To Top

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.

Egreis Gjergjani

When I first moved to KC, my husband and I was expecting our first child. I became a stay at home mom after having had a very busy career in Los Angeles prior to getting married. Though I absolutely loved every minute with my baby, I felt that I was lacking something. I had always been so driven professionally and I missed fashion in my life. So I decided to mix my love for children and my passion for fashion together and created Itty Bitty Toes – a high-end Couture Line for Children. Within a few years, after having worked so closely with so many moms, dressing their little ones for every special event they had, I decided to create a Fashion Brand dedicated to the very Women who dedicated so much of their time to their little ones, that they let their own selves go. And that’s how By Egreis started. Read more>>

River MaKenzi

I started with community theater at KCKCC. A program run by the sweetest most generous couple. All of my siblings were a part of it as well. We were separated by age/grade and each class put on full-scale productions. My most memorable role was being Wendy in Peter Pan. I can remember a moment in time since where I wasn’t creating something. I come from a large family of insanely talented magnificent people. Everyone is extremely expressive in so many ways. Sometimes I forget how much of a privilege it was to have the space to do so in my own home. I’m definitely a program kinda person. I was always a part of things like freedom school, camps, drama teams, art club… all that. When I was in high school, I worked for Nelson-Atkins. I was a guide for kids and I was a part of an event planning team for teens. Read more>>

Brendan O’Shaughnessy

Ocean & Sea was founded in 2013 as a creative vessel for myself and wife, Amanda. In the beginning, we used our platform to share art, design and photography. There was no agenda outside having fun together and engaging with others. Fast forward to today and we are now a design & branding studio, helping clients realize their dreams through artful illustration and conceptually inspired design. In addition, we make a lot of product. We’ve sold many thousands of shirts, prints, hoodies and accessories. You may have seen our LA KC NY design floating around—that’s us! Our studio and shop are located at 5602 Johnson Drive, in Mission, KS. We have retail store hours on Saturday from 10am-4pm (also by appointment, we’re there all the time). Read more>>

Michael McReynolds

From the age of ten, when I took my first flight on a commercial jet, I knew I wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force. That was my plan. There wasn’t anything else on the agenda. I went to CMSU (now UCM) and studied aviation while also taking Air Force ROTC. I attained my private pilot’s license before transferring to KU after my sophomore year. I also achieved honors in ROTC for various accomplishments. Following my junior year, I ended up parting ways with the ROTC. It was not the outcome I wanted, but it was a mutual decision by the detachment commander and myself. After parting ways with the ROTC, I felt lost. Aviation was not a degree offered at KU, so I bounced around to different majors, not sure what I wanted to take. My grades began to suffer because I was not passionate about my classes. Read more>>

Kayli Kinkaid

My husband, Kevin Kinkaid, and I started our eco-friendly cleaning business in 2014. We started out as an artist and a social worker but knew we wanted to start our own business together. We both love cleaning and are passionate about living an eco-friendly lifestyle. We wanted to share our passions with others and thought it would be a fun business to operate together! We started off super small, only cleaning a couple of houses, but word spread quickly. We’ve since grown to have nine employees! We now spend our time running the business, training and educating online about eco-friendly cleaning. We have learned a lot along the way and are very passionate about running a trustworthy, sustainable, ethical business. Read more>>

Tyler Riley

As a child, I was always intrigued by human beings and creativity. My interest in many of the arts started around five years old, and by seven, most of my family figured I’ll be a writer or a performer someday. Although I had a strong desire to explore and nurture my talents from a young age, I was honestly kind of a weird kid. I was outspoken and curious, an advocate for myself and a peacemaker for others while other kids seemed to be more interested in toys. I was picked on for a lot of the things people see as my gifts today: sensitivity, expressiveness, articulation, and empathy. It was necessary that I mature quickly, so sometimes these tendencies got me more ridicule than appreciation as a child. This ridicule led to some people-pleasing habits and thought patterns that I am still working to release today. Read more>>

Samuel Zorn

I grew up in central Kansas and moved to the Wichita area in high school. After high school, I attended WSU for a couple of years, eventually leaving school with no degree and a bit lost. I found the beauty industry fascinating from an early age. I remember being amazed at the magic that would happen when I got to witness the ladies in my life transform with hot rollers, curling irons, makeup, and nail polish. My hair was very thick and fluffy in my early years, so I was typically in need of a haircut. I always enjoyed the experience, whether it be in a barbershop, at home by a willing family member, but I most enjoyed the Salon. I have two brothers who had similar hair and I generally knew what methods worked best on my hair. So, in a pinch I became the family haircutter. When in college, I had been cutting friends and family members fairly often. After leaving WSU, I worked a couple of random jobs unsuccessfully and finally realized Beauty School was my path. I attended Xenon International School of Hair Design in Wichita and everything came so natural. Read more>>

John Wigner and Emmanuel Larrea

From humble beginnings in 2016, the Just_Us League has grown into an organization that works to bring heroic cheer to both kids and adults. From visiting children’s hospitals, working with charity groups, and occasionally just having fun within the community, we strive to be the kinds of heroes that our childhood selves we would look up to. Read more>>

Patrick Calhoun

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a passion for writing. In the past, my writings consisted of little poems and prefaces for fiction books– many of which I wish I followed through with finishing. In my Junior year in high school, I became a lot more active in finding my purpose and discovering how I was going to leave my mark. In 2016, after discussing it with my older brother and owner of CTYD Productions Eric Calhoun, we established The Creative Space. The Creative Space began as a blog where we would feature locals from Kansas City and surrounding areas. When I first started, things weren’t going as planned and I became discouraged quickly. After about four or five months, I stopped the blog completely until Spring 2020. After revamping the site and starting back up, we’ve been able to stay consistent for over a year featuring 60+ amazingly talented creatives to date. Read more>>

Mon Carlo Pinote

I started back in late 2018 when I was still at school for my Associate in Graphic Design. My classmate at the time introduced me to Photography and introduced me to some of the best creative people in the industry. From that moment, it motivates me to be a better creator or creative. Read more>>

Brian Lay

In 2019, I decided to do my best to help KC grow and be better than it already is. I founded Hope Clothing with the intent to not only help organizations like Rose Brooks and Green Works KC but to also lift up tattoo artists that have made Kansas City their home. From the designs of the shirts to the print shop to the organizations benefitted, all of Hope Clothing is grounded in Kansas City. Read more>>

Leroy and Rodnisha Blaylock

The start to Kiylee Kakes was October of 2019. At the time, we both worked full-time jobs. One day he called me and asked how I would feel about starting a funnel cake business. I honestly didn’t know what to say at the time. We then tried making them which led to us selling them on weekends out of our home for about a year. We decided to name the business after our only daughter Kiylee. Sales were getting better until we were reported and forced to shut down by the health department due to operating out of our kitchen. We were unaware that we could not sell from our home. Going through that trail in the middle of a pandemic pushed us to work harder to get our food trailer. It took us a while, but we finally found a little trailer that needed a lot of work. Once our trailer was remodeled, we instantly started booking events to get our name out there. We had a little over 700 followers on Facebook for a while to now having over 9000 followers. Read more>>

Tahir Hasnain

The first time I ever held a camera, I was five years old. My brother had a Yashica 230 AF and I nearly broke it. I grew up around cameras and for my own part, was always taking photos here and there but never with any serious effort. Around 2001, I started taking it more seriously but did not have the money to buy a camera. I played around with any camera I could get my hand on. From a 0.2 mp unbranded Chinese camera that I had bought on a street cart in Karachi to running around with a Nokia N73, I was always with a camera of some kind. In 2011, I acquired a Nikon D3100 after saving for over a year and did a lot of landscape photography. I also did quite a bit of street photography in between as well. Read more>>

Ty Harris

Life was interesting growing up in a small town. My family mostly consisted of military active-duty members and veterans, educators, and medical professionals. But somehow, life’s path took me a different direction. As a child, I had a passion for nature. That same passion quickly blossomed from a fascination with science to an affection for artistic expression. Of course, as an elementary school I didn’t know it then, I just knew that I liked the shapes trees made and started drawing them – happy branches Bob Ross style. Before I entered Junior high, I was already competing in local art shows and having my artwork displayed at the local mall. In a small town, this was a big deal. By the time I was ready to graduate from high school, many of my fellow classmates started calling me “the Renaissance Man”. I was in singing groups and choirs, I had excelled in art, English composition and science courses and was becoming known as the go to guy to write a letter to help you “express” yourself to your high school sweetheart. Read more>>

Jordan EuDaly

I’ve been a ‘maker’ and ‘crafter’ as long as I can remember. As a kid, I also watched my Mom effortlessly create birthday banners, scribe out recipes in her calligraphy penmanship and then when I was in college, I observed my Mom go on her own art journey as she worked to paint and sell large original abstract paintings on canvas to buyers in the Arkansas area. My Mom has been a huge source of inspiration for me to take my own path with art. I have never taken an art class, and actually I have a degree in Nonprofit Leadership Studies and Theology from Rockhurst University. For the past ten years, I’ve worked in hospitality and in the startup community in KC while dabbling with art on the side as a hobby. Everything changed for me, in 2017 I took my first ‘artist retreat’ trip out to Zion National Park with 30 other artists from across the country and world. Being surrounded by so many other creative souls was exhilarating and confidence building for me, I left that trip and could finally call myself an ‘artist’. I left the desert confident that art was a life and career I wanted to build for myself. Read more>>

Casanova Butler

I’ve always had a passion for cooking from as far back as I can remember. I fell in love with barbecue growing up in Kansas City, KS. I moved to Atlanta, GA six years ago and I was inspired to bring the Kansas City flavor to south. I realized there was no barbecue that tasted liked home. It drove me to bring the flavor and culture of Kansas City to Georgia. Read more>>

Madison Mears

The Hill KC has been providing functional movement to downtown Kansas City since 2012. The gym has expanded and evolved into this inclusive fitness community that builds badass everyday athletes. Whether you are interested in becoming generally fit, wanting to live an active lifestyle outside of the gym, or are serious about competing, we have the community for you! The workouts are different everyday and professional coaches ensure your experience is fun, safe, and effective. Our Fundamentals program helps you get started no matter your age or experience level. Are you curious about The Hill KC? Head to to schedule your Discovery Session!. Read more>>

Brooke McPheeters

I’m a native of Liberty, Missouri and I have been dancing since the age of three years old. My mother knew to sign me up fast for dance class when I was dancing with the windowshield wiper noise, the timer was going off and when the music of the movie credits rolled. After my first dance class with Instructor Shirley, we all knew I had found my passion. I grew up taking all of the dance classes from Jazz to Gymnastics at Shirley’s School of Dance and then furthered my classes at Elite Dance Company. After competing for years at multiple Dance Competitions, I found myself at Studio 10 Dance and Cheer where I found long-lasting relationships inside and outside of dance. The two owners of the studio at the time, Cassie and Mandy, are very close to my heart and will forever will be my mentors and role models. They have taught me life lessons and more about myself than anyone could. Read more>>

Kaileb Brown

After an inspiring business seminar, the dudes set a goal for themselves – start a business within 30 days. The young men then purchased a 1994 Ford Ranger for $800.00 and got to work. They started by finding furniture on the internet, cleaning it up and refurbishing it, and then reselling it. The money they made from that was put towards a purchase of a new Dodge Ram and utility trailer. One day after delivering a dresser to a customer, they were asked to help her with a small move using their utility trailer. The rest as they say, is history. We bring a high attention to detail and precision to every move. We respect our customers and their items. Read more>>

Joey Cool

I started rappin about 18 years ago now. Born & raised in Kansas City but I went away to Chicago for some time and completely fell in love with music. All types of music actually not just Hip Hop/Rap. But I started recording regularly with my homie DK (who was also from Kansas City) and some Chicago emcees that had taken a liking to me. I knew I wanted to perform but I was terribly shy. Somehow I got over that fear. My very first performance ever was at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago, IL. Which is extremely dope now that I look back on it, but it was excruciating to watch I’m sure. I moved back to Kansas City and got more involved in the music scene. I met JL B.Hood and Dutch Newman and we kind of hit the ground runnin. A few years went by and Tech N9ne started popping up at our local shows. Sort of, recruiting if you will. I signed with Strange Music Inc. in 2017 and the rest is history in the making. Read more>>

Scott Poore

The first day at a shelter is challenging for any dog. They are scared, confused, and most are waiting for their previous owner to come back for them. Now imagine a dog’s eight hundredth day in an animal shelter. Their hope is fading, and they are constantly overlooked for younger dogs, smaller dogs, and puppies. These dogs are kept in one of the last kennels of the animal shelter, and oftentimes volunteers cannot work with them due to various behavior concerns. In addition, they frequently come from backgrounds of abuse, neglect, and mistreatment, and as a result, are slow to trust. These are the dogs that Scott Poore works with every day. He gives them a fighting chance to find a loving home that will never mistreat or abandon them. Read more>>

Jabin and Natalie Olds

We are a family of three, Jabin, Natalie and Perry. Jabin and I have dreamed of a bakery together since we got married in 2012. 2016: Welcomed our business namesake Perry Bear himself! Nov. 26th, 2017: Mama Bear’s hair-brained idea, let’s start keto!! 2018: Lots of great Keto meals, very few successful Keto breads. Dec. 2018: Successful Keto BREAD! Feb. 2019: Bake sale among friends that turned into 30 orders (some from people we didn’t know via Facebook page) we thought, “we are so over our heads, we can’t do this”. Feb. 23rd: God had a plan that terrified us, we were MEANT to do this whole “bakery” thing FULL TIME!. Read more>>

Ke’Ona Herron

I am the owner of “Ke’Netic Arts” and “Digital Ke’Zigns”! Growing up, I always loved to draw and sketch. It wasn’t until my middle school art class that I fell in love with painting; however, I didn’t began actively playing around with paint until the summer of 2017, right before college. My family has always been supportive in my hobbies and helpful by buying my first real art supplies and well-known brands of paint. Although I decided not to go to college for art (I got a degree in Geospatial Science and Computer Science), that is the time where I discovered art as my true passion. By my sophomore year, I had began painting in my free time and between classes. I realized that I created a lot of paintings over the years that no one but my family had seen. Many of my friends didn’t even know that I could draw anything better than a stick figure! That’s when I gained the confidence to create a business name and start my Instagram account (I will tag all of my business accounts below); which definitely helped to expand my audience. Read more>>

Norby Forero

I was born in Colombia and migrated to the US 14 years ago. I came with the dream of going to school to become a therapist, but of course, as any immigrant knows, you gotta start from the bottom. I had to drop out of high school to help my family make ends meet by working two full-time jobs. So when I arrived here, my first goal was to get my GED. After doing so, I was able to enroll in Cosmetology school (as that was something I had done back home) worked until I could eventually pay for college to study psychology. I worked several jobs as a nanny, house cleaner, and sweeping hair in a local salon while I went through cosmetology school and got my license. After that, I enrolled in JCCC and began my journey to becoming a Therapist! I was so excited but so naive at the time. I had no idea how much work it would actually be to get a bachelor’s and a master’s in the field. After getting my basic gen-ed credits, I landed an 8-5 job working for a local corporation as a bilingual customer service representative. Read more>>

Paul Punzo

Mostly a self-taught artist, I started working with Linoleum block because I had limited space to work so it was easy to explore as a medium. My first show was at the social service league where I used to buy shirts and frames, take them home and put art in the frames, print on the shirts and then sneak them back in. They caught me and invited be part of a group show. Did yearly shows with essential goods which helped pushed me to put shows together in new ways through different mediums and ways to make art fresh. 11 yeas later and I have hit a stride and understand my voice but also where I fit In the art scene. Read more>>

Greg Rubbert

To share the origin story, per se, let’s turn the clock back to late 2015, sophomore year of college. At this time, I was a finance major. My roommate asked me, “if you could do anything if money didn’t matter, what would it be?” I answered him saying, “well, probably something with photography and music.” He followed with “you should do that then.” I brushed off the question and went on with my day (and life). Fast forward to June of 2016. Long story short, I connected some inspiration to the previously answered question, coming to realization that maybe this photography idea had subconscious roots. For a little context, I had little experience with photography, only taking phone pictures of scenery on family trips like anyone else. I spoke with that same friend about this idea, probably seeking validation or encouragement. Late into the night, I started the Instagram account, excited and scared for this new adventure. Read more>>

Hadley Clark

I am an artist. I opened my first store, spool*, in the Crossroads Art District in 2003 where we sold clothing and whatnots by artists in limited editions. After reaching my local goals in that venture, I sold my business and moved to Paris, France and studied Fashion Design at Parsons Paris. I graduated with honors in 2010 and in 2012, my original storefront in the Crossroads was vacant. With the vision and support of my community, I opened the next iteration of my shop in that same location. There I sold my garments, all made by myself, in my studio around the corner. Soon, I moved my studio into my shop and then added sewing classes in 2017. Later that year, I closed my storefront and moved my studio to Beacon Hills. There I was able to have the privacy to make work and sell mostly online and continue teaching classes out of my studio. Read more>>

Komal Kant

I have been writing stories since age six when I first began mastering how to read and write in English. It wasn’t long after that I realized I could put together a string of words and affect someone with them. My first story was about a rabbit that had lost its way home and had to start life in a different vegetable patch. Growing up, we didn’t have much money and my mother was a single parent who was also adjusting to life as an immigrant in Australia. Since we couldn’t afford to get me involved in extracurricular activities or sports, I got a library card instead and would borrow the maximum of ten books every week from our local library. It didn’t cost us anything for me to write away in one of my many notebooks, and I loved escaping into the worlds that I created. From those early years and throughout high school, I have never stopped writing. Writing has gotten me through some difficult times in my life, like when my aunt passed away from cancer when I was 14. It was right after this period of grief that I wrote the first draft of what would end up becoming my best-selling novel, Beneath Him almost ten years later. Read more>>

Josie Henderson

I’ve been behind a camera since I was a Junior in High School, taking images of landscapes or random buildings in the towns I’ve lived. I’ve always loved looking through design magazines and at one point thought I might want to become an Interior Designer, however, I didn’t know where to start. Back in 2019, my boyfriend and I decided to start a video company that specialized in Real Estate. About three months in, we got asked if we did photos as well. It had been about five years since I picked up a DSLR and thought, why not give it a try. I was looking for a creative outlet and I knew real estate wasn’t going anywhere, why not try to make a little money as well. I had re-discovered my love for photography. My first few homes were cringeworthy to say the least. Who knew how much went into not just taking real estate images but editing those images as well? From that point, I took online classes, read multiple books, watched webinars, the whole nine yards to gather as much information as I possibly could to better my images. Read more>>


My mom started me out singing in church when I was five years old. I remember my first solo was “Away in the Manger”, I was terrified but I did it. I’ve always been shy and scared to talk, let alone sing in public but at home they couldn’t shut me up. I went to Paseo Academy where I studied instrumental music (violin). I taught myself how to play the violin to avoid singing but I knew I wanted to attend Paseo. While at Paseo, I was heavily involved in extracurricular activities such as musical theatre and the Thelonious Monk Jazz Institute led by Jazz Educator Lisa Henry. She introduced me to the 18th & Vine Jazz District at the age of 16, that was when I fell in love with music. That was when I had my first experience recording in a studio and performing on stages. Fast-forwarding to age 21 – I was in college at UCM, singing in the Gospel Choir and at various events at the school. I sang because it was just something I was good at, I really did not take it seriously. I didn’t believe my voice was that good to really be a person that was taken seriously, it wasn’t until I had my son Josiah that I believed I could do. Read more>>

Jacob Dsouza

When I was three years old, my parents bought a music school here in Brantford. Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed with music. I started playing drums when I was four, guitar when I was six and began singing lessons when I was nine. At ten, I started writing my own songs. The first songs I wrote were heavily influenced by The Beatles because they were pretty much all I listened to at the time. And that’s something that’s never changed for me in the six years that I’ve been writing songs. The artists that I listen to the most frequently are always the ones that rub off on my own music the most. I released my first single called “Come Back to You” in February of 2021. Currently, it has 2.2k streams on Spotify. A few months later in June, I released my first EP called “Nights in California”. Read more>>

Sadi Sumpter

I got intrigued by Astrology, Metaphysics and Occult studies when I woke up from my dream state and realized how many other tools were available to me. I remember being in a place where it felt as though I was just existing but I was never living in the present moment. Most of my choices and decisions were based off past matters and hurts. I felt as though a part of me was missing from my physical reality. I started expanding my mind and soul beyond the “normal” things that people instilled into me (religion, prayer and books). In June of 2018, I made a conscious decision to wake my own inner being up and incorporate different techniques and tools that are beneficial to my Highest Self. Coming from a religious background, I always seen a routine with life in the lives of others around me; I did not want that for myself. It gets rocky on some days emotionally transitioning in my spiritual evolution but I would not trade my growth, love & wisdom I’ve gained for anything. Read more>>

Kali Brock

I didn’t take my art seriously until my senior year of High School. After being convinced to apply to art colleges, I feel like my artwork would take me anywhere in life. I wasn’t the smartest or the coolest, but art was the one thing in which I was truly gifted. You know being an artist is for you when your practice functions as meditation; you can’t live without it. Spring of 2021, I graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute, receiving my bachelor’s degree in fine arts, majored in Illustration, and minored in social practice. My experience at KCAI totally flipped my perspective of myself and the world on its head! My artistic skills grew, as did my scope of everything else. Before furthering my education, I avoided politics like the plague. I recall doing this to avoid controversy or coming to terms with adulthood. I eventually realized politics is not something any of us can avoid. Politics is the food we eat, our clothes, or the brushes we use to paint. Read more>>

Eranne Whiters

I’ve always had an interest in how different things were constructed,… “things” as in literally anything that has to be built or put together. I’d look at something and wonder where the idea came from to make it and what it took to get to the end result. I know thats vague but it literally could be anything, whether it’s made by a machine or an actual person, it still gets my mind going. I was pretty artsy and crafty as a kid and my personal favorite thing to draw was still life art. Honestly, I’m not sure the exact connection that took me from art to fashion besides, I remember in middle school, I would draw t-shirts and come up with different logos for them, a few years later is when I learned “Fashion Designing” was actually a thing! Like there are people who draw clothes for a living, someone then sews the designs and the clothes come to life…”wait what?” …and after doing some research and finding out I could go to school to learn all these things, I was sold! I wanted to be a fashion designer! Fast forward to college, I also took a liking to styling and visual merchandising. Read more>>

Charon Thompson and Dan Smith

Dan Smith and I are entrepreneurs that started several businesses and we drink and a lot of coffee. So we was like, hey since we drink so much coffee, let’s start our own coffee product. So I went to order some whole beans online and bought a mini roaster. I was like the whole house is gonna smell like coffee. Nope, not from roasting it. It smells like burnt popcorn. Two weeks I was in the doghouse from my wife because of the smell. So I was like, I don’t want to be in trouble anymore. So I jumped on LinkedIn in hopes of finding a roastorie that could help us with this issue. So I reached out to Issac Hodges of roastorie. He said, yes I can help you so we did a collaboration with Messenger coffee called Renegade. From one cupping, nobody told us to take sips of the coffee at cuppings so we was drinking them all David Webber and Nick was like take sips. Dan and I should’ve listened because I was up three nights in a row and all day without being tired. Read more>>

John Parker

I was born and raised in Kansas City where I grew up as part of the Catholic school mafia. I was a big soccer fan before soccer became a thing in KC. I started playing soccer when I was five years old and played through high school and into college. Soccer was and still is a big part of my life. Since an early age, I’ve always wanted to help others – it’s always been important to me. I remember going on dates in high school and buying extra hamburgers at Winstead’s to pass out to homeless people on the plaza. After attending college for a year, I wanted to see the world, so I joined the US Navy. While in the Navy my journeys took me to both US coasts, Japan and Italy. During my 20 years in service, I visited more than 35 different countries and spent more than 1100 days on deployment in different parts of the world. Read more>>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Entertainment