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Inspiring Denver Stories

The heart of our mission at VoyageDenver 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 Denver’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 Denver’s rising stars below.

Lauren Grube

My story has changed a lot and I am not where I could have ever imagined I would be, and I love that! I have wanted to be a teacher since the day I was learning how to read. I would read to my stuffed animals, sometimes not even knowing the words, and it grew into asking for an overhead projector for Christmas when I was 10. I got to use my dad’s old office as a classroom. Teaching has definitely changed a lot in the past few years and it was time for a change. I was burned out and needed to shift directions. Fortunately for me, I had a virtual skincare business I was working on the side. With leaving the classroom, I wondered how I was going make an impact. But when you have a brand like Rodan+Fields, the products deliver results. The amazing feedback and responses from my customers quickly filled that purpose. My favorite was when the mom of one of my friends/customers contacted me and thanked me for giving the confidence back to her daughter.

Mountain Air Marketing Team

Their team of six empowered and inspired women is what makes this marketing agency stand out from the rest. Unlike most large agencies, they never white label their work. Everything offered and created under Mountain Air Marketing (MAM) is done within their team.  Each team member is incredibly competent in their own service areas, from website design to SEO efforts, social media and more. Read More>>

Lola Montejo

I am from Spain and spent my early childhood in Madrid. My father moonlighted as a singer and our home was regularly a gathering place for musicians, writers, and artists. Growing up in that environment sparked my interest in art.  My decision to become an artist evolved from encounters I had with art in my youth. This is largely due to the influence of my father. My father encouraged me to consider and appreciate art. He took me to galleries, museums, concerts, plays, and walks to see public art throughout the city. My father fostered a love for art that has continued throughout my life.  My father once took us to the village of Toledo where we visited the Church of Santo Tomé. I noticed a large painting on the wall. The work was by the artists El Greco, a Mannerist artist during the late Renaissance. I was moved by the painting so strongly that I began to weep. My mother thought I was frightened by the content of painting, but it was the execution and painting style of the masterpiece that struck me.  Read more>>

Courtney Jay Higgins

Growing up in the mountains of Summit County Colorado truly shaped who I am today. My sport in high school was competitive dance. That mixed with the stunning beauty all around me, connected me to the natural world and my physical body in a profound way.  My journey eventually brought me to California where I traded dance for yoga. Finding that it embodied all the parts of my soul in a way I was craving. Eventually I became certified with my 200 hr. YTT from Shivakali Yoga. A school rooted in ancient wisdom and a Hatha-based practice.  Today, I’m back in the mountains of Colorado with over. 12+ years of yoga knowledge and my online yoga membership platform called Coincide. Coincide acts as a landing place to move the body and help connect students to their inner wisdom. Inside the Coincide Yoga Portal, there are classes and courses meant to be a starting place for transformation. Helping to realign everyday choices. Create a routine yoga practice, and empower students to live life to the fullest.  Read more>>

Jillian Livingston

When I was ten years old my adventurous parents took me and my two older sisters from Massachusetts to Colorado and Arizona. Having grown up with a British mother, our summers consisted of traveling to Switzerland and all over Europe, but this trip stood out amongst the others. We stayed at a Dude Ranch where we took care of and rode the same horse every day for two weeks, competing in rodeos and playing ambushing games where we would hide in trees and gallop out to capture other groups passing by. We took a three-day raft trip down the green river and slept under the stars on the shores. We visited Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and like the game Twister, stretched our feet and hands out to touch four different states at one time at Four Corners. We also rode down Bryce Canyon approximately 3K feet on horses. It was on that trip where I began writing to record my first love affair with horses, Sagebrush and Lupine, and swing dancing with real cowboys.   Read more>>

Cassandra Hays

For as long as I can remember, my life always seemed to revolve around finance. My journey has involved lots of late nights, early mornings, and a fair amount of blood, sweat, and tears. Like many people with their career endeavors, I worked as a full-time employee while pursuing my education. It was a fine balance acting as a sponge with my education, while concurrently trying to perform at a high level with my job. After I received my Bachelor’s, I started working with a company that was a global giant in finance, as a Data Analyst, doing financial research. Not long after I started that position, my thirst for knowledge led me back to school for a graduate degree in finance. Unlike my prior degrees, my job and my education wore heavily on my life as a young adult. My job entailed working overtime on a consistent basis, it was a requirement of the position. Long story short, I worked a lot.  Read more>>

Atiba!

I was going to school in Denver and I just remember being very disconnected and bored with what I was doing in school. I was going through the motions and I knew I needed a change. After giving a bit of thought, I realized that I had always wanted to try my hand at professional wrestling, I loved watching it and I was just like why not at that point. I looked around for schools for a little while, finally choosing to begin training at the Mercury Pro Wrestling Academy (now the Al Snow Wrestling Academy- Rocky Mountain). Training was tough and I had dropped out of college, so it was just work and wrestling. I’ve been wrestling three and a half years now, and I’m starting to reach my stride. I still have a quite a ways to go and I’m excited for the road ahead!.  Read more>>

Eddie Eaton

It all started when I was about 5 years old when my dad gave me a copy of the Misfits “Famous Monsters”. That is what really inspired me to do what I do today, which is to entertain, perform, create, and express my creativity through my passion. I’ve been drumming for roughly 13ish years and I’ve never been more addicted to a hobby. I tried Soccer, Lacrosse, Baseball, and none of them were as enjoyable as music. I really owe it all to my dad. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be in the place I am today. Him exposing me to the music I love and have spent nearly a decade doing is what I owe it all to. Take it years later in middle school and I decided to sign up for band class. I thought this would finally be my chance to show off my awesome drumming skills. Nope! I’m playing a keyboard instrument in Concert Band. I want to actually play Drum Set, so I sign up for middle school jazz band. That’s when I started being more involved with things.  Read more>>

Ryan Hughes

I began painting when I was 21 years old and immediately fell in love with it. I took an art history class in college that opened my eyes to how exciting and therapeutic visual art can be. Shortly afterwards, I began experimenting with oil paint.  Surrealism came extremely naturally to me, so I began painting my dreams and landscapes that echoed emotions I was experiencing at the time. My passion grew when I began being accepted into art shows in Denver, Fort Collins, Steamboat Springs, and other areas across Colorado. It was also a wonderful privilege as an artist and a gay man to have my work auctioned at the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s Gala in 2018.  Art has become an integral element of my life. It is my most powerful form of communication and has helped me reach a level of self-esteem that was not present prior to painting. I am excited to continue manifesting my dream and improve my abilities as a painter as I move forward.  Read more>>

Grace Gatto

When I was in grade school, my mom used to sign me up for art classes at our local art school. I was about 10 years old when she signed me up for a photography class and I really believe that is where my obsession started. Simply put – I loved taking photos! When I was in high school, I signed up for my second photography class. I had the most amazing teacher who constantly cheered me on and told me I had a real eye for photography. After that class, I got my first DSLR and I began taking photos of EVERYTHING. I couldn’t get enough! At the beginning of 2015, I met a local photographer who told me he loved my style and asked me if I wanted to start second shooting weddings for him. After my first wedding, I was hooked. I loved every single minute of capturing a love story. I began taking photos of everything and everyone. I would post on my personal Facebook page and the business came. I was in my undergrad at the time and was also working 3 other jobs, but there was something about photography that I absolutely loved and could not get enough of.  Read more>>

Brittanny DeRaffele

While studying fashion and merchandising in college, I picked up a minor in studio art that introduced me to the world of metalsmithing and I fell in love right away. I stayed an extra 2 years at Radford University to finish the metals and jewelry program and after graduating I knew I wanted to merge my love of fashion and design with jewelry making. I launched Sun & Selene in 2017 and operated out of our home using our basement space for a metal studio and small guest room for an office to operate my e-commerce site and package orders as they came in. Pop-up shops and local events were a great network to showcase my collection and eventually I had an opportunity to rent a studio space in the historic Scott’s Addition neighborhood in Richmond, VA. I’ve now been in my studio space for 2 years and it’s our HQ for production with a small retail showroom for open store hours.   Read more>>

Jantho Cho

I started as a kid, being a lover of music, and openly receptive to different frequencies metaphysically. I gravitate towards Hip-Hop/Rap around 6 or 7 first hearing of 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, The Notorious B.I.G., and many more. I naturally had a peak interest for words how certain things you say can manifest themselves. As a kid, I was put through various learning courses to enhance my speech and vocabulary and learned how to speak Spanish. I was surrounded with instruments throughout my youth, from guitar to piano, and gravitate towards them in awe. I eventually taught myself how to play piano and took band classes throughout 5th grade to 8th grade. In between The time I took an interest in poetry and writing music for fun, and then in 2009 I moved from my hometown Kansas City, to a small-town East called Lee’s Summit. From there I met one of my closest friends Dante Wade aka DWadeNo2K and we formed our first rap group “Time is Money.” By the time we got to high school.  Read more>>

Heather Hope

I’ve recently marked 2 years as the Denver franchise owner for House of Colour, and a milestone of serving 300+ clients with our personal styling and image consulting services. I’m a Colorado native with 20+ years of PR and marketing experience, which I now translate into personal branding.  I love to celebrate my clients by showing them the colors in clothing and makeup that suit their natural coloring. And by helping clients develop a unique and enduring personal style that reflects their personality and honors their body architecture.  I discovered House of Colour services after I had my 2nd child and celebrated my 40th birthday. My body had changed after years of pregnancy, nursing, and sleep deprivation. I was blessed with two healthy and happy children (now almost age 5 and 7), but I also had new bags beneath my eyes and a closet full of ill-fitting and outdated clothing. I was attempting a “DIY” wardrobe redo when House of Colour found me. My experience was so positive and powerful that I wanted to share it!.  Read more>>

Caroline Parsons

I started The Luminary Lion in March 2019. The first Bible I ever did was for my best friend, Alexandria Reed, as a present. She inspired me to start selling my creations and here we are! This business has been such a blessing in my life. It was there for me during the pandemic after losing my job and being unemployed for 7 months. It gave me sense of purpose and provided for me during a difficult season of my life. Looking back, I know God spoke that into my friend because He knew the season that lay ahead. I work full time in addition to owning my small business.  Read more>>

Elicka Sufi

Enzo and I love to travel together. We have gone to NYC, Wisconsin, and Denver. It is my hope to bring Enzo on every trip I go on. Our lives are short and our dogs even shorter so why not have them experience the world with you?.  Read more>>

Tyler Sanchez

Our goal is to bring love, peace, and nature back into our life’s.  We thrive to find you the best plants, orchids, and arrangements.  Why? Well, there are many benefits!  Including Lowers levels of anxiety, increases attentiveness and memory, Reduces stress levels and boosts mood, Sparks creativity, and a lot more!  We thrive to bring our education and passion to schools, homes, and local businesses! And together we can make our would a green, healthy, loving environment.  Read more>>

Nakia Laubscher

As a kid, I remember loving to spend time in the kitchen with my family. Whether it was making pies with my grandma, pizza with my dad, cookies with my mom, or anything and everything with my grandpa – I found the process of cooking fascinating and a ton of fun! As the years went on, my parents allowed me to experiment in the kitchen and I made dozens of not-so-great dishes but learned so much in each of these ‘failures’. This sparked my interest in food science and trying to figure out where things had gone wrong.  I moved to Denver to study at Johnson and Wales University where my passion for food science grew. This led me to a career in Research and Development upon graduation. My position as Research Chef allowed me to combine the foundation of food science with the creativity of pastry arts.  Read more>>

Robin Hextrum

always loved making and creating art, whether it was folding intricate origami patterns or drawing pictures. When I was twelve my family moved to a small coastal town called Stinson Beach in Northern California where I developed a passion for nature. That still comes out in my work with its focus on plants, animals, and natural settings. I spent my days hiking up mountains, surfing, and kayaking. My neighbor across the street was a painter, and she gave me drawing lessons in exchange for babysitting her daughter. When I was in high school, I took my first figure drawing classes at a community college and felt the excitement of being in a more serious art environment. I then went on to USC for undergrad where I continued to pursue art. I have always been a very curious person and I wanted to experience everything in college. I joined the marching band, was on the women’s rowing team, and completed a double major in Fine Art and Neuroscience. After I finished my undergraduate studies, I wanted to pour all of my energy into my art.  Read more>>

Kyle Tobar

I’m going to MSU Denver at the moment. I’m in my second year. I’m changing my major from music to journalism but may still have a minor in music. The reason for that is I was going for music industry studies but the classes I was taking wasn’t really what I was expecting. I always dreamt of being behind the scenes within the music industry. Growing up, I was always into music and dreamt of being on stage but later on realized that the music industry is very hard to get into. With the disabilities I have, I knew it would be challenging for me to do some things but it didn’t and doesn’t stop me from achieving my goals. I used to interview bands on MySpace back when I was in middle school and high school and named my profile KYLEROCKOSUTLOUD. A lot of that inspired me later on to bring that name back under KYLEROCKSOUT doing local shows at the Marquis, Summit, and the Aggie. That was back in 2016? I think. I can’t remember. I brought a lot of local artists and bands together and just did shows and it was awesome.  Read more>>

Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack

I’m a food blogger over at muybuenocookbook.com. I started my blog in 2010. I share a collection of traditional Mexican recipes. These are my precious family’s recipes that have been passed down through generations. I also share modern Latin-fusion recipes that I have developed. When people ask why I named the blog and cookbook Muy Bueno, my response is that my grandma would always invite family and friends to her table with the same words: “Siéntate a comer, esta muy bueno” (Sit down and eat, it’s very good).  Today, I am full-time food blogger, recipe developer, food stylist, food photographer, Mexican food and travel writer, brand ambassador, and spokesperson, partnering with Food Network with Coca-Cola, Herdez with Disney/Pixar’s Coco, Target, Smirnoff, Betty Crocker, TABASCO, McCormick, Avocados from Mexico, Kroger, Eggland’s Best, Reynolds Wrap, Milk Life, California Strawberries, KitchenAid, Land O Lakes, and more.  Read more>>

Sarah Kempers

Photography began as a hobby at a young age. I played softball from the time I was 5, until I played in college. My Mom, when not coaching me, would be on the sidelines with her Canon getting photos of me pitching. Fast forward to my college years, a friend of mine graciously gifted me with her old Canon Rebel T1i. It was truly one of the greatest gifts and I’m not sure if I would’ve found my way into professional photography without it. I started using it to take photos of friends, and slowly people started asking me to do engagement sessions and proposals. (Side note, goes to show you don’t need the most expensive gear, in order to pursue a dream you’re passionate about) I had graduated college at this point and had worked in Marketing for Chick-fil-A & Kendra Scott, as well as dabbling in Real Estate for a year. With a degree in Business administration and a Master’s in Organizational Leadership, I had always pictured myself working in the corporate world.  Read more>>

Stephen Jaye

My story is the classic case of having a career fall off track, then having to dig deeper and return to my core sense of self to get things back on track. Growing up I was fascinated with weather and studied atmospheric science in both college and graduate school. My love of statistics transitioned me into a career in data science, which is lucrative but turned out not to be a great match for my personality, as I am strongly extroverted and like big picture thinking. For some years I felt like a lot of what I was doing on a day-to-day basis was lacking in meaning and I wasn’t doing what I was meant to be doing.  This experience, however, inspired me, as I started to learn just how common it is. It feels like there are about 60 million people in the U.S.A. alone in a similar situation. I wanted to use my core sense of who I am to help more people overcome this feeling. Inspired by observing people around me in Denver, conversations I had with other attendees at events like TedxMileHigh, and a spiritual experience on a backpacking trip, I decided to start Action’s Antidotes.  Read more>>

Leah Jean Shafer

It was mid-July. It was hot. Magnificently hot. Fry-an-egg-on-the-hood-of-your-car hot. And we were getting ready to venture into the desert backcountry for a 9-day float trip down the San Juan River. I knew I needed a way to bring a hydrating beverage out on my stand-up paddleboard (SUP). I wanted it to be super insulated. I wanted it to be secure. And I wanted it to be easy to access. Is that too much to ask?  Well apparently, it was a tall order. I searched high and low for a solution. After trying literally every single product on the market, and finding that none of them actually worked… I realized it was ‘on me’ to create it! So, I guess you can say, necessity really is the mother of invention. And it turns out, that SUP’ers aren’t the only people with an unfulfilled need to stay hydrated while on the go. Rafters, fishermen, golfers, kayakers, canoers, hikers, snowboarders, and even those on riding lawn mowers – all suffered from “beverage insecurity” and were (literally) thirsting for a solution.  Read more>>

Lexi Schoonover

I spent my early 20s with no real concept of what I wanted to do with my life- nothing really lit a fire in me until I broke my hip at 22. Through that experience, I grew to see how impactful exercise and nutrition were to a person’s health and thus their ability to live a life doing things they enjoyed. This was finally my fire. I went to school for exercise science and nutrition and attained my strength and conditioning specialist certification in 2017. I at the time knew I wanted to work closely with the rehabilitation side of exercise but really just needed to get my foot in the door. I spent about a week working for 24-hour fitness but knew that I wouldn’t continue to learn in a position like that so I went back to the job hunt. It wasn’t long before I stumbled upon an exercise specialist listing for a physical therapy clinic and I knew this could be really great.  Read more>>

Kyndra Georgeson

My passion for interior design began at an early age when I found myself constantly switching up my Barbie house and having my mom make bedding and curtains to accessorize- and downplay- all the pink. As I grew older, I would sneak items from around my childhood home to rearrange my bedroom, almost weekly. I loved the process of blending objects, textures, and colors in a room to fit the way I felt. This desire to “create spaces” only grew stronger, so I turned it into my career.  I received my Degree in Interior Design from Kansas State University and headed to beautiful Colorado. After several years working for local design firms, including the furniture manufacturer Knoll, and meeting my handy husband, I knew it was time to do my own thing. In 2004, I opened Platinum Design Studio which successfully serviced residential and commercial clients throughout metro Denver. Thirteen years later, my husband Larry left his teaching career, got his GC license and we expanded and rebranded our business to encompass everything we offer under the name Georgeson Style.  Read more>>

Daniella Branger

I was born in Valencia, Venezuela to Venezuelan- Italian parents, my siblings and I grew up in a multi-cultural family, speaking Spanish and Italian. We moved to the United States of America when I was 7 years old, without knowing a single word of English. Our parents always taught us the importance of treating others equally no matter what their background was, expanding your knowledge via education, and always having a drive to do things we are passionate about. That foundation led to where I am today. After moving to the U.S.A, we settled in Colorado where attended the University of Colorado, Boulder, and earned a bachelor’s in Political Science. My last semester at CU Boulder I decided to take a job as a part-time teller at U.S. Bank to add to my resume before entering “the real world”. Soon after graduation, I started become more and more passionate about finance and how I could apply all of my personal core passions to my work.  Read more>>

Cabal Yarne

My story as a business owner started with a shopping outing with my mom in 8th grade. I picked out some new clothes and then sported my new attire at school the next week. My teacher complimented me on my outfit, and ever since that moment, I have had a love for clothing and the retail world and aspired to own my own store. It’s funny to look back on that day and realize that a red air Jordan T, some white Nikes, and a pair of wool pants started my passion for what would be a future career. I studied Business Administration and Apparel Design in college, then interned for Limited Brands at their headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. After that, I decided to head to the mountains and managed multiple retail stores in Vail, Beaver Creek, Snowmass, and Aspen. I opened my first boutique in Vail in 2007, and then a second location in Keystone in 2013. I moved to Denver in 2014 and purchased Decade in 2015, which was originally started by the previous owner in 1998.  Read more>>

David Morris

EAC LTD started as an apparel brand in 2009, focusing mainly on the skateboard industry at that time. We sponsored local skateboard athletes and frequently put out skate videos and social media content to promote the team/brand. My company was incorporated in February of 2011, this is when we started offering apparel production for some local businesses, screen printing, and embroidery. Over the next few years, we started to focus on graphic design, garment sourcing, and expanding our client list. The last few years we have shifted into manufacturing fully custom Cut/Sew Apparel, as well as countless promotional products for our clients. We are now blessed to produce merchandise for some of the biggest brands and businesses in Colorado and nationwide. Read more>>

Daniel Dixon

Daniel Dixon is the CEO of The Dixon Group in Denver, Colorado. Daniel started his career at Trulia selling online leads to agents across the nation before getting his real estate license. Over the past 6 years, Daniel has grown his company from a single agent to a mega team selling more than 900 homes with over $300 Million in home sales. The Dixon Group is now ranked as the #1 KW Real Estate Team in Colorado and in the top 50 KW teams in the United States.  Read more>>

Judith Mann

I was born in Massachusetts and attended university in Boston. After school I moved to Portsmouth NH got married moved to Durham and became a Social Worker for the state. Due to health issues, I had to retire and sat for nine months catching up on all the books I never had time for. Today I have my health back and enjoying life again.  Read more>>

Colleen Fanning

Art is my life. Growing up in San Francisco and North Bay my family inspired me, or better said, pushed me into developing an insatiable hunger for the arts, especially dance and the visual arts. The arts are where I have devoted more than the ten thousand hours Malcolm Gladwell talks about in “Outliers” from 2011. Studying, researching, traveling… there is nothing in my life that doesn’t revolve around art. Monthly visits to the de Young Museum and Legion of Honor certainly was early training to help me see. My grandmother taught me about the visual language an artist uses to express an idea. She made me find the words to describe what the artist is saying. As a kid, finding the words to describe a Jackson Pollack painting was a brain-teaser and tongue-twister. Today, as an art historian my education continues with studying how artists express ideas about the times from which they come, which becomes our way of understanding history. Read more>>

Alex Jump

I started working in restaurants when I was 16 or 17 as a hostess. At the time, it was just a job that made me some money while I was in school. I hosted into college as well, where I studied Religion, Classics, and Art History. Right after I turned 21, I decided that I wanted to finally make the move from hosting/serving to work behind the bar. I had some close friends in Denver that ran a bar, and I was dating a chef at the time, so I had started to explore the world of F&B in a more intimate way and was very interested in the culture of bars and restaurants. Not long after stepping behind the bar in my first bar back position, I knew that this was a career I was meant to be in. I ended up rising through the ranks of the small industry where I was working, Chattanooga, TN, quite quickly and was managing two bar programs for a restaurant group by the time I was 24. I moved to Denver in 2017 with the hopes of managing the bar at the soon-to-open Death & Co, and ended up getting the job!. Read more>>

Carley Smith

I became interested in health and nutrition after using food as medicine emphasizing gut health to reverse my Lyme disease. I became so empowered in the progress in my healing from diet and lifestyle changes that I went back to school to study nutrition and start my business, Fairy Gutmother, so I could spread this information and help others. I am passionate about helping people eat healthier and making nourishing and delicious recipes everyone can enjoy. I have been featured on the Dr. Oz Show, Denver’s Fox News, Arizona Family TV, Better Connecticut, and NBC Miami as well as a frequent guest on Denver’s hit iHeart radio show, the Modern Eater. My articles and recipes have been featured in worldwide publications. I also lead workshops and retreats centered around the gut health lifestyle. Read more>>

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