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Downtown & Brickell’s Rising Stars

The heart of our mission at VoyageMIA 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 Miami’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 Downtown and Brickell’s rising stars below.

Sara Britto

My journey began when I graduated high school in and went to community college in Kendall, yes Go Sharks. At this moment I began to cultivate great friendships with very talented musicians studying jazz performance. It was my first time becoming passionate with musical performance and I was very inspired by those who were around me. Some time passed and I decided to throw my first show because it was shocking to me that there was no platform nearby where bands and artists were able to get together to share the same likings, at least I wasn’t aware at the moment. I immediately knew I had to come up with a name because it felt like a movement, I didn’t want to lose the momentum. I called my platform ‘Rolling Bliss’ which it’s slogan was “A getaway from mundane living” which meant a lot to me at the time since there was a pressure of attending college, getting a degree, and work the rest of your life. I wanted this space to be a special place where you can feel blissful, love yourself and those who share the same ideas surrounding you. Read more>>

Kirill Ignatieff

I come from the corporate world of consulting. I spend some years working at Deloitte specializing in Technology Consulting. Photography has been my hobby and passion for a while but I never considered pursuing it full time until I did… Leaving a well defined comfortable corporate route was not an easy decision and I’m super grateful I made that decision. It wasn’t because I didn’t like what I was doing at Deloitte, but it was more about what life could look like if I pursue what I love the most and be able to make more money doing it. The transition was not all smooth sailing of course, but it has been getting easier and easier every year. After about 4 years I’ve finally reached my corporate salary and no day do I feel like I’m working. For a while I’ve been jokingly telling people that I’m looking for a job where the less I work the more money I make. I think I might have just found that job. Read more>>

Balla Cooks

I honestly was going nowhere very fast. I started working in restaurants when I got out of jail in 2014, my first Restaurant job was Ruby Tuesday in Syracuse Ny. I soon found out I had a knack for cooking like it actually brung me great joy and peace, so I continued as the years went on to work for different restaurants and learn as much as I could while working there. In 2019 I decided to take a leap of faith and quit my full time job at a privately owned restaurant. I would rent out ghost kitchens to cook in and sell food. I started out selling $7 burritos. Fast forward to now Here we are walking into 2022 I am proud to announce that I have just got my first brick and mortar location and I’m really ecstatic. Read more>>

Cameron Lewis

My father being a Pastor in the south side of Chicago I found myself engulfed and born into Gospel Music! That’s where my passion began listening to choirs like Ricky Dillard and New G and Donald Lawrence let alone my own home church choir Voices of True Vine. I began playing for my church choir at the age of 6 and never looked back. As I got older and graduated high school I was excepted into Columbia College Chicago but soon after dropped out to pursue my career. In 2011 I took my talents on the road with a 3 piece trio “Nick and the Ovorols”. Along this journey is when I made long lasting relationships with fellow bands like “Galactic”, “Rebirth Brass Band”, and the “Revivalist “ to name an few! After that tour I so on joined forces with Australian World Blues Artist Peter D Harper. (Harper and Midwest Kind) where we toured internationally and also created a #3 Album on the Blues Charts in 2017. Soon after my contract expired I then joined forces with world renowned femal blues guitarist Joanna Connor where we took the world by storm for 3 strong years creating an awesome album entitled “Rise” and also landing a record deal and album with Joe Bonomasa .. in 2020 of course we all know the event that took place Covid-19. Read more>>

Luna Lucia

LUNALUCA.COM was created during the pandemic, after all my places of employment closed. A single mom with a ten-year-old, I had to cut out anything and everything that had nothing to do with either raising my son or building my business. During this time, I used some of my old ‘office worker’ mentality, to sit on my chair for long hours completing boring mundane tasks, such as researching shopify apps, adding product descriptions, learning online advertising and editing picture after picture after picture. I do everything myself, from the designing of the inventory, to the building of the website, to the sowing on of labels, to the modeling and photography… and anything and everything else and in between. I will eventually try to outsource as much as I can, but I’m really inspired by Sara Blakely from Spanx, who swore by doing everything herself as much as possible especially in the beginning stages. She also advice on keeping mouths shut to certain people, and not to quickly ‘sell out’ to investors. It’s been a long, lonely isolated journey, but don’t really care about loneliness anymore at this point. I do sometimes text my best friend in Minnesota with something like: ‘I’m not getting off my chair for the next 14 hours’, as motivation and accountability in fear of procrastination. Read more>>

Richard Jimenez

I started my restaurant career at 14 years old.as a bus boy at a 1950s dinner .In Boise Idaho. I grew up in Southern California and Idaho as my parents were divorced and would enjoy both states. I enjoyed the tips but decided to apply a a seafood and steak house where i could make more money.My step father was a chef who specialized in Italian cuisine but was versed in french cooking as well and went on to be his cook later on in my 20s . The chef was austrian and classically trained .He saw how hard i worked and encouraged me to work in the garde manger. I learned basics and watched the grill sand saute station with great interest.The owner did not want me to be in those stations as i was so young. i kept pressing the chef until one night by default we were short staffed and he let me cook grill.He showed me by hand how to feel for the doneness of the steak. i cooked that night and only made a couple mistakes. IT was my way to the hot side and although i would go back to garde manger many times in my career. It was exhilarating to handle a rush by myself amongst grown men. Read more>>

Lorena Duarte

I was born and raised in Miami to a family that immigrated from Colombia. I grew up with a working mom, who instilled the values of a higher education and a passion for the law, as she was a paralegal for an immigration attorney. I went to Miami Dade College and later University of Miami where I majored in History and Religious studies. I intended to apply to law school right away but began working in real estate sales through the early 2000’s real estate boom. By 2007, after the recession, I began working for Bank of America as Personal Banker. I loved working for the bank and helping people, but was limited to helping people via banking services and felt frustrated and at a dead end in my career. At age 31, I decided to pursue my dream of being an attorney, a dream I thought was too late for me. I began law school at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, graduating as Student Bar President, in 2015. During my studies in law school, I won an internship at the United Nations, which exposed me to international law and immigrant issues, as well as the wonderous Big Apple. Read more>>

Rachel Silverstein

I graduated in 2012 with a Ph.D. in Marine Biology and Fisheries from University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. I accepted a Knauss Sea Grant fellowship, which places scientists into policy roles in the federal government. I was placed on the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on the subcommittee for Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard and got a crash course in the federal legislative process. I knew I wanted to return to Miami to take my newfound policy skill set and to work to conserve the reefs and the ecosystem of south Florida that I had studied as a Ph.D. student. I moved back to Miami in June of 2014 and took over as the only staff member at what was then Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper. In just a few short weeks, I was involved in our first federal litigation suing the Army Corps of Engineers for killing Endangered Species Act listed corals during the PortMiami expansion. (That litigation lasted years more and resulted in the restoration of thousands of corals and long-lasting changes in Army Corps policies.) I was the only staff member at the organization for another 2 years. Read more>>

Valeria Fontanals

Harvard-educated, Licensed School Psychologist, award-winning learning expert. In the last 20 years of my clinical experience, I have been helping children to optimize their learning, to become the best version of themselves, and succeed (in their own terms) in school and in life. With a whole-child and holistic approach, I am specialized in twice exceptionalities, learning disorders, ADHD, and giftedness, working with children, their families and school. As an entrepreneur, I created several start-ups in South America and USA, as co-founder and main founder, ranging from an educational consultant and publisher company based on Multiple Intelligences Theory to a psycho-educational center for children with gifted and learning disorders, a network of mental health professionals to optimize their work and a psycho-educational company dedicated to promoting optimal development in children. Read more>>

Megan Daley

I’ve always thrived in art. Being able to express myself through drawing, painting, photography, and then makeup. I definitely get my artistic, creative side from my dad. My journey started about 12 years ago. When I was younger, I had an issue with breaking out. It made me feel very insecure. I would go to school and see everyone having perfect skin. I watched my mom do her makeup for work in the mornings and I always thought to myself, would it make me feel a little better if I knew how to cover everything on my face? Well, my mom understood where I was coming from and let me experiment. One thing lead to another and a couple of months of doing that, she took me to buy my first MAC foundation and powder. I fell in love. I was that one girl in school that wore makeup and everyone knew it. As long as I felt good about myself and happy, I didn’t care. I started doing makeup on all my friends and family when I was 15. After really loving what I was doing and getting good feedback from that, I decided that being a makeup artist is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Read more>>

Angel Acevedo

I’m a Creative Director that’s worked in the design sector since 2001. A Miami International University alum (Art Institute,) I’m founder of God is a designer.™ Apparel Project, Filme™ Analog App and design studio ACVDO Aesthetics Co. that I ran with my partner and wife, Karielys Acevedo. Currently serving as Design Manager at Spotify Studios LatAm. My creative career is a wild MMORPG adventure that started in the year 2001. Had the opportunity to work at a few local print shops and learn ins/outs of the print industry and basic graphic design. As the industry shifted to web 2.0, had fun learning basic HTML, flash (RIP,) MySpace dev (kids won’t understand), WordPress, etc. Dabbled in sound design, motion vfx, all kinds of stuff. Rolled with the punches, I suppose. Read more>>

Army Armstead

I joined Emergent Works, formerly Code Cooperative, in the fall of 2019. Found by Alex Qin, AQ understood a need to provide tech literacy to traditionally marginalized communities and those impacted by the criminal legal system. I joined the program amid battling depression because I needed a distraction from my circumstances, and I thought learning to build websites could help me bring in some funds. I quickly realized the class wasn’t only about supporting individuals learning new skills but supporting their journey as people. I applied for 195 jobs at the time, and fortunately, I was rejected from all. The 196th job I applied for was the operations manager role for Code Cooperative, and on January 6, 2020, I became the first employee of the program. Joining the tech industry changed my life but also brought a set of new challenges. Battling imposter syndrome and, like the rest of the world, trying to work through a national pandemic started to weigh on me. Coming from a background of music and ministry, the one thing I knew to do in life was never giving up.  Read more>>

Bridget Dadd

After graduating from the University of Miami, I moved to NYC doing PR for luxury hotels – and then eventually worked in house for hotels doing Sales & Marketing. All the while collecting various stationery and plotting to have a brick and mortar store like the charming ones that are such a part of many European neighborhoods that I love. My husband and I moved back to Miami in 2010 and rediscovered downtown Miami and Wynwood as being virtually unrecognizable from when I was at UM – and knew that if Miami was embracing Wynwood the way it was, that it was the time for my little stationery store. We opened in the Wynwood Block building and couldn’t be more proud or thrilled with how well received our shop was. I constantly was asked, “do people still send cards” or “Arn’t all wedding invitations online now?” and the answer is yes they do, and no – wedding invitations are still very much a thing. So much so that when we closed the brick and mortar, it made sense for us to continue the custom printing side of the business which is what we still do today. Read more>>

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