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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.

Tim Verduin

Not everyone dreams of going into the Insurance Industry when they’re young, but for me it was a natural fit because my father had worked in the industry. I remember riding in our truck together, talking about policies, perils and liability limits. Typical man to man talk, you know? So after college, it seemed like a natural transition for me to follow in his footsteps. Read more>>

Eric Williams

At my core, I am a retailer and a social entrepreneur. Some years ago, I fell into urban planning because I saw a need in my community. There was a void for a space that could be used as a platform for the arts. The Silver Room is both a retail space and a launching venue for creatives. Read more>>

Nicole Makowski

My Great Grandfather started Victory Sausage Co. Why Victory? Because the phone number was Victory 2-5330 or Vi 2-5330. At this time area codes did not exist, for long distance calls you dialed the operator. Victory started as a small butcher shop in Central Wisconsin, we specialized in smoked sausages and hams. Read more>>

Patti Komara

My mom said if I wanted to go to college I would have to work. So, I started my own tumbling school the summer after my sophomore year in high school with 36 students. That was 1969 and now have 1500 students and have become a national speaker and expert for the gymnastics industry. Read more>>

Michael Quincy Chapman

As a youth, food and I established a lifelong relationship. Unsure of how I fit into world, I began eating nervously. Food was always there to comfort and listen to my problems. Now as an adult, I spend my time studying and working with my oldest friend (food). I completed my undergrad study at Benedictine University. Read more>>

Robyn and Joe Pokropinski

Joe began home brewing about 20 years ago, when his mom gave him a Mr. Beer Kit for Christmas, and his hobby quickly became an obsession! His years of brewing experience, combined with his wife, Robyn’s, business degrees and experience, led to the creation of Pokro Brewing Company. The name was derived from his nickname in high school: Pokro, which is the shortened version of his last name of Pokropinski. Read more>>

Robert Newhalfen

I was a multi-sport athlete in high school. I ran cross country and track as well as played basketball. During basketball season I had various injuries including low back injuries and many ankle sprains. Our local Chiropractic Physician helped out our basketball team by treating the injured athletes, myself included. Read more>>

Amy Mackiewicz and Wayne Sydni

Amy grew up surrounded by family who frequently engaged in gatherings revolving around a collective of amazing food prepared by three generations male and female. From baking cookies and pies with her mother and grandmother, to making homemade Polish sausage and baking bread with her father. Read more>>

Ben Glick

As the head of an academic molecular biology research lab, I was frustrated by the large amount of effort that was wasted during routine gene manipulation experiments. My lab and many others suffered because researchers made avoidable mistakes and struggled to maintain complete records. Read more>>

Audrey Drag

I started working in a flower shop just after high school delivering flowers. I started becoming interested in design and my bosses sent me to school because they saw potential. I worked for them for several years but then got out of the business altogether. I did a little bank work and retail work in the meantime but always had this desire to open my own business. Read more>>

Lawrence Pincus

I attended Purdue University in W. Lafayette, IN and received a B.S. in Biology with a double major in Clinical Psychology in 1977. I then went to University of Missouri-Columbia and got an M.Ed. in Agency Counseling and an Ed.S. in Family and Group Counseling. I worked at a mental health center in LaPorte county, IN and then as an addictions therapist at a hospital on the south side of Chicago. Read more>>

Amy Gentry

My partner Justin Reisetter and I combined our shared homebrewing hobby with our business career experience to start our small brewery in the town where Justin grew up. Our long-term goal is to be Chesterton’s hometown brewery and neighborhood craft beer pub. Our philosophy is slow and steady growth, and staying true to our vision while working within our means has paid off. Read more>>

Mark O’Malley

Paket was founded in 1957 as a contract packager not far from its current location at 9165 South Lake Shore Drive. It’s main products in the early days were tubes of lubricants for pumps and motors. In 1996, Mark bought Paket and started to develop flexible packaging alternatives for his customer’s products. Read more>>

Beverly Sandler

The shoe business has been a passion I have been fortunate enough to successfully pursue my entire life. My wonderful father, Abe Sandler started the business in Hammond Indiana in 1962 with $400 dollars’ worth of inventory. He had a huge talent for fitting his customers properly and knowing the right merchandise for them. He was magical when it came to working with customers. Read more>>

Moses Koktsidis

I started my company/corporation as a tribute to my sister Parthena, who passed away at an early age. And through the passion I hard for cars, I vowed to honor her name 17 years ago in the company I built from nothing but a dream and a purpose. That purpose was to make her proud of her little brother and for her name Parthena to shine brightly amongst all forms of gods earth from the land to the sea and one day the air. Read more>>

La Wuandia

My professional start began when my sister Sherry (who evidently heard and saw in me, what I had yet to realize), she approached a Sony Music producer and informed him that her sister (speaking of course of me), that I could sing and that she wanted him to hear me. He invited her to bring me to the Cotton Club (Chicago, IL), to perform at their Open Mic. Read more>>

Christopher Buehler

I started as a Ski Instructor Apprentice when I was 15 years old and quickly moved to a full Ski Instructor. I was then asked to work inside in our rental shop and within two seasons was promoted to Rental Manager, Cashier Manager and shortly after a Recreation Manager. While working as the assistant to our Area Director I learned many new skills and the ins and outs of our area. Read more>>

Annette Fiscelli

I co-owned personal training studios where I taught and was a coach. I got into triathlons and fell in love with training. I have a friend who gave me a box of bike chain and I knew that someday I would make something out of it. So, I dove in. I started by dissecting bike chain and making jewelry and quickly took over my parent’s garage. Read more>>

Michael Nitti

Our direction for the last 14 yrs. has been the Isola brand and providing Authentic Italian goods in the market place. When we seek out a product we try to seek out the best we can find, carrying only what we feel represents Italy and the region it is from. Since our family is from the south of Italy, Puglia, many of our goods originate from there. 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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