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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.

Whitney Renee

Despite all advice, I sought a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in English and writing. The payoff: student loans and a never-ending appreciation for grammar jokes, rhetorical discourse, and the craft of storytelling. Read more>>

Paige Chernick

As a Journalism Major who also studied marketing and creative writing, I used my degree to focus on Social Media and Communications when I entered “the real world.” My background in professional Social Media Marketing began within a large-scale luxury retail business in the fashion industry, where I created a Social Media department just as Social Media for businesses was emerging. Read more>>

Crystal Lee

I’ve always been fascinated by people and human behavior. Even as a child, I would go to the library and check out stacks of books related to psychology– though, I didn’t know it was called psychology back then! As a young person, I also had a great interest in volunteering and community service. Read more>>

Jenn Stoner

I was living in Berlin, Germany for work several years ago (I have a career in advertising as a Creative Director) when I was first introduced to chocolate covered rice cakes. Immediately I thought, “What a great idea to use the rice cake a platform for flavors. What if we take this one step further and craft creative and tasty toppings, kinda like a gluten free, lower calorie alternative to cupcakes?” Well, four years, three cities and two daughters later, I finally pursued this. Read more>>

Katrina Manning

I have loved coffee for as long as I can remember. As a child, coffee was my favorite flavor ice cream. Chocolate covered espresso beans were delicious before and after I knew they had caffeine. And, after my AP Statistics teacher reminisced about his years as a barista, I began to realize more fully that I could seriously pursue coffee. Read more>>

Yelena York

I became a full-time artist 5 years ago and made it into a career 2 years ago. Having interest in interior design, graphic design and photography pushed me to start creating works that were and are part of me, and I think it plays a huge role in artists career when you create what interests you, instead of making paintings because it sells or its pleasing to the eye. Read more>>

Gregory Stebbins

PeopleSavvy started in 1989 as a company called Stebbins Consulting Group. As my background was sales and leadership, that is what I focused on. My skill was reading people and adjusting how I interacted with each person based on what motivated them, their behaviors and communication style. Read more>>

Van Lai-DuMone

The idea for worksmart began when I found myself at a place in my career where I didn’t feel fully engaged or satisfied with what I was doing, because I had had drifted so far from my creativity.To make a change, I simply started bringing creativity back into my life, through painting, and other forms of crafting. Read more>>

Lynne Clark

Lynne B. Clark is a mixed-media artist with a degree in Fine Arts/Art History from Scripps College and a perpetual treasure hunter. But she doesn’t hunt for the type of treasure that would bring her wealth or make her famous. “I am drawn to the forgotten, the overlooked, the discarded—the detritus of everyday life. Read more>>

Alyson Mattoon

My passion for dance began in my hometown of Sedona, AZ at eight years old. Dance led me to the Virginia School of the Arts performing arts high school where I excelled for four years. I was lucky to get a job dancing professionally with the State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara directly out of school. Read more>>

Michael Masucci and Kate Johnson

With its roots dating back to 1979, EZTV (www.eztvmedia.com) has helped pioneer the independent video and digital art revolution. Not to be confused with the illegal bit torrent of the same name, this is the original EZTV, an arts space that also serves as a production and conceptual nexus for many independent producers and performers. Read more>>

Shilpa Rajpara

I am premium activewear designer who has been in the industry since 2002 and working exclusively in activewear since 2006. I graduated from UCLA, and then went to law school. After a year of drawing my case law into comic books to try to memorize it, I realized that I am probably going down the wrong path. Read more>>

Mary Davis

Kidville started in New York City’s Upper East Side in 2005. We now have 34 locations in the U.S., Canada and the United Arab Emirates. We make it easy for parents by having every activity a kid could want under one roof! Read more>>

Jenny Garcia

I pursued becoming an Acupuncturist and Herbalist after suffering from a series of infections, taking too many antibiotics, becoming disillusioned with some of the limitations of Western Medicine, getting messages to pursue a career in health through divination, and meeting a wonderful, magical healer mentor who took me under his wing. Read more>>

Dustin Peterson

I consider my story a SoCal relocation story. I went to first grade at Cubberly Elementary in Long Beach and then my parents moved the family to Utah. I am not Mormon, but ended up going through school and graduating in Utah. I moved back to Southern California in 1999 with a suitcase and $700.00. Read more>>

Sue Leedom

I grew up in a small town in the Southern suburbs of Chicago. I became a foodie at 8 years old. My grandmother was one of 5 sisters in a tight knit Jewish family. The “girls” were always baking and cooking something delicious. Money was tight so they would get together for something called, “coffee and . . . ” The “and” was something baked and definitely made from scratch. Read more>>

Greta Couper

Born in Santa Barbara, California, from a family of noted sculptors, artists, and musicians, I have always been attracted to the arts. In college I was an Architecture/Mathematics major at UCLA, later obtaining an MBA in Marketing from Pepperdine University, and a Certification in Interior Design. Read more>>

Kim O’Hara

I produced and wrote movies for twenty years. I was attracted to stories about troubled characters facing addiction, loneliness and isolation. I had a desire for millions of people to see my movies and say, I feel that too, I’m not alone. Read more>>

Joanne Parrent

I worked for years as both a screenwriter and book author. I also wrote some pieces for magazines and blogs. In the early 2000’s, my spouse, an attorney, was working on a case where she needed some research done in Georgia. She sent me there and the attorney from San Francisco she was working with also sent a private investigator that he had been working with. Read more>>

Dr. James Berenson

Dr. Berenson is the founder of the Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research (IMBCR) and has specialized in research related to myeloma and metastatic bone disease both in the basic and clinical areas for more than 20 years. He has been involved in many of the major breakthroughs that have brought new treatments for patients with these diseases resulting in both an improvement in the length and quality of their lives. Read more>>

Joan Grabel

I started as an artist in New York City. Studying at the School of Visual Arts my aesthetic sensibility was influenced by my time studying with Minimalist artist Robert Mangold and the art of Georgia O’keefe. Read more>>

Jason George

I originally had ambitions to be a journalist but after college wanted to travel for a couple of years, mainly around Asia and Australasia. I needed to earn some cash to supplement my first six months of travelling, before stopping in Sydney for a few months to replenish my funds and go again. Read more>>

Linda S. Cole

I began working out doing traditional strength training on machines three times a week for an hour each session at a large gym in West Los Angeles. I was taught to do 3 sets of each exercise with a speed of 1-3 seconds going forward and 1-3 seconds going backward. I trained there for 10 years going 2-3 times per week. Read more>>

Jean Roth

It’s been an interesting but circuitous journey! I have a MA from UCLA in Japanese language and literature (with a lot of Japanese history, anthropology, art, and music) thrown into the mix so people often ask me how I got from being a Japan specialist to an “integrative” web and graphic designer. Read more>>

Jerod Williams

I am a Legal Assistant by day and a Cardio Dance Fitness Instructor by night. My journey began when one day during a routine checkup with my doctor and he basically told me that you could stand to lose a few pounds and incorporate some exercise in your life. It was definitely a major health scare for me. Read more>>

Michael Jost, Rae Stanton and Tonan Ruiz

RadioVenice.tv was founded 2 years ago. First show in September 2015. Live weekly webcast out of Breakwater Studios in Venice, Ca. (every Sunday 4:20pm PST).  Founded by musician & producer Michael Jost. Read more>>

Lani Taylor

I always find myself doing crazy things. Growing up in a competitive family of boys in Australia I was always trying to keep up, compete and even win (occasionally)! This strengthened my competitive edge, but I think that’s the point of life, to constantly challenge yourself and feel inspired to try new things. When I was a little girl, I watched my father wither with a serious illness. Read more>>

Khara Pechtes

Growing up, I can fondly remember my mother giving me a massage after a bath. It was the most soothing, comforting, and safe feeling I had ever experienced. I always looked forward to that time with her, the unconditional love and care she gave, while I received this magical energetic transfer. Read more>>

Lisza Darling

I grew up as the youngest of four and the only girl. I love fashion, but yes, I’m a total tomboy! I’ve been using tools since high school thanks to my awesome step-dad. I earned my spending money by learning how to patch a roof, change out spark plugs, and make general repairs around the house. He also taught me to work on his 1967 Barracuda and my 1968 VW Bug. Read more>>

Jake Y. Rubin

Growing up, I always had an interest and a fascination with psychology and how the mind works. Even as a child, I remember reading kids’ books about the mind and brain and trying to understand how it all works and why we do what we do. Read more>>

Christie Kim

I’ve always had an interest in fashion, hip hop culture and music ever since I was young but never had a clear vision on what to do with it. After a small stint at fashion school, I ended up working for multiple startups in the LA area doing marketing. With that, I learned a lot of about business, consumers, and just how to hustle and make things happen. Read more>>

Ryan Sacks

A couple of childhood friends started Beverly Hills Chairs and they wanted me to run the company. At the time, we were only advertising our chairs on Craigslist and we were refurbishing the chairs ourselves. We found that the Herman Miller Aeron chair was attracting dozens of responses each day and we began to sell to law firms, accounting firms and other professional services. Read more>>

Rosanna Rocker

I own quite a few apartment buildings in the Los Angeles area and a few years ago, I lost one of my roofs as a result of water damage. My roofer explained that because my gutters had been clogged with debris from the surrounding trees, there was a buildup rainwater that had no way to drain, which severely damaged the roof and the stucco. Read more>>

Greg Alan Jankowski

An early childhood filled with creativity and adventure with a father who promoted free-thinking, open expression and imagination often seen as a “strange bird” compared to most, but actually an intellectual self-read happy to share his thoughts and free thinking insights to his children, as well as our friends and neighbors. Read more>>

Dennis Dembia

My career in the entertainment industry began when I joined Artisan Entertainment, which at the time was one of the top independent movie studios in the business. It was just after the studio released ‘The Blair Witch Project’ and I moved to New York City to work in the studio’s corporate communications division. Read more>>

Dr. Jamie Mahtaban

The road that led me to becoming a chiropractor was a life-altering journey. I will try to keep it as brief as possible. It all started at the age of 15 when I had a severe injury to my low back and pelvis. From there my parents sent me down the conventional western medicine route. Read more>>

Marci Ikeler

I have been working in the world of digital since 1999, back when people were telling me that the internet was a fad. My career has evolved as the industry has expanded. First, I was a webmaster (still my coolest title ever!), and then I moved to the world of design. Read more>>

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