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West Loop’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 West Loop’s rising stars below.

Takeshia Chapple

In May 1988, I was born in Shreveport, Louisiana and moved to Houston at the age of five to live with my Mother. I am a singer, writer, poet, and childhood sexual abuse survivor. I can recall being six years old, already living in Houston for about a year, and writing was my favorite thing to do! Anything that involved pencil and paper or crayons and markers, I loved it. My mom would buy me stationary over toys because I loved to create! It was my way of escape, which I learned much later in life that “escapism” is a coping mechanism for dealing with trauma. Read more>>

Connor Smith and Benny Muniz

Connor: My interest in the paranormal started with a popular show on Travel Channel that I used to watch with my dad after my parents split. It was something that we had together and meant a lot to me. After a lot of late nights watching, I started to take an interest in the science behind it and the idea of communicating with someone that was no longer with us. I started to do some research of my own and made it into a hobby. Towards the end of summer 2018, Benny and I decided to make this into a joint effort as a sort of last hurrah before school started and he went back to New York, and here we are. Read more>>

Venisha Arnold

In late 2016, after speaking with a group of high school seniors who asked me so many education-focused questions I had one student in particular that stood out to me because he was concerned about his chances of being able to attend law school. And as you know I am an attorney and so after my conversation with that young man and realizing there was a serious need I was determined to find a way I could assist and the idea for Persistence is The Key was born. Read more>>

Venita Graves

2003 self-exam revealed a lump. I went through Chemo and reconstruction. Lost my hair due to chemo. As a salon owner, I could not find a place where I could receive beautiful, stylish wigs at a low cost. Beauty Beyond Breast Cancer, a non-profit was established to meet the need in our community to provide free wigs and salon services to women who have lost their hair due to various types of cancer-fighting treatments. Read more>>

Matthew Oakes

Growing up on 15 acres outside Houston, Texas was the start of my exposure and attraction to nature. At 12, I took on designing and landscaping our property. I somehow convinced my mom to drive me two hrs twice a week for several months to attend a Texas Master Gardener program through Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. And that’s how it all began. Fast forward to completing a BFA in graphic design from the University of Houston, working as a landscape designer than as an experiential designer at an architectural firm. Read more>>

Casey Handy-Smith

I grew up in a very musically inclined family so naturally, I always wanted to do something with music growing up. Initially, I wanted to take my classical piano training and become a professional songwriter. However, once I got to college and started taking courses in music business, I realized that there was a lack of diverse representation for often exploited minority talent and influencers. So I decided to take my love for the arts and my natural analytical abilities to pursue a legal career in the entertainment industry. Read more>>

Chaveria “Vera” Williams

I started creating bath bombs in Fall of 2015 and officially registered Vera Loo Presents in the Spring of 2017. I began as a hobby during a very low time in my life; it was therapeutic because I could express myself in a new medium, silently. I used them as “merch” for my then YouTube channel because I’m a try hard and wanted something “different” than the typical shirt, tote bag, and at that time… coffee mugs were the trend in “merch.” I wanted something personal to share so that the 37 subscribers who took time out of their day to watch or support me felt appreciated. Read more>>

Minah Lee

Now I can say I am so lucky that my hobby became my career. But in fact, I never pursued being an entrepreneur. I am originally from Seoul, South Korea and worked as a Chemical and Pharmaceutical patent examiner in the Korean Government. Whenever I had free time, I loved to join workshops of painting, jewelry making, etc. and candle making workshop was one of them. I was so fascinated by blending fragrances and making soy wax candles because of how candles are made, burnt and works, everything was about chemistry that I studied and worked. Read more>>

Eric Peabody and Marcus Nelson

Social Complex started with Peabody, and in the process he found his friend Marcus to complete the vision, through plenty of debates and conversations they were able to have a social complex dialogue. Smooth Road? Ha! Each and every week we have to brainstorm and decide which hot topics and guest should be on and discussed per podcast episode. We believe that what makes our podcast entertaining and what makes people want to listen due to our structure and foundation of the podcast. Read more>>

Ashley Martin

I’m just a girl from the Big Easy who always had big dreams to impact the world and make a positive difference. Growing up in New Orleans gave me access to a rich, diverse culture. Café Du Monde, parades, and snowballs were staples during my childhood. This rare heritage was complicated by some of the things that come with large, urban cities. These things made me wonder what part I could do if any to help remedy some of the conditions. It also made me wonder if other cities and people faced the same joys and pains and what was beyond the borders. Read more>>

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