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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.

Dr. Estrelita Bruce

I went to the Steve Harvey Neighborhood Awards in the fall of 2015. I considered it a very successful event. I connected with a lot of people, spoke on the health pavilion platform, and facilitated a couple of workshops. However, when I arrived home I began to feel a sense of discontentment. I couldn’t figure out why I was having those feelings after such a great experience. Well, I’ve always loved to journal my thoughts but I had not done it in a while. This day I picked it up and began to express my emotions on paper. Read more>>

Bobby Harl

As far as going into brewing, I really was groomed to pursue a Houston-based energy company type of career. Born in Tomball, graduated from Klein High in 2005, I went to Trinity University for my undergraduate in Engineering Science, with the idea I’d go work for an energy company after it. While there, I got to intern for some of those, and it was a fantastic experience, but I graduated in 2009 and let’s just say the job market wasn’t great. Given my success at Trinity I could still find a job, but at the time I made the decision that spending extra time in school was worth the investment over just going straight into industry, so I began to search out graduate programs. Read more>>

Dianne Josephs

After working as an Interior Designer for over 30 years, it was time for a new adventure. We had recently down-sized from our River Oaks home and had many fine antiques that would no longer fit into a smaller home. Also, as many of my clients had wonderful items in storage, it was time. Atelier 1505 is a resource for High-End Antiques and Fine Art. Every year brings more inventory of the Quality, we never even expected. One Consignor even shipped his French Antiques to Atelier from Switzerland. Read more>>

Akua Gray

I grew up with a sick mother who had both a heart and kidney condition that took her life at the age of fifty. I also lost a brother in the prime of his life at the young age of thirty years old to the same diseases that claimed our mother. These two traumatic loses were the reason I vowed to myself as a young mother, that I would do everything that I could to take care of myself so that my sons would not have to go through my tragedies. As a career educator for many years in the public school system and a health advocate trained in naturopathy, herbology, energy medicine, colon therapy, iridology and metaphysics, I found myself teaching my students, friends, family and colleagues the wonderful things I learned about being healthy. Read more>>

Pamela Grant

After working in management for two major airlines for over 20 years, I went back to school and obtained a Masters Degree in Occupational Education. I started my own business 24 years ago. I am a business coach, career counselor and management consultant. I average a coaching clientele of 15 clients. I do management training and development for various companies from Houston to Lufkin. I am a career counselor for people in their teens (getting ready to go to college) to people who are starting their first retirement. Read more>>

Lamont Lagrone

The thought of owning a party bus company steamed from another company I owned providing service to the public however it was via a mailing service and I managed the logistic to ensure all of customers received their mail/packages along with appointments at a 100% percent daily. After realizing I had a niche for logistic as well as providing great service to the public… I though what better way to take it to the next level and really help create fun and everlasting memories that most clients can remember. Read more>>

Reza Naghavi

I have started since 2003 this location Museum District was not like this about 13 years ago. Many things had changed since that time, there more than 6 apartment complex has risen since. I love what I do and I am proudly to say I am more patient oriented than business. I’m my clinic patients are first, my purpose is to make them pain free as little as visits possible, yes short terms care. I treat the body as whole not just symptoms, in my practice I have seen many emotional problems had become physical pain. Read more>>

Alyssa Baker

I am married to a teacher/coach, and we have two dog-children. My husband and I love to exercise together, share our faith, spend time on the coast, and listen to live music. I love spending time with my family, and I have the great gift of being an aunt to three nieces and a nephew. Living between Astros games and sandy beaches has been a dream fulfilled that I didn’t know I had. I was born and raised in Waco, TX to a teacher and an engineer. My two older brothers watched over me while also “toughening me up.” Read more>>

Jim and Kim Aud

Jim: Purist Audio Design grew out of love for high-end audio and quality engineering. We started Purist in the garage, and I have always been fortunate enough to have family by my side. Well, I guess you could say it really started in the Air Force. You could say the Air Force was my first family. I learned a lot from them, and passed it on. They used to call me a “Avionics Sensor Systems Specialist, for Electro-Optical Sensors.” Kim: We, dad and I, built my first system at an early age. It was always something we did together: in fact, the one in my current office is one he and I worked on. Read more>>

Nicole Sorrels

I have been designing and party planning ever since I was old enough. My grandmother was an art teacher, and this apple did not fall too far from her tree. When I went to college, I got my degree in Food Science, Nutrition and Dietetics where a primary focus of study was on cooking, service and hospitality. I am ServeSafe Certified as well as a Certified Wilton Method Instructor. My business started as a hobby, that would eventually grow into more. Today, I am blessed to have the support from my friends and family to turn my passion into a full time career. Read more>>

Nina and Jay Cantu

Although the Liberty Opry has been in existence since June, 1993, we purchased the business in April, 2010. Prior to our owning of the Opry, my husband, Jay Cantu, was a guest performer approximately 3-4 times per year. The opportunity arose one night, while Jay was performing. The owner at the time (Bruce Boehner) asked Jay … “Why don’t you buy this place?” We laughed and shrugged it off as a passing joke. Unbeknownst to us, the owner was NOT joking and asked us again, the next time that Jay performed there. Read more>>

Megan Elise Ortiz

My story begins in Cut ‘n Shoot, Texas – a modest town just Northeast of Houston. I am the daughter of hardworking parents who provided an excellent example of what it meant to work for everything you have. I remember beaming with pride as a child that during the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve celebrations I could select any fireworks I wanted from the stand run by my parents. I remember the smell of firewood as they dropped off bundles at various customer houses in the winter to pad the household income a bit. Read more>>

Stephen Adkisson

Steve Adkisson may have founded Adkisson Group (formerly Adkisson Brokerage & Development), but his roots go way back. Starting in the 1940s, his grandfather Milton started a refrigeration business called Adkisson Refrigeration in Lubbock, TX. Thirty years later, Dan Adkisson (Steve’s dad) started an auctioneering business in 1976 called Adkisson Auction and Realty. Wanting to pay tribute to his father, Dan used the same Adkisson Refrigeration logo as inspiration for his new venture’s logo. Read more>>

Valerie Fullen

I first started working at Oasis in September 2015 as a waitress. I was 22 at the time and fresh out of college. Being a vegetarian and novice juicer, it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the place. Just a couple months into my job, the owners at the time were wanting to sell the juice bar to focus more time on other passions. Eager to keep Oasis up and running, my wheels started turning. As soon as I got home that day, I called my parents to ask them if I was crazy to buy a business. Read more>>

Dean Antie

My wife and I are from Louisiana where good food is a staple in every household. We have always enjoyed cooking and sharing our meals with friends and family. Along with that, I have worked in the meat industry for over 25 years and have learned to appreciate quality meat products. When we moved to Texas 10 years ago, we could not find any sausages we liked and decided to make our own. As we started this project, we thought there was a need in the area for good, quality meats, sausages, and good ole Louisiana specialties such as Corn and Shrimp Bisque, Red Beans and Sausage and Chicken and sausage Gumbo. Read more>>

Eric Elfman

I dropped out of high school to join the Navy. I eventually realized that education was important and ultimately received my MBA from Rice University after leaving the military. I founded DataCert (software company) in 1998, which was sold 16 years later for $290 million. I started Onit in 2011, which now has over 60 employees in three U.S. offices and in India. Eric’s first software start-up, Datacert, Inc., is an industry-leading provider of corporate, legal and IP spend and matter management solutions for Fortune 500 companies. Read more>>

Willy Tejeda

Well, I have worked in the restaurant industry since I was a teenager. I worked just about every position in a restaurant, going from dishwasher, busboy, waiter, manager, etc. In every place I worked, I learned something new either about food, service, and/or management. I studied graphic design in Lone Star College. My restaurant jobs helped me pay for school and my living expenses. Read more>>

Kamran Mouzoon

As an Iranian Emigrant, I started with zero. After finishing the graduate school (Rice University, 1986) I initially worked for variety of firms in Houston area. In 1994, I founded Kamran Mouzoon Architects, P.C. not knowing anyone who could afford an architect. Leased an office space, about 250 sq. ft. close to my home, I started to practice. Twenty years later, I am enjoying receiving calls from all sectors of the society for design services. My office is a display board of architectural design based on the poetics of space; the principle by which I practice architecture. Read more>>

Liz Florine

Liz Florine began her journey as a massage therapist when she discovered massage therapy as a means to relieve herself of chronic pain. Since she has always been interested in health and holistic remedies, becoming a massage therapist was a natural choice. Because she has experienced debilitating pain herself, she can relate to what her clients are feeling. Liz is an animal lover and has been a vegetarian for most of her life. Her love for all animals especially her two rescue dogs, Zoe and Sasha, led her to pursue Canine Massage and expand her practice to help dogs in need of physical and emotional support, and provide them with a better quality of life. Read more>>

Nick Thomas

I have been a performer since a young age. Starting in Elementary school choir. I got my start in community theatre in Indiana and the greater Chicagoland area. I studied musical theatre in highs school and after finishing school started booking professional gigs such as Disney’s High school musical one and two as Ryan Evans and Hairspray as Fender. As I always had such a connection with princesses and an obsession with fairytales, Wizard of Oz, Harry potter and Little Mermaid specifically. It dawned on me that these characters come to life would be so fun. I started a company in Indiana called Looking Glass Friends where I would have costumes made and me and another associate would dress up and go to Hospitals, Libraries and special need events around town. Read more>>

Tim DeSilva

We began as a boutique graphic design studio in 2003. My cofounder Kara and I made an effort to set out on a different path than most traditional agencies in Houston who preceded us. Many design agencies at that time worked within Houston’s energy industry whereas we sought out to start something new that enabled us to work both in and out of Houston, and that focused our efforts more on retail, entertainment, hospitality and technology companies that were making a positive impact in the world. Read more>>

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