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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.

Lauryn Overbey

I started my career in the chemical industry. A far cry from fashion and publishing! However, as a result, I became interested in business, got my MBA and am now a published author featured in Tablets & Capsules magazine. Some of my experience includes working with multi-national, small to medium size companies, focusing on various markets and working with them to provide a global strategic direction and drive their growth plans. My Mom was super influential in providing me with a heavy dose of fashion. I would watch her turn the pages of glossy pages of Vogue, Elle and other magazines with her freshly painted red nails completely engrossed in their content. She was also very fashionable herself and used to be a plus-sized model as well for local Philly designers. I also ended up modeling in High School but fashion and science didn’t exactly mix once I went to college as a Biology major. Read more>>

Jill Weddall

I grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis in the 70s and 80s. I had artistic talent which my parents nurtured throughout my childhood. I was always drawing and painting and was never short on art supplies. I also had a great teacher who helped me develop artistically and encouraged me to show my art, which was anxiety-inducing to say the least. He gave me the courage to stand out and be proud of what I could do. I attended college in Chicago as an art major. The program expanded my art education, and I thoroughly enjoyed what I learned there. However, at that time in history, I wasn’t seeing a lot of potential for work as an artist. I absolutely believe today it is much easier to make a living creating art. It doesn’t need to be “just a hobby”. But because we were on the cusp of the internet days the only real way to be an “artist” was to get an agent and show in galleries, which felt limiting to me. Ultimately I decided to get a degree in graphic design. I could use my art skills and make a good living. So I returned to Minneapolis the continue my education in Graphic Design. I absolutely loved the medium and couldn’t wait to start my career. Read more>>

Joe Swanson

Our story is that my brother Ben and I were introduced to rod building when I was 11 years old and my brother was 14 by one of our neighbors. He was a high school science teacher in Mahtomedi high school and taught a rod building class on the side. When he showed my brother and I, we were very bad at rod building and I didn’t like it at all. I remember showing my neighbor’s son the first rod I built and as I was showing him, a few guides fell off. Over time, my brother and I started liking it more and started getting orders from local friends and family. As we were both 3 sport athletes all throughout our high school careers and very active outside of school/sports, we did not make a lot of time to build rods. In 2019 as COVID-19 hit the US and i was a junior at UWEC, I finally had some time away from sports and school to build more rods as I am a tight end for the UWEC football team and our season that fall was cancelled. As many of people wanted to be outside from many businesses being closed, the custom fishing rod building business took off. Read more>>

Valerie Lockhart

My career has revolved around providing administration and communications services for both nonprofits and for-profits alike. I spent many years as a Human Resources manager, then started my own business designing websites, apps, and content for small businesses and community organizations. In my spare time I am a photographer and video producer. For the last 5 years, I have been serving as an Executive Director for nonprofits that provide technology training and access to creative and collaborative resources. This year, I am fortunate to have been given the opportunity to serve as the Executive Director of Code Savvy. The mission of the organization is to provide opportunities for computer science education for people who have been traditionally left out of the tech scene. As someone that is passionate about accessibility, freedom, and individual rights, the mission is a great fit. Read more>>

Lang Tran

Our Little Stand launched in December of 2019 out of our humble 1 bedroom apartment in Los Angeles. I had just left my 15+ year career in fashion. Travis, my fiance, needed a change of scenery from his landscape design work, so we joined forces and launched our concept shop selling plants, curated pottery, and fair-trade artisan-made products. It’s been wonderful hosting pop-ups in our neighborhood while cultivating community. We have connected with so many lovely people; it’s been fun! Our goal is to become more mobile with our business, and aim to take our pop-ups on the road!. Read more>>

Jaia Wilbour

Our story starts in 2003. I met my bandmate Raina Gravatt at the Waldorf kindergarten in Viroqua, Wisconsin after my family had moved there from the Twin Cities. We quickly became best friends, and remained close all the way into high school which is when we started getting into music. Both being self-taught, we started off playing covers of our favorite songs and performing at local open mics and various events at our high school. It wasn’t long before we started writing our own songs, and being best friends we had a very natural chemistry that bled into our music. Through the support of the abundant musical community in the Driftless region where we lived, we quickly became a well-established band in the area and were playing shows all around the Midwest. Read more>>

Erika Binger

We started our quest/mission to develop the V3 Center after spending several years working with youth in North Minneapolis and recognizing the need for a year-round place for them to meet, train and grow together. Our initial program coached youth in the sport of triathlon (swim, bike, run) and we utilized the parks in our community for running and biking but struggled to find adequate training in our neighborhood for the aquatic component. We were fortunate to be able to partner with the University of Minnesota for training but it was challenging due to travel time, parking, and events, so we pivoted and utilized a local outdoor pool and the lakes – both were dependent upon ideal weather conditions. Over the course of several years (running the program from April-September), we realized the positive impact our program was having with our youth and parents and wanted to offer it to more individuals year-round, in our community. Read more>>

Chris Daniels

Paul White started The Haus of Print in 2007. The original screen printing shop was in a small house and all printing was done with a manual press, Paul prided himself on quality and getting the order done on time, even from a space that was not the most efficient. Because of his attention to detail, he grew his business and moved into a space in an industrial building. This allowed Paul to purchase larger presses, including an automated version which allowed faster and larger production. Another addition was a vinyl cutting plotter and large scale printer that launched Paul into the sticker and banner business which has become a large part of the business. Read more>>

Wendy Gorski

Sustainable Stillwater MN is a 501c3 nonprofit, formed by a group of local citizens who want to make our city more sustainable, green, and resilient. We do a number of projects like create and tend raingardens, remove invasive species, set up cigarette butt disposal units downtown, label storm drains, monitor our City Council’s activities to advise them on sustainability issues, and encourage biking as a form of transportation and recreation. Also in 2020, a small team created the Greater Stillwater Area Green Business Directory and Awards. We certify businesses as sustainable using criteria from GreenAmerica.org and give those businesses well-deserved recognition with awards and social media exposure. There is no charge for a business to apply to the directory, and no charge to be listed. We are entirely supported by grants and volunteer hours. We now have over 60 businesses in the Stillwater area that excel at reducing carbon-based energy consumption, reducing waste, converting to clean energy, use sustainable materials in their products and services, and do work that enhances the local community. Read more>>

 

Patricia Olga Peuschold

After all, there is only the wind… I am Patricia Olga Peuschold; an Argentine Polish POC Immigrant Artist inspired by nature, travel, yoga, vintage and antique findings, reading, cooking, relationships, and love. My passion for vintage and antique jewelry inspired me to create soulful jewelry as a spiritual art expression. I believe that evoking this energy into my work and following higher aspirations spreads love into the world as a result PPtaller was founded on the Summer Solstice in 2016. In March of 2020, I opened a shop in my home creating a new way of shopping for the future. Bringing “shop small + local” into life was creating a new concept and reality to shopping. Valuing artistry, passion, and uniqueness shaped this concept into reality. My customers enjoy a cup of tea, privacy, and one-on-one attention when they shop at PPtaller. The shop is filled with curated curiosities from my travels and collections.  Read more>>

Adelle Starin

When pregnant with my first son in 2007, I began searching for products to begin our journey with. There was an apparent lack of access in Central Minnesota and as I spent countless hours researching after he was born I realized I still had things that just didn’t make sense. I was set in my career as a real estate closer but things changed after the recession and as my other friends started to have their children I became a side go to for all things baby. I would help do nurseries, registries and guide parents on things that would enhance their parenting life. In 2012 I began the planning process of opening and a store and in September of 2013, I opened our doors to Little Falls’ annual craft fair which can garnish over 100K in attendance. Since then we have taken on the full toy store next door and do durable medical equipment breast pumps through insurance. Read more>>

Laura Hotvet

All my life I’ve been a connector. One of my greatest joys is working with people and creating solutions. With my strengths as a connector and relationship builder, I truly enjoy the process of navigating commercial real estate. Throughout my eight years as Executive Director in the Chamber of Commerce industry, one of my greatest joys was to bring commerce and real estate together. The study of human movement in public spaces, commerce trends, and navigating local government is one of the most enjoyable aspects of commercial, residential and development. I really appreciate the use of creativity and broad level thinking – especially after the last 20 months! There are so many new ways of looking at space use and how that fits in with the post-pandemic world. Read more>>

Vanessia Norris

I moved to the Twin City area approximately six years ago bravely starting my business over from scratch in a new state where I had connections. However, I had a dream and a great supportive friend. I have been in the wellness industry for 30+ years with a background in aesthetics, personal training and massage therapy. I have used my knowledge in all three areas to develop and build my mobile business. Wellness With V caters to a diverse clientele in a cozy, comfortable, beautiful treatment room on wheels.. Providing a beneficial and lasting self-care experience was the initial goal as well as eliminating the stress of travel for the client and invading their personal living space. Most of the treatment services are designed to include massage with a therapeutic twist. Which is why it is An Exquisite Mobile Experience. Read more>>

 

Olivia Frey

I started my journey about 4 years ago, and the funniest part is I have no idea how or why I even started! I have always loved journaling, sending and receiving “snail mail” and crafting in any way possible, so I think this was just a natural next step. Over the years, I have really polished up my calligraphy to allow Mission Creek Design Co to have its very own font and specific look. It started out with creating greeting cards and has really taken off from there. I soon realized I loved creating signage for parties after I was asked to write on a chalkboard sign for a friend’s wedding shower. From there I really put my thinking cap on and thought about how I could turn this into something more. Over time, I have acquired many pieces (mirrors, chalkboards, wood, acrylic signs) that are available to rent for your wedding or special event. This is the perfect way to help newlyweds save a little money on their big day, instead of purchasing signs and decor outright, my business allows you to just rent for the day and better yet, choose the exact wording you’d like on the sign. Read more>>

Kent Carlson

I created WhitefishChain.com about twenty years ago. At that time, there weren’t many websites that connected all of the resources of the Whitefish Chain of lakes in Crosslake, Minnesota. We provided links to lodging, commerce, entertainment, and interviewed several business owners, featuring articles about them and their unique products. This past year, 2021, WhitefishChain.com has been rebooted. I’ve added a podcast, and we post monthly blogs that highlight local events that coordinate with the seasons. Bringing people together is still a primary purpose for us, as well as celebrating this area and all it has to offer, both to residents and tourists. Most people think of the Whitefish Chain of lakes and the surrounding area as a special place where you can enjoy nature and take a moment or two to unwind; it’s a sentiment everyone in our audience shares. Our platform seeks to amplify our appreciation for and stewardship of, all that represents “up north.” Read more>>

Nikki Yang

Growing up, I’ve always gravitated towards the beauty industry. I used to wake up at 5am to apply my full face of makeup before school, I only did my foundation, eyebrows & eyelashes but it made me feel complete for the day. At the end of my high school years, I was nervous to what I wanted to do afterwards. Searching & trying different fields definitely opened my eyes & skillsets but I gravitated back to beauty. I did freelance makeup for prom, photoshoots, etc. I loved the way I made my clients feel, they’d open their eyes and feel confident & beautiful for their special day. As time passed I searched for what part of the beauty industry struck sparks for me. I thought to myself, “well I love doing my own brows & lashes everyday why not just do what I love for myself for others?” The next thing you know, I’m applying for my permanent makeup apprenticeship & for courses for my lash extension license. I finally feel whole in my career choice, doing something that I love & in the process, making others feel confident, beautiful & saving them 10-15 minutes everyday from their makeup routine. Read more>>

Kaycie Bellrichard

I have grown up completely in the digital age. So, ever since I got my first smartphone, I have been using social media and following all of the celebrities, influencers, sports teams, etc. that I love. When I began on social media, I was purely a consumer, however, I had always wanted to post more and have more of an influencer-style account. So, in August of 2020, I decided to start doing just that. I began posting more frequently and connecting with others on Instagram who are doing the same thing I do. It is a completely different experience being a creator rather than a consumer. I am so glad I took that leap and just started posting–it has really given my life the little extra spice it needed!. Read more>>

Axel Santo Domingo

It all started with the love of watching this one YouTube rapper who was once known as D-Pryde. I remember thinking how cool it was that he was Filipino and making noise in the music industry. I studied him and I took notes of what recording equipment he used and what software he was editing music on, and I had the exact same setup. The microphone was a Samson CO1U USB condenser mic and then my DAW (Digital Audio Workspace) was an old program called Cool Edit Pro, which is now called Adobe Audition. After a several years of messing with recording equipment, I found some friends in high school and we called ourselves “Street Poets Entertainment.” It was a beautiful thing to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who wanted to pursue music. A year or two went by and then the group split up because there was so many people in it, around 12+ people were in it. Read more>>

Jamie Lee

Every since I was a kid I always wanted to be a hero. As I grew older, I realized all I wanted to do was help people. That brought me joy: seeing others around me happy and living life. I started with selling essentials oils and designer fragrances, just as my mentor and father figure Glenn Brown directed. After a couple of months, I received a message from one of my old friends Chris Varkpeh from childhood. He already had an whole business operation called Beyond Being Vegan, but as we started to incorporate each other’s values, we revamped the whole business as well as the name. Despite Beyond Being Vegan is a nice name, it wasn’t appealing to the audience. People didn’t understand the meaning, didn’t care, or just weren’t vegan. We had more products than vegan ones, but they didn’t know. But I digress. We renamed the business Beavanti, and that means moving forward, living life more abundantly physically, spiritually, and mentally. Read more>>

Ted Anderson

Nobody in my family was a musician. Music didn’t seem to be a prominent thing in family when I was growing up. I know that my Dad liked to listen to classical masters such as Bach and Beethoven, and he was a Pink Floyd fan; so that’s what I remember hearing in our home. I never had any particular interest in playing music, especially when it came to public school music classes where all the kids were given plastic recorders or forced to sing as a choir. When I was in middle school, I started to take notice of the strange new music I was hearing on the radio: alternative and grunge. Something about the brash, loud, guitar-driven sound resonated with me. The singular album that changed everything for me was Green Day’s 1994 release, “Dookie”. That is the album that made me want to play guitar. The music was melodic, but with an edge. It shook my notion of what music could be, but still seemed accessible. Read more>>

Roosevelt Mansfield

I have always been a person who is aware of what’s going on around them. I paid attention to everything, also I used to be the kid that liked to draw a lot, I drew cartoons, I drew people, I drew Hip Hop fashion, I drew hairstyles and dresses. Sometimes getting lost in this art Took me away from the harsh reality of my unstable life. I was actually good at it. It wasn’t until I got teased for drawing women’s hairstyles and dresses that I stopped. I couldn’t be the guy from the hood that draws dresses ya know? Or maybe you don’t. Music is a big part of who I am also, Music and art are intertwined with me. Music inspires movement, that movement creates art, my imagination shapes the way I capture the image of my imagination. As a kid, I used to see that Breakdancers at the park and pretend eyes were the shutter to the camera, I blink my eyes to capture the picture of that movement. Now it’s frozen in my mind. Fast forward to the present time I am still aware, a different type of thinker and now I can use technology to capture the image my imagination sees. I turned this into 1/3 of my business, Now as an adult, I’m photographing Fashion and dresses and nobody teases me anymore. Read more>>

Emma Johnson

While I have always been interested in makeup, I actually started out as an artist. I have a degree in printmaking and art history. While these things are still very much a passion of mine, graduating from school meant less access to studio space and supplies. I feel like makeup artistry was the obvious next step for me. I pursued an Estheticians License from the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis to learn more about skin and to better understand safe practices when applying makeup. One day a photographer reached out through Instagram asking if I would do makeup for a photoshoot and I was hooked! I have been freelancing ever since!. Read more>>

Lindsey Heiserman

The year was 1996. I couldn’t finish the mile in PE class and I was terrible at every sport I tried. At home, I was doing Kathy Smith step aerobics in my living room followed by the video “8 Minute Abs” on repeat. I was chasing body ideals I would never meet, but I knew (even at 12 years old) that moving my body made me feel good both physically and mentally. I took this passion to college and majored in exercise science and began as a personal trainer at a corporate gym. It was not easy creating, building and growing my own business within the gym setting but after a while I found my groove. My clients who were coming to the gym to improve their health, put themselves in a better mood, build strength and find community. After a couple of years as a personal trainer, I went to graduate school for counseling and psychotherapy intending to shift my career to being a therapist. In my experience as a personal trainer, I found that behavior change psychology and mental health was a much bigger component than only movement. I did not complete licensure to be a therapist, but instead took my degree and life coaching certification back to personal training. Read more>>

Perrion Hill

I started off doing makeup about 3/4 years ago. I loved to do makeup but I felt like I needed/wanted to do more so I started a press on nail business named Klawss Lux. It happened a little bit after COVID hit and I really stopped taking makeup clients because I was doing makeup in my home and I didn’t think that was safe for my daughter. I figured doing press ons was very convenient & safer especially since COVID. I started making sets without having really any support or knowledge of doing nails but I kept working on my craft and I have seen my work getting better and also I was getting more support and clients. I would literally stay up and make press on nails just to post for social media, sometimes 2 sets a day. I’m still not where I want to be with this but I feel like I came far since I really just started my business out of the blue. Now I still make my luxury press on nails and I started back doing makeup.  Read more>>

Aletha and Marissa

AlethalWeaponArt is owned by Aletha and Marissa. We met in middle school in 2006 and have been inseparable ever since. We do everything together and it has always been our dream to run a business together! We both come from a background of 8+ years of management in the Entertainment industry and we both have a passion for exceptional customer service, client satisfaction, and striving for excellence. When the pandemic shifted the world, we decided to make a change as well- we decided to follow our dreams. Art has always been a part of our lives but we never imagined we could build a life around it until then. AlethalWeaponArt started with paintings and has grown into a multimedia art company that offers a wide variety of digital and hand painted items, including paintings, hand painted ornaments, stickers, cards, prints, posters, NFTs, and more!. Read more>>

Tyler Herwig

I’ve always loved to sing. My mother loved music, so as a kid our house always had something playing. In fact, my siblings and I learned early on that we could tell what kind of mood Mom was in by what music was playing in our house. Music was mostly just for fun though – being silly and singing songs at home, children’s choir at church and taking piano and percussion lessons. I’d say my more intentional journey really started when I was in 8th grade. A close family friend passed away suddenly, and it was rough… I began writing down my thoughts to help me sort through the overwhelming emotions I was experiencing. I needed to make sense of what was going on and clear my mind when I had some melodies start popping into my head. My mom had an old guitar, so I started messing around on it – teaching myself how to play by watching YouTube videos and writing down what was in my head. Read more>>

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