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Inspiring Stories from the South 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 the South Side’s rising stars below.

Emily Koches

I have always loved three things: moving (can’t sit still), cooking (well… eating), and helping people (teaching). I worked in education for about ten years, with cooking and fitness as hobbies, until I decided to take a big risk and combine all my passions together. Read more>>

Shawnae Bleichner-Cook, Josie Patterson

Josie and I (Shawnae) met while working together at a large central Illinois catering company. We always worked so well together and quickly became great friends. After both pursuing other career paths for several years, late last year we had this crazy idea to start our own catering company. Read more>>

John Griffin

Entrepreneurship isn’t a straight and paved road, however, AGB has found success by giving back to our community. That’s our ‘secret sauce’, we are servant leaders that provide protection, job training, and life skills to the communities we service. Read More>>

Cortnee Gutierrez

The Miss Too Cute Pageant is the pageant for the ULTIMATE girly girl. Our goal is to equip girls ages 1-13 years old with high self esteem, sportsmanship, girl etiquette and stage presence, attributes that are transferable in and out of the classroom. I believe that I grabbed those characteristics throughout life, but it wasn’t until my involvement in pageants that I began to master them. Read more>>

Danielle Portis

My father died when I was 5 years old, and that was my first experience of death and loss. He was verbally and physically abusive to my mother and I; which led me to spend years downplaying his death and the challenge of being a fatherless daughter. I spent years angry, acting out, taking risks and nonchalant to the consequences. Read more>>

Chiquita Lewis

My name is Chiquita Lewis and my business Yail’s Garden is a handmade body care line that specializes in whipped body butters, soaps, bath salts and hair oils. I am a mother of 4 beautiful children and reside on the south-side of Chicago. I started studying and researching how to make my own body products while living in Egypt. Red more>>

Alysha McElroy-Hodges

Well, it starts off in the Quad Cities surrounded by the Mississippi River between Iowa and Illinois. Two young doves who fell in love and created a little music lover. Honestly, music has been the soundtrack of my life. I’ve heard it through church sermons, cookouts, clean-up days and a multitude of car rides. Read more>>

Shaneika Booker

I had graduated from college and remained living in my college town for another year because I had not figured out my next move. I mean for the last 2 years I had been freelancing for online publications (beauty and fashion blogs as well as hip-hop magazines and blogs). I did enjoy writing but I absolutely loved writing about music and entertainment. Read more>>

Glenn Beamon

Growing up in Englewood. I was always a fan of music. It was always played in m house, or the car, or my friends house’s, where ever I was. I wasn’t really a rap fan because that’s not wha the adults around me where listening too. My cousins Listened to rap but the were all much older than me. Read more>>

Kahlil Irving

I studied at the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri earning my Bachelors of Fine Arts majoring in Art History and Ceramics. During my time there I was rigorously engaged by some professors that helped me see the world is a complicated place to live within. Read more>>

Tonya L. Rippy

The death of my mother inspired my first piece, THE LIGHT WITHIN. I was having trouble embracing the grieving process after her death. I just didn’t have time for it. I was a divorced mom of a 7 year old that I had to be strong for. So, I returned to our routines. Me as an educator and my son as second grader. Read more>>

Jamila Adams

Even from the time I was a young girl, I’ve always had a very Type A personality. Everything had to be organized and in its place. The love of planning and executing pushed me into dreaming of being a wedding planner one day (which is still a dream). From there, I started watching shows like “A Wedding Story” and “Say Yes to the Dress” almost daily, even before school. Read more>>

Eunice Vashti

It all started as a child. I am the fourth generation of tailors and designers to come out out of family. I grew up observing my father, who was known as the “master cutter” , lay patterns on fabrics and cut almost eye level to his hand. My mother had such an eclectic style. Read more>>

Akilah “Silver” Petty

Photography has become my number one outlet of expression beyond the clothes I wear. It’s been a way to show everyone the inner workings of how I think, how I see the world and how I see people. I’ve become the writer, director, producer, and cinematographer in my own right. Read more>>

Sheila Ganch

Sculpture is one of my many passions. As a wife, mother, teacher and inveterate world traveler, I am grateful for how those experiences help shape my work. I love experimenting with different materials – e.g. – my early pieces evolved from bronze into thin lead forms treated with metal dyes and patinas. Read more>>

Khyree Dukes

I started SheDestroy a few years ago with no real destination or plan. My senior year of high school I made my first pair of “bleached & distressed” jeans for my trunk party, but I was a dancer so it wasn’t something I had planned to make a career of at the time. I’ve always been artistic and creative, always enjoyed doing arts and crafts or anything of that nature so starting my brand was just another way of bringing those talents to life. Read more>>

Nick Alonzo

I am a self-taught independent filmmaker born and raised in Chicago. I always wanted to make films when I was younger but didn’t get serious about until high school. I started out making short LEGO stop-motion animation films and also loved creative writing. Read more>>

Teri Healy

I’ve dreamt about being a speaker for 30+ years and have a vision of helping people create extraordinary lives. I started designing workshops and keynote talks and honed my craft in the not-for-profit arena in 2014. Since I moved my passion into a business, I’ve had the privilege to present to a wide range of audiences. Read more>>

Darian ”Camcorder” Banks

Everything started with the first snapback I can remember being given to me as a kid. I remember seeing how cool it was to wear one. As I grew older I was able to notice the connection between fashion and hip-hop. Seeing that I had a love for both, I began my hat collection. By the time I was in high school, I had it clear in my mind that I wanted to work for a corporate business surrounding the type of hats I enjoyed. Read more>>

Karen S Brienzo

“Doing it all is hard work. Having it all makes up for it.” That line is on a torn up magazine page that has been hanging in my office for 30 years. At first look you may say it defines me, but “having it all” changed when my husband was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer. Read more>>

Zanah Thirus

I was homeschooled until I went to college at age fifteen. I graduated with my BA in marketing communication with a minor in theater acting from Columbia College Chicago at 19 years old. During my senior year in undergrad, I interned for a talent agency. During my internship I realized that there was a whole world of production that I was interested in. Read more>>

Mgbako Chukwuma Snillow

My passion for music led me to start an indie record label. Being inspired by 2 pac, Jay Z, public enemy, I grew up to become a conscious rapper that uses socio-political issues going on around the world to educate and inspire people. We started with lots of artistes in our label. Read more>>

Ariel White

I’m Ariel White and I am a wife, a mom, author, and an entrepreneur with a passion to help other women and moms start and grow their businesses. I started my cupcake business Sweet Blooms Cupcakes 4 years ago after leaving my job as a teacher and needed money to support the girls mentoring program I was running. Read more>>

Amy Nielsen

Myself and my partners noticed how boutique fitness was trending, but always wondered why no one was putting an equal focus on cardio/strength/flexibility. From there, SPENGA was born – we feel those components are the 3 most important pillars of fitness and maximizing results. Read more>>

Margaret Murphy-Webb

I am a retired Chicago Police Officer and a Professional Musician/Vocalist. I decided three years ago to start a non profit organization that will bring free live jazz performances and music education to under-served areas of the south side. Read more>>

Kayla Perkins

At age 5 I use to watch America’s Next Top Model (Tyra Banks), Project Runway, Jr. Project Runway and the Disney channel. I was inspired by watching the models ripping the runways and the designers talking about their fashion I started sketching my own designs. Read more>>

Kristoffer McAfee

My parents met on the south side of Chicago (both attending public high schools) years before my father joined the Navy. 3 years later I was born in San Diego, California and would spend a number of years out there before returning back to the south side of Chicago were I was raised and attended school. Read more>>

1 Comment

  1. Grant Niebergall

    August 6, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    I had an opportunity to browse some of the interviews. I am very excited to have been chosen for one of the future interviews as well !
    I think it’s absolutely fabulous that a magazine of your caliber has done as well as it has only because the non-corporate companies are the ones who have the true stories that are not hidden by corporate rules. At the end of the day it’s about struggle and survival compassion and success and I tip my hat to every business owner out there and every genre of work! 1 Fine Tune is excited to bring the music industry together on stages as well as in the communities of Chicago in the nation !

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