Where you grew up and your background can often have surprising effects on our lives and careers. We’ve asked folks from the community to tell us about how their background has affected them.

Dan Epand | Songwriter, Producer & Drummer

I grew up with music all around me. My dad was a guitar player, then a music journalist (Rolling Stone Magazine), and then eventually worked for Polygram Records to develop their music videos department in the 80s. The first moment I locked eyes on ‘Animal’ on The Muppet Show, I knew I wanted to be a drummer. My Grandma Lou was always making up songs about my siblings and cousins, and my mom would sing me lullabies to sleep while my dad joined along on his guitar. This was an activity that bonded my family together and I saw it was something that we all enjoyed to do from a young age and to this very day. Read more>>

Rebecca Brown | Artist

I was born in Fort Knox, Kentucky but spent my time living in different cities in California, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Since I lived in different cities, I think it made me a more reminiscent person. I like to look back at my surroundings and childhood–I like to find sentimentality in everything. This is what drives my work a lot. I like to call back on fond memories or cathartic moments in life. Read more>>

Dynelly del Valle | Designer & Plant Enthusiast

I’m originally from Florida. My family is from Puerto Rico and I’m the first person in my family not to be born on the island, I grew up as an only child with a single mom who came from a very large family that still lived on the island. Being away from family, I grew up surrounded by lots of close friends. I learned a lot about community and creating family with those around me. I understand that creating community is an integral part of living and it really does take a village. I strive to make connections every day with the people I meet . Read more>>

Larenzo Floyd | Artist/Musician & Music Producer

Seattle has a very unique music scene. From Grunge undertones, to hip-hop, pop, edm, and hardrock. Making music in Seattle has been a journey and I am motivated to keep striving for my goals. At 9 years old I studied the drums under Seattle drummer Davis Martin. Although there were roadblocks, I continued to pursue music. After a few different bands, I started “Free Samples” with my close friends Cesar Huchim and Dylan Turner. A few years later, I gradually started learning guitar, bass, music production and recording arts. With MPC essentials, an old keyboard, cheap amazon mic and audacity, I started on a path. Read more>>

Alexander Lozano | Entrepreneur

I am from Bellflower California born and raised most of my life. Growing up in bellflower was amazing , the perfect melting pot ! A middle class area that toughened me up and made me ready for real life. Taught me how to hustle and to become the successful man I am today! Read more>>

John Allan Peñacerrada | Business Owner / Wellness Expert and Consultant / Professor

My family roots come from the islands of the Philippines. Although I was born in San Francisco, I was raised in the motherland and migrated to the United States at the age of 8, with my parents and 5 other siblings. Our first 10 years we lived in the Hunter’s Point and Visitation Valley Districts, which were considered the “Hood” in San Francisco. One can imagine the extraordinary culture shift that we experienced and how the streets influenced our characters. These humble beginnings defined my appreciation for God, sacrifice, love and family, . Till today, I live with these 3 life experiences. “One, never forget where you came from. Two, always be thankful. And three, pay it forward.” Read more>>

Mackenzie Robert | Aesthetician

I’m from Bedford, NH! A town in southern NH, just north of Boston. My upbringing was strong and extremely family based. At the core this makes up who I am and also what my business is about. I’m all about celebrating people and creating a family environment where everyone is supported, accepted, and loved. Read more>>

Tom Kubik | Photographer, Men’s Coach, Meditation Instructor

Maybe one day I will fully be able to grasp how my background has shaped me but honestly it’s still unfolding, yet this question is still very rich to me. My hometown of Youngstown, Ohio was one of the centers of Italian mafia activity when I was in my youth. This meant I spent a lot of time rubbing elbows with mobsters in the lounges where my mom was serving tables. And by rubbing elbows I mean they would give me money for the claw machine, which I mastered at a very young age. Read more>>

Yvonne Arasa | Graphic Designer & Photographer

I was born in raised in the Bay Area. I didn’t have the best childhood growing up and I was abused alot as a child. Growing up I didnt have a voice and when I became an adult and started healing my trauma I became a more postive person and be an advocate for those who dont feel they cant be themselves or scared about talking about mental health issues. The impact of my childhood gave me a voice as an adult to stand up for myself when others wont. Read more>>

Erin Male | Display artist & Illustrator

I’m from the east coast, born in Jersey and raised in New Hope Pennsylvania. A gorgeous, wealthy suburb similar to where my dad grew up. My mom immigrated from a rougher town outside Dublin Ireland when she was 33. My family, consisting of 2 parents and 3 daughters, would often visit in the summer. So growing up there were a lot of opposites coexisting and loads of fierce feminine energy. Read more>>