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San Diego’s Most Inspiring Stories

The heart of our mission is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our communities. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some incredible artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with the incredible group below. Check out our favorite stories from across the Voyage family.

Jaime Haas

Jaime grew up believing she would be saved by something (or rather, someone) outside of herself. But, as life went on, things didn’t exactly work out that way. After countless failed relationships and unsuccessful job experiences in her twenties and early thirties, she found herself single and hopeless. Where was this prince charming her father promised her as a child? She entered into a self-destructive cycle of drugs and alcohol to cope with the emptiness and nearly died because of her addictions. At the age of 32, she found herself sitting in a room with her family, being the star of an intervention, urged to finally get sober and get her life together. Read more>>

Jairo Guerrero

Jairo Guerrero, better known as B-Liv and Techxturas Sonoras. Born in Colombia but musically and artistically raised in Mexico Music Producer, DJ, Sound Explorer, and an Entrepreneur in the Music Business, owner of 4 multinational record labels. He is also a Visual Artist, Publicist, Writer, and Graphic Designer. He has a long career in advertising and an outstanding career in music. As an advertising professional, he has more than 30 years in the advertising industry in Colombia, the USA, and Mexico, where he has lived for almost 20 years. Read more>>

Barb Hubbard

I was an elementary, special education teacher for about 20 years. And though the job was often quite rewarding and fun, it was also often draining. I struggled with some health issues and work/life balance. So, in 2017, I decided to make a change. I chose ADHD coaching because I had worked with children and parents who had ADHD for much of my teaching career. I completed certification from the ADD Coach Academy and became a Parent Coach. Read more>>

Brittanie Harbick

In 2016, the Travel Squad trekked the 26-mile Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. That 4-day adventure hiking in the Peruvian Andes sparked a travel bug that propelled us into our travel journey, one passport stamp at a time. In June 2019 the Travel Squad went to Mexico City together and while stuffed in the backseat of a tiny cab the group came up with the idea to start a travel podcast. We had accumulated so much insight on how to travel and spend less, how to plan many trips around a full-time job, and how to pack a weekend trip with as much experience as possible. Read more>>

Keri Bougie

My background is originally Business & Finance and earlier in my career, I was always corporate-mind oriented. – not entrepreneurial spirited. That mindset took a quick change after having lost my husband very unexpectedly, back in 2014, and at that same time, having three small children (ages 3 years, 1 1/2 years, and 6 months old). My late husband was entrepreneurial and had successfully started two restaurants, one of which had only opened months before his passing, in the state of Minnesota. Read more>>

Brian Bonar

In 100% honesty, my journey to becoming a well-known and quadruple-published Emergency Services Photographer didn’t start with a passion for photography at all. It all started with a little boy and his dream to become a firefighter. That dream began with a little boy (A.K.A Me) visiting a firehouse with my mom at the beginning of fire season back in 2004 or 2005. From the time I was small, I always wanted to be a fireman, and now after many years of training, I’m one step closer to that dream. Read more>>

Mindy Fruhmann

I’ve been crafting for years, and I literally love all forms of arts and crafts. At first, my artsy abilities were just with things I would make and give to friends and family. This love developed beyond that reach to friends of friends and beyond. After I met my husband, he encouraged me to do more, and from there we developed our joint business Rad Designs 1986. This business had a BMX backing and theme. During the pandemic I decided to start making epoxy tumbler cups, some of the first were BMX related which I gave to friends. Read more>>

Esmeralda Cedillo

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to have a business of my own. I didn’t know where to start but always kept it in the back of my mind. As time passed, social media started evolving and became a place where anyone could learn anything. I used social media as my primary source to start learning the minimum requirements necessary to start a business. When Covid 19 hit in 2020, everyone’s life changed completely and most of us were forced to adapt to a new way of life. Read more>>

Trevor and Emily McCann

We got started shortly after we got married in 2017. Both of us, being lifelong animal lovers, decided to make our actions match our morals, so we cut out all animal products from our life! But after learning more and more about how factory farms operate, we decided we had to do more than just not support them, we had to open our hearts and home to help! So, we did! We took home two pigs in need of a home followed by three goats that were being spared from slaughter. Read more>>

Heather Richards

I have been selling handmade goods since I was little. I started making lanyards and friendship bracelets and selling them to my neighbors and parents’ friends when I was in elementary school. Then I made jewelry, clothing, and candles in high school to sell at festivals, so Etsy was a pretty natural transition for me. I’ve had a few different online shops over the years, but Reclamation Dept, the one that I am currently running, has been my longest-lasting and most successful. Read more>>

Jack Kehoe

Amplify Marketing was founded over three years ago as a social media marketing agency. We began shooting real estate with an emphasis on social-media tailored content. We immediately fell in love with creating eye-catching real estate videos. After creating innovative social media reels that helped realtors get famous on social media, we took off as a company! Additionally, we were one of the first companies to fly miniature drones indoors to create attention-grabbing cinematic videos. Read more>>

Dean Karatas

Chef Dean Karatas was born in Istanbul and has lived in Geneva, New York, Aspen, and Los Angeles. He studied Hotel Business management at Le Ecole Internationale and then Suisse and Culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu. He currently splits his time between Palm Desert, California, and Aspen, Colorado. Chef Dean started his career as a young cook working in fine dining establishments like the legendary French restaurant L’Orangerie in Beverly Hills and serving at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons as a fine dining cook. Read more>>

Dr. Shellie Goldstein

My Story Did you know that your sagging skin could be due to your digestion or your wrinkles might be related to pent-up emotions? I began my Cosmetic Facial Acupuncture (CFA) practice 30 years ago after completing my acupuncture training and a trip to China where I apprenticed in an orthopedic hospital. In China, I worked in the facial paralysis unit unaware that this experience would mold the rest of my professional career. Read more>>

Gaby Cavins

My story began when I became a mother for the first time while I was active duty. There were so many things I didn’t know about birth and lactation that I wish someone would have told me, or that I would have researched more. I fully expected the providers at the hospital to have my best interest in mind, and little did I know that was not the case. I had almost every birth intervention to put me into labor just short of a c-section. It was a very long three days. When my son was born and it was time to birth the placenta, I felt a tug on my cord. I remember yelling, “don’t pull on the chord.” Read more>>

Niccole Rumans

It all started when my speech of how I said things was not quite right. People use to make fun of me when I was a kid. Then when I got a little older and was in Navy Boot Camp, the girls made fun of me because I didn’t know the names of certain parts of the female anatomy. I was a quiet kid until I got mixed in with drugs and alcohol. But then when social media was invented and platforms such as Twitter made it possible for introverts like me to let loose, I really let loose! Read more>>

Ruth Murillo

I started cooking salsas since I was small, I started with the green salsa because I love enchiladad suizas. I started Ruths No5 about 5 years ago, the concept was to bring the most authentic salsa to San Diego, I wanted to bring the flavors I from my table to yours, I know that there are many salsas to choose from however when you want traditional handmade salsa you can count that Ruths No5 can help you with that. We are not the best nor the only salsa in San Diego, we are just here to bring different options for your foods and your palette. Read more>>

Kasia Randall

Jewelry was a hobby of mine ever since I was young. My love for creating and making Jewelry grew from a fun side hobby into a full-time job and business over the last three years! The creative side of growing Kasia Randall Jewelry was the easy part. But the learning curve of learning to run my own business and everything that goes into keeping it moving forward has been tough but rewarding! I was humbled to find out how much goes into running a successful business aside from making jewelry! Read more>>

Annie Veron

My journey to working in a creative field started when I found myself working in a financial office as a stockbroker and my head would always be elsewhere, doodling designs on my notepad in my spare time. I then realized I needed to make a change. That’s when I decided to go back to school and soon thereafter, I started working for an interior design firm. I have always had an early devotion to all things art and design. I am also an eclectic collector of art and novelties. I have continued to love and thrive in my current role at my interior design firm for the past 3 years and it has been an integral role in starting my new business, Western Lune. Read more>>

Natalia Padilla Rudick

I grew up in a musical environment. We all had a passion for music at home, although our taste was vastly different, it was music the one thing that would bring a sense of peace, and while these moments were very incidental, they felt like pure happiness to me. The more aware I became of this energy shift through music, the more I wanted to live in its universe, but it was a lot more challenging to be immersed in it back in Mexico, so one day I decided to buy a plane ticket and moved to NYC where I worked hard to get the gear that I needed and had wished to have for many years, so I did that. Read more>>

Elizabeth Worrell

What’s a great question “how did I start” I planned all the weddings and events for my best friends. My friends and family were telling me that I’m good in this so several years later when I came to California I’ve decided to apply for a school to plan events & weddings. I found this wonderful online school in San Francisco. They had classes online and the best part of it was an internship with the world-famous wedding planners like David Tutera and Kevin Lee. I spent a week in LA with David Tutera and it was unforgettable! Read more>>

Trevor Mertens

We both quit our corporate jobs a d traveled through Latin America. Came back to the states and decided we didn’t want to go back to a desk job. So we moved to Encinitas and started making pour-over coffees at farmers’ markets in San Diego. Graduated to a coffee truck and now we have two coffee shops in Encinitas. One in Cardiff and one in Leucadia. Definitely not, we shared a one-bedroom apartment for 3 years getting Bump off the ground. There is always challenges popping up along the way, but that’s what makes this experience so valuable. Read more>>

Jay Bowser

Jay Bowser, 38, is a San Diego native and co-founder of the suitably named non-profit organization ‘Paving Great Futures. Guided by his passion to mentor individuals who encountered the same obstacles he persevered during his youth, Bowser is a credible messenger and community leader whose main focus is on social equity issues. He has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by former gang members and other system-impacted individuals. Read more>>

Melissa Dunaj

I started my animal welfare journey working in animal shelters, which I found to be super rewarding but I also saw a lot of difficult decisions being made regarding euthanasia that I felt there must be more that we can do to prevent that outcome. I started working with rescue organizations and quickly found that my passion was saving those animals that were labeled as unadoptable and scheduled for euthanasia. Read more>>

Nicole Sparacio

I started blogging about food in high school just to have a place to save all the places I had been visiting. I posted raw, unedited pictures randomly and didn’t put much thought into building a “food account.” After some time, and growth in my account, I realized two passions I had: taking pictures of food and promoting small businesses and restaurants. The fact that I could use my camera and a free app to help restaurants gain popularity and following inspired me. Read more>>

Scott Bryant

I always knew I wanted to go the entrepreneurial route – I just never considered it would lead me to an industry like cannabis or hemp. Spending most of my young adult life in Seattle, WA, I graduated/survived from Washington State University with a BA in Marketing and entered the job market during the recession in 2008. I began my career working in sales for a beverage distributor in the PNW and eventually landed a position in the craft brewing industry with a grower-owned hops supplier – Hop Union / YCH Hops. Read more>>

Robert & Arianna Reyna

Robert and Arianna planned their wedding and realized there was a lot of work and detail that needed to go into it. They built their dream wedding together. RobAri’s Events was officially born in 2021 out of a passion for helping their family members and friends mold their dreams into reality. Since its inception, they have committed themselves to make impactful and creative experiences for their clients and their guests, no matter the size of the event. Read more>>

Yanelle Ruelas

Well the beginning of my journey, I was stuck on repeat of what I should do with my life instead what I want to do because I have parents who sacrificed themselves to give me the best life they can with low-income wages and jobs. But my dad was the strength for me to try to pursue my music and my mother helping out with my creativity for fashion and beauty. Both of my parents are big part of what I am today. From a quiet big city girl with dreams to a upcoming Chicana artist who does everything, slowly but surely.  Read more>>

Nikki Abutin

My family and my roots as a dancer entirely contributed to my discovery and love for curating experiences through music and design – which is exactly how I find myself today, dabbling between the arts of DJing and interior design. I come from a family of creatives. Most of my family members are in the field of arts whether it’s graphic design, videography, or music. So, it wasn’t a surprise that their interests influenced me to find my own. My mom was a dancer and introduced me to different styles of dance at a young age. Read more>>

Suzanne Laterreur

I used to get in trouble for cutting my friends & my own hair as a child-I didn’t know it then, but I really was perfecting my craft even then! I went to San Diego City College for my cosmetology training & became licensed in 1993. It’s been a wild ride with lots of ups, downs & learning opportunities. I have worn many hats in this industry, stylist, salon manager, educational director & now a proud salon owner. Through it all, my time behind the chair with clients is where I find my joy & purpose. Read more>>

Vanessa Navarro

It all started back in August of 2019 when I was listening to a podcast about stay-at-home moms. I remember this moment vividly because it changed my life forever. I remember it asked what we were good at, it challenged us to think deeply and ask ourselves that question so that we could find out if we could perhaps make some income from home by us doing what we love, all while still staying home with our little ones. So, I thought, “cooking”. Now, I have many hobbies some including makeup & fashion, but my favorite one is cooking. Read more>>

Bryan Larios and Jocelyne Larios

We started this business 4 years ago. We started working in the back of my husband’s stepmom’s home. We worked with what we had and built a shaded area for us to work in. Through the years our work/design has helped us grow and we met great friends with a following that helped us go full-time in our business. Not at all. It’s been extremely difficult. We have been self-funded. No help from family or friends. We’ve had to learn how a business works. The legal side of things. Read more>>

Dalisa Toro

I was always fascinated with art, I used to oil paint when I was younger and when I was around 12, I took an interest in makeup. It started out with me watching all the YouTube beauty tutorials, I would steal my mom’s makeup and practice on myself, eventually she bought me some of my own makeup. I viewed makeup applications like art, and painting on a canvas, except now the canvas was my face. I was the go-to friend to do everyone’s makeup by the time I was 15 for graduations and parties. One day, when I was 16 years old, by word of mouth a friend’s friend asked me to do her wedding makeup. Read more>>

Jonathan Karrant

I was born and raised in Fort Smith, Ar surrounded by family and friends. I had a loving and colorful upbringing in Fort Smith participating in serval local art events and classes. Such as; work for local and national television, theatre, ballet, and live music concerts. One week after graduating high school I moved to New York City where I studied at the William Esper Performing Arts Academy and worked at The Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center for a few years before moving to San Diego. A friend brought me to San Diego and I fall in love with the city and was happy to find it had a thriving music sense. Read more>>

Trevor Whitehead

For a few years, I personally was a small home brewer, brewing out of my garage. When the Covid pandemic hit in 2019, most people were stuck at home and during this time my neighbors started coming over to my garage and trying some of the beers I had made. During this time but neighbor Joel Steinmetz (Co-Owner South O Brewing) starting brewing with me, and we were able to create a bunch of new recipes with our neighbors able to try and judge for us. One thing led to another, and we decided to open brewery. Read more>>

Alexa Sperling

My Esthetician Journey began when the pandemic hit. During this time, I was working at a law firm “using” the degree I worked so hard on for the past five years. I never enjoyed a day in that office so when they let most of us go, it was the happiest day ever. March 2020, we went into full lockdown and I knew I had nothing but time on my hands to do what I have been wanting to do since I was little. Be in the beauty industry. I have always been a fanatic of everything beauty and have been getting my lashes done for about eight years. Read more>>

Hannah Monroe

My journey was pretty wild. I grew up in Los Angeles in an extremely conservative Christian family that was a part of, what I call, a “Diet Cult”. During this time, I was exclusively homeschooled and very sheltered. Our family left that lifestyle when I was a teenager and I slowly got to know the real world. I was desperate to spread my creative wings and share my voice so I started at a professional music studio in Woodland Hills as a studio assistant and eventually studio manager. During this time, I met my soulmate and we were marriage quickly at the young age of 23. Read more>>

DD Garth

After I graduated from UCLA in 2014 with a science degree, I decided I wanted to live a life more fulfilling to my heart. Therefore, I stopped my pursuit in the veterinary field and decided to live a more creative life instead. I didn’t know where this would lead me, but when I was reconnected with art supplies and learned how to use a DJ controller, the birth of D4bblz was the most obvious thing that came to me yet. Read more>>

Diana Lee

I’ve always been an artsy/crafty kid that was always drawing, crocheting, or making way too elaborate things for school projects and I think that I always wanted to be some sort of artist. But, like a lot of kids, was told at a young age that being an artist would never be a viable career. So, I went to college and studied Interior Architecture and Product Design. After college, I started working as an interior designer at an architecture firm, and immediately, the big difference in my life was that I was no longer making with my hands. In school, I always had “studio” and was constantly making models, creating prototypes, and making in the wood shop. Read more>>

Jason Swisher

After finishing Physical Therapy school at Loma Linda University in 2000, I began working in a rehab setting environment. I learned a lot about different disease processes and how to work with different teams of people which was very valuable. But after two years, I wanted a new challenge and more flexibility and was ready for a change. A friend of mine was marketing for a Home Health Agency and said that they really needed to add new therapists to the staff and wanted to know if I was interested. Read more>>

Jennifer Praizler

Life is short! So living every day to fullest is the best way to live! The cool salty air, the deep blueness of the ocean, the Palm trees, the opportunity for greater education, the multicultural food, and the geological diversity of San Diego are just some of the reasons I love living here. Being a nurse for over 11 years has given me the flexibility and opportunity to explore my purpose in life. At a young age, I had a calling to help alleviate the suffering of others.  Read more>>

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