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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.

Gary Peterson

Gap Intelligence is a market research firm committed to doing great for each other, our clients, and our community. We follow our mission by providing our clients with the intelligence to make smart business decisions, building an environment that cherishes our peoples’ time, and proactively trying to make our community a better place. Born in 2003, gap intelligence has grown to serve the world’s biggest technology companies and raised over $500,000 for local charities. Read more>>

Derick Downs

Long story short, my life story is a Netflix show waiting to happen. Growing up, I had no intention of being a tech dork. In 1999, I learned about this new exciting thing called “The Internet.” Little did I know that it would be my hobby, my obsession, and turn into my career years later. Read More>>

Alison Kamishiro Parsons

AKP Photography officially became to fruition amidst the pandemic in Spring of 2020. I received my first camera when I was in high school and I would love taking photos that could convey a story, a feeling, or just pictures of my friends and I hanging out. I remember going through my artsy Tumblr girl phase where I’d take photos, upload them to my iPad, and use like 3 different apps to edit them- shout out to Superimpose, VSCO, and Airbrush. Once I had moved out of that phase, I would just take photos of friends mainly because one of fears in life is memory loss. I feel like I struggle remembering things on a daily basis, so photos help me remember what that moment looked like, felt like, etc. So, good luck to my future kids on figuring out what to do with all my prints when I’m dead! During the latter half of college I started offering to take peoples headshots here and there, picked up shooting film, and re-explored shooting creatively.  Read more>>

Odelia Morovati

From as far back as I can remember, I’ve had the desire to work in the mental health field, specifically with children. Even as a child, I was always naturally curious about how the brain works- what drives people to make the choices they make and be the way they are.  Read more>>

Nikki Hollerich

Nikki and anna were born and raised in good ol’ minnesota. Growing up together they were taught that being a girl means you have all the power in the world. At a young age, they learned they could do anything they set their minds to. From building a wood strip canoe to refurbishing a 1970 Volkswagen beetle, they had all the hands-on support they could ever want. After exploring every craft known to man, the sisters landed on wood working. Six years ago these crafty sisters stated a business in their garage and as it started to grow they eventually quit their full time jobs to pursue their new passion. Today the sisters have a wood shop, 4 local stores and create custom art for their community. Read more>>

Meradith Castillo

This path with photography started with the beginning of covid, thinking I’d only pick up my camera to take pictures of my son little did I realize then it was my friend’s and family a year passed and they started telling their friends and families ended up Upgrading my equipment because I had fallen in love with photography, I have never loved doing something like I do now. Read more>>

Abeer Ghosheh

I started out as a digital marketer for a tech company. In March, I co-founded a new company with my partner, called BuzzShot Inc. It is a social drinking mobile application launching in November aimed at building deeper connections between people, breaking the ice, and relieving social anxiety. I am an immigrant and came to the united stated when I was 17, and my partner came to the united states as a refugee. So we have both come a long way. During quarantine, we started several projects that made us more comfortable with expressing our creativity to the world and we got better at producing content and generating a following, which led us to this new idea that we’re going all-in for. We hope for the application to be born and widespread in San Diego and go from there. We intend to collaborate with a lot of local businesses and promote them to our users through our app as well. Read more>>

Austin McAdams

I was born and raised in Richmond VA. SinceI was 16 I have spent the last 24 years doing wood work as a hobbyist, academic and professional. I received a BFA in Furniture Design/ Woodwork and a minor in Sculpture from VCU in my hometown. I moved to San Diego in 2012 to work on my MFA for Furniture Design/Woodwork at San Diego State. This gave me a unique experience learning about furniture as a Fine Art rather than a product. After the program, I decided to stay in San Diego and see what living out west had to offer me. I rented a small shop space near the school and began trying to drum up any commission I could. For the first few years furniture commissions were few and far between so I mostly worked behind various bars to pay the rent. Read more>>

Jordan Burke

I fell in love with Social Media Marketing in my early years of college. Fast forward six years later, I am now a full-time (remote) freelance Social Media Manager! My husband is in the Navy so we were stationed in Destin, Florida for about a year and a half until we got the news that we would be moving to the sunny San Diego! I currently manage six business’s social media accounts while also managing three accounts in my personal time. @jomoburke, @partypupzz & @finestcityfoodie. My husband and I are huge foodies so, naturally, I made a foodie account. We have been going to so many local restaurants/bars and reviewing what we love about the eateries. I also take my two golden retrievers on walks throughout the town but our favorite spot to walk to is the Seaport Village. You can probably catch us there 4/7 of the days!. Read more>>

Andy Allen

My wife, Pam, and I opened Coastal Music Studios ( 9 years ago with 1 student. Today we have a thriving music teaching studio with 14 people on our team and over 300 students taking lessons each week. We teach Piano, Singing/Voice, Drums, Guitar, Bass & Ukulele here in our Oceanside studio and online. We’re also in our 10th year of offering the North County Children’s Choir, a free choir for 2nd-8th grade students here in the community. In 2017 we started the Coastal Music & Arts Foundation ( to formalize our charitable work in serving the community around us. This Fall/Holiday session is our first choir back from the pandemic and we are incredibly excited about our 9th Annual Christmas 4 Kidz charity concert coming up on Sunday, Dec. 19th. ( All proceeds from this concert are given to charities that serve children in need. The heartbeat of our work is to show kids they can use their talents to change the world!. Read more>>

Marguerite Spagnuolo

I came up with the idea of creating Grandmas2Share when my daughter was asking about my grandmothers. Unfortunately, they both died before she was born. She was asking me what they looked like and how they dressed, so I drew it out and created paper dolls. When my daughter saw them she responded, “Wow, I wish they were really here!” That’s when a bell went off and I realized this would be a great way for children to stay connected to their grandparents. Children today need to learn about their heritage, culture, and keeping family traditions alive. In today’s technological world, we are losing the family connection. I’m hoping to keep families connected by starting conversations through the Grandma Doll. Reading the storybook will hopefully inspire children to ask questions about their family history, so family traditions can go on forever. Read more>>

Heather Hernandez

Just turned 21. Just got divorced. Just moved into the Salvation Army with three very young sons. When all hope is seemingly lost: Step 1: Secure the basics. Food, water, shelter and clothing. Step 2: Give what you can. Step 3: Tell everyone what you can do for their business and secure a job. Step 4: Accept help. Step 5: Never give up hope. All is never lost. When we moved into the shelter, I did not know what would happen next. I was launched into adulthood at the age of 16, when I got pregnant with the twins. I had no idea what anything meant in the world. We were all scared. We just lost everything…again. The only thing I knew was that I had to figure out how to take care of and raise three boys. Read more>>

Kary Radestock

I feel like I’ve spent my entire career training for my current role as CEO and Founder of Hippo Premium Packaging. I worked my way up the ladder for almost 20 years selling print/packaging for what ended up being a large Fortune 500 printing behemoth. I saw an opportunity to help the newly forming cannabis industry and wanted to shift my efforts from mainstream…but my company got cold feet about the industry and asked me to stop. I knew from the bottom of my heart that my path belonged in cannabis, so I quit my job two months shy of my 20-year anniversary and started my little sole proprietor business. Read more>>

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