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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.

Anshu Jain

I am an engineer by profession and was born and raised in a Hindi speaking family. Given my knowledge of the teaching system in the USA and my comfort with the Hindi language, I was asked to tutor expat students in during a 2-year stay in Bangalore, India. I took on the challenge and soon discovered that students liked the classes but disliked doing their homework. I used my IT background to create online activities e.g. quizzes, reading assignments, matching exercises for students as homework and that worked! My students did well and I enjoyed the experience immensely. Read more>>

Jon Infanti

I’ve had a passion for art since I was a little guy. I mean, what’s more fun when you’re five than making a turkey out of a tracing of your hand? I wanted to make art a career and knew that there wasn’t much security it being a straight up painter, so when the digital art train started to take over, I hopped on and never looked back. I started my career in New York City and took down the concrete jungle for almost 5 years before coming out to California. I came out West to chase my love for an endless summer and tasty waves. Read more>>

Jeff Ong

We started 11 years ago with just a handful of clients that I met through my first job working at Coldwell Banker in Beverly Hills. Since then, we’ve worked with over 1300 clients and have photographed over 11,000 homes in the Los Angeles area. I was lucky to be at the right place and at the right time. Photography and property websites were getting popular at the time and I was able to provide both. We are very blessed to have a smooth road in the past 11 years in business. We are lucky to have very loyal clients who come back to us year after year. We definitely appreciate them all! Read more>>

Eric Yee

Born & Raised in LA. 28 Years Old – Studied Marketing at Cal State Fullerton. Always had an itch to start a business and, like everyone else, be my own boss. Yet, it wasn’t always that easy. I worked at Virgin America Airlines while I was in College and was fortunate enough to be able to travel around the world with them. After I graduated, I remained at Virgin America and was working as a Reservations Systems Analyst (basically a specialist in the system and taught other employees how to use it). Read more>>

Amgad E.

Story began with Amgad E, an entrepreneur from Los Angeles, when he was never comfortable with the regular job pattern, working as a conceptual art director for several corporations, he had that evolutionary thought in mind. Amgad E had established Amgadization in 2006, as a design agency providing a range of custom high quality web and graphic design services. In 2015, Amgad E reintroduced Amgadization as the world’s global branding agency. Art directed a global team of talented professionals to Build World Brands and distinctive Visual Identity for businesses around the World. Read more>>

Kareem Mitha

I first visited Laughing Frog back in 2013 after a good friend recommended I check it out. I immediately felt a strong connection to the space. It has so much potential to grow and nurture an amazing community. I quickly became friends with the previous owner Chris Temkin and soon started volunteering helping check in classes, organizing hikes, and providing help with sales and marketing. After a couple of years in this role, Chris was ready to move on to the next chapter of his life and it was a natural progression to becoming the new owner of the studio. Read more>>

Michael Jortner

After being dissatisfied with a series of corporate gigs – and getting laid off in August 2016 – I started getting the message that it was time for me to go out on my own. I spoke with friends about it, as well as a couple of entrepreneurs I know who have had their own companies for many years. It was this combination of listening to my inner voice and getting the advice of people I trust that allowed me to start weho digital. One friend told me, “You know how to do this. Now you’re just doing it for yourself.” Read more>>

Ben Bar

Our firm is a condominium association management firm, established in the year 2000. It was established to manage a condominium building built by an acquaintance. For years the company ran as a solid, reputable, “mom and pop” sized business. Several years ago, I bought out my associate. We have since enjoyed meteoric growth, typically only seen in the hi-tech industry. The company has grown to 16 times the size it was when I took over in 2011! We are the highest rated company in our field in Los Angeles. Read more>>

Cydney Kaplan

I started working at a VA hospital in high school, I thought I wanted to be an occupational therapist. I got a job working after school in the Recreation Therapy department. My job was to go play games with the veterans on the spinal cord injury unit. I did that my junior senior year and I knew this was my path…helping people have fun in an adaptive way. During my time at the VA I was also able to help train for the national and local wheelchair games. I went on to college and studied Recreation Therapy with a minor in communication disorders, which basically means I took four semesters of American Sign Language with some other speech and communication classes. Read more>>

Evan Powell

I was 19 years old when I finally realized I wasn’t dumb. 19 years to discover that I wasn’t in fact the black sheep of my family nor the hell raiser I once thought I was. It took me another 5 years to really change the habits I had developed over those 19 years, and while I am disappointed that it took 24 years to become the person I wanted to be and live up to my potential, I’ve seen countless others who were never so fortunate. I was rambunctious as a child – I could not sit still in classes and was constantly a problem to teachers and students alike, thus beginning the first stages of my negative self-narrative. Read more>>

Marlena Maidh

Reeh TV officially started about a year ago. However, my love of imagery started in a High School photography class. I really focused on capturing people in beautiful situations. It wasn’t until College that I really learned about the technical side of it all. So there’s about thirteen years of a photography background before I fell into video. Which brings us to about a year and a half ago when I went on a trip to Japan with my sister. It felt like photos couldn’t quite capture the essence or feeling of Tokyo and that’s when I decided to film the trip. I ended up with this amazing video of Japan and we still love watching it and reliving all of the moments! Read more>>

Chris Bukowski

While working at a tech start up, I was asked by a friend if I’d be interested in helping with redesigning and developing her boss’s website for his yacht. With very little expertise in design or development I reached out to two of my fellow co-workers who specialized in design and development. After a successful build, some extra dollars in our pockets, and a happy client we decided to turn this into a business. From there we took on clients from word of mouth and our small web design and development company slowly started turning into a one stop shop for all digital needs along with marketing materials. Read more>>

Andrey Kudievskiy

I started my career in tech at the age of 19 while working on a degree in computer science. Within five years I had established my first company and played a key role in creating a successful cloud synchronization startup that was sold to a Fortune 500 company. I moved to Los Angeles from Russia in 2012 because I realized that I need to be close to clients if I want to grow the company fast. I am currently focused on Distillery’s expansion in the U.S. and international markets. Read more>>

Mike Hart

Titan Contracting Services is a family owned General Contracting business between me, my brother-in-law (Eran) and his Uncle (Avi). Avi started a structural steel business in LA almost 30 years ago that Eran is the General Manager of. Almost exactly 12 years ago my sister met Eran in New York City, they fell in love, she moved across the country to be with him, converted to being Orthodox Jewish, they got married and now have three awesome kids. While all that was going on, I was getting a degree in Civil Engineering with a focus in Construction Management from Penn State. Read more>>

Christian Warren

I got my start in my mom’s kitchen. She had this way with food that came from her heart. There was a magic feeling in the kitchen when she was creating. I would watch and help where I could. Once I started cooking at home, I knew that I wanted to open up my own restaurant. In high school, I worked in various restaurants as a cook and loved it. From there I got a job as a barback when I turned 21 and worked my way into bartending. After bartending for ten years, I opened my first place with a couple of friends. We opened “Makai” in Santa Monica, CA in 2004. Read more>>

Andrea Chernin

I began my career as a fourth grade teacher. Having a class of thirty-four kids, I came across a variety of learners. I became fascinated with tailoring specific creative strategies and techniques to be able to reach all of my students, but I felt that I needed more “tools” to be able to sufficiently address the needs of students with learning differences. I found out about educational therapy, and although leaving the classroom was a difficult decision, I knew that I had to earn my Post-Masters Certificate in Educational Therapy so that I would be able to help my students in a deeper, more impactful way. Read more>>

Angelique Glennon

Upon my arrival to the US, I felt English so different when spoken by natives! I could speak English fluently but understood almost no one’s reply for about six months. How isolating! Nevertheless, I began understanding my French culture extremely well by being far away from it! Teaching is something I had a calling for. My background is Trilingual-Legal Executive Secretarial Studies, not teaching. Because teaching is a gift you have. I started teaching French ten years after entering the States. I knew I could since I was 12. When I began teaching, I was literally typing the lesson for each student before opening the door at the appointment time. Read more>>

Phoebe Solomon

I LOVE commercial airliners. On many occasions, I’d drive down to LAX and spend a few hours taking photos of landing planes on my Sony a6000. At some point, I realized that I could make a career of taking photos, and through force of will and many long hours spent in training, I made it happen. I had spent time in the dark room growing up, and I’ve always enjoyed the science behind photography. This work has been challenging, exhilarating, frustrating, elating, and rewarding, and I am so glad I took the leap. Read more>>

Russell Hartste

I trained my 8 rescue dogs growing up and then trained other people’s dogs in college to make some extra money. As a vegan, I always connected deeply with animals. I fell into finance directly out of college to make my parents happy but then became depressed working in finance. I was the general partner and founding principle of a Hedge Fund, and a financier who traded in my many financial accreditations, accolades and licenses on Wall Street to help families, dogs and cats flourish together. Getting back to my roots and passion for psychology, animal behavior, training, ethology, cognitive ethology, nutrition and pet care where I find an abundance of satisfaction and fulfillment helping families, their pets and being surrounded by them. Read more>>

Glen Callahan

From a very young age I had a strong interest in philosophy and religion. However, traditional religions and new-age philosophies left me deeply unsatisfied, so around high-school I gave up looking. By 2003 I had completed my Masters in Engineering and worked for several years in New Zealand and Australia. A nagging sense that something of deeper significant was missing led me to start searching again for spiritual insight. It was at this time that I came across the book ‘Vedanta Treatise’ by Indian philosopher A. Parthasarathy. I couldn’t put the book down. The philosophy of Vedanta presented a spiritual perspective on life that was devoid of the orthodoxy, dogmatism, and ‘woo-woo’ nonsense of my previous searches. Read more>>

Amit H.

After being a bartender for 5 years, I started ‘mint bartending’ as a side hobby back in early 2015, booking small events. Soon we realized there is a big demand for crafted cocktails especially in Los Angeles area & Palm Springs area. Soon after building a website, we started booking big events including weddings and corporate office parties. Now we book about 10-15 events per month depending on the season. It hasn’t been a smooth ride especially the first year. We first started off with advertising on craigslist and ‘word of mouth’ advertisement. Read more>>

Clare Cameron

My grandmother was a very brave lady, who came up from the Cape of Good Hope on the wagon train with Cecil John Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia. Their journey took over four and a half years and was filled with amazing experiences not unlike early American pioneer settlers. The country changed its name in 1980 to Zimbabwe, and I am proud to be a 3rd generation Zimbabwean. I completed my education in Zimbabwe and left soon after college to explore the world, just like my grandmother had done many generations before. Read more>>

Carlos Gauna

In college I became the photo editor for my university newspaper. Digital cameras were just coming into the market and not many students knew how to use them. I volunteered to shoot a few basketball games and assignments to test out the new cameras. I was hooked. I Eventually, I bought my own camera, people started to offer to pay me to do what I loved. So I did it! In 2014, I married my wife Andi, she has joined me for every photo session since. It’s been somewhat of a tough road relatively speaking. I spent a few years working in Oklahoma for a large studio after I graduated college. Read more>>

Kevan Hall

Detroit-born Kevan Hall’s fashion creativity emerged early. By the age of 7, he knew he wanted to be a fashion designer. His earliest fashion influence was his stylish mother who dressed in designer clothes from the finest shops. Watching The Supremes and other Motown girl bands on The Ed Sullivan Show started his sketching and imagination for design. After studying fashion in LA, he launched his own business in 1982. In 1997, he accepted the Design and Creative Director post at Halston in NYC where he revived the dormant brand to its former glory. In 2002, he returned to LA to start his own signature collection with a fashion philosophy that emphasizes purity of style, incomparable tailoring and sensuously draped silhouettes. Read more>>

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