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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.

Amir Lancaster

Native to Arlington, Texas. I moved to San Marcos, Texas to study at Texas State University and receive a bachelor’s degree in exercise sports science. During my four years, I was a part of various clubs, organizations and was even brought on to the Women’s NCAA Volleyball team as a male practice player. Upon receiving my degree, I pursued a career in Sales covering Central, South, and East Texas. I knew I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others and my passion for sales quickly pushed me into the world of real estate, model, and acting. I’ve always enjoyed connecting with people and sharing a smile with as many people as possible. Read more>>

Kerbey Smith

My father had owned this great piece of land off Fitzhugh Road in Dripping Springs for a few years now. And one day, we looked around and said what businesses seem to be doing well in this area and saw that a few breweries had opened and seemed to be thriving. So, we said, ok, if we can find a brewer, we will work on opening a brewery as those seemed to be thriving. My father is an appraiser, land developer and builder by trade and myself and my family own a wedding venue, Pecan Springs Ranch. So, I knew the customer service side of things, my father new how to build an amazing building and develop the land but we didn’t know the beer-making side of things. Read More>>

Wine Travel Kids

We are a group of moms whose friendships formed as a result of our kids. One summer, we decided to get all the families together for our first group summer vacation and share a beach house. That was five sets of parents, combined with nine kids, ranging from ages four to eleven. Yikes! What were we thinking -getting everyone under one roof for the first time, ever?! Never would we have thought such a large group could get along so well for several days, and with little chaos! It was during that time together we found that each mom commonly had a flair for organization, love of spreadsheets, and were avid planners. The summer trip ended up being pretty fabulous, and it solidified our entire group into a tribe. Knowing how much work goes into planning family vacations and even summer camps or other activities to keep your kiddos busy, we decided to form WineTravelKids.com as a way of sharing our knowledge, experience and research with other families who love to travel! Read more>>

Ibrahim Ruiz

My story began in Cuba, where I was born into a household of five, including my two older sisters, my parents, and me, the baby of the family. We lived in the spare room of an apartment that shared a kitchen, common areas and one bathroom with two other families. My Dad was a piano tuner and my mother was a housewife. We didn’t have much at all. My grandpa was also in the picture and used to come around a lot. He was a cigar roller who retired when I was nearly 19 years old. While I didn’t know it at the time, he would be the reason I am where I am today. Read more>>

Danielle Howland

I was raised in the beautiful southern city of Shreveport, Louisiana. This is where I discovered my connection and love for nature. As a child, I remember being enamored by the magnificent magnolia trees with their fragrant flowering blooms. It seemed as if every neighbor took pride in their gardens. Each one was filled with roses, daffodils, honeysuckles and were complimented by brilliant rolling lawns with shimmering blades of grass. Read more>>

Nys Sanchez

As a native from the Deep Southern Texas coast also known as, The Rio Grande Valley, brewing from the small town of Rio Hondo just 6 hours south of Austin, growing up in the motocross racing scene, my time off the bike was always spent snapping shots off disposable cameras discovering the newfound love of photography at the young age of 12 that would then later change my whole perspective on life. Over time with the craziness of competitive racing, injuries, mental illness struggles & focusing more on my mental health, I needed to take a step back to come forth with something even bigger & more beautiful as scary as it was at the time. Coming out proudly as a Transgender man. I can tell you there is no other type of joy than breathing in the skin you identify with and finally living as your most authentic self with zero apologies. Read more>>

Elizabeth Wrona

Inspired by the relationship built between one abandoned German Shepherd named Helmutt and our president, Austin German Shepherd Rescue was founded in 1999. Mutt’s legacy continues through AGSDR and with every German Shepherd rescued and adopted, we are reminded of the bond between our Founder and her Mutt. Many German Shepherds in shelters are deemed non adoptable because they are heartworm positive or have a traumatic injury or disease which all require extensive medical care. In almost 25 years, Austin German Shepherd Rescue has saved over 2500 German Shepherds many of which had medical issues such as parvo, mange, heartworms, or orthopedic issues. Bringing these dogs back to health so they become adoptable requires significant veterinary expense and our biggest challenge is continuous funding for our Welfare Intervention for Neglected German Shepherds “WINGS” Program. Read more>>

Ahn Hee Strain

I am an adoptee from South Korea. My parents had four children and adopted my older brother and then me four years later. Beginning with my earliest memories, art and creativity became my primary outlet and interest that later helped me personally navigate my roots and complex network of feelings. When it was time for my post-secondary education chapter, an artistic related degree was a natural path. After graduating in 2009 with a BFA in Visual Communications and a concentration in Graphic Design, it was difficult to find a desirable job.  Read more>>

Adrian J. Trevino

I am a native Austinite and grew up like most boys here in Texas playing every sport imaginable. My father started me off in boxing at age five as I was always a lot smaller than other kids my age and he wanted me to be able to defend myself. As with most kids growing up, I tried everything, football, baseball, soccer, track, you name it, I tried it. I wrestled in high school and really loved the workouts and camaraderie. After HS, I wanted something different so I tried Muay Thai and absolutely fell in love. Of course, I tried other martial arts along the way, but Muay Thai kept me coming back. I have always loved martial arts and combat sports. Read more>>

Andrew Gilliam

My story first in my over two decades of working online projects, for products or for people’s online profiles to be raised. Had nothing on the seven years journey to here with cryptoboxers. I couldn’t say it any better other than my life is a movie and I could make a series out of the past seven years alone. From dealing with Russians that worked from the dark web to crypto and to meeting them in person. To going from one thought of how a boxer needs my help to now helping all of them. From betrayal in team members to getting close to one and saving his life. And now finally releasing our online store and also following up with our NFT platform. And all the boxers I partnered with getting them ready for a passive income year in 2022. Read more>>

Jake Garry

I am the co-founder and CEO of Drops Of Life CBD and fresh grown Texas. I have been a long-time cannabis advocate and connoisseur. I was born in Lubbock, Texas and have lined all overstate my entire life. I have always used cannabis and cbd to help me with my severe ADD and ADHD. It helped me concentrate in college. It was also great for anxiety. I don’t really drink so cannabis has always been my go to. About eight years ago, I had a nephew that had about 20 seizures a day and he took medication for it. The medication barely worked and his parents could hardly afford the medical bills that came with his seizures. I asked him to try some cbd that my business partner was making at his registered medical marijuana facility in New Mexico. My cousin tried the cbd out of desperation and it worked! Read more>>

Terrah Holder

I began my career in fashion & talent management and quickly realized the immense potential of influencer marketing to help any brand develop outreach strategies that can capture huge new audiences and drive revenue. Building on her 10+ years of experience in photography and collaborative content production, Terrah founded TJ Creative in 2017 to help businesses tap into the power of high-quality social media management. Her team has helped numerous clients throughout the health, beauty, and medical industries to transform their brand narratives and build massive followings across multiple platforms. Read more>>

Jana Pochop

I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and started taking guitar lessons when I was 11. That lead to playing recitals and in church, and when I enrolled at the University of New Mexico, I spent a LOT of hours in my dorm room writing my first songs and learning covers. I played my first open mic at the Blue Dragon close to campus, my friends all came to cheer me on, and the fire was lit! I graduated with a History degree and immediately moved to Austin. The amazing community here and the huge number of opportunities lead me from one thing to the next. Read more>>

Nicole Enriquez

Well, before I started anything, I was in school for nursing. Something clicked and I decided to change my major over to marketing. I became so focused and driven when I finally made the shift. Many opportunities began to arise when I shifted my focus. I pursued it for over a few years after deciding that I honestly did not need to stay in school for what I wanted to do. I just began to hustle, find my way, and launch Billionaire Branding. You would be so surprised how blessings just flow into your life after you decide to shift your focus to what’s really meant for you. You go after what you ask for and everything just falls into place. From laying the foundation to perfecting the small details, it’s really a journey. I’m grateful for it. Our company has a huge vision for ourselves and our clients and is very excited for what’s to come. Truly is the Bottom to Billions. Read more>>

Anahi Graciela Gonzalez

There I was, analyzing and trying to understand how my childhood impacted me to have such deep love and admiration for art……. I then remembered all those times I would come home and share my school artwork with my father and watched as he gently stored all of my work inside a drawer next to his bed. As a child, it filled me with so much pride, so much power and love that soon turned into a passion for art. And that is how it all started, today I love to create joy and emotions through the art of people portrait photography. Read more>>

Joshua Gomez

I am originally from the Round Rock/Austin area. I joined the US Army right after high school in 2006. I was honorably discharged in 2011. I then moved back home, but my dj career started in 2010. My cousin was djing already in Austin and had been a presence in the city for quite a while. I started learning from him because he saw something in me and thought id be good at it. At first, I saw it as a way that I could help him with his career. Whether it was opening a gig for him or giving him a break during one when he needed it. Read more>>

Meghan Lajoie James

My interest in starting a Women’s clothing boutique began while finishing up my Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Merchandise & Management. Joie & James Boutique was started in June of 2020 in the midst of the global pandemic. I wanted to create something positive and uplifting to keep people’s spirits high during such an unprecedented time. I believe clothes can empower women and make them feel their best and transform their mood because that is what they do for me. I want to make women feel beautiful by delivering fashionable and trendy looks with personalized tags in each item that read ”You look beautiful” so they have a daily reminder every time they get dressed. Our style has evolved and solidified over time, but the message and tags remain the same. Everyone deserves to be told they look beautiful! Read more>>

Isaiah Hayes

Initially, I started out customizing and selling shoes all through high school. Once I got to college, I learned very quickly being a full-time student-athlete while working a part-time job, I didn’t have enough free time. And with the tanking of the sneaker market around 2016, I decided to invest into something that would consume less time and capital. People always asked where I got my shirts and a lot of times, I was reluctant to say the thrift store in my younger years because it was “uncool.” But once I got to college, I no longer cared of the “thrift” image because I was getting compliments and even selling some of my old personal shirts for far more than I purchased at the “uncool” thrift” stores. Read more>>

Tammy Miranda

In 2006 after going through a rough divorce, I decided I needed a new career since “my” business went with the ex, I decided to try my hand at booking some bands at one venue…..I pounded the pavement up and down 6th St in the Live Music Capitol of the World (Austin, Texas) and learned the field was wide open. Many musicians wanted help getting their feet in certain doors and those doors needed help weeding thru the hundreds of submissions they got each month! My career was born! Read more>>

Alexis Ervin

What started off as a hobby turned into a side hustle! Being inspired by the depths of African-American culture has shaped the name of every candle. Showcasing my pride of cultural influences with music, cinema, & self-love; I am driven to spread appreciation through candle art. Read more>>

Veronica Boccardo

My first ballet class started when I was about five years old. Ever since then, you could say that dance was and continues to be one of my greatest passions. Growing up in Margarita Island, Venezuela, I trained in ballet and flamenco classes until my family decided to make the move to the United States. Once settled through middle school, I dove back into dance again throughout high school. While I continued to study, I took ballet at school, danced in a drill team (shout out to Westwood Sun Dancers!), and took outside ballet classes three times a week focusing on the vaganova style (Russian ballet technique) through the Austin School of Classical Ballet under the direction of Jennifer Felkner. The typical dancer quote: “I can’t, I have rehearsal” is quite an understatement! Read more>>

Amy Gouldie

My husband, Adam, and I are blessed to both have a strong family base in Austin. We grew up here and were friends starting in high school but our love story began in college. Adam is my rock and best friend. We’ve been through the highest of highs and the lowest experiences imaginable and I would truly be lost in this world without him. We welcomed our first daughter, Skylar, about two years into our marriage. She’s the most sensitive, free spirit, artistic little girl who lights up our lives. We then had our baby boy, Gavin. The cutest little cuddle bug on the planet. Gavin passed away unexpectedly from SIDS on May 17th, 2018 when he was 5 1/2 months old. Read more>>

Jasmeen Wilson

I come from a background of mental health challenges present in my family. When a child has to show up as a caregiver to a parent, sibling, or others in your family, that role can create several different outcomes. I developed such a profound sense of empathy for others and people-pleasing. The diagnosis of my mother’s epilepsy and other mental health challenges came when I was losing my father as well. For a seven-year-old, this is a lot, and in a child’s mind, death translates to abandonment. These childhood wounds that we all accumulate are to be worked through and utilized as tools to assist others if we are blessed to do so. Read more>>

Laura Lee Cobb

I’m an actress, artist, photographer, military wife, and mom living in the Central Texas area. (My son was born in Georgetown) We come to Austin during the weekends for a little bit of fun, photography, and just to enjoy the sights and sounds of downtown I love travel, animals, and inspirational posts on social media. My husband and I have a family business called Forgotten Film based in the Belton/Fort Hood area. Forgotten Film started as a camera-collecting hobby for myself and my husband, Jonathan Cobb. Read more>>

Justin Fay

Well I grew up in musical life. Started viola at six. Then to the trombone. French horn. And more. Until at 16, I was teaching myself guitar and programming on a triton Kong keyboard. Singing in coffee shops and then I went to my first rave or EDM show. And I’ve been a producer and emcee since. I fell in love with drum and bass and hiphop and the whole rave culture and hiphop culture that was the 2000s… I started emceeing for so bigger djs like DJ. Fusion. DJ DRIZZT. DJ Decepticon. Dj Brocka J and T Junglist. The great Reverend Kathy Russel. Read more>>

Hillary Fletcher

I have a Bachelors degree in arts and Science. I started out my profession in Teaching. I have been teaching for nine years. While enjoying the profession of teaching middle school children, I started watching youtube tutorials and following makeup artists on Instagram. I began to get better at doing my own makeup and started wanting to learn more. I started doing small training with Sephora and MAC makeup artists. Read more>>

Nick Molini

During 2014, I was inspired to start doing gaming content. Somewhere down that path discovered the life of Vlogging, Cinematography and Music Videos. I would always ask myself, “how did they do that?”. When I graduated, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, didn’t want to go to college, wasn’t interested in chasing a career that I wasn’t going to be happy with. When I got a camera for Christmas in 2016, it all started from there, began doing Vlogs and funny mini-movies. As my learning progressed, so did my passion for Film and Videography. Inspired by creators such as Morty Zapata, Sam Kolder, SpamSubie and many more, I started shooting automotive businesses and even helping others grow. Read more>>

Shastan Kuschke

I have been teaching high school and coaching elite athletic teams for about 15 years. During my journey, I realized I have enjoyed two things the most: watching the vision and developmental growth in my students and the relationships that are created in my classroom or within my teams. About three years ago, I decided I wanted to use that mentality and feeling of success for more and to reach a broader audience; I launched my own Leadership and Career Coaching practice. The concept revolves around strengthening the skills and needs of clients for the purpose of moving forward and upward in self, lifestyle, and career paths. Read more>>

Samantha Kool

I am a licensed Esthetician with advanced education and certification in Oncology safe esthetics. After 18 years of owning my own staffing company, I made a life-changing decision to follow my heart into the world of esthetics and to specialize in the oncology space. After losing a tremendous number of loved ones to cancer throughout my life and feeling frustrated because I felt I couldn’t help in any way, finding out about Oncology safe esthetics was a game-changer for me. I am now a proud member of the therapist team at Cancer Rehab and Integrative medicine and own my own practice, Sava Face and Body in North Central Austin. I specialize in oncology safe gentle facials, customized body treatments for skin rejuvenation and healing and carry a complete line of award-winning skincare for sensitive and compromised skin including Hale and Hush and My Girls Skincare. Read more>>

Maggie Wilhite

Creativity is a way of life for me. From musical theatre performance to modern dance, from papercraft to knitting, from macrame to beadwork, from writing to graphic design, I am always exploring something. As I continue to grow and evolve as a human being, so does my creative work. I started Wishcraft Goods in 2018 with the dream of creating treasures for spiritual seekers like myself. I have always been drawn to the esoteric and alternative spirituality – meditation and manifestation, the power of intention, energy healing through crystals, the magic of the moon, and the tarot as an intuitive tool – and I wanted to build a brand with those things in mind. I have also always been an insatiable maker/crafter, and with my beloved Silhouette cutting machine by my side, Wishcraft’s offerings began to take shape. Read more>>

Cynthia Hamilton

My mom was born in Korea during the Korean War in the 50’s. She grew up very poor, and photography was not something she had access to. She has very few photos of her past, and she often tells me that she wishes she had a photograph of her mother so that she could remember what she looked like. That is why photography has always been present in my life, I remember my mom walking around with one of those huge video recorders, documenting my life. We have hundreds of VHS tapes and countless hours of my piano and dance recitals, softball games, and home movies.  Read more>>

Lupita Almuhana

My sister, mother, and I were going through a rough time. After our father left, we had no option but to start working to help my mother. I was 14 years old and got a job selling Dead Sea beauty products at the mall along with my sister. When I wasn’t at school, I was working on a commission only wage. It was stressful, as my grades were affected, and any dreams of a normal adolescence had disappeared. Our manager was also abusive to us, but our immigrant identity plus the fear of losing our only income kept us quiet. Read more>>

Jan Goss

Business has always intrigued me. From sweeping sidewalks for a nickel at six years old to working in my father’s drugstores through high school to starting my own businesses later in life. It fascinates me to observe how some businesses flourish while others fail. In my early adulthood, I was a stay at home mom. I loved raising my children, but I also loved making money, so I always seemed to find a way to create cash… I entered the Real Estate industry after my children left home and quickly rose as a multi-million dollar a month producer. I love meeting people’s needs and doing everything with excellence. Read more>>

Joyce Shen and Grace Zhu

We started as a DECA project for our school’s chapter in which we had to use project management to carry out a community awareness event. We decided on the topic of bringing awareness to local Austin artists after conferring with some of our old human geography teachers, and while we didn’t have much knowledge on the topic to begin with – our campaign and project has led us to discover the welcoming and inspiring live music Austin scene. We’ve found hidden gems of not only extremely talented musicians but also venues with an overall great environment, and it motivates us to share the news with friends and family, as well as the general community. Read more>>

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