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Inspiring Stories from North Park, South Park, Kensington & Normal Heights

The heart of our mission at the SD Voyager is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of the San Diego’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 rising stars from North Park, South Park, Kensington & Normal Heights below.

Olivia Steadman-Oladipo

I started writing as a child. I found very early on that writing was a form of creative expression for me and I’ve continued the practice ever since. I remember working a particularly horrible job a few years back. I consistently felt devalued, disrespected, and worst of all— purposeless. The years I spent there was severely impacting my mental health. I reached a breaking point and decided to quit and step into writing full time. My writing parallels the evolution of my life, but is centered on wellness at its core. I specifically enjoy focusing on methods of healing and making wellness more accessible to Black women. It hasn’t been easy, taking major life risks typically isn’t, but I’ve never felt more purposeful. Read more>>

Kevin Nguyen

It all started with my father who was a refugee who fled Vietnam with about a hundred people on a small boat at the age of 17. He was seeking help and a new home in another country. He fled to the U.S. for freedom and economic opportunity so that he can bring his family over to live a better life. He then Eason a search for his cousin who lives in San Diego and helped him become a barber. Barbering guided my parents to open his own barbershop and open a barber college(California Barber & Beauty College). Because of my parent’s business mentality and drive for success, all my siblings including myself are all license barbers. I use my parents as an inspiration to be consistent in the beauty/barber industry. At the age of 18, I bought the barbershop (Big Boys barbershop) off my parents and took over ownership and responsibility. After becoming an owner I learned a lot more when it came to business, I never referred myself as boss or an owner but more of a leader. Leading my barbers to grow within the barbershop and guiding them to expand their knowledge as well as clientele. I then saw a passion for teaching. Read more>>

Carmen Elida Mason

I come from a lineage of community organizers, farmworkers and caretakers. The people I come from, and their journey, have merged together to make me exactly who I am today. And when I take a look at all of it — take a moment to breathe in the origin stories of those I love — I am not one bit surprised about who I am and where I am headed. I live at the crossroads of many stories and lineages — African, European & Indigenous. My mother has roots in central and southern Mexico, while my biological father is Black with roots in the Southern U.S. These stories about who I am and where I come from are not fixed, but greatly impact my work and who I am. I acknowledge them so that you know where I am rooted. I grew up in San Diego, CA as an only child, being raised by four resilient generations of women. I spent a lot of time reading, dancing and enjoying the outdoors — I have always been fascinated by trees, bodies of water and the night sky. Read more>>

Ashley Chavez

Following my passion of inspiring and helping others meet their goals, I opened Ashley Lane in 2012 as a way to share my love for health and fitness. A lifelong athlete since I was young, I began lifting weights and adopting a clean eating lifestyle in college, where I saw the way it transformed my body and life. It was this passion that led me to start Ashley Lane, as a way to help others reach new heights they never thought possible. Today, Ashley Lane offers quality, One on One Personal Training, Online Training with the #ALFitCrew App + Workouts, Virtual Classes via Zoom, and In Person Bootcamp designed to transform you through hard work, sweat, and passion. So whether you are just starting out on your fitness journey, are frustrated and have hit a plateau, or want to take your fitness to the next level, I will work with you to reach your goals. I will work alongside you to develop a program that is realistic, yet pushes you towards results. I will work with you to ensure you leave as a happier, healthier, better version of yourself. Read more>>

Heather Stants

Movement has always been my obsession. As a kid in small town Pennsylvania, I didn’t have the opportunity to formally pursue dance, As soon as I finished college with an art/photography degree I moved to Chicago. There I felt I could explore all of the dance. I stumbled upon a belly dance school and was hooked. I quickly joined a company. In 1999 I had the opportunity to relocate from snowy Chicago to sunny San Diego. No more snow, yes please! Right away I launched a class teaching the fusion form of belly dance I had learned in Chicago. Within a few months, I launched a performing company. We had several consistent gigs around Southern California and worked in clubs with DJs, like Cheb I Sabbah, for many years. Myself and some of my dancers were also studying other dance forms and began to push the style by incorporating fire props, theatricality, and the longer lines and expressiveness of more contemporary dance forms. Read more>>

Nathan Ball

I launched UNSHOOK almost three years ago and it’s been a wild ride ever since. When starting this brand, there was nothing more important than creating a company that stood for something, so, UNSHOOK set out to electrify the world through our Disaster Tested designs. Designs that express how people turn their struggles into strength every day. The first time UNSHOOK was available to the public we released one t-shirt design. It’s crazy to look at where the team is now, with two full-sized collections and four fashion shows, it’s been three straight years of constantly providing as much value as possible by making fashion for people who are Disaster Tested. Read more>>

Jacinda Thompson

My story began around 18 years old. I was 60lbs overweight, depressed, and totally oblivious to the health concerns that could be headed my way being 5’2 180lbs. At the time I didn’t know how to start and wasn’t sure if I would ever be my ideal weight. As I was looking for a fresh start I decided to move with my oldest brother to Louisiana who at the time was active duty military in the Army. I didn’t know what to expect but had nothing to loose so I went. The day I arrived my brother knew something was wrong and from day one he cleared out his fridge and everybody in the household was now on a diet to help support my new journey into health & wellness. There were no goals set, no expectations instead the focus was just to get me moving and changing everyday habits. The day after I arrived my brother woke me up at 5am, took me to a swampy grass track field in what felt like the middle of nowhere and told me to start running and said, “I will tell you when to stop”. I didn’t think about it I just took any action thrown at me because I had already decided to leave my past behind me when I left. Read more>>

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