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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.

Dr. Kellie Dixon

First, let me say that my whole life, the good, bad, and indifferent was and continues to be driven by the purpose God has placed within me. Growing up in the countryside of Vernon Hill, Virginia – all I wanted was to help people – I just know that the path I would soon travel would be full of twists, turns, challenges, disappointments, and favor! Though I was highly active in my schoolwork, I never wanted to go to college. I wanted to graduate high school, get a plane ticket to California and become a dancer/choreographer. Read more>>

Brendan Giljum

I have always been health conscious and an athlete. As a 3-time collegiate All-American Racquetball player with Mizzou, I know what it is like to experience injuries and want to come back stronger. I have never been interested in working in a cubicle and have always felt called to help people get back on the court as part of a job. When I discovered Chiropractic and realized its potential to do exactly that, I was hooked. Learning more about the opioid epidemic and the ways in which chiropractors were not only not prescribing medication, but also actively limiting the need for them really fascinated me. Read more>>

Celena Le

I always had a passion for fashion since growing up. I would say I didn’t get into fashion until it all started in high school. I went to Gateway STEM, the best years of my life actually. I was the Asian girl known for “being fly” & who sold Jordans. I use to flip shoes when I lived with my grandma & uncle to help make me some extra money, I didn’t know it would become a huge part of my life today because back then I was trying to hustle for any money possible because growing up we didn’t come from a silver spoon. Read more>>


Since I was very young, music has always been a big part of my life. From singing in the children’s church choir to playing all types of instruments (namely the piano, violin, euphonium, tuba, sousaphone, and briefly the guitar) there wasn’t a time that I can remember where I wasn’t doing something musically related. Early on, I listened to a lot of Christian rock and West African Afro-Pop. So from a young age, the melody had always been something that I was drawn to. I didn’t really get into rap until later, and even then, it was through songs like Walk This Way by Aerosmith & RUN DMC and Let it Rock by Kevin Rudolf & Wayne. But with that being said, discovering this music did not get me into rapping. Read more>>

Emma Trueman

As a kid, I remember walking around my neighborhood collecting cool rocks and minerals I had found. I was fascinated by my little rock collection and began to read all of the crystal-related books I could find in my elementary school library. Fast forward about 10 years and I was still very interested in the world of crystals, so I started my business at 18 in June of 2021. I started out with little items such as tumbles, raw chunks, small carvings, and towers and was able to slowly expand and personalize my inventory into what it is now! I’m still growing my business but every day I get one step closer to where I hope to end up! Read more>>

Elisabeth Bradshaw & Lauren Hopkins

We’re designer sisters (interior and fashion) obsessed with bargains, finding beauty in unexpected places, and using our talents to better our community. Lauren graduated from Duke University with a degree in Art History and Architecture and then went on to study interior design at the New York School of Interior Design. After getting her start at Ralph Lauren Home, she worked for Alessandra Branca and then Frank Ponterio in Chicago. Liz has a BFA in Fashion Design from Washington University in St. Louis and spent a decade designing women’s and children’s clothing in New York and Milwaukee before making the leap from apparel to interiors. Read more>>

Abby Ortego

In July of 2021, I was finishing my master’s program in counseling, completing a corresponding counseling internship, mothering my 6-month-old baby, and working part-time. My “margins” were at capacity, but as soon as I finished my program, I knew I needed to reconnect with the part of me that I had put on hold for not just the graduate program but also for my daughter. I knew that if I wanted to practice what I preach as a therapist and mama, I needed to take time for myself in a fulfilling and positive way. My husband and I began to talk and pray about what that creative outlet would look like. Read more>>

Zach Hickert and Larry Puzniak

First Place Collectibles is a local, modern trophy awards company, located right here in St. Louis, Missouri. I have an extensive background in graphic design and Larry is an expert in marketing and advertising. We both have boys in youth baseball and the trophies they won in tournaments were the same year after year. They were the standard old-style trophies that took up room and collected dust on a shelf. We knew we could create better-looking keepsake awards for youth sports that the kids would cherish and hang onto forever. Read more>>

Misty Pennington

I am a sound alchemist – I own a business called The Garden of Common Ground. I create relaxing soundscapes using crystal singing bowls, gongs, chimes, and other instruments. I retired from a financial secretarial position and went on a trip to hunt for crystals and found Crystal Tones singing bowls. I bought 3 of them, began playing with them, and immediately felt a shift. I felt so light and focused. My creativity seemed to open up and expand. Read more>>


Anthony Renelle Reed II, better known in the Art Community as ‘Mojo,’ is a professional Contemporary Artist based in Miami, FL. His upbringing in ST. Louis, MO granted him a profound perspective on his personal creative contribution and inspired him to bring uplifting awareness to his community. “It is my dutiful responsibility to evolve into a beacon of light transmuting my soul’s unique purpose into creative expressions that will uplift the frequency of our collective human existence.”- MOJO Read more>>

Phoenix Simpson

I started getting involved in photography and graphic design in my freshman year of high school by being on the yearbook team. My school did not get cameras until my sophomore year of high school, so I used my iPhone and did my best to have good quality. Once my school got DSLR cameras, I used them a lot. After working with the school cameras, I asked for a Canon Rebel T6 for Christmas of 2020, and I got it. After that during the summer of 2021, I definitely explored new opportunities and started practicing a lot. This past year, I started my business, Exclusive Visuals by Phoenix, because I wanted to take my passion to the next level. Read more>>

Jalesa Brown

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always aspired to be a business owner. Before I graduated high school, I thought about my career in healthcare. I started out as a CNA and I went to school to become a Respiratory therapist. Over the years, I’ve been trying to figure out my thing. A couple of years ago, I decided to start the process of opening a boutique, I had all my vendors and everything lined up and I realized as much as I like to shop, I don’t have a passion for this. At this time, I was on a weight-loss journey myself and I actually went to get body sculpting services done myself. I was happy with my results after a few sessions. Read more>>

Myiesha Henderson

I’ve been in love with fashion since before I can remember, so I knew at a very young age that I wanted to go that route. While working at Gap, around 2013/14, I decided I wanted to start making my own clothes & potentially sell them. I had an old sewing machine at my mom’s house that she got me for Christmas years before, so I went on YouTube and watched DIY sewing videos. I had taken a beginners sewing class in high school, so I was somewhat familiar but still had to relearn a lot since it had been more than 6 years since I’d last sewn anything. Read more>>

Tanner Caldwell

I started singing when I was in 4th grade, and I started playing saxophone when I was in 6th grade. I really enjoyed figuring out songs on the saxophone. Now I call it transcribing, and I enjoy it just as much! By 7th grade, I would tell people “I want to be a saxophone player when I grow up”, and so far that’s exactly what happened! I was in a jazz band in high school (Principia and Parkway West), and I went to SIUE to study jazz performance. Read more>>

Kyle Mabone

So I grew up in St. Louis, during a younger time of my life during that time my Dad was an airplane Mechanic and my mom at the time was working for Christian NE Hospital. I was raised right with tough love and having God in my life I learn to move right. I and my siblings am very blessed to have them. As I got older, I started doing music and taking it seriously in 2016. I set my own lane to pursue a dream that a lot of people want. I’m a rap artist I go by the name “RedSoul”.  Read more>>

Andrea McLaughlin

Robert’s Seafood began in 1916 when Henry Robert, a watchmaker from Switzerland and employee of the Illinois Watch factory, bought the Morris Market in downtown Springfield. It evolved over the years and became Robert’s Foods Inc a thriving foodservice distributor, which the family sold to Sysco in 2004, to focus on the roots of business-quality food and customer service in a retail setting. Today, Robert’s continues to grow in high-quality seafood, aged steaks, premium olive oils, balsamic, baked goods, wines, local meats, fresh produce, chocolates, and other items to complement the food experience for its valued clientele. Read more>>

Kennedie Brown-Thomas

Well, it all started when I graduated high school from the St. Louis job corp center at the age of 16 with a certification in Microsoft Office Specialist and Office Administration. While choosing to graduate early I wanted to become someone that the younger generation could look up to and learn from. Like I always say “You don’t have to bump your head to Learn a lesson you could always learn by watching other people go through it”. Read more>>

The Public

We started in 7th grade for the school talent show. We all wore bowties and played dream on by Aerosmith. We went through a couple of lineup changes before settling on our current 3 piece situation. In early high school, we started to record ourselves and by 2016 we put out our first album called Friendly Devil Music. We have put out several albums and EPs since then including one collaborative album we made with our friend Reggie Pearl. Read more>>

Mandy Zatorski

I have worked in the animal-related field for over 20 years now. I started in high school walking dogs at a kennel and quickly worked my way up in the field. I was a vet technician in college and worked as an animal control officer and cruelty investigator. Eventually, I started up my own nonprofit dog rescue and advocacy group, Missouri K9 Friends. I started my own training business as well, Mandy K9 LLC, and now do that as my full-time career. I’ve dedicated my life to helping animals in need and helping people rehab special needs dogs. I am now a certified dog trainer and certified behavior consultant with the CCPDT. Read more>>

Juss Presh

I’m Juss Presh a 21-year-old musical artist, entrepreneur, and content creator. Born and raised in the city of St. Louis, I love to embrace myself, and my supporters using creative techniques. I started off on the Youtube platform early on in my high school years. I would make videos just for the fun of it and to have an outlet to express my outgoing personality. Now I intentionally shed light on how to be true to yourself and use your life experiences to expand on opportunities. I graduated from Gateway STEM in 2019 with a business/marketing focus and now take online classes for web designing. Read more>>

Angela Renteria

I am a Latina, woman-owned small business established in Utah, in May 2021. In early 2017 as with many others, I began my spiritual awakening during a very dark time in my life. Yet in the midst of my very own foundation falling away over and over again, I found healing, I found a way to grow and evolve from the pain and trauma I’ve experienced along my journey since I was a child. I found me, I found my purpose and I found my soul family. Through energy healing work my entire world has shifted in the most positive way. Certified as a Reiki II practitioner (working on my Reiki Masters). Read more>>

Fatir Muhammad

At the age of 13 I started recording music. Heavily influenced by Chicago artists Lil Durk and Chief Keef, I felt like I had to find a way to get my voice out there to the world. I had no studio equipment just a computer. At the time I couldn’t pay for studio time so I taught myself everything there is to know through research. For about 6 years I recorded at least one song a day and fell in love with the creative process of song making. Read more>>

David Lipe

Hmm. I wear several hats. I’m an English teacher, the boys and girls tennis coach, a podcast host, a tennis academy founder and director, and a tournament director for several tournaments including a Men’s Pro Circuit 25K Futures, The Edwardsville Futures. How I started? Well, I played tennis all my life basically, so after a 2-year stint as a teaching pro after college, I decided that I wanted to coach a high school team and teach English, my collegiate major. Read more>>

Alex Gambill

Although originally from Kansas City, MO, I moved at a young age to the small town of Troy, MO – NW of St. Louis. Growing up in a small town, I often found myself passing the time by discovering new hobbies, exploring, and occasionally quite literally watching paint dry. Through this Odyssey-like quest to find my niche, I eventually discovered home movie making. My passion for filmmaking and photography began when I was 11-12 years old when I made my first black and white home video on a family vacation. My brothers and dad staring as the malicious cowboy outlaws trying to rob my sister, the damsel in distress. This western-thriller kickstarted my interest in the movie making process. Read more>>

Kathleen Corley

I’ve always had an interest in storytelling and music. When I was seven, I “self-published” illustrated storybooks and wrote songs (complete with music scores, lyrics, and illustrations). Piano lessons began for me around that age, and I grew up in a household listening to everything from big band music to the Beatles. As an English major at Webster College (now Webster University) in the early 1970s, I had the good fortune of taking world cinema classes with Marita Michenfelder Woodruff, a theater conservatory professor. Read more>>

1 Comment


    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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