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Downtown’s Rising Stars

The heart of our mission at VoyageChicago 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 Chicago’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 Downtown’s rising stars below.


I’ve always had a deep passion for hair and anything beauty related since I was a little girl. I had always dressed myself and insisted on always styling my hair. I liked to be different and stand out as well as with my fashion. Growing up and even till this day I have been a great help to my friends whether it’s styling their hair or giving advice on outfits. Read more>>

Jodi Wolf

Events are in my blood – I truly grew up in the event industry. Attending events from a young age and learning from the very best in the business, my mother, has allowed me to forge my own path and take Paulette Wolf Events to the next level. Read more>>

Mourad Guiragossian

In my personal life I have always had a passion for health and fitness. I am a personal trainer, dietician,, and former college athlete. I have competed and won several NPC Body Building Phyhsique Competitions. I have also trained and coached many people to be sucsessful within the fitness industry. Read more>>

Meiling Jin

I was born and raised in Northern China. I came to America at the age of 15 in the year 2007 when my mother married an American man. I started writing about my life in America, and started interviewing American and Chinese celebrities (including John legend, Dan Aykroyd, Patrick Stewart, Oliver Stone, etc), and gaining face recognizance in China with average 400,000 readers per story on Chinese website. Read more>>

Didier Nolet

Didier Nolet is an artist who was born and raised in Paris, France. He wanted to be an artist since a very young age. For many years every summer he traveled throughout France with his parents. These trips left a very strong impression on him. At the age of eighteen he entered the Beaux-Arts School in Paris to study painting. Read more>>

Katrina Hong

I started “instagram modeling” the summer of 2017. That is when I really started to work with talented photographers not just from Chicago but also from other states and countries visiting Chi. My account @katrina_hong started as a personal account where I would post my car selfies and outfits in front of a mirror. Read more>>

Dino Gane-Palmer

I came to Chicago in 2009 from London, UK. After several years working in the media and technology sector in the UK, I decided to pivot my career towards doing something more entrepreneurial. I thought coming to Chicago for business school could be a stepping stone towards this pursuit. Read more>>

Natalie Courtright

I grew up in a really small town in Michigan called Harrison Township, so fashion was not a typical career choice for most who lived there! Growing up I would always see my Grandma and my mother wearing the coolest jewelry and funky clothes which I think is what initially opened my eyes to the fashion world. Read more>>

Benjamin Ritter

My story is an example of being motivated by pain, acting to solve that pain, and evolving along the way. The greatest moments of pain that motivated me to act occurred when I was in college. My personal life felt like it was in shambles. I felt alone, ostracized, and “uncool.”  Read more>>

Matthew Kornblatt

I tend to struggle answering this question, as I feel as though I have lived many lives since embarking on this entrepreneurial journey. The idea for my business was conceived at a family dinner in February of 2011. I remember it like it was yesterday. Read more>>

Paul Graves

My first Bartending job was at age 16 in Huntington, NY in 1990. After taking a summer job in Montauk, NY in 1992 and becoming a busboy, I was hooked. I loved everything about the business, not only the food, guests and hospitality but the relationships and “storytelling” amongst the staff(front and back of the house). Read more>>

Kelechi Uchendu

In 2013, I completed my BA in Political Science Pre-Law with a specialization in Environmental Science from Michigan State University. I also received my JD from Vermont Law School in 2016 and my LLM in Environmental Law from my alma mater in 2018. Read more>>

Taylar Wade

I’ve always had a love for hair and after constant styling and heat damage, I became privy to hair extensions. I would always get compliments on my hair and everyone would be surprised when I told them I had extensions! I soon became the go-to-person to my friends and family for recommendations and questions on hair companies and maintenance of their hair extensions. Read more>>

Mary Beth Banks

Last year, I married the love of my life. Before I knew it, the wedding was over.  In the blink of an eye, the fairytale white wedding frills and all my “supporters” and well-wishers disappeared as quickly as they had come together to make my dreams of saying “I do” come to pass. Read more>>

Merari E. Fernandez Castro

In order to start my business, I had to have a series of job experiences that prepared me to create and lead a solo private practice in psychotherapy. I remember my first experience providing counseling and advocacy to domestic violence survivors. Read more>>

Dionne Williams

Taking it all the way back to the late 90’s when I was in graduate school during the summer I interned for NBC Chicago in the community affairs department – from there I learned many things regarding public relations, community affairs, events and met so many people in the business, civic and media industries. Read more>>

Debra Balchen

Born and raised in Chicago, 2nd generation in. Grew up on the Northwest Side of Chicago. A good old Democratic neighborhood of policemen, firemen, teachers, city workers…and mafia men. Went to Steinmetz High School of Hugh Hefner Playboy fame. Read more>>

Maaly Williams

I was inspired by cartoons and shadowing my older brother I grew a love for art. I met my mentor in high school and he’s been continually pushing me to better myself I got into graphic design because I needed to make some money and that hustle turned into a business. Read more>>

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