Kim Haasarud: Founder of Liquid Architecture, Co-Founder of Arizona Cocktail Week

Kim Haasarud, founder of Liquid Architecture and co-founder of Arizona Cocktail Week, photographed at the Hotel Valley Ho, by Nicki Escudero

Kim Haasarud, founder of Liquid Architecture and co-founder of Arizona Cocktail Week, photographed at the Hotel Valley Ho, by Nicki Escudero

Kim Haasarud
twitter.com/MommyMixologist

Kim Haasarud never planned on making a career out of cocktails, but the Fordham University psychology grad and former entertainment industry pro turned what once was a bartending side job into titles such as cocktail author, Arizona Cocktail Week co-founder, and mixology consultant, as founder of Liquid Architecture. The 42-year-old Mesa resident has worked with big-name brands such as Applebee’s and P.F. Chang’s to perfect their cocktail menus and keep drinkers happy.

Haasarud is working on a new book she hopes to be released next year — all she’ll say is, “A blender might be involved” — and she’ll be at Arizona Cocktail Week February 14 through 21 — get details here. Learn what drives Haasarud’s passion for crafting the perfect drink, and check out a video of her naming her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

My husband’s family lives in Phoenix. I lived in New York for 10 years and in L.A. for eight. We got married and had two children, and we wanted to be close to grandparents and a major airport so we could be close to L.A., and we moved here in 2010.

I was born in Nacogdoches, Texas. That’s way, way East Texas, and I was mostly raised in Dallas. I also lived in Kansas City, Kansas, where I went to Blue Valley High School, before attending Fordham University in New York City, where I got my Bachelor of Science in psychology. Continue reading

Carlos Montufar: Flamenco Dancer and Instructor with Flamenco Por La Vida

Carlos Montufar, flamenco dancer and instructor with Flamenco Por La Vida, photographed at the Burton Barr Central Library, by Nicki Escudero

Carlos Montufar, flamenco dancer and instructor with Flamenco Por La Vida, photographed at the Burton Barr Central Library, by Nicki Escudero

Carlos Montufar
FlamencoPorLaVida.com

Carlos Montufar’s passion for flamenco is evident every time he graces a stage, as his turns, claps, stomps and facial expressions are fueled by a fervor he’s had since he was a child, and that has since made him one of the most prominent flamenco dancers in the Valley. The 31-year-old Phoenix resident studied the classic Spanish dance in New Mexico before bringing his talent back to the Valley, and now you can see him on stage with local flamenco company Flamenco Por La Vida (FPLV) Wednesday nights at Gallo Blanco and Saturday nights at Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix.

Montufar works as a teacher’s assistant for Madison Rose Lane Elementary during the day, working for the special education department, converting print to braille. He also works as an instructor with FPLV, teaching flamenco Monday nights at 5th Row Dance Studios in Phoenix — find more information here. Read on for why Montufar loves flamenco, and to hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born in Monterey Park, California and moved to El Paso, Texas when I was 6. I came to Phoenix when I was 17 to study drafting at High-Tech Institute. I wasn’t a fan of the school, so I transferred to Glendale Community College to get my associate degree in arts and humanities. Continue reading

John Schieffer: Painter and ‘Bearly Escaped’ Author

John Schieffer, Valley painter, photographed at his home studio in Goodyear, by Nicki Escudero

John Schieffer, Valley painter and author and illustrator of Bearly Escaped, photographed at his home studio in Goodyear, by Nicki Escudero

John Schieffer
twitter.com/JohnSchieffer

John Schieffer‘s paintings inspire double-takes, as their photorealistic qualities make the images look lifelike. The 42-year-old Goodyear resident crafts colorful works, often modeled after objects he photographs, from dice and jacks, to martinis and toy dinosaurs. Art lovers can view his work at Scottsdale’s Bonner David Galleries, where he is represented and has a special exhibit March 26 through April 6.

Schieffer is also a children’s book author and illustrator, having self-published his book Bearly Escaped, featuring his paintings, in 2012. The book follows escaped circus animals as they interact with the human world and can be found here.

Schieffer talked about what inspired him to be an artist and about his artistic process, and you can hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I moved to Arizona in 2006 from Connecticut. I was born in Waterbury, Connecticut and lived most of my life in Prospect, Connecticut. My wife and I had vacationed out here once and saw the great real estate and loved the climate. We were getting sick of the New England winters, which can be pretty harsh. Continue reading

Pavle Milic: Co-Owner of FnB, Founder of Los Milics Wine

Pavle Milic, co-owner of FnB, Bodega Market and Arizona Wine Merchants, photographed in front of his Los Milics wine label at Arizona Wine Merchants in Bodega Market, by Nicki Escudero

Pavle Milic, co-owner of FnB, Bodega Market and Arizona Wine Merchants, photographed in front of his Los Milics wine label at Arizona Wine Merchants in Bodega Market, by Nicki Escudero

Pavle Milic
twitter.com/FnBAZ

Pavle Milic has been a fervent force in the Valley’s dining scene, with more than 25 years of experience in Arizona’s restaurant industry. The Colombia-born, 42-year-old Chandler resident has worked at Phoenix’s Racho Pinot, Cowboy Ciao and Royal Palms, as well as restaurants in New York City and Napa Valley. He now co-owns FnB restaurant in Scottsdale, as well as next-door Bodega Market and Arizona Wine Merchants. He has his own wine label, Los Milics, and hosts brunches on Rabbit Island with Desert Splash Adventures.

You can hear Milic on the online radio station he founded, MyAzNowRadio.com, where he interviews notable professionals in the Valley. Read more to learn how Milic became a formidable player in Arizona dining, and keep reading to watch a video of Milic naming his top five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was 15 when I came to Arizona. My stepdad became partners with Franco Fazzouli, who owns Franco’s Italian Café in Scottsdale. We moved here in 1987 to open up Franco’s Trattoria in Scottsdale. I went to Saguaro High School and Scottsdale Community College, and got a degree from the Academy of Broadcasting in Phoenix in communications and broadcasting.

My dad defected communist Yugoslavia in 1962 and wound up in Colombia, where he met my mom, and I was born. We moved to Queens, New York when I was 11 because my mom wanted to live here. Continue reading

Jake Friedman: Founder of Four Chambers Literary Magazine

Jake Friedman, founder of Four Chambers literary magazine and publishing house, photographed at his home in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Jake Friedman, founder of Four Chambers literary magazine and publishing house, photographed at his home in Phoenix, with art by Carol Roque in the back left and his own drawing on the right, by Nicki Escudero


Jake Friedman
twitter.com/FourChambersPhx

Phoenix is home to a literary magazine that features proficient writers from all over the world, as Four Chambers culls quality prose, poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction and more to fill up its pages. Four Chambers was founded in 2013 by Jake Friedman, a 25-year-old Phoenix resident who started the magazine when he saw the need for an outlet for high-quality independent writing in the Valley. Now, Four Chambers is slated to release its third issue this upcoming spring — the last issue had more than 1,100 submissions. The magazine, now with an editorial staff of 20 people, is expanding as a publishing house with a new Phoenix Art Museum-themed chapbook it is currently accepting submissions for.

Friedman, who works as a server at Phoenix Public Market Café, talked about how he started Four Chambers, as well as five of his favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

It was more or less of a whim. I had just finished my undergrad degree in English and philosophy at a small liberal arts college called McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. My best friend was moving out here with her boyfriend to get her master’s. I wasn’t really doing anything in Maryland, so I figured I’d come out here with them, and moved in 2011. I was born in Laurel, Maryland. Continue reading

Lisa Pauling: Founder of Be You Jewelry and Jewelry Artist

Lisa Pauling, founder of Be You Jewelry and jewelry artist, photographed at Bunky Boutique, by Nicki Escudero

Lisa Pauling, founder of Be You Jewelry and jewelry artist, photographed at Bunky Boutique, by Nicki Escudero

Lisa Pauling
facebook.com/BeYourDreams

Jewelry artist Lisa Pauling puts love into every piece of hand-stamped jewelry she designs for her Be You Jewelry line. The 36-year-old Phoenix resident had more than 15 years of retail experience before deciding to start her own business this summer, and now she shows at artisan markets around the state, including Pineapple Triangle, and her wares are available at local shops Bunky Boutique, MADE Art Boutique, Practical Art, and Clothes Minded, in addition to her online store. She also creates exclusive designs for nonprofit organizations and hopes to open her own store someday.

Pauling talked about her jewelry-making process and why she’s so passionate about local businesses. You can also watch a video of her naming her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley, and meet her in person Friday, December 26 through Sunday, December 28 at the Scottsdale Artisan Market — find more info here.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m from a small town of 280 people called Storden in Minnesota. I didn’t go to college right out of high school. I was working full-time, and my brother was living here, and I was like, “You know what, it’s time.” I moved down here on a whim when I was 23 and started going to school and worked retail while I was doing that. I was a jewelry distributor for (jewelry line) Chloe + Isabel, and everyone would always ask me if the products were mine. I decided to start making my own jewelry, and I stayed here because of the weather. Continue reading

Dayna Mathews: Career Coach and Founder of Dayna Marie Coaching

Dayna Mathews, career and personal branding coach and founder of Dayna Marie Coaching, photographed in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Dayna Mathews, career and personal branding coach and founder of Dayna Marie Coaching, photographed in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Dayna Mathews
twitter.com/KickAssCareer

Dayna Mathews wants everyone to have a kickass career, which is why the career and personal branding coach founded her own consulting company, Dayna Marie Coaching. The 26-year-old Phoenix resident works with clients to help them land their dream jobs, and her services include resume writing, LinkedIn profile makeovers, interview preparation, and job lead assistance. She’s also a public speaker, conducting career training around the Valley.

Mathews shared her top tips for scoring a dream job, as well as shared why she loves calling the Valley her home in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I graduated college in May of 2010 with a bachelor of arts in communications from University of Minnesota Duluth, and I just knew I wanted to get out of my small town of Taconite in northern Minnesota and see what else the world had to offer. After college, at the time, I was with someone who wanted to move, too, and we moved to Phoenix in October of 2010. I thought I’d be here for three years but haven’t looked back since. Continue reading

Misha Mendicino: Fashion Designer and Owner of Misha Mendicino Designs

Misha Mendicino, fashion designer and owner of Misha Mendicino Designs, photographed at her studio, by Nicki Escudero

Misha Mendicino, fashion designer and owner of Misha Mendicino Designs, photographed at her studio wearing one of her designs, by Nicki Escudero

Misha Mendicino
twitter.com/MishaMendicino

Misha Mendicino doesn’t just design beautiful women’s clothes — she’s on a mission. The Phoenix designer, who won the 2014 title of Designer of the Year at Phoenix Fashion Week, donates five percent of all sales to a cause she cares deeply about, elephant conservation through The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

Mendicino started her line Misha Mendicino Designs a year and a half ago, out of a desire for the kinds of styles she craved but could never find. Now, she comes out with new looks twice a year, with her line consisting of comfortable dresses, pants and a jacket. Find her looks online and in local boutiques Velvet Boutique, Daniela Jay Boutique, LONNI Women’s Fashion Boutique, Allie Ollie Boutique, Charmed Avenue, and Random Boutique.

Mendicino talked about her design aesthetic and her goals as a designer. Watch her name her five favorite reasons for living in the Valley in a video, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

I came to Phoenix in 1992 to go to flight school. I moved here from Maui and attended Western International University and Aero Mech Flight School. Their programs intertwined to give you a bachelor’s degree in technical operations and professional aeronautics.

I was born in Santa Maria, California. When I was 17, my friend and I decided we wanted to move to Hawaii, so we moved there on a one-way ticket with $800 in our pockets and no plans of coming back. She’s still there. I got a job as a flight attendant and moved to New York. I had a back injury that forced me to quit my job, so I moved back to Maui to heal.

I missed aviation so much, I decided to go to flight school. I’m a commercial multi-engine instrument-rated pilot. I flew cargo for awhile and did some passenger service in the San Juan Islands in Washington and ended up coming back to Phoenix, since I really missed it. I’ve been back here since ’97. Continue reading

Christine Cassano: Phoenix Mixed Media Artist

Christine Cassano, Phoenix mixed media artist, photographed at her studio in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Christine Cassano, Phoenix mixed media artist, photographed at her studio in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Christine Cassano
twitter.com/cmcassano

Phoenix artist Christine Cassano has turned extreme pain into inspiration for her current body of mixed media sculptural work, blending biological and organic influences with technological themes. A hiking accident 10 years ago resulted in a hip dislocation, hip socket fracture and full hip replacement for Cassano a few years ago, while she developed an auto-immune thyroid condition the same time as her accident that only went into full remission last year. Now, the 40-year-old Phoenix resident says she feels healthier than ever and is thrilled to focus on her art, having had eight exhibits the past year alone, as well as her freelance work as a graphic designer.

See Cassano’s work as part of the Tempe Mill Avenue post office installation in December, and check out her 150-piece wall installation at Tempe Center for the Arts for the venue’s biennial through January 31.

Cassano explains the inspiration behind her art below, and you can also watch a video of her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m from Virginia Beach, Virginia. I graduated from art school with a BFA in studio art from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia in 2001. I wanted a different life and contrast from the ocean where I grew up, so two months after graduation, I packed up a moving truck and drove across the country. Continue reading

Cathy Beach: Owner of Pepper Boutique in Scottsdale

Cathy Beach, owner of Pepper boutique in Scottsdale, photographed at her store with her dog, Pepper, by Nicki Escudero

Cathy Beach, owner of Pepper boutique in Scottsdale, photographed at her store with her dog, Pepper, by Nicki Escudero

Cathy Beach
facebook.com/ShopPepperOnline

Cathy Beach’s Pepper boutique in Scottsdale is relaxed and inviting and features bohemian clothes perfect for free spirits of the Valley. After opening only a little more than six months ago, the cozy shop (named after the 28-year-old Scottsdale resident’s very cute dog) is already turning a profit and is featuring a fall blowout sale, so everyone can get a taste of Pepper. Look out for some new men’s styles in the boutique, a holiday special brought on by customer demand.

Beach talked about what it’s like to be a successful young small business owner and what she thinks of the Phoenix fashion scene after living in L.A., and names her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m from Vancouver, British Columbia and moved here when I was 12. I went to high school here at Saguaro High School, got my undergrad in psychology at ASU and went out to L.A. for grad school, where I studied clinical psychology at Pepperdine. I worked in wholesale apparel during grad school and after in L.A. This past spring, my mom’s cancer reoccurred, so I moved back to Scottsdale to be closer to her. Continue reading