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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.

Rita Dragonette

Rita Dragonette is a writer who, after nearly 30 years telling the stories of others, has returned to her original creative path. During her extensive business career, she was a nationally-known and award-winning expert in the fields of Public Relations and Marketing, advising hundreds of clients on branding and expansion strategies in both mature and growth industries. Read more>>

John Nguyen

We started as a food truck in September 2013 and we were the first Asian inspired cook on board food truck licensed in Chicago. I didn’t have a culinary or business background but had a love for street food and wanted to bring the food I grew up with to the streets of Chicago. Read more>>

Julie Matos

From an early age, I was always attracted to color, shape, and arrangement. The drive to work with my hands and create beautiful things has always been a constant. My mind and senses are calmed and focused whenever I am working and surrounded by art. Read more>>

Emmanuel Nony

I grew up in the French countryside, raised by parents who were true bon vivants and passed on their love of food and entertaining to me. I fondly remember accompanying them to the open-air markets and dairy farms for groceries, experiences that proudly influenced my palate and showed me the importance of seasonally fresh food. Read more>>

Laura R Keller

My journey in the health and wellness field started in the fall of 2006 when I joined a gym and fell in love with the challenge of lifting, saw how quickly it was changing my body and clearing my mind. I began teaching group fitness classes in 2007. Read more>>

Jeremy Sites

I always played sports when I was a kid and through high school I played varsity football and ran track. Strength training and weight lifting were a huge part of maintaining my physique as an athlete. When I went to college, I no longer played organized sports but I could still weight train and push myself. Read more>>

Ulia Kordiukova

I always had passion for remaking things. Old wardrobe and unnecessary clothes was the best inspiration for me. I started my brand 4 years ago in Ukraine. . For my first collection i remade couple old leather jackets that i had found at the vintage store into one of a kind clutches and presented them at the Fashion market in Kiev. Read more>>

Anne Reuss

I was just like many of you. I used to hide in the fitness studio to perform my workouts, uneasy about lifting in front of others, until I started working with a trainer. That was five years ago and I couldn’t do one pull up. Read more>>

Erik Marthaler

My business partner Scott McWilliam and I (Erik Marthaler) worked at a big box gym together for 10.5 years, and although we learned a lot and made a lot of great connections, we decided we had a different vision on what a gym should be. Read more>>

Brandis Friedman

I’m a television news reporter here in Chicago. Between being on air 4-5 days a week, plus appearances, I can rarely get away with a bad hair day. Doing it myself can be exhausting and time consuming. Typically, getting it done by a stylist is just easier, but not always better. Read more>>

Sheetal Bhagat

I came from an East Indian home filled with the scent of spice. We grew up eating home cooked, fresh, healthy food. I learned how to cook from watching my mom and then eventually helping her out. My approach to cooking has always been to learn methods and techniques so I can then take base recipes and adjust it to my own tastes and likes. Read more>>

Dan Klein, Patrick Tannous

Dan Klein and Patrick Tannous, pre-school best friends turned business partners, took a weekend trip to Prague in college where they fell in love with loose leaf tea. Tiesta Tea was then started with the mission of creating functional loose leaf tea blends that are affordable, accessible and understandable. Read more>>

Nate Cooper

I had been working in the restaurant industry for 6 years- helped start LYFE Kitchen in Chicago, and decided to go back to business school at Kellogg. I was invited to speak during their Food & Ag week and after received an email from an attendee- asking if I would meet Rebecca (who became my business partner), because she was thinking about starting a food business. Read more>>

Selena Mirza

When I was 4 years old, I found myself at a session with a headshot photographer, and I had no idea what was going on; just that my parents got me all dolled up and we drove into the city from the northwest suburbs. Read more>>

Maria Castro

Born and raised in Chicago’s Pilsen community, I am the youngest of 4 and brag at every turn that my parents saved the best for last. My parents, Jose & Oralia Maltos are 2nd generation Texans. My siblings Joe, Alma & Dora were all born in San Antonio, Texas. Read more>>

Laura Ma

Build312 is a Chicago-based community for the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors. We host high impact events and create a dynamic entrepreneur ecosystem. Our mission is to bring together young minds in the Midwest and to connect them with funding, resources and advisors. Read more>>

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