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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.

Ryan Aubrey

My journey began several years ago when I was in the 5th Grade. My teacher had assigned us a year-long entrepreneurial project to create a business that was both profitable and impacted the community. The three groups that made the most money would each win various prizes. Though initially incentivized by the appeal of the 1st place prize, which I believe was either PlayStation 2 or a PlayStation 3; my group, comprised of myself and my childhood best friend, would ultimately go onto form a very lucrative business both taking out and bringing in people’s trash barrels in and around our local community. Now while we easily came in first place and stopped the business shortly thereafter to focus on 6th grade, the lessons taken away from this experience were much more valuable than any game station ever could be. I would say this was the single inciting incident in my life that enveloped my entrepreneurial spirit and would inevitably lead me down my professional path. Read more>>

Jon Conciatori

My story began in a small suburb in New England; my family was from New York but I grew up in Connecticut., and I couldn’t wait to leave. Most of the people I grew up around were concerned with the same things, fitting in, academics, sports. Everyone was the same, and if someone didn’t align to the homogeneous society around them, they were seen as outsiders. So when I said that I wanted to go to school for music, I was misunderstood and even ridiculed. I had the privilege to go to a prestigious music school in Boston Mass but ran into the same problem in a different way. While I learned a vast variety of practical skills, I still struggled with finding belonging. I had not yet embraced what made me special, so I was more concerned with fitting in, which only left me feeling more lost. The curriculum emphasized a certain school of thought on making music, and when I wasn’t able to adopt it on my own, I became discouraged and stopped my own artistic pursuits. Read more>>

Lisa Sumiko Steward

I think all of us start out at a young age as artists – having no care in the world about the way things look so much as just having fun in the process of artmaking. As I’ve grown older though, my relationship with artmaking has become more and more complicated, with bouts of extreme repulsion towards making art, using art as a type of emotional healing, or something to just pass time. Even with this complicated relationship, I actively chose to study architecture at UCLA, a program that allowed me a lot of artistic and creative freedom in my work and conceptual design, but most importantly, a multidisciplinary education exploring a vast array of mediums, topics, and identities. I think having a multidisciplinary background as an artist was “meant to be”, mirroring my identity and upbringing. I was born In Tokyo, Japan, but then grew up on the East Coast in New Jersey, traveling back to Japan for many summers; however, for college, l packed up and moved across the country to Los Angeles.  Read more>>

Ramon House

I grew up in a suburb right outside of Chicago named Oak Park. I was into skateboarding, art, and music. These early interests eventually lead to my interest in fashion. Artists like Kid Cudi, A$AP Ferg, and Pharrell got me into streetwear during my Highschool years. I was known as the guy who was into different things that most people where I’m from wasn’t. I never thought about starting my own brand; I just like to wear nice clothes and hang out with people who were into the same things. Once I got to college, I started a career as a Dj. My DJ career has been very successful and lead me to gaining a lot of popularity in Chicago. After realizing the influence, I had one of the people around me I thought about the idea of starting my own clothing brand. I was nervous about starting it because I didn’t have anyone to help me. Read more>>

Carter Shults

I grew up in the South near Houston, TX, and I knew from a young age that I wanted to make it in Hollywood one day. I studied Film & Television Production at the USC School of Cinematic Arts with an emphasis on Production Design, and from there I began to work for The Late Late Show with James Corden. After five years with the show and a lot of memories, I left to start my own design business, Design by Carter, which focuses on multiple types of set design — music videos, live experiences, installations, and more. My goal is to grow my business over the next few years and start an agency that reps young, up-and-coming designers and introduces them to the art department world in Hollywood. Read more>>

Marielle Arcabascio, Emily Sudlow and Alivia Demaria

With experience in fashion, film photography, styling, creative direction and casting, we began collaborating to bring inspiring images to life. SWOON LA was born out of the passion to make art that speaks to our own personal style and those of the fashion, beauty and wellness brands we love. Read more>>

Airon Mallars

I moved to Los Angeles two years ago to pursue music but had to completely switch gears when the pandemic hit. I moved to Los Angeles the October before Covid. Music wasn’t making me money at the time and I had lost all three of my jobs. I went with modeling because a lot of my friends thought I should pursue it. Never in my life had I even thought about modeling or acting, But here I am a year and a half later doing it full time. It was a big change for me, but it’s been such an incredible experience. I’ve traveled all around the US And shot with some of the best photographers in Los Angeles. I’ve been in a featured film, I’ve traveled to Mexico for shoots, shooting in Paris this spring and plan to be doing a lot more shooting and traveling come this new year of 2022. Couldn’t be more excited!. Read more>>

Nakendra Harris-Mason

I’m from Los Angeles, CA. I reside in Victorville, CA. I’m a 3x Author and an executive producer of my very first TV reality show called “Marriage Made”. I’m a CEO of an LLC 501c3, called You’re Created To Inspire Ministries, which is an outreach ministry that has self-development programs for our youth and being a resource for our community. I’m a wife and a mother of four biological sons and two bonus sons. My writing career began back in 2001-2002. It started off as a hobby first. I started with writing poems and music, then I decided to go more deeper into pursuing what I loved doing which was writing and being creative. I started in my late twenties and early thirties. I didn’t grow up with having this very big support system such as someone sitting me down and talk with me about my dreams and goals. I didn’t have anyone to invest in my dreams so I started from the bottom. Read more>>

Dominic Kennedy

I grew up in Philadelphia and attended university of the sciences. I was one of those in school to get a degree and pretty much impress those around me; but I knew deep down this wasn’t what I wanted to do. One day I decided to reach my goal and move to Los Angeles (about ten years ago and was best decision I ever made). I came with my car, clothes, laptop and a lot of drive inside me to make something of myself. I left the corporate Pharmaceutical world back east and started to privately train in Los Angeles. I worked non-stop for years until I had built such a large clientele base and started to make really great money. From there, I went on to get my real estate license as I’ve always had a huge interest in this and now work for the Aaron Kirman Group in Beverly Hills under compass (we are the #1 team in SoCal and among the top 10 teams in the United States). Read more>>

Isabel Madison

I grew up immersed in beauty culture. My father was a biochemist and he formulated cosmetic products for Max Factor, Halston, and Chanel, as well as his own cosmetic line, Visage Beaute. My childhood home resembled a cosmetics department store with makeup just everywhere. However, I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup as a young girl so I would just sit in awe watching my mom transform into a glamorous woman by applying subtle touches of makeup and color. Eventually, I began to mimic my mom’s techniques and would play with products on my younger sister and grandmother who served as my models. I was only 13 when I became involved in my father’s cosmetics business, where I would create new shades of powder and creamy frosted eyeshadows and help melt and mold the lipsticks. I learned about the cosmetics and beauty industry from the inside out. Even as my life evolved and I became a mother to 3 magnificent children, my passion for makeup never faded. Read more>>

John Sungkamee

I came to the USA because my mom won a green card lottery 1990. My mom bore 12 children in Southern Thailand so I grew up with 11 siblings. I was the only one that came with my parents since I was still a minor and everyone else was older than 21 at the time. Two of my sisters were already leaving in the US so we came to live with them. I went to school to learn English and then graduated with Business major. I also eventually went and graduated MBA. Although I was a business major, my first office job as a computer analyst so I ended got a software engineering and ended up working in the corporate world for about 15 years. I started Emporium Thai in 2000. At the time, many of my siblings came from Thailand to visit my dad in 1997 and many of them decided to stay after my dad passed away, I know my brothers and my sisters cook very well so I thought opening a restaurant would be a perfect business for them. I was still focusing on my software engineer at the time but I’d come to run a restaurant every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In 2012, I decided that I want to take the restaurant to the next level so I quit the job and come to run the restaurant full time. Since then, we have grown a lot. Emporium Thai become one of the well-known Thai restaurants in Westwood community. Read more>>

Luxci Aesthetics

Cyaira and Alexis, two Sisters with one goal. Born in the Bay Area being a minority and coming from a family of immigrants Puerto Rican and Filipino descent, we are the first generation to graduate college. Being able to showcase what our education means and change the dynamic structure of our lineage to build generational wealth. To be able to provide for our family as entrepreneurs is a lot of pressure but more the less amazing. Skincare and beauty has always been a passion of ours since little girls. We Transform people from the inside out, we get to wake up everyday feeling inspired because we understand what we do day in and day out is directly related to our life purpose. We possess extensive knowledge, education and valuable resources. Which allows us to provide exceptional skincare and body services, business driving techniques using the latest industry-leading innovations. We curated our passion into A business A Holistic Medical Spa “Luxci Aesthetics” servicing in Holistic skincare, Post Op Care for Cosmetic Surgery and Non invasive Treatments. Read more>>

Courtney Paige

At home theatre in my Granny’s living room turned Kelowna community theatre turned Larry Moss/group theatre turned film/TV Vancouver turned film/TV Los Angeles based actor turned director turned Yahoo finance featured production company, Yeehaw Films co-owner; bringing safer film finance opportunities to Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Read more>>

Brittany Chillingworth

I was born into an uber creative and entrepreneurial family – my mother is an incredibly talented fine artist, and my father is an extremely successful businessman, entrepreneur and consultant. I grew up in a very social environment learning how to connect and network with people (of all ages) from a young age. Read More>>

Shalini Sarena Bahad

Shalini Sarena was born in London, England to immigrant parents – her mother was born in Singapore and her father in India. Her parents divorced when she was quite young and her father was the first in the family to get an education and move to America. In Dec 2001, she moved to America to live with her father and her former step-mother in Miami, FL. It is there that she learned Spanish, as well as her existing connection with Punjabi, Hindi and English as fluent languages. Unfortunately, living under the roof of her former stepmother was incredibly challenging. Her former stepmother was bi-polar and emotionally abusive, and her father wasn’t around much as he was traveling often for work, so she grew up without supportive or protective guardians around. This forced Shalini to grow up fast and she intuitively focused her energy instead on the love and support that she was feeling around her communities in school, in the choir she sang in and in the friendships she magnetized into her field.  Read more>>

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