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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.

Jeff Friedrich

Twenty-five years ago, my then-partner and I decided we could start a General Contracting firm and provide excellent service on time for a fair price. We had no projects lined up because we didn’t want to feel like we somehow cheated our then-current employer. All we had was our reputation in the industry as hard-working, honest guys that knew how to get things done. Once we had completed our obligations to our employer, we went out to the clients we had built over 13 years of doing business in Central Florida. Two big clients were Walt Disney World and Sea World! They both opened their arms to a young company and gave us opportunities to start small and grow our business at the right pace. In 25 years, we have grown to do projects as big as $60 million, with a pending project of nearly $100 million. Read more>>

Erica Carnegie

My name is Erica Carnegie, and I’m a college student studying Marketing and Management with a minor in Sports Business. I’m active in various organizations on campus and am genuinely enjoying my college years. October is Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) Awareness Month, and I’m an AVM survivor. At 16, I became the Founder of the Youth Ambassador Program program with The Aneurysm and AVM Foundation (TAAF). Our team of Ambassadors works closely with TAAF to spread awareness, raise funds, advocate and provide support to survivors and their families. Read more>>

Marissa Pierre

I’ve been trying to do nails since I was younger, then last year, I had the idea to start with the press on nails. I made sure I practiced all year so I could launch the year after. With trial and error, I finally launched my business, Shesopressed. When I started, I almost gave up because I didn’t realize how hard it would be to design logos and create the nails. It took a lot of hard work. But with practice, I finally made it, and now I’m here. Without my family helping me, I don’t think I’d be here now. I specialize in nail art and am soon to become a nail tech. I am proud of the journey and how I kept going despite the obstacles. What sets me apart from others is that my nails are handmade, and you can always reuse them. Read more>>

Renata Castilho

I started with a fashion and beauty Blog when I was starting marketing school. I’ve always really enjoyed writing and have always been very creative. When I created the Blog, I intended to show people the knowledge I had at the time on these subjects. In 2020 I moved to the United States, and my lifestyle has changed greatly. I realized that I needed to change the subject of my content, and I started to dedicate myself to showing the life of an immigrant in the United States. I conquered an audience that watches me every day, and I help several people who dream of coming here. Read more>>

Lynn Warren

Lynn D. Warren graduated from Bethune-Cookman University (BCU) in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Gerontology. Upon graduating from BCU, she began her career in the Social Services field. She was known for her compassionate spirit to help others and her extraordinary work ethic. In 2012, Ms. Warren relocated to Royal Palm Beach, FL, and founded Virtuous Women Pray. Virtuous Women Pray is an online ministry that draws women closer to God through prayer, encouragement, and uplifting posts. Over time, her ministry grew from 1 follower to over 400,000 followers. Read more>>

Edgar Comellas

Float Gang came about during the pandemic of 2020 out of a combination of passion, time, and chemistry. Both my brother and I have businesses that saw and suffered the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this newly found free time, we would chat and dream about what business we could start together if everything was lost. Our combined skills include social media marketing, community building, design, print logistics, project management, and, most importantly, a passion for making it right. Read more>>

Yara Ali

Hey, I’m Yara. I’m an Egyptian American born in Florida but raised in Egypt. I started working out and taking care of my health 8 years ago when I was 14. The first few years were hard for me because I had no guidance and was learning everything independently and through trial and error. For the first two years of my journey, I used to speed walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes and then do a 10 minutes abs workout by Rebecca Louise on Youtube daily. I was obsessed with that routine and might have only missed 2 weeks in the whole year. Read more>>

Nya Hughes

On January 1, 2018, I bought my first sewing machine and started self-teaching myself sewing. I told my mother for months I wanted to start making bikinis, and she didn’t believe me until I bought my sewing machine. It took me about 2 years to finally make bikinis decent enough to wear in public. In 2020, while supporting black-owned businesses, a well-known and big bikini brand (Frankies Bikinis) posted my sewing page on their Instagram post, and I blew up with a little supportive following. With the help of my fiancé, I started my business, Sunkissed Babes, on July 31, 2020. Read more>>

Teuruhei Buchin

Teuruhei Kalaniuʻi Buchin Cruz, born of Hawaiian and Tahitian ancestry, hails from the Nae’ole, Kekauoha Family of Hawaii, and The Mariteragi, Buchin Family from Tahiti. Currently based out of Central Florida, she has personally been involved with perpetuating Polynesian culture for over 30 years through Professional Polynesian Entertainment, Diversity and Inclusion Educational Spokesperson, Pupu Ori Tamarii Maohi and Halau Hula o Kalaniu’i. Under the direction of their father, James Tehuiarii Mariteragi Buchin, singer, Musician, and culturalist, she was fortunate to learn from many great dancers, musicians, and classical artisans who were leaders in the Tahitian Culture. Read more>>

Gabe Pizarro

It started in 2020 during the beginning of the pandemic. A couple of years ago, the idea of making a clothing brand was in my head; I just never had the drive, desire, or how to do it. Then since I was bored for a couple of months, I started to learn how to make designs how to create shirts and, so I put it on social media for my friends to see; a few liked it and bought it, but I used a platform that I didn’t make any money off of it. So I used drop-shipping and drop-shipping websites like Teespring and Printify/Printful for about 2 yrs. Read more>>

Derek Carmichael

I was in property management, and I was doing exceptionally well. The developers I worked for at the time sent me to Ifrec, a local real estate school in Orlando, so I could transition to selling off their Miami’s mid-rise and high-rise. Through a few chains of events after getting my license, I found myself at Westgate Resorts. In that place, I started to learn the business. I started selling many timeshares and realized it wasn’t for me. From there, I found myself in traditional real estate. Read more>>

Nicole Sasser

Nicole Sasser is a headliner entertainer performing worldwide on major luxury cruise lines. Her charming personality, sultry voice, and beautiful trumpet sound make her a highly successful in-demand entertainer. Nicole began playing trumpet at age 9, and has been singing all her life. Growing up in the Chicago area afforded her incredible opportunities for music, including performing at Carnegie Hall and Symphony Center with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and Lincoln Center as a member of the Youth Jazz Ensemble of DuPage. Read more>>

Anna Zuccarone

My family of four and I moved here in Us from Italy in 2013 to follow our “America Dream. ” But we realized that it was not that t easy as everybody says. We worked very hard to open our first little spot. We learned so many things, and we learned so many life lessons, but we did not give up. We were homesick during our first year, and our first Christmas was terrible. But we met beautiful people, now friends, who helped us, and opened their homes to welcome us, that we will never forget. We all are in the restaurant business; I’m the owner of “Lady Baba,” I make the Neapolitan pastry called Baba, and I sell to many Italian Restaurants from Orlando down to Miami. Read more>>

Alejandra Maddox

My name is Alejandra Maddox, owner and cake designer for Everything Cake. I was born and raised in Bolivia, where I developed my passion for pastry arts. That led me to pursue that passion, and I earned my degree in Culinary Arts at Santiago-Chile. Followed by my degree in Hospitality and Tourism I made in Bolivia. My Love of pastry arts was always a big part of my life as it allows my creativity to flow while helping bring smiles to my clients. I came to this beautiful city of Orlando with an Internship offer from Loews Company. Read more>>

Wagner Krohling

We’re a small local farm in Kissimmee, FL. We started 2 years ago. Our laying hens live free-range and play outside for many hours during the day to lay high-quality and nutritional eggs for our family, neighbors, and the community. Princess Flock has a balanced and healthy diet. Their menu includes tropical grass seeds, grains, bugs, worms, and everything they need for a happy and healthy life! We make sure our hens are provided with the best living conditions. Princess Flock has plenty of access to fresh water, forage, and pasture area prepared with a unique tropical mix of seeds such as flax, quinoa, vetch, buckwheat, and clover so they can peck around all day long. It means happier and healthier hens to lay the most nutritious eggs for our family and yours. We believe that healthy soil is the basis for healthy food production. Read more>>

Mitchell Dienger

I started in the garage door business after moving back to Florida from St. Louis. My brother Michael was the manager of a significant garage door service company and hired and trained me in this trade. Fast forward a few years to 2008, and I am the operations manager of the same company as my brother. I’m living in Jacksonville, Florida, and at this time, in 2008, my world came crashing down. I was in a motorcycle accident, lost my job, and got divorced within a year or so. I got out of the garage door business many years. I went back to work in Special education, which is what I went to school for. Read more>>

Marleah Krohne

I started free-lance modeling in 1969 at the age of 19. My professional career began with a Winter Park modeling agency called The Christensen Group, doing print work, tea room, and runway for TV. One of these photos is from the 1981 Orlando Sentinel Style section. At age 44, I did work for a Cruise Line modeling typical styles for outfits to be worn on week-long cruises. After that, fashion modeling seemed to be only for the young. I never thought I’d reenter a modeling career, but at 69, I got an offer to do more print work. I started the Instagram page just for fun. Read more>>

Xavier Clark

My story starts due to lack. I know that is odd to say, but it did. I have been an avid handbag and luxury consumer since undergrad. Yet, when I often went into luxury spaces, I did not usually see people like me in or enjoying the experience, and I rarely saw men (or those perceived to be men) carry or discuss bags. Therefore, I often did not have a safe place to explore my interests. I often felt like a second-class citizen/consumer when I would go into luxury places or when I would have discussions about bags. Read more>>

Mandie Morgan

I originally got my Real Estate license in 2017 while living in my hometown of Jacksonville, FL. After getting licensed I relocated to Saint Cloud, Fl in 2018 to be with my now husband, John, as we had been in a long-distance relationship. Shortly after relocating we got married & started a family. When my son was born in 2019, I knew that I wanted to devote the majority of my time being the best mom to him that I could be and devoting all of my time to him. Knowing the time & dedication it takes to build a real estate business, I knew I wasn’t at a place in my life to do that then. Read more>>

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