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Kansas City’s Most Inspiring Stories

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.

Kristen Kneidel

I began as a dance major and ended up as a nurse (recently did a post on my IG @k.c.nurseinjector about how this came to be). I worked as a makeup artist during and after nursing school and fell in love with working with my hands and creating art on the face. I was the first to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in three generations on both sides of my family in 1997. I worked in many areas of nursing and seven years ago discovered my passion for facial aesthetics and the rest is history! After very successfully building my patient base year after year, I recognized that I was ready to go on my own. My vision came true seven months ago when I founded The Aesthetic Place. My vision is that it will be place that encompasses all genders and ethnicities. It celebrates each individual’s unique beauty. It’s a place where integrity lies, A place where patients can be valued and where they can feel comfortable and nurtured in a clean, modern environment with providers who are the best in their field. Read more>>

Jennifer Vallejo

One of my first memories of being fascinated by languages was in my childhood at the street market in La Paz, Bolivia. I remembered vividly how Aymara, Quechua and Spanish were blended together by sellers and buyers as each one looked for the best deal. I wished that I understood at least one of the native languages, but the different sounds were like music to my ears, nevertheless. I longed to learn another language besides Spanish, my mother tongue. It was not until my mid-teens that I started seriously studying Portuguese, which I was able to speak fluently after a couple of years. The real challenge of learning languages came after I graduated from college. In February 2000, I moved to Miami, Florida, with my dad. He came to the United States when I was a child to pursue his American dream. My knowledge of English was basic, so it took a lot of determination and many hours of study to learn it. One day when I was riding on a public bus someone told me, “It takes 20% knowledge and 80% courage to speak another language”. Although I don’t quite agree with the percentages, I know it takes courage to speak another language, especially when you are an adult. Read more>>

Jenn Schouten

Quite a few years ago, I learned about how highly toxic the beauty industry is and felt a need to change the way I work and the types of coloring services I offer my clients. My business quickly outgrew my salon suite with the demand of clients wanting to choose safer products for themselves. I decided to open a salon dedicated to disrupting the industry and offering heart services in a safe environment. Read more>>

Lon Davis

In 2005, our son, Reese, was born with cancer. The tumor crushed his spinal cord leaving him with limited mobility in his legs. Three years later, he got his first wheelchair. When Halloween came around, I asked Reese what he wanted to be. He was into the Pixar film, “Wall-E” and said that’s what he wanted to be. I knew I couldn’t buy a costume that would work with his wheelchair, but I thought it’s a perfect costume to build around his wheelchair. So that’s what I did. It was a huge hit, not just with Reese but across social media. Since then, he’s challenged me to come up with even bigger and more elaborate costumes every year. Not only does he absolutely love this, but newspapers and websites began picking up his pictures and sharing them. That’s what put the wheels in motion. Requests quickly started coming in from all over the country, and Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes was born. Today, this non-profit organization is dedicated to building costumes for kids in walkers and wheelchairs, free of charge to the families, made possible due to the kindness of over 150 volunteers around the nation and donations to help cover the costs. Read more>>

Cameron Philgreen

I started shooting weddings during college and found I had a knack for it. People kept wanting me and kept paying! So I started a website and kept shooting. Then my sweet wife came along. She has an amazing eye for photo / video / design. We started shooting together. Then when we got married, we decided to quit our minimum wage jobs and do photo/video work full-time. That was 4.5 years ago. Since then, we have shot 200+ weddings and still love it. We feel like our calling in the wedding industry is not just to shoot weddings, but also to champion MARRIAGE – every day after wedding day too. We strongly focus on relationships, marriage, etc in our content and will continue to do so. Read more>>

Jake Stone

Music has been something I wanted to share with the world before I could even remember. It all started when I was in first grade and my elementary school was holding auditions for the annual school-wide talent show. I went up to my mom with an audition flyer after school one day and informed her that I wanted to be in this talent show and needed her signature in order to audition. Initially, she was confused and asked what my talent was going to be for my audition. I proceeded to tell her that I wanted to sing and play guitar performing Elvis Presley’s version of “That’s All Right” originally written by blues singer and guitarist Arthur Crudup. My mom being a huge Elvis Presley fanatic was very excited at my song choice and gleefully gave me her signature. Later that week, I auditioned and made it into the talent show and was the closer for the event and would be a part of that show performing different Elvis Presley tracks for the rest of my time in elementary school. Once I got to middle school, I began to take guitar lessons and enrolled in band with my instrument of choice being the Clarinet. Read more>>

Leah Morgan

I began my yoga journey as a student many years ago out of a curiosity. Wondering what all the fuss was about, I rolled out a mat at a local health club and gave it a shot. With that first class, I started down a path of yoga that ultimately led to me becoming a 200-hour+ trained yoga teacher. Studying with inspiring yoga leaders, I’ve honed my unique style, which is a fusion of breathing, alignment, honoring your body, living in the moment and having fun. This is the second studio I’ve founded, having sold my first one in Lee’s Summit in 2010. I am also the co-creator of the Kansas City Yoga Festival and the Kansas City Yoga Teacher Training program. Whether your goal is to begin or grow a practice, increase your strength and flexibility, learn how to control stress, or become a part of an amazing local community, I can help students achieve these goals. In turn, you can begin building a more independent and productive lifestyle. I truly believe that the sense of peace and transformation that a yoga practice can bring will astound you. Read more>>

Cheryl Costabile, LPC, LCPC

The earliest influence in my life that I can recall leading me to this career path was my grandmother. She struggled with her mental health my whole life and I saw the pain and suffering she experienced as well as the rest of our family. I can remember as a child not understanding what was happening. I saw our family helping her, but I couldn’t comprehend the situation. I think that is where my compassion for people who are hurting and their families first began to grow. As I got older, I wanted to learn and understand more about mental health and how I could help people. While in my learning journey, I found that my heart always gravitated to children and families who were suffering from the effects of trauma. Read more>>

Robbie Kowal

Robbie was an entertainment writer and DJ who began to build a following around his classic funk revival party and email newsletter Whatdafunk. In 1998, he met John Miles, and they realized a shared passion for New Orleans music and culture and shortly launched the SF Mardi Gras Ball. The success of the Ball led to more events and the name Sunset Promotions, a shout out to the ocean-view Sunset District apartment that each would share for the better part of the next 15 years. After approximately ten years of hosting events and concerts across the Bay Area, Sunset Promotions encountered backlash associated with the noise from their events. This led to the development of a solution—silent discos and eventually HUSHconcerts. Throughout this whole period, HUSHconcerts founder Robbie Kowal continued to moonlight as a touring DJ under the monicker Motion Potion. With an unusual style catered to live music fans, he became a top choice for the burgeoning American festival scene, including an 8-year run as a resident at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. In 2006, Bonnaroo introduced a recent innovation they had experienced at festivals in Europe: Silent Disco. Read more>>

Alicia Karl

I am a certified Child Sleep Consultant from The Family Sleep Institute and a trained Good Night Sleep Site Educator. I have a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with an emphasis in Communication and Human Resource Management from Missouri State University. In addition, I have a certificate in Mediation and Conflict Resolution. I have a passion for helping people find solutions that improve their life, health, and mental wellness. My education and experience provide a solid background and understanding of how to compassionately relate and support people through life challenges. After having two children of my own, I understand the importance of sleep for the entire family. In fact, my passion for sleep grew out of my own family’s experience with sleep deprivation. At age three, my son experienced frequent night wakes. I had no idea what brought it on or how to resolve the issue. I reached out to a Family Sleep Institute graduate for guidance, which sparked a passion for all things sleep. I knew then, becoming a Sleep Consultant would be my next career move. I felt it was a good blend of my education, passion, and personal experience. Read more>>

Rickey Ramsey

I have been rapping since I was six years old freestyling on cassette tapes. Then I got into professional acting at age 14 start performing in front of hundreds of people, at the same time I also started writing my lyrics and start getting more serious with music. At the age of 14, I got busted and high school for selling marijuana. Someone snitched on me I went to juvenile. After my release, I became more spiritual wear and more focused on my goals and my purpose in life. At the age of 18, I start executive producing live shows successful shows that were sold out from 180 to 400 people in the audience / X. As well as myself, I require artists to help them find their way in the music industry. My newest single is in LA on New York time you can find it everywhere online especially on YouTube the music video. I have released seven mixtapes five music videos, my goal and purpose is the show most people that they can be entrepreneurs if they take their time and have the correct funds and go about it right. I’m not just a hip hop artist, well versatile and Alzheimer’s such as acting rapping writing directing and all that has anything to do with entertainment. Read more>>

Leah Wells

Seven years ago, the salon I was working at closed its doors. I had to find a new home for me to do hair. I noticed there was a lack of quality commission salons. I have had Multiple Sclerosis for 23 years. I knew at some point I would no longer be able to work behind the chair. So the combination of me needing something to support me if I no longer to do hair, and the need for a stable salon for high-quality stylists to work….the process of Building Oomph Salon began. It took me a year to build from the start of the idea to the doors opening. Our doors closed for two months during quarantine. The stress of owning a business during that time created my MS to unfortunately tail spin. When we reopened May 18th between my MS and the salon exploding at the seams, I was forced to no longer do hair and my job 100% was to be the owner of the salon and lead my team. Covid has created challenges in business ownership I had no clue I would ever face. I have an incredible team and the salon is thriving to an overwhelming level. I’ve never been a person about money. I’m more about the people who walk through the door and my staff I consider family. Read more>>

DJ Nuveau Tim Newton

Always been really into music from playing the bass guitar and just being really into music. My brother-in-law took me to his friend‘s house who was a DJ. That friend had a studio and DJ equipment and allowed me to get in the studio and practice on the equipment. It was like manna from heaven for me because it was everything that I had been wanting to do that I had seen on the different music shows and videos. Read more>>

Hannah James

Three years ago, my dad died unexpectedly and left my two sisters and I with an 11-room hotel in Hermann, Missouri, a historic German town in wine country, about 3 hours from KC. At the time, I had just started a new job, so in full grieving mode, I spent my weekends, evenings and lunch breaks learning how to run a hotel (answering phone calls, social media, managing staff, ordering supplies, you name it). On top of that, our mom (who has since also passed) was sick in a memory care facility with early onset dementia. It was an extremely challenging time to say the least, and after a year, in March 2019, my husband and I decided the only way we could continue on was if I left the corporate job behind. It was the best decision I’ve ever made and allowed me to take our business to the next level. It worked and I was finally living my dream. That spring, an old Bed & Breakfast went up for sale just around the corner from the hotel and we knew it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. We spent those summer months renovating and restoring the historic three bedroom/2 bath house and separate garden cottage, making it The Schiller House, a Bed & Beverage. Read more>>

Samantha Moore

I started looking into doula work after I had my second child. My birth experiences were night and day because I had the support of a doula for my second. I decided to get certified when she was about a year old and jumped in as a solo doula right away! I love doing this work. When I moved to Kansas City, I chose to work for an agency in the area and was able to expand my skills and cue into what I truly love. After that agency moved on, I worked again as a solo doula which eventually turned into too much work for one person to do. I decided to open up My KC Doula because I saw a need in the northland specifically and wanted to offer something that I hadn’t seen before. Read more>>

Tony Baragona

I’ve been a pro musician since high school. I started playing in dueling piano bars in 2000. I moved to central Missouri around late 2007. Started “Heartland Dueling Pianos” around 2010. Made the move out of piano bars a couple of years ago and we now do just private events and clubs that I book personally. My piano partner Chris lives in Roeland Park. Read more>>

Anna Lange

I have always enjoyed reading blogs. I had started several “health journey” type blogs on Tumblr when I was just out of high school. When I started college, it was just fun to follow along with my favorite bloggers. That’s when I realized that people were making money by writing about aspects of their lives. In 2017, I started my first blog, created some content, but dropped it once life got crazy. During the summer of 2018, my husband and I were both unemployed for a bit. That’s when I decided to start blogging again by really diving in and learning about Pinterest marketing, search engine optimization, and affiliate marketing. I got pregnant with my son during that time and decided to try and “make it” as a blogger. Once I had him that’s when my blog really switched gears to focus on talking to the everyday woman. I was walking through postpartum depression and felt incredibly lonely, so online connections were really all that I had. I found that there were many, many other women who felt the same as I did. My goal and focus has to always share authentically, so I talk about all aspects of motherhood, homemaking, and budget living: the good, the bad and the ugly. Read more>>

Gabriela Delano

My family and I moved to Kansas City when I was nine years old. I had moved around a lot as a kid and instantly fell in love with it here. When I was about nine years old, I started dancing and doing shows around town, which eventually led me to study musical theatre at Oklahoma City and then move to NYC where I found an agent. I’ve been lucky enough to perform in NY, Chicago, across the country, and across the world. This past year I was scheduled to play Julie Jordan in Carousel at Musical Theatre Heritage at Crown Center when the pandemic shut us down two days before opening. New York was the epicenter of the pandemic, and all of my roommates got sick. I knew I couldn’t go back just yet but wanted to keep moving forward. The pandemic re-established the meaning of “home” and led me to get my real estate license. I’m currently working out of the Reece Nichols Leawood office with the Koehler Bortnick Team (#12 in the nation) and love it. I’ve worked on selling homes across the KC Metro, Liberty, and Lawrence. I do a great job advocating for my clients, negotiating, and getting my listings sold fast. Read more>>

Patricia Johnson

I’ve always had this love for photography ever since I was a little girl. When we would go visit relatives or friends, most times I would be caught by bookshelves and coffee tables looking through photo albums. I was always trying to see if I could recognize the people in them or even just catch a glimpse of what a family member who may have passed on looked like as young person. When I originally set out to start my own business, photography wasn’t even a part of the vision. I originally started creating postcard-style invitations because I just wasn’t finding what I was looking for when I was doing my children’s birthday invitations. But, eventually my true love of photography took over. I do, however still create invitations but my primary focus is around families and capturing their memories. I believe a photograph is a visual time capsule that helps record a part of your family’s history. Read more>>

Cory & Kristin Birdsong

Cory & Kristin Birdsong are both native Kansans and have always wanted to own and operate a small business together when they finally settled down for “retirement”. Cory recently completed an almost 21 year Army career which has included transitions to multiple states, challenging job opportunities and multiple overseas deployments. His career passions have always been training, mentoring, and coaching soldiers. Cory found yoga during the end of his career as a way to put himself back together both physically and mentally. Regular practice provided deep relaxation, reduction in stress and mental clarity. It also gave him significant reduction in physical pain and increased core strength and flexibility. Read more>>

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