Through our work we have had the good fortune of seeing firsthand how success comes in every shape, size, color, faith, and orientation. More importantly we’ve learned that success is often the result of people embracing their unique backgrounds and so we’ve asked the community to tell us about their background and how it has impacted where they are today.

Alfred Jones | Singer-Songwriter

I am from Virginia. Sudley to be exact. It’s like 40 minutes from DC and it’s probably easier to say DC but I’m proud of my roots. Everyone works hard out there. There’s so much culture out there too. African, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, you name it. I joked with my dad back in high school that Sudley should be called ‘Little America’. So much talent and creativity in the city as well, we’re like LA without the overpriced bagels. I don’t think I would be as introspective or open-minded as I am today without being introduced to so many different people there. I do miss the city sometimes though. I grew up out there. I found love out there . I fell in love with music out there. This city made me who I am today., so I’m forever grateful. Read more>>

Daniel Zhu | Filmmaker & Creative Media Director

I am originally from South Dakota. Coming from a small state, it pushed my curiosity of global cultures and travel. After graduating university, I joined the Peace Corps and lived in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in West Africa. I found different experiences fascinating, so I would bring a camera with me wherever I go, documenting and filming everything I experienced. This has led to further my travels and living abroad in places far away such as South Korea, China, and Alaska. Nowadays I own a media production company that focuses on documenting the movement arts scenes around the world. So in a way, my small town upbringing helped pursue my global curiosity, and I hope people can see that the content I create. Read more>>

Yasara Gunawardena | Photographer

I was born and raised in Los Angeles — specifically the San Fernando Valley. My parents immigrated from Sri Lanka and helped keep that part of my culture very much alive when raising me. We had playgroups with our family friends, played traditional drums and went to Kandyan dance classes, and saw my aunts and uncles frequently. I was raised with essentially a chosen Sri Lankan family here in LA while not being able to see our family back in Sri Lanka nearly as often. My mother made sure to try and keep as much of a balance between the American and Sri Lankan parts of our life — she packed us what we considered more “traditional” American lunches to school (sandwiches and the like) and we would feast on rice and curries for dinner when we got home. Read more>>

Jacqueline Gonzalez | Stylist, Model, Photographer, Mediation Facilator, Founder & Creative Director of Shop Silver

Born in Los Angeles California, I am first generation Mexican American. My parents were born into the poverty of Mexico. Both sides of my parents family came to find themselves leaving Mexico to find a better life by moving into East Los Angeles California, what is also known to me as my second home. I think at an early age I knew by watching my parents always striving for more I began to understand the value of hard work. I know from my own personal experiences and my parents experiences what it felt like to live in a lower class envirment. And from those vulnerable experiences, my vulnerability became my own strength to help me shape and strive so that I could achieve my dreams of opening my own store. Read more>>