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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.

Daisha Dowdy

My career in travel started from my love of putting together Girl’s Trips for my family. I was always the go-to person responsible for finding the location of our next adventure to collecting everyone’s money to make it happen. As much as I loved doing this my mind is always working and I thought how could I do this on a regular basis for other people? I wondered if there was a possibility to make this another stream of income for me. At the time I’d never even heard of a travel agent but I knew that my cousin did something in the travel industry so I reached out. Read more>>

Pontheolla Mack Abernathy

Since my collegiate days at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, I’ve wanted to own a bed and breakfast. Perhaps the hankering was due to the revolving door of Northern guests visiting our home in Bishopville or the experiences of staying in boutique hotels and homes while traveling with the singing group Carolina Alive. I carried that dream throughout my thirty-five-year journey from Columbia to Charleston to Washington DC. Finally in 2012 when my husband, Paul, an Episcopal priest announced his retirement, I got my chance. Read more>>

Rashounae Paulk

I started doing nails at 9 years old. It was always an interest of mine for as long as I can remember. I would always paint my nails, family members’ nails, friends, church members… basically anyone who would allow me to practice on them. I started working in a nail salon at age 17 and built a steady clientele. Being from a small town I’ve always dreamed big, and wanted more for myself so I moved to a bigger city and further pursued my passion. I got licensed and began to grow in the nail industry. In 2019 I moved to Charlotte, NC where I currently live, and basically took over the entire city lol I now have my educator’s license and travel around the world teaching aspiring nail techs how to “Slay Like Nae”. Read more>>

Matt Williams

My love of photography grew from my love of nature and traveling. I have always loved being outdoors and sharing the beauty of our world. I eventually purchased my first DSLR in 2009 and started doing paid photography gigs right away. I started doing portraits, events, and weddings in addition to my full-time job at the time. I eventually started doing editorial work for some local magazines and our state magazine. My business really took off when I got into commercial and product photography and have been doing that full time for the last 5 years. Read more>>

Derrick Turner

I’m a true man from the south. I have a work ethic that is unmatched. Growing up I was raised by a single parent. For most of my childhood, I was raised at my grandparent’s house. I witnessed what a little bit of money and a lot of love could do for everyone. My dreams for success were always big. After high school, I attended Benedict College. I earned my BS in Criminal Justice and how to survive on my own while in college. While attending college I started working in retail. That is when I found my love for business. I worked for several years for a few different establishments. Read more>>

Sarah Haynes

2018: I started my boutique in Boones Mill, VA after graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in Fashion Merchandising and Design. I loved clothes and boutique shopping, but at 22 I found the boutique price points really difficult and felt like I couldn’t find the styles I was looking for in most fast fashion, big box retailers. My goal when I first started was cute, unique clothing at the lowest price point I could find them. I was operating from my parent’s house out of my bedroom! During this time I also picked up freelance jobs for extra cash & to utilize it as an opportunity to learn more about e-commerce and the fashion industry. Read more>>

Sabreen Akram

S & K Tea & Coffee was launched on September 2nd, 2020. The leadership and management skills I developed from my military career propelled me into a desire to become a business owner. I had the desire but no real plan on how it would happen. The pandemic caused me to be forced to work from home. This gave me the time I needed to gain more knowledge and come up with a plan on how to execute my business. I did a lot of research and also had mentors to assist. During these stressful times, I knew how important it was to be a blessing to others and provide a product that brings joy, relaxation, and other health benefits. Read more>>

Garrett Martin

I entered the moving industry a few years ago, and I got to experience the highs and lows of moving–both the horror stories and the thankful, teary-eyed customers. After over 1,000 moves, I decided it was time to start a moving company that would consistently care. Consistency is what allows us to avoid the lows, the horror stories. And genuinely caring for people in a transitional stage of their life is what allows us to constantly experience those highs, the thankful, teary-eyed customers. We didn’t anticipate such a strong start as a company. What was intended to be a soft launch, quickly turned into a fully booked schedule. Read more>>

Kyle and Tabitha Garbart

Kyle started his career as a Navy Corpsman during Desert Shield and he provided both medical and survival training for Navy pilots. Also, he supported several missions as a rescue diver/survival swimmer. After leaving the military he started receiving chiropractic care to help recover from a back injury that he received while in the military. He has worked in the medical field for over 20 years in Cardiac Cath Labs helping patients recover from heart attacks. Realizing that true healing comes from the body, he quit his job as an IT consultant in Manhattan to pursue his passion for helping people. Read more>>

Shante Rubin

I started my business in 2021 after I noticed the gap between job seekers and employees. Many applicants are highly skilled but lack soft skills and career development. Thus, companies struggle with talent management. Some businesses lack a solid HR infrastructure and /or funds which make it difficult to recruit new talent and retain employees. I created a comprehensive plan that provides products and services that connect both parties. It has not been a smooth road. Transitioning from an employee into an entrepreneur is very challenging. I had to face low cash flow, limited marketing, and imposter syndrome. Read more>>

Sarah Johns

So, to be completely honest, I feel like my story is a unique one. Interior decorating & Design has been a passion of mine since I was a child. I grew up in a family of Carpenters- my father being a huge influence as well as my mother and her keen eye for style. As a child, I would draw homes and rooms by hand. My mother and I would rearrange furniture constantly and try to figure out how to make the best use of space. Growing up, If I had a friend or a family member in need- they would come to me for advice and I loved giving it! For whatever reason, I decided to take a different career path within the financial/Credit Union industry. Read more>>

Max DiNatale

I started my career working in the advertising industry, buying both traditional and digital media. I decided to start my own business so I could be a little more creative, be my own boss, and help people with extremely customized digital marketing. I specifically felt like there was a hole in the market for budget-friendly, customized social media management in the area. I started helping friends and family with their pages, and then the business slowly grew to add more clients, more team members, and bigger projects. Read more>>

Heidi and Sean Chapman

We started off as two school teachers who loved their day jobs but felt that we had more to offer our community. Both of us had musical backgrounds and experience with performing, but our current entertainment company Random Entertainment and associated musical projects have become successful beyond our wildest dreams! Now we play 2-4 gigs a week in the Greenville area and beyond and have met so many fellow ´musicians as well as so many amazing music lovers in our area. Our emphasis is style diversity and community building through our live music performances. Read more>>

Dr. Rhea Conley

Hello! I am Dr. Rhea Conley. I am a South Carolina Native born and raised in the Upstate. I am from Gaffney but moved to Spartanburg with my family when I was young. I am a proud Gamecock! I attended and graduated from the University of South Carolina, with a degree in Biological Science. It was during my senior year at Carolina that I discovered chiropractic and decided that was the career path I wanted. I took my grandmother (Hey, Granny!) to her chiropractic appointment and there they described the benefits of chiropractic. They educated us on how the central nervous system is in complete control of the body which is housed in the spine. Read more>>

Jason Kephart

Sasquatch Overlanding started with the need for adventure and a change in the everyday grind of life. Being able to get out and explore the world around us was the main objective. In the long run, it has brought us to the point of being able also to help guide others on their path to adventure. We travel in our truck that we have built to go anywhere we want to go. It is designed to allow us to stay for long periods of time out in the middle of nowhere. At the same time, it helps us go to places around the nation to visit amazing sights and cities. Read more>>

Tracy Moore-Grant

Tracy Ann Moore-Grant has represented clients and practiced exclusively in the area of family law since 2002. She is also a mediator, parent coordinator, arbitrator, divorce consultant, and guardian ad litem. However, in 2019, she’d had enough with the negativity of family law with one parent being pitted against another as well as reasonable clients looking for a resolution mistakenly hiring high conflict attorneys who drove up the cost and animosity of their divorce case. To solve both problems, she founded the Amicable Divorce Network in 2019. Read more>>

Blake Alexander

I’ve always loved all things creative so the fact that I’m in the entertainment industry is not a shocker to me. My journey started with being infatuated with the world of television. Multi-cam sitcoms, soap operas, sketch comedy shows, commercials; I was into it all. I didn’t realize it at the time, but while everyone else was watching tv I was studying it. That early infatuation combined with attending a performing arts school set the groundwork for me to be the creative I am today. Obstacles & challenges are just a part of life, no matter what field you are in. I think if you don’t have obstacles then you’re probably not progressing. Read more>>

John Dennis

I started this small side business in 2013 as a secondary income to pay the bills. Then the following year I received a job at Santee cooper as a mechanic and then started receiving a stable income from SC. So then I was able to pick and choose what jobs I was able to do and maintained a decent business on weekends that was approximately the same income as my full-time job. Then in 2018, I decided I was going to quit and go full-time in 2019 so I could get out of my dead-end job with no ability to move up. Then in June of 2018, I was forced to resign and I left SC with $4.68 In my account and a third child on the way. Read more>>

Chanel Murphy-Lowe

Hi! My name is Chanel Murphy-Lowe, and I am originally from Charlotte, North Carolina. I have lived in South Carolina, New York, and New Jersey as well. I started My Fabulous Food back in 2015 as a food blog. I love to cook, so I wanted a way to share my unique recipes with the world. I started to cater and make gourmet cupcakes, and then in 2019, I decided to launch a seasoning line. For my seasoning line, it was important for me to focus on luxurious products that were beautiful on the inside out. My Fabulous Food’s seasonings and sea salts are preservative-free, all-natural, and non-irradiated, unlike most store-bought seasonings. Read more>>

Marvisha Singletary

Opening Empress Glow Boutique truly has been a journey for me. I began manifesting this idea in 2017, and at the time I knew absolutely nothing about business, nor did I know what I wanted to call it. I began painting this picture of what I wanted for my friends and still nothing stuck with me. I knew I wanted my brand to represent royalty, class, and versatility so I began researching other words that defined these three characteristics. I believe each and every person has a shine or glow when they feel confident, and believe that the person inside the clothing is like a precious gift. Read more>>

Carmina Hernandez

Always had a passion for all things beauty. At the age of 22, I enrolled in an Esthetics program. Worked in various spa settings. Eventually, opened my own business Blush Esthetics in 2019 in the suburbs of Chicago, IL. I moved to South Carolina summer of 2022 and opening up Blush Esthetics in Irmo, South Carolina this fall! Being a new business owner is challenging. Six months into opening my business COVID hit. I closed on my lease bc I couldn’t make rent being closed for three months! However, in June of 2020, I was able to find another retail space and got creative with services making sure not to break covid 19 regulations and guidelines. Read more>>

Tessa Woody

I could start this off very stereotypically: “I started drawing when I first learned how to hold a crayon”, or I could start honestly: “I didn’t know I wanted to be an artist until someone told me I was good at it”, but I think I will just start somewhere in between I started doing art at a young age because I enjoyed doing it. There is something meditative about the process of making it, and rewarding about sharing it with others. I loved art as much as I loved books as a kid. In fact, as a child, I spent most of my drawing time creating my own picture books by folding printing paper and stapling it in the middle. Read more>>

Amy Moffatt

Amy Moffatt is a South Carolina native who lets her southern style and lighthearted personality guide her stroke. No matter how hard she tries, she does not drift too far from the coast and her muse, Mother Nature. Amy rarely comes to the canvas with a plan – rather, she lets her carefree approach take over. A self-taught artist, Amy comes from a long line of creative genes. Her grandfather demonstrated a precise, steady hand, creating beautiful works with the stroke of a pen, as well as delicate woodwork and tantalizing watercolors. Amy’s father’s art is on the other end of the spectrum – filled with humor and born from a free spirit. Read more>>

Lateissa Rue

I’ve had a passion for braiding hair since I was 12 years old. I always dreamed of myself owning my very own Beauty Salon. after I graduated High School. I ended up going to college to become a CMA after graduating from College I worked in the medical field for 7 years all still while doing hair as a hobby on the side. It was like magic one day I woke up and decided I’m going to quit my CMA job to pursue a career in the beauty industry as a Licensed Braider. Of course, I was afraid, nervous, and anxious but most importantly I was hopeful that it would all work out. Once I took my leap of faith I successfully held my own in the career field for 3 years all while being consistent and persuasive. Read more>>

Stacy Goss

I guess I’ve always known on some level that I’ve wanted to help people. Massage therapy and skin care just kind of came naturally to me. And It allows me to help people be their best selves. I love what I do! COVID had everyone on the struggle bus for a couple of years. I wasn’t excluded from this. The pure nature of the business requires a closeness that doesn’t allow for “social distancing”. Financial stress, yes! Mental stress, yes! At Lotus, we focus on the individual. All massage therapy and facial treatments are customized for the client. The health benefits from these services are limitless, including stress relief, pain relief, lowered blood pressure, improved immune function, and boost mental health just to name a few! Read more>>

Asha Spacek-Hobbs

I got started by helping a designer friend <more than 12 years ago>, start his business. I love storytelling, bringing out the best in a brand/talent, and [somehow] I am able to get a very vivid and intuitive creative vision for others’ ideas, rather quickly- after first listening, and fully understanding their short and long-term goals. Without realizing all the industry protocol verbiage at the time, before I knew it, I had helped him produce and cast for his fashion show (which included LIVE music at a sexy underground club), creative directed and styled his ad campaign and lookbook for his website, plus assisted with creating his brand tagline. Read more>>

Rev. Hillary Taylor

I come to anti-death penalty activism from the perspective of a faith leader. I am an ordained United Methodist minister, and United Methodists have a longstanding opposition to the death penalty in our Book of Discipline. My faith tells me that nobody is beyond redemption, and we are more than the worst thing we have ever done. My curiosity about anti-death penalty work started in college when my friend Courtney (the present of Furman University’s NAACP chapter at the time) asked me to be part of a vigil for Troy Davis. Read more>>

Jacqueline Inman

I originally went to college pre-law after being convinced that cosmetology wasn’t a “real career”. After 4 years and a useless political science degree later I realized that law was at best a hobby, and hair was my passion. A month after graduating I re-enrolled in Cosmetology school and after only a week I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. During my last semester of hair school in Wilmington, NC my best friend (a professional makeup artist) had mentioned I should audition for the Charleston Fashion Week hair team, so I did and was elated that while still a cosmetology student I had made the team. Read more>>

Taylor Lentz

My name is Taylor Lentz and our story starts in December of 2020. My daughter Aubin started with a cold and a cough at the beginning of March that just never quite went away. It would be almost gone and then seemed to restart almost. Being a nurse I knew how to care for all her symptoms and although I was being told that it was asthma or viral illnesses over and over I knew that something wasn’t right. I took her to the pediatrician’s office and to the emergency room many times to get more eyes on her. Read more>>

Malachi Scott

I was born in Coffeyville, Kansas to an abusive dad and single mom. Then got put in the foster system because my mom couldn’t take care of me when I was 3. Moved from an abusive home to another home in Compton, CA when I was 5. That is where I battled the abusive household, gang life, mental instability, and pressure. I played football since I was 5 to help with my anger issues but then stopped when I was in the 10th grade where I met Metta World Peace and Kevin Anderson who helped me take basketball seriously. Read more>>


Brittani Person

I’ve always had a creative eye from a young age. Making purses out of my old jeans, painting and creating mini canvases of characters I would see on T.V. The list goes on. Creating art with the little that I had was just my thing. I carried this niche with me all of my life. As I got older, although things like this didn’t interest me anymore, I still kept up with it by making an extra buck for my work. I became introduced to new art in beauty at 15 & was interested in all things dealing with hair and nails. Read more>>

Tromell Gavin

Well, I always had a curiosity about how movies and music videos were made. I used to spend much of my childhood watching movies and 106 & Park studying videos. I shot & edited my first video in middle school. It was a little dunk video that I shot off my iPhone in our school gym. From there I would shoot some of my close friend’s music and workout videos. Photography came later on when I was with my older could Keith better known as KGTheArtist who is a rapper and videographer. We were in his studio playing around and started taking pictures and shooting some video footage. He told me I had a natural eye/talent. Read more>>

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