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.

Marco Tulio | Guitarist, Songwriter & Singer

I’m from Brazil. I was born in Cuiabá, capital of the state of Mato Grosso but when I was 6-years old my family moved to Brasília, the capital of Brazil. So I grew up in Brasília. My father’s family are from Cuiabá and my mother’s family are from the Northeast part of Brazil and from Rio de Janeiro. Being part of a family with this diversity of cultures had a great impact on my life and for sure on my music and my career. I was exposed to all kinds of music since I was a kid. Even though my parents didn’t play any musical instrument they loved music. My father had a passion for stringed instruments such as violin, guitar, mandolin, etc. My mother was more into singers, specially the great Brazilian female singers from the 50s. My older brother exposed me to Rock when I was about 9 years-old. And I really fell in love with it. He had records from the classic Rock bands from the 70s and I used to listen to all of them. Read more>>

Mônica Lakey | Beautician

I was born and raised in Brazil in a small town called Parintins in Amazonas, where I lived until I was 18 years old. My original dream was to become a dermatologist. After finishing high school, I applied to take the entrance exam to became a doctor, but unfortunately I didn’t pass. I then decided to move to Manaus, the capital of Amazonas, where I could study to became a beautician and get closer to the my main dream. Besides that, I would be able to have more opportunities that only a big city could provide. I lived in Manaus for 4 years and in 3 years I completed my college with a lot of effort, dedication, focus and love. During the first years of studying, I started to do some home care, going to my clients house to do the procedures and after a while I started to work in an aesthetic spa. Read more>>

Tabatha Roche | Motion Designer & VFX Artist

generation college graduate in my family. My parents didn’t have much growing up and didn’t have many opportunities to grow in their hometown. Knowing they wanted to build a family, they made a huge life-changing decision and immigrated from Mexico in the ’90s to give us opportunities they did not have growing up. I’ve always admired how my parents built a life for us from literally nothing. Along the way, they had to learn a new language, adapt to a new culture, while working 2-3 jobs at a time to save enough money to invest in their next step. Nothing came easy for them, and they made sure that we grew up with the same work ethic and values. They wanted to show us that we could achieve any goal we had as long as we worked hard, made smart decisions, and practiced a couple of life lessons they had picked up as they’ve grown and learned from their mistakes. Being the oldest sibling, I felt a lot of pressure and responsibility to succeed in just about every aspect of my life. Read more>>

Dana Dang | Founder of SlowBound

I was born and raised in Orange County, CA. When I was younger, my parents owned a sewing shop. After school, my mom would pick me up and take me to the shop. There, I watched television and played outside, while they would work long hours during the day and into the night. Most days, we would have to sleep there, and I would be dropped off at school the next morning. Growing up in the shop, I would ask my parents if I could help bag the clothes up or cut the stitching of clothes that were sewed improperly. I wanted to help! Due to the work ethic of my parents, I was shown what hard work really meant. I realized sometimes you don’t get to take a break or go home to relax – you have to do whatever it takes to provide for your family. Read more>>

Kim Lara | Model/Actress

I’m a local native of LA. I was born and raised for most of my life until I moved near the Santa Clarita area, and then back to Los Angeles. My upbringing definitely made a big impact in my life and shaped me into the person I’m currently. I’m a huge dog person, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’ve always had dogs and every other type of pet since I was 2 years old. My life has definitely made me stronger, more resilient and wiser for sure. Read more>>

Deonna Marie Cattledge | Artist, Intuitive Vocal Coach & Spiritual Consultant

When someone asks me where I’m from I would typically say the Cosmos, but I’m from Grand Rapids, Michigan and I would say that I had a very traumatic childhood. I had two parents on drugs which put my sister and me in foster care for a good portion of my childhood. So I was in all types of homes whether it was one of my aunt’s house, a group home, or another home in the system. In some of those homes, I experienced sexual trauma, emotional abuse, and/or physical abuse which attributed to me later fighting my own drug addiction. For a big portion of my life, I never felt like I belonged anywhere. I’ve always felt like I didn’t belong, or didn’t fit in. No one ever saw me because I was never in a place long enough for anyone to see me. Nobody had time to cultivate who I was or my special gifts. So I had to recognize that I had them and cultivate them on my own. Read more>>

Sardia Robinson | Actress/writer

I was born and raised in Jamaica. In Jamaica we say “Mi little but mi talawa” which means we are strong or we can do anything we set our minds to. So with that said my upbringing and background makes me a who I am today. I was raised with pride and tenacity, knowing that as a Jamaican I could make it in this America, and no racism or bigotry or ignorance could stop me. Read more>>

Midori | Founder, ForteFemme & FHP-inc, Sexuality Educator & Creative Living Coach

I am originally from Tokyo, Japan, from an old working class neighborhood. My mother is an academic in the field of many traditional arts of Japan, so I had a great deal of exposure to classical and folkways of Japan. While steeped in many of the traditional Japanese ways of things, and loving my country, I am also mixed-race and dealt with all the challenges and prejudice that brings with it. Fortunately my maternal grandmother, likely anticipating the racism I would face, raised me to love the culture but not to be owned or downtrodden by it ~ to see the culture from a bigger global perspective. While she didn’t have these exact words, she prepared me to be a global citizen with a multicultural perspective embracing my intersectionality. This has imbued in me a tendency to question common assumptions and wonder about the cultural framing of such assumptions. From this I consider fresh perspectives, and teach my students and clients to engage in curiosity, notice and challenge their own assumptions. Read more>>

Rockwood Productions | Hip hop producer & mixing engineer

I am originally from Abington,MA which is a small suburban town south of Boston. Growing up I did not have the ideal childhood or living situations. Everyday life was in a mentally unfit environment involving drug abuse, sex, violence, thievery. Not knowing how to cope with my surroundings, I was always involved in something that attracted attention, that required some form of talent. If it was competitive and had a success story for the “winner” or Successor, chances are I was involved for the sake of attention and the need to feel loved or just basic sense of importance or purpose. Fast forward to the dramatic change in life where I was removed from my biological mother via social services. At this point in time I became more and more troubled and destined for failure. Ultimately, hip hop and ,using drugs became second nature. Read more>>

Neil Watson | Writer/Director/Producer

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Being from a small island full of pride, family and hardships made me value the little things I was able to attain in my life. My upbringing was full of love and strict lessons which made me rebel against them and push me to forge my own path in my own way. Ive never taken a handout and I have always gotten everything I have with my very own determination and I am proud of that. These are the ways I push myself and my business as well as my creativity. Once I have a goal or an idea I chase it until I have attained it or completed my path towards it. This is what makes me who I am. My other side is very different and it compliments me well. I have always been a day dreamer with big ideas and I have always had one foot in the air and the other planted somewhat firmly for support. So with these 2 different views in life, I continue to strive and chase my dreams of telling stories through my films and my production company Film Dreams Inc. Read more>>

Lu Arrospide | Dancer and Choreographer

I am a dancer and choreographer from Lima, Peru. My country and my culture have definitely been important factors in the process of finding who I am as an artist. I believe we all see some things differently, depending on our backgrounds and how we grew up, and that is why I find it so beautiful to connect and share with people from different parts of the world. It can bring up some things we would’ve never thought about. Growing up, I was very lucky and privileged to have a good education, lots of training opportunities and the support of my family. However, a lot of times I found myself surrounded by many friends and peers, who did not live in the same situation. If they wanted to live from what they loved, they had to work twice as hard as everyone else, because they knew they were in this on their own, with absolute no support. The odds were stacked against them, however their passion was so strong they kept doing it. Read more>>

Maralisa Simmons-Cook | Musical Artist/Voice Coach & Bar Owner

I grew up in West Marin in a small town called Lagunitas (part of the San Geronimo Valley), about twenty minutes from Point Reyes National Seashore. My house was at the end of a long winding road up in the woods on a steep hill. It’s absolutely beautiful there, with rolling hills and cows and redwood forests. My mom is a painter and visual artist, and her father, my grandfather, owned a well known dive bar called Specs’ in San Francisco (a watering hole for writers, artists, activists, musicians and more) now co-owned by my mom and I. I grew up venturing into the city quite a bit and hanging at the bar, attending music festivals and blues clubs, as well as art and cultural events with my mom. Marin County also has an incredible history of music, with artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Phil Lesh, Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin and more spending much time there. Read more>>

Lea Gutierrez | Banana Queen

I am born and raised in Southern California. I have lived all over So Cal, San Antonio TX, Northern California and Las Vegas. I love moving and I LOVE change. I am the granddaughter of a successful banker (entrepreneur) who was the founder and CEO of Sterling Bank with 7 branches all throughout Southern California. From the age of 9, I began accompanying my grandfather to work anytime I could. Every spring break, summer break and winter break, you would find me at his bank. During my younger years I had a desk setup alongside his secretary and I would type up “important” documents on the typewriter. As I grew older, my tasks grew with me and I would perform duties throughout the branch. This experience made me realize a few things as a kid,- 1 – I wanted to have a boardroom and I wanted my photo hanging in it – 2 – I wanted to be important and recognized. As I walked through the branch everyone jumped into place because they knew me as the CEO’s granddaughter. Read more>>

Bea Tablac | Singer & Songwriter

I am a first generation filipino-american and I pride myself in that. Seeing my parents work so hard and come to an unfamiliar place only to find overwhelming success within themselves and where my family has come is one of the reasons why I work so hard. Although, this doesn’t mean it was an easy cruise to the top. My parents faced a lot of financial hardships including moving all over America so my dad could keep up with his work so we would have a roof over our head and eventually a foreclosure on our house so we would have to move yet again. Seeing them bounce back from their setbacks is an amazing thing that I wasn’t able to appreciate until now. My parents and I always used to butt heads because my idea and vision of success was always different from theirs even if I was applying aspects that I learned from them. This separated me from my parents. Read more>>

Brandon Bryant | Dance Choreographer & Instructor / Creative Director / Apparel Designer

I was born and raised in Miami FL and since the age of me knowing how to walk I’ve always wanted to dance. Now in the South, down South where the sun is always shining and the beach is well… almost 24/7 year-round, globe warming you know. Life in Miami could have been perceived as an amazing place to live but growing up in Miami it was all about the culture and respect you had to earn from everyone like your teachers and even more your peers. In the 1900’s Being a black boy in the south wasn’t the worst time to be a man of color but what I was taught by my parents [ Diane & Carlton Bryant] was that I’m not like the other kids, I shouldn’t expect things to be handed to me and that I needed to work and show my due diligence to respect who I am and the morals I stand for. I was taught that “NO” is just a two-letter word and that “No right now doesn’t mean No forever.” Read more>>

RosaLinda Diaz | Author & Perfumer

I’m a native Los Angelino. Shocking, I know. We are rarer than a traffic free Friday night on the 405. Being from Los Angeles gave me a vast scope of the world. Which may seem odd, since it is just one place, but it is an incredibly diverse and multifaceted city. I grew up in the Silverlake area. As I look back I realized what an idyllic childhood I had. I perfected bike riding on the sidewalk in front of our apartment complex, agonized over my single stem flower purchase at the Aloha Flower shop down the street, and roamed a one square block radius completely autonomously. It was my domain. I loved it. However, we moved, quite a few times, and thus I don’t consider myself just from Los Angeles. I’m also from Oahu, Hawaii, and Littleton, Colorado where I finished high school before returning to Southern California for college. Each of these very different places gave me a new perspective of the world. There is indeed life outside of Los Angeles, surprise. Read more>>

Dominique Vanzini | Artist & Usui/Holy Fire®III Karuna Reiki® Master

I was born and raised in Zurich, Switzerland and moved to the US more than 20 years ago. From early on I was creating art constantly. My parents owned a clothing company and I was constantly exposed to fabrics and colors. Seeing my dad designing clothing and creating color studies inspired me early on to create multi media fabric collages. Growing up, we traveled a lot and I was always very drawn to exploring new cultures and different environments. After moving to the US I wanted to know more about art so I studied at the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle and took lots of classes in Drawing, Oil Painting, Botanical Drawing and Landscape Painting. Last year I was one of the winners of Artist’s Network’s AcrylicWorks7. Moving to another country made me stronger and I know I can adapt easily and be inspired by any environment. I have a lot of power, drive and inspiration to renew myself. Read more>>

Tarek Adra | Doctor of Chiropractic, Pharmacist, Licensed Acupuncturist

i grew up in Lebanon in the eighties and early nineties during the civil war. That kind of environment can definitely break you, but if you are lucky to be surrounded by a loving family and good friends, like i was, you develop a resilience to the adversities of life that is unique to growing up in a place like that. Intimately surrounded by love, war turns into another learning experience with a few scars. not enough scars to rob you of your will to live, but scars that remind you to face challenges head on and keep fighting towards that light at the end of the tunnel and the rush of adrenaline when you reach it. Lebanon has a very long history with trade and business, influenced mainly by the pheonicians, the arabs, the ottomans and the french. The distillations of these cultures, from the trading prowess of the phoenecians to the “savoir-faire” and sophistication of the french, is very evident in the Lebanese psyche and mine as well. in addition to that, i was lucky to be surrounded by naturally gifted entrepreneurs. Read more>>

Kevin Steele | Photographer & Director

Living in LA now, I grew up overseas: born in Kuwait, childhood in Bahrain, NY, Paris and Panama. After university in NY I came to California, living in Santa Barbara for a long time before moving to LA . I met my love and continued the nomadic life spending time in Philly and then moving to Mexico for what was intended as a winter and which ended up being two years! My childhood around the world instilled cultural awareness on the one hand and wanderlust on the other. My creative work follows the same path. Read more>>

Randal Thurston | Artist and Teacher

I’m from Somerset, a small town in Southeastern Massachusetts. My great Grandparents came to America to escape the potato famine in Ireland. They settled in South Boston and eventually moved to Fall River MA where my grandparents and parents lived. Everyone in my family did physical labor; they built roads, worked as merchant marines and farmed. My grandfather, uncle and father worked as lock and draw bridge operators – the folks who open and close draw bridges when the height of passing ships makes that necessary. I chose to answer this question because I think a lot about the arc of my career. While nothing in my family’s history would indicate that I would have a life in the arts, it was their support that allowed it to happen. My family was very connected to the landscape I grew up in. They hunted and fished throughout the year, paying close attention to the natural rhythms of the tides and migratory patterns of birds. Although I felt apart from these activities, I appreciated the precision and care needed to do them well. Read more>>

Nicole Bowman | Writer & Content Creator

I used to brag about being born in Germany because it felt like it added something interesting to my identity but I have no memory of living there– with the exception of finding a penny in the snow and visiting a castle with peacocks– and as I entered adulthood I realized I didn’t need to add anything to my identity to be interesting. I was raised in Huntington Beach and enjoyed the beach lifestyle. I enjoyed the abundance of sunshine, bare feet, and the smell of sunscreen. The idyllic location was a juxtaposed to the covertly dark home-life. My parents were very young when I entered their world, and they had their own traumas left unprocessed, which combined makes for a challenging childhood– for them and me. Eventually, I was given a buddy, a little sister, and I fiercely attempted to protect and shield her from the secrets of our family. My dad is a narcissistic addict. My mom is a survivor. I am finally acknowledging, accepting, and healing from the litany of small and big abuses. Read more>>

Vyvy Tran | Makeup Artist

I am from San Diego, California, where my family seemed refuge due to the Vietnam War. Growing up as a first generation-born Vietnamese American really shaped who I have become. My family was very strict and always pushed me to do my best in school. A-‘s and B+’s were unacceptable so needless to say that made me always strive for more. We didn’t have much growing up so I learned to be resourceful and ration and appreciate what little we did have. I can try to stretch a given makeup and hair budget for indie films and I will do my best to make a vision come to life for the productions I work on. My parents raised me to always take care of guests who come over and make them feel welcomed, offering them food and drinks, or whatever they need and I think that plays into how I check on and try to take care of my clients in the makeup chair along with my fellow artists in my department now. Read more>>

Ashwin Sriram | Musician

I was born in Mountainview, California but spent the last 15 years living in Bangalore, India. My parents both worked in a corporate setting, shitfing between different tech jobs, my older brother was fascinated by math and I was super into various art forms. What we all had in common, however, was our appreciation for music. During the weekends we would spend our time playing songs by Pink Floyd together and even writing originals. I also got the opportunity to learn Hindustani music for several years which really taught me what dedication means as a musician. Apart from the obvious complexity in the music, there was a lot of humility in the art form and it was solely about the music itself. My family was always supportive of my journey as a musician and encouraged me to take this up more seriously by attending the Berklee College of Music. As I ventured deeper into music, I always remembered that this career takes tremendous discipline and perseverance to make it last. Read more>>

Winnie Opakunle | Entrepreneur, Advocate & Sr. International Marketing Project Manager

As a Nigerian American Woman, my background plays a major role in who I am today. I was born in Nigeria, moved to the United States at the age of seven and grew up in Prince George’s county a thriving predominantly black county in Maryland. My childhood was fun, my home loud, exuberant and filled with two parents, five siblings and never-ending laughter. My parents taught my siblings and I to be bold and unapologetic about who we are. We were taught to take up space and that although we were culturally different, foreign and at times naïve, we belonged. My mother and father instilled in me the ideals of integrity, tolerance, self-awareness, and having a strong work ethic. Read more>>

Ethan Castro | PhD Candidate, Inventor, Music Engineer

Everyone has something unique about them, good or bad, and it can have the power to define who you are to yourself, or to others, and those who lean into creativity can re-define their situation and leverage it to success. With me so far? No? Break it down like this: Say you were born into a low socio-economic status (read: broke-a$$ poor) and didn’t have as many opportunities while you were developing, as the rich kid a couple doors over. While rich kid is out doing rocket camp and athletics, you’re home watching TV because no one can take you to cheer camp or robotics. Rich kid is bonded to other high-achievers, who use the extracurriculars and other stimuli growing up to leverage some nice test scores, and thus a pretty nice admission to a prestigious college. Read more>>

Tami Shelly | Partner/Creative Director

I am from a single mother. I was born in NYC and when I was two my mother left the state she had been born, raised & married in, and ventured to California to start a new life. She was creative and supportive, and had big dreams. Who I am today is a direct influence of her and the choices she made. My mother was the first feminist in my life. She taught me very early on that girls could do anything. This is why I had no fear (well, little fear) when it came time for me to quit the security of a full time job and open up my own design agency. Witnessing how she flourished with a job and a child, I learned how to empower my own life – both personally and professionally. Such as: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Have a strong opinion about things that matter. Don’t be afraid to begin again. You can come from nothing and still build something. Read more>>

Nathan Greaux | Singer-Songwriter

I am from the heart of New Orleans, La where music is such a dominant part of our culture, I derived my passion of music from being around it so prominently. Read more>>

Amanda Greenbaum | Chief Operating Officer & Wine Proprietor for AJA Vineyards, Author of Rad Cocktails

I am from Los Angeles, California. Born and raised in the Malibu Coast, a newer wine growing region in Southern California that spans from Oxnard through to Santa Monica. I was raised by two very strong individuals. My mother took hold of the fashion industry from a very young age working in sales for trim (buttons, lace, ribbons etc). By the age of 24, she was not only the youngest, but also the most successful sales representative in her company. She will never let my brothers and me forget that SHE put the downpayment on our first house when she was 27. My father started working for his company, Input 1, at the age of 16 when he wrote the code for his grandfather’s insurance premium finance company. While studying at UCLA, my father worked full time for Input 1. At the age of 25 he purchased the company from his grandfather and grew it from a company underwater to a multi-million dollar corporation leading the charge in premium digital billing systems. Read more>>

Nishanth Selvalingam | Yoga Teacher & Musician

I was very fortunate in that I was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to a family of South Indian yogis. We lived with my Sri Lankan grandparents on my father’s side. They were both very devoted Shaivites (followers of the Hindu god, Shiva), my grandfather especially. He was a temple singer who centered his entire life around religious practices. Eventually, he set up a small ashram (a place of spiritual learning) right next to our family home and everyday he would sit me down before the big image of Lord Shiva and teach me to recite from memory the various ancient texts of Hinduism like the Shiva Purana, the Vedas and the Upanishads. As a young child, I was obsessed with the Star Wars franchise because I saw so many parallels between George Lucas’ depiction of the mystical Jedi Order and the yogic ideas I was learning from my grandfather. Read more>>

Alisha Reese | Massage Therapist & Owner of BAMS Therapeutic Vegan Products

I was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. I grew up in a household with several amazing siblings and my two loving parents! We did not have a lot of material things or money coming up, but I would never trade my upbringing for anything! My parents gave us so much love and knowledge. They were hardworking entrepreneurs and my siblings and I started working at a very young age!!! Watching them definitely played a major part in my being an entrepreneur today. My business name, Body And Mind Soulutions (BAMS) was created after one of their businesses, Black Arts Music Society AKA BAMS! They were the best role models. Read more>>

Laila Petrone | Film director, screenwriter, 1st AD, speaker

When asked, I say I am from Rome, Italy and I refer to myself proudly as Italian and Dominican. Yet I cannot speak of how my background and upbringing impacted who I am today without acknowledging all the cities and countries of my life, because they, together with their people, have shaped me deeply. My father is from Naples, Italy and my mother is from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. My parents met in London, England and that’s where I was born. At six months I move to Rome, Italy, therefore, the eternal city is the first place I remember laying eyes on and building my first experiences. At age ten, I moved to the United States and since then I have lived between the US, Dominican Republic and Italy, maintaining my home base in Los Angeles, CA where I still reside today. Read more>>

Jordan Diomande | Photographer & creative director

I am originally from Ivory Coast in West Africa. I have been in the US for about 4 years now and have to say that coming from a different continent, I experienced a bit of a cultural shock. Things were done a bit differently but it forced me to be proud of my roots and stand out by doing and improving what I already knew. Coming from an African country, I have seen first hand the impact of colonialism and the lack of representation that we as black/African folks suffer from. Today, I want to be part of the change, today I want to be one of the many who put Africa, black beauty and talent on the map. I share art that inspires and makes people want to step in their essence in order to reach greatness. I now focus on sharing the beauty of those cultures that risk being erased by the lack of love and appreciation from their own people. Read more>>

Marie Lafranque | Family, Editorial and Fashion Photographer

I am originally from France, although we moved to California when I was only 16 years old, so I’ve been here for a long time now! I moved a lot as a child and young adult, I had the “travel bug” so to speak, given to me by my mom. We had lived in France, Spain, Canada and USA by the time I was 16, and I continued her moving spree by living all across the state from San Francisco to San Diego, and doing my studies in Chicago at Loyola University, and then traveling through all of America selling my art at different galleries and conventions. That traveling background has given me the ability to adapt to any situation very easily, I love impromptu shoots, last minute changes, and the chaos of a big photo production. It really is one of my favorite things in the world, and I do think that my ever changing childhood set me up for success. I love people, getting to know them, making them feel beautiful and that ease really helps my work. Read more>>

Aaron Honda | Musician & Graphic Designer

I am from a small town called Hereford, about as far south as you can go in Arizona. It’s one of those towns that might as well not exist at all. A place that seems to barely hang off the edge of the planet itself and serves no other purpose than to challenge just how much little civilization one needs to survive before going mad. However, I would say that the geography of my childhood contributes more to who I am today than those who raised me. My sense of creativity is not something I developed out of interest or pleasure, but rather survival. It was a way to give rolling hours meaning and empty space ( of which there was plenty) depth. And that instinct is something that has been both a challenge as much as it has been an asset in the pursuit of a meaningful career in art. Today, my titles are musician and designer. But before I earned these titles, I went by, “the local boy who’s always lead in the school plays,” and “that kid with the long hair who always has pencil stains on his fingers.” And underneath all of this, is a boy who spent too much time outside in the desert heat, daydreaming about possibilities and music. Read more>>

Sandy Phan | Fashion Stylist & Vintage Curator

I’m a first generation Asian-American from South Vietnam, born and raised in Seattle, Washington. My upbringing started off as what my family considered to be the American Dream. Both my parents started and ran their own businesses. My mom, a seamstress, opened two clothing boutiques and my dad ran three successful auto body shops. These sparkling accomplishments were precisely a product of their extreme hard work and dedication. I can’t begin to tell my story without first telling my mom’s story, in particular, so let’s start from the beginning. My mom possessed a go-getter, hustler mentality dating back to her younger age in Vietnam. She wanted to pursue a career in fashion but did not have her parents’ approval. She was determined to do it on her own and found creative ways to make money to self-fund her dreams. She did everything from food street vending, farming, etc. and saved enough to buy some used sewing machines. She taught others how to sew and eventually opened up her clothing boutique, Kim’s Fashion. Read more>>

Nickie Jean | Tantra, Reiki, and Kambo facilitator. Founder of Askanda Natha Mystery school.

I was born in Alamogordo New Mexico and spent my life living in various places throughout the state where eventually I moved to Los Angeles. Growing up in New Mexico allowed me to be surrounded by indigenous culture of the southwest and to have an appreciation for the peoples carrying ancient wisdom. Traveling to Peru to live and learn from the Matse’s tribe and soak in the wisdom of the elders of the South American indigenous has helped me to have a better understanding of the importance and ways to connect to great spirit. I always enjoyed visiting family while seeing pictures and hearing stories of the Cherokee women of our family tree. I used to wonder what it must have been like to sit in ceremony with them. Many times I can feel them with me while I am holding sacred space, at times it is as if I can hear them singing beautiful songs while in ceremony. I am grateful to be enriched with the cultural surroundings of the Southwest and hope to be able to bring these energies with me while holding space for all of the different ceremonies I host. Ceremony space has become my favorite place to be. Read more>>

Mildred Murillo | Astrologer & Spiritual Coach

As the daughter of a Guatemalan immigrant, my upbringing had a tremendous impact on who I am today. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA by a single mother who worked two jobs for most of my childhood and adolescent years just to get by. At the age of nine, I became my mother’s right-hand by making sure my younger brother and I ate, got to school safely and soundly, did our homework, and stayed out of trouble and alive. Sometimes we had food to eat and sometimes we didn’t. Sometimes we knew we had a roof over our heads, and others we were evicted because mom couldn’t make rent. That type of upbringing will have you looking at the world from a perspective of survival, which can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I learned the meaning of hard-work self-reliance at a very young age. On the other, there was very little room to just be a child. Read more>>

Taz Forte | Taz Forte

Im from Atlanta my up bringing affected me by growing up in the hoods low poverty area it taught me survival instead of growing up with rich parents. It also taught me to never quit grinding no matter what because you never know when its your turn to shine and just keep pushing when everything not going right. Read more>>

 

Anthony McLean | Disc Jockey & Music Producer

I’m originally from Washington DC. My family is from Trinidad and Tobago. Growing up in DC, I had to navigate being a black American with international roots. At home, I would hear Soca and Calypso, but while at school, we would talk about Hip-Hop and Go-Go music ( A music that is local to the Washington DC region). Growing up, I learned how to be attentive to my surroundings. At the time, DC was a pretty dangerous city. I gained interest in music when I was in elementary school. I used to play drums in marching band. After I matriculated to Junior High School, I picked up an interest in DJing. I over heard a conversation from one of my friends mentioning how his uncle was a DJ. He talked about the turntables, the mixer and blending the songs together. It sounded super cool to me. I knew that was something I really wanted to pursue. Read more>>

Daniel Alexander Jones | Performance Artist, Writer, Educator

I am from Springfield, Massachusetts. I always specify that I’m from Thompson Street, in the McKnight Neighborhood, in the 1970s and 1980s. There, at that time, was a multiracial, multi-ethnic, working-class community. A significant portion of the population were descended from Southern Black Americans who had come north during the Great Migration—my father’s family was among that number. Many of the cultural mores including concern for your neighbor, hospitality, storytelling, and the ability to consider things from both individual and collective perspectives simultaneously, suffused the air around me. Springfield also had a strong public school system, multiple welcoming library branches, and free museums. I was part of the generation born out of the Civil Rights Movement. I and my peers were expected to embody the ideals of beloved community that the Movement espoused. Read more>>