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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.

Aly Goelzer

My photography journey began at a young age playing with my mom‘s camera and eventually my own little digital camera, but the story really accelerates forward in my first year of college when I took a film photography class and got to learn all the ins and outs of the film world and all of the time and patience it takes to develop your photos by hand in the darkroom as well as mix chemicals correctly to get the best end product. I also got to learn all of the Photography basics in a medium where you can’t immediately see your results which is definitely rewarding and challenging. After that initial class, I took many other classes across different creative mediums and ended up switching my major to photojournalism and diving in headfirst. Read more>>

Meg Sharp

I am a third-generation family business owner at Sharp & Associates, founded over 60 years ago by my grandfather, Dennis Sharp. I’ve been working there for about 10 years now alongside my grandfather, my mom and our amazing team of employees that have been with us longer than I can remember. We deal in Commercial Leasing, General Contracting, Self-storage and vacation rentals, which are all seemingly different industries, but at the root of it, we basically specialize in Rental Space. We build it, we own it, and we rent it out. Read more>>

Lauren Gross

My husband, Kyle, and I both grew up dancing competitively at studios in the Twin Cities. We grew up at different studios, but got connected when we both attended the U of M Twin Cities. Kyle went to Carlson School of Management and earned a degree Supply Chain/Operations & Marketing. I earned a degree in Dance, Holistic Health, and Cultural Studies. Kyle and I taught at various dance studios for 9+ years, but always had intentions of someday owning our own studio. We have both always enjoyed doing tasks for our jobs that go beyond just teaching and choreographing. Read more>>

Olivia Diercks and Karla Colahan

We have played our instruments since we were four and five years old. We played all through our childhoods and both decided to study music at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa — where we met. We played in both the symphony and chamber orchestras together as early as freshman year, but really began to get to know each others’ style of playing after forming a hip-hop string group called Strangz. Yes – with a ‘z’! Our junior year, we attended an Eileen Ivers concert as part of Luther’s Center Stage Series. The joy and passion she exuded on stage stopped us in our tracks, and we came away from that experience wondering if we could ever experience something like that. Olivia went back to her dorm that night and wrote the opening to our very first tune — Naomi and the French Toast. Read more>>

Bryan Goltzman

In 2010, I started Liquid Screen Design because I was ordering a lot of swag from various vendors and it felt like something was missing. Physical marketing (promotional products) is a $27 billion a year industry. Look at your desk right now and it is almost guaranteed that you have something branded on it. For many, it is about the cheapest giveaway to get their brand out there. What was missing was someone guiding even small businesses through the process of finding what is the right swag for their goals and then how to implement those goals and finally track them to see if that promotion was a success. Read more>>

Kid Swami

Growing up, I always saw my cousins do music everyone was a musician/singer. I was always the 4th/5th best singer so I wanted to be different so I decided to become a rapper. Later in life I found my voice (and with the help of autotune) to shape my sound. But I was always influenced by my older cousins and asian YouTubers (Timothy Delaghetto, Aj Rafael, etc). Read more>>

Talaya Woods

As a kid ,I’ve always been interested in creating art. I’ve always loved photography, thrifting and designing clothes and modeling. But I never had the chance to explore my creativity just because life happened and I was super introverted (I kinda still am). A couple of years after I graduated high school I met this amazing friend who introduced me to the creative community in the twin cities in 2018. At first, I would just go with her to network and collaborate with artists but that eventually led to me going to this fashion show for Emeralds LLC and resulted in me modeling for their website. Read more>>

Michelle Marie King

I struggled with a lot of darkness in my teens and twenties including eating disorders, depression, anxiety and suicidal ideations. I always felt so ashamed feeling bad about my life, and because of that – I never spoke about it. So that darkness just became this heavy burden as I got older and ‘found myself’ as an adult. It was no wonder I felt so alone and trapped when I got married and had my daughter at 29. I remember looking in the mirror and feeling like the person looking back at me was screaming trying to just be heard. Here I was in an awesome marriage to the love of my life, a new mom to a beautiful, healthy baby, and living a seemingly happy life. I sat in this dissonance not understanding why I was so unhappy and once again felt ashamed of not being grateful. The darkness ensued. Read more>>

Holly Overcashier

Elderwise Organics was born in our families little kitchen as I was raising our babies. Becoming a mom opened my eyes even more to preventative treatment and the power of holistic living but my passion for supporting the body and healing came through my own health journey. By the age of 25, I had undergone 7 knee surgeries and a heart surgery and my body had given up, my doctors didn’t have any further solutions and I was ready to settle for life dependent upon medications to survive. Read more>>

YungM3tro

Music has always been present throughout my life, but I started to focus on it going into my junior year of college. To really fight for something and to push for it, you have to know it’s your purpose, and for me that is music. I say this because, it’s not only about beats and a melody, it’s about the impact, the lessons, the relief and stories that you can give to somebody, anywhere listening. Day by day I see myself growing into a Shepard, through my struggle and through my gains I have developed a flock. Read more>>

Paige Prestigiacomo

Growing up, I always loved food. When I got my drivers license I remember being most excited to be able to drive myself to the grocery store and take as much time as I wanted walking up and down every aisle. For me, food not only fueled my body as a competitive swimmer, but it also fueled experiences, memories and connecting with others. I decided to combine these two passions and become a registered dietitian. I now work with athletes of all levels to properly fuel their bodies and reach their highest potential. Read more>>

Oladipo Aluko

I started photography my sophomore year of college at NDSU. My friend John Horton gave me a digital camera. It was an old Nikon camera. The reason he gave me this camera was because my roommates were doing something creative. One of them at the time was only a graphic designer (Phondope). My other roommate was producing/engineering (Dammntc) . My boy John Horton gave me this Camera and said yeah might as well try it if everyone else is doing something. After that, I started shooting digital and hated it. I tried so hard to change my aesthetic from everyone else and I just couldn’t find my sauce. Until one day me and a couple friends shot a music video in our apartment. My friend Shaddy came through (ShaddythaShooter) and gave me a film camera. And he said “bro this shit is up next, you should try it.” The rest is history. Read more>>

Emily Dicks

We like to think of Style Society as three businesses in one, run by three friends that each manage our own category while supporting each other. We share a drive for success, a love for creativity, and an obsession with thrifting! Style Society really began when Ashley and I (Emily) started a small side hustle of doing wedding floral. We met Jess working at a Vintage home goods store. Jess is a talented & handy lady with a degree in interior design and together, she and I (Emily) started the rental business, Style Society! We found a fun space in NE Minneapolis to house our inventory (the clubhouse) and got to work collecting and we found we had a real knack for collecting great vintage pieces!  Read more>>

Cameron McWhorter

Growing up, I came to face with a lot of adversities. My life experiences shaped to me to wanting to help kids that are living through similar experiences. When my son was born in 2013, I wanted to be the person I never had growing up, for my son and other kids. I started working in education and probation in 2016 to help kids like me growing up and since then I’ve been dreaming of opening a school and/or rec center. I’ve been working towards that goal over the past few years by completing my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, master’s degree in educational leadership and now pursuing a specialist degree to get my K-12 Principal License. As of 2020, I’ve also started my own business, Speak Your Truth (SYT). Read more>>

Tony Rossberg

In 1961, my uncle, Curtis, broke his neck in a diving accident. He was in the hospital for 13 months and leather working became part of his physical therapy. His movement was very limited but with the help of a splint on one hand and 2×4 block tied to his other he was able to tool leather. My grandmother and dad starting (7 years old at the time) would cut leather and put patterns on and grandma had a very steady hand with the swivel knife. My uncle did amazing things tooling and painting with the splint and a 2×4 strapped to him. on softer leather if he was able he would also punch holes for lacing. Once the tooling and painting was done my grandmother and dad would be lacing pieces together and clear coating. My uncle did leather work for 30 years from his wheelchair until a staph infection lead to his arm being amputated. the leather just kind of ended. Read more>>

Katie Pope

Growing up, I was a really creative kid. I loved writing stories and poetry and wanted to be an author when I grew up. Over time, my hobby of writing transitioned into a hobby of filmmaking. I would shoot and edit goofy little movies with a neighborhood friend and that became my main creative outlet. After taking some filmmaking classes in high school, I realized that videography was a real job that people could make money doing! I decided to pursue a degree in Media Production and become a full-time videographer. Jumping into freelancing right out of college was difficult, but I learned so much from others around me who have been incredibly supportive. I’m now going on my fifth year as a videographer, shooting and editing videos under the name Pollie Film Co. Read more>>

David Stanoch

I grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota. My parents exposed my brother and I to a lot of opportunities in arts, sports and civic community activities to help us find ourselves. Music was a powerful resonator for us even though my parents were not musically skilled themselves. My brother and I had a suitcase record player that we shared listening to 45’s by The Beatles, The O’Jay’s, The Temptations, and the like, along with LP’s from their parents’ collection by such artists as Louis Armstrong, Pete Fountain and Jim Reeves. I took up the guitar at the young age of 7, diligently studying the laws of music, and began drumming at age 10 after my guitar teacher suggested I pay more attention to the drums to improve my rhythm. I first played a drumset after watching the drummer in my brother’s grade band and I was hooked. Read more>> 

Giselle Ugarte

My career accidentally started on a little platform called YouTube. And I say little, because YouTube was not a verb. Everyone and my mom did not have a blog, and influencer definitely wasn’t a job title. I had just graduated from USC and had aspirations of a career in entertainment news. Despite going to a top journalism school, no one wanted to hire me, so someone gave me the advice that I should learn how to do everything in and around production. And so I saved up for a used camera and began to upload videos to this platform thinking that no one would see them.. Read more>>

Marlee Olson and Alexi Christensen

The co-founders of SENSE-ational Spaces, Alexi and Marlee, are certified and licensed pediatric occupational therapists who have merged their desires for helping people in the community, sensory processing, and environmental modifications into a business in their home state of Minnesota. The duo met in graduate school at St. Catherine University while pursuing their Masters in Occupational Therapy and very early on clicked. From the beginning, it was evident that Alexi and Marlee saw things in a similar light and displayed a similar passion for working not only with children but from a family centered approach. Alexi and Marlee both have experiences that transcend ages and environments including schools, mental health facilities, autism clinics, outpatient services, inpatient hospital, and acute care settings. Read more>>

Ryan Turry

I started Headwaters Painting while still working behind a desk in the corporate world. I didnt grow up in or around the trades, but I have always had a deep desire to own and operate a business. I initially thought flipping houses would lead me to a path of entrepreneurship, so I graduated from the University of MN with a degree in Housing Studies and a concentration in finance and management. After dipping my toes in, I simply found that it wasn’t a good fit for me. So to “hold me over”, I worked as a financial advisor and investment consultant for a couple of years and, to no surprise of my own, I found that working behind a desk along with a deep desire to work with my hands, wasn’t compatible. Read more>>

Andrew Clarke

I’m on a mission to financially empower adults with skills for creating generational wealth. These skills are needed NOW more than ever! My story is a testament to the power of these skills. Growing up, I watched my mom work over 100 hours per week for years. She did this to support our internal family and relatives back in Jamaica who couldn’t support themselves. I was concerned for her health as most nights she slept less than 4 hours. So, at 15 years old, that motivated me to start self-educating myself on how money worked. I realized how important real estate was and my mom did too! She became a real estate agent and shortly after she bought her first rental property. Read more>>

Brittany Webster

I started my company Deborah’s lavish hair about 5 years ago. My son was diagnosed with alopecia and after numerous doctor visits my questions were left unanswered. I took matters into my own hands and started to research oils used for hair growth and alopecia. In that process, I produced two all natural hair oils. One for hair growth and another one for dandruff/ itching scalp. Read more>>

Andreas Danner

Ok, where do I begin – I guess my name would be a good start? My name is Andreas and I’m the owner of Andreas Danner Creative, working in photography, graphic design and marketing. I`m still pretty new to the Twin Cities, actually – and it`s all my wife`s fault! In summer of 2021, she and I packed our life back in Germany into two suitcases and moved to Minneapolis for my wife`s new job in research at the University of Minnesota`s Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain (her name is Julia Moser & she and the lab are doing some pretty cool stuff – look them up!). Read more>>

Jim and Crystal Whitmarsh

We first met over a shared passion — coffee. Our first date took us to a local coffee shop in Upper Michigan, Cyberia Café, where we discovered a mutual affection for hand crafted lattes. As our relationship grew and family expanded, coffee always remained a staple component of our life. We both worked hard on our respective careers, and by 2017, had established our life in Kasson, Minnesota with our boys, Isaiah and Micah. Even though we were both working stable jobs, we still felt drawn to growing the coffee business and transitioning the side hustle into a main hustle. Our new coffee business aims to fill a need that we quickly identified as coffee lovers in Southeast Minnesota–a noticeable lack of freshly roasted coffee beans, and a dual-purpose business that could serve the needs of others. Read more>>

Cherish Witherspoon

My story begins where the liberian war ends, I was born in the midst of the first and second civil war in a refugee camp in Accra, Ghana called Buduburam. My parents worked hard to get me to the United States in 1999. When we arrived on April 28th, 1999, the next day was my 1st birthday. I turned 1 year old in America and never had the chance to progress what my parents went through, however, I was grateful for their sacrifices. Growing up my parents dedicated the world to me, even though they split when I was about 4 years old they both made sure I had the best education and extraocular activities. From piano, guitar, dance lessons, track, basketball, gymnastics, swimming lessons to science camps my parents made sure I had a creative outlet to express myself. Read more>> 

Imani McCray

Born in Baltimore Maryland 1992, the probability of me being dead or a negative statistic was inherited from birth. After being adopted to South Minneapolis and with the help of those who have come into my life, I have triumphed over those odds and wish it help others overcome their adversity. I believe progressive art aids social justice by using its polyrhythmic mediums to give form to the thoughts, needs, and pains of a broken society. As an advocate for social justice and an artist, my goal is to use impactful images, easily accessible copy, and strategic design to engage and inspire my audience. Passion, deception, faith, and spontaneity, are constant themes throughout our world. Navigating these experiences through different mediums is my attempt to shape this reality with imagination and passion. Read more>>

Matt Roehrick

Born and raised in Faribault. I was turned on by cars and motorcycles at a young age.. about 5-6. My father was a big inspiration that contributed to me opening my own shop and doing custom paint work. I’m self taught and believe if I do I’m doing it once and I’m doing it right the first time. I’ve been in Faribault in business for about 20 yrs and my work has taken me many places and has won many awards through out the yrs. I grew up in an artistic family so that’s where my custom paint skills come into play. Read more>>

Brianna Vodvarka

I have struggled with mental health since I was a little kid. I had doctors appointments upon doctors appointments and they kept switching my medication and nothing was really working for me. I started gardening as a form of therapy and to find a natural remedy. From there I began to make tea blends for friends and family and they asked why I am not selling them. My business bloomed from there and turned into what it is today. Read more>>

Aaron Fraher

I started my photography journey about 10 years ago. At the time, I was managing a paintball store in the Twin Cities and a regular customer, and friend of mine, was upgrading his camera body to one of the newer models and no longer had a use for his T3i. He gave it to me along with some basic lenses he didn’t use anymore as we had talked about my interest in photography and he wanted to help get me started. He explained the basics of balancing your settings and how the camera itself worked and as the paintball company I worked for also had a location to play at, I was able to go out frequently and get used to the camera. It worked out well because I got the experience and everyone always loves having pictures of themselves playing to share on social media. Read more>>

Josie Raczynski

In 2016, I graduated from UW-Madison with degrees in journalism-strategic communications and Spanish. I dreamed about being a graphic designer, but I didn’t have the experience to get a well-paying entry-level job in that field. So I put that dream on hold and took a communications role at a global nonprofit in Baltimore. Just two weeks after starting this job, I began freelancing to get more design experience. I designed a website for a Minnesota interior designer, and they eventually took me on a few hours a week to help with marketing efforts. Meanwhile, at my nonprofit job, I really worked hard to learn as much as I could about marketing and design —I took over their social media and email marketing efforts, read books, and took courses as often as I could on top of my workload. Read more>>

Jaslynn Gasow

I found my love for doing hair at a very young age when my grandmother taught me how to french braid. I used to practice my color and cutting skills on anyone daring enough to let me before I went to beauty school! My professional career began at the Aveda Institute Minneapolis where I started to really hone in on my skills. An apprenticeship with Travis Parker – a L’Oreal Professional National Artist – followed, exposing me to cutting edge education and instruction. Later I moved to NYC, where I was able to work alongside some of the top experts in the industry and elevate my techniques. I am now back in Minnesota where I grew up and I continue to build on a solid foundation of 17+ years experience with advanced education. Read more>>

Hannah Knutson and Adriana Ernst

Both of us being born and raised in the land of 10,000 lakes, along with all Minnesotans, we have found a deep appreciation for the beautiful land we get to call home, giving the ultimate foundation for our brand inspiration! The Lakehouse story begins after both of us were let go of our jobs due to Covid-19 but together turned the adversity into opportunity. Adriana having the initial idea in the summer of 2020, asked if Hannah would help with the design. After a month or so passed with no updates, Hannah seeing the great potential in the idea, pushed Adriana to pursue it, eventually to the point that she decided to jump in as well! Read more>>

Michelle Plombon

My mother and father were both creatives and artists. My mother drew, painted with watercolors, made ceramic dolls and sewed. My father was a carpenter and he built furniture. I was the youngest of 5 children and I grew up in a home that participated in and enjoyed the arts. It’s in our genes, and because of that my siblings and I all share our love of the arts together. I appreciate having something in common with my brothers and sisters and find it a real gift that we can all connect with one another in our joy for the arts. Even though my journey began as a very young child, I didn’t pursue my art passion until my mid 40s when I decided to take my first pottery class. After that class and making my first bowl, I was hooked. I love pottery and I continue to make all. Read more>> 

Beatrice Adenodi

As a Nigerian American living in the US, I have always been between two cultures. I had to learn how to adapt and understand my environment from different perceptive through my personal and professional journey. I have developed considerable skills that served me throughout my career, especially in marketing and consulting. I felt that there was no place for me, and I needed to forge my path. I was better off using my skills to support the communities than being behind a desk. As a result, I created my business consulting firm, Mirror Ink, which helps small business owners and entrepreneurs move from reactive to reflective in their professional. After working with multiple clients through the years and some of my personal experiences, I noticed that we also had a handful of problems that most of us struggled with universally. Read more>> 

Michelle Kuker

I began Blush Film Co. after several years of working in corporate America as a digital marketer. I felt unfulfilled, limited by working in a cubicle every day, and wanted to have the freedom to be more creative in my work. I applied for a Digital Media Design Master’s program at Harvard University (on a bit of a whim, mind you) with the intention of studying front-end web development and design. A bit to my surprise, I ended up getting in! I quit my corporate job within a week, and went back to school for two years. During this time back in school, my sister got married. It was one of the best days of my life; emotional, blissful, and deeply meaningful! Read more>>

Alyssa DiVirgilio

Well, looking back on it, I think mostly I’ve gotten to where I am by just asking questions, looking for answers, and continuing on whenever things haven’t gone as planned. I try to do what feels right at the time and honor my needs and desires as much as possible. It’s a process, but so far it’s going okay! I’ve made some good choices for myself along the way and feel more myself the more I can do this. I think the first really defining moment for me was when I quit my job at about 21 to just go travel Europe with an acquaintance and her friend. I could tell myself all day how irresponsible it was and all the reasons not to go, but honestly, everything worked out. Read more>>

Talon Frazier

As one of the rising and upcoming stars in Minnesota radio for 94.1 wfnu (Talon Fraziers Motivational Talks radio show) 2nd season * it is a show dedicated to motivating all ages to strive for greatness, be good people and helping them get through any hard times they might be going through. host/entrepreneur of a couple of businesses in Minnesota (glide slide clean n shine llc construction and commercial clean up company which has been open for 8 years. Our head quarter is located in Richfield and a co owner of the national champion Minneapolis Warriors (Semi pro football team) and activist/public speaker/investor. Read more>>

Michael Nicholas

Minneschlagen started on a napkin, during happy hour, surrounded by friends in Minnesota. The idea came from years of pounding nails into random logs, combined with the desire to start a business. Playing the game at the cabin was great, but we wanted to be able to bring the log with us so we could share the fun and excitement with friends and family. Hence, our first game the tabletop hammer and nail game, Minneschlagen. We recently launched Scharts in 2022 and the response has been nothing short of amazing. Read more>>

Leah Hanson

For years, I personally struggled with hormonal cystic acne. I went to a dermatologist and it seemed my only option was heavy meds. I told them I didn’t want to be on accutane and was told you can not clear this without it. In that moment, I said watch me. Then and there I went to school to be an Esthetician. I remember feeling so discouraged seeing the dermatologist, it was a 20 min appointment they did not go over my diet, allergies, possible external factors etc. My passion started with my own skin, and now it is my mission to be a well rounded Advanced Esthetician and exhaust every option before medicine is necessary. So far, I have not needed to send any clients elsewhere. I got my start at a few major facial and massage chains who mainly believed in making numbers and selling that months newest products, as well as, getting people in and out as quickly as possible. It was not my idea of a mindful, positive, passionate environment. Read more>>

Eric Christopher

A beginning point came to me when I was backpacking in India as a 24-year-old. I decided to work at the Mother Theresa’s Home for the Destitute and Dying in Calcutta (now Kolkata). I was told to sit with a man laying on a cot who was dying. He began talking to me in his local dialect of Bengali and he held out his arms, so I grabbed them. We looked at each other in the eyes, and then he died in my arms. His body then began to become stiff and cold, and I deeply knew that who and what I was just talking to was not that body, which we later threw on a burning pyre. For years after that experience, my mind kept turning over the thought that we are more than our bodies, we are actually the light, energy and consciousness that is animating our body. Read more>>

Mohammed Akl

My family moved from Beirut, Lebanon to Dubai, UAE when I was a few years old. I grew up in Dubai and went to dental school at the University of Sharjah in the UAE. Despite joining dental school at an early age, I worked hard not only to become a good clinician but also to develop my leadership and social skills. I was elected as President of the Dental Student Association in my 3rd year, and was further elected as Delegate of the UAE to the International Association of Dental Students. I graduated with honors from the College of Dental Medicine at the age of 22. I knew that I wanted to specialize in prosthodontics since I was in dental school, and really wanted to come to the United States. Read more>>

Josh Fay

I’ve always been an artists, it just became more official when I went to art school. That’s where I learned how to think about art and hone my skills. I did art shows all the time, helped run the student gallery and soaked up everything that community had to offer before moving to Minneapolis. I mainly make commission based work, but I’m trying to take more time to make work for myself. Read more>>

Kieran Kadlec

I started my journey with photography around 6 years ago. I began with videography and fell in love with photography soon after. I began with seniors and families and after doing my first wedding, I was hooked. Couples photography is so magical to me- the connection between the lovers, the small details that characterize their relationship. Weddings are incredibly beautiful as well- I could photograph details all day! For the first 4 years of photography, I was part time and a full time server as well as a full time preschool teacher. 2 years ago I began boudoir photography and empowerment photography and that very quickly changed my life. I consider myself a feminist and woman’s advocate and boudoir photography fulfilled my life’s purpose. I became a full time boudoir and wedding photographer in 2020 and its been the greatest journey of my life. Read more>>

Katherine Brooks

I had a passion for storytelling from a young age. Growing up as an only child in rural Louisiana, I relied on my imagination for entertainment. At 16, I left home and drove to Los Angeles. I lived in my car and met a group of other kids that were aspiring filmmakers. We started making short films, and one of the films made it into an underground film festival. An executive at MTV saw it and my life drastically changed. Read more>>

Jeff Wyatt

Mile Monsters Inc. is a Non Profit that has volunteer riders who compete in crazy long distance endurance rides for charity. The main focus of our rides is to raise both money and awareness to fight Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy better known as DMD. This rare form of MD typically affects young boys. As a father, I was drawn to help fight this when a former coworker’s son was fighting it. I signed up to ride the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge in 2018 for my very 1st event. The plan was to ride this one ride and get back to life as I had known it.
That just wasn’t to be. Instead, I finished that one Challenge in 5th place and was forever changed by the ride. See the Hoka Hey is 10,000+ miles of secondary roads that you navigate with turn by turn directions and paper maps. GPS and all other electronics are forbidden. To make it more challenging we have to sleep outdoors next our bikes. Read more>>

Alexandra Phipps

I grew up in Santa Cruz, Bolivia watching both of my grandmothers bake and seeing the amount of love that they would pour into each dish or pastry they would make. In the Latin culture, food is how people come together whether that is a happy or sad celebration and Bolivia is no different. I started baking for my own family and friends and once I moved to Minnesota my husband encouraged me to do it as a business. I had my daughter about 3 years ago and seeing all the hardships she went through due to being premature I had to put my small baking business in the back burner to make sure she was healthy and to take care of my mental health. It’s been about 2 years now since the last time we had to rush her to the ER and now she is thriving. So that’s when I decided to get back to my online baking business. Then COVID came so I had to decide to put my family’s health first like many families around the world did. Read more>>

Gerard Bodell

Following a career in business, which included the last 25 years at Target Corporation, I knew I wanted to give back to the community in a deeper and more meaningful way than I had been able to while working. Target was an awesome career for me, and I benefited from the founders, the Dayton family, having instilled a culture of community involvement. After leaving Target, I chose to pursue becoming a volunteer Guardian ad Litem, advocating for children in need of child protective services. Read more>>

Alejandra Herzog-Moreno

The start to my art journey was for sure a tumultuous one. I found art while at the psychiatric ward at HCMC. Art was my saving grace. It offered me peace and safety when I felt nothing else could. I named my studio Take Care because as much as my art takes care of me mentally; I hope my pieces can bring something beneficial to those to who take the time out their lives to look. Be it a small memory, a faint realization, or just a moment of peace while you look at something beautiful; the things I feel and gain through the process of creating is what I hope to give every viewer. Read more>>

Jacob Olson

I come from an artistic family. I mean, my parents met at art school in Minneapolis, for god’s sake. That being said, art, and specifically photography, didn’t come easy. I bought my first camera during my freshman year of college. I’d gone camping a few times during the fall and wanted desperately to start documenting my trips. Now, after five-ish years of shooting, I am secure enough to admit that my early photographic ventures were … rough. After dedicating just over a year to get better (still not great) at photography, I studied abroad in Australia. With about two months left down-under, I bought a Nikon D750 in hopes that I’d run out of money for my return trip and be forced to stay in Australia. Unfortunately, I budgeted too well and just ended up with an awesome camera in a beautiful country. I became a “photographer” in New South Wales, AUS. Read more>> 

Evette Henderson

I write poetry. I’m a self published author. I have two books that I have written and published. My first book are random poems. Some of the poems are about me and some of the poems are about different people and their problems. My second book is about my life. This book is very personal, sensitive, and open. I poured my heart into this book. I had to write the book in a poem format to keep me from crying. My story need to be told and this was the only way that I could do it, without someone trying to stop me. Read more>>

Catherine Hinz

For over ten years, I worked as a healthcare leader in patient safety. I arrived at work each day to review medical error reports and lead teams to investigate and learn what had gone wrong. I then put safeguards into place that would prevent those same adverse events from happening again. Working in a profession of solving for when “things went wrong” provided ironic foreshadowing when my personal life went awry. In May of 2016, my world turned upside down in an instant. With my sixth-month-old on my lap, I learned that my husband was living a second life that deeply betrayed our family. My plans for the future came to a screeching halt. I spent the following days, weeks, and months leaning on family, attending support group meetings, and seeking help with a therapist. It wasn’t long before I was going through a divorce and learning how to be both a new and single mom. Read more>>

Sean Hanson

I graduated from Hamline University in 2018 with a B.A. in English and a goal of working in publishing, but few ideas for how to accomplish that mission. I had experience in college writing and publishing magazine articles and chapbooks for various internships, but no consistent paid experience that’s so important for resumes. For personal reasons, my job search was limited to Minnesota, and though a fertile independent publishing scene has developed here, there aren’t a lot of jobs to go around for fresh college grads. I spent a year applying for jobs in publishing, and then another year applying for jobs tangentially related to publishing. With absolutely no luck during that time, I had resigned myself to pay the bills in other lines of work while I quietly worked on other writing projects. Read more>>

Deb Zeller

I have been an artist all my life. For many years art was in the background as I navigated an Engineering career and spent time overseas. When bronze sculpture became a strong force in my life, I realized that becoming more familiar with the human form from a structural standpoint was gong to be very important. I joined a local figure study group that met every week to work from live models. Eventually, I was asked to take over the group and keep it alive. I leased a studio in the North Loop for several years before moving the group, Minnesota Figure Study Collaborative, to its new home at Zeller Studio on Mainstreet, Hopkins, MN. Read more>>

Dr. Jaron Faber

Dr. Jordan Shilts and I, Dr. Jaron Faber, our journey began several years ago in chiropractic school. We were taught that we can influence a patient’s health by manipulating (providing chiropractic adjustments) the spine. We quickly learned that health is so much more complex than that and if we were to only focus on spinal manipulation, we’ll be coming up short on helping patients fully recover. Pain, for example, is influenced by biopsychosocial factors, not just misalignments in the physical structure. Our mood, nutrient status, environments, relationships, physical health, mental health, and so on, all influence the way we feel and perceive pain. For this reason, we knew that we could help more patients by taking a multi-modal approach to recovery. Overall health can be simplified down to what’s called the Triad of Health: Physical, Mental, and Chemical Health.. Read more>>

Steven Thyken

I got into house plant care almost by accident. I wasn’t a “green thumb” growing up, and it wasn’t until my husband brought home a few house plants that I dove into plants as a hobby. As my knowledge of plant care grew (pun intended), I started seeing more success and acquired more plants over time! I started my Plant Instagram account to separate my plant photos from my personal social media, to spare all of my relatives and friends from all of the photos I was posting. Read more>>

Matt Norris

My story started at the age of 16. I was appointed the youth liaison to one of the city commissions in my hometown. The city was facing a surge in youth crime, so I proposed a new approach to solving the challenge. We brought police and community together using innovative public safety practices, and we increased afterschool programs and jobs for youth. The result was a 40% decrease in violent crime over a five-year period. I was awarded the Key to the City. This experience showed me the power that an individual can have in rallying the community to solve some of its toughest challenges. From that point on, I was hooked. That early work in my hometown was a catalyst. It set me down a track of not only service to the community but also finding innovative ways to make systems serve the community better. Read more>>

Sophia Johnson

I started a motherhood blog seven years ago, when I was pregnant with my second daughter. I wanted a place to write and connect with other moms in similar seasons of life. I never could have imagined that others would want to read what I wrote, but they certainly did. It was really lovely to have community and be able to be vulnerable with the highs and lows of motherhood. This was around the time Instagram started and I remember setting up my account and attaching my blog in the bio. I started to post more photos and my writings in the captions and started growing substantially. As I continued to grow I kept writing, and posting, and sharing authentically. Through that brands started reaching out to me asking if they could send me free products for shoutouts on my social media. That quickly grew to paid ads, than to being represented by an agency, and bringing in a really solid income for my family. Read more>>

Hilary Bilstad-Nelson

Dreaming big was something that came very natural for me at a very young age. I came from a small town called Cheyenne, Wyoming. Growing up I knew I always wanted to do hair. I will never forget doing a career project in grade school and presenting my dream job of being a hairstylist to my class, unfortunately my teacher told me that wasn’t a career at all. If you know me then you know that negativity only pushed me to be stronger. Thankfully at the age of 16, my mom and her friend took me to LA and I was able to meet Celebrity Makeup Artist, Jillian Dempsey, who inspired me to follow my dreams. Jillian’s success and hard work really showed me that there are countless opportunities in the beauty industry. I spent an unforgettable weekend with her and her husband, actor Patrick Dempsey, who told me I should move to New York City with one suitcase ( I knew I couldn’t possibly just take one suitcase…) and go to Cosmetology school to pursue my dreams. Read more>>

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