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Baltimore’s Most Inspiring Stories

The heart of our mission is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our communities. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some incredible artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with the incredible group below. Check out our favorite stories from across the Voyage family.

Keep Your Secrets

Keep Your Secrets started out in May 2020 during the height of the COVID lockdown. Vocalist Malerie Gamblin and instrumentalist Matt Nguyen-Ngo were college friends, bored out of their minds in quarantine, and wanted to make pop punk music to pass the time. They posted a handful of pop-goes-punk cover videos on YouTube and quietly started writing some original music, reaching a small audience. Read more>>

Steven Winder

Originally from Everett, WA, I have lived in Maryland for the past 25 years. After graduating from UMBC I ended up working in the Casino industry. In 2016, I went to play in an escape room with some friends for my birthday and the idea that would eventually become Clue IQ was born. I fell in love with the concept of an interactive game built around puzzles that felt like bringing a video game into real life or jumping into a movie. No more sitting and watching, with an escape room people could be the hero in their own adventures. Read more>>

Ashli

It all started with a blog. Picture this, 2019, I was entering my second year of my Master’s degree in public health. I had already taken elective courses in nutrition and most of my papers were on disease prevention or health initiatives through nutrition. I was trained on how to read scientific studies and distinguish the credible from non-credible and learned a vast wealth of knowledge. This is when I knew I had to share this crucial information.  Read more>>

Dr. Hernan Guadalupe

I grew up in Union City, NJ, and started martial arts when I was eight years old. I fell in love with martial arts and felt it was my outlet. It provided me with discipline, confidence, and strength and created an opportunity to socialize and make positive relationships. In 1998, I decided to go to college to pursue my engineering degree and put martial arts on hold; however, I always carried the valuable lessons I learned with me. After focusing on my career and starting a family, I returned to training after an eleven-year hiatus. By this time, I had moved to Maryland with my family and wanted to become active again to improve my health and well-being. In 2009, I became interested in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) after being introduced to the art while attending Karate classes at a local community center. Read more>>

Martin Ballou

I started making music about 15+ years ago. It just started as an interest in video game soundtracks because I loved the music in those games as a kid and wanted to make sounds that could create those feelings I would have played them. I also really loved hip-hop and r&b, so naturally, I wanted to work those two together. From there, I started to try and emulate a lot of my favorite productions using a demo version of FL Studio at the time. I was terrible at it but I just loved learning functions and tools in the program every time I wanted to try something new with it. I knew nothing about music theory, and never traditionally learned any instruments, though I wish I had. Eventually, I got into writing songs as well. Now I work with Logic Pro X and am slowly returning to that initial curiosity and energy I had when I first started. Read more>>

Cory “Sierato” Bailey

I started drawing when I was about 7 years old. Just simple sketches with pencil and paper, which as I got older, tattoos sparked my interest. So I guess my story starts with tattooing. I did my apprenticeship at Hilltop Ink which is located in Baltimore and began working for them which lasted about 2 years. After a while, I decided that I needed to switch things up. I went back to the drawing board. I knew I wanted to do something that mixed art and fashion. I started my customizing journey with some Vans and Sharpie markers, which eventually lead to me actually applying paint to shoes. I actually opened a booth in a local mall, where I started selling the shoes. Read more>>

Ashton Akinrimisi

I am a creative consultant specializing in entertainment marketing, brand strategy, and creative direction. My passion for the arts started as early as 5. I grew up dancing and watching my mother in the church choir. I have always been enamored with the music industry and how they combine the talents of the world’s best artists in their respective mediums (music, fashion. choreography, technology, etc.) When I went into high school I made the choice to explore my artistic talents. My initial idea was to the lay groundwork for hopefully entering a creative career before committing to university.  Read more>>

Izaiah “ZAYOF2MRW” Johnson

My name is Zayof2mrw. Right around 9th grade my passion for music really started to develop, I met my friend and longtime collaborator as well as co-founder of our current collective Anti Norm- Hippy (@halfblackhippy). He then introduced me to our friend Taeo (@taeoblasian) and we started to dream about making music, eventually leading him to create his own studio in his basement. From the first moment I recorded any music, I could not get enough of music and could not think of anything else even if I tried. This led to me being at the studio often, so often that I was not able to get as much music done as I wanted. Conveniently enough- right around that time I explained that I loved music to my Dad, and he said something that really changed the entire trajectory of how I approach music. He said that if you are gonna make music, you need to do everything. Read more>>

Danielle Battle

When I think about the fact that I run a nonprofit in the Cherry Hill neighborhood of Baltimore helping youth and families invest in themselves to create a better future for themselves and their families it makes me so happy, and laugh a little bit. I was born in raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and grew up in a middles class family with two parents that are still happily married. The first time I heard about Cherry Hill was the summer after my freshman year at Morgan State University (the reason I moved to Maryland). I was walking back to campus and saw the words “Cherry Hill” scrawled in spray paint across a wall. I turned to the person I was walking with and said “Ooh Cherry Hill, that sound so pretty”. My statement was met with a wide-eyed look and a quick directive to “never go to Cherry Hill.” I didn’t ask any questions and went on with my day. Read more>>

Amy L. Bernstein

Growing up, I always played by the rules. I went to college straight out of high school; got a full-time job straight out of college; and shaped my life around full-time work with little time leftover to goof off, travel, or figure out who I really was and what I wanted to do. If I could have a do-over, I’d tell my younger self to spend more time exploring what made me happy and less time honoring traditional cultural expectations thrust upon me by my white, upper-middle-class suburban upbringing. Read more>>

Ash Espíritu Libre

Tribe Called Vibe was established in 2015 with the intention of making the journey of spirituality more accessible with wearable art created with raw crystals. Black and Women-owned, this Washington, DC-based brand was created by Ash Espiritu Libre, a self-taught jewelry designer, and spiritual advisor. What began as a solution to help her daughter keep track of her crystals, quickly became a journey of spirituality, entrepreneurship, and dreams come true. Read more>>

Bella Hicks

Well, how I got started well I always wanted to be my own boss I have 5 beautiful kids who I love with everything and I wanted to be able to set and build a foundation for my kids and grandchildren. So, one late night I was sitting in my living room on my couch drinking a glass of wine and looking on Facebook for some hair extensions bundles is what we call them Lol so I’m like why keep buying bundles when I can sell my own so I start looking on google and Facebook for hair vendors. So, I started out selling bundles as my first business which I started on Dec. 12, 2018, so for a year, the business didn’t do good at all so in 2020 I went at it again and educated myself a little more on how the hair business work so when I couldn’t sleep at night I would be in business mode and just researching. Read more>>

Yanni Greene

My journey as a fashion designer started when I just had graduated high school in 2017 I had no clue which path I was going to take but one day I had a needle, thread, and some old fabric and made my first shirt. From there I would purchase my first sewing machine & taught myself mainly through YouTube and the hope of god guiding me. I started to transform regular thrifted items such as large sweaters into 2 piece sets. The feedback I was getting back from everyone really made me feel fulfilled as if I had found my true life’s purpose, it also boosted my confidence way more than I ever imagined. From 2017 to 2018, I would continue to practice crafting more by creating outfits for myself out of my bedroom. Read more>>

Kesra Hoffman

I’ve been drawn to nature and the arts for as long as I can remember, so it sort of makes sense that I’m a landscape painter. I’m an only child and grew up in Middletown Maryland in a farmhouse up a half-mile long wooded lane, crossing a creek and winding past “the 11-acre field” where deer and turkeys gather. With my parent’s property placed in an environmental easement, it just seemed natural to notice and value the beauty of “the farm” and other wild places. We were always exclaiming over the color of a sunset or the shape of a tree. Read more>>

Heidi Schreiber-Pan

I remember the day my research advisor told me: “You need to pick a topic for your dissertation that you have a lot of passion for because that topic is going to be the front and center of your life for a long time.” Instantly, I knew it had to include the natural world because nature had been my alley and my place of peace since my earliest childhood days. In 2015, I graduated with a Ph.D. in counseling psychology having completed a successful investigation of nature and mental health, specifically nature’s role in psychological well-being, resiliency, and spirituality. The real dream, however, was to create a living organization informed by my research. Read more>>

Dr. Lekeia Conway

A resident of Maryland but a Philadelphia native Dr. Lekeia Conway completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Psychology and Liberal Arts within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. She later went on to complete her Ed.D in Higher Education and Adult Learning. Dr. Conway spent several years in the field of mental health but later transitioned into teaching in a Special Education classroom for high school students in Delaware. As time progressed so did her disability. Multiple Sclerosis began to take a toll on her mentally and physically and she ultimately stopped due to medical changes. A daily fight with Multiple Sclerosis coupled with being a full-time wife, mother, and business owner of two companies U’Nique Dezigns and C and L Logistics, LLC is nothing short of amazing and makes her a “Woman of Worth”. Read more>>

Aisha Keys

Aisha Keys, Founder of Craze Chameleon Studio A DC native. Model turned Fashion Stylist started collecting vintage as a necessary means for her body type. Fast fashion wasn’t a proper fit for her. She received so many compliments, that it propelled her entrepreneurial spirit to become a personal shopper in sustainable wardrobing. Wardrobing everyday professionals, artists, musicians, and other creatives in CCS’s curated collection of vintage clothing for fashion shows, music videos, and Red Carpet events throughout the DMV, NYC and not to mention LA, too (Grammys Red Carpet clients). Read more>>

Todd Sheridan

We hit the scene officially in 2016. But before that, I embarked on my own path of healing, which inspired the actual creation of Treehouse Juicery. While an undergrad in college, I suffered from those long nights typing essays and eating junk food late at night on a consistent basis, which caused a number of health issues for me, such as obesity, acne, gastric ulcers, hypertension, and pre-diabetes. Paradoxically, I was very young and ambitious, but I did not value the importance of healthy living, and lo and behold, I was faced with the choice of starting my new life after college with health problems, or simply doing something about it. So I decided that it was time for a change.  Read more>>

Kyla Liggett-Creel

The Community holds the key to healing. There were the lessons I learned growing up in Washington DC. I attended Shiloh Baptist Church, a historical African American church located at 9th and P NW, as the only White child in the church. I learned from community organizers, civil rights leaders, and elders in the African American community about not only systems of oppression but also the resilience and journey of the African American community in America. I watched as churches in DC had “church on the corner” during the crack epidemic to invite young people who were selling drugs into the church for family activities. Read more>>

Kaila Boulware Sykes

It all started after being discriminated against at one of the most unexpected places–a bookstore. My husband and I took our one-year-old son, Truth, to a bookstore in Ocean County, NJ and it had hundreds of thousands of books. We wanted to give Truth the experience of being around so many books, looking through them, and having fun. As soon as we walked in, we could see we were not welcome. People were staring at us and whispering. We ignored them, chose our books, and went to pay. When we left, the cashier made a phone call and said, “Okay they are leaving now.” Read more>>

Luigi Lannutti

I was born and raised in Italy, in a small town called Lanciano, on the hills of Abruzzo, a region between mountain and sea. I have always been very curious and my parents took me and my siblings abroad every summer – I remember we used to take the car and drive around in Europe a tent in the beginning. I was also a boy scout for a very long time until I moved out for university (we actually say, once a boy scout, always a boy scout – Semel scout, Semper scout) and that gave me plenty of opportunities to meet other scouts from all over the world. When I turned 18, I moved to Milan for university – Milan represented me at the time as the most international (European) city in Italy, and I felt the need to explore new things. In the last years of university, I shared the apartment with dear Italian, French and Portuguese friends. During my time at university, I also spent a year studying in Germany.  Read more>>

Wanjiru Chege

I started my wellness company to help heal my own chronic pain from autoimmune disease. I wanted CBD products that I knew were reliably sourced and that actually was effective without breaking the bank. I started off in 2018 by selling infused Caribbean-style meals and drinks and then moved into making balms and scented oils for pain relief. My most popular product is my CBD-infused Recovery drink, which is a blend of fresh pineapple, turmeric, and lots of ginger. My other drink, Sorrel, is an iced hibiscus tea blended with aromatic spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and of course ginger. Read more>>

Vanessa White

Hey there, my name is Vanessa White. I was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. I came to Baltimore, Maryland in 2013 for college to attend the illustrious Morgan State University, and I’ve been here ever since. Since I was young I had a love for all things beauty. For starters, I used to sneak in my mother’s makeup and put on her bronzer. When I was as young as 12 years old I used to do my family and friends’ hair. Over time I then fell in love with individual eyelash extensions and in April 2018 I decided to take an eyelash extension course. Read more>>

Alex de Borba

My life story is divided into chapters. I believe it will be released as a biographical book one day as I am one of those whose life started amid a catastrophe that led me to live in a sort of refugee camp very early. My childhood was spent living in a modified ship container, adjusted to be a “house” by the military. My hometown suffered an earthquake that completely obliterated everything my grandmother had at the time, leaving us empty-handed in a matter of seconds. I was three years old, and we lived under precarious conditions until I was about nine. Read more>>

Jennifer Guadron-Wyatt

My name is Jennifer Guadron-Wyatt, owner of J’Arrange Your Space, LLC and I have lived by the mantra “An organized home is organized life” for my entire life and believe in its power wholeheartedly. Growing up, I regularly assisted my mother with household cleaning & chores, and always sought ways to create systems for consistency and order. I wanted simplified ways to control my space & belongings from a young age, without ever letting them control me. It was through these repetitive habits that my love for the home organization was born. Over the years, I continued to live by that mindset and created a life that brought me comfort and clarity. I believe that keeping my home & office in order creates a pathway to focus on what really matters most to me: family, health & peace of mind. Read more>>

Lawanda Johnson

My name is Lawanda J and I am the owner of DESIGN BY LAWANDA J, LLC. I am a graphic designer and brand strategist. I do a little bit of consulting as well. I offer branding, web design, and social media management services for small business owners and entrepreneurs. I love the work that I do and it took a while to get to this place that I am in. I stumbled into this career as a graphic designer. Initially, I wanted to be an author. I wrote my first creative story at eight years old and wrote a novel at the age of 16. I just wanted to creatively tell stories that people could relate to. I was shy and quiet, and writing was a way to express myself.  Read more>>

Gerrie L’Heureux

Shepherd’s Old Field Market (“SOF Market”) derives our name from the “Shepard” family, who donated their land in the 1600s to help create portions of current-day Leonardtown. The purpose of Shepherd’s Old Field Market is to provide a marketplace community catalyst that aims to promote mixed-use redevelopment, community interaction, grassroots local commerce, and historic place attachment in Leonardtown, Maryland. This mission statement can be found behind the checkout counter at the Market. Read more>>

LaKebra “DJ Keebee” Clark

At the young age of eight, I started performing in countless plays held at Baltimore’s Arena Players, Incorporated, which led to my love and affection for music. I began DJing at the age of 14. My neighbor Dj Lil Mic was and still is a DJ. He would allow me to mess around on the turntables; back then, it was actual vinyl, with no advanced technology yet. We are talking 1994. Even before then, I would make my own mixtapes in my room recording over tapes. Read more>>

Josh Petz

My name is Josh Petz. I am a lifelong resident of Maryland. I grew up in Harford County and moved to Baltimore City while I was attending the University of Baltimore. Upon graduation, I was working for a small security technologies firm, that was a great experience, unfortunately, that firm was bought by a larger company, and I was laid off. I was worried because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pay my rent, but sometimes life changes can be good. I got a new job with Efficiency Enterprises and I’ve been here since September of 2017. Read more>>

Wish Granted

My name is Wishgranted, I’m from Baltimore, Maryland. This entire idea of me living a dream came about by my mom getting me a saxophone on Christmas when I was 9 years old. She told me I was going to take her to the Grammys and I believed it. The only thing is I didn’t know I would fall in love with music on the way. I never played the saxophone until she got me one, she knew I was playing instruments in school but, I didn’t take it seriously. My music teacher at the time told my mom “your son needs to play an instrument, please find a way to get him an instrument”, and that’s just what she did. Read more>>

Sorge

Sorge basically started as a means to keep us from losing our minds and channel some creativity. We set out with relatively low expectations, thinking this would be a fun alternative to the typical poker night. Once we started playing shows it took on a life of its own. People kept reaching out to us with more gigs and we really started egging each other on to improve and write more material. Since then, we’ve released an EP of our early songs and are aiming to release a full-length LP sometime in 2023. Read more>>

Taevian Harris

I have been rapping since I was a kid, my older cousin is a successful icon and in the hip-hop industry (KING LOS ) I’ve always looked up to him. Made me want to go harder and harder with my music and writing abilities I knew sooner or later I would perfect my craft. My peoples moved me to pa years ago I was in and out of trouble a lot and delt with a lot of racism in my teen years at 21 I was sent to state prison and had to do alittle bid but it forced me to sit down and perfect my craft even more now I can be me when I go in the booth and ever verse I write or freestyle I give it my all. Read more>>

Janelle Hughes and Kim Williams

KJ Design and Mortar Styling, LLC was officially founded in 2018, however, Co-Owners Janelle Hughes and Kim Williams discussed the idea of partnering to offer home staging and interior design services as early as 2012. As friends and former college roommates at Howard University, they recognized their shared passion for creating beautiful and functional spaces that reflect a variety of design styles and eras. Read more>>

Alicia Joynes

From an early age, I have had mentors pouring into my life molding me into a lady, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. While attending Morgan State University, I volunteered at a local elementary school and connected with the young girls. Through my interaction, I learned that they felt safe in the program, but didn’t feel like they had a safe space as girls to evolve. Within a year that school was closed down and Beautiful Butterflies, Inc., was birthed with a structure that enabled girls to evolve into young ladies. Read more>>

Amanda Jones

My name is Amanda Jones, I am a retreat facilitator, meditation teacher, and owner of a Baltimore wellness studio, The Sedona House. I began hosting empowerment retreats in 2018 and eventually that vision expanded into a wellness studio where people can participate in retreat-style classes and workshops any day of the week. I started my career in wellness after embarking on my own personal development journey and discovering how many tools and modalities are available to help up not only survive our lives but to thrive in them. Read more>>

3 Comments

  1. Janice Bryant-Baker

    June 30, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    I have enjoyed reading about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

  2. Darlene Cain

    July 13, 2022 at 5:59 pm

    I love reading the stories and they are very inspiring

  3. Larry Darnell Rhodes Jr

    July 15, 2022 at 12:49 am

    Baltimore MD I’m from there .. I feel maybe I need that culture back in my life .. I’m in Texas and it’s tiring .. I love Bmore it’s my home and will always be

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