was always into vintage and thrifting from a young age, I started going to flea markets with my mom when I was just a kid. Throughout my life, I always worked in fashion, throughout high school and college I worked in high-end retail; post-college I worked for a small women’s brand called Cleobella, managing the boutique as well as marketing. I wore a lot of hats there, doing anything and everything from buying for the store to producing photo shoots for their campaigns, to managing the social media. Read more>>

CC Consalvo

When I began to cook holistically, it was out of a crisis and a mission to simply keep my mother alive. I was 14 when she got sick. The doctors explained the ways in which we could help her, food was mentioned. If she stays away from processed foods perhaps that will make a difference and prolong her life, is what one doctor said. That was all I needed to begin my quest to cook and care for my mother. Throughout that experience, my life’s work as a chef and wellness coach was born. Read more>>

Raphael Leopold

From a young age, I was always drawn to entertainment and theatre. I attended filmmaking camp as a kid and volunteered at local media networks to get my foot in the door. One of my first jobs was at a local-access TV station where I learned the ins-and-outs of production, from shooting to directing and editing. I later segued to the radio side, working in the business sponsorships (commercial) department of a local NPR station on the East Coast where I had the opportunity to shadow executives. Read more>>

Todd Goodman

I grew up in Schenectady, New York, in a very musical family and community, so my primary artistic influence has always been music. I started on the piano when I was five and then tried out the violin and saxophone before I finally landed on the drums at 12. Other than playing and listening to a ton of music growing up, I have had no formal arts education outside the basic classes in public school. I excelled at mathematics and sports in school and never would have guessed that I would one day call myself an artist. Read more>>

Sofia Uribe

All of my life I have been surrounded by sewing machines, threads, and fabrics. My mother learned how to sew from my grandmother. I grew up looking at my mom sew, cut, and making patterns from recycled newspapers and using soap as chalk. I was a very curious kid; my mom was a professional folkloric dancer. I remember wearing her clothes and playing with them; always admiring the colors and texture. Growing up in Tijuana, a young city that doesn’t have a lot of festivities or traditions as many southern states of Mexico I wasn’t really in touch with my roots. Read more>>

Renée Willett

Landing my role in THE COMEDIAN: It was my birthday, and I was on set in Atlanta filming a day player role on my first film THE YELLOW BIRDS working opposite Jennifer Aniston. As if this day couldn’t get any better, I happened to hear in between takes a conversation the producers were having who were visiting set that day. They were mentioning their next film to someone, and all I heard was “Robert De Niro… New York” and “The Friars Club.” So I approach them and tell them that I am from New York City and happen to be the youngest Friar. Read more>>

Sheridan Street

I’m 30 years old raised in San Diego, CA, bilingual, bi-racial, and an eclectic foodie. I started “Street and Spice, LLC in March 2016 after I finally chose to take a leap of faith and quit working for corporate America. A few months back in January, same year, I launched my blog site streetandspice.com where all I had planned was creating and posting dope recipes and highlighting events (it was my 2016 new years resolution). Never would I know that three months in I would create my baby, Street and Spice the catering company! Read more>>

Matt Mayberry

I’m one of the few people who can honestly say they have their dream job. What makes my dream job unique is that ten years ago it didn’t exist. I entered the workforce a year or two later than most do as I spent the first year and a half after I graduated from college traveling around the world. I like to think this was my real first job as I picked up and learned valuable skills during my travels that I still use today. When I finally returned back to the states and hung up my passport, I took a job as a consultant brokering and structuring Fortune500 corporate insurance deals. Read more>>

Cristy Coors Beasley

I grew up well-immersed and educated in the performing arts, doing local theater and plays, and primarily dancing with what is now Ballet Memphis in Tennessee. I always had a love of the theater and found being in the majestic Orpheum Theater where we did our largest performances each year an especially magical experience. My family is comprised of some extremely creative and talented women, who were strong influences on me, and they were always giving time to support the arts in the city at large philanthropically – helping bring major exhibits to the galleries; hosting fundraising galas; bringing speakers and performers to educate particular audiences; painting; gardening; supporting musicians, performers and creators, and often breaking new grounds in various ways. Read more>>

Skinner Myers

I was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan on April 22nd, 1980 to John Skinner Myers Junior and Helen Laverne Myers. I weighed seven pounds and twenty-one ounces. My mother had had a miscarriage before I was born, so she took care not to do anything too stressful during the pregnancy. My father was a pastor of a small church when I was born, and my mother helped where she could. We lived a quiet life until my brother Kevin Josiah Myers was born in 1981. Read more>>

Michelle Boehle

I began my cheerleading career in High School when I tried out for the Mater Dei High School Pom Squad. I had never taken a cheerleading or dance class in my life, but I was always dancing around the house and performing with my hairbrush as my microphone, I loved to dance and was very committed to learning. I practiced really hard and made the team and later ended up Captain. Mater Dei ‘s basketball team won the PAC-10 conference while I was cheering for them. It was so exciting, and the energy was infectious. Read more>>

Jennifer Jewett

In a way this started because I had to leave a career I loved, working at Chef John Sedlar’s restaurant called Playa (which is now Chef Walter Manzke’s Petty Cash). I had started at Chef Sedlar’s other restaurant Rivera after culinary school and felt like I was on track to continue working my way up in professional kitchens. But then my back starting hurting, to the point where I could barely walk after a long shift. It turned out to be a problem with one of my discs, and there was no easy fix. I was devastated, but I was also dealing with a lot of pain. Read more>>

Tabby Biddle

For over a decade, I’ve been working at the forefront of the movement for gender equality and the advancement of women and girls — as a writer, women’s leadership consultant, coach, and educator. I started my career in the early 1990s in Washington, D.C. up on Capitol Hill. I worked at the Women’s Campaign Fund, an organization that raised money for female political candidates and trained them to run for office. We saw a lot of success during that election cycle, 1992, dubbed the “Year of the Woman.” We tripled the number of women in the Senate (from 2 to 6), and a record number of 47 women were elected to the House of Representatives, 24 for the first time.  Read more>>

Nicole Foos

First of all, I want to start how by expressing how grateful I am to have been able to do so many different things and to have explored so many aspects of myself. I grew up in West Los Angeles and went to UCLA and then UC Berkeley from which I graduated. I then went to Boston University School of Law and proceeded to practice law for 14 years in Los Angeles doing insurance defense litigation – primarily medical malpractice defense and fraud-busting of fake accidents and injuries. Read more>>

Scott Hale

I was working in New York City at a luxury hotel on Wall Street when 9/11 happened. For two years we served as the centerpiece of downtown redevelopment but business was slow to return, and unfortunately, the hotel ended up closing. I had been working in luxury hotels for 14 years (with my time divided between Four Seasons and Regent International) when I decided to take my knowledge of hospitality and apply it to residential settings. Read more>>

Chad Pulido

I have been a creative individual since I was very young, the entrepreneur inside of me began to come through early on as well. I quickly realized that working to achieve someone else’s dream or business was not in my cards. I knew I needed to strive to become a boss and follow my own dreams and fulfill my destiny. I was introduced and trained in the keratin lash lift treatment in the early months of 2015, and I had a gut feeling that this was going to be something “BIG” in the beauty industry. Read more>>

Sydney Holland and Courtney Abbiati

Sydney: The Urban + The Mystic is a brand focused on demystifying the world of healing crystals to help people create moments of intention, launches today exclusively online. Our website sells carefully curated hand-made boxes with various themes, such as meditation, celebration, and gratitude, featuring specific crystals, candles and other accouterments to enable the everyday ability for connection and reflection. Courtney and I came together first as friends. Read more>>

Ronald Alexander

As a young man growing up in Boston in the zeitgeist of the late 1960’s, I spent much of my time in Cambridge’s Harvard Square, where tattered paperbacks on Zen Buddhism and existential philosophy were commonly seen in the hands of students and professors alike. Cambridge also seemed a natural hub for many of the great musicians of the era, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Tom Rush, The Band, Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, and the Byrds, and it was the place where the British bands first landed and rehearsed for their national tours. Read more>>

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