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The Most Inspiring Stories in St. Louis

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.

Melissa Hedrick

It all started as a way to bond with my mom and relieve stress from my day-to-day. My Mom and I started crafting every Sunday afternoon. We’d post our finished projects on social media which led to family and friends asking us to make things for them. After a ton a family support, we decided to launch our business via Facebook.  We started with burlap banners and reversible decorative blocks which quickly led to the development of all types of wood decor. I only knew how to do very basic cuts with a saw so my husband and Father-in-Law started to help out with the more intricate cuts which led to the creation of our signature home sets. Our business quickly turned into a family affair when my Mother-In-Law started helping out with painting and soon, we all had our roles.  We have now been in business for 7 years with a website and distribution at Katy Trail Collections on Main Street in St. Charles. We continue to expand our offerings and have big dreams to continue to grow our business.  Read more>>

Kim Mumford

I started out in high school with film, taking pics of friends and locations. I was told that I would never make any money at photography. So, I hung it up. Soon, I met my better half and we had our first son Matt. My husband was active-duty Air Force and soon after Matt was born, he was sent to Iraq for 4 months. When our son Matt was 16 months old, he was sent to Korea for a year. During that year I wanted to document our son for him so he would not feel like he missed out on any milestones. I started to fall back in love with photography but had no idea I could do this for a living. It would take a move across the country from NM to Southern IL , various jobs and 2 more kids….our daughter Kayla and our youngest son Nick… more deployments, missed birthdays, missed holidays, missed kids’ activities and sports to help spark that fire from a small ember to a roaring inferno. Once the kids got to be preteens and the deployments were not as many, I took time for me. Read more>>

Britt Royal

I have always loved baking. I baked for fun as a form of stress relief in high school and college, much to the delight of my family and friends. Unfortunately, shortly after graduating college, I was diagnosed with a severe gluten intolerance. Gluten (the stretchy protein in wheat, barley, rye, and their derivatives) is the building block of most American-style baked goods, so it was a heavy blow. I was back to square one, relearning the basics of baking, but this time without gluten.  I had to learn the basics of each type of “alternative” flour and what they had to offer. Resources about gluten-free baking were few and far between at the time. Published recipes often yielded lackluster results. I was not willing to settle for sandy, dry, or gummy baked goods, so I started experimenting with my own twists on recipes utilizing techniques that I had picked up from international recipes that were not so gluten-heavy. Read more>>

Lon Magenta

Atomic Junkshot was founded in the late 1980s by me (Lon Magenta) and Denzel Whitewell in St. Louis when we both dropped out of high school. We really didn’t have much musical talent at the time but it seemed like a good idea. We worked at it – rather hard, in fact – and built a vision and foundation for a blues-infused country-rock band with attitude that reflected who we were at that point and time. We wanted to be Midwest Honky Tonk that spoke to us and only us and our ridiculous sensibilities and senses of humor. We eventually put together a trio that included me on vocals and rhythm guitar, Denzel on lead guitar, and we found a friend of Denzel’s – Joey Baals – to play drums. He was a nut and great drummer who had a speed metal background. The trio that was Atomic Junkshot circa the 1990s found a unique niche in that adult entertainment clubs starting booking us all over the country, and for some reason, especially in Delaware. Read more>>

jon hedgecorth

I spent 14 yrs. in the coffee industry being a barista, making large batches of cold brew, learning to roast, etc. one day when I was putting stickers on bottles, I decided I didn’t want to work for anyone else anymore.  I had to figure out then, what I was gonna do. I am a social guy and love being around others; talking and engaging in people’s lives.  A friend suggested I check out barbering, so I did. I was blown away about the history, the art, the science of it all. the barbershop has always been a hub of community… I was hooked and there just so happened to be a barber school in my hometown.  Fast forward about 10 months, I was about ready to graduate and was approached by a woman selling a barbershop down the street from me. I grew up in St. Charles County and so a shop where I have lived and am currently living was a dream come true. Read more>>

Rishi Dev

So, the funny thing is that we have only been in business for 2 months, and what a crazy time it has been! Khaana Express started as an idea to bring our Indian home-cooked meals into people’s homes. We saw an increasing trend during COVID where people were ordering more food from restaurants — including me! But I would always find myself craving home-cooked meals after a few days due to takeout being heavy, unhealthy, and expensive.  The initial idea was simple: we make our healthy meals (no cream, no frozen ingredients, etc.) and deliver them to people on a weekly basis. This has since taken off and we are excited for the growth that lies ahead!. Read more>>

Josh Van Hoorebeke

When I was around 14- 15, I used to watch skateboard, BMX, and dirt bike videos on VHS. They always had punk rock and metal bands playing in the background. Around this same time, kids in my area started picking up instruments and forming bands. After forming a band, myself using a friend’s dad’s drum set, I finally convinced my parents to buy me a set of my own. I continued to play in bands, releasing records and touring until 2018 when I started getting serious about producing music. I pretty much stopped playing in bands at that point and became a full-time music producer. I started audio engineering (recording) just to be able to work with certain artists I wanted to work with. By recording them as well, I was able to have a closer working relationship with them.  Read more>>

Shannon Jimenez

I’m a mother, a writer, a coach, and a content creator. I absolutely hate using the word influencer, because really it has a lot of bad stigma surrounding it. Plus, that was never my goal. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted more than the life “expected” of me. I wanted to do something I loved, something I was passionate about, and I wanted to have fun. I never worried about the money or being famous, I just wanted to have purpose. In High School when everyone is told they had to know where they wanted to go and what they wanted to do, I was stuck. I took aptitude tests, asked counselors, teachers, even friends what they all thought I should do with my life. I wanted to know what they thought I would be good at. After High School, I decided to go to Cosmetology school. Not because I wanted to have a career in being a hairdresser, but because I knew I was good at it, and it was only a year so why not!? I finished school in 2009 and started working in a salon. Read more>>

Kristen Caldwell

I have been crafting since I was a child. One grandmother started me down the path and the other taught me basic embroidery and sewing skills and my love for crafting grew from there. After a cancer battle, I decided to do more of what I love, which meant more crafting, specifically crochet and die-cut crafting. I opened my Etsy shop LaBelleVieMaisOui at the encouragement of my husband in 2017, and that business evolved into designing and selling patterns and cut files for the items I made as well as beginning a successful blog, Hooks, Books, & Wanderlust, that aims to encourage them to do more of what brings joy to their own lives through reading, traveling, and of course, crochet!. Read more>>

Allison Schilling

I am a St. Louis native, wife, mom of 3 and was a full-time essential worker for the last ten years. I began creating cheese boards years ago for family and friends’ get-togethers and holidays. Once COVID hit, I found that creating cheese boards was a way to de-stress from my hospital job during the 2020 pandemic. Owning my own business was always a dream I had for myself. After a few opportunities presented themselves, I felt the universe was telling me to turn this hobby into a business. 18 months later, I quit my job to pursue this full time and now I have a full-blown team helping me!. Read more>>

Alison Columbus and Janice Voth

We created our PredatorBWear harness in North Vancouver BC, Canada, after seeing the aftermath of predatory attacks on dogs coming into the vet clinic, we both work at. Together, we have 27 years’ experience between us and in that time, there have been countless dogs who have been under our care with wounds from other dogs, coyotes, birds of prey, and even raccoons!  We are passionate about helping protect dogs. Where we live in North Vancouver Canada, hiking in the woods, playing at the park, or even in their own backyard, the threat of danger is always there. Predator attacks are on the rise as our cities expand into neighboring forests and wooded areas. We brought our ideas of the harness to life and are very proud of our product. Read more>>

Joe Hostman

My family has been in real estate for over 30 years with my mom, Jean, still an active agent today. She always encouraged me to jump into the industry, but being angsty and wanting to forge a different path after college, I got a job as a locum tenens physician recruiter at a local agency. It was a high-pressure inside sales job where I learned a lot of valuable skills in negotiations with a range of personalities and egos. After a few years, I was recruited to a competing firm for a sizable pay increase…but was sued for a non-compete issue and forced to move to Atlanta while a corporate lawsuit was worked out. After about 6 months of back-and-forth litigation, it was all settled and I came home to STL. For the next 5 years, I did pretty well, but it was a cut-throat sales environment behind a desk all day, and I could feel my soul draining away. I didn’t have any passion for the job, and I grew to dislike the environment I was living in day-to-day. Read more>>

Brittani Miller

After years in the bridal industry of creating dream weddings, I made the switch to being a part of all the big moments through financial advising in 2017. I was very reluctant to become a financial advisor because crunching numbers behind a desk did not sound like my idea of a fun time. However, I did not realize that goal development and planning, relationship building, and dreaming of building near-term and long-term futures was the actual role that I would be doing. I headed into my interview in June of 2016 with no intention of taking the position. When I arrived, I sat down and nailed my interview…until a tooth (the FRONT ONE might I add) that I had knocked out ten years prior in cheerleading decided to jump ship from my mouth and dance across the table directly towards my interviewer (sorry for that, Keith). I muddled my way through a few more moments of talking while scrambling to not laugh my head off. Needless to say, I got the position. Talk about gumption, eh? I took it as a sign that this was not the career for me, and I left to go see my dentist. Read more>>

XZavier White

I’m the creator and owner of La Bouc Clothing brand. I think I started out just like any other entrepreneur with a few things in mind that I wanted to provide for my family, create something I love and that others will love also, and I guess be known for something great. I created my clothing brand La Bouc which is French for “The GOAT” stemming from those things and maybe a few other influences such as my favorite basketball player Kobe Bryant who in my opinion is definitely “The Goat”. I would say so far the journey of having a brand has been a challenge but I’m sure it gets easier with time. As of now I’m still building and slowly growing at the same time it’s weird and can seem a bit overwhelming but exciting at the same time.  Read more>>

Mariah Bland

My story is a little complex. There’s really so much to dig through, I don’t even know where to start. For starters, I was born into a family of 11 children all adopted. My dad served in the US Army and my mother worked from home. I wasn’t the greatest kid looking back. I would often given my parents a lot of grief. Small things. Though, I didn’t have the healthier upbringing, subjected to abuse and trauma. By the time I was 12, My mom had suddenly passed away and that just opened the door to horrific acts. Self-harm, suicide attempts, and substance use. I changed my entire appearance, all black. Being African American and dressed as a weirdo goth kid back then subjected me to a lot of bullying. A lot of hate from teacher and other students. I was so lost and I hated myself. My dad was never home and my older siblings moved out of the house. My dad hired a “nanny” to help with the remaining kids still living at home, but she was a crappy person. She was abusive and manipulative towards my dad. I remember one time, she told me, “I wouldn’t be surprised if I looked in the newspaper one day and saw that you had murdered someone.” Read more>>

Moria McQueen

I have been sewing since I was 14 years old. I come from a family that loves to sew and my great granny was a seamstress. When I was little, I was obsessed with fashion, hoping to become a fashion designer. I used to sew my own clothes but with time my plans have changed and I ended up going to university learning Mass Communication for a degree.  After having my second child, my mum kindly suggested I get back into sewing and make things for my children. With covid changing everything for everyone, it actually made me get back into sewing.  I started making very basic organizers for my own bags because I wanted to explore new style of organizers. I didn’t like chunky and cheap or overpriced liners available. Read more>>

Mookie Tolliver

Malcolm Tolliver ” known as Mookie Tolliver born on May 2, 1990. At only 31 years of age, Mookie is blessing the stage with his fresh urban R&B style. He is an inspiring (singer, dancer, actor, rapper, and music producer) from Madison, IL. Mookie started singing at the age of 4 and begin to run away with the sweet sounds of his voice. Hoping to make it in the industry. “It takes hard work and dedication,” he says, “but I have the drive to do so”. Mookie hopes you all can help him make it by being the best fans ever, also giving him feedback. Mookie’s ability to move a crowd with his smooth dance moves and powerful vocals gained him the attention of a diverse and passionate fan base and producers “Music is my heart and passion” he said and I put a lot of hard work and effort into it. He is an admirable young man who wants to inspire youth through creative arts and self-expression. His mother Madine Wiley (R.I.P) for teaching him to stay focused and put God first. Ever since my mom passed away 21 yrs. ago this has been my goal to showcase my talent. Read more>>

Danysha Greenlee

First, let me start by telling you me being a makeup artist was the furthest thing from my mind. For much of my life, I was a tomboy, the closest thing I did to applying makeup was put on chapstick. On the other hand, I have always been extremely artistic. I love to paint and draw, and makeup was that for me but on an entirely different level. I got my start in makeup back in 2014. My daughter was born premature which resulted in her being in the hospital for 2 years before she finally came home. I would go sit with her from sunup to sundown and during the times when she would sleep or go down to take feedings though her feeding tube, I would watch YouTube videos on makeup to pass the time. One day I decided to go grab some basics from Dollar Tree and started to practice on myself. In the begging all I could do is apply eyebrows and looking back now I’m so grateful for evaluation because I would draw them thick as a brick.  Read more>>

Rashaan Carr II

D.A.S.H. Designs was originally created in my college town of Columbia, Missouri… Truthfully, I was in-between enrollment of classes at the time. Dealing with some personal issues due to mental health, I decided to take some time off but during that time off I did not want to just sit around doing nothing… I always had a knack for entrepreneurship and building relationships, and also not to mention I was in school for Textile apparel management, so those skills are kind of how I honed in on starting an apparel/brand business. Little known fact, I chose the name “DASH” because of my liking of the character, Dash, from the animated film The Incredibles. And that’s why the main logo of the brand features a mask design with hidden letter Ds as the pupils… Then after building a little buzz, I received a phone call from an aunt of mine who suggested that I turn the name into an acronym by choosing words that mean something to myself and what I want the brand to represent. I chose the words, Determined Achieve Success Happiness… At the time of battling with my mental health, I found myself never being happy nor able to enjoy anything. Read more>>

Coreyanna Sims

After high school, I started getting into makeup. I use to love watching makeup tutorials on YouTube and practicing makeup looks on myself. I never really thought about being a makeup artist until my close friend Deasha pushed me in that direction. I practiced on her until I got more confident. A month later, I started accepting clients and started to have a passion for it.  Read more>>

Ryan Hansen

I moved to St. Louis from Brooklyn back in 2010, when the market collapsed and nobody in NYC could get a job. My first job out of college was for Wells Fargo. I hated it and quit within a month. I went on to become a personal trainer, eventually opening my own studio. I turned 30 and realized I had only done one thing, which was train people, so I decided to switch up and go to culinary school. I moved back home to NY, enrolled in the culinary institute of America, the top culinary school in the country. After was going fantastic, then covid hit and they sent everyone home. I came back to STL, started private cheffing with a buddy, and started working in restaurants.  Read more>>

Tim Woods and Curtis Comer

We met almost thirty years ago in San Francisco, both having relocated there from the Midwest, Tim from Indiana and Curtis from Kansas. In 2003, we moved back to St. Louis to be closer to our families. It was during a trip to New Orleans in 2013 that we came across a shop selling old-world style handmade cement pieces; we loved what we saw, and the gentleman who ran the studio taught workshops. We were at the end of our trip, though, so declined the workshop, telling ourselves we were “artsy” enough to go home and teach ourselves how to do it. There was much more to the casting technique than met the eye, so we failed miserably.  Fast forward through a couple years of dabbling in cement and concrete, and we decided to return to New Orleans to take the workshop. There was only one problem: the owner of the shop had moved to North Carolina. So, with our dogs, Sadie and Annie, we drove to a mountain top studio outside of Asheville and took the workshop, earning the title of “Master Casters.” Back in St. Louis, we began casting whimsical and classical designs using molds. Read more>>

1 Comment

  1. SYLVESTER BROWN, JR.

    September 20, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    Greetings and congratulations on the launch of VoyageSTL. From the perspective of a former columnist (St. Louis Post-Dispatch and publisher (Take Five Magazine 1987-2003) and current writer with the St. Louis American, I can honestly say I am impressed with your work. Already, it seems to be a refreshing addition to the region’s sometimes stale media landscape. – Good luck with your venture.-Sincerely, Sylvester Brown, Jr.

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