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Inspiring Stories from Kendall

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 inspiring stories from Kendall below.

Luanda Hart-Rodriguez

I used to visit the gun range with my husband on occasion, never to shoot with intention. It wasn’t until we were in a situation that changed my thinking. We were picking up a prescription late at night and a man jumped in the back seat of my car, my husband gestured for me to grab the firearm but I froze. Once I snapped out of fear, my husband already had the dude out the car and was fully in gaged with pistol in hand. The guy was high off drugs and thankfully, the site of the gun woke him up a little. My husband was quick and observant. I knew I had to start training after that, I knew the importance of being situational aware and being ready to protect yourself at all cost. I always thought, what if I was alone or what if my child was in the back seat and this guy had a psychotic episode. Read more>>

Vanessa Fonte

Reminiscing back when I was little, I was known to be the sassiest little girl. I remember the excitement on my face when my parents would tell me someone was coming over. I would run to my room, open up my closet, and layout three different outfits on my bed. Once the guest was settled in my house, I would try on my first outfit, blast the radio, and create a runway for my guest. I would strut with my outfits like I was the next America’s next top model, LOL. All of our family friends would love to come over and see the sassy/fashion lover/drama queen little girl I was. As much as I love fashion, I also love being around kids. Starting my education career, I decided to get my bachelor’s in Early Childhood and a Master’s in Educational Leadership. Having the summer off, I knew I wanted to do more in my career. I decided to open up an online clothing boutique. I started reaching out to influencers and trying to make my brand known. I attend pop-up shops all over Miami. I have so many dreams that I would love to achieve. Read more>>

Casandra Pastrana

It all began with me wanting to make a change in my career path. I was working at a law firm for five years and I was not happy. I knew I wanted something different for myself and did not want to be behind a desk for the rest of my life. I started to work out seriously when I met my boyfriend and fell in love with the process of loving and taking care of myself, from my food to doing my cardio religiously to never skipping a gym session. I would find myself going to the gym twice a day and not wanting to leave. One of my girlfriends reached out to me because she liked the way my body looked and wanted me to train her! I decided to get my personal training certification and change my degree to exercise science. From our first session, more girlfriends and women reached out to me for training. The feeling of having a group of different types of women training together, pushing each other to be better and do better, was such a satisfying feeling. To have women trust me with their fitness journey and get amazing transformations made me realize this is what I was meant to do. I felt like my purpose was to help women feel more confident, healthy and not just focus only on looks. Read more>> 

April Zaig-Stephens

My family is made up of mostly women and when I was growing up they always told me two things; make sure your never leave the house without your hair and nails done, and never forget that less is always more. This is where my inspiration came from when opening Zarah Jewels. My jewelry had always been something that creates a statement. Something dainty, something delicate which is what I love to wear. My business is something I work hard at every day, trying to find other ways I can better Zarah Jewels. Weather it be the website to how the jewelry is packaged. Today, looking back at where Zarah Jewels has taken me I have seen my passion grow, I have also understood how to do things that I didn’t think were possible. My business started with Chanel repurposed Necklaces to now having a variety of 50 items that vary from letter necklaces to Gucci repurposed jewelry. Read more>>

Jessica Toledano

I started this business five years ago. I would love to purchase bows and personalized shirts for my daughter but would hate that on the first wash, they were ruined. Not to mention, they were very expensive. I had a passion for crafting and I always thought to myself that I could make the same items, with better quality, at a price everyone could afford. Five years ago, I was a struggling single mom, with no help and struggling to make ends meet. One night, I remember going to bed crying and prayed for guidance. That night, in a dream Little Miss Diva was born. I woke up the next morning and created my social media accounts and started posting pics of all my crafts. In order to grow the business, I would offer customized shirts as a gift, to any party we were invited to. Word of mouth and referrals got us to where we are now. Five years later, we have a very stable small business and are lucky to be a part of our client’s special days. We are very appreciative for all the love and support we have received throughout the years. Read more>>

Vesenia Jones

My skincare journey started back in 2016. I attended Florida college of natural health as a skincare specialist. Within the next few years, Purr Skinn was birth, and by the grace of God during the 2021 pandemic, I went all in and launched my company. Purr Skinn is created for all skin types and skincare challenges. Some of our top-line products are Yoni splash shower gel, honey and oat soap bar and Hemp beauty serum. Read more>>

Eric Houston

I was born, raised, and reside in Miami, FL. I’ve created art since I was two years old. Born in Overtown very early in life, I was encouraged by Purvis Young to “never stop creating art no matter what.” Purvis was the first artist that genuinely encouraged me who wasn’t a teacher, which meant the world to me at that time and to this day. In elementary school, my talent were recognized by my art teacher and he recommended to my family that I apply to be apart of the magnet art program at R.R. Moton Elementary. After preparing my portfolio and auditioning, I was accepted into the magnet art program. Over the years that followed, I would spend hours and hours disciplining my artistic eye. Looking back, learning and practicing the fundamentals of making successful art at R.R. Morton Elementary, Southwood Middle School, and Coral Reef High were priceless educational experiences. I loved art my entire life but I also had a love for sports as well. Read more>>

Estefany Nunez

After searching for ways to work on my own mental health, I was seeking a new creative outlet. I’ve always appreciated art and loved creating things myself. I’ve gone from painting, styling, event planning, photography. You name it, I’ve done it. After much thought, I wanted to incorporate something that would transmit me to my happy place. After researching essential oils and their benefits, I ran into information regarding the toxic chemicals used in candles. It was astonishing to find they could contain 3000-5000 different chemicals. Many which are not tested to ensure the safety of consumers. Candles have always been a comfort piece in my life. When I’m happy, I light up a candle. When I host, I light up a candle. When I’m feeling down a candle transports me to a happy place. A happy memory. The psychology of how the brain works has always been a world I admire and respect. It’s intriguing to me how a scent could transport you to a memory your mind has registered from years ago. Therefore, I knew I had to do my own part in taking a non-toxic approach not only to candle making but creating products that contained non-toxic ingredients and could serve as a form of aromatherapy. Read more>>

Larry Master

The inspiration for starting Forever Love Puppies was a combination of our love for animals, as well as our own personal experience with our puppies and shopping for puppies. It was such a pleasure raising our Teddy Bear Pomeranian and feeling the love that he gives, and that we give back; we felt it was our duty to help people experience the same feeling and be able shop for puppies in a manner that is transparent, where the puppies are being taken care of and where the visitor is not being pushed. One day we stepped into a national pet store chain, and we were shocked at not only the outrageous price tags but the conditions of how the puppies were kept and presented. Our experience in this store included pressure from pushy salespeople, which left a bad taste in our mouth. We also visited other pet stores and were met with similar issues, such as secrecy behind the prices and poor sanitation and atmosphere where they kept the puppies. So our idea was we could improve on this, and launched Forever Love Puppies as a hobby venture with one just one location, with one display and just a few puppies. Read more>>

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