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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.

Julia Nguyen

The first time I moved away from home was when I was 15 years old. I was always independent and started working since I was 13 years old. I grew up in a poor family since my mother was a single mother. We lived off of food stamps up until I was an adult. My teenage years were not great, I never graduated high school and decided to get my GED when I was 17 years old. Read more>>

Drea Heppner

My interest in aesthetics started nearly a decade ago when I found herself in the ever-evolving world of medical aesthetics. Over the past decade, I have successfully built and run several medical spa locations in the San Diego area. In 2014 I quit my job as a medical spa manager and decided to pursue my dream of owning my own business and getting my license in esthetics. Read more>>

Hollie Joseph

I started my professional culinary career while living in Chicago in the ’90s. I had no professional culinary experience and grew up around my parents and Grandma’s cooking all the time and quickly grew to love cooking. Cooking to me seemed like that is how you show the people you care about love! I called up Chef Joshua Yung at Cafe Absinthe in my Chicago neighborhood and asked if I could come in to talk to him about possibly working in his kitchen. Read more>>

Lindsey Palmer

I feel like I am truly one of the lucky ones that found a career that I am not only passionate about but that also aligned with my college degree. Studying journalism and media studies with a minor in marketing led me to where I am professionally, but I’d say my family background played a major role in that, as well. Read more>>

Gio Tuscano

I am a Filipino American, originally from the San Francisco Bay Area/Daly City, born and raised. I moved to San Diego back in 2010. Growing up in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, I idolized those larger than life “superheroes” I saw on TV and in the movies—- like Stallone, Schwartzenegger, Jean Claude Van Damne. And I was, a huge wrestling fan too, still am, and The Ultimate Warrior, Sting, Rick Rude—-these guys were all charismatic, muscular-lookin’ dudes, and I wanted to be just like them. Read more>>

Dante Rowley

I started collecting shoes when I was in grade school and it became an obsession. I quickly learned it could be turned into a business when I was in college. When I graduated, I wanted to open an art gallery because I went to school for art and my brother was an art director at Yale. After getting some advice from my brother about how it would be hard to make money on a gallery that strictly sold art, I decided to combine my two loves of art and shoes. Read more>>

T. Elizabeth Cramer

Started in 2017 at the North Park Farmers Market, FaVe Tacos was started with the mission of making healthy food fast and available. Unlike the meat centric taco menus ubiquitous to San Diego, we make fast. veggie. tacos. While we do also have chicken and eggs (from a farm out in Ramona), the veggies are our focus. A key component to that mission is sourcing as much as possible for farms in San Diego and at local Farmers Markets. Read more>>

Osiris Rivera

My devotion to traveling started in 2016 when I took the chance to travel to Hawaii with a group of people who I connected with through Instagram, whom I had never met before. Let it be known. I was quite nervous but very thrilled to experience all new things, including this new group of travelers. It has been one of the craziest and scariest things I have ever done, just because I was always raised with the phrase, “never talk to strangers. Read more>>

James Darenkamp

Red Hat Coffee was originally founded in 2015 by a civil engineer, hence the red hard hat seen in the logo. My business partner, Ryan King, invested in the business in 2016 while also serving in the United States Navy. During 2016 and early 2017, Red Hat Coffee’s business was primarily based in farmer’s markets around San Diego County. Read more>>

Timothy “TENJ” Nolte

It started back on my street in Emerald Hills. My neighbors would have cyphers all the time. I would observe, but wouldn’t participate. I got into writing more in the 6th grade, when we would get the opportunity to free write, I would always do poetry. That year, at 6th-grade camp, I performed at the talent show! The lyrics were absurd; it wasn’t a form of expression at this time. Read more>>

Ryan Cliff

I started this group over a year ago to connect with like-minded millennial professionals in San Diego interested in building their professional networks. I believe in the power of networking and relationship building. My primary work as a real estate professional is sales based, and I’m not a big proponent of cold calling, so I naturally gravitated towards networking.  Read more>>

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