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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.

Gary Ismail

I got started in real estate at a young age of 21 and started my journey with Coldwell Banker United Realtors located in Greenway Plaza and fast forward 16years later I have my own luxury boutique firm specializing in communities close to town ironically also located in Greenway Plaza. Read more>>

Chef Nadia Ahmed

I happened upon clean eating and health education after taking a position as a personal private chef for a family in West University. I had to make vegetarian meals for mom, more traditional meals for dad and meals for a daughter with dietary restrictions. Read more>>

Lyndsey Brantley

As a young woman battling with sensitive skin and razor bumps as symptoms of my PCOS and seeing many of my friends and family dealing with the same thing, I got frustrated that there were no products on the market to solve this problem. Read more>>

Fernando Garcia

I moved to the United States in the late 90s. Lived in Chicago, IL for 21 years and that is where part of my journey into fitness started. When I first arrived in Chicago the big gyms chains were already very popular with the mainstream public. Very different from Mexico. Read more>>

Yvonamor Palix

My father was a diplomat, my mother a fervent art lover and art collector. I inherited some of their traits- I developed my international career in Paris with a small art space in the Bastille, the gallery became a reference point for the art world in the 90’s and early 2000’s because of its unique defined art line. Read more>>

Darenda Weaver

I have always been interested in music and after discovering records from my father’s collection I began to dig for vinyl. I started off collecting punk and power pop records and then found mod revival bands like The Lambrettas, The Circles, and The Jam which turned me on to what the mods in the 1960’s listened to which was American R&B, Motown etc. Read more>>

Nate Bran

I fell in love with fitness and what eludes from it since I was a teenager. I started working out at 14 for several reasons. Girls, I wanted to look like “Arnold” from Terminator, I wanted to be strong to defend myself if I ever needed to, I wanted to build confidence in myself, I was tired of being small, “weak” one in class. Read more>>

Ana Beaven

I was devoted to retail and used to eat out every single day. In my fantasies, someone would open a good authentic Mexican restaurant some time. A friend that did accounting for a restaurant asked me to help them for a month and while in doubt, I said yes. I loved the job and stayed there for 6 years. Read more>>

Mohammad Elsaadi

AL Quick Stop, also known as Al’s, has been a part of my family since 1991, the year I was born. It is a convenience store with a quick-serve restaurant inside. It has a very New-York Mom and Pop Shop vibe. Growing up as a child I loved helping out at the store, it was fun for me. Read more>>

Kendra Penry

Fair Trade Houston started as a response to the outpouring of concern over the issue of human trafficking in Houston, the US, and the world. Human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Read more>>

Jillian Napper

I’d like to credit my mother on how I got started because she noticed the talents in my siblings and I early on in our lives, and the passion behind them. She always kept us busy in activities ranging from the DC Youth Orchestra to Soccer on the Hill. Read more>>

Lyonell Lee

After buying my Challenger I began to search for an organization that shared my ideals of brotherhood and community service. After a bit of searching (unsuccessfully) my wife Antwanette suggested that I start my own club. Read more>>

Thao Costis

I am a Vietnamese immigrant who benefitted greatly from the support system that is provided by the public and private sectors of Houston and the nation. Our family lived in Section 8 subsidized housing from the time I was in first grade through my senior year in high school. Read more>>

Antonio Garza

Started in November 2001 as a 10-piece band playing at Elvia’s Night Club. We later started the famous Skybar Salsa Thursdays and played there until Skybar closed. If you ever went to Skybar on a Thursday you saw us. We now are a 12-piece group and play steadily at Club Tropicana and Fox Hollow (you can find our calendar at salmerum.com). Read more>>

Daniel Holden and Gretchen Holden

Gretchen’s family has been in the sewer business for generations. After we married Daniel started working at Gretchen’s parent’s sewer company and started learning the business. Several years later we had the opportunity to buy the equipment and start our own business. Read more>>

Thomas Helton

I’ve been a jazz bassist since 1990. Through the years I had played a little bit of early jazz or Dixieland but never really knew much about it or how to play it properly. In 2015 I was talking to some friends of mine about putting a group together to study early jazz. Specifically, pre 1930’s New Orleans style. Read more>>

Tom Berry

I started in management and sales. It wasn’t until 1996 that I decided the nine to five grind wasn’t what I wanted anymore. I started a financial service firm with my wife Melissa, we were located in a small town in Ohio then. Read more>>

Carlos Cabrera, Edgar Sermeno and Blanca Ventura

Be Fit came together after a discussion between myself and my brother in law, Edgar. We realized that we had the potential to start a warehouse gym that would focus on making it members happy by providing a casual yet motivating gym environment. Read more>>

Tanya Ivory Mayes

I started on this journey as a child. I started sketching and sewing by hand. I always loved creative and artistic things. I eventually went to school for Fashion Design, Art and Marketing. Although I did other things careerwise, I was always led back to what I was most passionate about and what came innately natural. Read more>>

Carlos De Los Santos

First and foremost, I think my parents were a huge part of my inspiration for becoming a business owner. They always had a business(es) as I was growing up. They are still business owners today and they most definitely taught me that working hard was the only way to accomplish what you want. Read more>>

Clifton Gillock

We started by experimenting making pops at home and freezing them in our own freezers. I was living in Austin, TX at the time but my partner who happens to be my aunt & best friend would make dozens of different flavors and invite all of her friends and family over for “tasting parties.” Read more>>

Victor Rivera

As a young kid in my hometown of Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas I dreamed of opening my own business and through hard work and dedication I did. I opened up my first business, an air condition installation business, I then moved on to a restaurant here in Houston over in the second ward which I eventually had to let go because of malpractice on behalf of my associate and I also had another job as a welder. Read more>>

Jovita Torres and Peggy Ricks

Arne’s is a one of a kind party store, carrying a huge array of party goods, both every day and seasonal, housewares, holiday, wedding, costumes, bachelorette, flowers, and countless other items and categories. You can afford to have multiple seasons displayed simultaneously all year long when you have 100,000 square feet at your disposal! Read more>>

Kristara Schnippert

When I was 12 years old, I found a calligraphy book at my grandma’s house and fell in love with all of the beautiful letters. Back then, there were no Instagram feeds to stalk or YouTube videos to watch. I just had to read a lot of books and learn things the hard way—through lots of trial and error. Read more>>

Stefani Harris

Our story is fun and adventuresome (at least we think so)! My business partner (Janet Hoover, who lives in Fort Worth) and I “met” virtually in an online web development course and became quick friends. That course enabled us to start our own businesses, and we, of course, remained friends, helped each other with our individual businesses, bounced ideas off each other, and more. Read more>>

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