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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.

Ozzy Gamez, Juan Quezada

I was born in Belize, Juan was born in Mexico. And as we get older we realize how much of our homeland we miss; especially being surrounded by nature. Being surrounded by houseplants and plants in general brings us closer to the places we came from. Read more>>

Chai Wolfman

I’ll start at the beginning…when I was three years old, I declared that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. That dream stuck around as other career ideas – astronaut, psychologist, musician – came and went. Growing up, I took painting classes alongside my grandparents in Door County, Wisconsin. Read more>>

Eleonor (Elle) Forte

I have always had a creative spirit and loved music and visual art. I used to buy those small assignment notebooks that everyone had during grammar school. However, my notebooks weren’t written filled with daily homework assignments or due dates. Read more>>

Nikki Anderson

I have always been connected to making art. In grade school, I won first place for a picture of a horse I created for the American Royal in Kansas City. My parents were always very supportive and I remember taking art classes and going to art camp with 4-H and at the Kansas City Art Institute as a child. Read more>>

Lisa Puchalski

The idea of starting a fashion blog has been in the back of my mind for years, but it wasn’t until last year that I finally decided to pull the trigger and go for it. Growing up, I always had a love for all things fashion and found myself being the go-to girl for fashion and styling advice amongst my close friends, and still do now! Read more>>

Andie Marchand

I’ve always believed that with enough hard work and dedication, you can get wherever you want to be, though the path may not always be exactly as you planned. My childhood was full of travel and moving before my family’s current stop: Chicago. Read more>>

Jenny Stadler, Shirley Kienitz

Wolfbait & B-girls opened up shop on April 1st, 2006, with a mission to highlight local Chicago designers. We craft our respective collections, Bruiser and Brazen Judy, in store. From concept to consumer, pattern making to price tags, it’s all happening before your eyes at Wolfbait. Read more>>

Betsy Hjelmgren

I’ve always been independent and entrepreneurial in spirit, and I’ve always enjoyed health, food, and children. In college, I took a nutrition course as an elective, and loved it so much, that I changed my major and never looked back. At the time, I didn’t even know what a dietitian was or did! Read more>>

Robert Collins

I’m a retired Navy Veteran after my 3rd tour in Iraq God told me me to come home and Work with youth. I came home and found out: I was type 2 diabetic. So this began my journey, I had to change my life with healthy eating and Daily exercise. Read more>>

Necie Edwards

Fibromyalgia temporarily derailed my life mentally, physically, spiritually as well as occupationally. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2014 while working in the pharmaceutical industry. It was during this time period that I was subjected to bullying for two and a half years. Read more>>

Stephanie SeRine

I got started when I had to take a 35mm class as a prerequisite at Columbia College for my film/video degree. Shortly after graduation, I decided to open my own business because I had fallen in love with photography during my time there. Read more>>

Irma Suarez Ruiz

My love for Spanish dance began here at NEIU. I was an incoming freshman when I saw Ensemble Español for the first time. It was during the summer; right after my graduation from Senn High School that I came to NEIU with my father to see a performance. Read more>>

Carly Carynski

When I was in college, I knew hospitality was the area I wanted to be in, but there are so many different areas of the industry that I interned and worked in as many as I could. They ranged from working at the front desk of a hotel to assisting the event sales manager at a restaurant group to a more corporate environment that dealt with trade shows and conventions. Read more>>

Shannan Hofman Bunting

When I finished college, I had dreams of being an actor in Chicago’s thriving theater scene and therefore took a job waiting tables. I was lucky enough to land a job at Heaven on Seven, the busy Loop-based Cajun/Creole restaurant and began my food education. Read more>>

Shanti Chu

I have always loved food and the communal aspects surrounding it. Dinner time was always the most important part of the day growing up where my mother would cook, and we would all congregate around the dinner table eating the delicious food that was made with care and love. Read more>>

Elizabeth Tulipana

I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and when I look back I realize I fell in love with event planning in High School. I was on Student Council and a friend and I created the “Mr. Skyhawk Pageant” for Spirit Week. (Let the guys wear swimsuits and be talented, #amiright?) Read more>>

Tuli Bera

The J e l l o Performance strives for full artist visibility and inclusivity. Art-making takes a lot of time, space and money. We provide a safe environment and welcoming performance space for artists to experiment, create, risk and try! As a J e l l o artist, you have access to a performance space, production/lighting resources and a very supportive audience. Read more>>

Bethany Hope

I graduated high school in 2009 and had no idea what I wanted to do with life. I knew I loved snapping pictures of my friends but had no idea how to make it a career. There was a small sense of failure I carried from just barely scraping through high school and I had no future plans of going to college. Read more>>

Bill Graham

The genesis of CaptionAccess actually dates back to the late 1980s when I founded the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA), an organization for people who lose their hearing in their adult years. Our first meeting was at my apartment in Old Town. Read more>>

Tim Twitchell

I have been in the same industry for 36 years and have worked with a couple of Manufactures as a Direct Sales Rep (approximately 6 years) and as a Sales Rep for Independent Rep Agency (21 years) until 2008. In September of 2008 I decided to strike out on my own and start a company as an Independent Rep Agency under the name of TNT Unlimited, Inc. Read more>>

Dr. Sandi Ferguson

Learning something new and passing it on to others has always been a calling for me. As early as high school, when the Biology teacher gave me a teaching task to keep me busy and out of trouble, I have been cast into the teaching role by those who knew me better than I knew myself. Read more>>

Jason Han

Since my arrival to the United States back in 1980 as an immigrant, I have always pursued opportunities to accomplish the American dream Today, I am proud to have a team of 20 employees offering innovation, smart kitchen and bath products. Read more>>

Debra Pappas

For years I worked as a photo shoot coordinator for a prominent advertising photographer. Part of my job was to hire models for advertising campaigns.t. With my experience hiring models and booking them for ad campaigns and other photo shoots I developed relationships with casting director‘s and other agents as well as the parents of some of the models we booked. Read more>>

Brian Booth

I came out of college and a difficult season knowing that I wanted to dedicate my life to giving people hope. I wasn’t sure what that meant yet, but the journey led me to a few different non-profit organizations working with youth, and eventually to St. Peter. Read more>>

Heather Busulovich

I was intrigued with my grandmother with her red lipstick and curling her hair. How well she was put together never left the house out of place. She always thought me to look your best put foot forward. Shortly I worked for Bare Minerals just for seasonal help. Read more>>

Keon Dillon

Keon is a Chicago-based Spiritual Wellness Coach and Tarot Practitioner. He grew up in rural Mississippi, where he cultivated most of his knowledge and experience related to his spiritual practices. A number of spiritual/ religious philosophies inform his work such as Christianity, Hermetic Kabbalah, Mississippi & New Orleans Hoodoo, and Buddhism. Read more>>

Jackie Graff

When I was finishing up my undergraduate degree, I was interning at a women’s shelter. I was a court advocate and spent many days working with women in the courts of Chicago. I also was in the process of looking into law schools and preparing to take the LSAT. Read more>>

Alexandria Wills

I’ve been an explorative maker my whole life. Always enjoyed learning and creating new things. So when I learned how to make shoes it was just about the coolest thing in the world to me and I couldn’t stop! I began my business about 4 years ago now and when I started I wasn’t making shoes actually. Read more>>

Chelsea Katz

I met my co-founder, Kristi Wood in Pilates class about a year and a half ago. Both of us were commuting into the studio from our neighborhood of Logan Square. In a serendipitous meeting on a Blue Line train platform one November evening, we learned that our previous studio had decided to abruptly close and determined that it was high time for our own community to benefit from having a space to practice Pilates. Read more>>

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