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.

Claudia Guardado | Founder & CEO

I am a first generation Mexican Latina. My Father immigrated here from Zacatecas Mexico and my Mom from Mexicali. Both my parents had limited education and spoke no english when they came to this country. Both my parents learned English through work and also watching programs like Sesame Street. My fathers first profession was as a shoe shine boy and later married my mother when he was 19 and she was 17. My father got a job at a company called The Linen Tree which did all custom quilts. He was so good the owners gave him the opportunity to design quilts for Sonny and Cher and Barbara Streisand which were later featured in the magazine House Beautiful. Read more>>

Nikita Chaudhry | Actor, Activist & Educator

I grew up as an Indian American kid in Baltimore, MD, with familial roots in India and the UK. I was raised in a tight-knit family that did not favor the conventional. A family who spoke their minds, made noise, and shouted from the rooftops when something wasn’t right or just. A family who is constantly growing from new experiences and discoveries, inviting whomever needs a safe space to come inside. Growing up as one of the few South Asian Americans in my school taught me the value, power, and necessity of my voice. And of my allyship. I was lucky to be involved in LGBTQIA advocacy, racial justice work, and mental health awareness from a young age simply because of my upbringing and because of those I was privileged to call family. Read more>>

Benny Salz | Music Artist & Producer

Being from Omaha, Nebraska has shaped me in ways I never realized until I was in my late twenties. I remember being a young teenager and dreaming about what my life could have been like if I was raised in California. California has always had this novelty about it. Television taught us at a young age that if you had a major dream of being a star, California is where needed to go. I always felt like there was something inadequate about being from Nebraska. I would wear Hollister beach shirts, mimic the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s on MTV and pretend like I knew how to surf. What’s ironic now, is I’m so thankful I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska and not California. California is not everything it’s cracked up to be. Read more>>

Richele Reyes | Ecom Merchandiser & Buyer

I grew up in the Bay Area in a town called Pleasanton with my parents and one older brother. I was extremely fortunate to have two loving and hard-working parents that always encouraged the both of us to do the best we can and to follow our passions. My dad especially made a large impact on me as I grew older in pushing me to pursue my interest in the fashion industry. He was a photojournalist for 37 years, and had a successful career filled with travel, covering sports games, natural disasters, and countless other news stories. He even acquired the honor of being a part of two group Pulitzer Prizes for news coverage of the 89′ Earthquake and Hurricane Katrina. Read more>>

Daniel Landerman | Illustrator, Sketch Artist & Storyteller

I was born and raised in Northern California on an agriculture farm. My dad was a wholistic dentist and a farmer, also born and raised in Nor Cal, and my mom farms and practices Ayurveda and Jyotish (Vedic astrology). She was born and raised in Mumbai, India. As early as I can remember I’ve had the influences of both American and Indian cultures, albeit mostly American. But the spirituality of the Hindu culture always resonated with me and grew up meditating and saying mantras often. The biggest impact has been the benefits of that spiritual nature and how it’s allowed me to navigate the American cultures I grew up in and currently find myself negotiating. Read more>>

Marielle Lesaguis | Model, Creative Director, & Dancer

I am originally from Manila Philippines. I was born and raised there. At 11 years old, my family and I migrated here in the States. I feel lucky to say that I was able to experience the culture of my country at a young age. I believe that this had helped sculpt who I am today. You know, certain things are different over there, from the way we speak in terms of including certain “respectful” words like “po” or “opo”. We use this to speak to someone older or when speaking to someone you respect. This alone taught me to always with respect not just to an elderly but to those around me. My upbringing was strict (as usual) and it was frustrating at the time. Read more>>

Katie Herzog | Artist & Library Worker

My ancestors were Jewish Bavarian cattle traders who spoke a secret language called Lekoudesch (also referred to as “Jewish Cattle Traders Jargon”) that was a combination of Hebrew, Yiddish, and German. I am currently living in a place I call Reverie Ranch, located in Southern Monterey County, where I am combining a wide variety of aesthetic endeavors to create a new visual jargon of my own. Read more>>

Ashley Preston | CSUF Head Volleyball Coach

I grew up in Las Vegas and had a diverse friends group of friends; Asian, Jewish, Dominican, black and white. My family were considered middle class and my two best friends of 19 years are white Mormon conservatives. I played volleyball and was on the dance divas team which at that time was not something that a lot of black girls participated in at my school. I loved being considered the “different” black girl. I was articulate and people were impressed on how smart I was or told me I was the prettiest black girl they’ve seen or loved the way I dressed “ghetto” at times or would assume I knew all of the latest hip hop dances and said I was super “athletic.” Read more>>

Duff Ferguson | Digital Agency CEO

I was born in New York City, but raised in rural New Jersey in a little blue collar town. In retrospect, that was a bucolic place to grow up, but all we dreamed about as teens was getting out to a city! I got back to NYC as quick as I could. Later I moved to San Francisco, Oakland and now Los Angeles for many years, and — for me — the city is still where it is at. The desert, mountains and beach are right nearby, but where I live in Koreatown is an urban walking zone. My daughter’s school is 1/3 black, 1/3 latino and 1/3 white, so she’s growing up with a diverse experience way better than anything I had when I was a kid. Cities are bustling full of people and ideas always brushing up against each other and mixing it up in new ways. Read more>>

Erica Freeman | Co-owner

I’m from Inglewood, California. I grew up in predominately Black working and middle class neighborhoods and attended private schools in those neighborhoods. The first school I attended, Marcus Garvey School in South Central LA, instilled a sense of pride for Black American culture. We learned about Black inventors, leaders and history. I was awarded the opportunity to learn about these trailblazers at a very young age, which is not typical for the average American education curriculum. My mother was born in Liberia, a West African republic founded by free slaves, and my father’s brothers were the original members of the Southern California Black Panther Party. Read more>>

Juliet Mendoza | Dj & Event Planner

I was made in the city of angels (Los Angeles CA) I was born in 1981 when gangs still had a very strong presence on the street in many place that now have been gentrified. I grown up in a tough neighborhood in the middle of Hollywood. My parents both worked. And I was a street kids back then. We had to learn where was safe. Tell time with street lights. Stay together to stay safe and many more street life lesson that have come in very handy now in the real world with many types of people. I didn’t have it easy and I had to work hard for everything, just like today. It thought me not to give up and that I would meet some amazing people in my lifetime. Read more>>

Ronnie Munoz | Chef

I am a Latino. My father from Mexico, my mother from El Salvador. My parents worked very hard to provide for our family and oftentimes that meant we’d either go accompany them at work during our school breaks or be babysat by a relative. The aunt that babysat my younger brother and I would always have us help with lunch or dinner. She would pull out a recipe from her Martha Stewart cookbook and we would get to work. I suppose I became subconsciously infatuated with the feeling of providing sustenance and joy though I never really registered cooking as a career until move in day at college when I decided to drop out and pursue a line cook job at a restaurant in Hollywood. I’ve never looked back since. Read more>>

Tina Kong | UX Designer

I spent a good bit of my childhood growing up and learning violin in China, and although I’ve relocated here to the States in high school, I carried over with me my passion for music and a few learning experiences. I suppose these influences have taught me that persistence, hard work, and enjoying what you do are some of the keys to a positive result. Education in Asia can be very different from what I was later exposed to in America, I’ve always been taught that hard work is needed to achieve perfection, and that there are no shortcuts for practice and learning. Though most of my childhood memories are filled with endless sessions of repetition (instead of rollerblading with my friends outside), I found a lot of joy in the hope that these hours I’ve invested will yield something wonderful. Read more>>

Stephanie Rojas | Actor

I am from beautiful sunny Los Angeles, CA. Yes, this makes me a native or as people say, “a unicorn”. My background and upbringing has impacted the person I am today by being responsible, respectful, independent, strong, emphatic, reliable woman with great work ethics. This has helped with my daily life especially with my relationship with others, personal and professionally. Read more>>

Nicole Ritterstein | Owner

I was born in Baltimore, Maryland, I went to college in New York City and now I live in Los Angeles. I am a first generation American – my Mother is from Poland and my Father is from Slovakia. My parent’s love of travel took me around the world starting when I was just a child, camera in hand. My dad’s sense of humor and interest in photography made every day a new adventure, and I continued those adventures while working in TV production for 15 years. I love meeting new people, exploring new places, smelling new scents, and tasting new flavors. I believe that all of this is reflected in my snarky greeting cards, they are a collection of who I am today – colorful, funny and adventurous. Read more>>

Safi Alia Shabaik | Artist & Photographer

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, just over the hill from Hollywood, so I am an authentic “valley girl.” I was born to and raised by culturally diverse parents – my father was Egyptian and my mother descends from French, Scottish and Native American bloodlines. They made cultural and ethnic diversity a part of our everyday life, not just at home, but through attending community events, through involvement in the visual and performing arts, and through first-hand exposure from travelling. By the time I hit high school, I had already visited several countries around the globe. That first-hand experience in my youth opened my eyes and heart to so much more than books ever could, and I’ve had that itch to keep travelling ever since. Read more>>

Yaron Shavit | Actor

I had a bit of an unusual childhood – my mother was a diplomat and so I moved around a lot as a kid. Though born in Israel, we spent a lot of time abroad – I grew up in Miami and also spent 3 years in Cairo, Egypt. The main thing about living in different places and going through different education systems, is that it gives you a different perspective on various things. For me, it was a very different experience when I was a native, when we were living in Israel, and when I was a foreigner, when we were abroad. Trying to fit in was a big part of my childhood. Between the cultural and the language barriers – I was trying to establish who I was. It definitely helped shape the person I am today – It gave me the drive to becoming an actor – the curiosity to explore, examining different human behaviors and of course the need to fit in… It’s a package deal. Thank you mama. Read more>>