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Rising Stars of Downtown & Little Italy

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 inspiring stories from Downtown & Little Italy below.

September Chappellet

I’ve always had a passion for gems and jewelry, but early on I decided to take the traditional corporate path. I loved the company perks, my co-workers, and stimulating environment. But, suddenly I had a change of heart. My creative side kept nudging me in a different direction. I took a few baby steps in the beginning and enrolled in extended studies Gemology courses at UCSD, and from that point on I was hooked! Soon after, it was time to make the big move. I quit my job, moved to Santa Monica and pursued my true passion, Gemology, at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Read more>>

Vic Alavi

I came to the United States from London/England in early 2000 for a short sabbatical that turned into a permanent stay. I had a solid background in Architectural design through education and practice and photography as a hobby and a profession. I had an aptitude in design due to my past experience and gravitated towards graphic design as a past time which quickly turned into a new profession with solid potentials for expansion. The natural progression of graphic design to Motion graphic designer happened during early years of my graphic design carrier, and the possibilities of new applications and their capabilities were memorizing and led me to sit in front of computers for long hours and learn and improve. Read more>>

Dan Brownsher

We sought out to solve one of the biggest problems brands are facing in e-commerce today; helping crack the code on Amazon. We were born out of Trendnation, also based in Las Vegas, which is a top 200 global Amazon seller of Private Label products in categories ranging from Clothing and Accessories to Patio Lawn and Garden. Today, Channel Key works with emerging brands and Fortune 100 companies by providing Amazon strategy consulting and full-service Amazon Channel Management execution. Read more>>

Stephanie Weber

My love for photography began when I bought my first DSLR camera to photograph my little one’s milestones. I purchased a pre-loved Canon Rebel EOS T1i… ancient, I know, but I loved it! I always tried to get creative with it, and document moments I shared with my family. I simply just loved and admired the art in a photograph and the story is told, but never really got out there myself. I guess I just never imagined that I would be able to build a career from this passion. Read more>>

Lindsay Strieker

Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, my mom would make her own clothes and sew dresses for me. I was surrounded with handmade beautiful articles of clothing, jewelry, and blankets. This was instilled in me and came through in my own creations through my own line, Malaika, which is my middle name and the Swahili word for Angel. When I first started my line of handbags, I hit the road with my collection and sought out my favorite boutiques around the U.S. I drove up the California coast, all through Texas and South Beach, Florida. Read more>>

Gregg Ward

Back in the 1980’s, I was a starving actor in New York City and working as a temp for the College of Criminal Justice in the City University of New York. My boss, the Dean of Special Programs, wanted me to help him develop a training program for police officers that used live, professional actors and their improvisational skills to help cops learn how to manage “EDP’s (Emotionally Disturbed Persons).” Read more>>

Janelle Schroy

Adventure Clubs is the story of my own motherhood. I created it out of our family’s desire for creating a meaningful life with our kids. My husband and I currently have four daughters under the age of eight. When the oldest was born, we knew more than anything that we wanted to get this parenting thing right. Read more>>

Hanah Salas

I started making natural healing products when I was pregnant with my first child. I wanted natural products to use on myself and my baby. From there, my business grew to make things for friends and family, and then I started selling them to more and more people. Once I had my twins and one of my daughters was born with a hole in her heart which required many surgeries, and she was in the hospital for six months I started taking classes for different healing modalities. Read more>>

Siobhan Arnold

I don’t remember a time in my life when I was not making art of some kind or another. My mom was a painter and a poet so drawing, painting, and making things was a very natural activity to me. I remember going with my mom to her college art and philosophy classes at a very young age and always having a pencil and paper on hand. My mother was raising me on her own and I would often sit at the bar where she worked, drink cherry cokes, listen to the jukebox, and draw on napkins. Read more>>

Brian Levett, William Carter

It all started in Brian’s living room in the hot summer of 2017. Trying to figure a way for us to make money, we came across a brilliant point… we should do something we’ve done since forever. Plan, Coordinate, and Execute, fun events in San Diego During our time at SDSU we were both the presidents of the SDSU chapter of our fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. During this time we both had a lot of success building our events and generating money for our chapter. Read more>>

Paul DeLessio

I first came to San Diego in 1991 as a Quartermaster working for a small local company called the United States Navy. I was first stationed on Coronado and loved San Diego culture thinking that everyone lived that close to the beach, oddly, that was the closest I have lived to the beach since. I was then stationed aboard the USS Tripoli at 32nd Street Naval Base and went on deployment to the Persian Gulf and Eastern Africa. Read more>>

Jessica Douthit

My co-founder and I met while working together at a healthcare start-up company in 2012 and immediately became close colleagues and lifelong friends. We have a lot of similar interests – we are both entrepreneurs in life sciences and healthcare, we adore spending time with our families, we love exploring new restaurants, we appreciate great design, and we enjoy experiencing new adventures. We also have both always been very passionate about health and wellness, which is was what led us into the healthcare field in the first place. Read more>>

Patricia Guzman

I grew up in a house filled with painting and sculpture materials and tools from my dad, he is an artist and for me it was very natural to lean towards painting as I saw my dad work every day in his different projects. Art is my family’s inheritance, my grandfather, great grandfather, great great gran father, all were inclined to painting, sculpture, music, art. On every school vacations, I would be around my dad watching him work and try and emulate him. Read more>>

Chris Ruel

The how I got started…. Honestly I believe it was because of bass fishing. I used to love bass fishing. one of the crucial parts of bass fishing believe it or not was the picture. If you didn’t get a good picture then how could you boast to all your friends the next day? I remember snapping pictures with my old flip phone but always wanting more out of a camera. Then the day came. I got an I phone 4s. With a camera that could focus if you tapped the screen. Read more>>

Dana Robinson, Nate Broughton

In 2015, Dana felt stuck. An attorney by trade and investor in real estate and several local businesses, he was being pulled in too many directions. With his daughter off to college, he and his wife packed up their possessions, sold their cars and moved to Bali. 14 months later, Dana returned to San Diego . . . and he had finished a book. The book was called “Opt Out”. It’s the story of his journey to Bali, but more importantly, it is a guidebook to successfully living an alternative lifestyle that combines entrepreneurship, investing, expense hacks and control over your time. Read more>>

Cyndi Janetka

I have had an interest in creating environments for as long as I can remember. As a child I would fabricate all sorts of settings from refrigerator boxes (complete with contact paper wall covering). I loved inventing these scenarios and engrossing myself in the joy that these imaginary surroundings provided. This, along with my love of making all sorts of objects; painting, drawing, basically anything and everything creative, would eventually lead me to pursue a Fine Arts degree, where I was introduced to the wonderful world of installation art. Read more>>

Marcela Celorio

My role model was my Dad, an attorney and a wonderful, supportive human being. I followed his steps and I became an attorney as well. I remember being restless all my life and I wanted to broaden my practice, to go beyond just Mexico, beyond borders. So, I found the perfect match: becoming a Diplomat. I have the chip needed to be posted anywhere in the world representing my country. I consider my self a citizen of the world. Read more>>

J. Arturo Laparra

Ever since I was a kid, I remember loving to draw… typical artist story, I know. I was born and raised in the small city of Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. I’ll forever be proud to say that. I moved to San Diego when I was about 12 years old, and completely became indulged in music, mainly punk, metal, hardcore, punk rock, etc. I’ve always connected with music deeper than with other humans, and it began to influence my work extensively! Read more>>


Mohsen Jabbari

I grew up in a middle-class family in Iran, where I got my first job at the age of 13 working in my father’s appliance goods store. When I was 21, I opened my own computer developer company. At 24, I realized that opportunities were limited in my homeland, and I embarked on an adventure that would change my life. I left Iran with the blessings and hopes of my parents, and $2400 to my name. Read more>>

Gabriela Avila

I am the Artistic Director and co-founder of the Latin American Art Fair. I was born and raised in Mexico where I studied Fine Arts at the University of Monterrey and in the Netherlands where I studied for my Master Degree in Museology. Overall, I spent eight years traveling and living in different countries such as Japan, Spain, France, and Switzerland; always seeking a way to get closer to the world of arts and culture. Read more>>

Doug Bania

My business partner Brian Buss and I started Nevium in 2012, after we recognized the lack of understanding of the value of intellectual property (“IP”) and intangible assets (“IA”) and how these assets can increase profits. We noticed that most companies had business plans and marketing plans, but not many corporations had IP plans. We went out on a quest to provide the IP community with a visionary approach to calculating and communicating the financial impact of trademarks, copyrights, patents, brands, and IA. Read more>>

Sonya Godwin

I was born in Seoul, Korea which is the beauty barometer of the world. Companies like Estee Lauder literally test products in Korea, and if it is successful there, they are pretty much assured that it will be successful anywhere. Beauty products and the emphasis of outer beauty was very much instilled in me at a very young age. When I was a kid, I was completely intrigued by beautiful women. I saw them on television, in magazines, on the street, and in my mother. Read more>>


Great Plains Conservation

Great Plains Conservation, founded in 2008, is first and foremost a conservation company created with the aim of “Conserving and Expanding Natural Habitats;” using a high-end, low-volume sustainable eco-tourism model to finance that objective. Toward that end, Great Plains Conservation owns and operates some of the most luxurious, sustainable and lauded properties anywhere in Africa. Read more>>

Nemanja Pejcic

My journey to becoming a Wine Buyer & Sommelier is more unique than most. I was born in the small town of Kučevo near the capital of Serbia. Graduating from medical school in Belgrade, Serbia in 2006 with a degree in nursing, I initially pursued a career in nutrition with nursing experience in the ER and Oncology before embarking from Serbia on a new journey. Read more>>


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