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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.

Shelley Rosen

I have a background in brand marketing. I was in search of starting a subscription business and was looking for a product. I heard about the product in England and quested to learn more about this product I started Luxe Bloom to meet an unmet need in the market to help leading luxury hotels have their hotel always look appointed with floral. Read more>>

Kristin Paxinos and Ben Westfall

Da Capo Music Studio opened on November 2, 2009. Its unique curriculum provides an optimal learning experience by combining expert instruction; regular performance opportunities; and a soundproof, distraction-free environment. Read more>>

Sara Dulkin

I wanted to create a nonconformist gallery space that legitimizes Street and Graffiti art. We work with some of the most talented artists in the world and their tools of the trade are spray paint. Helping artists to make a living through their talents means so much. Read more>>

Vince Balistreri

I first got into the food and beverage industry while attending Arizona State University, to help pay rent. I was completely obsessed with day one. I went from cooking to bouncing, then bar back, to the bartender, then closing manager. I moved back home to Wisconsin bring back some of that west coast college atmosphere, and it blew up. Read more>>

Craig Garofalo

From dishwashing to working at a deli, I’ve been in the restaurant industry for as long as I can remember. I started at the bottom and progressively worked my way up at various restaurants – most notably at fine dining establishments including Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, and Smith & Wollensky. Read more>>

Katie Morgan

When I was in college I was struggling with what I wanted to do for a living. I was taking psychology courses and just felt lost because although I enjoyed my classes, I just felt an emptiness and lack of purpose. What I did know is that I loved my beagle Timon, I had begged my parents for him on my 15th birthday. Read more>>

Matt Covey

We have been in business for 10 years and have loved every second of it! When I started the business I trained a lot of dogs for various humane societies and helped place them into loving homes. I also spent a lot of time helping clients solve behavioral problems with their dogs. Read more>>

Debbie Wood

My health led me to start this company–32 years with type 1 diabetes and 8 with celiac disease. I struggled to find foods that were satisfying and didn’t hurt my body. Because of my diseases, I’m forced to have a restricted diet, and I was determined to find a way to not feel isolated and improve my relationship with food. Read more>>

Jennifer Brown

It started when I received my very own “Art Table” at the age of 3. Every holiday was filled with new craft supplies and DIY projects. My business foundation started with selling Beanie Babies on eBay at 12 years old and I was hooked on the potential of entrepreneurship. Read more>>

Suman Prasad

I had been a head developer for an E-commerce company until 2002. I saw many flaws with using .NET programming to make their storefronts. There was always issues with bugs, especially when promoting between development and production environments. Read more>>

Danielle Rouille

Ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to own my own business. I was never sure exactly what I wanted to be. I can honestly say, I would never have guessed an insurance agent was the answer. I had the chance to interview with a State Farm agent before my last semester of college about agency opportunity. Read more>>

Scott Zawitz

Fort Pitt Hotel Furniture is a family owned and operated hotel liquidation company that has been based in Chicago for 55+ years! Our company has grown over time to include offices in Los Angeles as well but continues to call Chicago home! Read more>>

Angee Shields

I started Vacations With Flair in 2007, I wanted to be able to give VIP service and personal attention to luxury travelers. Soon after that, I started in specializing in romance and group travel. I don’t think its ever a smooth road for anyone owning their own business. I have worked really hard to stay in front of our target market. Read more>>

Carolyn Boyd

I grew up in poverty, living in low-income neighborhoods my whole life, watching my parents struggle to make ends meet. I didn’t realize we were poor until I was in the 5th grade and a classmate gave me her sweater because she saw that I didn’t have anything on. Read more>>

Andrew Papageorgiou

I was born and raised in Chicago and spent my youth competing in Track and Field which complimented my competitive nature and interest in sports. After graduating high school I studied Acting and Comedy at College, something that I have always had a great passion for. Read more>>

Mike Condon

There are three of us who started the business; myself, Paul Kreiner and Jim Cagle. We have been friends since middle school, Paul and I went to college together and all of us remain great friends up till today. Paul is the driver behind it all. Read more>>

Von Dirr LCMT

My first experience with massage & bodywork was after the loss of my father at his young age of 44. A great friend of mine gifted me a day spa package. She told me this would be the timeout I needed to take my mind off what I was going through. Read more>>

Chris Chen

Align Dentistry opened in 2013. We started this office with a vision to provide accessible oral health care for patients of all ages. I was born in Taiwan and immigrated to the United States when I was 6 years old. My family came with limited resources and my parents had to make daily sacrifices to obtain basic living needs. Read more>>

Javeed and Sura Hasan

In the late 1970s, as a young teenager, Javeed Hasan immigrated to Chicago with the hopes of pursuing the American Dream. As a young teenager, Mr. Hasan was unsure of what road he would take to achieve this dream he envisioned. Read more>>

Heather Weidmann

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home with a family that loves animals and was always surrounded by their companionship (dogs, cats, fish, birds, rabbits, etc.) My very first cat as a kid named Patches was actually a kitten born by a neighborhood stray that we had brought in. Read more>>

Dianne Grosso

I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1981 with a BS degree in Child Development. One of my dreams as a college student was to design and run a preschool of my own. Once married, my life included 3 children and many moves to different cities and states, leaving little time to start a school. Read more>>

Sari Levy

After years in the corporate world with positions ranging from Call Center Manager to Vice President of Operations across a multitude of industries such as refuse; energy; internet and concierge services, I decided I needed time for a break. Read more>>

Charles Laliberte

When I was with my daughter in Uganda in 2005, we spent most of our time visiting the wonders that Uganda has to offer. I realized that in the northern area of the country there were many educational challenges. Primary education is free. Secondary education is expensive. Read more>>

Judith Barath

One event pops into my mind. I was playing ‘art contest’ with my older girlfriend (we were four and six years old respectively). I still feel my excitement, responsiveness, and the challenge when I saw her painting was better than mine. Read more>>

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