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

LaSalle Smith II

I began shooting when I was 18, and that was just me being curious with my mom’s camera. Like most shooters, I began shooting inanimate objects, urban landscapes and things like that. It wasn’t long before I found a fascination with human subjects, events and concerts. Read more>>

Geri Perez

I didn’t always know I wanted to be in the makeup industry, but I do know that as a child I always loved to play with makeup and do makeovers on my friends whenever they would come over. As I got older makeup to me became a hobby and I always liked wearing it from a young age. Read more>>

Valerie Gimre and Jen Schleyer

Charming Touch Parties was born out of a love for creating beautiful, sweet and special occasions for those we love the most! In 2007, when our two sets of twin babies were just two months and six months old, Jen and I – Valerie – met and became fast and best friends. Read more>>

Connor Cornelius

Growing up, I had a melting pot of mom’s close friends as our chosen family. My “aunties”  influenced me with their different cultures: Nigerian, New Mexican, Polish and Cuban. One night we would be eating Perogis while waxing eggs and the next we would have a Salsa dance party in the kitchen.  Read more>>

Mary Koludrovic

I had the privilege of being an oncology social worker. Witnessing life and death has provided me a perspective that’s hard to put into words. When patients were nearing the end of life, we’d work together to identify what was most important to them. Without hesitation, the overwhelming majority responded: “My Kids. My Family.” Read more>>

Jennifer Strang

I have been a practicing chiropractor and acupuncturist for over six years. Had you asked me what I would be doing 12 years ago, I would have said confidently, “I am going to be a healthcare practitioner.” What I had yet to determine was my path. Read more>>

Edna Jackeline Vazquez

I am a Mexican-American immigrant living in Chicago. I came here in 2005 with my Dad, with the desire to have a better life with more opportunities for growth. The essence of this journey was to explore myself through freedom and love. Read More>>

Matt Woodburn and Sarah Neukom

We met in 2011 when we were introduced by mutual friends. It was clear that our skills complimented one another (Matt’s diverse background in events gave him unparalleled experience and insight into the world of event production and Sarah’s background in non-profits and fundraising made her an invaluable asset with professional skills and business acumen that uniquely complimented Matt’s creative nature). Read More>>

Destine Young

Starting this company has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. Although, each day, I surprise myself by taking risks and chasing my dreams fearlessly. Carrying out a vision takes a ton hard-work, patience, knowledge, commitment, devotion and so much more. Read more>>

Marita Valdizan

I learned techniques with clay and cold ceramic. By the age of 12, I was teaching my first class on cold ceramic techniques to adults and children. I continued studying the arts after high school and took a lot of side jobs to support myself while studying. I sold handmade jewelry and unique beads using cold ceramic to everyone that was intrigued. Read more>>

Eileen and Jeff Walsma

We have a lot more to learn as we continue this journey. Not only on how to continuously seek that ‘amazing’ shot, but how to stand out in a world where photography is literally at everyone’s fingertips given the capabilities of today’s cell phones. Given that, why jump into this particular fray? Read more>>

Tori Karsten

I continued to help coach over the winter and summer seasons and came to realize that my true passion still was working with female athletes (specifically field hockey girls) and helping other athletes find confidence in themselves through fitness. I took many group fitness classes and felt the team aspect come back to me as I experienced highly motivating instructors. Read more>>

Nikki Stratton

Working on growing my affiliation network did not happen overnight and growing followers and sales is also a challenge. Digging into the analytics of Style Me Stratton and focusing on the most clicked on shoes, sweaters, dresses, etc. helps me continue to refine my focus. Read more>>

Sue Koch

As I found myself at the desks & whiteboards of other business owners walking them through social media strategy and teaching them to use these tools, I found myself FINALLY realizing the true meaning of success. Not a title. Not a salary at the expense of sanity. It was making an income doing something you absolutely enjoy doing. Read more>>

Howard Madison

I’ve wanted to be a writer and performer ever since I could put words, thoughts, and actions together in a meaningful way. To that degree, I believe that the core of writing and performing is storytelling. There are stories all around us that are just waiting to be told. Read more>>

Antonia Ruppert

I’m in the middle of one of my best years. From working on pantyhose paper long ago to now creating original art and community art on canvas for various entities, my art and my story continue to inspire. I’m looking forward to what is next. Read more>>

Danielle Lenczuk, Nicole Galanti, and Casey Galanti

Bow & Arrow Collection started as way for the three of us sisters to combine our skills and create something we love. The store is how we inspire and celebrate all of life’s special moments. We began our journey in 2015 as a pop-up shop inside of a women’s clothing boutique, Felt Chicago, based in Logan Square. We also showcased our collection in a variety of markets around Chicago but always knew we wanted a space of our own. Read More>>

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