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The Change-Makers: stories that inspire

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.

CK Komsthoeft

I started my media production company on Jan 1st, 2018. I left a 15 years career in the Food Service Industry behind to pursue employment independence. It was one of those ‘last straw broke me’ situations and I just couldn’t muster up any more motivation too punish myself for little to no return. It was the biggest lightbulb moment of my professional life when I decided to use my camera, computer, and creative instincts to guide me into my next chapter of my livelihood. I’ve always had a passion and desire to create. Music, photos, video, art, acting… really anything that I could express myself in. And fortunately I also have a strong desire to learn. I’ve been teaching myself techniques and skills across all sorts of digital mediums for years and years. And with this moment of being able to start something brand new, I decided to bring tools I already possess to the opportunity. Read more>>

Taylor Nave and Ronnie Calderon

We discovered Tap Truck USA as we were working from home, wishing a wine truck would pull up in our neighborhood because it was just that kind of day. Curiosity about if that existed or not led us to Tap Truck. We discovered that nobody had opened one in Austin and we couldn’t believe it! We both have backgrounds in the bar and special events industry and thought a bar in a vintage vehicle was such an amazing idea. We were immediately all in, ideas running wild and without a second thought, we started putting together Tap Truck Austin. Read more>>

Bobbi Betancourt

After several years of experience working in Human Resources in the retail and hotel and lodging industries, I wanted to use my experience and help assist small businesses and solo entrepreneurs. I became passionate about the idea of helping small businesses and solo entrepreneurs succeed. When the pandemic began in 2020, I knew that this was the perfect opportunity to make things happen. Within the year, B in Bloom was born! I now have the pleasure of working with business owners and entrepreneurs from all over the world. Read more>>

Brandi Horne

My life started as a city girl who was born & raised in Dallas, Texas. I spent the majority of my time career gala chair within the philanthropy world. In 2018, after a close friend of mine was killed in a car accident, I took a moment of pause and realized that I was in service to everyone but myself. My biggest reflection was that life is short and I did not want to waste any more time not doing what made me happy to the core. Fast forward to February 2020, the pandemic hit the globe and my husband and I decided to stay at our part-time home in Aspen, Colorado. Facing a wide range of limitations that was put upon us all, I began to feel like a prisoner and the only way I could escape that feeling was when I would visit a local hat shop. I found myself making new connections and helping people choose what color hat, what shape, and what style of hat they should invest in. Over time, and after receiving a multitude of compliments for my creative eye, I started to play with the idea of making hats myself. I noticed the hat shop did not have many color options and I saw a window of opportunity, so began Liberty Ranch Hat Co. Read more>>

Christian Cryder

I’ve had three very different careers. 1. I spent 14 years in software (during the first internet boom (Montana, Seattle, Bay Area). 2. Then I went to seminary (Philadelph) and fell in love with cultural diversity… When I finished, I moved back to Montana where I spent seven years planting a church for people who had given up on church (Missoula). Along the way, I started a nonprofit and started brewing beer, and then ended up partnering with Big Sky Brewing to create All Souls Ale (church partnering with brewery to help fund a nonprofit) 3. Then I moved to Austin late in 2013 to try and start a brewery -and- plant another church, both at the same time (you don’t have to be crazy but it helps). I’ve been here for almost eight years. Lazarus launched on Christmas Eve 2016. And I lead a collective of small house churches called All Souls. Read more>>

Sarah Sides

I’m the founder of Love Weld™. I have always had a fascination with color, pattern and texture, often collecting swatches and found objects of all kinds as a child. After college, this fascination evolved into jewelry creation locally in Austin, TX and for the past decade this obsession has taken me around the globe. From Latin America to Asia, I have had the opportunity to take a seat with metal smiths, master dyers, weavers, ceramicists and other craftsmen that have been practicing their trade for generations, learning the intricacies of their trades and observing their creative process. After traveling the globe to design and study specifically artisan jewelry craft, I became fascinated with the sentimentality that oftentimes is intertwined with jewelry and its wearer. Love Weld™ Studio was born from that fascination. Read more>>

Misty Glick

Jay and I met at the height of the pandemic when I first moved to Austin from Houston. He was actually the first person I met when I moved here. We are both passionate about being creative and both fell in love with being behind the camera. I have 7+ years of photography experience and Jay has 10+ years with cinematography experience. We both love being creative so much so it was only natural that our gifts and passions would fit so well together. We are so blessed to love what we do and genuinely give all the credit to God for orchestrating all the pieces that fit so perfectly together. There is no way we could do this all on our own. Read more>>

Sam Grona

I grew up going to dance halls with my family at a very young age. I would always sit next to the band and watch them play their instruments, and then at the end of the night ask them to play them while they pack up their gear. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a complete music freak! I went on to playing percussion in middle school and playing in drumline at Georgetown High School. Most people have no idea that when I’m up on stage singing and playing guitar that I’m originally a drummer and still am. That’s my main instrument! Later on, after college an old friend of mine surprised me and forced me to go on stage at an open mic in Georgetown at Roots Bistro., and that was the first time I ever sang and played guitar in front of anyone that wasn’t my friends or family. After that, I was hooked and ended up meeting “my brother from another mother” Mr. Kyle Piland. Read more>>

Stephanie Castelo

I started Castelo Designs shortly after we adopted our pup, Summer. We had a precious pup and I’d always make her bandanas. When we got Summer, I started doing the same. I would shop around for them but there was never really any prints that I liked or suited our taste. I wanted fabrics that were different and that not everyone had. So I started making her own bandanas. After friends with pups commented on them, the idea got planted to start my own bandana business. Our little shop started October of 2020 and it has definitely been an adventure. I still remember when I got my first Etsy sale and could not believe it-someone besides friends/family was buying MY product! Since then, we’ve had over 600 sales, participated at local vendor markets and have expanded to also carry some dog mom accessories. We have so many new projects and announcements coming soon and cannot wait to share!. Read more>>

Jessica Joseph

I’ve had a camera on me since I was 12 years old. My dad bought me a digital point-and-shoot for a class field trip. I learned how to use a DSLR in a high school photography class. I photographed anything but people. I told myself people were boring to photograph, but in reality, I was just intimidated. It’s hard facing your fears when you can’t quite name them. When I got to college, some friends asked me to take their portraits for senior sessions. I put aside my inner introvert, photographed my first senior session, and fell in love with the entire process. I loved the connections I would make with friends and capturing them in a way they never saw themselves as before. Portraits revealed a whole new world of photography for me. My camera became a toolbox I could use to give people images of themselves that reflect authentic stories and emotions. It feels like a little superpower sometimes, especially when someone hasn’t had their portrait taken in a long time. Read more>>

Nicole Savageau

After traveling the world and working as a veterinarian in Australia for six years, I moved to Austin in 2017 to continue my veterinary career. I have been a veterinarian for the last 12 years since completing my undergraduate degree in Animal Science from Cornell University and my veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania. During the pandemic, I decided to start making sweet, short videos for kids. My goal was to create fun and educational content in 10 minutes or less to teach kids about different species of animals, focusing on what makes each species unique and how to best care for that species. Read more>>

Maria Alejandra

Pretty much started 11 years ago in London, UK. I am from Colombia, I went to the UK to study and improve my English in 2008. In 2010 I opened my first company Maga Connection, an education agency that provides advice to international students to go primarily to Europe, Australia and Canada and complete their high-end education. We represent more than 600 Colleges and Universities around the world, we have freelances in Latina America and UK. Few years later, we moved to San Antonio, Texas. I kept working from there in my company and also obtained my license in real estate. I focus my work on helping investors to find properties and manage the business with some occasions help primary homeowners too. In 2019, I opened an online shop called Arthisan, we offer hand made and craft products from local producers in Latin America, this business evolved in 2020 to what today is a big community “Emprende Latina”, entrepreneurial women who are looking for a platform and support to scale their businesses and offer their products. Read more>>

Lexter Santana

Honestly, my story is the same as every other. We all want something in life and I chose to go after it. Actor, Stunt Performer, Entertainer, etc., are just fancy titles for me just doing what I love. From a young age, I loved playing outside as much as the next kid. I was also very creative and crafty. I particularly enjoyed thinking up scenes that I would play out with any household item I could find. At any given point, someone could walk by and they would see me playing with empty soda bottles because I was practicing a lightsaber battle. Crafting was a big deal for me because I could get as close to my vision by just making the props I needed. As time progressed, I realized I wanted to do this more and more. So I convinced my parents I wanted to experience an actor’s life. See, my family has always been supportive. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t feel my parent’s concern because I wanted to pursue being an actor.  Read more>>

Vilma Lopez

Since I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to have my own business. So, when I was in high school, I took an IB program that focused on marketing and business. In college, I got a degree in Interior design at the University of Puerto Rico. After graduating, I went straight to work in my field, but I felt that I needed to do more than what I was doing in the companies I was working with. I decided to move to the United States to learn English so I can rise up the companies’ ladder and get better opportunities and expand my clientele. After arriving in the United States, the first thing I did was put all of my life savings into my enrollment to a university-level ESL program. I did not want to just learn how to speak English, I needed to write and read at the professional level if I wanted to run my own business’s administrative tasks such as paperwork. I am a person who likes to do the best work I can possibly do, no matter how difficult it seems at first. Read more>>

Jenna Volpe

Not in a million years did I think I’d grow up to be a nutritionist! As a kid, I was a very picky eater on a basic “standard American diet”. I had ZERO interest in trying anything deemed “healthy”… until 2004 when everything changed. (Never say never, right?!) I was volunteering at a hospital coffee shop when my journey began. A customer started sharing the multitude of benefits linked with drinking green tea regularly because of its high antioxidant levels. I remember thinking it must have been too good to be true! (Why didn’t more people know about it?) Low and behold, when I got home that day I searched and stumbled on LOTS of articles about green tea and its antioxidant power. Turns out he was right – green tea consumption seemed to help reduce/prevent aging and lots of diseases! That really hit home for me because at that point, I had watched a few family members go through cancer, and it was horrifying. It gave me a glimmer of hope and empowerment, and I also felt connected to a new sense of purpose. Read more>>

Andrea Mostaffa

I was born and raised in Mexico and moved to Dallas, TX when I was 16, and then Austin, TX 2014. I have an amazing Husband Mike who is incredibly supportive. I have my wonderful two daughters Madison (7) and Avery (2) who are my life. I always had a big interest in photography since I was little. My uncle worked for film lab/printing studio as a salesperson selling prints and I got to see the large prints before he would be delivered them to the families. I was always fascinated by the science and art behind it. My family never owned a camera growing op so I did not exist in photos as a child. That’s probably the reason why I became obsessed with taking pictures later in life. Read more>>

Erik Stanley

I grew up running with my mom at an early age when my siblings and I would visit her during the summers in the Las Vegas desert. We did a 5 mile route and listened to old country tunes from the 80’s and early 90’s on our Walkman radios and talked a little bit about life. I was only in elementary school at the time, but It became one of our favorite ways to start the day. From those days on, running became a center part of my daily routine, whether it was through a sport like soccer or just heading out to jog the neighborhood bayou trails. Fast forward 15 years after just completing my collegiate running days at the University of Texas and I began working at a local running store in Austin. I worked in the store but also began building a trail running training program. After about five years, it became evident that I had outgrown the company and branched out to start Trail Roots in 2014. Read more>>

Emanuele Pistucchia

I’m an Italian guitarist, on 2013 I was traveling by myself through the states of the south of United States playing guitar and harmonica, discovering where the blues was born. During that trip, I have met Blake Wharton, a songwriter from Denton, TX, who was looking for a guitarist for his new album and for the tour. So, after eight years from that trip, I live permanently in Austin, TX working as a sideman, session man, show director and guitar teacher at School Of Rock. I’m actually touring with a pretty famous country songwriter called Creed Fisher across the United States, still collaborating with Blake Wharton and I’m also working with Bear Ryan here in Austin on our alternative Rock/Blues project called Red On Yellow. Read more>>

Jazmin Cerna

I’d like to say I started out when I was young, since I have memory I have found fascination in all artistic things, anything that involves any form of creativity. Painting and drawing being one of my favorite childhood activities, besides eating French bread with mayo (not very proud of it), but in all seriousness, those activities changed as I grew up. Growing up in a tropical country where dancing Latin rhythms is just part of the culture and social life, it came naturally to me and started a dancing group where our main focus was salsa dancing, I then ventured into more intricate dancing such as oriental dancing, I fell in love with raks sharqi or as it is frequently called “belly dancing”. I did it for years as part of a professional company until I hit a rough patch in my life and could not perform anymore, as life strikes sometimes and hit us hard, we have to stay afloat, the only way I could do that was by doing all these things that brought me peace and a sense of purpose, even if it was in my own living room with no public to perform to. Read more>>

 

Josie Rushing

I’m Brazilian and moved to Texas about five years ago with my gringo husband. At first, we were only on our honeymoon, and after visiting his mom in Austin we fell in love with the city and decided to stay. I decided that I didn’t want to work with beauty here anymore because my clients at the time were all Brazilians and I needed to work on my very limited English. So I applied to work at Facebook. It was a lot of learning in 18 months of working there until I was brave enough to leave my 9-5 job and work only with beauty. Everything started in my spare room, then I moved into a bigger house and turned the downstairs into my beauty spa, and then, I finally moved to where Brazilicious is located now with six rooms. With much fear, I started to hire professionals to work for me and I remember how difficult it was to find customers and how many “NO’s” that I got. Slowly, my business started to grow and I am very happy to announce that we are now opening four more locations within the next six months. Read more>>

Kirsten Krupps

I’m a 30-year-old creative who was born and raised in the Midwest (Central Illinois to be exact). I moved to Austin, Texas in January 2020 – I know great timing, right? I went to Bradley University for Communications, with a concentration in Advertising and a minor in Interactive Media. In addition to my medical device marketing day job and fashion/lifestyle blogging side-hustle, I’ve run my own photography business since 2013. I mainly photograph people, concerts, and pets. I’ve always been a visual and creative person, so marketing just seemed like a natural fit for me career-wise. When I took a photography class in high school, I fell in love and have been doing that in some capacity ever since. My blog and own social media started off as a way to practice content creation but soon grew into a genuine outlet for me. Read more>>

Mike Metaxa

I was at a bookshop going through the art section in search of some new albums when I found a photo book dedicated to tattoo art. I don’t know how much time I spent standing there leafing through it, but by the time I left with this book in my shopping bag, I was hooked. I knew that this was what I ought to try my hand at. I started learning by doing thorough research, observing others doing whatever I was trying to learn, and practicing all the time so that I could get better at it. With tattooing, I’ve spent countless hours watching my friends, tattoo artists at work, asking questions, and just taking it all in. I’ve read as many books on tattooing as I could get my hands on. When it was time to start practicing, I’ve bought my first tattoo machine and, without thinking about it twice, gave myself the first tattoo. I needed to know whether I had the potential to become good at tattooing, and I wanted to feel what my future customers would feel being tattooed by me.  Read more>>

Dawn Smith

This company was founded in memory of my sister-in-law who died in 2014 from a rare form of cancer. It was her determination to outlive her six months prognosis by going to an all-organic diet, using natural products and living a holistic life that opened my eyes to just how many things I should change with my own family’s lifestyle. It was during this time that Lisa was living with cancer (not six months, but two years!) that I learned to make soap. I was already a bit of a ‘crunchy mom’, so making soap for my family was a natural thing for me to do. Of course, for Christmases back in 2012/2013, many friends and family received soaps as gifts and anytime we made a visit home to see family, many soaps were brought with me. About six months after Lisa died, a family member asked for some more soap. I hadn’t made any soap for a while, so I didn’t have any to give her! So reluctantly, I went back to making soap, first one batch, then another. It was through this process that I started to heal from the loss of Lisa and my husband, Mike suggested I start making a business plan. Read more>>

Elysia Fernandez

I’m born and raised in SATX. I’ve been submerged in the music and arts realm for as long as I can remember. My father is a musician and my mother a painter and art director. Given, one can only be so surprised I also found a comfy spot in the creative field. I moved to Austin in 2017 to start my journey in audio engineering, only to later fall in love with analog photography. I was given a couple of point and shoot 35mm cameras and started goin’ off. Taking photos of my daily ventures and really fall for life through the photo lense. To take it to the next step and truly be apart from start to finish, I decided I wanted to process film. Something about being so meticulous with the whole process I adore. How film photography has this texture to it, leaving you with a story and an experience. Read more>>

Avery Houser

Throughout my life, I’ve enjoyed making art but never thought of it as a possible career path. I didn’t trust in my own abilities and also, I fully bought into that silly concept of the starving artist. I didn’t want to starve, so I pursued other things. My current career path has been mostly accidental, as I’ve since learned to trust what the world is telling me. I started painting nurseries and kids’ rooms for friends and acquaintances during a short period as a stay-at-home mom. It was an excuse to get out of the house for stretches of time and make a little extra money. I realized how much I loved it and soon afterwards opened my business, Avery O Design. I worked as a painter for a number of years before I was actually able to call myself an artist and trust that what I was making was good. I’ve learned to listen to my audience when developing my artistic style and new bodies of work and walk through the doors that open for me. Read more>>

Melissa Grady

I was born in raised in Virginia, about an hour outside of D.C., in what one would likely deem as “the country”. I was hellbent on working in fashion, which is largely due to my love for Lauren Conrad but also growing up in a hair salon where I assisted on photoshoots and fashion shows in Northern Virginia and D.C. Fun fact, I once helped style Parker Posey and was in the presence of Robert de Niro! I think I blotted some concealer on his face where I quickly blacked out from shock. But despite my near fame (said with sarcasm), I attended Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, where I changed my major a grand total of 5 times, finally landing on Communications/Public Relations. I had this professor who made me fall head over heels with the idea of PR, ultimately making my decision to move forward with a career in PR (shout out, Bill Farrar!). He was one of those rare teachers who actually taught his students everything you needed to know – not that textbook BS. Read more>>

Terri Koen

My journey to yoga began with much resistance. It looked boring and too slow, and I was the opposite of zen and peaceful. It took a health scare during grad school, where my doctors told me to find ways to reduce stress and lay off any cardio that I tried my first class. I completed my Master in Advertising and went back into the industry to work the fast-paced, constant travel life. My personal yoga practice helped offset all the damage I was doing to my mind and body. I’d take my yoga towel and practice in hotel rooms. I’d be the weird person at the airport, doing twists and stretches at the terminal. I hadn’t planned to teach yoga. Somehow, I was making work in Advertising and parenting a tolerable co-existence. I thought maybe I could keep up this pace, make and save as much money as we could, and then later get my yoga teaching certificate as a second career a couple of decades down the road. Read more>>

Kaitlin Rodgers

When I was in high school, I had saved up for a camera and basically photographed anything around me. Flowers, buildings, cats, sunsets, you name it. When I was 17, a friend came up to me and said, “Hey, I like your photography. Can you take pictures of my family? I’ll pay you.” That’s when a whole new world opened up for me. It never occurred to me that I could MAKE MONEY doing something that I genuinely loved. So we agreed on a price for the family session (I think it was something like $50 haha) and that’s when I plunged into making photography a side hustle. I did family portraits and senior portraits, along with a few weddings through college, and after I graduated with my art degree, I headed to the corporate world for my first job out of college. That lasted all of ten months. Although I loved my boss, I would sit at my desk wishing I was photographing weddings.  Read more>>

Laura Delgado

I come from a large, traditional Hispanic family and some of my earliest memories are those caring for my siblings and cousins, in addition to the neighborhood children my mom cared for in our home. Caring for children came naturally to me, so it was no surprise that I found myself being called to the field of education. After college, I moved to Austin to work as a literacy tutor through a local AmeriCorps program serving children in several Title 1 schools throughout East Austin. One day I was working with a child who’d been labeled a “trouble-maker,” yet, he was giving 110%. As “at-risk” learners, our students struggled to keep up in the classroom, so we worked with them directly. Our approach was simple. We viewed each child as an individual to find what inspired them and to be creative in our approach to engaging them with the material. Read more>>

 

Kelsey Lawrence

Like many creatives, I was an English major just by default because I loved to read, and even more, I loved to talk (and write) endlessly about books. From undergrad, I moved to New York City to attend graduate school at NYU. While studying there, I began work in the book publishing industry, at first as an intern at Macmillan and eventually as a marketing manager at Penguin Random House. I really loved publishing, and all of my “people” mostly still work in publishing, but for personal reasons/emotional and work burnout, after five years in New York, I opted to return to my roots in Austin where I am from. In Austin, I worked in social media marketing for a brand called FitJoy. It was there that I took up photography because the brand needed photography for their social, and the company was willing to pay for me to take classes with The Austin School of Photography (highly recommend them!). Eventually, I became the FitJoy Marketing Director. And two years ago, with the help of a great mentor, and some incredibly talented colleagues, I launched my own boutique marketing agency called Nine Supply. Read more>>

Bryan Winslow

A lot of people ask what got me into brewing. The answer is simple. THE BEER! I remember enjoying my first sip of beer even as a kid. My dad gave me a sip of his beer at a baseball game, and while it was bitter, I liked it. Fast forward eight years or so to 2004, when I moved to liberal, Austin Texas, from my hometown of Seabrook, Texas. There were lots of fun things in this town, but Live Oak Hefe was one of the funniest. After finishing college at UT, I got very interested in home-brewing. Everything about it excited me. You get to build stuff, cook, be creative, problem solve, use math and biology, and then drink it all! I was fortunate enough to land a volunteer gig at Austin Beerworks, the coolest guys around. I mean, who puts good beer in a can?! They were gracious and patient enough to let me take on every position in the brewery over about four years. At that point, I was naive and confident enough to break out on my own and start St Elmo. The neighborhood didn’t have any space to bring people together at the time. Read more>>

Hanoi Zambrano

We started in Salt Lake City, Utah four years ago. We moved to this beautiful city of Austin, where the pandemic forced us to work from home, making new clientele. This October, we inaugurated a food truck in South Austin with our best-selling products. Read more>>

Melanie Wattles

I am originally from London, England but moved to Austin in November 1992 to work as a NICU RN at what used to be Brackenridge Hospital in central Austin. I came for a year which turned into almost 30 years. During this time, I had many interesting job opportunities and worked in Home Health, NICU Case Management and was lucky to be able to travel around America with my work. I was then offered a position in Washington DC and was planning to move. That same year (2001) I met my husband, Dan and we married in 2002 and I never made the move. We were both older and had never been previously married. Our son James arrived after a very difficult journey with infertility. He was born in August 2009 and I was 44! At the time James arrived, I was still working but I clearly remember my supervisor Christine telling me to stop work and stay home. She told me I would always find another Nursing position but James was my miracle child and I should focus on him. I did just that. James just turned 12 this past August. Read more>>

Nina Connor

I felt drawn to the world of aesthetics from early age. The local skincare studio was my hangout spot since I was a teenager. I started getting regular monthly facials an age 16 when I developed mild acne. I remember one of the times I went for a facial and thinking to myself that THIS is what I want to do one day. Fast forward to my move to Chicago at age 23 and my childhood dream coming true when I enrolled in New Age Spa Institute at age 25. I truly enjoyed every part of my training and particularly learning about facial massage. I graduated from my program in 2007 when the country was in the middle of recession. Because of that, my start was really slow considering the fact that monthly facials was not something people prioritized at the time. Read more>>

Maurice Pierce

My journey first began in Savannah, GA at the start of the pandemic. Like many, I was furloughed from my job after five years of excellent service. With a family to help support and a dream to keep alive, I had to rely on my faith in God and myself to keep my fire burning. Prior to the pandemic, I knew my calling in life was so much bigger so in a way the pandemic forced me to jump. After being laid off, I began using my voice to uplift people through good times and bad times. From there, I created my brand, “Built For This.” This brand created a space for all to express every thought and feeling towards their current state with the understanding that no matter where you are in your life, you were “Built For” that moment, therefore you can maintain and/or overcome. Read more>>

Omar Lemus Ramirez

At around the age of nineteen, I was cleaning out my closet because my room was messy. And while I was cleaning, I stumbled upon a bunch of photobooks from my childhood. Pictures my mom had taken during my early ages of life. And that’s when the idea came to me. I decided that since I’m turning twenty soon, I will start documenting the next decade of my life through film photography like my mom did when I was little. Next month will be my one year anniversary of doing film photography. For the past year, I have captured moments in my life, photoshoots, and what my eyes saw with a film camera. I think what I love most about it is the nostalgic feeling of seeing a picture that looks dated but is very much in the present. As of right now, my plan is still going. I’m still taking pictures while I’m living in my twenties. I hope to venture out aside from my main goal and also grow with my film photography. Do more photoshoots, concerts, car shows, events, etc. But for right now, I’m in the moment. As it should be. Read more>>

Loonar

Hip – Hop artist Loonar (Levi Nichols – rapper/producer) bridges the gap between electro and hip hop with trendy melodies and intricate verses. He brings an energy that is in the spirit of James Brown mixed with the vernacular of Outkast. He was born and raised in a small town by the name of Paris, Texas and got his degree in music education at Texas A&M University. With classical backgrounds in musical performance, Loonar showcases his talents by giving you a well-sequenced and interactive live show. He currently resides in Austin, Texas where he has been featured on Da Big Daddy G Show, KXAN News, The Austin Chronicle and NPR. Read more>>

Art of Austin

After moving to Austin in 2007 and becoming immersed in the art scene, I felt inspired and invigorated by the amount of creatives I was able to connect with here. I bought the domain artofaustin.com in 2010 with the intention of showcasing and highlighting the thriving artistic community here. I felt like the artists I was meeting and creating with needed an additional outlet – a deeper exploration and a way to connect the public not just to the artwork but to the artist behind the work. In 2016 we officially launched our brand, website, and social. We started a monthly featured artist showcase which included interviews of each month’s artists to get to know more about them and their personal story and what lead them to Austin. To date, we have featured 60 artists here in our fine town and have grown into a large collective of like-minded creatives. Read more>>

Bengie Velasquez

@Home Dialysis LLP was started in 2019 by a group of amazing people with a great heart for the dialysis community. Our partnership started with people who come from a background in dialysis. Our general partners came together with a great purpose to go above and beyond to bring the greatest service directly to the patient’s home. All of our general partners have over 10+ years of experience in the dialysis setting with chronic, acute and home dialysis. As nurses, we have seen firsthand how the patients thrive and overall are much more healthier with home dialysis. We have seen many success stories and seen the turnaround in many patients. @Home dialysis serves many areas and regions around the state of Texas. We have several options available for the patients and their families. We like to specialize the patient dialysis with what works best for the patient. Read more>>

Derek DeWitt

I was born and raised in NW, Iowa in a town called Cherokee. There I spent a lot of my time outdoors either playing or working. I was always a creative kid, either building something or drawing. I had originally planned to go to college for either architecture or engineering but made the pivot to Film production late my junior year of high school. I wanted to tell grand stories that had an impact the same way movies like Clerks, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and others had affected me. I graduated from the University of Iowa in 2018 with a handle on the technical side of my craft but a lack of knowing what I wanted to say. So, I have spent the past three years trying to learn what I want out of life while pursuing my photography and videography career. I moved to Austin in July of 2020 looking to be in an area where I could grow creatively. Since being here, I have started to focus my efforts on telling stories around sustainable and regenerative environmental practices which I see as the grand problem of our time. Read more>>

Jesse Lemons

I met my wife Amy in October 2018. One day she gave me a gift that she said she bought off Etsy (which at that point I had never heard of), and that lead me to look at a bunch of home decor, and then finally at art. “It might be fun to paint”, I told myself. “There are things I want to buy from Etsy that actually might be more fun to do myself.” “Go for it” Amy told me. And in January of 2020, for my 35th birthday, she got me my first set of brushes, canvases and paint. I was off to the races! I couldn’t stop painting. The focus and determination I was putting towards painting was practically meditative to me. It’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. Read more>>

Matt Johnson

Mill Scale Metalworks was founded by Matt and Caleb Johnson in 2018 in Lockhart, Texas. Since barbecue is a part of the collective identity of Texas, they set out to build timeless and uniquely identifiable smokers and grills. With hand-built craftsmanship to stand the test of time, they can be passed down for generations. In a fast-paced world, they provide the opposite: food cooked slowly, with a piece of equipment that could take a lifetime to master. Matt and Caleb wanted to build something that can be appreciated by the chefs and pitmasters practicing traditional Central Texas cooking techniques or the weekend warrior starting a new journey cooking with fire. The prize is the process. Read more>>

Madison Baker

I grew up in Canton, Texas, which is a quaint rural town about an hour east of Dallas. At a very young age, I remember having big aspirations. When asked the age-old question of what I wanted to be when I grew up, I became accustomed to just saying “myself,” because where I’m from, making music professionally isn’t really acknowledged as a sound career choice, and many folks have a lot to say about it— often little that’s encouraging. I was singing before I spoke complete sentences and was fascinated by professional musicians and creatives and the art of performance. Though I was heavily influenced by country music due to my surroundings, I grew up listening to a lot of old R&B. In my young teen years, I grew obsessed with powerhouse pop artists like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Adele. Read more>>

Kaitlyn Zolli

When I had my first baby, I became a stay at home mom. I was thrilled to have the time with my little one but, being the first of all my friends to have a baby, I had no idea how moms met other moms or what to do to fill my days. I quickly searched for a way to give me and my little one the interaction and schedule we needed. . . Enter FIT4MOM Austin. I began FIT4MOM when my first daughter was three months old and it immediately gave me everything I didn’t even know I was missing. I had a community of moms in the same stage of motherhood as myself, a way to get fresh air and movement in every day without worrying about childcare, and the first little friends for my daughter. Coming from a fitness background, it wasn’t long before I went from client to instructor. And then in November of 2019, the (then) owner of FIT4MOM Austin let us know that she would be stepping down. Read more>>

Carissa Rumps

My love for photography goes back to high school. My dad gifted me a film camera for Christmas one year and the rest is history. It started with my love for Macro photography. I had the power to magnify the tiny details that we miss daily & that was magical! It was as if I submerged into another world. I loved getting creative and viewing things with a whole new perspective. From then on, I became my own subject, channeled teenage angst and would pose on self-timer, create looks & concept shots in my spare time. I became a storyteller. It wasn’t until I had a family of my own that I really saw the true gift of Photography. To be able to freeze time and forever return to these fleeting moments is extraordinary. My husband bought me my first DSLR in 2015 and I began photographing our boys and the moments I never wanted to forget. Next, I worked on building my portfolio. I would visit friends to play around and take photos of their families and children. Read more>>

Christine DePauw

I had my own company for ten years, Love Shack Designs, where I crafted custom headboards and beds. About six years in, I decided I needed a good camera to take pictures of my work. As soon as that camera arrived, the end of Love Shack Designs began. I just fell madly in love with photography and wanted to take pictures of everything and everyone. I signed up for classes at Santa Monica College, took online courses, and started to spread the word and accept whatever work came my way. It was a boudoir shoot with my sister-in-law early on that lit the fire in me to pursue this genre that I truly believe is changing the way women show up in this world. It’s a common thing for a client to tell me that she’s walking differently, dressing differently, being kinder to herself, exuding confidence that she didn’t know she had. To be a part of a shift of that magnitude is so special. Read more>>

Duncan Jones

The origin of this entire project was a childhood spent with National Geographic, Steve Irwin, The Discovery Channel, and Rudyard Kipling. Wildlife became an obsession. Jaws, Jurassic Park, The Lion King, The Jungle Book, etc. I loved exaggerated stories, and by that I mean romanticized. We all know the realities of the world, but as a writer, if you can dance on the line of truth and “maybe” then you’ve really nailed it. It’s the way children see the world: they want to know the truth, they really do, but they don’t know the limits yet. They don’t know what is or isn’t possible. In their world, the lion really could be a king. He’s still a lion, so why not the king? The wild dogs really can run forever. They hyenas really are laughing. The parrot and the peacock really are jealous of each other. Read more>>

Katie Mizuno

I became an artist by studying SFX makeup at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and self-teaching illustration while living in Tokyo. These were comfortable endeavors and periods of exploration that I look back on fondly, but the beginning of my career, more specifically, as a tattoo artist was much more punishing. My legs are riddled with art that I tattooed on myself in desperate attempts to learn. I walked my leg portfolio into a well-respected shop in San Fransisco, I was hired, and at that point my career took off so quickly that I barely had time to reflect back on the harshness of my apprenticeship, my nearly empty bank account, and the physical and emotional pain I endured to finally reach that goal. Once I was inking other peoples’ skin, I came to discover how meditative, challenging and rewarding this craft can be. As I traveled to various shops, tattooing became less of a job and more so a lifestyle. Read more>>

Zinnia Seibel and Meg Houston

We’re the minds behind Conscious Coven. We met in December 2017 at Art Basel in Miami. We had a mutual friend that brought us and a group of ten other women together to work the show. We soon realized that we both lived in Austin and quickly hit it off, bonding over similar interests and compatible personalities. We both had various passion projects outside of our income-producing jobs within the service industry but had experienced, time and time again, discrepancies regarding recognition and compensation when it came to sharing the fruits of our creative labors. We would often get into lengthy conversations about how we longed for a safe space in which we, and other like-minded individuals, could connect, share and be compensated appropriately for our skills and efforts. In addition, we deeply craved community and connection beyond the social gathering norms of meeting for drinks, partying or being immersed in the nightlife scene. Read more>>

Alin and Roee Erenshteyn

Four years ago, we left our home country to start a new life in the U.S. We moved here with two very small kids and five extra large suitcases. When we arrived in California, we told our little ones this would be an adventure for all of us to share together as a family. As we settled into our new jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area, we were grateful and busy – but we were also missing the creative, entrepreneurial spark that we shared while living back home. In our past lives, we were what some might call small “big-time” entrepreneurs. Roee ran a coffee catering company for ten years and I (Alin) owned and managed my own fitness studio. The common thread wasn’t coffee or exercise, it was people. We yearned again for those special moments that we shared with friends, family and newcomers that inspire conversation and learning. Roee’s expert barista talents combined with my passion for curating the perfect coffee & treat pairings lead us to create Afuga Mobile Espresso Bar – a full-service Italian-inspired coffee experience for every occasion. Read more>>

Ashia Walker

I have been a Massage Therapist for almost 12 years. I began my career accidentally as a second career change after my oldest son showed interest in attending Massage School and Although he couldn’t attend at that moment, it was an amazing opportunity for me to change the course of my life. I am a single mother of eight and in and endless cycle that many single moms find themselves in, Working and struggling to make ends meet. Going back to School, Working & Raising a family was a struggle but I found the passion I was looking for in life in Massage Therapy. For Me Massage isn’t just a day at the spa it is a way to change someone’s LIFE! Massage became a passion for me when I discovered the health benefits for so many chronic pain issues and common medical issues many people suffer from including Asthma, Blood Pressure, Fibromyalgia & so much more. I personally have benefited from Massage Therapy over the years to reduce pain of Fibromyalgia, as well as completely allow me to reduce my blood pressure and become medication-free. Read more>>

Monet McWhirter

Monet McWhirter, a reformed risk manager, is Content Creator at ineffable scapes. I grew up in a small town and spent most of my time playing sports, working at our family ranch and raising animals. Apparently, I inherited my mother’s sense of adventure and my father’s appreciation for nature and wildlife resulting in an endless desire to see new places and chase new wildlife. With my mother’s passing, I have continued to share many beautiful sunsets with her, although I think she continues to prefer a good beach sunset over any others (I don’t disagree). While I love any good view of the great outdoors, near or far, I remain committed to my ongoing search for another glimpse of the bighorn sheep. Follow me @monetmcwhirter12 for entertainment and captures. Read more>>

Cassandra Garza

I’ve always been creative, my parents have photos of me as a toddler with my art easel drawing and painting. They even have pictures of me in Pre-K decorating cookies. I always had an assortment of art sets or utensils which meant I was always drawing and painting what I could. In those younger years, I tried my hand at mini art contests and UIL but never really got recognized. I felt like others were more talented than I was, but that never really stopped me from continuing to draw. When I got to High school, I tried to focus on integrating my culture with my art. I created a self-portrait with rice and beans (Latinx household staples) and continued to learn about different techniques to make my art unique. Fast forward to my college years, I knew I wanted to study art so I could continue to learn and build my craft. It was so hard! Everyone around me just seemed better and more advanced. My classes were small and there was little diversity within them, being that my school was a predominantly white institution (PWI). Read more>>

Betsy Caceres

I am Venezuelan, married with two kids. I am a cultural manager, education consultant and hard worker, positive persona with great ideas and expectation in my live. I have 20 years of expertise in the cultural field in Venezuela and five years in EEUU. I worked as a Programming Director in the renowned Chacao Cultural Center in Caracas, Venezuela. My husband Alvaro (great support in any adventure) and me decided in 2015 to find a better place to live looking for better opportunities for the family due the social, politic and economic difficulties that my country Venezuela has been living for more than 20 years. We researched so many options and finally, we decided to move to EEUU. Looking for a better life, we moved to Boca Raton in Florida in 2016. We started our adventure growing a new local office of Tutor Doctor, an educational services franchise in Boca Raton. It was a very hard beginning with too many goals and obstacles: learning English, learning American culture, learning a new town and community, learning about Education, learning about curriculum and how to develop business in Boca. Read more>>

Alexander Scott

I am an audio engineer, music teacher, screen printer, and a founding member of the band SATALiGHTS. I grew up in Mexico City. My mother and I moved to the United States when I was about 15 years old. We lived in a suburb of Boston, MA for a number of years until life changed and we found ourselves in Cibolo, Texas. My mother and step-father bought a house in this quiet suburb outside of San Antonio. After a short period of time, I found myself bored out of my wits and lusted for more adventure. I wasn’t very keen on regular schooling and had failed out of college a couple of times. So through some cosmic alchemy, I ended up finding very non-regular school located in the heart of Austin, TX. The school was called Mediatech institute and for the first time in my life, I truly felt like I was in the right place. At the time, Mediatech was located at the very famous Arlyn studios. Walking into this building, I immediately knew music would take over my life completely. Read more>>

Kierra and Jenyl Henry

We’re the Henry sisters and we loved talking to people or to anyone who would listen. We were always told we held great conversations so decided to put it in a podcast. For as long as we can remember, we have been told by our friends and others that they WISH they were as close to their siblings as we were or they were an only child. That was our biggest inspiration to create a platform for others to feel a part of our sisterhood. So with every episode, our goal is to bring joy and laughter to anyone who listens and to ensure they feel a part of the conversation. Read more>>

Josh Dean

In 2007, I started helping my brother with his cabinet business. I knew absolutely nothing about the trade and was starting out learning basic carpentry skills. My brother had built his company in Albuquerque, NM and in 2009, my wife and I relocated to Austin. In Austin, I decided to continue to make a living in the millwork industry as I had learned that I enjoyed building things. I was fortunate enough to land a few jobs with a few big named builders in the luxury residential millwork world, and from there, my passion for woodworking blossomed. In 2013, I decided I wanted to explore another aspect of the industry and find a position that would advance my skill level behind the scenes. I began working for a local commercial millwork company as an estimator, pricing large projects and landing contracts. At the same time, I attended ACC to receive my AUTOCAD certification. Spending eight years as an estimator, I started to miss the creativity and began to desire to build things again outside of what my “honey-do” list was at home. My wife and I started posting little side projects here and there on social media, and after a few orders we felt like we could grow the business to be something more. Read more>>

Alejandra Narvaez

I always knew that I wanted my own business. What my business would be and how I was going to get there were questions I had yet to answer. I grew up having several different interests while hearing “No” so many times that I’ve lost count. Growing up in a Hispanic family, respecting your elders and getting their approval is a pretty big deal. I grew up with the mentality that my elders were always right and that they knew what was best for me. Their plans for me were that I’d be the first generation in our family to make it to college and become a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher. Around that time, I also struggled with body image issues. I got teased both at school and at home for being thin. So thin that my mom took me to several doctors to make sure something wasn’t wrong. At 12 years old, what I heard about fitness or “being healthy” always seemed to revolve around losing weight. I was the complete opposite! I wanted to gain healthy weight, not lose it. I felt that I couldn’t relate to anyone. Read more>>

Kara Ottinger

I attended a conference once where the speaker asked us to tell our “story” but said, “I don’t want the complete rundown of where you started and ended up today, I want something more profound… tell me about a turning point in your career journey.” So, that is where I will start today. My turning point was when I was working in a costume shop as an Assistant Manager. I loved that place, Rose Costumes in Denton, TX, I recommend a visit there any time you are in town. Much like Lucy in Disguise in Austin except even more magical if you can picture it. I started editing their website, taking studio and stage costume photography to showcase the store online, working on their advertisements and social media and I loved every minute of it. I still loved the customer service and creative freedom aspect of the job but loved the ability to be creative from working online even more. To create visual representations of things and bring them to life to get people interested in the store was exciting. Read more>>

Beth Wilkas

At 42 years old, I was 180 pounds and deep in my alcohol addiction. The summer of 2015, I said enough was enough. I quit drinking and worked on my recovery every single day. I started running and weight lifting. From there, I got a job at a local gym at the front desk. It was then that I decided I wanted to help people lose weight, get strong and accomplish things they never thought possible! I became an Intern at the gym and got Certified in Fitness Nutrition and Personal Training. At the same time, I lost close to 30 pounds over the course of a year, gained muscle and improved my relationship with food. Now I have my own Online Coaching business and help hundreds of people have a better relationship with food, lose weight, gain strength and become their best self!. Read more>>

Charlie McGarty

In 2011, I started my journey in recovery from addiction. I was severely overweight and going nowhere in life. My experience was in manual labor jobs for most of my adult life. I had started many things like college but never finished. Physical fitness became a huge part of my focus after 2011. It was personal at first then it became my career. I began working in the addiction treatment industry as a wellness coordinator. I found passion and purpose in bringing wellness-centered programs to people during their path of recovery. 2017 I started my first business called Active Recovery Coaching. We provide wellness programs to treatment centers around central Texas and one on one coaching at multiple YMCA facilities in Austin. We now have ten male and female coaches that support people throughout our community. In 2020 I opened Active Recovery Homes which provides housing and coaching for clients in early recovery. Both businesses are growing and expanding at a great rate and I look forward to my next venture. Read more>>

Marvin Alleyne

I started as a kitchen installer… but my background is full remodeling… it was a slow start with all of the local kitchen cabinets companies doing smaller jobs to work my way… also to show them that I can do the work as the time went on I have earned my way to do bigger projects and to become a staple in Austin as my business grows. Read more>>

Franchesca Dosouto

I have always loved working with people and I fell in love with the real estate industry when I began with Keller Williams in 2018 back home in Rhode Island. I started my journey working there on the operations side of real estate, assisting agents through their transactions and supporting them. In December of 2019, I was offered a job in Austin, TX with a past employer in business development. I decided to take the leap of faith and move here. I decided to still pursue a real estate license in Texas and I began taking classes in my evenings and on weekends. In January 2021, I decided to leave my business development role and commit to real estate as my full-time career. I have been fully committed and loving every second of this path ever since. Read more>>

Jeff Remster

As you look at his clean but unkempt hair, you can’t help but notice how thin he really is. His head is average for a boy his age, but his body is so thin, it makes his head seem a bit too big. Wide green eyes and a cute dimply grin…. if you can make him grin. But he’s too shy to even make eye contact with you. You try talking to him, but his eyes will only raise to the level of your shoes. Try your cheeriest softest voice, and it doesn’t help. Now take this same boy and watch him from behind a made-up one-way mirror in his house. The boy transforms! He’s no longer that shy reclusive boy. He’s unfettered in his element! The dimply grin turns into a set line, and he’s off like a shot. He burns through the kitchen in his socks, skidding around the edge of the kitchen table. His feet moving so fast he looks like a cartoon character trying to run but the body just won’t follow what the feet want. After a split second of this skidding in place, his socks catch, his eyes go a bit wider as he gains a bit of purchase on the kitchen’s slick linoleum floor, and it sends him barreling towards the upstairs at a rate that seems too fast to handle. Read more>>

 

Anne Wynter

I’ve been a writer for almost as long as I can remember. But this year, my first children’s book is coming out! It’s a picture book called Everybody in the Red Brick Building, illustrated by Oge Mora and published by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins. In January 2022, I have two board books coming out – Hands On! and One Big Day – both illustrated by Alea Marley. The road to become a published author involved taking classes whenever I could, trying out different forms of creative writing, consistently sharing and submitting my work, and learning to deal with rejection. I’ve wanted to write books for children ever since I was kid, so it’s amazing and surreal that it’s finally happening. Read more>>

Courtney Villasenor

As a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a hairstylist. I started getting my hair colored when I was in 2nd grade, thanks to both my aunt and my cousin that are hairstylists as well. I was very shy growing up but I was always able to express myself through my hair. At 14, I started working my summers in the salon with my cousin as a receptionist. I knew then that was exactly where I was meant to be. I started my hair journey when I was 17 at Baldwin Beauty School here in Austin TX. Although I was the youngest one in school at the time, I still managed to graduated in less than a year. After getting my cosmetology license, I started working at a chain salon and instantly started to gain a loyal clientele. I fell in love with the feeling of helping people’s confidence manifest through their hair! By the time I was 22, I was managing that salon with a full clientele and I was doing more color than ever in a salon that usually is known only for haircuts. A friend of mine came to me and told me that a local salon had an open chair for rent and wanted to know if I was interested. I took this as a huge sign because my husband and I had just started to grow our little family around that time, working the corporate salon hours as a manager was not ideal for me as a mother. I decided to just trust my instincts and go full on self-employed. I never looked back after that. Read more>>

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