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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.

Rikki Hernandez

in 2012 I started my retail journey, working in every store you could possibly imagine. Abercrombie and Fitch, Louis Vuitton, and Starbucks. I loved the retail life but my true passion was photography and video. In a crazy “one in a million” kind of way when I was working for LV I met a YouTube who had just moved to Orlando from Massachusetts. We both hit it off and I offered to help him film YouTube videos. At the time I had no professional experience all I knew was how to hold a camera and record. Read more>>

Michael Verive

I started the Fox Valley Whiskey Society in 2018 in my home state of Illinois in the sleepy Western Suburbs of Chicago after coming back from a trip to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, TN. My Wife and I had taken a long weekend vacation to Memphis, and about 2 days into the trip, we realized the partying and day drinking wasn’t for us, so we decided to do something more our speed: historical tours.  Read more>>

Anna & Madi Ciesielczyk & Yates (GVL Doula Besties)

Anna was new to Greenville and totally rocking it here. When she posted on a Facebook group looking to meet other local doulas, Madi replied and we decided to grab pizza together. We totally hit things off and we knew our friendship was inevitable. As we continued to collaborate together, it became a no brainer that together really is better. We had our own independent doula businesses at the time and decided to forego them and join forces. Read more>>

Charlotte Pilato

Friends of Joseph Floyd Monor has grown from a very small operation to an incredibly successful and systematic nonprofit group over the last year! I began volunteering at JFM in December of 2019 after participating in a “Secret Santa” for the residents. After dropping off my gifts I had the pleasure of meeting several of the manor’s elderly and disabled residents. Within 15 minutes of being there I knew that a tremendous need existed in that building. Read more>>

Rebekah Zoellner

I have been an athlete all my life and after I graduated, volleyball and basketball wasn’t something I wanted to do anymore. I was told from some friends of mine to try and get into modeling. I got in touch with an agency, I was told about, and that boosted my career. Now I’ve been with two agencies, I’m in 10+ magazines and a freelance model. Still perfecting my craft and seeing where it will take me. Read more>>

Megan Schlobohm

My name is Megan, and I’m the owner of Anderson Yoga Center! I’ve been practicing yoga since 2003, when I was a stressed out college student in need of something to help me manage what I now know were symptoms of anxiety and depression. Yoga helped me tremendously, and I continued to practice throughout undergraduate and graduate school (I earned my M.S. in Counseling from Mercer University in Atlanta). Read more>>

Randall Fowler

I sang with Ricky Skaggs when I was 3 years old in ft Lee, VA. I’ve always been singing. I grew up in Charleston since I was ten years old, Goose Creek specifically. I played baseball and football and you could always catch me singing in a locker room. When I graduated high school I worked in the kitchen at a local chicken joint, Kickin Chicken in Summerville. I was singing in the dish pit one day and the bar manager overheard me and asked if I’d ever thought about being in a band.  Read more>>

Leslie Breaux

Breaux’s HR & Business Consulting Services, LLC is open for business! In May, the South Carolina firm launched its official website on various social media outlets. Breaux’s is an HR & Business Consulting Firm that offers an array of services. Our mission is simple – Provide personalized cutting-edge affordable business development counseling to entrepreneurs with limited business development resources an opportunity to launch their visions, expand their business models, and protect their financial interests while propelling them as sustainable competitors in the market. Read more>>

Shun-Drell White

As a young boy I realized around 12 years old I started to get complements of my artistic abilities, one summer around 14 years old I got introduced to airbrushing and I enjoyed doing it for a little bit but I felt like it wasn’t my calling. As I grew I continued to draw since it is my passion. I was 22 years old living in upstate New York, and I met a person who started to tattoo out of his house.  Read more>>

Michelle Ravan

My husband, John, and I welcomed our first son, JR, in June of 2018. In March of 2021, JR was diagnosed with autism. Fast forward to today, JR is still our sweet, friendly, inquisitive little boy but remains minimally verbal. He began using an AAC (augmented and alternative communication) device a few weeks ago and has made amazing progress in his ability to communicate his thoughts, feelings, and needs. Read more>>

Danielle Taylor

I am Danielle Taylor a natural born visionary from the luxurious island of Jamaica. My business started out just as a college student hustle making just enough to have extra money for my studies. Shortly after the pandemic I realized that it was time to expand so I took the time to perfect my craft from scratch. I have been able to channel my creativity and passion for the beauty industry into a company that caters to the true beauty and elegance of our women regardless of age. Read more>>

James Velasco

I grew up studying and competing with Broadway Bound Theater Company. Where I found a love for performing early on. As I got older, my athleticism led me into tumbling acrobatics. And once again my love for performing led me into competitive cheerleading where I was a World Champion Finalist. Upon the advice of a professional ballet dancer, I started dancing and found my passion. From there, I studied at conservatories in New York City and Los Angeles and have become a professional dancer. Read more>>

Marquis Webb

Hi, my name is Marquis Webb; I am the owner of a small and fast growing business called “Kola Kruze transportation” here in COLUMBIA, S.C. After graduating from University of South Carolina, during the mist of covid, not only did two of my jobs in Human Resources get taken from me, but I couldn’t go to graduate school at Villanova University. About a year after graduating undergrad I started having dreams about starting my own transportation company, and I went full force with my marketing, promoting, word of mouth advertising and in eleven days I had over two hundred patrons. Read more>>

Chanel Li’Mena

I would say my story is all about the universe conspiring. My journey began in 2010. I was about 10 years old and I attended modeling school at Millie Lewis Agency in Charleston. From that moment I knew this was the correct career path for me. I didn’t have the support to nurture my career at the time so I kind of gave up. I went to college at Clemson University to study pre law and I buckled down and focused on my potential law career. I landed an internship with a Charleston law firm and that’s when I realized, this is not for me. Read more>>

Shawn Hawthorne

I am originally from Houston, Texas and moved to North Carolina at a young age. I have always been a creative and a lover of the American story especially the 19th century and that’s how I kind of stumbled into the clothing industry to be honest. I went to college in North Carolina and received a B.S. in Business from the University of Mount Olive and an MBA from Colorado State University. While I never really loved my major’s they have served me well in the business I created named 1861 Outfitters. Read more>>

DeMond DU’Shawn

Briefly, I got started making music, cover art and entertainment between the wonder years of grammar school, and summer vacations when I would tag along with my mother’s R&B band to performances, rehearsals and writing sessions. Back then my uncle TJ made me a rapper out of necessity and he paired me with another kid from across town named Previn aka B-Down and I became B-Bop. Unfortunately shortly after that my mother was brutally robbed and beaten and I became possessed with revenge and retribution which led to drug abuse, alcoholism and gang ties. It took me years to melt away that pain and redirect what was a downward spiral of inner city life and hardships. Read more>>

Vincent Christopher II

I’d always thought about photography throughout my life. I would jokingly tell myself,” I’d be great at this!”. But I never bought a camera outside of drugstore instant cameras. My youngest brother actually bought me my first camera, a canon Ae-1 program. I came home one day and there it was. I would the next year or so just tinkering with it. I probably shot two rolls but I lost them. I wasn’t disinterested in photography but I come from a pretty banal and mundane place and I didn’t see the value in taking pictures there. Read more>>

Anna Bullock

I’ve always been a creative since I was a kid. No lie, my first memory was finger painting with my mom on the back porch of my childhood home when I was four. Creating has felt a lot like breathing to me: live-giving, essential and if I stop I might just keel over. When you’re a kid, adults like asking you questions like: “What do you want to be when you grow up? What’s your favorite subject in school?” My answer was always art and I’d get the same incredulous look every time. Read more>>

Evan Levy

Long story short, I grew up a very shy, nerdy kid who kept to myself. I played sports but didn’t have the drive or determination to stick with anything. Once I started college I hit a rough patch and got very depressed. Luckily through friends I discovered fitness and lifting and got hooked! I ended up majoring in Exercise Physiology and decided to become a trainer and coach, because I know how much fitness helped me with my discipline, work ethic, and goal-setting, and I wanted to share that gift with others. Read more>>

Kristina Willis

I became in a Licensed Cosmetologist in 2009 immediately following my high school graduation. I started working behind the chair and honestly I was not sure that it was the career path for me. I went to college and graduated with a degree in Respiratory Therapy. Once I had graduated I decided to leave the beauty industry behind. It was just not what I expected at the time. After working in a hospital for a couple years, I realized what I left behind. Read more>>

Austin Breining

I started taking photos with my mom’s Canon Rebel T3i about 10 years ago. I only shot automatic modes back then. I continued to take photos with that camera and eventually bought my own camera, a Canon Rebel T6i. As I got better, I started seeking online classes to understand more about photography and how I can get awesome photos. I found a guy named David Molnar who was doing a free webinar for photography.  Read more>>

Lenisha Travis

I’ve always dreamed of owning my own business. I got started with my business in September of 2020 as Lady Lushury LLC. I started solely as a press on nail business. Since then, I’ve learned so much about providing stellar customer, my values in my business, packaging, presentation, etc. Doing this all on my own has been a long journey but is a journey I wouldn’t trade. In addition to my press on nails, I have expanded to call my business a boutique! We now provide jewelry, eyelashes, lipgloss, and shades. Our journey is continuing! I’m so excited about what’s coming in the future for Lady Lushury LLC. Read more>>

Matt Rodgers Rodgers

The story starts with growing hops at Hazelwood farm in Camden following a global hop shortage in 2005. Having no experience with craft beer it was hard to imagine that a small hop farm would lead to brewing school, and eventually Hazelwood Brewing Company in Lexington. Coming from a background of organic farming and a family business in refrigeration and manufacturing the brewing career made since in many ways. Read more>>

Omefa Arthur

Omefa Organics is the BEST Organic, Holistic, Vegan Skincare and Hair Care Product Line that is giving men, women and children their confidence back through healthy growing hair and youthful glowing skin. We have incorporate Leaves, Roots, Stems, Fruits, Seeds and Flowers of trees through oil and powders in our formulations. It all started when my hair was continuously breaking and cease growing. It’s important that I mention I was living in a tropical country, Guyana (consisting of two seasons i.e. sunny and rainy), until I migrated in 2011. Read more>>

Melissa DeClue

I’m a momtrepreneur, finally living in a place of peace and balance. I’m originally from Summerville, SC but I now reside in Lexington. My journey has been quite all over the place. I went to college to become a body, movement, and dance therapist; however, that is not where I ended up. I got pregnant at 19 and quickly had to shift and learn how to become an adult. I worked my way up in higher education as a single mom. Read more>>

Crystal Wellman

After dancing in professional ballet companies for close to two decades, and in Charleston for eight of them, I decided to venture out on my own and start Unbound Ballet Project. I wanted to create a new way of presenting art and professional ballet in the low country. When I originally formed the company, I observed that by tapping into people’s outside interests, such as food, drink, music and art I could appeal to a larger, more diverse audience.  Read more>>

Claudia Chiavaroli

I was one of those people who always said, “I would never join TikTok.” About four days into lockdown, in March 2o2o, I decided to download the app and immediately got sucked into it because it was helping take my mind off of what was going on in the world. I made a couple of videos to try it out before asking my husband, Scott, to join in. We did a remake of the movie, Stepbrothers, which took off, and shortly after I had my first viral video with millions of views. Read more>>

Naseeha Sabree

I’ve been writing fiction since I was around seven years old. Thankfully, my content has grown drastically since then (at 23 years old, it’s no longer acceptable to write Jonas Brothers x vampire fanfiction). Though my material has changed, my love of writing has remained constant over the years. Storytelling has always been a source of escapism for me. I think that there’s something very beautiful about putting together in your mind a world completely separate from your own and watching it come to life on paper. Read more>>

Caroline Pennington

The idea for ChilledVino was born in December of 2018 when my husband and I were traveling for our anniversary. I was tired of drinking warm wine outside and when we returned I searched the internet for solutions. I couldn’t find anything that was outdoor friendly, that also resembled a wine glass and would keep your wine cold. In 2019 I hired an engineer to help me with the design and after 6 rounds of prototypes we finally had a product that I was thrilled with.  Read more>>

Melissa Pisani

Growing up I always knew that I wanted to do something to make a difference in peoples lives. My passion for as long as I can remember was leaning towards the entertainment business. I loved acting, dancing, interviewing people, singing and making people laugh. I had many opportunities both locally and nationally and really got a taste of what the business was all about. Unfortunately there were a few instances that happened that made me realize I did not want to go the “Hollywood” route. Read more>>

Amanda Salvary

My love for both the beauty industry and writing has always been with me from a tender age. I drew closer to them after being gang raped at the age of 16. I needed an outlet to express myself and to also create a safe haven for other women struggling with self esteem and self love due to traumatic experiences. That where “Beauty Unleashed” originated. I wrote Unleashed Action Planner once I figured out what my gift was and that having goals and a plan was essential to success. Read more>>

Shequettias Ruff

As a little girl I was always right beside my grandmother whether she was cooking or baking. My dad was the best cook/griller ever so my love was always in the kitchen! I lost my dad in 2014 to colon cancer and he was literally my bestfriend. I think of him every single day and especially while im running my business because he was always my motivation. I started my business January 2020 and lost my grandmother April 2020. I was depressed following her death. Business was a bit rough during that time because of my mental state but I didn’t let that stop me. I used it as motivation because I know she wouldn’t want me to stop. Read more>>

Satura Mathis

My interest for braiding started around age 10 as I watched my aunt and cousin braid hair in their kitchen. Seeing them braid pushed me to start practicing with another cousin of mines on each other’s head around age 11. Braiding started out as a hobby but became a job at age 16 when I got pregnant with my first child. I was a traveling Braider as a high school student and would braid clients’ hair in the comfort of their own home. I continued braiding though out my 12th grade year and college years to take care of my chid/children and myself. Once I moved in my own place I started braiding in the comfort of my own home in my kitchen (history repeats itself☺️)! Read more>>

Aaron Comstock

My name is Aaron Comstock and I began my non-profit “Uplift Charleston” in 2018. I’m from Ohio but moved to Charleston in 2014 after living in the Philippines for a year. While there, I saw extreme poverty and it affected me deeply. I grew to know many very poor families that attended the church I help build in the mountains of Mialem and my neighbors. I still donate boxes of clothes and goods to them as well as $ to help those I know there in need. Read more>>

Quentin Wheeler

I have owned a couple of businesses in the past and have always had an entrepreneurial mindset. I have always wanted to and needed to be my own boss. Even in my youth, I have always set out to be a leader. I was raised in a single parent home in an affordable housing community and it was there, I set the bar for how I wanted to live in the future. Nothing is ever easy it seems. I have worked in many different manufacturing arenas and during that time, life happened. Read more>>

Baby Nue

I started off just rapping off YouTube beats going to the yo on my own at 16 for real. Started taking it serious but as I got deeper in it I had got a manager and getting beats made by my producer, Foreign Nedd. S*** me and my manager promote the music. Now I just put more and more behind myself from then to now. S*** as far as this music it’s been smooth evolving more as I rap learning more about this music industry as I go. I do feel like I’m way too underrated but I ain’t really tripping because I know once it’s my turn imma turn up fasho. Read more>>

Miguel Uribe

My soccer journey started when I was six years old. My dad signed me up for soccer and I was not happy about it at all. I had never played before, and I was not eager to start then. However, once I got used to the game and began to appreciate it, my connection to the sport grew undeniable. I was first put in goal when I was eleven years old. I felt as though I was meant to be a goalkeeper. I was fortunate enough to play soccer all throughout my schooling years. Read more>>

Michelle Carvalho

i worked in the high-end retail setting and luxury fashion industry for over 10 years. While working in the retail setting, I loved connecting with the clients, and seeing how happy they could feel when helping them find that perfect outfit, and the confidence it truly gave them. Whether, it was helping a college student find that perfect interview outfit, or a bride to be in need of her dream bridal shower dress, or the new mom looking for an outfit that could make her feel like the beautiful woman she is but could keep up with her new lifestyle. Read more>>

Tom and Laurie Woods

FIVE Design LLC is a Myrtle Beach firm that specializes in residential home plans and design. A husband-and-wife team, Tom and Laurie came to Myrtle Beach on family vacations and fell in love with the beauty and coastal lifestyle. It was always a dream to live in a place where friends and family would want to come visit. They took the leap a few years ago and never looked back! With Tom’s background in architecture and Laurie’s experience in design, it seemed natural to team up to form FIVE Design LLC (named after our blended family of five amazing kids!) Read more>>

Greg Miller

In the fall of 2008, my wife and I decided to explore options for buying our first home. Both of us grew up in a small town on Long Island in New York. We picked a few locations based on climate and cost of living. At the time, Greenville had been an up-and-coming top 10 place to live. As a child, my parents owned their own franchise cosmetics business (Merle Norman). They became friends with a locally owned and operated business near Greenville and we traveled to visit them on our road trips to Florida every year to spend time with family. Read more>>

Underground Springhouse

I’m Charlie Haas and I’ve been lucky to be part of a fantastic band called Underground Springhouse. The band formed in Athens, GA where we all met in college. Over a span of two years or so, the band went from a just-for-fun cover band to headlining the Georgia Theatre with original music. Originally just playing in Athens and a little bit in Atlanta, the band has now traveled the entirety of the east coast sharing our music with anyone that wants to listen! Read more>>

Lynndee Reese

My home country is the Philippines and how I ended up here in the U.S could truly be considered my own Cinderella fantasy come true. I became a blogger by necessity after having two previous jobs shut down. And it was during this time that my husband, who had become ill with renal failure, died at the young age of 30. Having no full-time regular job, a friend of mine turned me onto blogging for pay for I needed something to support not only myself, but the son who was the result of the union between me and my late husband. Read more>>

Evan dinopoulos

I started off hustling in the city of Charleston as a bike taxi while testing out my parent’s car on a car rental platform called Turo to see if it was profitable. After 2 months I learned it was a great tool to start a side income, so I then purchased two cars over a two month time period to start my own car rental fleet using the Turo platform. From there I got interest from others to teach them the same, however it became apparent through others careers and lifestyles it may be difficult for them to run their own fleet so I thought to have my expertise and save their time they could start giving me cars and I would take car if it all similar to a property management company, which created my first business Charleston Car Rentals & Autoshare! Read more>>

Ashley Sturkie

Photography has always been my passion. I have loved being behind a camera creating art and memories that will last a lifetime. My grandmother was a photographer when I was a child. I would spend every minute I could in the studio with her. I would spend hours arranging props and coming up with ideas for my next session. Before digital cameras, my family spent a small fortune providing me with disposable cameras.  Read more>>

Cristen Clark

14 years ago I chose to dive in to the wedding industry. I started off working with other wedding photographers to get experience and learn from them. I worked endless hours photographing families and anything I could to get experience. I loved working with families but soon figured out that being part of a couples special wedding day was my true passion. I love the hustle, helping guide the couple through the process, and knowing that my pictures will be enjoyed for generations to come. There is nothing more fulfilling than knowing you are a small part of a life long marriage! Read more>>

Joe Shahoud

I was introduced to firearms in my teenage years by the man that ultimately became my father-in-law. I took a huge liking to them and ended up getting my concealed carry permit while in my early twenties. I carried all through my twenties and thirties while living in Florida and then moved to South Carolina. Fast forward ten years and it was time to get my concealed carry permit again. Being in my forties at the time, I had more wisdom under my belt and approached it very differently. Read more>>

Marshella Gore LPCA, NCC

I grew up in a small rural area in North Carolina and was raised primarily by my mom and my grandmother. I was the third oldest child, and oldest girl, out of my five siblings. Growing up, I was always detail oriented and the kid that asked a thousand why’s, to get the full understanding of something. I’ve always used my voice and early on knew that I wanted to be a change agent in my community. Read more>>

Bria McGhee

Hi! My name is Bria McGhee and I’m 23 years old. I was born and raised in Moncks Corner, SC. I have a small business named B.Minkz and we sell mink lashes so here’s a little backstory on how it came about.  Back in 2020, my best friend Shardé came to me about selling makeup with her, and at first, I didn’t want to do it for many reasons. Eventually, I agreed to do it with her because why not take that step out on a leap of faith and do something I haven’t done before. We did it for a couple of months then realized it wasn’t for us. Read more>>

Nancy Imbeau

Growing up, I spent much of my time outside of school doing gymnastics and dancing competitively. I became interested in anatomy and biology in high school at A.C. Flora here in Columbia, partly due to experiencing and witnessing multiple injuries during my time as an athlete. I quickly realized that it was challenging to find a healthcare provider who could speak and understand the language and physical demands of dancing, gymnastics, and other similar sports. Read more>>

Brittany Hogan Alomar

I have been singing and performing for as long as I can remember. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in music, but in what capacity, I wasn’t always sure. I loved Musical Theatre, but also excelled in classical music, which is what I ended up majoring in at Furman University. From there I went on to The Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD for a Masters degree in Vocal Performance and Vocal Pedagogy (the art and science of vocal instruction).  Read more>>

Shaquela Brown

My name is Shaquela Brown and I’m the owner of Boost My Ego Hair. I’ve always been one to keep up with my appearance. I absolutely love self care days, which includes getting my hair done and came across the idea of starting a hair business back in undergrad. It was my freshman year, I had no money, no vendor, no plan, but I knew what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. I knew I wanted to make women feel how I felt when I got my extensions in the mail and my appointment was approaching. Read more>>

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