To Top

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.

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>>

Jim Weber

In high school and college I worked as a runner for SRO Productions (my Uncle’s company that promoted concerts) early on I was exposed to live music and what goes into all aspects of a concert. A runner is there when the band loads in and until the band leaves and your job is to run errands for them, drive them around, and whatever else they need. Read more>>

Shannon Jenkins

My interest in photography began during my senior year of high school. I took hundreds of candid photos of classmates with a simple point-and-shoot camera. I even found my niche–taking pictures of people’s butts. I had a whole section in my senior scrapbook of butts. Read more>>

Stefanie Garcia

It all started with my passion for food that I luckily grew up around as part of my hispanic culture. Watching my grandma make fresh tortillas and whip up some of the tastiest, simply prepared foods created some of the best childhood memories for me. Fast forward to my decision to attend Johnson & Wales University for Restaurant and Foodservice Management and I’d say my fate in the food world was sealed. Read more>>

Ryan Ingebritsen

I started in music and departed from there though I have never stopped thinking of myself as a music maker. I just love sound. And music was always the main vehicle for my curiosity. I started with classical piano, went to percussion and drums, picked up the bass and started a few bands in Minneapolis, then became obsessed with modernist classical composers, especially those severe figures from Eastern Europe such as Penderecki and Ligeti for the rich variation of sonority and timbre they explored. Read more>>

Starlenie Vondora

Honestly, this is rarely a brief task for me. Most of the time, someone’s story begins with the mention of their environment, parents, and cultural identity. All of those things, along with my perception of myself, were reset once I met my birth parents. Prior to the second grade Miami, Florida was my home. Read more>>

Lavina Jadhwani

Many of my early career directing opportunities came through Rasaka Theatre Company, the Midwest’s first South Asian American ensemble. I served as Artistic Director of that company for over 6 years, and through my tenure there began to articulate my personal aesthetic (which includes a textually rigorous and inclusive approach to both new plays as well as classics) as well as advocate for other artists of color and marginalized voices. Read more>>

Devin Quinn

Sometimes it surprises even me that “Cinematographer” is the career I’ve chosen for myself. I don’t have any “creatives” in my ancestry (that I know of). My paternal grandpa was a carpenter, but that’s really as close as I get to “artistic” in my lineage. However, when I really look back at my childhood and adolescence, the pieces were there. Read more>>

Rev. Billy Simmons, Amanda Simmons

In the ’90s I (Rev. Billy) was playing guitar for a band on RCA Records, and some other bands. Things didn’t really work out with the big rock star thing — I mean I still play and do some session work, I love music, the creative aspect of it, I’m lost without it. Read more>>

Linda Jackson

It’s a winding path I’ve taken. Once upon a time, I graduated from Indiana University in Fine Arts. Shortly thereafter, I discovered graphic design and eventually became the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Pear Design, (link to an award-winning, boutique, brand identity, design firm in Chicago. Read more>>

Breon Arzell

What a journey and story to tell. I guess it I started when I was a creative little black boy in Detroit, watching music videos in my living room. I used to watch them, and immediately be able to mimic the choreography and sing the songs. Always up and about and performing. Whether for my family, my friends, or (a lot of times) myself. Read more>>

Marie Hale

I have been an entrepreneur since the age of 22. At 25 I realized I needed to know more about what I didn’t know and sales was the first place I started to get my MBA on the streets. Over the next 10 years my sales coach and I worked together on almost a daily basis. I owned a marketing firm and inevitably his closers didn’t have enough leads, and my marketing leads were not getting closed. Read more>>

Melisa Limanowski

I first became interested genealogy when I started looking into my own family history, when I was about 12. Continuously researching family history since then, as well as a deep love for food, led me to become really interested in the connection between food history and family recipes. I found that food, like families, travel and change over time. I am also a lover of women’s stories. Read more>>

Mark Toland

When I was three years old I became interested in magic and mentalism, which quickly led to numerous performances at talent shows and local events. Eventually I went to theatre school and received a BFA in Music Theatre, but it was always with the intention of doing what I do now: traveling the world and telling people what they already know. Read more>>

Barb Bailey

I was found in a cardboard box inside the front door of the Tally Ho Apartment Bldg in Wheeling, WV. The Medical Examiner determined my age to be a week to 10 days old – so I was born Dec 7, 8 or 9th. The Tally Ho is a modest 6-flat on the National Road – on a bus line – My mother must have taken a bus around 4am; gotten off the bus; walked into the Tally Ho; said her goodbyes to her baby – and put her baby in the box and boarded the next bus at 5am. Read more>>

Emily Lonigro

I started LimeRed to create a different kind of company: one based on doing the right thing not just for a bottom line, but for people and communities. In 2004 I was working at a small marketing agency. It wasn’t a terrible job, but I had been active in the anti-war and progressive movements for a while, and the job was just the thing I did during the day to fund what I was most passionate about. Read more>>

Matthew Gramling, Janelle Gramling

Janelle started her work in fashion design, designing and sewing a clothing line. Matthew comes from a background in restoration carpentry. Both of us have owned our separate businesses for 15 years, always depending solely on that to support ourselves and our children. Read more>>

Kim Schilf

The Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce (LPCC) was established in 1947 and I joined the LPCC in 1993. For those of you doing the math, I just celebrated my 25th anniversary! Today’s Lincoln Park Chamber has evolved to really reflect the neighborhood. Lincoln Park is home to young professionals, families and a thriving business community! Read more>>

Ashley Deran, Emily Loar

Project Bound Dance was founded in 2013 by Ashley Deran and Ericka Vaughn Byrne. Bound was created to fill a void in the dance community where dancers could explore dynamic movement while also tackling sensitive topics. This idea has expanded since then, and Bound’s work now includes a focus on interdisciplinary collaborative art works. Read more>>

Emily Backal

As soon as I moved to Chicago in 2014, I immersed myself in the local music scene. I was playing drums in a few different bands over the city, and became familiar with smaller venues and DIY spots. I saw as many shows as I could fit into a week, and picked up a job at Metro Chicago so I could continue seeing shows without running my bank account dry. Read more>>

Dana Rochelle, Lila Frazier

Lila Frazier and Dana Rochelle met at an audition at the McKaw Theater in Chicago for a sketch comedy group called Hot Lava in 2016. Lila remembers, “Dana was the only person who talked to me in the lobby while we were waiting to audition. She seemed pretty cool and very funny.” Read more>>

Erika Kubik

It all started about eight years ago. I was getting ready to go off to college, when I went to the doctor to get a physical. In talking with the doctor, I made a discovery that changed my life forever. I was diagnosed with celiac disease – an autoimmune disease that attacks the lining of one’s small intestine. Read more>>

Ellicia Myles

When I was a kid, around 10 maybe, I was drawing a picture of an angel. My uncle, took a look at my drawing, and told me, “it looks like a flying spoon”. I was embarrassed and angry, and immediately started defending my work while simultaneously covered it up with my arms. I suppose that’s how I got my true start in art. Read more>>

Carrie Hanson

In 2001, I founded The Seldoms with two other artists – choreographer/dancer Susan Hoffman and visual & performance artist Doug Stapleton. Susan and I had similar approaches, and Doug brought along his keen wit and generous collaborative spirit. Within a few years, Susan and Doug each parted for various reasons, though both have been back to advise, facilitate, contribute, and are dear friends. Read more>>

Dana Lawrence Gillis

My name is Dana Lawrence Gillis, I’m 42 years old, and I was born and raised in Highland Park, IL. I am a teacher and tutor (, a performing singer/songwriter (, a social media coordinator for a local athletic club (College Park Athletic Club in Bannockburn), and a representative for a health supplement company specializing in exogenous ketones. Read more>>

Ashley-Lauren Elrod

Visionary Woman Productions was birthed out of a collective of diverse, talented friends in 2011. I’ve always been a major advocate of “rising together’ and I truly always saw opportunity to collaborate with friends. Whether through acting, music, photography, design, and more, I wanted to bring people together, especially women, to create beautiful and engaging bodies of work collectively. Read more>>

Lora Swanson

Although I’ve been an antique dealer for the past 13 years, it was a long time coming. My first career was as a technical writer/editor. I love the written word and the writer’s craft, but throughout the years, I harbored a passion for antiques and vintage. I grew up going to garage sales, flea markets, and second-hand stores, and learned to repair and refinish furniture at an early age. Read more>>

Trey Alexander Martin

Growing up, whenever I was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up I always knew that I wanted to be an artist. After I graduated from high school I attended the American Academy of Art. I chose the academy for their emphasis on the fundamentals of art and the small size of the school. Read more>>

Adam Levin

My name is Adam Levin and I am classical guitarist from Lake Bluff, IL, a North side suburb about an hour from the city. I’m the son of a psychologist and stock broker and have a younger sister, Adriane, who is now a resident dermatologist in Boston, MA. I grew up in a household of maniacally driven and hard working family who appreciated the arts and who identified my affinity for music early on and started me on the piano. Read more>>

Gwynn Fulcher

Knowing you’re an artist and finding out what *kind* of artist you are are very different things that I had to learn the hard way. I moved to Chicago just after getting my BA in theatre from University of Maryland (College Park), and spent the first half of my time here focusing on traditional theatre–headshots, auditions, connections, all things universally known to actors as “the hustle.” It exhausted me and I felt drained by the culture; I was in the wrong field and didn’t know it. Read more>>

Charlotte Lin

I started Seeds Center while in China – learning about how commonplace it was there to have senior colleges and while in my mid 20’s talking to family about future goals and priorities. The unfortunate event of my grandfather’s hospitalization brought me there, but gave birth to Seeds Center. Read more>>

Erica Minchella

I started practicing law with a concentration in Bankruptcy law. I married and had children after I was licensed, and in 1999, my children were old enough to need a part-time chauffeur to be shuffled to their various after-school activities. Read more>>

Marianne Strokirk

I was born and raised in Sweden. I started hairdressing at the early age of 17, which began as an apprenticeship for my father and mentor who had a salon in Sweden. I then moved to work in both London and Paris. My talent was sought after in the US and therefore I made the move to Chicago. I worked behind the chair and built a large and loyal clientele. Read more>>

Raven Lenoir

As a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. My grandma loved English and because of her, I fell in love too. In college, I majored in Journalism with a focus in Public Relations. I knew that is what I wanted to do for my career but I also wanted to find a way to connect my career with my passion for connecting and inspiring women and those who support us. Read more>>

Olga Davis

iCook After School is a product of passion. My friend Lesya and I have always been passionate about food, health, and nutrition. For us healthy food wasn’t boring or blunt. Read more>>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in