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Downtown’s Rising Stars

The heart of our mission at VoyageATL 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 Atlanta’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’s rising stars below.

Cassia Jones

I am a writer/actor in Los Angeles, California, where I grew up. Acting started for me as a child in theater and I picked it up again as an adult. Currently, I have a blog: toliveanddateinla.co where I write about my experiences dating, living and working in the entertainment industry. I also wrote/starred in /produced a web series (my first production) of the same title which is also on my blog and youtube, “To live & Date in LA”. The series features three Black women on their paths through life in Los Angeles. After my blog gained traction and my web series was nominated in a few festivals, I began writing To Live & Date in LA as a television pilot. I have also written a second pilot and three screenplays. One of my screenplays became the short film “In This House” about two sisters dealing with the aftermath of their mother’s death and a decades old family secret. This short film can also be seen on my website and youtube page (youtube.com/toliveanddateinla). Featured on my Youtube page are vlogs about traveling, natural hair and apartment living in LA. I am pitching both my pilot tv scripts and one of them has just been accepted into the City of Angels Women’s Film Festival!. Read more>>

Tejah Coffey

We often respond with “for as long as I could remember; or since I was a kid” etc. I’m learning there was no start… it’s all in you from the jump. Eventually, You come to its calling. I got my first calling around 8/9 years old. I randomly found myself putting on low-budget productions upstairs with my siblings and cousins. Then, one day I randomly told my mom I wanted to be a film director. In hindsight, this amazes me that I ever said this because at that age, I didn’t even have a clue what a film director even was. It’s funny because oftentimes I feel like my childhood self knows me the best. Read more>>

Kyra Crandol

It all started back in 2014 with my very first business, Studio Thrift which was an online-based women’s vintage clothing line. I would go to different thrift stores, vintage shops, purchase clothing, style it in a more modern day look and re-sell the clothing. Thrifting wasn’t as popular as it is now so people didn’t always fully understand it and they would request different sizes/colors in the items although I only had one piece/size of each garment. Thrifting eventually became more trendy and due to the demand of my customers requesting different sizes and colors, I transitioned the brand into The Kyra Danaya Collection in April 2018 in order to serve my customer better. Read more>>

Diamyn Blackmon

I begin doing lash extensions in the year 2016 and nails in the year 2020. Lash extensions were my introduction into the beauty world, as a way for me to provide for my family while seeking my college degree. I understood, early on, by being a mother, that it would be difficult to work a full-time job, pursue a degree, and continue to fulfill my duties as a mom. So, I begin to search for a job that was flexible, with the ability to be in control of my time.  Read More>>

Rose Gordon

Fashion has always been my first love since my high school days, and as I get into college, my peers were requesting styling advice and by the time I graduated college, they wanted to know where I would purchase my clothes. This gives me the idea to start an online store. I achieved my MBA in college which helps me to blend both my love of fashion and marketing, which evolved into this amazing business venture. I have been doing this for over ten years and it takes hard work, discipline, focus and a support system, who is my husband to help me grow into the best version of myself. And more is yet to come. Read more>>

Quinn Xavier Hernandez

I’ve been living in and around Atlanta since July of 2018, right after I got my degree in Theatre from Clemson University. It feels so strange to look at that now and see that I’ve been here three years! I feel like I’ve definitely been getting everything I possibly can out of them. I started my theatre career in Atlanta by acting in THE VIEW UPSTAIRS at Out Front Theatre Company back in the Fall of 2018. Around the same time, I joined Working Title Playwrights (WTP); it wasn’t long after that that I received my first development lab for my full-length play MOMMA through WTP. From there, it’s all kind of been one delightful, dizzying, joyous blur. I created an apprenticeship around new play development with Working Title; bounced around doing different roles on different projects at multiple different theatres–everything from direction to scenic painting to dramaturgy and more; and now, surprisingly in the pandemic, I’ve been commissioned multiple times and have recently accepted a staff position at WTP. It feels incredible and also just a tad unbelievable!. Read more>>

Raquel Ravenell

I’m from Charleston, SC and have been living in Atlanta for about 13 years now. I had visited Atlanta a few times before moving down here and fell in love. It’s the culture and drive of the city that attracted me to it. I saw a lot of Black people thriving and I wanted to be around that energy. I knew I wanted to evolve as a creative no matter what side of creativity I landed on, I just stepped out on faith. I believe that’s what got me started and is a part of what keeps me motivated to this day. Read more>>

Kamyra Moore

I started as a little girl. I think I was about 11 years old. Me & my brothers would go fundraising everyday to save money because our dad had just went blind & we had to take care of ourselves a little bit more. Everyday we would fundraise & save our money. So as I got older, I started doing hair & selling clothes online. Saving money as a little kid taught me a lot in life. Hustling as a little kid made me be way stronger in life. So now that I do hair, facials, etc. Made me realize that I’ve come far. From begging people for money to doing hair in my own home is a blessing for me. I got where I am today by the grace of God. The only thing you have to learn to do is try to save your money. Read more>>

Tiffiany Johnson

I’ve been styling hair since I was in my teens, so it’s something I have always been drawn to do. It’s something that always allowed me room to express my creativity while bringing joy to others. I graduated from Paul Mitchell and became a licensed professional cosmetologist in 2018. It truly has been up from there! I became a salon owner in 2020. My salon is named Hair It Iz Beauty Studio, and it’s located on the west side of Jacksonville. Some of the new exciting things since my last article include: Providing education & training to other hairstylists, servicing clients both in and out of my city, a new website, and I even have products coming soon!. Read more>>

Kenneth Rodriguez Jr

I was always interested in fashion since high school, so after graduating I decided to take up strictly design and art classes in college to get familiar with programs that would benefit me and my passion. I started a clothing line called K.O.I. (Kenneth’s Original Ideas) Clothing my first year in college with my loans. I held on to this clothing line for nine years as if it were a child doing everything by myself including designs, photoshoots, modeling, marketing, social media, pop ups/events, orders, and everything in-between. I made a lot of mistakes but I definitely learned and took everything as a learning lesson. With no organization at all and four 27 gallon clothing bins filled with products that no one was buying, I figured it was time to rebrand with a plan. On January 1st of 2020, we launched MANNERS. The idea behind it was simple; a clothing line that was designed and dedicated to help bring back manners into everyday society. Read more>>

Ali Roc

I came here for a job and never left. I worked as an on air personality for a cluster of stations in Macon and Las Vegas but always worked in PR and Marketing in each place, and it stuck. Now, as the CMO for the Georgia Entertainment Association, I get to combine all the knowledge and info I have from broadcasting and entertainment and use it for good. Read more>>

Racquel McGee

I was visiting a friend’s house (that had recently purchased his home) to do my laundry. He had stepped out for a few and while there, I noticed it wasn’t quite tidy. So I literally, with no effort, cleaned and organized that house from top to bottom. Could not help myself whatsoever. He came back and was like, “Wow, should I pay you?” I said no, but this just sparked my interest in turning this into a business. Who would’ve thought cleanliness would be my passion?! “Aha” moments came left and right, just realizing that ever since I was a child I’ve always been neat, a low-key germaphobe and enjoyed being organized. Initially, my company Spotless Detroit was just a side gig. Three years ago, when Spotless Detroit was born, I was a full-time employee with the city of Detroit. Spotless Detroit took up most of my weekends until I started working for Wayne State University. While employed there, I gave Spotless Detroit a little more of my time because I took a pay cut and my hours allowed me to take on more jobs after work. As time went on, I grew to hate working at WSU. Literally every morning, I dreaded going there. Read more>>

Julani Austin

The way I got started was, I was at a basketball ball tryout at some low-level school in Alabama. The NBA was my goal; I was so set on getting there. And this had been 1 out of maybe four tryouts that summer. And I remember right after the tryout, I realized I was done with basketball, or the pursuit of the NBA rather. I also knew music would be what I would fall into, before I stopped playing I was already talking about how could I manage a career in the NBA and as a rapper. My dad is a live audio engineer and he produces/has produced for artists, so I went to him for help because I was gonna start making my own beats since I had nobody to give me beats. He taught me how to use the metronome in relation to making your music be on time and that’s it. He wanted me to want it so he wasn’t going to hold my hand through the early process. So now I’ make all my beats, I record myself do my rough mixes as best I can, and have the privilege to call my father my engineer. Read more>>

Shantravia Jackson

For about ten years, I’ve always wanted a cleaning business. In 2014, I attempted to start one but it didn’t happen. In 2017, I quit my job after being homeless with my two toddler children and decided I would step out on faith and start a cleaning business. I studied, I researched to make sure when I started I would do everything with morals and professionalism. August 08, 2018 I started She Cleans Up LLC. We are three years in. I have a total of 8-10 regular employees. In the last three years, it’s been an absolute dream come true. When I clean for my customers, I clean from my heart. Cleaning is not about any money it’s about giving my customers a sense of peace and relaxation in their homes when life gets hectic. The elderly, pregnant moms and brides are near and dear to my heart. Each and every house I clean, I clean and train my employees to clean as if it was their house. With love and care She Cleans Up LLC is dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness bc my business is dedicated to my late grandmother Ms Eda Mae Jackson Rouse who lost her battle with the disease in 1995 a day before my 11th birthday. Read more>>

Blair Williams

Our mission is bigger than selling candles. We aim to create a community of customers and employees who share the same vision as us, which is elevation in our businesses, relationships, mentality, and self-esteem. This company is about capitalizing on the storms in your life and being a guide for others. Our motto is: Remember: I pour into you, you pour into others, and we glow and grow together. That’s what evolving is all about. Soul Language Candles is an artisan candle company under the hedge of The Pouring Company LLC based in Chicago, IL; Our candles are handmade with the finest blended fragrance and essential oils, vegan, golden soy-blend wax, and poured in small batches. Our goal is to create quality products. Everyone deserves the comforts of lovely smelling and inspirational products to uplift their mood and beautify their home. Read more>>

Franco

I’ve been singing and promoting myself like crazy… also just trying to be an all-around better me for my fans. I was discovered three years ago by Stonewood record label out of Atlanta, Partnering with grammy nominated producer Mali Hunter. Since then, I’ve been collaborating with other artists & working on projects of my own. I dropped an Ep in June 2021 called “Chaos” which features my hit single “GenZrebel” Produced by the renowned Dame Grease & Prod. KillDill. I recently dropped a single called “Shape Yo Future” Which is Out on all platforms. I’m now branching out on my creativity and developing my own clothing brand “Genzrebel” that represents my music and flow. I hope to have pieces of my collection ready by summer 2022. My brand is inspired by the impact my generation has made on society because we as a whole represent the future. Read more>>

DJ Jaylo

I always had a passion for music. I went to rocky river high school and joined the marching band playing Bass drum. In high school, I would’ve never thought I would become a DJ until I went to my first party and the dj there was blending music real good, scratched and did everything cool djs do. Watching him inspired me to start djing. So one day, I bought my own controller board starting practicing every day and night until I got good and then I took off from there successfully. Read more>>

Atizay Shop

We are two childhood friends who were always passionate about art. We often dreamed about bringing art, culture, and diversity to the world. We were very hesitant but mostly excited when we finally took the leap in 2019 and founded Atizay Shop. It was our way to create a space dedicated to supporting visual artists in a variety of ways while also connecting art lovers from around the globe. From learning new skills to adjusting our vision as we go, building Atizay Shop has been a very challenging and enriching experience. What started as something small that focused on helping artists tell their stories and sell art slowly evolved into a space that opened doors to highlight the work of underrepresented visual artists through the Afro-Costa Rican Visual Arts Gathering that we later rebranded as the Atizay Afro Visual Arts Gathering, welcoming Black visual artists and the Black community in the art scene globally. Read more>>

Tevin Green

I started with the HateLess Foundation back in 2016. I knew the founder Jarvis Provitt through a family friend and he sat down and told me his vision for the HateLess organization, to feed, clothe, and educate underserved people of all ages worldwide to fulfill their purpose. I instantly felt passion for the mission and wanted to help out in any capacity I could. At the current time, I was getting my MBA in Business Administration so I assisted with creating videos, making PowerPoint presentations and marketing ideas. About a year later, I moved to Atlanta, GA for a new work opportunity upon graduating with my MBA. While being In the Metro Atlanta area, I noticed a great need to give back within the community. So, I called Jarvis last year and we decided on starting the HateLess -Atlanta location to make a difference in the Metro Atlanta area. This is currently our first year. Read more>>

Dar’shun Kendrick

After law school, I was employed by a small boutique litigation firm—the firm of the late Dr. King, as a litigator. Long story short, the law firm imploded and I found myself looking for another job in September of 2010. The timing was horrible. I never wanted to own my own law firm but started to get clients so incorporated. Then decided I loved it and wanted to do more. Then I specifically taught myself and read more about securities law and fell in love with this area of law. Read more>>

Tiera Dashae

I’ve always enjoyed wine, but during the pandemic, I started getting more into the makings of wine and the more technical side of it. I started building my wine collection and then once the majority of my friends were vaccinated, I started holding wine tastings at my home. I enjoyed doing it, so I decided to start a Youtube channel called ‘Tastings at Chateau Dashae’ where I review different wines in a fun & down to earth way. Read more>>

Stacey Combs

I’m a Minneapolis-based illustrator & mainly use gouache/watercolor. My biggest interests are nature, video games, trying my best to be kind, and food! A lot of that comes right out in my artwork. Read more>>

Stephanie Stuckey

My story is also the story of my family, dating back to my grandfather, W..S. Stuckey, Sr. selling pecans at a little roadside stand to make extra money during the Great Depression. He did well enough to open store that offered cold drinks, hot snacks, clean restrooms, gas, and what became our signature products – pecan snacks and candies like our pecan log roll. Stuckey’s was really the first roadside retail chain, and at our peak in the early 1970’s we had over 350 stores in almost 40 states. But, like many self-made entrepreneurs of that era, he sold his business to a large corporation. The Stuckey’s brand lost what was special under corporate control that didn’t get the vision of a quirky, fun roadside experience that our stores offered to the traveling public. The brand plummeted, as did the road trip as travel shifted to flying instead of driving. My father got the business back in family hands in 1985. Under his leadership, Stuckey’s evolved into largely a “store-within-a-store” concept. He retired a decade ago, and Stuckey’s was left with a skeleton crew running it until I was offered the chance to buy it in November of 2019. Read more>>

Yamaly ‘Kati’ Tait

Free Mom Hugs was founded as a Non-Profit in 2018 by author and activist Sara Cunningham in OKC. I attended a pride event in Lilburn back in June and met some of the area leaders. I chatted specifically with Chapter leader Erin and she told me all about the movement. I was interested in that instant and we exchanged numbers. Just to hear how much of a drive and passion these moms had to support everyone in the LGBTQ+ community warmed my heart. I joined and became the Gwinnett Chapter Coordinator a month later. I have devoted my time to finding new ideas and resources to reach out to more people to show them that there is a village of moms waiting to love and support. No matter the age or race. No matter what they identify as. Read more>>

Amanda Irtz

Five years ago, I learned about my son’s diagnosis with autism. While the diagnosis shook my expectations of what I planned to happen in my son’s life, it did not erase any belief that my son could also succeed in life. With his diagnosis, a new “me” also emerged as I found a new passion for creating a more empathic understanding of autism. To date, my book, The Clouds That Chase Us: A Journey into Autism and my podcast, Empathy, Joy & Autism, are dedicated to this very vision. The conversations I engage in and the messages I give to our communities are directly related to creating empathy and understanding in autism. Coupled with my 20+ years of professional experience in public schools and the joy-filled moments of raising two small humans, I am also deeply committed to creating a healthy, emotionally strong generation of children. My years of being an assistant principal taught me so much about the human spirit. These lessons now feed my work in raising up a strong and emotionally resilient generation. Today, I’m not only the creative innovator of Emocet® (bracelets designed to remind children of their emotions) but also the Founder of Autism Aptitude, LLC. My mission is simple: create more empathy and understanding for the self and for others. Read more>>

Sherlon Franks

I have always stared at skin, saying “they need this or that but not really knowing.” So after the company I was working Management Sales went bankrupt, and I didn’t want to apply ask or beg someone to work for them. I decided to go to school for skin. Well, I accidentally ended up in a hair school for Master Cosmetology (lol). I decided to stay since hair and skin are connected. While I was there, I started making shampoo and flaxseed gel, after hearing that’s how Sassoon got started, but then it became a problem when everyone could not use the gel! Relaxed, braided, or other protective styles were not able to use a gel. So I did some research and development turning the Flaxseed Gel into a cream! Yay!! Adding some essential oils and herbs just for scalp and hair. Then everyone could use it!! Yay!! That’s where it all began for me!. Read more>>

Sara K Pelaez

Entrepreneurship runs in my family. I first started in human resources, the recruiting side, and then I proceeded to earn a master’s degree in general psychology and the second one in clinical mental health. In addition, I pursued coaching certification through a rigorous program, and I am currently completing my Ph.D. in Human Development and Coaching. It is truly a satisfaction to design your own path and see your career grow and reach individuals that make an impact. Read more>>

Brittany Bacinski

It’s pretty simple. Motherhood cracked me open. It left me raw, vulnerable and exposed. It birthed my greatest healers and my greatest awakening. It made room for the light to pour into my soul more than ever before. Not everyone has to become a mother to expand, learn, heal and grow. But I did. Ever since I became a mother, I’ve made it my mission to share my journey, my wisdom, creative expression and my spirit-filled perspective on life and healing. From a sad past of coloring within societal lines to painting my own world and being the author of my own story. Living a rich and full life, spirituality, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I seek balance and health with all that I do. From writing, showing up online for my community, running a small business, and raising my family. Read more>>

Shameka Usher

Where do I start? Just know I never imagined that “this” would be my life. By “this” I mean living a life surrendered to God and walking in purpose. I had so many plans for my life and thought I knew what was best for me. Boy was I in for a rude awakening! Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” I had the most elaborate plans for my life, and they did not include living for God. That all changed in 2011 when I realized I was in sin and the lifestyle I lived was not pleasing to God. I chose to surrender my life to Christ on July 14th and my life changed drastically. Five months later I had no idea that I was going to be in the hospital fighting for my life. I know He spared my life for a reason, so I choose to share my testimony with others so that He can be glorified. Read more>>

Parlae Escobar

I’m from the group DEM Franchize Boyz. We created a musical and cultural wave that’s still lasting until this day. Being a Pioneer and Trailblazer while overcoming the daily struggles in the Projects was a Trail all by itself. Trying to stay Focus when it’s so much bad things going on around you. From there I would go to sell over 1 Million records, 3 #1 Hit songs (3rd all time), writers awards and monuments for our hard work. I started coaching football 9 years ago and started a 7v7 program called ‘Peachtree Elite’ where I help kids receive college scholarships for their hardwork on and off the field. Two is my 3rd cousin and we established a relationship and found out our relation once I took my son to run for his track program ‘Track Georgia’. I now have a podcast called ‘In Da Partments w/ Parlae’ that’s growing really fast. Along with a host of things I do in my community I would consider myself a Philanthropist also. With my tie and connections with the troubled kids I feel I owe it to them to help them become the best they can be Read more>>

1 Comment

  1. Imani Thomas

    March 27, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    Yes! Place of Kai is where it’s at!

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