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The Most Inspiring Stories in Utah

The heart of our mission is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our communities. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some incredible artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with the incredible group below. Check out our favorite stories from across the Voyage family.

Allison Campbell

The road to where I am currently has been paved with tireless, innumerable hours and projects upon projects… but I would not change any part of what has brought me to the place I am today. I am the owner and principal designer of my own design firm… What?!? I began this journey, which I didn’t realize till much later, while I was in high school working hard in AP Art. I always had a love of drawing, painting, creating, and working with my hands. Before I had this outlet, I often worked with my father on projects around the house and found that the construction process just made sense to me. It’s a very logically illogical process sometimes, and I just got it. After high school, I dabbled with my art skills, and soon found, I loved arranging and rearranging the furniture or wall decor in my dorm at college. This grew into doing the same thing in the home I eventually shared with my husband. Read more>>

Leo Hardy

Leo (aka “Doc”) is the perfect 30 years tenured Carbon County resident guide and camp host who will take you through the remarkable history, landscape, archaic/western cultures, and scenic sites of eastern and southeastern Utah. As a child, he was fortunate to have a mother who loved the last of Utah’s wild frontier who passed her interest on well before Glen Canyon dam was even built. Leo enjoyed firsthand the experience of spending childhood summers with his sister and her husband (the first of Lake Powell’s fishery biologists) in Bullfrog, Utah. In his late teens to early twenties, he lived in the four-corners area of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah and became exquisitely familiar with the traditions, history, and culture of the indigenous peoples living there. He studied their history, language, archeology and marveled at their lands (Leo speaks Navajo). His out-of-doors life experiences began early while hiking, fishing, hunting, and mountain biking (he’s competed twice in the annual world-class mountain bike race to the top of 14,000 ft. Pike’s Peak in Colorado). Read more>>

Madazon Can-Can

I was born and raised in both the country and the West Side. I’m a little bit country and a little bit rock n’ roll as I like to say. I did the Mormon thing until I realized I was in love with women and promptly got kicked out of my house at 18. This led me into a series of strained relationships with men that eventually led to an uneventful marriage and divorce. This divorce is what led me to find the circus. The circus started my journey into the world of performance art. Following my circus training (specifically in clown) I fell into the world of Burlesque and then Drag a few years later. To say it’s been a bumpy road is an understatement. I have kept my home through not only the scary years post-divorce as a part-time art teacher but also a pandemic and a venue loss that radically changed the way I do business. Pre-pandemic, I traveled extensively (2-3 times a month out of state) and just recently completed a 6-week circus theatre tour with Fox and Beggar Theatre Company out of Minnesota in the Summer of 2021. I now work full time as a performer, performance art educator (Burlesque and Drag) out of the Salt Mine and Ex-Mormon Domme, yup… you read that right. Read more>>

Mark Valencia

I started at Voncurtis, which is now Paul Mitchell. My interest in hair came from after serving my mission in California, I was asking designers why they were interested in hair. The comments I heard caught my interest in doing hair, so from then on I’ve never looked back. I have been doing hair for 38 years. I have been with Aveda since the beginning. I have currently been in the building I am now for 21 years. We have a great team working with us and offer different services like a spa & salon. Read more>>

Elena Davis

It was summer 2020 and we weren’t going anywhere. Italy, family, home, comfort, tradition, my restart… forget about it- not this year. I was born in Sardegna, Italy. After immigrating to the United States with my parents when I was six years old we still went back to Italy to live with my extended family every summer. My carrier as a Reading Specialist allowed me to enjoy summers in Italy even as an adult. My heartfelt heavy. I couldn’t move. I needed to show up and support my children when all I wanted to do was hide and cry, alone. Like many people all over the world, I faced the pandemic with my own challenges. My problem felt so small compared to many, but I couldn’t help the heartbreak of not returning home. Read more>>

Margie Keates

Margie Keates is the owner of The Lovely Ave and has been a Paper Florist since 2015. What started as a way to save money for her wedding turned into a love for a craft that would quickly become her passion. She began teaching herself by buying real flowers, taking them apart, and posting innocently on Instagram. This leap of faith snowballed into designing a website, quitting her day job, and starting a new journey with an old but beautiful art form. Solidifying her artistic style and focusing on clear and concise branding, she has built a business that is recognized all over the world. Since 2015, The Lovely Ave has been featured in multiple magazines, including being listed as Country Living’s Top 100 Most Creative People, as well as being featured by multiple online blogs like Design Sponge and Magnolia Rouge. The Lovely Ave creates realistic-looking paper flowers in their downtown Salt Lake City studio where they focus on home decor, meaningful gifts, and fine art pieces. Read more>>

Roots Rawka

I started out as a Reggae DJ. I really just stumbled across it when my friend and I were asked if we can DJ and I just said yes. Haha. That was a long time ago. I eventually landed at KRCL doing an early morning show called Community Service where I played a lot of local music. After a couple of years doing that I was handed the Friday Night Fallout Show by DJ Knucklz. That was KRCL’s Hip Hop show and it’s still running today. I did that show for almost 6 years. During that time, I was working and DJing almost every night. I started to book my own shows and I really liked doing that. After a lot of djing, I just stuck to doing shows. I actually made it to the City Weekly’s DJ competition a couple of times. Never won but I was there lol… my first big artist to the book was Chali 2na of Jurassic 5. I caught the promoter bug and went from there. I’ve booked shows in different cities but mainly SLC. Read more>>

Kwinten Kemp

I have been training in martial arts since age 10, so most of my life. I have training in multiple arts such as Aikido, Kempo, Hung Gar, Ninjutsu, Capoiera, Jujutsu, Hapkido, and Tora Jutsu. The last decade has been focused on Tora Jutsu and Aikido. Our school, Heber Valley Tora Jutsu, has been around for 12 years (had a different name back when it started). Our art is a traditional Okinawan martial art that had heavy influences from Kung Fu as well. I started in this particular school as the self-defense instructor 11 years ago and became the school head about 10 years ago. I love all aspects of martial arts: History, philosophy, the movements, and of course the self-defense side of training. Martial arts are a way of life for me and my wonderful teachers. Read more>>

Mike Charter

We are a home-based Gunsmithing and FFL dealer here in Saint George, Utah. I got started in Gunsmithing at a young age when I rebuilt my grandmother’s Stevens .22 rifle. From there I started working on the Russian Mosin Nagant rifles that were flooding the surplus market. I would buy them for $90 apiece, take them home and refinish them and then turn around and resell them to folks on the private market for $150-$200. As I started repairing my own guns and friends’ guns in my middle to late teens I got more and more interested in the firearm world. After completing my Associate’s Degree in Gunsmithing last October we opened a shop in November. We have repaired many old family heirlooms that our customers thought they could never be able to shoot and enjoy. We do the deep research to find the parts that most of these old guns need, but most shops won’t take time to do. Read more>>

Ben Rollins

I’m fascinated by technology that improves people’s lives. During and after business school, I made an effort to associate with researchers at Universities. I started my first company with a Biomedical Ph.D. student at Cornell. Together we made a great team of science, research, business, and marketing. Good technologies can’t make it to consumers without a champion to get funding for it and put it in front of people. To start my second company. I decided I would work for nearly free with an agency in the State of Utah the allowed me to help University of Utah researchers validate if their technology could be commercialized. In this position, I met Dr. Katz, a neuro-ophthalmologist and researcher at the University of Utah. He treated many people with migraine and light sensitivity. His research revolved around how to help people with these conditions and part of that was developing a lens that blocks the light which has been implicated in aggravating migraine and light pain. Read more>>

Keith Lambson

I started Dryggs in 2020. I’d been in a fairly successful band called Roseburg for several years, but the pandemic put a pretty abrupt stop to a tour we had planned. I had written a lot of songs starting in 2016 that wasn’t quite right for Roseburg. I wanted a platform to create those with, so I started my solo project, Dryggs. My goal was to make organic, guitar-based, alt-rock, and produce and record everything myself. I released the first song, “Eclipse” in November of 2020, and several other singles across 2021 until October when I released my first full-length album “Roadtrip”. Read more>>

Mckenzie Sellers

I’m Kenzie & I currently live in Salt Lake City, Utah but I’m originally from Arizona. I went to hair school in high school because I’ve pretty much known since I was a kid that I wanted to do hair. It’s the only job I’ve ever had. Creativity, marketing, and art just made sense. I played with my own for years growing up & I figured if I was doing it for fun, I might as well get paid for it right? Lo & behold, here we are. Twelve years later and still loving it! I bounced around through different salons and even states until I was ready to be on my own. I owned a full-service salon for a couple of years but sold that and went out as a solo contractor. I rebranded & introduced McKenzie Hair Co. I specialize in Natural Beaded Rows Hair Extensions & Lived-in Hair Color. I was a trainer with the NBR brand for a couple of years and have learned so much from their trainings. I spent years grinding, trying to find the answers to success. I was the stylist who made 40k for years until I learned to be a marketer. I found my specialty and put the work in to get REALLY good at it. I’ve since doubled my income every year since 2017, my first year on my own. Read more>>

Ashley Brichter

I was born and raised in New York City and have amazing immigrant-entrepreneurial parents and a multi-generational-matriarchal family. From the age of three, I knew I wanted to work with babies and families and I thought for years this meant I would be a classroom teacher. In college, I pursued my passion for education and social justice. However, I was met with hiring freezes on the heels of the Great Recession and could not get a teaching job. Through a family friend, I found doula work. I supported expectant and new parents in the days leading up to, during, and in the first few weeks after childbirth. What I thought would be a stop-gap actually opened so many doors. By the time I got pregnant in 2014, I pivoted from hands-on doula-ing and began working exclusively as a childbirth educator. I knew as much as anyone could about childbirth, however after my birth I developed severe internal bleeding. I questioned everything I had been taught; everything I was teaching. Many students communicated similar sentiments: “Ashley, we loved your class but my birth didn’t go as planned!” Read more>>

Jessie Morris

I’ve been a software engineer for a little over a decade. A longtime friend (and now business partner), Chad Murdock, was in the meat processing industry for many years. We had talked about starting a butcher shop in Heber for several years. Finally, in 2020, the stars aligned and we started going down the path of finding a space, gathering equipment, and marketing for customers. We’ve been open for 6 months and the community response has been overwhelmingly positive. Farmers and ranchers needing custom processing have been extremely underserved in the Wasatch Back. Read more>>

Brandon Moreland

I grew up in Roseville, California, and Maui, Hawai’i. I met my wife, Princess Kaiulani, in 2015 and while this is an interview about me, she plays a big role in where I am today. in 2017, we were both going to the University of Hawai’i at Manoa on O’ahu when we started to experiment with social media. We were two broke and overworked college kids barely making it and fancied the “influencer” lifestyle. We began to study Instagram and started the early stages of becoming “influencers” – or as we like to call it now, Content Creators. In 2018, we decided to transfer to an online university, change our majors, and move back to Maui. We went from living independently to living with her family and helping with their family business. With moving back home and working for her parents, I was able to focus solely on getting my Marketing degree. In late 2019, I started my first business: Be Moreland Media – a digital marketing agency that focuses on social media management and content creation for businesses. Read more>>

Jess Brown

Prior to having kids, I worked in a Residential Treatment Center for girls aged 12-18, as a therapist. I loved my time there and I learned so much from working with the girls and their families. When I decided to leave and be home with my first babe I had the vision to offer something for our community that included a whole wellness approach. Fast forward to after I had my second child, I learned about BIRTHFIT and went through the intentional process to bring it to my community! I had a newfound vision and plan for the birth of my last baby as I was growing BIRTHFIT locally. I created a birth team, I was strong in mind, body, and spirit. My last birth was the most empowering experience of my life. My experience and education allow me to support families through the motherhood transition. Read more>>

 

Mitchel Hunter

As a teenager, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Life became increasingly difficult as I moved through school. I was angry, sad, and alone. In and out of psychiatric wards I started to feel as if I would never be able to amount to anything. I moved out of my parent’s house and started school at SUU where I meet a man going through a lot of the same things I was. We became close friends helping each other battle the storms of life. Then one day, I found his remains. He had been claimed by the fires of depression. As I struggled to find my place in this new version of my life, I came to a realization. None of what I knew was real. That isn’t to say what was happening in my life wasn’t real, because it was. My perception of what it all meant was not. Read more>>

Anne Marck

I am a craniosacral therapist, life coach, and mentor to childhood trauma survivors. I have raised in fundamentalist Mormonism and lived in that culture until 2007 when I left that community to find a better way for myself and my children. At that time, I was suffering from depression, anxiety, and anorexia, along with other health challenges that I was unable to resolve. I had studied herbalism and craniosacral therapy, and other forms of alternative medicine to try to heal myself, but despite my best efforts, I was unable to make much progress. In desperation, I turned to my childhood trauma history as a possible source of my symptoms. This led me to the realization that my emotional and physical health was deeply connected to unresolved childhood trauma; a devastating house fire that took the lives of three siblings, family dysfunction, and sexual abuse. Among other things, I was suffering from post-traumatic stress. Read more>>

Nate Thompson

I always wanted to be an entrepreneur of some sort and have an investment in a business, but just didn’t know what. I had a small landscaping business in my late teens and early 20’s but sold it when I went full-time work and school. Years later, working for a corporate bank and on a business trip in AZ, a colleague of mine asked if I had any interest in bringing a Poke concept to Utah. I had heard of Poke but hadn’t really known what it was or what the concept consisted of. After doing some local research, I realized that very few Poke spots were established in Utah and that Salt Lake City, being a huge sushi-eating city and as the 11th healthiest city in the US, I knew that FreshFin needed to be in Utah. I flew out to Wisconsin to see some of the existing stores where it was founded in 2016 as I wanted to see the shops in action, the quality of the food, the process, and the entire standards of procedure that the business ran on. Read more>>

Mike Johnson

I was an electrical engineer. I did not like the field I was in. After finishing a job, I was laid off and decided to take the opportunity to find something I love. I didn’t realize it to be in tattooing. I started an apprenticeship as a temporary thing to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. I found tattooing and the expression and experiences I can give people with tattooing stole my heart. Ever since I have been striving to make tattooing a better experience for the consumer. I strive to help them bring their ideas to life. I am fortunate enough that I have been able as well to help women with mastectomies and rebuilding the nipple using 3D tattooing techniques. Bringing joy back to these women who have been through so much. It is truly a reward in itself. Seeing these women smile. Read more>>

Brian and Aubrey Willis

I have always loved food, loved taking pictures of it, and sharing my experiences with friends and family. I have enjoyed showing others fun new places to go and try. I found myself following restaurants and as Instagram and Facebook emerged I found myself posting pictures of my food and places that I went. Later, I was recommended as a Yelp Elite member, who has the opportunity to share and review restaurants that I visit and their food. When my wife and I started dating we always tried new restaurants and would find ourselves venturing out to try new food, new cuisines, and new dishes. We would find ourselves planning vacations around new places to visit and then restaurants around that area we would like to visit. For the last 2ish years, we have been working on our Instagram page @GoodEats.Utah as a foodie family and love the opportunity to share with others our experience and help small businesses grow. Read more>>

Taylor Aramburu

I started making salsa while living as a church volunteer in northern Mexico. There were a few women, specifically, who had truly refined the craft, and thanks to them I learned the basics. When I got back to Utah, taco nights quickly became a tradition in my family. I made homemade tortillas, pork carnitas, and pico, but my specialty has always been salsas. My wife and I continued this tradition after we got married, and when the pandemic hit, we started a robust garden full of tomatoes and peppers. One day, we picked a huge crop of tomatoes and decided to take the day to make salsa and deliver it to family and friends. We got great feedback from everyone – they loved it – and that was the push we needed to start our business. We officially started Don Aramburu Salsa Co. in September 2020. Since then, we have been making and delivering fresh salsa to Salt Lake, Davis, and Utah Counties. Each month we introduce a new specialty flavor in addition to our recurring lineup, which includes Guajillo, Tomatillo Verde, Mama’s Guac, El Clasico, Serrano Dip, and Queso Blanco. We primarily do business through deliveries, but last summer we expanded to a few farmer’s markets, as well. We love what we do and look forward to expanding our business this year. Read more>>

Judee Guay

I have walked in some of these women’s shoes, I understand what it’s like to get a second chance to live the life you’ve always wanted. I personally, found myself in a verbal, mental, and emotionally unhealthy marriage of 24 years that was tearing me down. I believed I didn’t deserve any better. My broken spirit was only compounded with failing health. At one point due to three different autoimmune diseases, I was part-time in a wheelchair. and pushing almost 300 pounds. ​This was not the life I had always dreamed of and often wondered how I got there. I just played small and had lost all hope. day by day, I chose to pick myself up again. Over time, I became healthy, released over 100 pounds, started to love myself, and left the emotionally abusive marriage. I was able to heal myself. But I wanted to do more. Read more>>

Katie Hope

I was raised wild. One of my earliest memories is being giddily excited, crammed with my sisters and neighborhood friends, in the loader of my dad’s backhoe, getting ready to be dumped into one of the ponds he was digging out in our front yard. Our house was on stilts so we would race our bikes down the ramp into the swimming pool. We would set crawfish traps in the ditches while we swam in the rainwater. We played hide and seek in the dark on four-wheelers. When we were 5, my oldest cousin put me and my sisters inside a 4 person graveyard and left us there. We were so wild that we even played chicken on the four-wheelers and go-carts which ended with stitches in my lip and a broken collarbone (but at least I wasn’t the one to chicken out). We spent most of our childhood at my Mawmaw and PawPaw’s house in Kentwood, Louisiana that we lovingly called Hope Ranch. How an Otis of the world met an Avis is pure magic to me. They have 5 boys; Ray, Ricky, Ronnie, Rocky, and Reggie. Read more>>

Rian Kasner

My mural career began in the spring of 2019, kind of by accident. I was studying graphic design at Southern Utah University and at the time was playing soccer there as well. My weight training coach asked me if I could design a mural for the weight room and I saw this as an opportunity to get my required volunteer hours in for the soccer team, so I actually offered to not only design the mural but also paint it. At this point, this was a crazy idea. I had really no painting background, let alone any clue how to develop a mural on such a large scale. However, my coach had faith in me, and let me give it a go. He’s the reason I ever got started in murals, and I couldn’t be more grateful for him giving me a chance. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, so I was just making it up as I went along. I finished it in about a month and it was a success. I was super proud of it and at that time, it was the coolest project I had ever done, but I didn’t really think I would keep doing it. I thought it was a one-and-done project. I had fun, and the mural turned out way better than expected, but I didn’t think it was something I would keep doing. Read more>>

Justin Morris

When I was four years old, I walked into my mother’s room and saw a picture of the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my four years of life. Her eyes were the clearest blue and her skin seemed so soft. I picked up the picture from her bedside table and asked my mother who she was. She knelt beside me and informed me that it was MY MOTHER! She and my father had died in a tragic airplane accident just a few years before. This beautiful woman whom I regarded as my mother was actually my Aunt, my mother’s sister. I remember how confused I was. I felt immediately disconnected from everything I thought was real. I no longer felt like I actually belonged anywhere. My little world was destroyed. A short time later we were all outside as a family enjoying a beautiful fall evening together. The sun was just setting. I still remember how beautiful the sunset was. The vivid reds, vibrant oranges, and transcendent indigos and violets are forever pierced in my memory because of what happened next. Read more>>

David Pack

After obtaining my Chiropractic degree and through the help of family and some small miracles in obtaining a business loan, I opened for business on Oct. 21, 1987, in Akron Ohio. For the next 28 years, I served the families in the surrounding communities in general practice where we treated chronic cases, automobile, sports, and work-related injuries, I blend Chiropractic with eastern medicine approaches to address allergies as well. In 2015, we moved back home to American Fork where I grew up to be closer to aging parents. Here, I started a mobile service where we go to your home & business, evaluate & treat symptoms associated with allergies & muscle/joint problems. We use a very specific blend of Eastern Medicine, Kinesiology, and Chiropractic that not only more fully identifies the cause of the problem but also, by applying the protocol, you’re able to feel strength return and symptoms decrease. Read more>>

Avner Arama and Tori Glynn

The moment I graduated from high school, I felt unfinished in the basketball world. I felt that I loved the game more than anyone I have ever met & I worked really hard without getting very far as a college basketball player. Learning how to pivot away from being a player to a coach at 18 was a monumental push forward for my basketball career. My girlfriend told me to apply as head coach of my old middle school & to my surprise, I got the job. Ten years later, I have now become a respected veteran head coach of boys & girls athletics, & more importantly a basketball skill trainer for the hoopers who truly just want to be a better version of themselves each & every day. I feel as though I have every underdog back–I’ve been in their shoes but I didn’t have someone who believed in me the way I believe in my clients. I thrive in being the voice for hoopers who haven’t found theirs yet. I thrive in the in-between. Read more>>

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