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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.

Venu Raghavan, Jackie Burke

Jackie’s mom was always a candle queen when she was growing up and she definitely caught this trait. Jackie jokes there was times growing up when it would look like a seance was taking place. When Venu and Jackie first moved in together, Jackie went out and bought a candle (Jo Malone) and although I thought the scent was great, I was in utter shock with the price tag. Read more>>

Carlos Montoya

I’m the youngest of four boys in my family. Growing up, my house was never short on testosterone or roughhousing. Between my brothers and I, we collectively played every sport known to man, and my mother, even though she worked like a dog and raised us on her own, never missed a single game. Read more>>

Lucila Giagrande

I was born and raised in a small town in Argentina, about 350 miles north of Buenos Aires. My sisters and I grew up devouring pastries my mom, grandma, and aunts made with “dulce de leche” caramel in it, especially the “alfajores”. Read more>>

Melissa Yen

I started making syrups for coffee when I co-owned a cafe. I was bored with the flavors out there and obsessed with Cafe de Olla, a Mexican coffee drink with cinnamon, clove & orange. I recreated the flavor profile in syrup form so I could easily serve my customers. Next it was Cardamom Rose Water, based on a Turkish Coffee. Read more>>

Rob Frisch

Not long after moving to Chicago, I landed a job writing restaurant reviews for a weekly Chicago newspaper. Writing 50 reviews a year for almost three years was a fantastic learning experience, helping me polish my prose as well as teaching me a great deal about food and wine. Read more>>

Tawnya McVicker, Melissa Vasic

We understand that buying or selling a home is more than just a transaction: it’s a life-changing experience. That’s why our team of highly-seasoned real estate professionals is dedicated to providing exceptional, personalized service for all of our clients. Read more>>

Kristen Martino

I’ve always been that one friend that’s had a camera. I bought my first digital camera back in 2001, my first DSLR in 2006, but didn’t really start shooting photos consistently until 2014. A lot of my food photography started off as simple as taking photos of food that I loved while eating out with friends. Read more>>

Haley Perry

I went to college for physical therapy and changed my route after taking a strength and conditioning class. I fell in love with the idea of programming/training people for specific goals and decided to run with it. I had never really been huge into working out myself, but was always skinny. Read more>>

Sarah Bartle & Brent Garcia

Sarah: I used to suffer from chronic low back pain. My primary care doctor wanted to give me prescription pain medicine but I didn’t want to take a pill. I researched acupuncture and decided to give it a try for my back pain. Much to my surprise it worked! Not only was my back pain better but other issues were getting addressed as well, such as insomnia and acne. Read more>>

Jane McKay, Meg Barnhart

In 2012 Meg Barnhart, founder and co-creator of the zen of slow cooking, wanted to create a business that could employ individuals with learning challenges – adults like her son, Doug. When she started slow cooking in 2006 to ease her mom-guilt and get a healthy dinner on the table, she never imagined the slow cooker would be a vehicle for change. Read more>>

Renee Labrana

I’ve been in the bar/ food business since I was 13 washing dishes in a bakery. I can honestly say I have worked every position in the restaurant and bar business, from small neighborhood joints to opening restaurants for lettuce entertain you. I have had numerous other jobs throughout the years but almost always kept a side job of waiting tables or bartending. Read more>>

Victor Armendariz

My career in the arts began about 21 years ago. I had moved to Chicago from California in my mid-twenties where, after a few years of adjustment to my new home, I met Christopher Clark, my now husband and business partner. It was through Christopher and a series of connections that I met Betsy Nathan. Read more>>

Julia Marchenko

I started selling vintage on Etsy back in 2010 when I was a homeschooling mom looking to supplement our family’s income. I have enjoyed wearing vintage clothing since clothing, so already had some great inventory in my closet, and the flexibility of having an online shop allowed me to continue to spend my days with my kids. Read more>>

Joe Krouse

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago (Northbrook and Lake Forest), and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1993. I spent about 5 years in the traditional workforce, focusing on marketing and business development at companies in Boston, Denver and Chicago. Read more>>

Vy Nguyen

After I graduated from my four year of nursing school. Working in the health care industry for 5 years, I decided to take a break from my nursing job because I didn’t feel like is was what I wanted to do for a long-term. During my nursing break I started working at a lot of retail store and many others management job. Read more>>

David Miller

In 2012, we were introduced to freshly milled flour and artisan grains and discovered that our baked goods were next level when we made food with them. We also wanted to make food we felt challenged and inspired by beyond pie and biscuits. So we sold Bang Bang, purchased a mill and launched Baker Miller- both what we do but also our namesake. Read more>>

Kelechi (K Jay) Jaavaid

My first experience with stand up comedy was on the road with Deon Cole, B Cole, and Jay Deep with Eugene Meaux; we went to a small venue name Peaches-N-Cream, the promoter was Chris Williams a friend of mines from Chicago, He said I only had to do 10-15 minutes. Read more>>

Katie Pape

I was 9 when we got our first dog (after lots of pleading!), Ginger and we had a strong bond right away. I loved helping to take care of her. She was the best secret keeper and playmate. I was in college when I got the call that she wasn’t doing well and I should come home to say goodbye. Read more>>

Carrie McCormick

I started in Real Estate in 1999. I was walking through the West Loop back in 1999 and saw a sales trailer sitting in the middle of a vacant lot. I went into the trailer to see what they were doing and the gentleman said they are building a residential building and they are setting up the sales trailer for the team. Read more>>

Amy Morton

I grew up in the business working alongside my father, Arnie Morton of Morton’s Steakhouses, and always loved it. From him, I learned every aspect of the restaurant business from top to bottom, while garnering an old school outlook that I still use when working the dining room at Found today! Read more>>

Louise LeBourgeois

I’ve always loved the feeling of a pencil in my hand. I remember making a drawing of a little girl when I was about five years old. I wanted to decorate her dress, so I drew a zigzag across it. Then I drew another zigzag above it, so that the upward points of one zigzag touched the downward points of the other zigzag. Read more>>

Patti Sherry-Crews

My journey as a writer began late in life. Almost ten years ago I sat down at the computer on my 50th birthday and started that book I always wanted to write. To my surprise the words flowed and I was hooked! But to get to where am I today, I had to to overcome some roadblocks—especially of the internal variety. Read more>>

Jaimie Brunet

I’ve been an artist all my life, but only since I quit working a day job have I been able to concentrate on really spending time in the studio. My mother was an oil painter and teacher, and I grew up watching her paint. I’ve dabbled in all sorts of mediums, and was also a weaver for a while. Read more>>

Kristen Martino

I am a Scenic Designer for Theatre. I design the physical worlds of the plays that appear on stage. I have always been around the stage. At the age of 2 I started taking dance classes in my hometown near New Orleans and continued with them all the way though college. Read more>>

Alex Bratton

I’ve always had a mixed interest in technology and business. My deep software passion emerged when I started programing at age 10. My Dad, an engineer, brought home one of the first computers (an Apple II) and I was hooked. At the age of 14, I started my first business dong technology consulting for my high school. Read more>>

Liubov Khramova, Roman Elizarov

Let us start back in Russia where we come from. In 2014 we began to develop the idea of kids’ clothes with fairytale heroes. The main purpose of this company and this brand was to engage children into the process of reading the books, to make them feel a big inspiration and motivation to learn when they wear the heroes from the books on their clothes. Read more>>

Anna Locke

After growing up as a super creative child, I earned degrees in Environmental Science and Geography, only to spend most of my 20’s soul searching, exploring every opportunity that came my way, and trying to figure out my purpose. Read more>>

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