OrlandoVoyager http://orlandovoyager.com The best of Miami, Everyday! Thu, 15 Apr 2021 03:50:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hidden Gems: Local Businesses & Creatives You Should Know http://orlandovoyager.com/hidden-gems-local-businesses-creatives-you-should-know/ http://orlandovoyager.com/hidden-gems-local-businesses-creatives-you-should-know/#respond Tue, 13 Apr 2021 04:00:40 +0000 http://orlandovoyager.com/?p=4028 Every day we have a choice. We can support an up and coming podcaster, try a new family-run restaurant, join a boutique gym started by a local fitness champ or we could keep giving away our money to the handful of giants who already control so much of our commerce. Our daily decisions impact the […]

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Every day we have a choice. We can support an up and coming podcaster, try a new family-run restaurant, join a boutique gym started by a local fitness champ or we could keep giving away our money to the handful of giants who already control so much of our commerce. Our daily decisions impact the kind world we live in; if we want a world where small businesses are growing and artists and creatives are thriving then we should support them with our time, money and attention. We’re proud to highlight inspiring creatives and entrepreneurs each week in Hidden Gems series.  Check out some of our latest local gem features below.

Bianca and Kyle Thompson

We are Bianca and Kyle Thompson! Two super passionate, quirky, and eccentric folks currently residing in Central Florida. We had originally met at a British pub and years later re-met at an Irish pub. It was love at first sight, and from then on out, we were practically attached at the hip. This lead to us starting Oak and Iron Photography together and leaving our day jobs to fully commit to photography. Our friends would tell you that our life is like a sitcom and we can’t totally disagree. In 2016 we flew to Seattle, hiked up Rattle Snake Ridge, and said our marriage vows to each other. Then Olive and Spudz came into our lives, the two sweetest kittens you could ever meet, whom have definitely turned our house into a home. Since then, we have continued to travel all over the United States, documenting the stories of so many rad people. From this, we found ourselves constantly being reminded of how everyday calls for a celebration. Read more>>

Christian Stanley

Art has always been a big part of my life. I attended the University of Central Florida for their graphic design program and graduated in 2011 with a focus on illustration. I’ve been working in the design industry for close to a decade. In 2017, I began to dabble in street art/public art. I started out with an electrical box mural in the Ivanhoe District, and then things just snowballed from there. I went on to the Sam Flax Wall Mural Project and the ArtisNow project in Kissimmee soon after that. Since then, the street art opportunities keep lining up. It has ben an amazing journey so far, and I am excited to see where this takes me professionally. Read more>>

Donna Lorman

In 1996, my son, Drew, had just been diagnosed with autism. I was searching for help and stumbled upon the Autism Society of Greater Orlando. It was in its first year of operating as a non-profit organization and was still small and trying to find its footing. I was asked to become the Vice President and I jumped right in. During those first years, we held one large event, Sea of Dreams at SeaWorld Orlando. After a few years, I became President and the rest they say is history. The Autism Society of Greater Orlando is now in its 25th year serving the needs of the Central Florida Autism Community. We have grown into the oldest and largest parent autism organization in Central Florida. We host approximately 200 events, activities, trainings, meetings, supports, etc., per year. Our focus has always been supporting the individual with autism, their families, and the community as a whole. We have created programs such as social skills groups for individuals with autism ages 2-35; trainings for law enforcement officers, first responders, hospital staff. Read more>>

Ana Stella

My photography journey began in 2013 when my first son was born, Nathaniel. My husband David purchased our first camera only to capture all of our son’s special milestones & moments. In watching him and practicing together, I fell in love more with him and our camera. haha. I knew that we were destined for greater. However, life was still happening. We then had a second baby in 2018, I was working full time in corporate America, following the same routine every day. Although I knew I wanted to pursue photography full time, there were a lot of fears that held me back from going all-in so I worked at it when I had free time only. Then our 3rd baby arrived in 2019, another sweet boy. We lived in a small apartment in Jersey City, NJ with three kids and we just knew NJ was not for us anymore. We wanted more for the kids. More space to play, a yard to run, warmer weather so I can shoot all year long. Moving our family to Florida & pursing our passions was our goal. In April of 2020, I lost my job in corporate to Covid19. Read more>>

Georgia Culp

I seriously never saw myself as a designer. I have always been an entertainer. I absolutely loved singing, dancing and performing on stage. In fact, I spent my 20’s training to be a jazz, tap and ballet dancer. I was born and raised in California. I studied acting in high school and that is exactly what I was going to be, “an ACTRESS.” Instead, I fell more into the background of tv shows and danced my way through Disneyland as a parade performer. However, as much as I loved working the scene, I wanted to do more. I decided to get a job on a cruise ship as a social host. I traveled through the Caribbean and ended up in Orlando, Florida. This is where I married, had kids, worked the 9 to 5 job and basically grew out of being an entertainer. However, several years of blissful married life, I ended up divorced and a single mom with two boys. I was already working a full-time job but needed to find a second job. I ended up working at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights as a Costumer. This is where I found out I can sew, design, and even draw!! I really felt like I found this new desire to create. Read more>>

Jeremy Santos

I am a local Orlando vegan influencer. I began my vegan journey about three years ago due to health conditions causing me to have chronic stomach pain. Transitioning to veganism was not a decision I thought I was going to make in my life but besides health conditions, I am happy to be playing a major role in reducing my carbon foot. In my journey, I discovered there were many restaurants that offered vegan options, I never noticed before. I began reading blogs, books and looking on social media for more tips and advice on snacks, drinks and food substitutions. In my quest, I realized there were not many vegan food bloggers in my city. Being a millennial, I rely on Instagram to see which foodies post about vegan options and what can be substituted from restaurants to make an item vegan. Since I felt Orlando at the time lacked vegan foodie pages, I began my blog @Orlandobeardedvegan in April of 2019 on Instagram to not only help myself learn and grow in my new eating lifestyle but I also hoped I could aid others who maintained a vegan diet. Read more>>

Dee Coleman

Samaritan Village was founded in 2009 by a former prison chaplain, Rhonda Stapleton. From the start, it was a multi-denominational effort. Rhonda was supported through the Free Methodist Church, while Summit Church provided significant investment in startup costs. Rhonda bought a house right off of Orange Blossom Trail, OBT or “the trail” as it is often referred to because she knew she was called to reach out to women in desperate situations. As she connected with women near her home, and worked as a jail chaplain nearby, she saw women caught in a cycle of sexual exploitation with limited resources. Florida has the third-highest rate of human trafficking cases reported across the country after California and Texas. Orlando is one of the top ten cities for human trafficking reports as the year-round tourism and convention industry offers a lucrative market for sex traffickers. Read more>>

Jaimz Dillman

I’ve always been an entertainer. Give me an audience and watch me go! I performed all through school and continued training with an improv school here in town, I was lucky to have some of the best teachers for the workshops I attended and worked my way up the ranks of the theater, eventually becoming an ensemble apprentice and host. The training I received to “Yes and” offers, build relationships, and shape a show led to work in the theme parks, convention shows, local theater, television, and festivals. I was given my first chance at burlesque when Wade Hair of Brathrough Theater let me have a shot joining an amazing cast in the Orlando Fringe Festival- Redlight: The Bad Girls of Broadway. Being surrounded by such talented performers and a super supportive cast showed me something I wanted more of in the Central Florida arts scene. Because we’re a community of actors mainly from the area theme parks, we’ve gotten used to fitting into a mold the casting directors use for characters they create. This ends up discounting and discarding a lot of talent that may not fall into the guidelines they cast from. Read more>>

Jenny Finkler

I have always been interested in health and fitness. I grew up figure skating competitively and was always very active. I graduated with a major in Hospitality Management and a minor in health sciences. I knew I always wanted to have my own business. After my husband and I moved out to California, I began coaching figure skating and met a great friend who introduced me to Dexafit. I found this testing incredibly helpful. Having been an athlete nearly my entire life, I had always wondered about my body metrics. I had questions like, “How can I get an accurate body composition test? How do I know if I am making progress just by looking at the scale? How do I know how many calories I should be eating for my training? How strong is my cardio health? These were questions that were answered and I finally had a guide as to how to do this for my progress. After learning about this testing and running the San Francisco location for a few years, my family and I decided to open our location here in Orlando. I found a true passion for helping people reach their health and wellness goals. Read more>>

Ramone Graves

Growing up, I was always into sneakers and graphic t-shirts. I was also heavily influenced by hip-hop. Especially artist like Pharrell and Lil Wayne. So it only made sense that I was drawn to clothing lines like Bathing Ape and Billionaires Boy Club. Both are pretty pricey and my parents definitely would not pay upwards $100 for a t-shirt, lol. For a while, it was hust a vision in the back of my head. 2018 I decided to pursue a t-shirt brand. A close friend of mine told me about shopify.com and it all started with that in 2019. Right now, we still operate through shopify but we do plan to branch out. Read more>>

Thaddeus Kornegay

Adopted when I was a baby from Orlando, FL, went to a Military boarding High School, College right after, Graduated with BS in Business Management. Started career in corporate world 3-5 years (Gov’t Contracting), but fell in love with Fitness and quickly changed my profession! Now a certified personal trainer (NASM) and Outdoor fitness franchise owner! American Ninja Warrior Contestant (Season 10) Nonprofit Board member (Route 7 Orlando) I am excited to share the love and inspire those that are on the journey to a meaningful life. Hopefully, something in my journey/story sparks those who read and/or listen. Above are just a few highlights of the journey through TK’s eyes! and can definitely expand on those of choice. Thanks again for reaching out and looking forward to it all. Read more>>

Aleitha Morgan

My design journey has definitely been a winding path. I decided in elementary school that I was going to be an architect and spent my time in high school and college focused on that goal. As I got older, I had an interest in visual communication but didn’t fully invest my time in it. After graduating with my bachelor’s degree in architecture during the recession, I decided to focus more closely on graphic design. This refocus was one of the best decisions I could have made and I have spent the last few years nurturing my design career in a new way. I definitely encourage every creative person to not be overwhelmed by career changes and setbacks. It’s a journey worth exploring. I currently work for a local advertising agency and teach as an adjunct professor at Valencia College. I have been extremely fortunate to be a part of the Think Integrated team. Our work is not only well-rounded but extremely fulfilling. One of our most recent projects is a Mobile STEM Lab for the School District of Osceola County. Read more>>

Brittany Gibson

I always knew I had to figure out a way to make traveling my life. In May of 2014, I graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Editing, Writing & Media (journalism) and a minor in Modern Languages. I headed back home to spend the next eight months saving every penny, nickel, and dime for my great adventure. A typical work week would be Monday-Friday 8 am-12 pm as a social media assistant for my dad, a financial advisor for Morgan Stanley. Then head straight to The Boutique on Plant for a mid-afternoon shift, then a closing shift at The Attic Door Tuesday-Saturday and let’s not forget Sunday bunch. My friends grew accustomed to hearing me say, “Sorry, I have to work” for every invitation they extended. If I wasn’t serving, selling clothes, or organizing spreadsheets, you could find my at any one of my neighbor’s houses dog sitting or house sitting to fill any spare time I could scrounge up. It worked. I saved up $19,227 for my epic world journey. My mom had one rule: communication every day. Read more>>

Tay Dubocq

Since I was a young girl, I had a passion for hosting and entertaining and I knew a career in hospitality was what I needed to pursue to truly love what I was going to do in life. Following my dreams, I left Puerto Rico and started my career in Florida while attending Lynn University. And, after just two short years and the tragic events of 9/11, I moved back to Puerto Rico and finish my studies there; but, little did I know, that change actually set me up for where I am today in life – professionally and personally. As I returned, I was presented with the opportunity of working for the renowned Caribe Hilton Hotel – a place I like to call my roots, my “real” school, the place that taught me everything about service, consistency, quality, attention to detail and hospitality. It was while I was working at the Hilton that I met my husband & now business partner, Craig. I met him and instantly fell in love, quit my dream job and made the biggest move of my life to date and moved to Washington state and started a new life. Read more>>

Kevin Kendrick

Kevin Kendrick is a 7th generation Florida who was born and raised in Orlando. He grew up in South Orlando and is a product of the Orange County Public School system, graduating from Dr. Phillips High School in 1991. He attended Valencia Community College shortly after upon graduating high school, earning his AA degree. He then attended Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia and received a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1996 with the desire to teach students. He returned to Orlando and began his career in education, which would span 22 years as a teacher, dean, assistant principal and principal. Always having an entrepreneurial spirit, he received his real estate license in 2010 and practiced on the side, mainly working with friends and fellow educators. In 2014, he joined Keller Williams in Lake Nona and learned the value of building long-lasting relationships and strengthening the community at the same time. 2016 was a breakout year for him, as his wife Yvette joined him in the real estate industry to form The Kendrick Team, as well as being recognized as a Top 1% Realtor in Central Florida, which he has attained each year since. Read more>>

Alicia Graves

I never expected to have more than one passion or path; but here I am! For many years I’ve been passionate about natural wellness and its way of life. I’ve researched and started living this lifestyle and began to pass on what I’ve learned, but never dreamed that I could build a business helping empower others while continuing to do my 9 to 5 as a teacher. Almost five years ago I made a decision that forever changed my life. I thought I was just getting some essential oils to help with my anxiety, skincare, natural cleaning solutions, and for aromatherapy. I had no idea that it would lead me to changing my whole lifestyle and improving my health. Read more>>

Gerald Hearns

Brick By Brick Academy of Health & Wealth began with a vision of a clothing business after a few years of trial and error. What makes Brick By Brick Academy so impactful today? The journey began with establishing my first brick, which was creativity. Starting my first business at six years old, those moment increased my passion to positively serve my community and many others that I come in contact with. My first business endeavor was a lemonade stand. My mother, Sharon Engram, provided the necessary support to help me make my first experience a great success. Growing up in West Palm Beach and Riviera Beach, Florida, sports was always a passion. The thrill of playing football taught me a lot and allowed me to connect with many people in the neighborhood. The game of football brought light to me on how a piece of pig skin could allow a young man who have overcome the experiences of near life ending moments, overcame challenges of being a walk on at two colleges, but managed to earn multiple academic and later athletic scholarship and more. Read more>>

Vladimir Predestin

My story started back in Haiti in 2005, where with my Nikon Coolpix point and shoot digital camera, I decided to explore the world of photography. At that time, like most first starter, the auto mode was my best friend; I was literally using the camera like the name described it “point and Shoot.”.” However, as the days passed and I kept shooting, my interest kept growing; at that point, I wanted to learn more about photography, the different camera modes, photography styles and concepts, etc. I decided to upgrade to a bigger body and more advance point-and-shoot camera. I carry my camera almost everywhere I go and ready to snap some shots as soon as an opportunity presents itself. I started out with landscape photography, then realized that there is so much more to learn about in the photography world and swapped my point and shoot for a DSLR. I am not afraid to walk towards the unknown and tackle new projects due to the fact that I am always predisposed to learn and discover new things. Read more>>

Adriana Nelson

I have always been a big creative. As a child, I used to write and draw a lot and when I got older and headed to college, I didn’t know how to channel that into a career at first. After research and career counseling, I discovered the communications major, and I also discovered my passion for graphic design, which I freelance even to this day (six years and counting). I knew that in the career I was in, it would be competitive. My first hurtle was getting an internship. I knew the real-world experience was essential prior to graduation if I wanted to get a job right after college. It wasn’t until my second to last semester that I secured an internship for a local business called Statusphere. This is a women ran company and the founder is also a UCF graduate. After gaining experience from them as a social media specialist, I graduated from UCF in 2018 with my bachelor’s in communications. Even with a degree, getting a job in my field was a challenge. It took me roughly two years to get a full-time position in my field. Read more>>

Kamari Young-Williams

I’d like to say I’m still getting started. I have always liked being creative and finding ways to challenge myself with something new. During the start of pandemic, I was able to transform what I do. My husband encouraged me to start my business after constantly creating things and storing them on the shelves at home. I started with creating centerpieces but decided I wanted to learn to do tumblers and expand my bling work. I used that time to launch Kamari’s Kreations. My pastor once told me that this is my gift and honestly, I just use what God has given me to bring a smile to others. It’s still in the works of being fully complete but I have a Facebook page, Instagram page and am working on my google website. I ordered my cricut machine in November of 2019 and I started making simple tumblers the turner my husband gifted me with. I quickly used all the stones I had purchased over the past few months, from blinging mirrors to use on coffee mugs. One day while on a Motorcycle Ride and met Denise, of Big Wheel Women. She asked if I could bling a pair of boots for her. Read more>

LaVon Bracy

I am a native of Boynton Beach, Florida and the daughter of the late Reverend Thomas A Wright Sr and Affie Mae Wright. I was educated in the public schools of St. Augustine and Gainesville, Florida. I was the first African American to graduate from Alachua County Schools, Gainesville High School, Florida in 1965. In 1969, I graduated from Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee, with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree in Psychology. In 1970, I graduated from The University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida with the Masters of Education Degree (M.Ed.) with an emphasis in College Personnel Services. In 1977, I earned the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Degree from the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, with specialization in Higher Education Administration. I am an advocate for social justice. I have conducted extensive voter education, registration and Get Out The Vote (GOTV) in Central Florida, singlehandedly registering more than 1200 voters and was featured in the CNN Special: WHO COUNTS, 2012. See YouTube documentary clips below. Read more>>

Jerrell Watson

For many years, I used to make my sauce for family use or give it away to friends. In 2015 I decided bottle it and launched the business on Amazon. After a very strong response, I began to market it to local specialty stores such as The Ancient Olive, Winter Park, Chamberlin’s, Lucky’s Markets and local Farmer’s Markets. Read more>>

Charlie Griffin

I started CF2 in January of 2011. We had a little over a dozen composers at that first meeting, from Full Sail University, UCF, Rollins, Stetson, etc. We now have over 30 members. I ran the group for a couple of years, then Tim Stulman, then Dave MacDonald, and now I’m running again, since November 2018. I stopped running it the first time because of some turmoil in my personal life. But since taking the reins again, I’ve been dedicated to elevating the presence of the group in the local arts scene and the community in general. I’m especially interested in creating collaborative projects with allied arts organizations in the area so that we not only offer our composer members unique opportunities to create new work but also to offer the Orlando area arts events that are special, memorable, and of high artistic value. To this end, we have collaborated with Emotions Dance, Burrow Press, Orlando Story Club, and local ensembles too. I’m excited that we will have our first performance at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on January 23, 2021. Read more>>

Chaz Robinson

My passion for music and singing began at the age of three… singing in church and at local events. After a successful athletic career, I took on performing full time and traveled all over the world. My first major contract was with Cedar Point, the roller coaster capital of the world. Soon after I found myself in Japan’s Universal Studios for two years. Toward the end of my contract, I was approached by a well-respected record label to release my first album! Chaz Robinson, born December 20th, 1989, is a Singer-Songwriter, Dancer, Model, Actor and Professional Jump Roper from Indianapolis, IN. In 2015, Chaz garnered two nods on the Official Grammy Ballot for Best Pop Solo Performance. He has appeared on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew: Season 5, MTV’s MADE, the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Disney’s Shake It Up, La Grande Cabaret du Monde: France, and Broadway’s Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy. He has also worked with SYTYCD’s Emmy Award-Winning hip-hop choreographers Tabitha & Napoleon D’Umo. Chaz has taught Jump Rope on a National and Worldwide scale, teaching thousands of jump ropers at hundreds of workshops during his continued 15 years of being a professional and competitive jump roper — winning numerous National and World titles. Read more>>

Scarlet Begonias

I got started with my modeling career when I was scouted for a project by a photographer in New York. I was working a long shift on Father’s Day as a waitress in a restaurant. One of my customers was a photographer and told me if I had never considered modeling before, I should do so immediately. (I had done some figurative art modeling for drawing classes in college and modeled for my best friend’s photography just for fun, but never even DREAMED of modeling as a career. I never had the self-esteem.) That first shoot was one of the most exciting days of my life, and I felt alive and inspired in front of the camera- like I was immediately in my element. The images were selected for publication by a magazine, and once I posted the images to my Instagram, the requests for more photoshoots started coming in from other photographers. I worked hard, travelled, shot non-stop, built my portfolio and websites, and have thrown myself wholeheartedly into the modeling world for the past two years. I eat, sleep and breathe modeling. My whole life really revolves around making each shoot better than the last. Read more>>

Jessica D. Walker

My undergraduate experience at the illustrious Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) taught me a lot about becoming an adult. I inherently learned to trust my instincts more, while eliminating the desire for validation from others. As a first-year college student in an entirely new state with no friends at the time, I became all too familiar with the concept of being homesick. I found power and strength by standing tall through the charge to step outside of my comfort zone.  Things seemed to be well, until a financial tragedy impacted my family. I remember the phone call as if it were yesterday; with disappointment and sadness in her voice, my mother called to share that she was furloughed from her employer at the time. Immediately, I felt my heart drop. Throughout my years, I depended upon my mother for financial stability. This was a time of true adjustment as my mother is a single parent who was supporting two children in college simultaneously. This unexpected change forced me to choose a life of resilience and never look back. Upon processing this news, I found a job in retail and asked my professors for opportunities to perform tasks as a teacher’s assistant. Read more>>

Nikki Maly

I’ve always been intuitive. It wasn’t until my teenage years when I learned to listen to it. In my late 20’s I occasionally sought someone else’s intuitive advice on my life’s direction. It wasn’t until my early 30’s I started taking workshops for intuitive development. During that time, I had read a few books by Brian Weiss on past life regression. I found the subject highly intriguing and his stories fascinating. I hadn’t considered hypnotherapy or past life regression as a field that I would get into; I hadn’t the slightest idea how someone would take that as a career choice. It wasn’t until the Autumn of last year when I started reading an author new to me on past life regression. Before I could get into the first chapter, the author mentioned she had a school, and she taught others hypnotherapy and past life regression as a course. I jumped up and went to my laptop to find out more. Much to my surprise, everything started to fall into place to take the next course offering. Little did I know that my intuitive abilities would be a tremendous asset in this new line of work. Read more>>

Jamie O’Neill

My partner and I launched our business in November 2020. Like many other entrepreneurs, I didn’t think I would be one! Before launching Merigold Creative, I worked in retail for over a decade, with a portion of that time in bridal fashion, working at various bridal boutiques in Orlando. During my time as a Bridal Stylist and then Fashion Director, I was balancing classes and work, which helped me uncover my passion for small business and PR and marketing. While discovering this passion, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with my Bachelor’s Degree in Human Communication in August 2020. Like many other recent college graduates, finding a job in the midst of a pandemic was a daunting task. Online applications, Zoom interviews and hiring freezes made looking for the perfect position nearly impossible. After months of frustration with searching for a new career, I was approached by a local wedding industry colleague who was also in the same position as me. When indoor dining was available again, we began meeting weekly over coffee to discuss our goals and dreams. During these meetings, we decided to create positions that weren’t available to us. Read more>>

Venessa Drai

I started this business April of 2020 during the Covid 19 lockdown. Like most people in Orlando, I was furlough from my work and I was at home spending time with my loved ones until I started to get bored. There was not much to do. All the home projects I had pending were completed. Not much to see in Netflix, nowhere to go, nothing to do. In the midst of the situations happening, I learned in the past that even bad moments can become good opportunities, As I started to research my possibilities, I received a phone call from my brother in Miami. He had been a Matterport provider since 2017 and I had seen his work but it never occurred to me to do 3D Virtual Tours. He told me he was very busy doing tours like never before. He offered me to join him in the company and open in Orlando and so I did. This whole 3D business made sense more than ever. The pandemic turned into the perfect moment. With everything in lockdown, realtors needed to continue showing the houses and 3D tours allowed that. Read more>>

Yuliya Panchenko

Growing up in Baku, Azerbaijan, boudoir and floral portrait photography was not what I was thinking about as a career choice. Moving to the states ten years ago changed all of that. Feeling empowered and liberated I wanted others to feel what I felt. My passion is to empower women and build their confidence through photography. In 2013 “Yuliya Panchenko Photography” was founded and continues to grow internationally. After working as a destination wedding photographer known for my cinematic imagery, I found a love for fine art photography. Currently, my main focus is boudoir and floral portraits. I am an ambassador for Elinchrom and my work has won numerous international awards, including WPPI/PPA awards. My photos have been featured and published numerous times in the 2019 PPA Loan Collection. Read more>>

Alejandro Martinez

Graduate from Rollins College. While going to school, I worked at garibaldi Cousins and worked my way up to management. Once I graduate, I apply to Darden restaurants and worked as a manager partner for seven years. I then bought Stefanos Trattoria in Winter Springs FL in 2014. Read more>>

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The Change-Makers: stories that inspire http://orlandovoyager.com/the-change-makers/ http://orlandovoyager.com/the-change-makers/#respond Tue, 13 Apr 2021 04:00:33 +0000 http://orlandovoyager.com/?p=2053 The heart of our mission is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our communities. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some incredible artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with the incredible group below. Check out our favorite […]

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The heart of our mission is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our communities. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some incredible artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with the incredible group below. Check out our favorite stories from across the Voyage family.

Joseph Hanna

I’d like to think things started right before college graduation. I was graduating with a degree in Recreation & Sports Management with minor in Advertising. Our country at the current time was going into the Recession, so I’d graduate with no jobs to look forward too. I needed a job, and a friend recommended I apply for a behavioral health job working with children. I applied and got the job, but my initial intentions were solely a paycheck. The experience in that job over a year allowed me to get the opportunity to get a better one at of Miami’s biggest hospitals. I worked for Jackson Memorial hospital for two years in behavioral health, not children, but adults. The more I worked in the healthcare system, the more I felt that I would prefer to work in more of a “preventative healthcare” type of setting. I kept my hospital job while getting my first fitness job working in a boutique studio on Miami Beach. It was in that setting I realized the fitness industry is where I needed to be with the passion I had for helping others. Read more>>

Linda Harrison, aka Red

I grew up in the small, sugarcane farming community of White Castle, LA, the fourth of seven kids. Whether preparing meals, organizing the household chores and generally looking after my younger siblings while my parents worked, I always possessed fierce self-discipline. Art and creatively have always been part of my life. My parents and parental grandmother were avid amateur artists. They painted landscapes and still life in oils, charcoals or watercolors as well as creating ceramics and other assorted crafts. I, of course, participated in many of these activities and much more, such as knitting, crocheting, mosaics, designing my own clothes, making home decorations and yes, painting. However, the realism of painting landscapes, flowers or fruit did not appeal to me. Being an artist was not part of my original plan in life. Nor did I give it any thought, for I was focused on the business world. I received an academic scholarship to the University of Central Florida in Orlando, earning a bachelor’s degree in Marketing, and, in short order. Read more>>

Nashalie Soto

Inspire of Central Florida began as Seminole Work Opportunity Program (SWOP) in 1980. We opened a storefront in a Sanford strip mall and employed six individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Stephanie Ryan, our Executive Director, took over in 2016 after serving as a board member for a year. Since that time, we have changed our name to Inspire of Central Florida. We currently serve approximately 72 individuals with IDD at our facility in Casselberry. Inspire offers several programs for our participants, including Operation G.R.O.W (Giving Real Opportunity for Work), which is an internship program offered for individuals seeking competitive, integrated employment. The program serves about 30 individuals who continue their education through classroom instruction or through vocational training with our community partners. Nashalie Soto, the G.R.O.W. Program Coordinator, partners with businesses such as the Sharing Center, Goodwill Industries, Northland Church, Seminole County’s Sheriff Office, and Seminole County’s Services Building. Read more>>

Dr. Francis Hoffmann

I am originally from Venezuela, and I moved to USA 15 years ago, I am a Dentist, I am the 5th generation of Dentists in my family, becoming a Dentist has been my passion since I was a child. Growing amongst a family of dentist inspired me to become a dentist by myself. My grandfather was a pioneer in the field of dentistry, becoming one the first dentists in my home city. My parents have been working in the dental field for almost five decades. I attended dental school with my oldest sister and we graduated together and shortly after, my youngest sister joined by also graduating with her Dentists degree. I am proud to be part of a family devoted to the advancement of dental health in our community. I came to USA not speaking English, and it was my first step in this country learned English. To became a Dentist here in US, you need to take many steps. Forced to start over as a professional, I relearn my career in a completely new language. To familiarize myself with the terminology in another language, I chose to become a Dental Assistant, and few years laters, a became a dental hygienist. The experience reinforced the value and importance of my dental team. Read more>>

Jodi Roark

I am Jodi, the owner/designer of Florida Kid Co., a Florida-inspired baby/kid brand. After having my son almost four years ago, my husband and I decided to leave the Army life to move back to Florida. While the life of a military spouse was an adventure that I will always cherish and appreciate, it did come with its fair share of challenges, one being the difficulty of creating and nurturing a career for myself. Since we decided to settle down in one spot, it was now my chance to go after the dream of starting my own business. After I had my son, I realized that there weren’t a lot of baby items that were vibrant colors and represented the laid-back, beachy Florida lifestyle that we lived. I’ve always loved designing and creating, so I set out on a mission, and the idea for Florida Kid Co. was born! Read more>>

Jennifer Mieles

I had a rough childhood and moved out early. Because of that, I was unable to finish ninth grade, let alone graduate. I was forced to learn a lot on my own and it was hard. My life definitely lacked any solid family relationship. I was 24 when I had my twin boys and cleaning houses for a living. By the time they started high school, I was expecting another son. Cleaning houses was one of the few lackluster jobs I worked, and I knew something needed to change. I wanted to be a good example for my children and get my GED. How can I ask of them what I have not yet done? I took the test and passed. I was so surprised and proud of myself, I enrolled in college the spring of 2014. I wasn’t really sure what exactly I wanted to commit the rest of my working life to but, I knew I didn’t want to sit in an office all day. So, I took several self-assessments and the Briggs Myers Personality type quiz. Those somewhat annoying questionnaires ended up being instrumental in choosing a career that would suit me. I learned I am an ENTJ (extravert, intuitive, thinking, judging) which is dubbed “The Commander.” Looking over jobs that fit my personality type, I decided I wanted to be a paralegal and help people. Read more>>

Laura Perez

I have always had a passion for photography. I grew up around a mommorazi who always wanted to take photos I soon grew into that passion and proceeded to do it as a hobby. We would always take family photos yearly and I would always think how lucky is she/he to be doing something they love. My family kept saying, why don’t you take the leap and one New Years’ resolution, I took the leap. Read more>>

Brayden Brown

When I was kid, I always wanted to surf. I got to summer surf camp every year from 7-12… when I was ten my mom finally got me my first board, a starr surfboard rocket tail. I had been surfing a year or two n was getting tired of what I was riding. I turned to the jigsaw and chopped up the tail… resulting in me learning to glass a Lil bit with the neighborhood boat works guy… from there, I was screwed, lol. I found a blank a year or so later and shaped out my first board! All while teaching my set to weld and build bicycles around 13… after the first board, I knew what I wanted to do. I built hand planes and skateboards from wood and slowly built up my surf connections. After a couple years working from the basement and garage of my parent’s house, they told me I had to move the stuff to a shop. Lucky the family had a publishing company with a warehouse of stuff. I was lucky enough to be given part of the space and we built out my first factory! In holly hill fl. I did about three years there and hundred of boards!

Heather Taylor

Twenty-six years ago, while working my way through college, I took a position as a Floral Specialist at a local Publix Supermarkets. Three years later, I spent 13 years designing at a floral shop in Plant City, FL. Nine years ago, on 4.1.2012, I took a leap of faith and Taylormade Floral & Event Design was born, and the rest is history. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Read more>>

Marcus Brown

My journey to where I am now and the reason behind my drive is mainly because of the adversity I faced growing up in the Foster Care system. Facing obstacles and trails that tested me not only mentally but physically at times made me really tune into the kind of person I wanted to be in this world. Growing up, I also played football at Mount Dora High and earned a Division 2 scholarship to West Liberty University. After a year, I returned and became a father and my life changed forever. I always wanted more out of life and even out of football and never seemed to understand until I had my daughter where my passion truly was, in Life and its Truth. After a few years, I decided to enroll and get my Bachelor’s in Metaphysical Sciences from the University of Metaphysics. I now use my knowledge of Life on all levels to provide series to help assist others along their unique journeys through life. As Rev. Marcus Brown aka Metaphysical Marc, I am an Internationally known certified Metaphysical Practitioner, Author, Spiritual Advisor, Intuitive and an Ordained Minister within the International Metaphysical Ministry (IMM) after obtaining my Bachelor’s in Metaphysical Sciences (B.Msc) in 2019. Read more>>

Chemeka Johnson

In 2015 I was introduced to makeup by a friend who loved makeup. One Saturday, we visited the MAC store and got a simple glam. Didn’t realize what I was getting myself into, I felled deeply in loved with the makeup every since. I realize the makeup gave me a different type of confidence about myself. A few years later, I notice makeup became a big trend in the beauty industry. I found myself spending a lot of time watching videos and live clips of other makeup artist learning different techniques and learning about the industry. This is when I officially found my passion and what I loved to indulge in on a daily. I began to set goals on how I can take this makeup to the next level. I started purchasing loads of makeup as if I was already in business with clients. After doing makeup on myself countless times, I decided to push it as a business to gain extra income. In 2016 I decided to promote makeup service for other women at a low cost. Family and friends allowed me to enhance their beauty and better my skills. This only made me go harder with my skill set. I am very thankful to be a part of this industry for five years as we speak. Read more>>

Alyssa Walke

I am the Owner of Blyss Beauty LLC. I am a Licensed Esthetician of 5+ years and a Licensed Tattoo Artist of 3+ years. My passion for cosmetics and esthetics led me to the permanent makeup industry. I have been professionally trained and certified in many techniques, including Microblading, Permanent Makeup, Lash Extensions, Makeup Artistry, Scalp Micro-Pigmentation, and more! I have also had the honor to Train & Certify Students in Microblading, Lash Extensions, & PMU. After many years of preparation, and with the support and blessings of my clients, in May of 2020, I opened Blyss Beauty Studio! January of 2021, blyssbeautyacademy.com went live and is now enrolling students in Permanent Makeup Training Classes. It has been quite the journey and it is only the beginning! Whether it be a Microblading Transformation, Micro-needling Facial, or Volume Lashes… witnessing my client’s GLOW is my biggest reward. Read more>>

Mary Fosky

I’ve always had an artistic eye. Ever since I can remember, no matter the art or the craft, I have always challenged myself to try. That means I have a ridiculous collections of arts and crafts, from watercolor, pastels, wood-burning and acrylics to resins, jewelry and charcoals. I had a similar approach to photography, “let’s give it a try,” so in high school (many moons ago), I registered for photography 101 and fell in love. I learned the art of film, processing black and white- it’s still a favorite of mine. I’m currently building a studio with a darkroom in my home so I can dedicate more time to it. In college, my interest in photography continued moving from film to digital. My daughter was born, at that moment, my desire to capture every moment was REAL! Shortly after my husband gifted me my first DSLR and my business grew organically. I captured friends and family, then their friends and family. Before I knew it, I was booking every weekend. Fast forward two years, I got married- it was then I realized how much I LOVED weddings. Read more>>

Michelle Crawford

Ten years ago, my marriage of 18 years ended. I found myself a single mother of two young girls with no work experience or formal education. I was terrified and unsure how I would provide for my daughters. Like so many people without a career path, I was floundering with ideas on what I should do next? After a great deal of soul searching, a family member called while I was in the midst’s of a good old fashion pity party. My Aunt, who has since passed away, was a woman of little patience but she humored me for a bit, at least until she couldn’t take it anymore. She cut me off and suggested That I go to “cooking school.” She went on to say, “You’re always cooking that Foo Foo Sh*t and everyone seems to like it. I mean I don’t care for it, but everyone else does”. My cousins and I laugh about it today because that was just how she was. I am incredibly grateful for that afternoon because it planted the seed and started me on my path. In the following days, I reached out to a friend I went to high school with who worked as a chef. I told him my plans and he set me on the course of researching Community Colleges. Read more>>

Zoe Heafner

I am a lifestyle photographer and filmmaker from Winter Park, Florida! I’ve always had a passion for capturing special moments, so why not make it my job? I started in competitive filmmaking in 7th grade and decided to make it my career. I attend UCF while getting a bachelor’s in fine arts degree in Film while running my business simultaneously. In the summer of 2019, I worked in Los Angeles for a summer, and it is my dream to go back and start a career there in music video and documentary directing. When covid hit in 2020, I decided to start my own business and dive into filming weddings on the side of school!. Read more>>

Sean Hughes

Howdy World! Ryan and Sean here, we are just a couple of best friends that met as college roommates at UCF (Go Knights!). Collectively, we have 20 years of experience across the hospitality and events industry, with a side hobby of enjoying tasty beverages! When we came across Kombi Keg we were immediately sold on bringing the experience to our hometown of Orlando. Our mission is to deliver a unique and memorable experience for your next special event or occasion. Not only will you get a one-of-a-kind interactive mobile bar, but we’ll help set up those Instagram-worthy moments as well. 🙂. Read more>>

Terri Marinaro

My story begins with becoming a minister with the Universal Life Church in 2001 and also becoming a Florida Notary Public around the same time. With both of these credentials, I began officiating weddings. However, they were few and far between, mostly for close friends. In 2011, I opened a UPS Store franchise and offered Notary services to my customers. I found that many couples walked into The UPS Store to get married quickly, easily and without much ado. It was bizarre to me at first thinking, who in the world would want to get married in a UPS Store? I quickly realized there was a need for not just small but also non-denominational ceremonies. I trained my staff on how to perform quick but meaningful ceremonies and the proper way to notarize a marriage license. In 2016, I sold the UPS Store franchise and decided to design a website. I wanted to see if there was indeed a demand for these non-denominational ceremonies. I named the company Orlando Area Officiant because I believed this would be the keywords most often used on search engines. Read more>>

Joann Vanié

I am an afro-latina puertorican woman born and raised in Puerto Rico. I come from a very humble family in Naranjito, Puerto Rico at a “barrio de campo”. Both of my parents are still together and I have one big brother who’s actually happily married. I grew up in a small pentecostal church where I developed my passion for music, God and the desire to help and love others. Later on, I decided to complete a bachelor’s in Social Work at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Pierdas campus. During that time, I experienced major losses in my family and many challenges that led me and my family to move to Orlando, FL. As usual, moving to another country tends to be stressful and the transition is not always easy. I experienced cultural shock and even racism. I started working at schools in positions similar to Social Work but still felt like something was missing. I’ve always consider myself a highly creative person and I don’t want to define me with one single thing. I love fashion, photography, beauty, design and music. Read more>>

Bonnie Whicher

I was born in Korea, adopted by an Italian mother and an Irish father when I was five years old. There are three photos of me when I moved to New Jersey from the orphanage. When my childhood best friend, whom I have known since the second grade, killed herself at 36 years old, I was trying to find photos of us as we were growing up for the funeral and much to my sadness, I found none. Even into adulthood, there were very few photos of us together. That was when I realized how incredibly important photos are for the memories and for those who are left behind. I have always loved taking photos, but I never thought I could do this as a business. I called my other best friend since middle school and told her I wanted to become a professional photographer. Her name is Anna Jannotti and she been photographing professionally since high school. Much to my delight, she said, “I have been waiting for years for you to tell me I wanted to do this professionally.” Even though at the time I had no idea what I was doing, apparently, I had the natural creative eye for capturing images. With her help/support and my husband, I become a professional photographer. Read more>>

Jill Bolander Cohen

Before The Lifeboat Project, I was a professional jazz singer and I also ran my family’s coffee roasting business. I am a member of the Presbyterian PCUSA church, and in 2010 I took a position with Presbyterian Women, doing justice and peace work. I learned there was going to be a gathering in Washington DC called Ecumenical Advocacy Days. I wasn’t sure what it was all about but I wanted to go. As it turned out, it’s where different faith denominations gather and they workshop a chosen topic. The topic could be gun violence, mass incarceration, the SNAP program, etc. but that particular year, they were looking to renew the Violence Against Women’s Act (VOWA). When my husband and I arrived at the gathering, we attended classes. One of the classes was advertised as having a woman speak who had been a sex slave. I didn’t attend the talk because I knew I would cry. Fast forward to six months later, while speaking to someone from our national Presbyterian office in Louisville. Read more>>

Wendy Risquez

I’m from a family of bakers and all-around food snobs. We’ve always loved trying out and creating new recipes. My sister owned a bakery where I worked for her and she taught me all of her decorating skills. The sugar cookie recipe I use (and the one we used at my sisters’ bakery) was passed down to us from our Canadian Grandma. I make cakes and other desserts as well, but sugar cookies are my most popular item, and I know my Grandma would be so happy to know that her recipe has provided a way for me to work from home so I can be with my children. We like to joke that our cookies are baked with love and cuss words… but mostly love. Read more>>

Jane Luck

I’ve always been an artistic kid. My mom gave me the ultimate freedom when it came to self-expression and exposed me all kinds of music and art growing up. We would go on “mommy-daughter dates” to the local museums. She would occasionally pick me up from school just to catch a matinee of a movie. I was constantly picking up inspiration. When I was six years old, I walked right out into the kitchen and told her I wanted to be like Britney Spears when I grew up. I’d sit in my mom’s bedroom with my headphones singing along to my Disney and Britney tunes as loud as I could. Not much has changed since then. I still sing at the top of my lungs. I hog the mic at karaoke with my best pals, but they don’t seem to mind and I love them for it. They’ve been along for the ride for as long as I can remember. When I was taking some classes at the local community college in 2011, I discovered the world of cosplay. My first cosplay was nurse Harley Quinn with a leftover Halloween costume and a fake cork gun I made from scratch. I never really took it seriously and was always doing “closet cosplays” with things I had laying around the house or cheap things I thrifted. Read more>>

Ruben Javier

I began cutting my own hair at the age of 13 when I moved to Florida from Pennsylvania. I lived with my older sister and her family, who took me in at the time, so I remember she used to get mad at me whenever I would clog up the bathroom sink since I would attempt to cut my hair every two days or so. Eventually, I started giving out free haircuts to those in my neighborhood and classmates until one day, I began to charge $5, that’s when I saw more people contacting me for haircuts weekly. Around then, my mom had moved to Florida and I was able to use her garage to turn into a personal barbershop to attend all my clients. In 2014 I made the decision to open my own barbershop and in 2018, I opened another location in Colorado which, by the grace of God are both still operating, I was also able to open a Barber and Beauty school in Lake Wales, FL, which has been a great resource for the community in not only providing careers for many but also in services to the public. Throughout my career, I have been able to work with companies in beauty shows across the country and share my skills with others by providing education. I thank God for all the opportunities that He has allowed for me. Read more>>

Jelitza Rivera

Some people are afraid to admit that when they start off on their goal path, they have no idea where they are headed. I believe that sometimes people just need to know where they do not want to be and start moving away from that taking advantage of blessings in disguise, life lessons, and opportunities along the way. I was born in Puerto Rico. By age five, my family and I moved to New York City where I spent the next 14 years living in the housing projects of South Bronx under poverty lines. I grew up with two sisters and my parents. My first blessing came when I started school in New York. Since I had started VPK in Puerto Rico and my parents did not speak English, I forced to take classes in Spanish all the way until middle school; as a result of that, I am fully bilingual. My first life lesson began in middle school. By the time I got to 6th, we lived in a single-parent household living on less income than before. If we wanted to buy an item that was not in my mother’s budget, we had to work harder. My sisters and I had to work selling seasonal items year-round to help my mother make ends meet. We would do things like go door-knocking selling chocolate roses for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Read more>>

Rima Schillinger

As I watched my parents age and grapple with various heart related health issues, I came to the realization that there were lifestyle choices I could make to reverse the progression of disease in my own body. My genes have loaded me with the potential for heart disease but I’ve come to understand that what I eat will determine whether or not those illnesses can actually take root. I became plant-based overnight and began to understand more deeply how our food choices affect the environment and the lives of other animals. I’ve always loved to cook and I threw myself into the world of plant-based cooking. I was surprised by the satisfaction my family and I experienced eating amazing plant-based meals. After cooking plant-based meals for my family for a couple of years, it became clear how difficult it would be for someone who doesn’t cook to take on a whole plant-based lifestyle. Options for vegans can be limited and sometimes the options, though vegan, are not always healthful. It has become my focus to create abundant and nourishing meals for people who would like to incorporate more plants into their diets, it makes me happy to know I’m sending a little bit of health and love home with my customers in every bag. Read more>>

Alyssa Noel

When I was a young girl, I would say things like, “When I get older and have my own family, I’m going to do things my way.” Usually, those statements came from experiences that made me feel hurt, disappointed, and inadequate. These experiences put me on a path of becoming a warrior for love. I started putting the pieces of the puzzle together and building strong families and supporting single women and couples in 2015 when I began my master’s program in Marriage and Family Therapy. My foundation in mental health supported me in working with couples that were lacking the skills to foster healthy romantic relationships and single woman trapped in the cycle of an unhealthy dating mindset. Read more>>

Isabella Vargas

Ever since I was little, I grew up with a father who was infatuated with photography. It was the usual photography, you know. Weddings, landscape and etc. After being around it for so long as a child, I decided to finally pick up the camera myself around the age of 15. It wasn’t no fancy camera… it was an iPhone 7 camera. That camera and passion with photography brought me to where I am now in my journey with photography. My style with photography is a little different from my father’s, though. I do fashion photography. Being able to capture the uniqueness of someone’s outfit or even their makeup still has me overjoyed. Being able to be different from the others and actually catch people’s aesthetic and give my audience a taste of my client’s personality through a photo and also their story. Also, the same goes with musicians. I get invited to be present for artists’ studio sessions or even performances to catch the emotion and also give their audience a feeling through the photo and show everyone that they work to get to where they wanna be. It’s all still a process that I’m willing to go through. I’m still learning. You can be the greatest ever and still be learning. Read more>>

Sierra Ford-Jones

When I was just 16. I borrowed my mom’s camera and walked around the island we were visiting, taking pictures of anything that inspired me. I was instantly addicted to capturing simple everyday things in fun ways. Because of my newfound hobby, I took a film photography class and fell even more in love with the art. My first year of college I saved up to buy a Canon Rebel on Craigslist. Friends started asking me to take photos of their kids, and then their families, and then their weddings! My side hustle had become an accidental full-time business by the time I graduated (with a degree in public admin.) It’s been ten years since then and in that time, I have photographed hundreds of weddings in multiple countries. I have also captured many of those families grow from family sessions to branding photos for their new businesses! It’s an adventure I am blessed to be on! There is nothing quite like doing what you love as a job. Read more>>

Christian Ortiz

I was at a down point in my life after a baseball injury. I got fat, out of shape and depressed. One day after being a grocery store I saw the men’s muscle magazine and saw a ripped-up guy. The title read get your physique back. The next day I looked in the mirror and couldn’t believe I let myself go. After that day, I worked out and ate good every day until my new body was formed. I started to help people after that. Like every trainer, I dreamed of opening a gym and having a successful business. It was tough to maintain being a trainer when I was still serving tables at fine dining restaurants. I gave myself a goal that when I turned 30, I’d quit the restaurant industry and take up being a fitness business full time. On my 30th, I quit with just three clients to my name. You have to give yourself no other way but facing it. So I did. I dedicated to just being a trainer and growing my business. One day a client of mine invited me to her school to help fellow teachers. During their workout, kids got inspired and wanted to do the same. That’s when I created Fit Kidz 4 Fun which is now in over 23 OCPS schools and featured on WesH 2 news. Although covid has shut that down temporarily I plan to bring it back and take my dreams to the next level. Read more>>

Christy Marks

I fell in love with photography when I was gifted my first disposable camera in 6th grade. I started to capture snapshots of my friends, family, and the things I felt were beautiful in my life. When I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to do something creative so I spent a year searching for the creative outlet and photography was the one thing that I truly felt passionate about. While working towards my Bachelor degree in Photography, I explored the various genres and fell in love with photographing people. After I graduated, I continued to do shoots on my own to really discover what I loved about photographing people until one day, it just hit me. I loved making portraits that made my subject feel beautiful in their own skin. Experiences that make them feel like a celebrity for a day. I’ve made it my mission to empower preteens, teens, and women through portrait experiences and be able to capture their essence and boost their confidence. Read more>>

 

Yessenia Martinez

I’m from Puerto Rico and I’m a hairstylist. I currently live in Saint Cloud, Florida. When I was in high school, I had a passion for hair, so I decided to study it and get to know more about it. I went to hair school and graduated in the year 2000, since that moment, I haven’t stopped doing what I love I started as commission base in a small salon, then as the time went by I owned my own salon in Puerto Rico after the years went by I decided to move to Florida and start a new life so I went rental in a salon and now I work by myself in my own suite. I have been blessed I have the greatest clients anyone can have. Looking forward to opening a bigger salon in the future if God permits me and love to educate myself and my clients as well. Always follow your dreams and do what gives you passion. Read more>>

 

Janelle Zipse

I have always had a creative side and a love for fashion/design! My childhood pictures show me rocking lavender cowboy boots and as many purses as I could fit on my arms! So extra. Let’s see… Growing up, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to be, but I knew I wanted to do it my way, whatever that may be. In high school, I was in just about every club and program they offered, from fashion to the debate team. I went to college at UNF in Jacksonville, FL and majored in Advertising. Then went on to makeup/special effects school in Los Angeles after graduation. Spent my time in LA freelancing as a makeup artist and stylist working on movies, plays, and print. A few years later, I saw one of the movies I worked on in a Red Box. My roomies and I were so excited to watch it. Got all the way to the end and they spelled my name wrong in the credits. “Janette” instead of “Janelle.” My only claim to fame, too funny. Florida will always have my heart though, so I made my way back. I landed a job at a popular advertising agency in Miami, Crispin Porter + Bogusky. I spent several years there and loved it, but still wanted to do my own thing. Read more>>

Jayne Williams

My story goes back to my childhood when I was five years old. My parents went through a messy divorce, and I became an amazing “bottler.” I was the kid who was sunshine on the outside, working hard to keep the peace but a mess on the inside. That mess manifested into horrible gut issues throughout my 20’s. Between poor eating habits, not knowing how to deal with stress, and major IBS I was in a downward spiral. After an emergency visit to the ER and a colonoscopy, I was placed on prescription medication to “help” ease symptoms… at the time. I thought it was going to be a “quick fix.” But after one miscarriage, three years of infertility treatments, an incredible desire to have a child, and being tired of always feeling bad, I decided I needed to empower myself to get healthy and kick the prescription meds. That’s when I discovered nutrition school, my passion for holistic health and wellness, and my desire to learn all I could around the idea of what it actually means to be healthy and nourish my body. Read more>>

Olga Dolynina

Fitness has always been a part of my life. As a former trained dancer, I have spent hours in the gym training myself or training others. The movement has been my passion and a source of my happiness. Shortly after college, I traded my dance career for a career in management. However, even when working corporate jobs, I made sure that I was connected to the fitness industry and kept moving my body and motivating others to move. I made it a priority to squeeze in a little time to teach fitness and yoga classes or train on the side. Over the years, I gained knowledge and expertise in different disciplines like yoga, Pilates and prenatal training to add diversity and uniqueness to my training style. While corporate check paid the bills, fitness gigs fed the soul. Over time I found myself managing fitness and yoga studios for others and helping them to build their success and make their dreams become a reality. Even though I always wanted to branch out on my own, the fear of failure and financial instability always kept me in the comfort zone. Read more>>

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Portraits of Orlando http://orlandovoyager.com/portraits-of-orlando/ http://orlandovoyager.com/portraits-of-orlando/#respond Tue, 06 Apr 2021 04:12:34 +0000 http://orlandovoyager.com/?p=9462 It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them the fundamental questions about who they are and how they became the person they are today. Understanding and empathy are essential building blocks for a better, more compassionate world. We’re incredibly fortunate to be […]

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It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them the fundamental questions about who they are and how they became the person they are today. Understanding and empathy are essential building blocks for a better, more compassionate world. We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to ask these questions each week through our interview series. Below you’ll find inspiring interviews from in and around Orlando.

Carmen Vallone

It all started when I was born. Fast forward a few years and I got a job working at the ticket window at the comedy club. Next thing you know, I’m opening for Joan Rivers! What happened?!. Read more>>

Ruth Malvoisin

Growing up my dad would always have a camera in his hands taking pictures of my siblings and me. Every Sunday, we knew it was picture time because we were all dressed up for church. As embarrassing as some of those photos are, I’m grateful for him taking all those pictures and capturing our childhood for us to look back on. That’s what led me to want to do for other people without one person missing out on being included in the photo. My love for photography and capturing moments definitely came from him. I’ve also got to admit that I was obsessed with watching America’s Next Top Model, and I was always looking through magazines and blogs. Photography is what makes me happiest, so I just kept creating!. Read more>>

Jessica Maertchik

I am a Certified Wedding Planner through The Bridal Society and have been working in the wedding industry for seven years now! I started my event career at the most magical place on earth – Walt Disney World! Working in several different event departments at Disney World allowed me to springboard my career in event planning, and I especially enjoyed my time working at Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings as an Event Assistant. During that time, I attended the University of Central Florida and graduated with a degree in Event Management. Go, Knights! After my journey at Walt Disney World, I spread my wings and left the Disney world and entered the real world of events. I worked as an Event Coordinator at Puff n Stuff Catering helping couples come up with their special menu for their special day. I then left the company for a higher level entry job- Catering Manager at Mission Inn Resort- a 1,100-acre destination golf resort in Howey-In-the-Hills specializing in wedding. Read more>>

Valencia Price

I have been in the visual merchandising space for over ten years. As a creative, I enjoy various crafts but realized I have always had an eye for putting outfits together. Once I was leaving the military after 13 years, I wanted to focus more on my fashion passion. I continued to work in the retail world to gain more knowledge and experience. Finally, in May 2019, I took the leap and decided to start my own business as a wardrobe stylist. I was juggling a lot as a mom, working full time, and starting my business but because styling never felt like work, I knew I had to push through. After launching my business, I took the time to continue to research and network. From that, I was able to do my first photoshoot as a wardrobe stylist in January 2020. From there, things began to take off. I was doing on-set photoshoot styling, personal shopping, and virtual style sessions. Don’t get me wrong. It was not all glitz and glamour. It was hard work, and until September of 2020, I was doing everything alone. Read more>>

Demetria Sloan

Demetria Hill Sloan is an award-winning entrepreneur, certified life coach, executive leadership coach, trainer, author, speaker, and outspoken motivator. She has worked with corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and individual leaders, striving to further develop the qualities, skills, and aptitude required for growth. Demetria grew up in the town of Thibodaux, LA, the town where her parents met while attending Nicholls State University. Upon graduation, she moved to the campus of Xavier University in New Orleans for the inaugural Howard Hughes Biomedical Scholars summer program and never lived in Thibodaux again. She graduated from Xavier and went to graduate school at Tulane University, where she completed her Masters of Public Health. This took her to Austin, TX to work for the Texas Department of Health (now Texas Department of State Health Services). After four years in public health, she shifted to the pharmaceutical industry, where she would make her professional mark in sales and sales leadership. It was a promotion with Eisai, Inc. that brought her and her family to Orlando in 2007. With nearly twenty years of experience in sales, training, and management, Demetria formed Vantage Point Coaching, LLC in 2015. Read more>>

Cori Palka

I started college studying criminal science. I was interested in criminal justice. At the time, my teacher was a retired chief of police for NYC and one of the class requirements was watching an autopsy be performed. I knew at that moment, I had chosen the wrong profession. While at community college, I was managing a chain of boutiques. I thought if I can run & manage three, I could run one of my own. After many sleepless nights, countless dreams and my 23-year-old fearless attitude, I opened my store in the fall of 2002. It’s been quite the journey. His year marks 19 years since I opened my doors. Everyone has this notion that once you open your doors, people just come in. It’s NOTHING like what you envision. It’s HARD. I would be more cautious today to start a business if I had to do it again. The first couple of years were hard because you are trying to establish yourself/your business. You work countless hours with very little pay. You have to be passionate and extremely driven to keep a business open. I have never once considered closing. Read more>>

Jodi Roark

I am Jodi, the owner/designer of Florida Kid Co., a Florida-inspired baby/kid brand. After having my son almost four years ago, my husband and I decided to leave the Army life to move back to Florida. While the life of a military spouse was an adventure that I will always cherish and appreciate, it did come with its fair share of challenges, one being the difficulty of creating and nurturing a career for myself. Since we decided to settle down in one spot, it was now my chance to go after the dream of starting my own business. After I had my son, I realized that there weren’t a lot of baby items that were vibrant colors and represented the laid-back, beachy Florida lifestyle that we lived. I’ve always loved designing and creating, so I set out on a mission, and the idea for Florida Kid Co. was born!. Read more>>

Patrick Kahn

Snap! Orlando started in 2010 with our desire to fill a cultural void in a growing city. Having spent 20 years in Los Angeles, my wife Holly and I had witnessed the cultural growth in a place mainly known for its film industry. Similarly, Orlando seemed to struggle with changing the perception of it being known only for its touristic theme parks. Attractions. So, we approached the City Development Board and asked for their support to start a photography festival, which would feature renowned photographers from around the world. By producing a large-scale international art event, our goal was to alter the cultural landscape of Orlando. We produced a festival for the next four years until we found a gallery space in 2014 where we could pursue our mission all year long. That became the home to Snap! Space, In 2016, we had the opportunity to open our second gallery, Snap! Downtown in the heart of Downtown Orlando. Read more>>

Carlyn Tribble-Repchak

I started working in the sports and events industry after I graduated from college, and for the longest time, told myself that I would never plan weddings. I then started having friends as me to help them with their weddings since they knew I was an event planner. One wedding led to 3. Then I decided hey maybe I should start charging for this. I originally started my company with a partner back in 2012 but in 2018 decided it was best to go solo, rebrand and refocus. The last few years, I have worked on improving my brand and this past fall, I became a Certified Wedding Planner with the Bridal Society. I am beyond grateful for this organization and owe a lot of my growth and success to it!. Read more>>

Matthew Krul

I’ve been a Disney fan my entire life. When I was growing up, my family would take an annual trip to Walt Disney World, and I was always fascinated with how Disney created such immersive environments. The more I visited the parks, the more I wanted to know how it all worked. By the time I was ten, I had started researching Disney history and even wrote a letter to Roy E. Disney (Walt’s nephew). He was kind enough to write a reply that I still have framed in my office. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know, and I ultimately decided I wanted to work for Disney someday. In college, I got a part-time job at The Disney Store, and that role led me to the Disney College Program. After concluding my internship with Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I ended up staying seasonal with the company until I graduated. When I went back to school for my M.B.A., I took another internship with Disney, this time on the Marketing Strategy team at Disney Vacation Club, and still, my love for the brand continued to grow. Read more>>

Katie Moore

in Winter Springs) and my parents and brother still live locally. After graduating high school, I attended Florida State University for two years before transferring to the University of Central Florida to pursue a degree in Event Management through the Rosen College of Hospitality Management. During my last year at UCF, I found a one-year co-op with the American Lung Association, which gave me my first taste of non-profit life. I learned a lot during that time and realized I was interested in exploring careers in the Central Florida non-profit sector after graduating. Shortly after I graduated in the Spring of 2009, I applied for an entry-level position with A Gift For Teaching, a local non-profit that has a free store for teachers in Orange County to shop at for classroom supplies. I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to work for this organization and be a part of the fundraising team. Read more>>

Aly Lalani

My name is Aly and my wife, Zahra and I are founders of Build My Burgers (BMB), a new concept in the world of burger making where customers can curate their burgers the way they desire! “We are not just selling burgers; we are selling an experience. We want people to enjoy every bite of our food as if it were made in their homes, in their own kitchens, with love and attentive care.” At BMB, customers can build their burgers from scratch and choose from over fifteen sauces and fifteen toppings. The kitchen is right in front of you, so you can see your food and smell the sizzling aromas. We are proud to offer great food, a great environment, and great service. It is our dream come true. I had a passion for starting my own restaurant concept for as long as I can remember. I dreamt of creating a brand that would offer comfort food but with fresh, healthy, and wholesome ingredients and affordable prices. It was 13 years ago that I started my first venture by franchising Blimpie in 2008. I was 23 years old at the time and was just learning the ropes of running a food business. I grew that business to three stores and learned a great deal. Read more>>

Rafael Ferreira

In my sophomore year of high school, I signed up for a photography class. I had fun working on projects that my teacher assigned (shout out to Mr. K if he ever reads this!) I signed up for the second part of the class my junior year and that was a blast too. After taking those, I stopped exploring/practicing photography as a whole. I always wanted a camera but just never put in the work to get it. Around October of 2019, I would talk to one of my closest friends, Melanie, about wanting to dive back into photography and potentially making it a business. She lent me her camera and my first couples shoot ever was herself and her boyfriend Colton. I was super nervous and when it came to editing, let’s just say they looked like Oompa Loompas. After that, I started practicing and would keep practicing with couples I know. I never was completely satisfied with my photography. It came with a lot of doubts and uncertainty. Which I think every photographer/creative struggles with. Read more>>

Joslenny Hernandez

It was early on in life that I became fascinated by art. I’ve always been fond of hands-on activities and any entertainment that challenged my creativity. Drawing became a favorite hobby growing up, and I often used my skills on school projects, and I always loved art class. The most memorable school trips were when we visited art museums, wax museums, and galleries. I can remember feeling a deep connection and interpreting the different artists’ work. While attending high school, I took a graphic design class, and it expanded my creative abilities even more. I’ve always stayed interested in creating, interior design, and remodeling. My amazing mother influenced my artistic talents as well. Aside from being crafty and eloquent, she was the queen of decorating our family home. In 2018, my parents purchased new kitchen appliances, and we decided it was time to remodel, so we did. While researching home improvement tips and techniques for my parent’s kitchen, I found epoxy resin. It became an instant obsession and my mind became overwhelmed with ideas. Read more>>

Donna Jones

From Kiddles Candles! Kiddles Candles is run and operated by myself Donna Jones and my sons Soloman and Noah Jones. Our name Kiddles is a combination of the words kids and candles. Kiddles Candles was birthed in the heart of the Covid-19 pandemic. When our state went on lockdown, we wanted to get the children motivated into doing something fun and productive. Their father and I had recently started a custom furnishing business (Vine and Branches) so we wanted them to think about entrepreneurship as well. We’ve always encouraged the children to think outside of the box and to value the importance of working for the things they want in life. After researching, we decide that we would give candle making a try. There were many trials and errors along the way, but we hung in there, worked hard, and mastered our craft. As a mother, I couldn’t be more proud of the boys. Read more>>

Melissa Kramer

I first went to Walt Disney World as a vegan in 2012. I spent months ahead of the trip researching where we could eat and what options would be like for us. I found that there was pretty much no information around and we went into our trip relatively blind with the exception of knowing of about three places we could eat. After that trip, I thought about how it would be great if someone created a resource for vegans who were traveling to Walt Disney World. There have always been food blogs about Disney, but no one focused on what it was like to be a plant-eater there. I decided to take it upon myself in 2014, after a few more trips as a vegan under my belt and created VeganDisneyWorld.com. At first, I was just writing reviews from places we ate when on vacation and compiled a list of the vegan options in the parks. A few years later, I decided to create an Instagram for the blog and no longer use my personal one for the #VeganDisneyWorld posts. Our Instagram has really grown over the years and people are really excited to be part of the community. Read more>>

Madison Buettner

The first time I picked up a “professional” camera was in High School. I started by taking a creative photography class that was focused entirely on landscape photography/street photography. I picked up a lot of different techniques and continued after the class was over. However, during college, I stopped taking photos and focused on my Animation major (which I ended up switching). When I switched my major, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, if I’m honest. But, I bought myself a new camera and started taking photos again, this time with a focus on portraits and I’ve never looked back. Since I went to the University of Central Florida, I focused my efforts on taking graduation photos (which I still do today). Once I got comfortable photographing people and comfortable with my settings on my camera, I moved into doing creative portraits. Creative Portrait photography is amazing and allows me to create a different type of art through my lens. I slowly began attending Styled Wedding Shoots, which allowed me gain experience in the Wedding industry. Read more>>

Michaele Acary

Entrepreneurship is in my blood. My parents and grandparents were business owners. For as long as I can remember, entrepreneurship has been a major part of my life. My mother had a snack popup and would sell juice and other foods to college students at the school she worked for. I used to get excited watching her sell food. Four year old me, would excitedly help her sort through inventory and prep for her popups. I knew that someday, I would be an entrepreneur, just like her. When I was ten years old, she got sick with cancer and had to quit her job as a CNA. In order to make up for the financial loss and have more flexibility for cancer treatments and school. She sold books on the weekend and had me come along with her. Her book sales helped support our family. At the time, she was working another job and going to school part-time. I was extremely inspired by her motivation and drive to be independent while fighting cancer That same year. I started looking for ways to make extra money for Bonne bell lip gloss, Jean jackets and butterfly hair clips. I sold lemonade, chocolates and tickets to events. Read more>>

Tristian Brown

I began my journey in film back in college, where I attended North Carolina A&T State University. I majored in Broadcast production, and from there, I fell in love with the camera. I enjoyed the process of creating and producing content for the masses. After obtaining my degree from North Carolina A&T State University, I decided to further my studies and attended Full Sail University in Orlando, FL. At Full Sail, I obtained a Masters’s degree in Film Production. After graduating, I decided to stay in Florida because I felt there was a lot more opportunity for growth here. I worked a few jobs here and there as a content creator, editor, or something related to camera jobs, but I knew I was destined for a lot more. At those jobs, I wasn’t allowed to be fully creative with what it was that I was doing. After about two years of being in a brand new city and state, I finally decided to throw myself out there. I started doing freelance videos for small businesses, music videos for up-and-coming music artists, and weddings for new couples. Read more>>

Francesca Stoico

I grew up with a passion for sports from an early age, especially ballet, modern, hip hop and belly dance. I started training in the gym in 2014, at just 18 years old, I didn’t physically like it, and I wanted to gain weight trying to strengthen the back muscles, made weak by scoliosis, a problem that plagues me from an early age. Initially, I approached the Model category, I was really amazed when he managed to get excellent placings and that was how I decided to try to get involved as a Bikini athlete in the IFBB Pro League at San Marino Pro 2017, where this experience gave me an exceptional charge that still excites me today. This experience gave me an exceptional charge that still excites me today. I love this lifestyle every day I compete with myself to be a better person and to overcome my limits. I have always defined myself as determined. When I am not in competition, I love to dedicate myself to my work as a Personal Trainer and Coaching Online. Even now, I am dedicating myself to learning the English language in order to improve myself in my work and in the world of fitness. Read more>>

Tre Norfleet

Growing up, I was always very social and enjoyed people, I played sports my entire life, but when I discovered dance at 18, it felt like I was finally fulfilled. I was hungry and kept working, in 2013, I started locking. In 2014, I started traveling and competing. Moving around to different parts of the country (DMV, NYC, the Bay Area, LA) I learned so much from every place, and it pushed me further. Finally settling down in 2017 in Florida, building a home base for myself and representing our beautiful community. I’ve been blessed to travel more, battle, and teach internationally as well as nationally. Now the goal is to continue doing what I love, building our dance community, and being a quality father to my daughter Nori. Chelsea Miranda is the best person I could have ever asked for to share this journey with; she’s the strongest person I know and inspires me everyday. Read more>>

Aquanza Cadogan

My story begins with words. That may sound cliché, but in 2013 I wrote and self-published my own fictional book called “Summer Session”. A group of amazing friends would later help me turn that book into a Story Space event, and ever since then, I’ve used the power of words to entertain, enlighten and uplift my community. I’ve been blessed to be a part of some amazing local events – Pecha Kucha Orlando, Nerd Nite, City Arts grand opening and Immerse Orlando. Each experience has given me the opportunity to grow as an artist while spreading creativity and positivity throughout Central Florida. Read more>>

Cortez Whatley

My story is full of travel, adventure, and experiences all over the world. I was born in the Auburn/Opelika area of Alabama, which is where everyone in my family is from and mostly live. My stepfather, however, was in the Airforce, so I began moving from a young age. I began first grade in Greensboro, North Carolina. After first grade, we moved to England, living about an hour northeast of London. When we first moved to England, we lived in a small village in Suffolk of about 3000 people called Beck Row. Then later lived on the Royal Air Force Lakenheath Base where I went to school from second through fourth grade. After the completion of fourth grade, we had a short six-month assignment in Wichita Falls, Texas, where I started fifth grade, before moving to Hill Air Force Base near Ogden, Utah, until the end of eighth grade. I began ninth grade at Crestview High School in Northwest Florida. I dual-enrolled at the local community college, starting college at sixteen while continuing to play varsity sports at the high school. Read more>>

Melody Matheny

My name is Melody Matheny and I run Slice Creative Network, which is an online network of creative freelancers who support the theme park industry! I am an Attraction Designer and have been working in the industry since 2004. At one point in my career, I was an Art Director at SeaWorld and we were hiring a variety of freelancers to assist us with our projects. It became a cumbersome process to constantly figure out who was freelancing; “What was that lady’s name?! What’s her website? Does she still live in the area? How do we contact her?” etc. So I created a cheat sheet for myself, keeping track of all the freelancers in Orlando. Over the years, this became SliceCreativeNetwork.com, and it now supports theme park companies and firms nationwide. We now host over 300 Freelance Members who are all vetted by our Board Members prior to acceptance into the group. They range from Attraction Designers like myself to Lighting Designers, Mechanical Engineers, Show Writers, 3D Modelers, Signage Designers, and lots more. Read more>>

Simon Gomez

Gomez Contractors is a family business that has been in the construction trade spanning three generations. My grandfather was an architect in south America Colombia. My dad has been in the construction business for 20+ years, and I am the newest addition, being involved for only two years now. Read more>>

Ralph Verano

I grew up in New York and became interested in art at a very early age. I have a Graphic Arts degree from Buffalo State College. I moved to Florida about 30 years ago. Around 2010, my wife (at the time) and I began showing our art in many of the Orlando venues. That period seemed to have a substantial burst of artistic energy from what was probably considered the “underground” artists in Orlando. We created and hosted an event called “Blend” that brought together many of the local artists, not to display their work but to paint live on a few gigantic canvases as collaborative work. It was really meant to gather as many of these artists who knew of each other’s work but may have never met them in person, and hopefully share ideas and create a sense of common goals. Sadly, I think that environment of a cohesive art community has faded a bit here in Orlando. These days, I continue to draw and paint but I don’t show that often in public anymore. Read more>>

Brittany Elyse

Raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Brittany Elyse was always interested in the merging cultures that blended in the city. At a young age, the basic components of commercials and product placement interested her. As a graduate of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications Media, she sought out to learn the entertainment business in Miami, Florida. With a Master’s Of Science in Global Strategic Communications and Public Relations from Florida International University, Brittany saw a lack of vehicles for innovative musicians, artists, and fashion designers to display their work. With her experience as a Marketing and Media Intern at Poe Boy Entertainment, she worked on campaigns for, The Pretty Boys, Flo Rida, and Michael Corleone. She simultaneously began working in the radio world for Beasley Broadcasting’s Wired 96.5 and Power 96. Working on campaigns and events taught her to understand the structure of the entertainment industry. This triggered her interest in the early stages of artist branding, development, and delivery of the product lifecycle to the masses. Read more>>

Osheema Mills

My mom always said “Oshie, you were born to do hair”. Her favorite anecdote from my childhood is the story of me as a little girl telling her how I would want my hair. There I was, barely able to articulate my words but my hair, always looked fly! Growing up on the warm islands of St Kitts & Nevis, in the Caribbean, braids were the main hair style for young girls to wear to school. By the age of 9, I began braiding hair around the neighborhood for a small fee and continued to do so until I graduated high school. And thus, an entrepreneur was born. I went on to complete beauty school in Manhattan, New York , in 2014, where I then went straight to work as an assistant for a full service salon. After a month of working there, I left to work for the world renowned salon, Dry Bar. Within 6 months I was promoted to shop educator, and then to a Manger position one year later. In 2018, I moved to Sanford, FL to be closer to family and I transitioned to working at “Blo “, blow bar salon in Orlando as a Trainer. Stylist. Read more>>

Rebecca Smith

I am a physical therapist and graduated from Boston University in 2010 with my doctorate. I have always loved sports and medicine. My dad is an orthopedist and my mom a nurse. I played collegiate water polo, and I hurt my back my freshman year of college, resulting in me needing physical therapy. I loved the profession immediately and knew that is what I wanted to do for work. I was able to work in various sport’s medicine clinics over the last ten years, but in 2019, I decided it was time for me to open up my own business and become my own boss. My passion is working with runners, moms, and CrossFit athletes. Movement is my passion. It is what I do, it is who I am, and truthfully, it should be important to everyone since we all move. Our bodies were designed for movement, and we are healthier and happier when we can move freely and without pain. I love helping my clients find their ideal movement patterns to utilize their bodies to their fullest potential. Motherhood is not easy. I struggled a lot during my pregnancy and postpartum time. Read more>>

Flex E

Flex Eats started off as me doing different food reviews, honestly. Starting out, I really didn’t want to cook or be a Chef, but in the end, it was the best thing for me. I was trying different food places and realized I was putting out more money and time with nothing really in return, especially since it was hard to get in these spots. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head and said, let’s create a product that everyone will love & boom, I started off selling sauce. Once I made my mind up, it was really time to execute and get everything off the ground. Now I’m really focused on expanding my brand and growing into opening a restaurant and getting my sauce into stores. If there’s one thing you take from me and this interview is to KEEP GOING and don’t listen to any negativity. There were so many reasons I could’ve given up, but I didn’t. That’s really important when building. I turned nothing into something and it got me here, I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me. Read more>>

Rogers lima

I went to Veerinarian school in Brazil. Graduated in 2001 and moved here in the US with $20 in my pocket. Worked hard for few years and opened my 1st store with $6000 in 2008. Today we have two locations and both are very successful and have an excellent reputation. Read more>>

Hollie K. Henry

My passion for makeup artistry and skincare started around 2014 after a personal struggle with hormonal acne. My background is in education; I taught elementary school for 11 years. As an educator, I was drawn to studying the history and science of products. I had tapped into a new passion! I decided to start freelancing as a makeup artist in 2015. My first real opportunity to work with a client was for an editorial photo shoot. I was not prepared at all! Thankfully, the friend and mentor who referred me provided me with the products I would need. The images from that shoot are some of my favorites unto this day. I collaborated with photographers and models as much as possible. I also became a member of a team that specializes in makeup and hair for pageants. In 2016 I decided to go to esthetics school. I wanted to add to my knowledge base and skill set. I resigned from teaching full time so I could go to school. I had big dreams and no solid plan. You live and you learn. Life happened and I could not attend and went back to teaching. I continued to freelance, but the vision became clearer. Read more>>

Alexandra Arenas

I am originally from Boston and moved to Orlando about four years now. I am a freelance makeup artist and currently obtaining my Esthetician license. As a rewarding profession, I am a certified lash tech and certified in special effects makeup as well. At the end of the day, I just love doing what I love, making people look good and feel good in their own skin. A career in esthetics and to become the next makeup mogul is my lifetime goal. Read more>>

Sophie Lumene

My story began in the sixth grade when I started selling candies at school. I can still remember, my father purchased one box of candy for me to start, then I purchased three more boxes the following week. By the end of my sixth-grade year, other students were selling for me, and I would give them a small percentage. I believe I have always had a business mindset because my parents were business owners. My parents had a Caribbean takeout restaurant for over ten years. I have watched how hard they worked to provide for my siblings and myself to have a better future. In 2013, as a college student, I also started my journey as an entrepreneur in the hair industry. One of the reasons I decided to join the hair industry is due to a bad experience my sister had with purchasing hair extensions from a local hair supplier. My parents spent over $ 200, but the hair quality was horrible. The hair matted to the point we had to cut the extension out of my sister’s hair. After such experience, I began my research on hair extension and contacting hair vendors to start my own business. Just like my candy business, I started small but quickly gain customers through social media and word of mouth. Read more>>

Farah Davids

I am FarahNicole and I am on Fire!! After graduating from Alabama State University (Dual Bachelors in Public relations and Print Journalism), I decided to go into the corporate world and work for TMP Worldwide, the proud owner of MONSTER.COM. While working on their Advertising and Communications team, I created an internal newsletter called The ADDENDUM. But one day, it all changed for me. I remember being called into the office and being asked if I was happy and I remember replying in so many words… NO. I told my boss that I wanted my possibilities to be endless and having had a taste of entrepreneurship by that time, I knew that the corporate journey was not my road to travel.At that point, I was given my wings to fly into this world we call entrepreneurship. Oh By the way, The ADDENDUM is still being used today. From starting my first company NALUM Entertainment Management Company, my clothing line QTSE, my own official camp, DREAM Camp and Publishing my first book, UNSPOQEN, it has been a fun and bumby ride! As if that weren’t enough. Read more>>

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Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories: Episode 1 http://orlandovoyager.com/introverted-entrepreneur-success-stories-episode-1/ http://orlandovoyager.com/introverted-entrepreneur-success-stories-episode-1/#respond Mon, 22 Mar 2021 07:59:58 +0000 http://orlandovoyager.com/?p=10745 The Voyage Group of Magazines is thrilled to present Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories, a show we’ve launched with sales and marketing expert Aleasha Bahr. Aleasha helps solopreneurs and sales teams double their sales by helping them see how the sales process can be honest, helpful and authentic. Learn more and connect with Aleasha here: https://www.aleashabahr.com/

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The Voyage Group of Magazines is thrilled to present Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories, a show we’ve launched with sales and marketing expert Aleasha Bahr. Aleasha helps solopreneurs and sales teams double their sales by helping them see how the sales process can be honest, helpful and authentic.

Learn more and connect with Aleasha here: https://www.aleashabahr.com/

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Heart to Heart with Whitley: Episode 1 http://orlandovoyager.com/heart-heart-whitley-episode-1/ http://orlandovoyager.com/heart-heart-whitley-episode-1/#respond Mon, 01 Feb 2021 22:39:48 +0000 http://orlandovoyager.com/?p=5413 We are so thrilled to present Heart to Heart with Whitley, a high-energy talk show hosted by the brilliant and empowering Whitley Porter. On this episode Whitley interviews actress and dancer Natali Micciche.    

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The Trailblazers: Rewriting the Narrative http://orlandovoyager.com/trailblazers-rewriting-narrative/ http://orlandovoyager.com/trailblazers-rewriting-narrative/#respond Tue, 24 Nov 2020 20:46:29 +0000 http://orlandovoyager.com/?p=2135 The editorial team has a special attachment to our new series, The Trailblazers: Rewriting the Narrative, because so many of us feel that media portrayals of women have been too one dimensional. Today, women are doing incredible things in all fields – from science and technology to finance, law, business, athletics and more. With the […]

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The editorial team has a special attachment to our new series, The Trailblazers: Rewriting the Narrative, because so many of us feel that media portrayals of women have been too one dimensional. Today, women are doing incredible things in all fields – from science and technology to finance, law, business, athletics and more. With the Trailblazers series, we hope to highlight and celebrate female role models, encourage more equal and just representation in the media, and help foster a more tight-knit community locally helping women find mentors, business partners, friends and more.

Kaila Wright (Varano)

My journey started about seven years ago when I decided to attend the University of Central Florida. From the first day, I stepped on campus, I was scared and intimidated by how large the school was. My high school graduating class was a mere 213 students and I now faced the second-largest university in the nation which at the time had 60,000 students. I met a few friends here and there, but no one really stuck except for my now husband and his circle of friends. I was really down a lot of the time as my college experience really didn’t fit the expectations I had set and I really wanted to move back home after my first semester. I remember talking to mom about leaving and she told me to give it another semester and to put myself out there and try something new. Read more>>

Rachel Hilinski

My company evolved from my own journey over the past twenty-plus years. I learned at an early age how real, whole foods made my mind and body feel. I went from being borderline anemic, feeling heavy and exhausted to feeling alive with ENERGY. There was no going back! However, life has a funny way of throwing you curveballs, and years later when I lost my dad to cancer, the fear and pain wore my body down. My healthy food choices were keeping me stable, but my mental and emotional health was falling apart. I realized that I needed more than nutrition to get me through this part of my life. I needed to lose my fear, calm my mind, BREATHE and center myself. Read more>>

Dr. Dacia Milescu

Dr. Dacia Milescu Founder & Owner Serenity Now Yoga Corp.​Established 2010 Professor at Daytona State College for Anatomy & Physiology, as well as Human Biology in the Department of Biological and Physical Science She is a retired Podiatric Physician & Board Certified Foot & Ankle Surgeon,​Medical Yoga Teacher and Energy Medicine Healer. She holds multiple certifications that yield a well-rounded physician, professor and holistic wellness practitioner. Dr. Milescu offers personal development and empowerment to manage stress holistically. Her path is to teach others in connecting body, mind and soul. Read more>>

Renee Bertalan

I moved from Orlando to Minneapolis, MN to study Youth Development at North Central University. I chose NCU because they had an excellent program for those who wanted to learn how to serve young people in a nonprofit setting. I was there for two years. Then during my senior year of college, I moved to New York City to intern at an anti-human trafficking organization. Following my internship, I moved back to Florida and got my first job in my field at a live-in treatment center for teens with alcohol and drug dependencies. I loved serving young people but I ended up transitioning into sales and management in the corporate world for financial reasons. Like many, once I entered adulthood I realized that the education system hadn’t prepared me for the financial realities I would face. Read more>>

Allana Rollerson

Pin’D Up Energy was bred from the unfortunate social injustices that have been occurring in the USA. As a black mom, we’re dealt a different hand, from a completely different deck. It’s rewarding and scary, joyous, yet full of anxiety…these pins were created by a single #BlackBoyMom wanting the world to know how proud she is to be blessed with her baby boy. Read more>>

Erin Martin-Kamalzadeh

I grew up always drawn to photographs, not just family photographs, but including publications. What consistently captured my attention was the photograph between the bright yellow solid border on the covers of National Geographic. It was always a pick-up-must. For me, the photographs told the stories. Christmas 2003, my late brother, Eric, gave me one of the best gifts, my first camera, the Nikon F55. This would be his final gift to me before he passed away less than one month later, leaving me a tool that would pave a future career and passion. I started off as most photographers do, a hobbyist. For many years I dabbled in a bit of everything while raising our three boys and building my portfolio. About five years ago, I happened to cross paths in real estate photography. Read more>>

Mariella Montoya

I’d like to say my story is motivational, mostly limitless. When I was little, I was diagnosed with epilepsy; and even though everything was under control, I lived a life with restrictions. Simple things such as riding a roller coaster, watching scary movies, or driving a car were some of the things that I couldn’t do back then because of the way my lifestyle was settled. Today that has changed. My life is not the same anymore. After a couple of surgeries, I am now a “free bird” able to live a normal life. and finally doing all the things that I love, one of those is photography! Now my passion for arts and photography was always in me, I remember gathering pictures and making book collages with them! Read more>>

Susan McLean

As VP of Marketing and Innovation at Uncle Matt’s Organic Inc., I wear a lot of hats. That’s not too surprising since the company I run with my husband, Matt (Uncle Matt), is America’s #1 selling organic orange juice. I’m primarily responsible for the development and execution of overall brand strategy, marketing programs, digital campaigns, and retail packaging. I also oversee all consumer and shopper marketing programs, I manage brand innovation, and I develop all digital marketing campaigns from website to social influencers. Read more>>

Jasmine Brown

I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida until about 10th grade. My 10th-grade year, I moved to Norfolk, Virginia where I finished high school. Once I graduated, I moved back to Florida where I attended UCF. This is where my journey starts. I never intended on being a makeup artist. I sort of fell into it. I had this fascination with brows. So I started to mess with my brows. I definitely messed them up. But I kept trying to perfect them. After brows, I then started to become interested in skin. I loved how foundation and concealer looked when it was applied correctly. Read more>>

Lotoya Jean

I am an immigrant, I migrated to America six years ago and wanted to experience life in the land of opportunities. It was a big sacrifice for me but I had to do what was necessary for my children and myself at the time. I always had a knock for business and was a young and passionate entrepreneur in the island of Jamaica. I had my first official business at age 13. I started with money I saved from my lunch each day and bought grocery’s to sell in my community. I saw my single mother struggled financially and I wanted to ease the burden by creating a source of income for myself. My mother had a business but after a while, she was not able to manage because of financial reason. Read more>>

Brooke Nicole

In April of 2019, I was asked to do my first photoshoot with a local photographer. I was nervous but open-minded to the idea of being a model. My first experience was amazing and I began putting my photos out there on social media and that’s when opportunities started to take off for me. Instagram has been the best outlet for me to market myself and meet others in the industry. I started getting inquiries and started working with local photographers frequently. I received local branding jobs, signed with two local agencies, and built great relationships with makeup artists and clients. Read more>>

Pallavi Cherukupally

I have been a Spine Specialist for over 15 years. I worked with a traditional orthopedic facility for more than eight years but got tired of not being able to help my clients in a long-lasting, meaningful way. I left that company since they did not support my expanding into Regenerative/Stem Cell Therapy. I went to another company in Atlanta and started treating patients this way with amazing results. After a couple of years, I decided that I would like to start my own company and treat patients the way that I felt they deserved. Read more>>

Shandah Martin

I worked for a roofing company and all the notaries were roofers and never in the building. I asked my boss, “doesn’t it make sense for someone who is in the office everyday, all day to be a notary to sign off on the permits?” He said, “Yep, take the course and sign up and we’ll pay for it.” And so, I took the course, passed the test, turned in my paperwork and started my journey as a notary public. Once I became a notary public, I researched other ways that I could utilize my notary stamp. I found that in the state of Florida, I could perform weddings. I had been an ordained minister for five years but I never broadcasted it or did anything with it. But once I found that out, I was soooo ecstatic. Read more>>

Jessica Sadeghi

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico where I study Dental assistant. I moved to Orlando with my parents in 1988 and married my husband, a wonderful Iranian man. While my daughter was a baby, I studied at night and got an associate degree in Medical Assisting. I worked in the medical field for a few years but I wanted to be there when my kids got off school and be a stay-at-home mom. While my kids were at school, I pursued my real passion, art. Read more>>

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#LadyBoss: redefining what a boss looks like http://orlandovoyager.com/ladyboss-redefining-boss-looks-like/ http://orlandovoyager.com/ladyboss-redefining-boss-looks-like/#respond Mon, 21 Sep 2020 03:29:09 +0000 http://orlandovoyager.com/?p=2138 Too many of us grew up only seeing one kind of boss or leader in the media. The lack of representation for other groups reinforced harmful stereotypes and acted as a self-fulfilling prophesy, but would our opinion of what a leader looks like be different if the media did a better job at representing the […]

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Too many of us grew up only seeing one kind of boss or leader in the media. The lack of representation for other groups reinforced harmful stereotypes and acted as a self-fulfilling prophesy, but would our opinion of what a leader looks like be different if the media did a better job at representing the true diversity of leadership in America?

Women and other under-represented groups are already leading many great companies, organizations, & academic institutions; others are authoring best-sellers, building engaged audiences, leading movements and more.

We have the honor of connecting with many brilliant female leaders each week and we’ve highlighted some of our favorites from throughout the Voyage family below. We asked them our question of the month: What is the best advice you have for someone who feels like they are facing insurmountable odds.

We encourage you to check out the female leaders we’ve highlighted below, follow them on social media if you find their work or story interesting and most importantly do your part to #fightstereotypes.

Chelsea Luckey | Pilates instructor & Medical Sales Representative

Taryn Kelly

I’ve been here before, when I lost my father 2 years ago, I felt like there was no way for my life to continue forward. I wanted to jump into being “okay” again and simply put, I couldn’t. It was during this time I learned about moving the needle, inch by inch and being present in each moment. My best advice is, we can’t skip steps in the process but we can break it down into pieces to manage it easier. Avoid looking at the challenge as a whole but accomplishing one small step everyday. If you buckle down in the process, put one foot in front of the other with your mind on the prize, you will build something bigger than you originally dreamed. In sales, it’s small daily moves to meet a big quarterly goal, in fitness, it’s building each segment of your routine & in life, it’s the same. Always keep the peak of the mountain in mind, but your head down and climb step by step.

@LuckeyFitness 

Molly Schoneveld  | Founder/CEO The Storied Group

First, learn to master your mind. It’s the only thing you can control. Your mind will want to tell you that you can’t, that the challenge is too great. It will convince you you’re doomed. I love the Calm and Headspace apps for practicing mindfulness and getting you out of that panic mode that comes with great challenges.  Second, start with baby steps. Think of a tiny thing you can do right now that will move you in the direction you wish to go. If you need motivation for putting one foot in front of the other, literally go put one foot in front of the other. Take a walk. Change your scenery. It’s amazing what moving the body will do for our minds.

thestoriedgroup.com 
@Molly.Schoneveld 
@TheStoriedGroup 
@MollySchoneveld

Jennifer Navarro | Media Executive & Lifestyle Blogger

The best advice I can give to someone facing a challenge they feel is insurmountable, is to remember to breathe. Take a moment to reflect and try to make sense of your feelings and the challenges at hand. Understand that there will be happy, sad, and sometimes confusing moments that lie ahead, but continue to work toward developing a solution. Never lose sight of all the positive things in your life. There is so much to be thankful for and it can be easy to let the bad overshadow the good. Remind yourself to be grateful for even the simplest blessings such as waking up in the morning, driving to work in your car, your family, your health, etc. Lastly and most importantly, remember that this too shall pass. When something seems insurmountable to me, I always remind myself that one day I will look back and everything will make perfect sense.

@jenmichellee 
@citygirlvibes 

Christiannah Oyedeji | Entrepreneur & Strategic Partnerships Professional

Full Fledge Entertainment

Allow that feeling to soak in for a moment and appreciate the challenge ahead of you. Then flip that energy into a sense of determination by thinking just how amazing it will feel when you’ve successfully defeated it. Now, take a step back and look at the challenge from different perspectives – turning it over and over again in your mind. You’ll eventually find a weak point and can begin breaking that gigantic challenge down into smaller obstacles that you have or can find the resources to overcome bit by bit.

trymyfab.com
@trymyfab
linkedin.com/in/christiannahoyedeji
@gochristyo

Susan Rebecca White | writer | mother | wife | friend | spiritual junky

If a friend tells me she’s facing a challenge she feels is insurmountable, my response is, “I’m so sorry.” And then later, “Do you want to talk through solutions, or would you rather me just listen?” Sometimes just listening is the most valuable thing I can offer. Personally, when I’m facing a tough challenge, I first let myself feel exhausted and overwhelmed by it, then I talk / vent with a friend about it,  and finally I think about how to approach it “bird by bird” (as Anne Lamott says), meaning, how do I tackle little bits at a time until I actually get through it?

susanrebeccawhite.com
@susanrebwhite
@susanrebeccawhitebooks

Kayle A. Martinez | Visual Artist & Designer

I can relate to self-doubt. I come from an environment that teaches contentment within the easy, safe, and quiet route of life. I grew up around examples of “Just let it go” and “Don’t speak unless spoken to” and “Are you sure you want to try that?” and “Do what’s going to make you the most money.” It wasn’t until college where I moved to the other side of the country, completely on my own, not knowing anyone, that I started to realize how important a healthy, self-loving, self-motivating conscious is. For example, I knew I couldn’t have a thriving career in my hometown, so I moved. I knew I didn’t want to become the people I was surrounded by, so I talked to new people. And I especially had doubts — I knew that this new life was going to be a hard, emotionally painful challenge, but I did it because I also knew that the rewards of my newly found positive attitude on life would greatly surpass the consequences of sulking in whether something is “insurmountable” or not. And they did. my advice for someone who is facing a challenge they feel is insurmountable is to change the way you perceive such challenges. Everything in life is merely a test on your ambition; nothing is insurmountable when your mindset and energy is geared towards OVERCOMING SELF-DOUBT. Love yourself, love what you do, love the people around you. Dismiss everything else.

@KayleAMartinez

Charlotte Ellsworth | Community Outreach Director & Veterinary Technician

I am learning that your twenties are filled with challenges and obstacles at every turn. Whether that be at work, with family, in relationships, etc. The best advice I could give for someone who is facing an insurmountable challenge would be remember to believe in yourself and never be afraid to ask for help. Challenges are going to present themselves for the rest of your life, but how you deal with these challenges will make or break you. I know that when I’m faced with something that I feel like I can’t handle, I rely on my faith and I seek out mentors who have been in my position. Having a supportive community behind you, as well as believing in yourself, will help you move mountains you never thought you could. Even when you fail. Even when the world is telling you that you can’t do it. Even when you don’t have the right answer, try to make time to clear your head, take a breath and find that inner strength to overcome the odds. You will come out on the other side stronger than ever. As a millennial, I know that I can let anxiety about a certain situation and fear of the unknown completely shut me down. However, when you learn to combat anxiety with strength and confidence, you will be victorious in the end. Don’t let the worries of tomorrow steal you joy and peace for today.

@charlotte_ellsworth

Jennifer Nicole | Handbag Designer & Founder of Jennifer Nicole Collection

The best advice I have for facing a challenge they feel is insurmountable is to do a couple of things which have always worked for me.  Fist, no challenge is insurmountable or impossible, it’s all about perception and attitude! If you go into a situation feeling like you’ll never be able to achieve it, it’s over before you even began. This leads into the second aspect, perseverance, which is half the battle. If you go into any situation knowing you can achieve any challenge and if it’s something you’re truly passionate about, just keep working at it and never stop “swinging the bat” and eventually you’ll knock it out of the park.  This is something I always remind myself and have done for every challenge I’ve faced creating my own business and it’s worked for me every time.

@jennifernicolecollection 
jennifernicolecollection.com

Megan Mears | Audiologist and Author

Set small goals for yourself along the way and reflect on your accomplishments. These small achievements will keep you motivated as you work toward the larger goal.

mascotbooks.com/mascot-marketplace/buy-books/childrens/picture-books/joanna-banana
@joanna.banana.book

 

Mariah Henry | CEO of ‘Deeper Than Dance’ and Dancer/choreographer

Nathan San Miguel

Endure until the end. Many times we have to get through tribulations in order to gain blessings. Stopping in the middle will only leave us wondering what we could have gained and where we could be. If you leave yourself wondering, it is the same as ending up wandering around. I will always encourage people to spend time with yourself and spend time with God. Pray, meditate, think about the problem and find new answers while focusing on how you overcame past challenges!

deeperthandance.org 
@deeperthandanceorg
@deeperthandanceorg
@mariahskyelin

Heather Wehrly | Supercar Owner and Driver

Put a demand on yourself to be fearless. Otherwise, you will never know how strong you are or feel the conquering pride you deserve.

Being defeated is an option. Don’t make it yours.

@sheswithoutfear
youtube.com/c/ShesWithoutFear

Sam Bee Beauty | Beauty & Lifestyle Influencer | Youtuber

Life throws you curve balls all the time especially, when you are on a new path in life or starting a new venture. It’s so easy to throw your hands up and say to yourself “”Forget it. I give up”” but always remember your purpose, your “why” as people call it. We grow up always hearing to never give up on yourself and this is the most vital piece of advice I will take with me forever, because it’s true! Never give up on yourself when you know you are destined to do more. The Universe sends us these hurtles that may get in the way of our passion and dreams for a reason – it’s to challenge ourselves to find a solution and keep thriving for more. I have had challenges and will continue to have challenges get in the way of my goals but that doesn’t mean what I want for myself is not a possibility or that it’s far fetched. Challenges are meant to test your patience and are meant to make you stronger in the long run so always remember your purpose. Easier said than done, right? Accomplishing your dreams is never easy, so always keep your head up, believe in yourself and remember your goals and dreams do not have an expiration date!

@sambee_beauty  
youtube.com/channel/UCUrbGv93Ep2y_Q00JzuHNSw

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What Does it Take to Create a Viral Ad http://orlandovoyager.com/what-does-it-take-to-create-a-viral-ad/ http://orlandovoyager.com/what-does-it-take-to-create-a-viral-ad/#respond Sat, 22 Aug 2020 21:05:08 +0000 http://orlandovoyager.com/?p=1888 The best way to learn about what it takes to create a viral video ad for your brand is to watch those that have been most successful. 1. Dove : Real Beauty Sketches | You’re more beautiful than you think If you look at Dove’s competitors, on average their youtube videos have only 600 views […]

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The best way to learn about what it takes to create a viral video ad for your brand is to watch those that have been most successful.

1. Dove : Real Beauty Sketches | You’re more beautiful than you think


If you look at Dove’s competitors, on average their youtube videos have only 600 views each. This Dove video has over 60 million views. It’s because they aren’t talking about Dove – no one cares about watching a video about Dove. The video is about a topic that resonates with people – self esteem issues.

2. Always #LikeAGirl


This video proves that you don’t need a fancy backdrop, action scenes or celebrities to go viral. A simple message that people care about is enough to get 60 million views.

3. Pepsi: The Friend Finder


Poking fun at a situation many people have found themselves in and using a cool new gadget make for a great viral ad.

4. Dumb Ways to Die


This Australian public service announcement uses comedy, repetition and real talk to get its message across. It’s been viewed over 100 million times, but more importantly, it reduced the number of accidents by 30%!

5. Shakira & Activia

Obviously, if you can get Shakira to be in your video you have a good shot at going viral.

6. Dollar Shave Club – Our Blades Are F***ing Great


This video launched DollarShaveClub.com – after posting this video within 48 hours the company got it’s first 12,000 customer. Now, they have raised over $150 million from investors and giving large companies like Gillete a run for their money.

7. Thai Life Insurance: “Unsung Hero”

A compelling story, that touches people and teaches a great lesson can do exceptionally well on social media. This video has over 25 million views.

8. Google Search: Reunion

If you can touch on geopolitical conflict in a way that can unite both sides you are sure to get a lot of attention.

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OrlandoVoyager FAQs http://orlandovoyager.com/orlandovoyager-faqs/ http://orlandovoyager.com/orlandovoyager-faqs/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2020 06:31:50 +0000 http://orlandovoyager.com/?p=2127 We’ve prepared this FAQ about the OrlandoVoyager in an effort to ensure that anyone who is interested can have a full understanding of what we do and why we’re doing it. Who started Voyage Hi everyone – I’m Mayank and I’m one of the two founders of Voyage. I was born in Miami, Florida and […]

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We’ve prepared this FAQ about the OrlandoVoyager in an effort to ensure that anyone who is interested can have a full understanding of what we do and why we’re doing it.

Who started Voyage

Hi everyone – I’m Mayank and I’m one of the two founders of Voyage. I was born in Miami, Florida and lived in South Florida through high school. My parents came to this country with very little, but they scraped some savings together, borrowed on their credit card and bought a small business and ran it together for almost 30 years. We weren’t wealthy, but my parents never wanted their lack of wealth to interfere with my ability to grow, learn, and pursue the dreams that I had. After high school I moved to LA to attend UCLA, which is where I met my cofounder Sid. After college, I was fortunate to land an incredible job as an investment banker at one of the world’s top banks. My parents were proud, their decades of sacrifice had helped their son “make it.” I worked in LA and NY for a few years, but then I left banking because I wanted to make an impact on the world in a different way. I wanted to figure out how to help people who were like my parents, but just starting out. Sid and I started building a tool to help small businesses build their own websites, but there were already so many of those, so we stopped working on that and focused on what we felt no one was doing – telling the stories of everyday heroes. We wanted to build a platform fully focused on telling as many stories and bringing as much exposure as we could to hard-working people who were doing something entrepreneurial, creative or artistic with their lives.

Hi everyone, My name is Sid and I’m one of the co-founders of Voyage. I came to the US for college and ended up falling in love with everything about America, in particular the free-thinking and anything-is-possible spirit. I went to UCLA to study neuroscience and become a doctor, but realized that medicine was not my passion. Through some struggle trying different jobs, I ultimately found software engineering to be extremely fun and fulfilling. So many people helped me along the way and encouraged me to find my passion. What I realized through my journey is that many other people struggle to find what they are passionate about too, and once they find it they end up having a positive impact on the world. These people have great stories but because they aren’t necessarily famous, the story is often untold. A few years ago Mayank and I partnered to provide web-development services to freelancers, artists, and small businesses – a group of creators close to our hearts. By talking to these people we learned about their amazing struggles and successes, but realized no one was sharing their stories. So, we set out to be the ones to uncover and share the human stories behind the people pursuing their passions, who we often see and drive past, and maybe even interact with everyday, but know little about.

Our mission & ethos

We believe that our communities are great because of the little guys and gals, the mom-and-pops, rising artists, local makers, creatives, and others who go off the beaten path, take risks and try to serve their community with something unique and special.

Our goal is for people to spend more of their money with mom and pops, local artists, creatives and makers rather than with large, one-shape-fits-all corporations.

We think if people knew more about the lives, journeys, struggles, values and background stories of the local business owners, artists, etc they would be more engaged with them, more likely to do business with them and support them in other ways. We believe the best way to do that is to help get the stories of local hidden gems out there, because once people get to know each other at a deeper level we are confident our communities will become even closer and more supportive.

Over time we plan to grow and deepen our involvement with the community beyond storytelling, to include in-person events that promote local artists and entrepreneurs, etc. We are excited and touched by the number of people that have expressed an interest in being part of that growth.

How we differ from traditional magazines

We are a platform that highlights the extraordinary life stories of everyday folks, told in their own words.

We do not have a masthead: For us, this started as a passion project. We are a small team that works with freelancers and contributors because there is an enormous number of amazing, untold stories that deserve to be told. Our contributors are not reporters – they are real people who work with us because they believe in our mission. By working remotely, part-time etc., they are able to support the magazine based on their availability. Through their efforts, we are able to learn from, and share the stories of many more people than we otherwise could. As such, our outreach contributors are free to use nicknames, first names or pen-names in their communications to preserve their privacy and avoid being contacted personally (i.e., on social media by people looking to connect). Since our outreach contributors may come and go, we do not require them to have a staff bio on our website. Our stories don’t have by lines because we allow interviewees to tell their stories in their own words, eliminating the (well-intentioned) interference of a writer’s voice.

We are not journalists: We do not provide headline news. We don’t analyze politics or preach policy. We are in the business of finding amazing people and giving them a platform to tell their own stories in their own words.

Inclusive rather than exclusive: We strive to be an inclusive platform, rather than an exclusive club. Many media outlets create value through exclusivity, featuring a very small number of people each year.

We believe in the opposite approach. We believe in supporting people who are up-and-coming, as well as established. We believe in sharing the struggles behind the success, not just the accomplishments. And we believe in getting to know the person and their philosophy, not just their art, product, or business. We believe that by telling more stories we can make a bigger impact on our communities and the world. If only a handful of stories are told, then only a handful of people can benefit from the power of storytelling. We think communities are better when we know each other at a deeper level, but that’s not possible if we are only exposed to the stories of a select group and tiny percentage within the community.

We value diversity: We take pride in the diversity you’ll find on our site. You’ll find people of all different backgrounds, races, countries of origin, religions, sexual preferences, gender identifications, professions, education levels, colors, shapes, and sizes featured on our site. Relative to almost any other media organization, on a typical day, even a cursory glance at our homepage will highlight how much more diverse we are relative to almost any other media outlet. This is intentional. We strive to make our platform accessible to groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in the media.

Authenticity over polish: We publish people’s stories in their own words, even when there are grammatical issues because we believe it’s important to highlight that not all successful people sound the same, have flawless writing skills, etc. If every time you see a feature of someone successful in the media and everything about them is perfect – from editing their responses to photoshopping their images to remove every “imperfection,” you may get the false idea that successful people are perfect and that if one is not perfect, they might not be capable of success. We want to debunk this myth by showing that success comes in many forms/styles/education-levels/writing-styles, etc. That said, we all make mistakes, so if you notice an error in your submission after the fact, we are more than happy to work with you to correct it.

What happens with the information and pictures you submit to us

If you participate in a Q&A interview (our primary feature format), your answers and pictures will only be used for the interview and promotion of the interview. It will not be used for ANY other purpose. We do not sell your data, and we also do not use the information you provide to analyze it for marketing purposes.

We use Google Analytics to keep track of our website traffic. However, we DO NOT aggregate, share, sell or otherwise use data for any other commercial purpose other than keeping track of our traffic.

We may reach out to you in the future via email or social media to see if you are interested in collaborating with us again on another series, event, project etc. If you ever want us to stop reaching out you can let us know easily by clicking the “preferences” button in any of our emails to you.

Where are we based

We are based in Los Angeles, California, where we started our first site VoyageLA.com. Our mailing address is: 9415 Culver Blvd STE 207, Culver City, CA 90232. This is the co-working space from where we first started, though we now work out of multiple co-working places and many of our contributors and outreach team are remote. Given our access to phones, e-mail, Skype, and other digital forms of communication, our contributors have the flexibility and freedom to work from wherever is convenient to them.

Why we ask for recommendations

The power in most media organizations is concentrated among a tiny group of people in the editorial department who decide who will get coverage and who won’t. Often, these editorial elites can be removed from the heart of the community. By valuing recommendations we are able to take power out of the editorial office and distribute it to the people – so that the community is helping to drive coverage decisions rather than a small group of editorial elites. This allows us to feature thought-provoking art that may not be the most commercially successful (yet), and/or highlight the stories of trailblazing women that are making a difference in all fields.

What we are most excited by

On our platform, we have been blessed and amazed to see what people we featured a few months or years ago have accomplished since because we were able to connect with them when they were still an up-and-coming artist or entrepreneur. We want our site to be a positive and inspirational place, but know the path is not always easy. We have been particularly touched by the stories of people who we happened to connect with at a time of personal or professional difficulty in their life, like when they were making a career change to leave a 9-5 and pursue a passion. We love getting updates about how them sharing their story helped their business, self-confidence, re-connected them with old clients/followers who never knew their personal story, or allowed them to chronicle and journal their journey.

We can’t wait to read and share your story!

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15 Amazing Female Founders Changing the World http://orlandovoyager.com/15-amazing-female-founders-changing-world/ http://orlandovoyager.com/15-amazing-female-founders-changing-world/#respond Sat, 01 Aug 2020 00:41:48 +0000 http://orlandovoyager.com/?p=2141 Meet 15 incredible women who aren’t letting the world hold them back.  They’ve built hugely successful businesses, created thousands of jobs and made a mark on the world.  Below, you’ll find some of the most interesting talks they’ve given about their journeys. Brit Morin of Brit & Co. Ooshma Garg of Gobble Payal Kadakia of […]

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Meet 15 incredible women who aren’t letting the world hold them back.  They’ve built hugely successful businesses, created thousands of jobs and made a mark on the world.  Below, you’ll find some of the most interesting talks they’ve given about their journeys.

Brit Morin of Brit & Co.

Ooshma Garg of Gobble

Payal Kadakia of Classpass

Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal

Kathryn Minshew of The Muse

Jessica Mah of inDinero

Julia Hartz of Eventbrite

Alexa von Tobel of LearnVest

Grace Garey of Watsi

Sukhinder Singh Cassidy of Joyus

Rashmi Sinha of SlideShare

Amy Jo Martin of Digital Royalty

Jennifer Pahlka of Code For America

Sara Blakely of Spanx

Weili Dai of Marvell Technologies

 

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