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Inspiring Stories from East Atlanta

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 East Atlanta’s rising stars below.

Taylore Simone

I believe my passion for creativity was within me ever since I was in my mother’s womb. My parents told me the story of a time I leapt when music started to play. My parents also told me about the origin of my name. They heard the name Taylor from an actress who was on a soap opera and decided to add an “e” to the end to make it unique. My passion for fashion is even etched within my name, which means “clothed with salvation” and coincides with the word “tailor”. When I was a toddler, my parents were at an event, and the next thing you know, I was being passed around the crowd because I was so cute. I was grabbing attention at an age when I could not even talk yet. When I was around nine years old, I was enrolled in a modeling agency because of my natural ability to pose in front of the camera. Later on, when I started high school, my height was noticed, so I had the option of either wearing a pair of heels and strutting down the runway or wearing a pair of sneakers and running down a court. Well, I was not a huge fan of sweating all the time, so the rest is history.  Read more>>

Lauren Finley

My interest in interior styling came from my family, my eye for design, and my career in marketing + graphics. My grandfather was a construction worker in Turks and Caicos. He taught my mother everything she knows about homes — from foundation to cutting tile. I remember always following my mother around Home Depot and dreading it. She would teach me about drywall and paint types at such a young age. Now, at 27, anything home-related makes me excited. Home projects inspire me, and I could be in any home improvement store for hours. All thanks to my mom. The Archive Design Studio is an interior styling studio designed to work with what you already own — your archive. Repurposing + reusing is something I do in my own home, and I want to help other young professionals do the same. Read more>>

Morris Jackson II

As almost every chef will tell you, I’ve always been in love with food. I grew up in the south (Jacksonville FL, Lawrenceville GA) with a family that loves to cook. Growing up, my parents would throw card parties with spreads that would put the average thanksgiving meal to shame! My late grandfather Marvin Jackson is most definitely my biggest inspiration to be an entrepreneur, he owned a landscaping company in Jacksonville and can’t remember him ever complaining about a single day of hard work in the hot Florida sun. My Culinary Career started with an industry-certified course which I graduated from in 2012 at Grayson Technical High School. This is the only culinary “schooling” I received, any other training I’ve gotten has been on site under some of Atlanta’s best Chefs in the multitude of kitchens I’ve been in, cookbooks, or YouTube university. Read more>>

Gmatreian Brown

Born and raised in Covington, GA I always had a thing for fashion, music, and sports. I started Feed The Fam Empire as a local brand for my community in the early years. It was a few years later when I realized I wanted my brand to be known worldwide. During the pandemic in June 2020, I decided I was going all in alongside my Business partner who’s also a longtime friend Nekabari Yobo. We started With $200 dollars and 20 t-shirts and haven’t looked back since. The journey has not been easy but I can say that it has been worth it. If you can believe in yourself and visualize it and learn how to enjoy the process, that’s half the battle right there. Read more>>

Rahma Ahmed

The idea of starting a brand began when I was in elementary school. I started wearing hijabs at the age of 12. It was always difficult to find stylish and modest attire as a young Muslim girl. Although there was a large Muslim population in Georgia, the fashion industry didn’t truly cater to Muslims and if it did, it was not affordable or attainable. The older my friends and I got, the more we had to rely on relatives traveling to Dubai, Middle East, and or other Muslim countries to bring abayas. There were too many limitations with that as well in the sense that we had to accept whatever style the ready made abayas came in. I started Monarch Hijabs to give Muslim women the opportunity to dress modestly and fashionably. The goal is to inspire Muslim women, especially young girls, to want to wear abayas and hijabs. In their abayas and hijabs, Muslim girls and women can achieve whatever they set their minds to and accomplish their dreams. Read more>>

Jonika Mills

I used to do spoken word in high school so I was always lyrically talented. Earlier this yr the doctors gave my mom a life expectancy if she didn’t get a heart transplant, knowing they needed 10k in a GA Transplant foundation account before putting her on the list made me realize I had to do SOMETHING to bring in extra revenue. I wasn’t gone be able to do it with a regular 9-5. I went to the studio put out my single and by the grace of God, it just went up, but that’s not my best work. I’ve created so many inspirational songs for people I keep getting told I’m “one of the ones” who gone make it; I’ll stop them in the midst of saying it to let them know “nawl, I’m not one of them ones…I am the one” & I promise all 2022 I’m giving reasons!. Read more>>

Alene Paulk

I started out baking when I was younger by helping my grandmother prepare the cakes for our family restaurant. After getting my degrees in art and business and finding myself underemployed, what started out as a side hustle transformed into a creative business venture. Read more>>

Erin Davis

I began doing makeup professionally in 2016. Initially, I relocated to Orlando, where I worked both on set and did SFX makeup for Universal studios. In January of 2020, I relocated to Atlanta and also learned to style hair in addition to my previous makeup skills. I now split my time between working on set and at Urban Evolution salon in Virginia Highlands. Read more>>

Victoria Edwards

I’ve always dreamed about being a salon owner but as time went on and I got older, the dream sort of died. I had been to cosmetology school countless times and it always seemed like life was blocking that goal. First, I became pregnant, then moved in with my child’s father and there were domestic issues. Then I was deployed to Iraq. This time I was like it’s not meant for me to be a hairstylist. Eventually, I graduated college with a B.I.S. theatre concentration and quickly realized I needed a way to support my son and myself. So back to cosmetology school, I went. This time I was like, “If something crazy happens, I’m not going back to school again to get this cosmetology license.” Thankfully I made it through the course. However, exactly a week prior to my final state board exam, my daddy (best friend) passed away from breast cancer. This was a tragedy for me. But even in the face of adversity, I was able my state board practical become a licensed Master Cosmetologist in the state of Georgia. Read more>>

Deborah Gonzalez

The relevant part of my story begins on Nov ember 9, 2016 the day after the presidential election. The result hit me hard as I read a text from my daughter that morning – “Mom I’m scared.” It felt as if everything I had told my daughters as they grew up was a lie – that the America that I knew no longer existed and in its stead was a racist, white supremist patriarchy. As I wrestled with the depression a friend invited me to a retreat of the local Democratic Party. While there, it seemed they were all talking about needing to replace the current state legislator, but no one would commit to run. I remembered my father’s words “if something needs to be done and you are the only one who can do it, you have a duty to step up.” When I got home, my husband asked how did the meeting go? I told him I was running for office and without missing a beat, he said “whatever you need.” Read More>>

Nicole DiTommaso

In 2019, I left an executive position to pursue developing a female-owned hot sauce company. Three months after finalizing our flavor collection, the world was hit with CCOVID. Our business strategy of retail sales was demolished as stores were not accepting new products. I quickly went back to the drawing board and thought… “we can’t just stop, “who else needs serious help right now..” I decided to approach my connections in the restaurant industry. I came up with a creative concept, using our hot sauce as an ingredient in unique dishes and drinks. I’d work directly with the culinary and mixology teams to put together a coursed menu paired with cocktails. Each course would have one hot sauce flavor infused in the dish and drink. I took the sole responsibility for selling tickets to the event and surprisingly, I sold out each time. I split the ticket sales with the restaurant each time, sometimes giving 70% back just to get my product in the community. The magic started to happen. People began to understand the vision. That we were more than a condiment; we are an ingredient!. Read more>>

Vlad

I was born in Brooklyn, New York. I’ve been a musician ever since I was six years old. I started taking piano lessons weekly in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from age six until about eight. I don’t know why I was taking those lessons honestly. Maybe my parents or specifically my mom just knew that music was what I needed to be doing. I liked playing piano but those lessons were hard and I don’t remember much about the experience overall. I think I just didn’t understand why I was there back then. I regret not taking those lessons seriously because I could have been in a band or played at church and had fun with it. Then it was the flute for a couple of years. The pastor at the local Haitian church I went to played one so my mom thought I should try it. At least that’s how I remembered it. It was fun to play but I don’t think I cared much for it. I think my parents got a kick out of seeing me play but I wasn’t in love with it. Half the time, I forget it was my first instrument. Read more>>

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