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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.

Stephanie Clemens

I started to teach in Oak Park in 1971 when I rolled up the living room rug. By 1972 I moved into a Tai Chi Studio and traded office work in exchange for space to teach a few classes. By 1973, I rented a small store front and began teaching classes and invited a couple other teachers to join me. Read more>>

Laura Ng

Traffick Free began as a ministry out of Park Community Church (“PCC”) in Chicago in 2008. At the time, the team was about learning about the issues of human trafficking and hosting events to invite the public to learn alongside us. I was not very heavily involved in this ministry for the first two years but in 2010, I made a decision to devote the majority of my volunteer time to building Traffick Free. Read more>>

Heather Winnan

I became interested in the medical field in high school when I shadowed my neighbor who is an orthopedic nurse. I studied pre-med and Spanish in college but wasn’t sure of the direction I wanted to go in the medical field after graduation. Read more>>

Monika Grunwald

I started my style blog back in 2014 but I had a slow start and didn’t really get into it with a full commitment until sometime in 2015/2016. It was first and foremost a venue for me to express myself and have a creative space for the artistic side of me. Read more>>

Lance Long

I grew up with film and still photography as just one aspect of a rich visual environment. My memories are visual more than anything else. For years, I spent time photographing the details and beauty around the world, often with an absence of people in my photographs while exploring those environments. Read more>>

Doug Johnson

I started wood carving as a hobby in December 2017. It stems from research I’ve been doing into my Norwegian heritage and feeling like I needed a hobby that wasn’t in front of a tv, phone or computer screen (my day job is in front of a computer). Read more>>

Megan Carey

I’ve always been drawn to right-brained, creative projects and very much dread the dreary left-brained work. After graduating with a degree in Journalism from Indiana University, I worked in a rather monotonous sales role then moved into marketing which was far more interesting but not quite fulfilling enough. Read more>>

Joseph Realubit

Applying ink on the skin, saturated and clear enough to look like a painting. This is my never-ending challenge as a tattoo artist. The whole process and skill it took always intrigued me. I couldn’t help but feel drawn to the craft. The start of my tattooing career began in 1999, when all I had to show was the fine art background I had come from. Read more>>

Jordan Vanden Bos

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a knack for being crafty and an affinity for using those skills to serve others. Growing up in and around the Chicagoland area, I mostly used those skills to create personal gifts and plan events for loved ones but never thought seriously about turning that passion into a career. Read more>>

Dr. Jess Enderby

I chose to be a chiropractor because of all that went along with it. I love how adjustments help with pain and function, and I love how chiropractors take such a holistic approach to health. We look at the cause of an issue to fix the problem versus a quick fix. Why does someone have low back pain? Read more>>

Molly Wilson

I started working in the heating and air conditioning industry about 17 years ago, right out of high school. My first job was working nights in a busy heating and air conditioning office, entering invoices, cold-calling customers and scheduling appointments. Wanting to make more money, I knew I had to get a degree or learn a trade. It was at that point I asked if the owner would train me in the field. Read more>>

Meg Duguid

I am a performance artist with a studio practice. I came to Chicago in 1995 to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I focused on ceramics and papermaking. Within a year of graduating with my BFA, I started throwing public fights (Fight 2000 series), and that’s what really started my personal investigation of performative practice (although it took me a year or two to conclude that I was a performance artist). Read more>>

Lori Gaspar

I took my first yoga class in high school but had completely forgotten about it until recently. One of my best friends was cleaning out some old boxes and found a note I gave her in high school that said I had tried a yoga class in gym that day and I loved it and that I imagined myself doing it forever. Read more>>

Jacob Zepeda

Growing up I always had this inner desire to share a story. To be completely honest in regards to schooling, I was a average student. Sure I went about classes doing my Math and English but what really got me excited everyday was my electives or art classes. Read more>>

Kofi Hughes

After a short stint in the NFL, i went through an identity crisis, not sure who i was or what i would do or become, my whole life was self-centered, and all about football. I started working as a personal trainer in Indianapolis while finishing my degree and found my purpose in serving others. I started praying that God would bless me with a space, to love and cultivate people the way He loved and Cultivated me. Read more>>

Joshua Katt

I’ve been cooking since I was about 14. I’ve worked in so many different types of restaurants over the years but found my passion at an Italian restaurant that used a ton of ingredients from local farms. It was there I saw my first purple heirloom tomato salad and my first vanilla bean being scraped into the ingredients to make creme brûlée. Read more>>

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