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Inspiring Stories from the North Side

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 North Side’s rising stars below.

Torrence Delaney, Chriss Watkins, Jamin Echol

Lost in kyoto started in the break room of the Apple Store. The three of us Shared a passion of Anime, Gaming, Clothing, and Music. During our 15 min, and lunch breaks we would often spend time sharing info on various things. At the time there was an application called DJay Pro by Algoriddim which allowed you to DJ from your iPhone or iPad. Read more>>

Rishika Mahtani

My first job was in the PR office of Louis Vuitton. It was an incredible experience, I travelled the world with them supporting international Vuitton efforts and helping magazines like Harpers Bazaar, Elle style their cover-shoots. Visiting Paris was an integral part of my journey with the luxury brand and the most magnificent at that! Read more>>

Erika Neumayer

I started Rare Dirndl in 2010 at the age of 23, with a few patterns, money I had saved from working customer service, a small workspace (aka my parents’ dining room), and a whole lot of determination. But everyone always wants to know, of all the things… why have a business centered around dirndls? Read more>>

Don Clark Jr., Joseph Cranford

I have been a professional actor, and Chicago history tour guide, alongside a bevy of other job titles in the last 15 years living in Chicago. However, it’s my love for live theater and history which brought me to create the show, that in turn, created this venue. I began my magical career by directing a one man show in Chicago called “Bending Minds and Bending Dreams”. Read more>>

Hayden Humphrey

I’m from Ohio originally, born and raised. I went to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio for my undergrad degree in Business. I loved the school and loved my time there, but when it came to what I wanted to do after college, I just didn’t know what I wanted. I had interned with Ernst and Young as a Junior because it was a big, impressive company and because I got to live in New York. Read more>>

Cinthia Onines

I am the daughter of Mexican immigrants, two wonderful, loving people that have supported me every step of the way. All my life, they have taught me the importance of working hard and taking pride in what I do, as well as humility and gratitude. They shaped my view of the world into what it is today—their love for each other and for my two sisters and me is the foundation of my work and my life today. Read more>>

Kristin Avery

I am the creator of the website My Rescued Life, an award-winning lifestyle blog providing resources, inspiration, and humor for animal lovers. My site is all about second chances, rooting for the underdog, and choosing compassion as a lifestyle. Read more>>

Lauren Nolan

I started Lake Shore Lady in 2012 when I moved back to Chicago. After studying musical theatre at Syracuse University and pursing an acting career in New York, I woke up one day and realized I was 25 and unhappy, and something needed to change. So, I packed my bags and moved into a studio apartment on Lake Shore Drive in Lakeview (hence Lake Shore Lady!). Read more>>

Julie Roth Novack

I hosted more than 50 large-scale corporate events and fundraisers while rising in the ranks of the digital agency world. I became increasingly frustrated while planning a high-profile cancer research gala after spending hours online looking for ideas and venues, only to find wedding blogs, sterile vendor listing sites and Pinterest dead-ends. Read more>>

Eleanor Hazard

People always ask me where I got the name Peach Beast, they think its so damn cute. I got it from a dream I had where a friend of mine (a very large burly dude) was holding me over his head yelling “Peeeachh Beaasstt!!”. So that’s it. I thought I’d end up starting a band and using it as my band name (v punk), but I started my wearable art business with it instead. Read more>>

Kaitlin Stewart

My love for secondhand fashion started at a very young age when I admired my mother’s and grandmother’s vintage pieces. There was something magical about these pieces of clothing from different decades. That magic of finding pieces from another time transformed me into a thrifter. Read more>>

Gian Frias

It’s funny how it all started because I wasn’t really interested in Photography to begin with. Five or six years ago when I was a high school sophomore, I was actually starting to get into sketching and painting, and everything surrounding that area of art; however, there was a day during a game night at my school where a friend of mine who stays in Chicago named Juan Quintero. Read more>>

Chandler Smith

My story, as far as my art practice is concerned, started around the time I was in high school. I actually started out primarily as a musician, I played in a number of bands on and off as well as some solo work when I was in high school. Read more>>

Dillon Cassidy

I moved to Chicago in August of 2013, shortly after I graduated from the University of Missouri. I came with the intention of creating a space for artists like me, that occupy the fringes of the scene, had passed over for one reason or another, or just hadn’t quite ‘fit’. Read more>>

Cecilia Lanyon, Dominic Zumpano

The Gallery began when Dominic and I first met in 2012. He was the chef at a nearby restaurant and I co-owned a gallery down the street. I asked him to cater one of our art openings of a Japanese painter- Dominic suggested that he could create a Japanese-inspired menu for the opening. Read more>>

Sarah Laspas

Unlike most fitness people, I grew up eating mostly microwave-made meals, avoiding team sports, and hating the gym. It wasn’t until college when I started exercising with any regularity, but only in an attempt to cancel out all the keg beer and street pizza from the night before. Read more>>

Barb Levant

My first paid and published work was October 1976, while still a photojournalism student at ASU. After graduating from college I moved to Los Angeles and worked as an assistant. It was there that I became a master printer. Read more>>

Darlys Ewoldt

As a child, I always loved making things and drawing. Besides my parents, I had a number of teachers and mentors over the years who encouraged me to be an artist. I am thankful for each of them for their words and support throughout the years. Read more>>

Carrie Schepke, Patti Sload

Hi, we’re Carrie and Patti and together we are the heart and soul of melt down co. Pulling from decades of marketing and operational experiences, coupled with our passion for amazing products and beautiful gifts, we set out to create and curate experiences that we cherish. Read more>>

Julie Weber

I was interested in photography as an art form from an early age but it took some time to fully commit to it as a career. Looking back, I can see two main influences that shaped where I am today. First, as a child of the ‘80s, I was born into the tail end of analogue photography as the cultural norm and really felt the growing pains of the transition to digital. Read more>>

Joshua Kim

The road to becoming Kimer has been basically a life story that’s still having chapters written each day. 2009 was the launch, quite literally, of my passion for creation and discovery. Back then, I was a student at Christian Heritage Academy in Northfield, IL in the school’s first high school class. Read more>>

Sam Joseph

I’ve been an artist and a sewer my whole life, but those two things never merged in my brain until 2016, when I got to a point where it was clear that I needed a long break from showing or trying to show my art in galleries. I was starting to feel like I was making work for the wrong reasons, so I just needed to hibernate for a while. Read more>>

Julian Rodriguez

I started making music the summer I graduated high school. It was a hobby for me, at first, then it became more serious after a year into college. I was always a fan of Hip Hop music but then I started to dig deeper into the depths of it as I progressed. I would constantly be writing in class, out of class, at work, etc. Read more>>

Brian Westfall

I’ve worked in music instrument retail for 12 years at some prestigious vintage shops but decided last June that I’d like to strike out on my own and create a shop that caters to musicians that love to explore sound and be creative. A sense of discovery is what I try to inspire in my customers, whether they pick up and play a lesser known African handmade drum. Read more>>


My path to being the Founder and Principal Trainer of Shakti Diversity and Equity Training began in graduate school, when I was given the opportunity to put on a cultural competency training for the organization I was interning for. The executive director knew that my graduate studies were focused on Intercultural Communication. Read more>>

Mia Park

I started practicing yoga as a cardio kick boxing instructor and actress. I was thrilled by the physical sensation of stretching my body to its limits and challenging myself in this new, physical way. Eventually the energetic, mental and spiritual effects of yoga became my priority and I began to take yoga teacher trainings in order to better understand the cosmic connection between my mind, spirit and body. Read more>>

Newt Cole

I was an athlete and artist throughout high school and college. Right after school, in my early twenties I moved to Los Angeles and dedicated myself to a career in the music industry. Fast forward to 1999, after a decade of playing late night gigs in smokey bars and touring, I was now living in Chicago and working out at Quads Gym when time would allow. Read more>>

James Deeb

By way of biography, I was born in what was then West Berlin in 1964. My father was in the U.S. military and my family moved around quite a bit. That ended when he passed away suddenly in 1967. My mother, sister and I settled in a small town in northern Indiana to be closer to my mother’s family. Read more>>

Rinel Tabamo

There is a bunch of stuff that had to be pieced together for me to be where I am at. But to keep this story short, one of my cousins used to be married to this tattooer, Angel Cruz. When I was around 19 years old, I asked him a few times if he could teach me, but he kind of brushed me off. Read more>>

Francois Robert

In 1979 I decided to switch career from graphic designer to full time professional photographer. I open immediately my own photo studio and started to photograph for Fortune 500 company (IBM, Coca-Cola, Herman Miller, The Chicago Board of Trade, Chicago Magazine, BP, The Medical School of Yale) Those companies gave me the great opportunity to travel the world. Read more>>

Liz Lynam

I’ve loved to draw for as long as I can remember. My grandmother and my uncle are both very talented artists and would often sit and draw with me when I was a kid. I felt supported in expressing my creativity through drawing early on in life. Read more>>

Bruno Surdo

My journey started in the playground at John Barry Elementary School on the Northwest part of Chicago in 1973.I was nine years old and witnessed a eighth grade boy sketching a native american image in my older brother’s yearbook. Read more>>

Joshua Schonfeld

I have always been in the restaurant business since starting my career after college. It all started as the GM of a ski lodge in Vail, CO to working for Lettuce Entertain You as a manager at Joe’s Stone Crab. After that experience, I opened a restaurant called Grass Fed in Bucktown with my childhood friend. Read more>>

Erica Chadwick

I discovered photography when I was about 14, in high school when I took a photography class. My dad always had a thing for electronics and had a couple of cameras that I claimed as mine. I had always felt as though I was an artist, although I didn’t know how I was one because I couldn’t paint or draw. Read more>>

Mary McMahon

I first began cooking when my mother handed me an onion and a knife and taught me proper knife skills. From there, cooking was always a passion, and would even wish I could have access to a full kitchen from my dorm room in college. When I moved to Chicago, I became very involved in the comedy community. Read more>>

Kira Moscowitz

I started my career in the non-profit sector organizing and guiding international trips for students and young adults. After five years, I left to do some extended personal travel in Asia and India. When I returned to Chicago, I knew I wanted to be in a client-facing role and after networking with several brokers and learning more about the industry (and devouring every HGTV show) I decided to get my real estate license. Read more>>

Danielle Von Keller

Since a young age my mom would tell me stories about me crying because I wasn’t able to wear the thing that I believed at 2 matched better. I never truly knew that I would end up in fashion, I loved it but wasn’t sure if I could ever support myself with that chosen career path. I have interned all over, literally bakeries, marine biology, anything that gave me a challenge. Read more>>

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