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Raleigh’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.

Daniel Morgan

I am a college student studying Exercise Physiology at East Carolina University, with hopes of eventually becoming a Physical Therapist. Throughout my entire life, I have always had an interest in photography. I started out taking pictures with my iPod Touch when I was 8. When I was 12, my father gave me my first camera – a Nikon D90, which he never really used. During my time at Millbrook High School, I served as the self-appointed “student photographer.” I shot everything from sports to school plays to graduation ceremonies. These experiences solidified my passion for photography and for serving others. I love to serve the people around me, so it doesn’t feel like a job. I love what I do, even if it is not a full-time job. Maybe, that’s why it’s so good for me. Today, I use a Nikon D500. I primarily shoot families, seniors, and local businesses. I serve the communities located in Raleigh, Greenville, Wake Forest, and Louisburg, North Carolina. Read more>>

Sandra Davidson

I am an artist from North Carolina who makes work about beauty, conversation, creativity, relationships, and everyday life. I’ve always loved stories, and I share mine through words, photographs, audio, and videos. I grew up in rural NC, across the road from the farm that my maternal grandfather grew up on, and family has always been a central and defining force in my life. My father is a Character who can quote Carl Sandberg, Bob Dylan, and Napoleon in the same breath. The records he played and songs he sang at the top of his lungs when I was growing up very much influenced my first artistic love: music. My mother and her family have always valued writing and stories, and my great-great-uncle on that side was a Pulitzer-prize-winning playwright named Paul Green, who made a name for himself writing folk plays about life in rural North Carolina. Read more>>

Liz West

Most of my earliest memories as a child were of discovering the world in a sensory capacity. I was attracted to objects, land and cityscapes, spaces, and fashion that were made of vibrant colors, the brightest tones and hues, and of strong saturation. All my memories first love, and attractions all had one thing in common; the use of color and light together. I grew up in a family with both parents working as artists, so it was inevitable that I would end up doing either the opposite of that or something very similar to that. I was constantly being nurtured an artist’s mentality, which was very important for me growing up. All the aesthetic and conceptual decisions were made with curators and artists around me, and I pursued what I felt I was good at, what I was most interested in and most excited by, really. Read more>>

Amber Barnes

I started off taking drama classes at Nash Central High in Nashville, NC then I was doing plays and worked my way up. I did a lot of background roles in different cities before I started landing speaking roles. I was in and out because I was doing a lot of fashion shows and small commercials and like any normal person who wanted to be sure I was not putting all of my eggs in one basket, I went back to college to obtain a medical degree. If it wasn’t for my Aunt Leatta Spruill, I don’t think I would have been in college due to my procrastination but I managed to finish college and go all the way into the acting field. I gave up my job working at Kurtz in Wilson, NC to stand in for Yaya Dacosta in Our Kind of People for 6 months. I left my daughter, Autumn Bell, being cared for to my mother Lisa Barnes, Alicia Davis her Godmother, her grandparents Katrina Bell Mosley and Dazzell Mosley, and her father Brandon Bell while I was gone. I was homesick and missing my daughter but I knew that this would open many doors for me in the future and I will be able to have a learning experience on a professional set. Read more>>

Katherine Retiz

I started doing makeup when I was 19, I loved doing anything artsy and creative since I was a kid, and when I discovered that makeup was another creative outlet for me, I pushed and pushed through to express my creativity with it in any way that I could. I remember when I started out I would have 1 or 2 clients a month, and with the free time I had I would do this really colorful makeup looks on myself. I would draw 90’s cartoons from my childhood, take inspiration from my favorite things, and transform them into these really beautiful makeup looks. It was definitely like therapy to me and it gave me that motivation to push forward. Fast forward to now I’m doing professional makeup on these beautiful weddings, I’m doing makeup on quinceañeras for their quince, and making these ladies look beautiful for an important milestone in their life. Read more>>

Angel Sanchez

We, my partner Chris and I (Angel), got our start by making and selling soy candles in 2013. We sold them anywhere and everywhere. Along the way, we met some other awesome and talented makers while doing craft shows for the first four years of our candle business. In February 2018 the opportunity to open up a shop in Downtown Benson arose and we jumped on it! We wanted our shop to be a place where everyone was welcome and felt at home. We focused on locally made artisan goods, vintage finds, and furniture at the beginning. All those years doing craft fairs we didn’t realize we were building a Rolodex of vendors for our shop. We had less than three weeks to fill the space and we started reaching out to potential vendors and filling up our shop with amazing finds. We opened our doors on March 1st, 2018. Fast forward to June and we added NC craft beer and wine to the mix. Customers really loved the fact that they could walk around with a beer or glass of wine and shop, especially in small-town Benson. Read more>>

Bianca Jade

I started singing when I was 9 years old, just singing along to the radio and my Aretha Franklin CD in my basement. I’ve always loved singing, writing songs, and just being around music in general. After practicing on my own at home, I performed for the first time in front of a live audience at my middle school when I was 11 years old. I sang “Fallin’” by Alicia Keys and won the talent show. That performance gave me a lot of recognition in school from my peers and teachers. People knew that I could actually sing. When I was 14, my dad gave me a keyboard piano to learn how to play at home. I taught myself to play piano by ear by practicing cover songs of my favorite artists. Eventually, I started writing my own songs at the piano and performed my songs for my friends, family, and neighbors. A couple of years later, my family and I moved back to Miami, FL (where I’m from originally) and I got accepted into a performing arts school where I studied choral music and jazz. Read more>>

Shakira Shipman

I started drawing pretty young, around, and probably well before, the age of ten. I had a “How to Draw Manga Characters “ book that I can’t remember the origins of so my first few drawings were anime girls, or rather, myself as an anime girl. I got into drawing because I was inspired by the drawings my aunt had drawn when she was younger, although hers were fashion designs. I tried that, but it didn’t stick. I’m technically self-taught in most things, I’ve only really taken two art classes in high school, but I also like to say Bob Ross taught me. I watched his videos growing up but didn’t own the materials at the time to practice what I was learning. When I finally got around art supplies beyond a No. 2 pencil and printer paper in high school, I was able to get a feel for some of the techniques I saw him using. It wasn’t until college (around 20 yo) that I was able to support my passions and buy paints and brushes and canvas of my own, and that’s when I was able to really begin honing my skills. Read more>>

Momo Sengupta

I am Momo and I am the founder of Pinchofbong. My love for food started in my own childhood home kitchen, as my Mom is an excellent cook. The fragrant spices and bold flavors of my mum’s homemade Bengali curries are my inspiration and motivation to make something a little special. I grew up in a family that loved food, but cooking became a more significant part of my life when I started living alone, I’ve always enjoyed the food but it was during those young adult years that I really started to explore more things in the kitchen and get excited about not just the eating but the cooking as well. I moved to Canada in 2015. I got a chance to visit Toronto’s most culturally diverse neighborhoods, unique ethnic pockets of the city, local hangouts, and some well-hidden gems and started to learn more about different cuisines. I believe I am still in the learning process and I consider myself a novice recipe developer. Join me enjoying my Rollercoaster ride. Read more>>

Nicole McIntyre

Nicole McIntyre, CEO, and Co-Founder of Cocoa Forte™ Franchising, LLC., is a native of Washington DC and the eldest of seven sisters. Raised in a military household, (Air Force), Nicole’s family moved to various states and countries such as California, North Dakota, Maryland, and Oxfordshire, England. Her family settled in Raleigh, NC where she met her husband, Freddie McIntyre Jr. from Whiteville, NC, also co-founder of the Cocoa Forte™ brand. Nicole studied Business Administration at Wake Technical Community College and North Carolina A&T. Even at a young age Nicole was driven and a born leader and was always passionate about entrepreneurship. Which led her into business consulting for other entrepreneurs and finally into the food truck industry. Networking and navigating the local food truck arena, Nicole served as a board member of the Raleigh/Durham Mobile Food Association (RDUMFA). While Nicole was engaged to bring awareness to local food trucks, Cocoa Forte became a popular dessert truck in the area. Read more>>

Mike Jones

I played basketball my entire life and was fortunate enough to be awarded a basketball scholarship for college. Shortly after my playing career was over, I started working with children and fell in love with them. In 2014, I became a coach at East Chapel Hill high school and began working with kids individually in my free time. Eventually, I grew extremely popular in the area as the “basketball guru” and decided I wanted to open my own space. In 2020, The Guru School was born. I quickly realized that I was selling myself by making this just a space for kids to play basketball and that’s when we started doing spring break and summer camps, community outreach, virtual learning, and tutoring for kids. We have been open a little more than a year and both I and the Guru School have been recognized by several local and national media outlets and been given a couple of different awards for the work we have done. Read more>>

Condado

Condado is a rock band from Asheboro, North Carolina, and includes members: Alberto “Birdie” Velazquez
Joshua Reid
Javan Trinidad
Anunt Singh Birdie, Josh, and Javan all met and exchanged information at a music store back in 2016. December 2017, Birdie and former band member, Kevin, we’re in the process of trying to find some musicians to start a new project with.After years of back and forth trying to set up a jam session, Birdie stressed to Josh that he thought he and Javan would be the perfect fit and that he wanted to meet up as soon as possible. Josh was playing music at a church at the time and had keys to the building. The band met up at 2 am that night and wrote their first song, “Army Jacket” in one night. The band would go on to finish writing more songs, record them live at Nightsound Studios in Carrboro, NC, play their first show, and release their debut EP in the summer of 2018. Read more>>

Mikala Williamson

Celeste Essentials was founded in 2017 by CEO, Mikala Williamson at just 20 years old. She has gone through a childhood of hospitalizations due to Sickle Cell Anemia. She was then chosen for a research study on stem cell transplants and was cured of Sickle Cell Anemia. After her transplant, she began developing a lot of skin issues from eczema and psoriasis to severely dry, chapped skin from head to toe. Nothing was working from dermatologists to medications and even other organic brands. Mikala used this experience to build a better life for herself and others who may be experiencing the same things. Five years later she is a Registered Medical Assistant with an associate degree in applied sciences making her knowledgeable in the science behind handcrafting organic beauty and the overall health of the body and skin. Not only does she handcraft and sell products on her own website but she also is in local stores and the Walmart marketplace. Mikala even teaches others how to handcraft their own skincare products, provides wholesale and private label products, and educates her customers on how to take care of the body and skin from the inside out. Read more>>

Neena Page Ramsey

I’m obsessed with accessories! It’s the first thing I notice in any outfit. And my personal collection of jewelry is bordering on unhealthy. My fascination with accessories grew during the pandemic as I spent hours curating Pinterest boards with many pieces I eventually collected. Playing “dress-up” at home brought me alot of joy during those long days inside. I purchased new and gently-used pieces from everywhere online. Soon, I began to imagine how cool it’d be to have my own shop of unique pieces, and thus The Pensive Tiger was born. Now, the Crocs obsession is shocking to even me. I was never interested in Crocs until I saw my first jibbitz. Once I learned the aesthetically-challenged shoes could be decorated — there was no turning back for me. Read more>>

Jolie Kilpatrick

Ms. Jolie began her Irish dance career with the late Mr. Patrick Butler and the Butler Academy of Irish Dance in Syracuse, NY at the ripe old age of fourteen. After seeing Riverdance on the Late Night Show with David Letterman, she couldn’t get the rhythms out of her head and knew she needed to learn herself. She was devastated when the first dance school she spoke with told her she was too old to begin. God knew that wasn’t the right school for her, and opened the door a year later when Mr. Butler began a class just ten minutes down the road from her house. Though she began “late”, Mr. Butler and his assistant teacher, Pattie, pushed and encouraged her in both her competitive and show career.After several successful years with Mr. Butler, and later Pattie Sheehan-Malinowski of the Butler-Sheehan School, she met and married her high school sweetheart, Piper. They began a whirlwind adventure of moving around for school and careers, which landed them in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, PA. Read more>>

Mandy Sykes and Addison Harman

My family moved to Wake Forest when I was 2 years old after my Dad took the Wake Forest-Rolesville high school principal job. I grew up attending the local daycare that was owned by the Dodd Family and grew up going to “The Corner Ice Cream Shop” then owned by Kathaleen Chandley, my piano teacher. So when I learned that “The Corner” and the adjacent “Powers-Dodd” home was for sale, I was immediately excited about the idea of owning a historic Wake Forest treasure. The timing was perfect as my daughter Addison had just graduated from East Carolina University and had returned home after spending 3 years working in community relations and promotions for the Milwaukee Brewers organization. I saw the opportunity to purchase a piece of my personal history, and I knew Addison was the perfect person to be the event venue manager. I provide oversight, but she truly is the new heart of “The Corner & Meeting House of Wake Forest”. We are still in the early days of ownership but plan to utilize the entire property to host memorable events that are only limited by the host’s imagination. Read more>>

Robert Sullivan

I’ve had a camera in my hands for as long as I could remember, but I’ve been a photographer in earnest for about a decade now. Just over ten years ago my parents bought me my first professional camera for a holiday gift and I immediately knew I wanted to someday make it grow from just a hobby to, eventually, my life’s work. Read more>>

Ania Nodarse

I am the General Manager for Medical Moving Solutions LLC. Our company provides storage and White Glove delivery services to the medical and research community in North Carolina. We started in 2019 with only 3 employees, and a 3700 sq ft warehouse. The quality of our services, a positive attitude, and the specialized skills of our team to handle properly medical equipment has let our growth and expansion over the past 3 years. Right now, Medical Moving Solutions moved to a new location in RTP with over 25000 sq ft warehouse, that is getting customized to accommodate our several customers’ needs. We have tripled our employee’s count, and we are currently providing not only regular storage but cold storage for temperature-controlled inventory. We implemented the iCloud system with bar codes for excellent inventory management of lab supplies, and as 2022 started we are the first local Dry Ice manufacture in the town. This is NEWS!!! Read more>>

Victoria Johnson

Victoria “Babydoll” Johnson is an American Radio Personality born and raised in Eastern North Carolina. She grew up listening to legendary heritage Hip Hop Foxy 99 personalities, all while secretly dreaming of one day becoming one of them. Greg Reid said it best in Wealth Made Easy: “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” After high school, Victoria decided it was time to make her dreams come true by enrolling at Carolina School of Broadcasting, in Charlotte North Carolina. After graduation, she went into Traffic reporting and News production in Charlotte and Raleigh, NC. Despite those detours, she made her way to WZFX Foxy 99 the station that planted the seed for her dream. Read more>>

Oliver Riera

Before the pandemic, people referred to me as the renaissance man, because I was doing so many different things. I suppose to begin, I’m a first-generation American. My family is from Venezuela, and growing up, to anyone else, I might have seemed like there was nothing wrong with me. On the inside, I never had anyone I can truly connect with. My mom and my sister got sent back to Venezuela when I was 10 years old. They said they had to go in order to get their green card. Only to find out years later from a lawyer that, that didn’t need to happen. I was with my dad, who I didn’t get along with. I had to grow up fast. Learned how to clean, cook, do laundry, etc. I didn’t get along with my dad, to the point where I was walking on eggshells every day. Through the help of the community, my mom and sister were able to come back two years later on Christmas night. My sister said I was quiet when they came back. I was loud before. Read more>>

Dr. Jiyoung Ryu

I am originally from Seoul, South Korea but spent my childhood in Long Island, NY, and Los Angeles. After finishing medical school in Korea, I returned to the United States to pursue further medical training. I am currently board-certified in Rehabilitation Medicine and Obesity Medicine, and fellowship-trained in Spine and Pain Management. During the COVID pandemic, I was out of work and my kids were out of school. Therefore, I took the opportunity to expand my skill set to include facial aesthetics, especially lasers and botox. I spent close to a year in Seoul working and training at one of the premier med spas in the Gangnam district. While working there, I found my passion and decided to open my own med spa after returning to North Carolina. Read more>>

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