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Neartown’s Rising Stars

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 Neartowns’s rising stars below.

Akil Williams

Started blogging for Elite Insiders in 2014 which is a sports and Entertainment website. Wrote a few stories that had gained a lot of attention at the time and after that, I took journalism seriously. Then I went on to Texas Southern in the fall of 14 and started interning at the Houston Sun newspaper covering UH football and Texas Southern football. After that, went on to KTSU radio station and joined and learned from Larry “Chattabox” Hale until 2016 producing football and basketball games and had my own pregame and postgame and halftime show on the air. Read more>>

Jason Matthews

I was always creative, and for years would be brought in to other people’s projects. I did design work, video editing and photography for events and friends projects. At some point, I decided I needed to stop using my talents for other people’s work if I wasn’t willing to use them for my own. So, July 1st, 2012, I started producing art again. It started off as work for myself, to push my talents, work on my skills and figure out what I wanted to do.  was drawn towards Pop art early on. I consider myself a bit of a geek, and pop culture, movies and graphic novels were always a way for me to connect with other geeks. Read more>>

Christa Clarke

I am from Chicagoland. However, after earning both my Bachelor’s in Bioengineering and Master’s in Bioscience & Health Policy from Rice University, I now consider myself a born-again Texan! Upon graduation, I began working in the Texas Medical Center. As I continued working, I eventually felt my creativity was blocked, and my clarity about my life became muddled. I wanted an outlet to reignite and express my creativity while processing the many emotions I was—and still am— encountering as I continue trying to answer, “What do I want to do with my life?” Read more>>

Saumil Manek

Xaver Jewels:  Saumil Manek had no idea how much his vacation to India would change his life. Originally an investment banker, Saumil visited a diamond sorting facility in Mumbai, and it was love at first sight. Within a matter of weeks, he quit his job and started sorting diamonds on the factory floor full-time. It didn’t take long before his passion was recognized, and he moved up to jewelry design. After two years of training under masters in his field, Saumil returned to Houston with a wealth of knowledge on diamonds and jewelry design, and a plan to put his passion to use. Read more>>

Yessica Orozco

When I was little, I had severe asthma that prevented me from doing hardly any physical activities. I was always glued to my breathing machine! My mother was a seamstress, so I would watch her make all sorts of things. She would let me play with her fabric scraps, and I would spend my time making stuff also. This is where I developed my patience for creating and detailing. By the time I was in high school I was making a good portion of my wardrobe. Read more>>

George Baba

Anyone who knows me knows this, I make a music…. a lot of music. I was 12, I walked in the front door and heard this god awful sound coming from the upstairs. As I walked up, there was my dad fiddling with an electric guitar. “Check it out, look what I got ya,” he said. It was the best gift I ever received. I didn’t know at the time that this one gift would take me on a journey that I never want to end. I learned every song I possibly could, playing along with old cassettes and concert videos. In high school, I played in a band and began writing my own songs. Read more>>

Alicia and Fred Gaines

Fred has always had a passion for cooking and a desire to own his own business. When we met at Texas Southern University, we decided to put his cooking and my business skills together. In 2008, Fred’s dream to own his own business became a reality, and we launched our first business, Freddy G’s BBQ Food Truck. Since then, we’ve been putting our creative minds together and searching for our next business venture. We thought, why not ice cream? Ice Cream brings smiles, and everyone enjoys a good sweet treat. Read more>>

Nina Gutierrez-Garcia

My first true interest in children’s attire piqued when I had my son in 2013. I was a new mom, working as a full-time scientist. I love my scientific career path but always looked for creative outlets for my more art-oriented side. I found it in dressing my son. Together, as he became a bit older, we BOTH realized that we had a knack for our “mini menswear” fashion blog called Isaac’s OOTD. It was kind of our little mom and kiddo thing to do, and we really enjoyed it… but I wasn’t a blogger… kudos to those who are! IT IS HARD WORK. Read more>>

Rosie Dirzanowski

At the time that I started, I was currently making hairbows for my little girl and also selling them on Etsy as a small little side business, mostly for people local. Around the same time, I’d also recently been introduced to leather earrings. After searching online shops for a pair of metallic gold earrings with no luck, it dawned on me that I had faux gold leather on hand. I hand cut my first pair of leather earrings that night, in December of 2016. Read more>>

Mefi Alapat

I am originally from Tanzania and growing up, I was always surrounded by the Safari industry. My family and I used to visit the parks for weekend picnics so visiting amazing locations like the mighty Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater were part of my childhood. Soon after I graduated Trinity University, I decided to jump into the deep-end and start Journey To Africa in 2000. I was one of the original Safari companies who had a website. Read more>>

William Hesser

My efforts in building things and working with sound have gone hand-in-hand since high school. My father is a talented woodworker and was always involved in different projects as I grew up. While his style is very detail oriented and strives for perfection, mine tends to be more unusual, coarse, and functional. The first pieces of furniture I built were to organize audio equipment I used to record musicians in the Houston area. Read more>>

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