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Inspiring Stories from the North-West 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 rising stars from the North West side below.

Rachelle Dye

It all started in a Toyota Corolla. I was so eager to get started in the world I was born in the car on the way to the hospital. Twenty-two years later it’s only natural I’d choose a career spending 50 hours a week inside a vehicle! As a kid, I would always go with my mother to dog shows and growing up I briefly showed and trained dogs myself so I always had a passion for dogs. Read more>>

Nick Peacock

I got started assisting my mother and learning photography from her. We captured a lot of different styles of photography, from babies to artwork. As we touched on a variety of styles, glamour and boudoir stuck out with me the most. I felt the most passion and drive towards improving my style and visuals in those directions. Read more>>

Lisa Hennessy

I started making dog food about 8 years ago when my rough collie Shelby was diagnosed with a degenerative disease. Working closely with my vet, we found a specialized recipe that was created to help slow the progression of her disease. I started small, making just a few meals at a time as I was unsure if she would like the food. Read more>>

Cece Adam

I’ve been crocheting since I was a little girl. Somewhere around the ages of 8-9. My mom passed away when I was only 3, but one of the things I had left of her was this collection of books; some were fairy tales, some were folk tales, and some were instructions on how to do arts and crafts, including crocheting. Read more>>

Dr. Michelle Kukla

I knew at a very early age that the focal point of my life was rooted in compassion for others. There are countless stories of me as a child displaying my empathy and sensitivity. One of my parents’ favorites is when I was about 5 years-old and I spied a very busy ant hill in a precarious spot about to get run over by a car. Read more>>

Gail Isbell

I was born and raised in Chicago. I married young and had a son, then became a single mother, I had to have a good job with a steady income to give my son a stable life. I worked in data entry, accounting, finance. Then I discovered an interest in computers and started teaching myself how they worked. Read more>>

David Harned

Although I’ve been creative my whole life, I started in a formal Art program as a junior in high school and although I started late, it came easily to me. I got a BFA from Northern Illinois University and was a formally trained Illustrator. Like many artists, I needed to pay the bills and took a job as a graphic designer working primarily on print and layout work right out of school. Read more>>

Kendra Kroll

Necessity was the MOTHER for me! 😉 Some years ago, I was doing my chest workout at the gym and my (spare) tampon decided to fall out (of my useless pocket) and make an unscheduled 10 min appearance… LOL! Of course, it wasn’t so funny then. I was the only female there and it had skittered across the floor and landed in the middle of the free weights room. Read more>>

Alan Hoover

During the great recession of 2008, Esquilin Associate was incorporated to establish a foundation for excellent instructional design and development services focused on providing innovating and engaging training solutions for our clients. Over the past 9 years we have created online/eLearning training content for a variety of local, national, and international clients. Read more>>

Joseph Fiore

Franklin Properties was established in 1989 by two brothers, Mario and Rudy Presta, with the purchase of a small apartment building located in a Northwest Suburb (Itasca) of Chicago. Over the years, the organization organically grew from purchasing and managing small apartment buildings, to building custom homes and then managing and developing commercial real estate. Read more>>

Angelike Ajroja

I came on board in 1995 to help generate new business. With no computer or any kind of database, I often worked 60 hours a week to meet my personal goals. Within two years, I secured numerous high-profile clients and more than doubled our company’s revenue. In 2005, I became president and CEO. Today, our company employs over 400 people and we service 15 million square feet per night. Read more>>

Eleanor and Jennifer Detrich Smith

There is a little stretch of land in northwest Michigan that our family has had for 103 years. We’ve camped there each summer since then, eventually building cabins along the lake. Our name comes from a camp rite of passage; swimming to Birdseye Island in the middle of the lake and back in order to show we were ready to canoe and kayak by ourselves. Read more>>

Laura Nicol

As a writer and theater artist, I’ve been followed by the question “So, what are you going to DO with that liberal arts education?” since I can remember. It’s a practical question! And one, honestly, that took me awhile to answer. I graduated college in 2015 with undergraduate degrees in English (concentration: Writing) and Communication (concentration: theater), and spent the following year hopping from one temp assignment to another in various offices across the Loop. Read more>>

Keith Jones

I started off in the family business doing Real Estate, Business Liquidations, Personal Property, and Automobile Auctions. I was asked to do a fundraiser for a local charity. In the middle of the event, I realized there was a lot more I could be doing to help them raise more dollars. Read more>>

Gary Maassen

Gary started building furniture as a high school student in Avoca, Iowa and went on to major in Industrial Education at Iowa State University. After graduating college, Gary taught high school wood shop to high school students before entering the corporate world, managing installations, trouble-shooting, and training for complex machines with multi-national companies. Read more>>

Matt Stark

After graduating from Illinois State University with a B.S. in Marketing, I started working with Idearc Media where I helped small and mid-sized businesses of all types grow through strategic digital marketing. Here I grew a passion for making a difference in small businesses by making a concerted effort to understand their goals and putting together comprehensive marketing programs to help achieve them. Read more>>

Renee Blitek

I started my business with minimal knowledge of the floral industry so I started taking every class and seminar possible. With each class, my passion for flowers grew and grew. I also grew to love all types of flowers. My creative nature leads me to become inducted into the American Institute of Floral Design (AIFD). Read more>>

Era Rubalsky

I graduated from college, began my first corporate job in finance industry. Few years later, made a leap into healthcare to run operations for a hospital department that fixed medical devices. Among many hats I wore in that role, one was to manage devices that hospital no longer used and there were a lot of them. Read more>>

Robert W. Frese

I began the study of traditional sign painting in my hometown of Long Beach, California. I started as an apprentice at Hardy Sign Company where I worked for eight years. During a summer visit to Chicago, I became enthralled by the beautiful gold leaf windows that were prevalent throughout downtown. Read more>>

Corrinna Lindholm Stoner

My parents Bonnie and Terry Lindholm started the studio in 1978, I was only 7 years old. I can remember doing the build out for our very first studio on Dundee Rd. We set up card tables out front to take registration, as we were not quite finished. As my brother Terry and I got older, we started teaching at the studio, while attending The Chicago Academy for the arts High School, majoring in dance. Read more>>

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