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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.

Christy Tyler

I moved to Chicago to get a degree in Commercial Photography from Harrington College of Design after I finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. During my time in photography school I was introduced to James (my now husband) through a mutual friend. Read more>>

Sylvia Mackey

I’ve always been drawn to fashion and that world. Always looking for inspiration (for my photography or paintings) I found myself going through fashion books and art magazines all the time. I studied fashion merchandising at Columbia College Chicago (wanted to become a window display artist for Barneys – still do! Read more>>

Valerie Vivit

My name is Valerie Vivit. I am a 36 year old sigle mother of two, my son Christian-17, and my daughter Mia Joy-8. They are the reason behind everything I do, and the reason I am where I am today. For as long as I can remember I have alwasy worked 2-3 jobs just to make ends meet. Read more>>

Kimberly Nicasio

When I was younger, I was never a big fan of crafting or doing projects. They always seemed like things that looked nice, but that I could not make look good myself. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s and trying to decorate my own home that I realized that if I actually tried some projects, I could do them pretty well and save myself some money by doing so. Read more>>

Christine Rice

Around 2008, I went to a Story Week editorial panel at Columbia College (Story Week, which is no longer funded by CCC, was this amazing festival of writing organized by the CCC Fiction Writing Department). Anyway, at that panel, one of the more experienced print literary journal editors scoffed at online literary magazines and asked the audience, “I mean, who reads fiction online?” Read more>>

Ben Kinsinger

I grew up in the small midwest town of Washington, IL. With a skip in my step and a shine in my smile, I moved to the big city to become famous and save the world! I learned to sing and dance alongside the other orphans in hope that one day, we would see our names in lights (those of us that had names). I kickstarted my first album, became a music director at IO, and had sex for the first time. Read more>>

Melissa Thornley

My career started as a writer- technical and copy writer. I then went back to school for a second degree to study film at Columbia College…which lasted one glorious semester. After meeting a film editor, I jumped into the world of film post production where I spent the next 20 years working in Chicago, New York and London. Chaotic environments with creative people working against tight deadlines totally suited my energy and thirst for challenge. Read more>>

Campbell Murdock

While working toward my bachelor’s degree at the University of Iowa, I was inspired by the Entrepreneurship courses that seemed to emphasize: “If you don’t build your dreams someone will hire you to help build theirs” – Tony A. Gaskins Jr. After graduating from the University of Iowa, I moved to Chicago and found myself working jobs that lacked both creative and personal fulfillment. Read more>>

Rocco Buttliere

I, like most people nowadays, had played with LEGO from a very young age. While I don’t remember a time before I had some bricks in my hands, I do recall that my very first set was the Harry Potter “Chamber of Winged Keys” from 2001, which I received as a prize for selling Cub Scout popcorn. Growing up watching Harry Potter naturally meant that I strove to collect all the tie-in LEGO sets for each movie. Read more>>

Wyatt Grant

I’ve made art from a very young age, so from a social and personal sense it’s always been a part of how I function. As a young person, I was always looking for ways to stay creatively occupied. I started as an artist making drawings and comic books for friends when I was a kid. It was always challenging to me and gave way to interesting and fun conversations. Read more>>

Arianna Rozen, Floren Royfe

Vibe Dance & Entertainment formed in February of 2017 by event industry leaders Arianna & Flo, to bring something fresh & new to the scene. Both of us have worked in the events industry collectively for over 10 years, and met working at various events together. Quickly we realized that we were both passionate entertainers who wanted to excel in our careers, and since then have been a dynamic MC & DJ duo. Read more>>

Rich Robbins

I started taking writing seriously during my sophomore year of high school. I went to Oak Park River Forest, a suburb of Chicago, where Spoken Word was a popular club within the school. After a few years of doing Spoken Word competitions, I got into the University of Wisconsin – Madison on a full tuition Hip Hop/Urban arts scholarship known as First Wave. Read more>>

Le’Trece Evison

Can you briefly walk us through your story- how you started and how you got to where you are today. You can include as little or as much detail as you’d like. Creative Desserts Chicago was created about 6 years ago, with several name changes from Sweet Guilty Chocolate Pleasures to Sashja’s Sweet Treats (SST) to its current name Creative Desserts Chicago. Read more>>

Kimberly Robb Baker

Briefly, I’ve always been a writer and been exposed to words and storytelling. My early career was in sales and marketing. I was a hiring manager at the transportation company I worked for, and there the disconnect between resumes and the candidates they spoke for baffled me. Horrible resumes were sometimes submitted by very talented people and wonderful resumes often led to a dud candidate. Read more>>

Keith Bringe

My studies included art history and museum administration with some studio courses. In school I worked for a museum and cataloged the work of the early computer artist Herbert Brun. In my 20’s and 30’s I focused on development for non-profits mainly in domestic violence, historic preservation and HIV-AIDS. Read more>>

Raina Lenn Santiago

Being first generation from parents who immigrated from the Philippines has influenced me to acknowledge the efforts of immigrants to have a better life through the “opportunities” in America. With that being said, I question the privileges and privations People of Color have by creating artwork on a digital platform. Read more>>

Rana A. Siegel

I’m an artist who is currently working as an academic administrator, so I’ll weave both stories together. I first went to a liberal arts school in Rhode Island, studying “general” psychology. The school offered a few art classes, which I ended up taking with an amazing professor, and after two years, it occurred to me that I wasn’t in the right place studying the right thing. Read more>>

Carrie Olinger

I started the way a lot of people do: taking pictures of my kid. Then, what began as a hobby turned into a passion, and I couldn’t consume knowledge fast enough. I took boatloads of courses and workshops, and I got good enough that people started asking me to take their picture. A few of them even paid me. Read more>>


PAMP is a Chicago emcee raised in the bass heavy streets of Logan Square. As a means of expression, he began writing and rhyming in the early ‘90s. Accustomed to the hip-hop culture, Pamp used instrumentals to strengthen his skill as an emcee. His mind controlled the pen that scribed his vision of music. Turntables, vinyl records, speakers, headphones and microphones were the tools of the trade. Read more>>

Jaclyn Crawford

Like many crocheters, I learned from someone else. My grandma taught me how to crochet when I finished college. I wanted to find something for stress-relief and that I could do in my now “free” time since I wasn’t in school anymore. She was a great teacher and the first item I completed was a baby blanket for a friend. With each new stitch, I was addicted, I knew I needed to make more things! Read more>>

Breanne Moreno, Alan Moreno

While visiting several brewery tap rooms during a 2013 trip to Colorado, our vision for Plank Road Tap Room was born. We liked the idea of the brewery tap room and food trucks, and wanted to bring them back to our hometown in Elgin, IL. Within a year we opened our doors to a thirsty community that was waiting for just a spot like ours to open. Read more>>

Yevgeniya Jane Lepskaya

I was born in Kiev, Ukraine and immigrated to the United States when I was 19 years old. I received a full scholarship to Roosevelt University Musical College in Chicago. I graduated in three years, with honors, from the Chicago Musical college with a Bachelors degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy. Read more>>

Michelle LaMantia

The beauty industry had been in my life and exciting for me at an early age. My grandmother was a licensed Cosmetologist. Her hours were spent in my grandmother’s salon, Marian’s, located in LaSalle, IL. This experience influenced and inspired my desire to complete the high school vocational program and continue 1500 hours of education and testing for my license at Educators of Beauty a Pivot Point member school located in LaSalle, Illinois. Read more>>

Amanda Whelan

After I graduated beauty school in 2004 I started my career as a stylist in a chain salon building my skills and clientel, then after a few years of raw industry experience I moved on to full service salon where I had a great opportunity to learn from senior stylist..I loved it.. Read more>>

Jorge Tapia

I have been doing Lash extensions for almost three years now. It all started when I was attending G Skin and Beauty Institute. I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. From an early age I knew hardwork went a long way. While attending G Skin and Beauty Institute I knew I wanted the direction of owning up my own business. Read more>>

Danielle Tubbs

I come from a long line of Jamaican cake ladies so it’s safe to say that baking is in my blood! I spent years baking for friends, colleagues, and family members. Then, after a vegan friend challenged me to create something she could enjoy, Tubby’s Taste Vegan Desserts for Everyone was born. Read more>>

Jan Olson

My name is Jan Olson and I am originally from Philadelphia. Being born and raised in the city, me and my family now enjoy the small-town country life in the suburbs of Chicago. My story begins about 18 years ago while living in Florida and began looking for some good friends. We began attending the local Catholic Church in search of friendships. Read more>>

Jaq Seifert

I began studying theatre in undergrad at Virginia Tech, and upon graduation I lived in New York City for five years. There I studied stage combat with the intent on becoming a fight director. A lover of comedy, I also spend time in Italy and Singapore studying and teaching Commedia dell’Arte. In 2012 I became a Certified Teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors, and moved to Chicago after grad school in 2013. Read more>>

Beth Deiter

I am a pediatric speech-language-feeding therapist who has spent most of her career working with children in a hospital setting. When I had children of my own, I decided to create a more flexible work schedule by starting my own private practice and seeing patients within their own homes. Read more>>

Melanie Saso

I grew up singing Patsy Cline and Leslie Gore songs into my hairbrush with my big sister. Those two worlds would collide again when I opened Bombshell Beauty Boutique in my rural hometown of Mendota, IL in 2014. It’s a funky little vintage inspired studio. This gem is roughly 90 miles southwest of Chicago. There isn’t much of a Rockabilly scene this far out, so after 3 1/2years I decided it was time to make my next move. Read more>>

Humaira Syed

I started Niswa Fashion two years ago, at the age of 20, to sell modest wear to women in the Chicagoland area. Read more>>

Rorie Raimondi

I started i am rorie as a way to work on my content creation and a semi-portfolio for job searching my senior year of college. It originally was more of a general blog as I slowly narrowed in on vegan food and lifestyle. Read more>>

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