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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.

Nika Cleaver

I’ve always been a dreamer and an achiever in which I inherited both from my mom. She taught me how to set my mind to something specific, have a clear vision of what it looks like, and then take the proper steps towards achieving it. One “specific” encompassed owning my own company. Read more>>

Kim Pletyak

Like many young people out there, I had no idea what I wanted to major in when I started my first year of college at UCLA. My dad had repeatedly told me that I was going to be a CEO of a company one day and that I needed to get a business degree. In my second year, I decided to follow his advice and major in Business Economics. Read more>>

Chef Bear

I’m originally from Kodiak, Alaska. I guess you could say I had a normal bear childhood, devouring salmon in the summer and hibernating away in the winter. Everything changed when I lost my parents to poachers and was kidnapped to be part of a traveling circus. The circus ended up in Paris and that’s where I had my “awakening,” where I learned to walk, talk and cook. Read more>>

Tracy Younger

I was working as a hospital executive for years and had a dream to open my own business mending both aesthetic medicine + functional medicine. I was hesitant to open my own business, but I found a beautiful space in Little Italy that I could not pass up. Read more>>

Betsy Brennan

Betsy has a proven track record of leading civic engagement, external relations, economic development, and creating innovative programs for institutions such as the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina (VP of Development, 2016-2018), Tahoe Forest Health System in Lake Tahoe (Executive Director, Foundation, 2015-2016), Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (Chief of Staff to President, 2011-2015), and San Diego State University (Chief of Staff to President, 2008-2011). Read more>>

Tommy Maverick

I started DJing in 2014. I purchased Traktor as a birthday present for myself and spent a couple months learning how to use the software. My DJing goal at the time was simply to perform at a venue that I used to go to called Somewhere Loud (SWL). Read more>>

Aron Suley

I moved to the United States in my twenties and fell in love with San Diego at first sight. I have been creating my designs here ever since and am very fortunate to have had my jewelry displayed at the finest galleries across the United States, as well as in the U.K., Europe, and Japan. Read more>>

Joe Gilbreath

Rise Up Industries (RUI) is a non-profit founded by a few men who volunteer with Kairos International Prison Ministry. We were concerned with the apparent lack of support for inmates upon their release from prison, and the resulting high recidivism rate. Read more>>

Elsa Flores

At age 13 I borrowed my mother’s camera and I started by taking head shots of my friends. I enjoyed making people laugh in front of the camera and photography was something I found myself drawn toward. My family wanted to encourage me and purchased my first camera as a present at my Quincenera. Read more>>

Darío Salzman

Since I was a child my best way of expression was through my hands, making and constructing all kinds of magical worlds. My early professional artistic education was in the School of Artistic Initiation of the National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico City, as well as in sign making, modeling and jewelry workshops I learned a lot about processes and materials. Read more>>

Caroline Freiberg

When I say “I am born & raised in San Diego,” the first thing people respond with is “That is rare! I don’t know many of you.” Well… I am guilty. Born and Raised in San Diego. I have had a wonderful upbringing and was always encouraged to be the best person I could be. Read more>>

Nastasha McKeon

I have always had a passion for health and wellness. I lost a loved one early in life due to an autoimmune disease, which is really what planted the seed for me. With a tough childhood I never really had the opportunity to cultivate the seed early in life, but as a young adult, I detonated a lot of my free time to learning about nutrition and the idea of food as medicine. Read more>>

Amal Hagisufi

I have always been drawn to fashion. When I was in college I used help style, my friends. I loved helping them feel confident and know how good they looked good, even on a budget. As I progressed in my career working as a financial advisor, I did less styling for other people, but I was constantly asked where I got my own clothes from. Read more>>


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