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Inspiring Stories from Downtown

The heart of our mission at VoyageHouston is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of the Houston’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool. Check out Downtown’s rising stars below.

Adedolapo Adekanbi

My music journey actually started out of my genuine love for music. I woke up one morning and challenged myself to write and record a song, which was my debut single ‘YOU.’ On releasing the song in August 2019, I was fortunate enough to meet the right people. I got a cosign from Davido and Bankulli, who helped me push my music forward to a greater audience. When I saw the reception that came with the first song, it was more conviction for me to go harder and keep making more songs. I then released a follow-up single in January 2020 titled ‘OWO’ produced by Dalor beats and this record did so well and even had more acceptance than the first song enough for one of DMW’s finest ‘Peruzzi’ to bless me with a verse shout out to Bankulli for the connect. In March 2020, we put out the remix to OWO and that’s when I started working towards my debut EP titled ‘UNANTICIPATED,’ which was released in October 2020. I’ve since then shot and released two music videos off my EP directed by Ceojay. It’s a new year in a couple of days and I’m just focusing on my next project for the year 2021. Today, I’m being referred to as a Nigerian – American singer and songwriter currently serving in the United States Army. It does look good on paper, but the workload is a lot. Read more>>

Vanisha Weatherspoon

I had taken a few yoga classes here and there about five years ago, but it wasn’t until I began law school three years ago that I found my yoga practice. Lawyers and law students are among the highest groups at risk of alcoholism, drug abuse, anxiety, and depression. This was mentioned to me at my law school orientation– our dean literally said, “look to your left, look to your right, one of you is going to become an alcoholic. I did not want to fall victim to this, so I looked to yoga. Along the way, I discovered not only myself, but I found confidence, community, self-love, compassion, the light at the end of the tunnel, and ultimately overall health and wellness. My school offered free yoga classes three times per week, so I began to attend those. It was so nice to be able to rest my mind while also moving my body. I began to feel the “high” many yogis speak of, and I wanted to continue the practice and learn as much as I could with my limited time. Read more>>

MiChelle Risby

Piecing it all together During the stay at home orders due to COVID-19, I looked for activities we could do as a family that did not include monitors or screens like many parents. With a passion for puzzles since childhood, I wanted to share that with my family. Still, I wanted designs more culturally relevant to us. I quickly realized that the puzzles in the marketplace neither satisfied my desire for subject matter nor aesthetics. The author and poet Toni Morrison said, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” So, Pieces of Us by Us was born! Our stories are vital but often not prioritized. Loving Us and our culture, Pieces of Us by Us tells Our stories through Black Art by Black Artists. Passionate and imaginative artists share a little piece of themselves through diverse and contemporary images and artistry. These artists become the Pieces of our Premium Puzzles, made from Cultural Fine Art by Us and For Us though all are welcome. Doing jigsaw puzzles is also good for your mind, body, and spirit. Puzzles provide many benefits for mental health, including PTSD, anxiety, autism, and dementia. Read more>>

Alex Betancourt

We have other businesses, and Mr. balloon started as a hobby and to help out a friend who needed someone that made garlands for her business. We would only do it in our free time and we had a lot of fun doing it and people liked our work so we decided to spend a little more time on learning new techniques and making it a real business instead of just a hobby. Slowly but surely, Mr. Ballon’s studio started growing and we leased an actual studio in River Oaks not only for the decorations but we also opened a ballon store where we sell all the Gear products. Read more>>

Lauren Rashaan Patterson

My name is Lauren Patterson (AKA Lauren Rashaan), and I’m truly a Southern Bell, born and raised in Charlotte, NC. Childhood was somewhat unique, being raised by an on-fire-for-God evangelical single mother. One day after the pastor preached against magic and witchcraft, my mother concluded our Disney movies were of the devil and destroyed them all, but she left every one of her black cinemas intact. At that time, my greatest ambition as an 8-year old was relocating from the east side of Charlotte to the ritzy southeast side. It hadn’t dawned on me that I could leave the city altogether until I watched “Jason’s Lyric,” one of the few movies we had left. That movie not only inspired me to leave North Carolina, but it motivated me to begin journaling my life. I expressed my vivid imagination through poetry, short stories, children’s books, magazine articles, along with ideas for movies and television scripts. Writing quickly blossomed into a hobby for me, especially since we didn’t have cable T.V., and the only analog channels we could pick up were public broadcast and Christian networks. Read more>>

Brea Wade

Although reading has always been prevalent to me, having an Instagram dedicated to the books I read is not something I would have imagined having such a great impact on my life. I originally stumbled onto ‘Bookstagram’ when I was attending a book signing in NYC and a fellow attendee mentioned she was documenting the signing for her account. My Bookstagram, @tellsoftales__, has become a creative outlet, an extended community, and a way for me to help spread my purpose of trying to get people to read more. When I was first starting out, I was curating my page based on what everyone else was doing, even though I felt like the style didn’t suit me. However, once I made the decision to create what I enjoy, my account began to take off. Others seemed to enjoy my lifestyle photos and casual captions, and my page ended up catching the eye of the team from Buzzfeed. They featured me, along with about 20 other black bookstagrammers in an article that went viral. That exposure turned into partnerships and PR relationships with multiple publishers and book companies that I still continue to grow today. Read more>>

2 Pretty Brown Girls Boutique

My cousin and I were always talking about finding ways to make money. We kept seeing these other young Black female and male entrepreneurs and thought, “Hey, we can do that too.” we brought the idea up to my mom and aunt and basically explained what we were trying to do. They were on board and we got to work. We started to come up with names, logos, and put together our color scheme. We didn’t have the business yet, but we was still brainstorming. It all came together when we were gifted our official business. We saw the paperwork from the court and was ready to move forward. Read more>>

Elliot Guidry

In 2009, I was infuriated by the situation that happened with Trae and local radio. Add that to the fact that local artist that wasn’t getting any recognition from our mainstream media outlets. I wanted to create an avenue for artists to get a spotlight. At the time, I was working as a nightclub photographer for alltheparties.com. so I was able to reach quite a few people by just being in these clubs. I was booked for a club called candy lounge on a Tuesday night called tab Tuesdays which was presented by Kode productions, dj explicit and Jessica Vickery. It was because of that place that I started to learn about the local artists that were starting from the ground up—names like doughbeezy, Delorean, Dante Higgins and many many others. I started working with a list of journalists like Cecilia Smith (Cecilia Austin) to help me better articulate these artist’s stories. Because of the relationships that were built with artists, we were able to present the Houston trend Summer jam in 2012 sponsored by Reebok. In 2014 we took the online publication and began to offer it and print form thanks to Coreigh Terry informing me about magcloud.com. Read more>>

Duke Watson

I was a college student with a dream of running my own company, but college was not for me. I had a meeting to discuss my app idea with my entrepreneurship professor and he said: ” obviously you don’t know how to code apps or you wouldn’t be in the class. You’d be coding your app.” That was a turning point for me. I changed schools and ended up completely dropping out. I returned home from college in Cincinnati and began to plan how to achieve my dreams! In planning that, I came up with a podcast centered around supporting dreamers, like me, out in the world! I began the podcast at my kitchen table with free software and a microphone. 20 episodes later, I have a set complete with lights, a backdrop and remote podcasting abilities! I launched my first merch line this December and it has already sold out! I spend my days working a day job, on social media finding new guests and fans and inspiring other dreamers. I have discovered my calling in this life. I was put here to spread a message of positivity! I want the world to know that it is a feast. There’s enough in the world for everyone to follow their dreams! I take time every day to be grateful for all these gifts I was given. Read more>>

Danielle Williams

I’ve always had a love of entertaining and planning parties for my family and friends. That passion led me to start Glamoured Events in June of 2019. My very 1st event I put together was my “Divas Brunch & Pop-up Shop Soiree” in July of the same year. It was indeed an extremely successful event and gave me the push into the industry that I needed. Since then, I’ve planned everything from birthday parties, ladies nights, bridal showers and my 1st wedding in March 2020. Read more>>

Destiny Gilder

Juicing has changed my life for the better. Finding out my cholesterol was super high. I was overweight, and had to receive a lumbar puncture to remove fluid off my spine was all the devastating news I needed to realize a change was needed. I went for a regular check-up eye exam and then boom I ended up in the emergency room! I blacked out and could barely see! I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH), which is pressure added to the brain. Symptoms are obesity, headaches, and vision loss. My right foot was continuously swelling. Imagine putting on a shoe and you can’t even tie it or wear it for five minutes. My salt intake was crazy! My pictures show the inflammation on my foot and the pressure behind my eyes. I vowed that day to change my lifestyle! Juicing has improved my vision, helped with my weight loss, has my skin looking great, and helps in so many other areas. This is the reason I created Juice & Beyond. Read more>>

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