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Inspiring Stories from Stafford

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 Stafford and surrounding areas below.

Anne Stewart

I have been an artist my entire life. I love creating, whether it’s drawing, oil painting, gardening or my newest passion of soap making, I truly enjoy the challenges. I received my first oil painting set when I was thirteen years old and was immediately hooked. I painted just for the joy of it. At the age of twenty, I was married and spent the next thirty-five years raising a family. I painted intermittently over those years while also learning other arts and crafts – macramé, floorcloth design, dollhouse and miniature building and jewelry making. In 2010 my husband and I moved to Austin, Texas and I resumed my love of painting full time. I enrolled in The Laguna Gloria School of Art, taking classes in Drawing and Oil Painting. After two years of learning, I had my first group show at a local salon and my first two-person show at a local bookstore. It was such a great experience sharing my art with others. Two of my paintings were purchased by Dell Technologies in Round Rock, Texas where they are on display today. You can see all my work at Wolf Dancer Studios online. Read more>>

V and Renee Shepherd

It started with our desire to support each other as sisters. Veronica was on a journey as a new mom to lose baby weight, and re-learn to love her new body and I was exploring the idea of revisiting my love of teaching dance when I was presented with the opportunity to have my own dance studio. We decided to combine our fitness goals, business skills, and love for dance to support and empower other people – leading us to create V Power Fit. Read more>>

Aleisha Hail

I first began my journey as an entrepreneur due to the lack of natural products for my curly hair. I often tried different products but they all would dry out my naturally curly hair. I then began researching the best ingredients for my hair that did not contain harsh chemicals. I produced the first jar of my hair butter in 2019 and took samples to a New Year’s party at my sister in laws. All of the ladies tried it and loved how it felt on their hair and requested I sell them some of my hair butter and that’s how it all began. I ventured out to my coworkers who also loved it and they supported my small business one hundred percent. Read more>>

Charli Miller

I’ve always had a passion for entrepreneurship, and have been involved in a few direct sales companies over the years and was even able to leave my full time job to run one of them full time for a couple of years. Then about 2 years ago, I went through a divorce and ended up going back to work full time because of it. Even though I have a good salary, I knew I couldn’t afford to stay in the house for very long on my income alone and I couldn’t mentally handle the thought of packing up and moving and making my son change schools and leave his friends. This is also about the time Covid came along. My daughter is a full time college student at UH and classes had moved to online. Read more>>

Larissa Davis

So I started my vegan journey while I was in college. My turning point was when I watched the movie “What the Health”. The movie helped me realize that I basically heading in the direction of being a vegan. Fast forward a few years and I begin to realize how beneficial a vegan lifestyle is to not only me the world. So that’s when I started to pursue my journey of my business How?! Desserts. I started taking business classes and doing independent research to help me get my business started. I am a self taught baker so it took me years to learn the skills that I have now. My bakery, How?! Desserts, has grown so much during its 3 years of being in business. Read more>>

Johnnie Jackson

Growing up, I’ve always had an entrepreneur mind frame due to my Successful Mother. Atty Barbara J Hudson of Houston Texas. I was always a people person growing up noticing I had the gift for gaps and people opening up to me. After moving back to Dallas Texas after work with security jobs at Carnilious radio I move back to Houston.. Started back working in sales at Eyeconic television and doing videography. A little before the pandemic I started it under the term marketing & consulting firm. Did a really good starting off with a few contracts one of them being a radio station where we were hired to sell ads for them. We specialize in social media management billboards radio ads in more. Read more>>

Linda Dunk

The Dunk Ranch was originally started to teach about herbs and herbalism. Linda is a clinical herbalist and wanted to share self-care knowledge with the community. As she started the business she was also asked about other plant-related topics and soon grew the business to include succulents, vegetables, and other edible plants. She expanded her classes to include any topics related to gardening and the out of doors and brought in other speakers. She also provides workshops on making crafts using live succulents such as wreaths, fairy gardens, and succulent art. She also has children’s classes on gardening. The shop itself expanded to include not just plants but also pots and plant accessories, items from local businesses such as candles, soaps, charcuterie boards, pottery, and door hangers. She hosts vendor events 4 times a year to help local vendors and to bring live music food and fun to the community!. Read more>>

Dominique Thomas

Well, I’ve been cutting hair since I was 7. In Lake Charles, Louisiana. I’m now 30 so I’ve been cutting for 23 years now. I recently located to Houston after hurricane Laura and delta destroyed my hometown. In 2017, I won a barber battle which boosted my career. It was I’ve never imagined. Thanks to team chew/ Clipperskings I’m now a platform artist/ educator. I am also the owner and operator of The I-10 Klipper King’s V.I.P Grooming Parlor on South Gessner. Read more>>

Julia Nelson

My family has a history for cooking in the family so it’s in my blood. I started cooking in High school, Because my sister would always cook the same thing lol (baked Chicken w/no seasoning and she would mix CORN AND PEAS together in a pot, NASTY!!! The First thing I cooked was Cornish Hens with Stuffing!!!! Since then I’ve been no stop cooking. I attended NICHOLLS STATE where I got my BA in Culinary Arts specializing In Cajun and Creole Cuisine BY THE CAJUN KING JOHN FOLSE. I work for the MARRIOTT HOTELS for 9 years in New Orleans, where I was able to learn more about the cuisine. After that, I move to Houston where I started Cajun Affairs. Read more>>

Beverly Lavigne

During the season, I was inspired to write, “How Biyiyig is God?”, I was fulfilling the personal commitment of finishing college after living overseas and having started our family. One day, after picking our son up from school, and just as I was turning off 290 onto the road leading to the campus at Prairie View A&M, our son asked what hit me as a very deep question. After a prayer asking wisdom on how to answer him in a way that would please God, I began the response. The answer flowed as he listened carefully. I too was taken and entertained by it as I shared. It went better than I could have hoped for. When I finished, I felt in my heart that it should be shared. Working nights building computers while attending school as a full time student and with a family in tow; it was a lot. My husband was working to complete his degree requirements as well. Super busy times, albeit, we were quite a machine. Read more>>

Cydney Hanks

I started my business off 3 years ago with only sixty pairs of 3D mink lashes. I did a ton of research, spoke with a ton of vendors, and ultimately asked my mom to be my first investor. I sold all of the lashes within a time span of 3 months and knew I could be successful from that point on.I underwent two rebrands, documenting my journey on YouTube along the way. My first rebrand was simply becoming more professional. I built a website, constructed my first business photoshoot, and expanded from solely lashes to lashes, accessories, lip scrubs, and lip gloss! With my second rebrand, my main goal was building a brand. I focused on creating a space for girls like me. Girls who are cool, sexy, fun, and classy. What would girls like me like? It made things a lot better for myself and supporters and I felt a lot better about what I was putting out to the world! It was the birth of Vixxen, The Brand. Read more>>

Cris Eli Blak

I was raised in Houston. It’s the city where I found myself, where I truly became who I am, and I’m very grateful for that, because the city is never what you think it’s going to be. It’s this very culturally diverse place which benefits its booming arts scene, because you’ll never see the same experience twice, you’ll never hear the same story, you’ll never be stuck seeing only one or two kinds of people. It’s in the South but a lot of locations have a very big city vibe. Growing up with these pleasant contradictions is a great way to mold an artist, because it feels like the entire world is contained within the streets that you walk down everyday. I was always a storyteller, I think. Growing up I would write these five page puppet shows and would perform them with my sister for my family. I was always watching cartoons and reading comics. I used to really want to be an animator, like the Black Walt Disney, and so I spent entire summers creating my own cartoon shows and characters and designing my own theme parks. Read more>>

Carl Cuesta

“Love your neighbor.” This has guided and led me to success my entire life. I always like to stress the importance of journey and experiences- how these can shape your life and experiences will provide the blueprint for you to stay calm to tackle bigger problems later on. My first career is in nursing. Culturally, the profession is seen as a great opportunity and I finished my Bachelor’s in the University of Southern Philippines back in 2009. Then I started working at Houston Methodist alongside my nurse mom, learning to deal with the different types of people and learning to connect on a deeper level. You are literally with someone during one of the difficult times in their life and they trust you to care for them. This is where I experienced the importance of integrity and compassion- a way to “love your neighbor.” Read more>>

Samiah Thomas

I am a certified Health and Life Coach! My personal health journey has been a roller coaster. I went through many years of low self esteem and self worth because I allowed others to define my identity. In the beginning, it was the inconsistent relationship I had with my dad that left me feeling rejected. Throughout school, classmates told me I was ugly. When I got older, unfavorable romantic relationships left me feeling low. These aspects in addition to traumatic experiences lead me to believe that I was just here on this earth just to exist to fight battles. As I got closer to my 30’s and started committing to my self development, I realized that those things actually didn’t define me, God does. I went on my own self love and confidence journey. Within that journey, I began to pour into myself spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. I refused to continue just “going through the motions” of life. I knew that there was more for me. I started setting and meeting goals. It felt so good! Because I went through my own self love and confidence journey, a very strong desire birthed in me to help others overcome their health challenges as well.   Read more>>

Jackie Stouffer

I grew up in a single parent family. My mom made many sacrifices so that I could take dancing lessons. My mom passed away when I was fourteen and I continued her work of cleaning studios so I could continue pursuing dancing lessons. After college, I became the wife of an oil company professional and followed him around the world. Since I couldn’t guarantee the length of time we would be in any location, teaching aerobics became my substitute for dancing for 25 years. When we became empty nesters, my husband’s job took us to Moscow, Russia where I volunteered with an amazing organization called Maria’s children. Maria invited children from the over 100 orphanages in the city of Moscow to come to her organization for a variety of lessons. After two years of volunteering with her, we were transferred back to Houston. On the evening my husband told me about the impending move, I dreamt I opened Creative Dreams complete with the floor plan we started with. Read more>>

Joelle Bayaa-Uzuri Espeut

I am the oldest child of two parents in the army (and as a result, I moved around a bit). I was born in Wurtzburg, Germany, and have lived in Newport News, VA, and St. Louis, MO, although I consider Los Angeles, CA my home. My background is in fashion. It was in L.A. that I received my degree in fashion design, and I worked for big brands such as Baby Phat and American Apparel. While working within these apparel companies, most times at a management or senior level, I quickly saw the lack of diversity. I was often the only black woman, especially black woman of trans experience at the level. After consistently hitting a glass ceiling, I decided to leave the apparel industry full-time to pursue a career that was affirming, liberating, and gave opportunities to express myself both professionally, personally, and creatively. This led me ultimately to community-based, non-profit work. Read more>>

Naika Malveaux

I started at the Art Institute of Houston. Graduated with a degree in Visual Communications. I started as a painter/Illustrator but became a graphic designer. We moved to Houston in 1995 after my dad had retired from the Army after 21 years, I got the opportunity to live in Germany and 5 various states around the US. After college, I quickly got hired to design and layout college textbook covers. After a year of doing that I was chosen to be the Art Director for Farouk Systems in the Woodlands. I learned a lot about international hair care and competitive marketing in that field. Afterwards, I begin to work for a couple of Houston’s larger recruitment advertising agencies at the time. BSA Advertising out of New York and then I was hired to help open the brand new recruitment company out of Dallas AdMasters as their Marketing Director. AdMasters made several million in their first year. Read more>>

Shenise Gatson

I’m a Houston-born and raised black author. I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. As a child, I was the reserved teacher’s pet that found comfort through written pages. As an adult, writing has been both a passion and a coping mechanism. At times, I’ve even used it as a security blanket to guide me through life’s struggles. I went from excelling in academic writing, theatre, and poetry to self-publishing four books as an adult. At one point, three of my books reached the Amazon bestseller lists. Better to Have Loved reached #10 on the Amazon bestseller list in Black and African American Romance. Understanding a Grieving Soul reached #4 in Death and Grief. Lastly, Moments & Mazes: Life is A-maze-ing reached #27 in Self-Help. I feel blessed to be able to do what I love on a regular and explore various genres. I have found pleasure in creating stories and characters with which people can connect. At the same time, I have found healing through my stories as well. Read more>>

Miguel Hernandez

I started to dj in 1995 but didn’t start djing professionally till 2001. Djing opened up many doors and meetin’ alot of unique people. Each event I dj is different. Like alot of DJs, I started playing at backyard parties. In 2011 I received The Peoples Choice Award via The Houston Press. Now being a parent I started to volunteer dj for my daughter’s school in Alief ISD. My dj volunteering didn’t go unnoticed and has recently landed me the 2021 Lynn Marie Johnson Media Arts Award via Art Spark Texas. Read more>>

Money Making Sace

I first started rapping my senior year of High School. I was no longer playing sports so I needed something that could keep me occupied. At first, it was just a thought, but I eventually realized I might have a talent in writing. It seems like it was such a long time ago, but it has only been five years. I still remember Mrs. Crockett telling me that I had a gift in writing, and I remember telling Marcus Sims and Tyriq Reddix that I was going to be a rapper; we were in forensic science class. I now own Loose Screw Mafia Records, and I haven’t looked back since. It’s crazy what can happen when you just take a risk. Read more>>

1 Comment

  1. Timothy Cour-Palais

    February 23, 2018 at 1:58 am

    You should definitely check out Twisted Catfish. They are a food truck that has succeeded and expanding. Best Catfish in Houston

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