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Inspiring Stories from Outside the 610

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 rising stars from outside the 610 below.

Janice Steffen

In 2013, my husband had gotten laid off his job of 13 years, and he is legally blind and not able to work anymore. We had to find some way of paying our bills since he was the breadwinner of the family and I had an idea of creating a Gourmet Coffee Truck that would serve to businesses and offer a per cup service to them. So we purchased a 2013 Nissan high-top van and converted it into a mobile coffee business. it has a full-size esspresso machine, refrigerator, full-size sink and serving counters to prepare our drinks on and a serving window for events that we open. I wanted to bring back old fashion customer service that we wait on the customer make them what they desire in a hot, iced or frappicunio of their liking. But I didn’t want to be like the other shops out there I wanted to be over the top in some way, so I created my own specialty frappes that come from food that I love.  Read more>>

Natalie Hobock

Prior to founding Houston Dyslexia LLC, I began teaching in a public school setting and then moved to private school settings. I spent most of my time in a private school setting that serves students with learning differences and learning disabilities. I found working with students who have learning differences, such as dyslexia and dysgraphia, to be my true calling. Read More>>

Dan’s Seafood and Wings

Dan’s Seafood & Wings opened in 2015 on the Northeast side of Houston, serving the communities of Channelview, Sheldon, Cloverleaf and Galena Park. Since then, Dan’s has been serving the best-boiled shrimp and fried fish in Houston. Dan’s is family-owned and operated and is heavily involved in the community. Dan’s sponsors several youth leagues, non-profits, and churches in the area to support the community. Dan opened its second location in 2019 on the Southwest side of Houston, serving the communities of Westchase, Sharpstown, Galleria, and Alief. Read more>>

Jose Emanuel Ramirez

The Mexican sunrise, that’s where it all started. Every summer I would visit my family in Mexico. The country, with its natural beauty and color, captivated my heart from the start. It was like watching the moonrise while being in love. One visit after high school was over. I got the chance to go to one of their national parks. I took this old Nikon camera just for fun and captured my surroundings around the trail. My eyes naturally chose what areas were worth capturing, what positions and angles were needed to get the right shot. I was so fascinated by the outcome. The colors of nature and how the sunlight stretched throughout the horizon creating one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever seen. That small trip sparked my love for photography enough for me to continue taking images with my phone back home. The trees, the sunset or the clear blue sky. Anything that caught my eye. I would share them on social media and people would ask me what camera I would use, but it was just my iPhone 5. Read more>>

Samantha Davis

Think Outside the Closet began as a passion project. Ever since I was little, I loved organizing and beautifying spaces and information. I started with post-it notes and grew into planners and notebooks before starting to create my own planners, Excel spreadsheets, budgets, and organizing every room in my college apartment. My closet was color-coded and organized, every item had its place, and my friends were clamoring for me to organize their spaces, too!.  Read more>>

Noah Mortel

I am the son of immigrants from Haiti. I graduated from Baylor University, and during the summer of my junior year, I did an internship for New Line Cinema out in LA and was an International Distribution and Marketing intern. I worked on the films Rush Hour 3, Hairspray, and the Golden Compass. After graduating college, I worked and saved up some money and moved back out to LA, where I worked freelance as a production assistant on music videos and short films while looking for full-time work. At one point, I was so determined to get full-time work that I gave Will Smith my resume and cover letter at Jada’s premiere of her film called The Women. Due to costs, I then moved back to Houston and worked for a few years as a residential appraiser and then I saved up to move back to LA, whereby God’s grace, I got a job as a production assistant for a TV Docu-series called Unsung and Unsung Hollywood. I worked with Babyface, SWV, Jon B, and a cast of a Different World. It was a great experience. Read more>>

Claudia Washington

I started my small business, Beaded Soul, in the beginning of 2021. Growing up, I had many different interests and creative hobbies, but beading was always my favorite activity. Being fascinated with shapes, textures, and beading techniques, I started to collect unique and unusual beads, gems and semi-precious stones. The realization I can turn my hobby into a real-life occupation came in April when I got an opportunity to custom make a stack of five bracelets for Willie Spence, this year’s American Idol runner-up. Willie wanted a few bracelets to compliment his wardrobe during the live episodes of American Idol. With his motto “a star in the making” on my mind, I designed bold, masculine bracelets made with tiger eye, cat eye, natural wood, Jasper and silver charms. The news of my work being showcased on live TV spread through my circle very quickly, and the demand for my work started to increase. Read more>>

Adriana Alaniz

In 2003, my father took my mom and I to a property off Yale St in the Heights. It was an old abandon building with nothing around but the Pappas warehouse across the street. I immediately fell in love with this building. So we started bringing in old antique doors, furniture and ironwork from the early 1800s. It quickly became popular, but we needed something different. So we added outdoor patio furniture and garden decor. Then we decided to custom-build furniture, which I designed well over 5k pieces in the course of 15 years. We quickly grew and purchased the property and the land next door. In 2018, we decided to close our doors. Developments all around us became too much. We were harassed daily to sell our lands and it was non-stop. We felt it was time to move on. After closing our doors in 2018, I took a break for two years. During that time, I became a realtor. But something was missing. 2020, I decided to return, but unfortunately, my young baby was diagnosed with Congenital Heart Defect, which requires him to have multiple heart surgeries. Read more>>

Sir Thomas

I started writing in third grade. It was for a contest my teacher came up with. Students had to write a short story and the top two students with the best short story won a chance to plant bluebonnets with the teacher. I won the contest along with another student. That sparked my passion. I transferred to another school for the remainder of elementary school. At this school, it was a part of the curriculum for students to write short stories. We had to design them like they were actual books. I found myself writing even more outside of the curriculum. It helped me tap into my creativity. It was a way of escape for me as a child. I didn’t write as much in middle school and high school unless it was for English class because most of my free time was dedicated to playing football. Read more>>

Daniel Hinojosa

I was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas by a loving single mother and two siblings in a typical Hispanic household- it was never empty. We didn’t have much and lived in a rough neighborhood, but my family kept us busy with sports- baseball football. After high school, I moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas and East Austin quickly became my home. While in college, I began working with middle school students and launched my career in education. For the next 15 years, I worked in schools serving students that needed a little extra support. I was a tutor, mentor, counselor, coach, and eventually athletic director. After 15 years, I found myself a little burned out and wanting to engage the community in a different way. When an opportunity to go to graduate school presented itself, I took it, hoping to gain the business skills necessary to own my own business. After earning my MBA, I began planning to open the gym. I looked forward to being able to give back to the community that made me feel so at home for so many years. On September 1, 2020, Lift ATX opened in East Austin and we haven’t stopped griding since!. Read more>>

Juanda Bryant

Juanda R. Bryant is a certified educator with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Juanda has her certification in Early Childhood through 6th Grade, Gifted and Talented, and English Second Language (ESL). She is a recipient of the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce 2018 “40 Under 40,” Sam Houston Elementary 2017 “Teacher of the Year,” and Common Cents Credit Union 2016 “Outstanding Educator Award.” Juanda is a decorated military veteran who served 12 years in the United States Army as a Transportation Coordinator (88N). She served in two campaigns: Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. During her service in the Army, she served as a Family Readiness Group Liaison. As a liaison, she discovered there was a need to engage and educating children in matters of deployment of family members. Her book “The Mini-Adventures of Danny and the Deployer” is a book that will provide children an identifiable character they can relate to growing up in a military family. Read more>>

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