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Portraits of Orlando

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.

Allegra Warren

Growing up I’ve always been so in-tuned with the fashion & the beauty industry. I would always want to try new hairstyles and stay up watching my mom do her hair I would get so excited when she would ask for my help. Hair grew into a passion for me I would not only style my hair but my sister’s & others’ hair as well. They would be so amazed that a 14-year-old could braid hair that good. On weekends instead of hanging out with friends, I would find myself staying in to either braid my hair or try a different style I had seen somewhere. Read more>>

Pacho Berrocal

Born in Colombia at a young age I was always exposed to music. My father who is a former drummer, would take me to some of his shows, put me on a chair next to him and I would watch him play for hours. Growing up I always wanted to be a drummer or be involved somehow in the Entertainment business. In the early 2000’s my family moved to the US. My passion for music never changed. After slowly learning the techniques of Djing I started playing opening slots at some small venues. Read more>>

Anisa Rodriguez

To talk about my story and the woman I am today, I have to go back to the beginning. To that little girl from Chicago. When I was 7 my mom sent me and my older brother to live with my grandma to Lakeland Florida. Couple of months later my mom came down, stayed in Lakeland for like a year, and then moved to Orlando. Florida was so bright and different, very beautiful and tropical. Very different from Chicago. Growing up I saw both sides of the world. Read more>>

Scott Janney

As successful business owner(s) having grown scratch insurance agencies over 7,000+ clients (aka book of business) back in 2013 to current. I (Scott Janney) along with my wife (Lauren Janney) wanted to diversify and open something new, something new that was more enjoyable and light-hearted compared to Insurance. Insurance is one of the most regulated businesses in the U.S. So, as we discussed what our future business would look like (a coffee & ice cream shop), I (Scott) was excited to put up a magazine wall. This wall was to be similar in vibe to Barns and Noble, just much smaller. Read more>>

Tahric Danzy

Born in the poverty-stricken city of Gary, IN I later moved to Indianapolis, IN as a single mother 1 searched for a better environment to raise her son. I later graduated high school and sought to sail to Bethune-Cookman University to study Finance. At an early age, I understood the importance of being financially literate. So, I was determined to really understand how money worked and how to make money work for me. Also at an early age, I’ve always been an entrepreneur from reselling shoes, to selling cars and car parts at my grandparents’ used car lot. Read more>>

Rossi Kostova

Folksy love began as a project between my grandma and myself 16 years ago. In Bulgaria, grandmothers are addresses as ‘Baba’ and my baba is the reason why I love to craft just about anything. I remember making macrame out of old flour sacs, embroidering, and knitting with her. I’ve dabbled in many art forms but laser cutting and designing has stuck with me. I love the materials I can use with my laser and that is the priority of folksy love today. Read more>>

Shayla Boyd

I started my business when I decided to throw my son a Luau for his birthday. Coordinating the colors, seeking a venue, and creating DIY centerpieces gave me a rush! When it all came together, it was a Masterpiece. Then is where I had an epiphany and I discovered my passion. Whether I’m planning a surprise birthday party or setting a unique scene for a photoshoot backdrop, I always create a vibe to remember. Read more>>

Alexandra Dubs

My interest in chainmail started when I was really young and my sister took me to renaissance faires. My sister also made chainmail as a hobby and this got me super interested in it. I always loved chainmail, but I didn’t try making it until my sophomore year in college. Once I tried it, I couldn’t stop making it. The first piece of chainmail I made was a bracelet, and the first piece I sold was a dice bag. After selling the dice bag, I decided I really wanted to see if I could make this a business.  Read more>>

Carolina Montes

My name is Carolina Montes, Caro Mont Photography is an abbreviation of my name and what I love to do most. People who are close to me call me Caro, and that is the type of relationship I want to have with my clients. Throughout my entire life, I carried a camera with me. It was something so innate, that it never crossed my mind that photography would become my career. I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My Dad is a cardiologist (scientific), and my mom is an interior decorator and store owner (creative + entrepreneurial). Therefore, I always say that I think with both sides of my brain. Fortunately, I am as organized as I am creative. Read more>>

Antoinette Pierce

Hello everyone, my name is Antoinette Pierce. I’m the owner of Serenity Living & Company and I’m going to tell you how it all started. My journey was not easy but I have never been one to give up. When I decided to become a Registered Nurse at the age of 26, I was working two jobs just to pay my bills. I needed a change and I knew I had my work cut out for me. I had a really great support system to help me with my children so that I could attend school. Read more>>

Cynthia Souchet

During the pandemic i was in a high-risk pregnancy with two other little boys. My husband needs to take care of me because we don’t have family here. He takes a leave license in his job. It was so difficult for all of us. I’m a book lover since i was a little girl. But when i move here i notice that i can’t find varieties of books in Spanish language. I read in English but the language of my heart is in Spanish. I’m trying to find something that can create culture and family traditions.  Read more>>

CryptoCasa LLC

We’re a Real Estate investment company. We figured out that being part of the Real Estate Industry wasn’t for everybody due to the amount of money it requires. But we also are fond of crypto technology and new trends of investment models. So, we decided to come up with a crowdfunding investment model in which different invest0rs can buy shares, represented in digital security tokens, from a property. This property is going to be destined to be a thematic vacation rental as it our first property ARTHOUSE 851, so it’ll generate monthly dividends. The dividends we’ll be paid through a digital wallet. Read more>>

Edie Reinhardt

Art sort of runs in the family, my mother was a watercolor painter and I grew up going to art shows with her and being exposed to the art world from a young age. I’ve been doing digital art since I was about eleven years old, and often enjoyed playing around with the sort of throwaway disposable cameras you found all over drugstores. I don’t think I really got into it until I found an old Polaroid 600 camera at a Goodwill for about five dollars, though. Read more>>

Kenneth Carter III

My name is Kenneth Carter III, I am 39 years old. I am an ex-military truck driver with 2 children. I started my business on Jan 2020. My dream started with a very dark one. I was sent to prison after struggling with alcohol and drug abuse. At the time I did not realize it was a problem. It was socially “fun” and everyone was doing it around me. Once being sentenced to 3 years and facing 90 years, I felt like this was an opportunity to turn my life around. Read more>>

Heissam “I’m in” Jebailey

Both my parents are Lebanese, I was born in Canada and moved to live in Orlando, FL ever since I was 5 years old. I went to grade school, catholic high school, and graduated from the University of Central Florida with an Advertising and Public Relations Degree in 2000. I went on to co-own and operate the university’s newspaper for several years, the Central Florida Future before selling it to Gannett. During that time, we won numerous awards including Best Newspaper in the Country and I was one of the youngest inductees into the Nicholson School of Communication and Media Hall of Fame. Read more>>

Isabel James-Potts

I was born in Orlando, FL, and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Almost 10 years ago, I decided to move to Orlando in search of better career opportunities and have since made a career with the Walt Disney Company. I have always been drawn to the arts and anything that would allow me to be creative, from drawing to painting, and eventually, baking. At first, I would bake mostly to satisfy my huge sweet tooth or just bake a batch of brownies from a pre-made mix.  Read more>>

Je-Wan Herbert

Born in Colombia at a young age I was always exposed to music. My father who is a former drummer, would take me to some of his shows, put me on a chair next to him, and I would watch him play for hours. Growing up I always wanted to be a drummer or be involved somehow in the Entertaiment business. In the early 2000’s my family moved to the US. My passion for music never changed. After slowly learning the techniques of Djing I started playing opening slots at some smalls venues. Read more>>

Mikee Ombao

Our daughter Mikee was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was 3y/o, then a year after that, with Celiac. That was in 2012.  As a family, we love to travel, try new places, and love to eat. But with our daughter’s chronic medical condition, it has always been a challenge, to find gluten-free products, from main entrees, snacks, and desserts, especially Ice Cream.  So here we are, when life gives you lemon, turn it into lemonade. Read more>>

Karina Nicoldine

Hello, my name is Karina Nicoldine I’ve been an athlete & model the majority of my life but I also admire school. I have been gone to private my whole life. Bishop MooreCatholic HS in Winter Park. I would like to get my doctorate. I have over 100 invention ideas I am praying to get patented, some are businesses I started already like my clothing line, I have an app on the way where I’ll sell my workout programs as well. I am also working on a tv show. Right now, I am competing to become a pro athlete in bodybuilding. Read more>>

Naomi Joy Nelson

Naomi Joy is an Author, Educator, Instrumentalist, and Speaker in Orlando, Florida. Naomi’s greatest joy is in sharing her love for God, through education, public speaking engagements, as well as music ministry, and performance events. Her wealth of wisdom and authentic presentation touches the lives of audiences in a profound way. She is anointed to bring healing and joy to others through her many gifts and her personal testimony of salvation and deliverance. Read more>>

Estelle Thibodeau

Twenty years ago, I opened a Cafe in a little historic downtown. The Cafe had coffee, beer, wine, food, books, music, and chess. Things that I loved. I placed several chess sets throughout the cafe. I set the pieces out, not knowing the rules; the white on the right, the Queen on her own color, or even how to play. I watched those chess sets draw the attention of nearly everyone that came into the Cafe. I contemplated the universal beauty in them.  Read more>>

Nycole Palmieri

Mystic Burlesque was created by Lorien Starr and Nycole Palmieri in 2020 with the intention to give local burlesque performers opportunity to create, express, perform and work! Lorien one of the Co-Founders of Mystix Burlesque is a Yoga Instructor, Reiki Master, physical therapist assistant, Burlesque performer, and Dancer in the Orlando area. Nycole the other co-founder of Mystix Burlesque has been a professional dancer since the age of 13yrs old and has traveled and performed all around the world. Read more>>

Phalair Carter

My father was a rapper and I never really wanted to start rapping because I felt as though I would never fill his shoes as an MC in Chicago. However, Hip Hop was the entirety of my childhood, so the more I understood Hip Hop, the more I understood myself. My father would teach me how to rap and I began writing poetry. In high school, I started a program called beats and bars to continue expanding upon my outlet of art. The program teaches high schoolers how to produce beats and write music via the mode of poetry. Read more>>

Joshua McCain

“Music is in my blood” my parents used to tell me growing up. I have always had an ear for music and decided to make it a side career after studying Music Production at Daytona State College. I create musical content for my clients. Sometimes it’s a simple podcast intro or jingle, and sometimes an entire musical piece while arranging it with instruments. One of the fingerprints on my work is that I record all the live instruments myself in my home studio. Read more>>

Finny Mlemchukwu

My background is actually in Telecommunications and I landed in Transportation on one of my many travels throughout the world. I would usually travel in groups of 2-10 and we would always need larger vehicles, for both business and personal travel. I saw that there were not a lot of places that offered luxury vehicles for groups. This discovery combined with the fact that I was growing a family and wanted a business that did not require so much travel led me to starting the company.  Read more>>

Catherine O’Neil

I started The Fluffy Bison, LLC a little over a month after I took my parents to Yellowstone National Park and then just my mom to the Badlands National Park. Seeing Yellowstone National Park was a bucket list item for my father, who’s 81 years old. After my grandmother passed peacefully at home on her 101st birthday, we all struggled and coped differently with her passing, and I wanted to make sure that my parents and I made some of our best memories together before they leave. Read more>>

Skylar Bleu

I’m Skylar Bleu, a 3-year-old business owner, model, and lifestyle influencer, from Florida. I’m well known in the kid’s influencer/fashion arena. Alongside my mom, we create lifestyle content for kids and families. I am the CEO of World of Skylar, which is the umbrella to various ventures that will unfold in the near future. My first influencer partnership took place four months after my first birthday in January of 2020, but modeling fashion and creating content instantly began on my social media platforms via my mother, once I was born. Read more>>

Ashley Delgado

I started my lash journey during the time we all had to quarantine in the very beginning of COVID, I practiced in the spare bedroom of my home for hours and my closest friends trusted me to work on them, Sometime after I started working at a medspa which introduced me to so many things in the esthetic/beauty industry, it was then I knew I wanted to go to school to be an esthetician, during this time I was pregnant with my second child, I thought it was going to set me back but I pushed myself harder and graduated esthetics school as a facial specialist. Read more>>

Aimad Ajjane

Back in 2012, me and my brother Danny saw the musical legend Paul McCartney live in concert. We were so awe-struck by this amazing performance, that we immediately got some guitars and started a band. We went on to win our high school’s Battle of the Bands, then performed together regularly at UCF throughout our time in college. During this time, we performed many concerts across the state and recorded three albums of original songs which we released on all streaming platforms.  Read more>>

Mikey McCabe

Back in 2012, me and my brother Danny saw the musical legend Paul McCartney live in concert. We were so awe-struck by this amazing performance, that we immediately got some guitars and started a band. We went on to win our high school’s Battle of the Bands, then performed together regularly at UCF throughout our time in college. During this time, we performed many concerts across the state and recorded three albums of original songs which we released on all streaming platforms. In 2016, I was lucky enough to win the opportunity to perform alongside The Beach Boys in Jacksonville. Read more>>

Tatianna Joseph

I saw that I loved making things based on my first business Nina Beana’s Awareness Tutus. Since I wanted to expand but keep my awareness shop just as it is I decided to open up a 2nd business with my friend of many years. She was excellent in making crafts and I do an awesome job making shirts – if I do say so myself :). We decided to combine our love for crafting together and birthed KT Craftz – The Crafting Queens. Read more>>

Mariana Seno

Sorry for my English, my language is Portuguese, but I’ll try… I’m Brazilian, a journalist and I’ve been working with social midias for ten years. I created my blog www.marianaseno.com to promote my mother’s store, women’s fashion. On the blog, I share tips on looks, travel, and lifestyle. My main acting channel at the moment is Instagram – @marianaseno. Where I share my day-to-day and my life. Showing my routine, food, travel, relationship, and more… Read more>>

Jasmine Hylick

Hi, I am a Central Florida native. Since a very young girl, I have been introduced to community service, outreach, and building. Majority of the women in my family worked in property management or community development positions with the city. I remember very vividly on the weekends doing some type of community outreach. Upon graduation, it was only natural that I continued that same mission. From 2008 until 2016 I have helped provide a place to call home to over 300 families.  Read more>>

Colette Brown

My story has some interesting twists and turns, but the pandemic was the catalyst to the Colette you see today. For most of my career, I worked in retail in the Central Florida area revamping troubled locations that were struggling to make sales due to lack of operational processes and branding appeal. I would turn each location around within months and find innovative ways to enhance the customer experience using digital marketing. Read more>>

Ranita Holland

Once entering a new chapter in my life, starting my twenties and experiencing multitudes of events. I found it hard for myself to manage all that life had thrown at me. As an outlet to my depression, stress, and anxiety I called on the Lord to guide me into my purpose; to be still and know that he is God. During this time, I began a project, a project that acted as a reinforcement to my own mental health and one that will serve others. I created my New Self-Published interactive notebook titled “Be Still.”  Read more>>

Laura Cage

After losing my corporate job of 14 years due to the pandemic I started to spend my time on my passion of plants. Creating dish gardens in my backyard… it was a great way to social distance and offered me a great calming hobby during a stressful time. As businesses started to reopen I thought how can I offer this fun, creative plant obsession with others. I wanted to create an environment where guests could come in and plant right in the shop.  Read more>>

Tyler Nykole

What sparked my interest in photography was always visiting my dad during the summertime in Hong Kong, Sweden, Germany, Greece, Italy, Serbia, and many other places. My dad also liked to take pictures of nature. He would always tell me to stand by a special landmark to take a picture of me. I was interested in becoming a forensics photographer. I then began to photograph high fashion portraits of people. I wanted to learn more about photography. I majored in Photography in college and received my B.S in May 2021. Read more>>

Krizia Cruz

I got my start in the beautiful city of Orlando, Florida. I went to UCF and graduated from Radio/TV Journalism. Shortly after graduating, I moved on to becoming a breaking news reporter at a local Spanish TV Station. After getting my feet wet in smaller market, I got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a reporter in NYC. a dream comes true! I knew I eventually wanted to have more work/life balance to focus on things I love while also being creative so that actually marked my last on-air job. Read more>>

Mok Basterd

Not sure if this is where my into begins but hello! I’m Mok Basterd. I’m a multi-media artist and genderless drag persona. Most kids begin their artistic journey as 2D illustrators and I’m no different. With a webcomic currently in the works, I draw often. Even my non-2D pieces typically begin as a sketch, whether it be an annotated diagram or a rushed, scribbled concept using the Snapchat drawing tool. Drawing gifted me the eye I’ve continued to develop for all other mediums. Read more>>

Alexis Jennings

Well, I’ve always wanted to be in the healthcare field initially. I wanted to go to school for physical therapy, but at that time it was difficult to grasp the auditorium-style classes when I needed more one-on-one attention to get me through those science classes, so I took the admin route. I got my HSA degree in 2019 from UCF and since then, I’ve tried to move up the corporate latter, making some strides but ultimately – I got tired of fighting a tiresome fight- so I began to get burnt out and restless working from home. Read more>>

Jeremy Jus’Black and D-Rugg Davis

The Arrogant Assholes Podcast is comprised of Comedian Derrius “D-Rugg” Jeremy “Jus ‘Black” Davis a radio Personality from Orlando. Jus’Black who got his start doing a small talk radio show on Radio Classique a then predominantly French and Creole radio station, the show was the station’s ONLY English-speaking show and fastly became popular in Haiti and Central Florida the show was called Central Florida Live, from there he Co-hosted an upstart radio station being the Live on-air talent with Florida Bass Legends DJ Raylo and Dem Damn Doggs and Pupp on their then Syndicated Nightly Hip Hop Show airing Weekly on stations In 30 Florida cities. Read more>>

David Medina & Andrés Medina

It all started during the 2020 pandemic. I was going through an existential crisis and I felt like I needed a creative outlet to keep myself going. It was perfect timing to just sit down and think about what there was for me to do. Graphic design and creative direction were always a huge part of my life since I was a little kid, it was always around me, I remember I would always create small designs or collages on my phone when I was bored and I would post them on Instagram, but I never really touched on it to the point of myself pursuing this career. Read more>>

Nia Ashay

I became a business owner through divine orchestration. Having been born into a lineage whose core values include God, family, and education/ministry, I’ve known for some time that being the boss of my career is part of my destiny. After witnessing my father trailblaze his way through the hair industry (get into Changing Faces, LLC) and my mother becomes a master of her many trades (soon to be Dr.), one would think transitioning into this role would be smooth. Read more>>

Melinda Wilson

I became a board-certified music therapist in 2008 after attending the music therapy program at California State University Northridge. I moved to Orlando in 2017 and work for a hospice company for a year before starting my private practice in 2018. Been practicing music therapy primarily specializing in elder care and interventions for children with special needs. I currently receive Medicaid funding to provide music therapy for children with a variety of diagnoses including autism, Down syndrome, speech delays, developmental delays, aphasia, visual impairments, ADHD, depression, anxiety, cancer, and more. Read more>>

Myriah Castano

Hey hey lovely’s my name is Myriah Monique CEO of Waist Empress (MPressed Body) in Longwood, Florida. Growing up in a single-parent household alongside my two brothers built me to be rough and tough but still feel the need to overplay my dominance and become the go-to and protector in my own way. I developed a habit of hyper-independence doing things on my own because of father abandonment and trust issues. I became rebellious, acted out and nobody couldn’t tell me nothing, “Ms. Myriah know it all” was in full effect.  Read more>>

Thalia Sophia

When I was in college, I was determined to make it into medical school. That was the plan for as long as I could remember. Although thriving in college, I began to realize something was missing in my life. As the end of my college career drew near, I looked back to find what made me happy when I was younger. Throughout my life, I had always sung and performed for fun, which I quickly withdrew from during college due to my difficult course load.  Read more>>

Norberto Moreira

I migrated from my country Ecuador with my wife and children in 2002. One of my first jobs, when I arrived to Orlando, was at an Ecuadorian restaurant as a cook, I love cooking is one of my passions. I didn’t last long at the job after I found that I can provide more to my family as a painter in the construction field. I was a painter for a couple years and I was working for others, later on, I found interested in starting a business the exotic fruit Jackfruit, Read more>>

Vincent Law

I’ve lived in Florida for about 5 years now. I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Calgary in Canada when I was young and pretty much grew up there. Nowadays I called all three of these very different places my homes. I have to say that my journey was an interesting one getting to where I am at today. Growing up I was always driven by curiosity and creativity. Back when I was still in Hong Kong, I remember my school teachers had recommended my parents to place me into art school because they saw my talent as a painter, which my mother did end up enrolling me into private art lessons outside my normal school hours. Read more>>

Matthew Paul

I grew up in south downtown Orlando. After graduating in 2008, I had filled my life with distractions which prevented me from thriving like I wanted to. Partying was a priority and which prevented me from finishing college. I ended up working construction. I always heard the expression “show me your 5 closest friends and I’ll show you your future” which at the time did not resonate. Being the hard-headed individual I am I continued to put myself in unsavory situations and make bad decisions. Read more>>

Beauty By A. Barb

Barb is the name! Also known as Beauty by A. Barb & Creator of Barb Essentials I am 26 years old, born in Brooklyn, NY & I currently live in Jacksonville, FL. If we’re being honest, I have always been a girly girl, always been into fashion, beauty, and hair. I just don’t think that I’ve ever considered making a job out of anything like that. but here we are! I am Full Specialist, but I have been primarily focused on nails throughout most of my beauty career. Read more>>

Kylie Machia

I’ve always been someone who preferred reading and artistic activities over parties and sports. As a kid, I’d photograph things all the time, on disposable cameras, little digital cameras, and finally a Nikon. I began taking photos of everything I saw beauty in–clouds, flowers, the moon, and all kinds of things in nature. A few years ago, I realized I loved to take photos of dogs playing on the beach–my biggest passion in life is animals and the rescue community, so this year, I’ve been able to move that passion forward and began photographing adoptable cats and dogs for a local rescue, ADORE Pet Rescue. Read more>>

Sabrina Johns

My name is Sabrina Johns and I am a 22-year-old filmmaker/content creator near Orlando, FL. Growing up, I was always in love with movies and entertainment but I never really understood what really went on behind the camera and how movies came to life. It wasn’t until I was around 18 years old that I miraculously became aware of how much work goes into making a film and how many wonderful career opportunities and paths there are in the film industry. Read more>>

Sumaira Khan

I started my journey in 2011 when I was 21, in my bedroom just mixing up some tunes on my slight two-channel mixer. I had just started being fond of different cultured music/forms/types and such. I was young at the moment so of course, my aim for that time was just to show the mixes I had made. Nothing of becoming a Dj was even fluttering on my mind. After a short while had passed, I bear in mind attending a very conservative wedding to say. Read more>>

Alex Fasulo

In 2015, after graduating from college, I went to work at a corporate PR job in NYC. I quit it after only 4-weeks, quickly realizing working a 9-to-5 was not for me. With no plan or money saved, I naturally panicked, and tried out a bunch of different side hustles, from designing websites to managing social media accounts. What surprisingly took off for me, though, was freelance writing on a site called Fiverr. Nearly 8-years later, I am still freelance writing on Fiverr, now with my own copywriting agency, social media brand ‘Alex Fasulo LLC,’ and podcast ‘The Freelance Fairytales.’ Read more>>

Sierra Benthone

I actually started modeling 2 years ago but I’ve known this was something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always been photogenic but to actually take pictures with/for a purpose didn’t come until later. I grew up watching America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) with Tyra Banks and watching the different challenges the girls had to go through and thought to myself, “I can do that!” Or “I love that pose!” So, I wanted to actually try out but by the time I got of age, the show wasn’t really running anymore. I also did research to figure out what type of model I should be and didn’t think I would be selected just off the fact that I was 5’4 and the show usually looked for the “average” model; 5’7 & up, slim, etc. It’s all good though, I was able to create a lane for myself without going on TV and it’s been amazing so far. Read more>>

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