Joy Li: Fashion Designer and Owner of Studio Joy Li

Joy Li, photographed at her Studio Joy Li in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Joy Li, photographed at her Studio Joy Li in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Joy Li
twitter.com/STUDIOJoyLi

Joy Li is one of the Valley’s most prominent fashionistas. From being a fit model at Liz Claiborne, to designing for big brands such as Skechers, to owning her own Old Town Scottsdale studio and boutique for the past seven years, Li is on a mission to make functional, stylish clothes women will love wearing. Li, a 53-year-old Scottsdale resident, is the perfect model for her clothes, as her perfect-for-layering, classic-yet-edgy pieces make them ideal for on-the-go lifestyles such as hers.

Li recently released her fall line, with pieces starting at less than $70. She talked about where her love of fashion came from, and what her design process is like. You can also watch a video of Li talk about her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I came by accident from California, from the Redondo Beach area. I was in a relationship that brought me out here, and when I came, I was pleasantly surprised with what I found in Arizona.

I was born in Austin, Texas and grew up in New Jersey. I went to high school in upstate New York, then studied design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. My dad wouldn’t put me through fashion school, so that’s what I studied. Continue reading

Everardo “Paco” Keeme: Co-Owner of Photo Fusion Studio

Everardo Keeme, co-owner of Photo Fusion in Scottsdale, photographed at his studio, by Nicki Escudero

Everardo Keeme, co-owner of Photo Fusion in Scottsdale, photographed at his studio, by Nicki Escudero


Everardo “Paco” Keeme
twitter.com/EverardoKeeme

Everardo “Paco” Keeme has captured some very priceless Valley shots, from documenting the Waste Management Phoenix Open as official photographer, to shooting events for American Cancer Society, to creating the perfect senior portrait for high schoolers around town with his Twelfth Year Senior Portraits. The 37-year-old Phoenix resident and certified professional photographer recently became co-owner of Photo Fusion Studio in Scottsdale, a relaxed space, open for rental, for shooting his Everardo Keeme Photography clients.

Keeme lets readers in on his secrets to a great shot, and he names his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m born and raised here. I grew up in Tempe and went to Marcos de Niza High School. I got a degree in web design from the University of Phoenix, and went back for business marketing. Continue reading

Maggie McGrath: Founder of Pineapple Triangle Artist Market

Maggie McGrath, founder of Pineapple Triangle, photographed at Phoenix Public Market, by Nicki Escudero

Maggie McGrath, founder of Pineapple Triangle, photographed at Phoenix Public Market, by Nicki Escudero

Maggie McGrath
twitter.com/pineappletri

If you’re into local fashion and art, and love to support charity, Pineapple Triangle‘s AZ Share That You Care event provides the opportunity to get your fashionable art fix while supporting worthy causes. Founder Maggie McGrath, a wholesale sales rep for local clothing line Angie, started Pineapple Triangle to give local vendors more opportunities for exposure, while helping those in need, as each vendor donates at least 20 percent of their sales to the cause of their choice. The June event raised more than $1,300 for charities.

The next event, even larger than June’s with more than 50 vendors, takes place Saturday, October 18 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at The Icehouse in downtown Phoenix, with apparel, jewelry, beauty and home décor products from vendors including Be You Jewelry and Phoenix People features Strawberry Hedgehog and State Forty Eight. Admission is $5 cash, and visitors will be able to enjoy food from Buzznbeez food truck and music by 76th Street. Artists interested in participating can email hellopineappletriangle@gmail.com.

McGrath, a 29-year-old Ahwatukee resident, talked about her passion for fashion and for helping those in need, as well as named her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley, in a video below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’ve pretty much lived here all my life, since I was 3 when my family moved here. I was born in Akron, Ohio. I went to Desert Vista High School and ASU, and got a B.A.S. degree in operations management and technology. I also have an Associate’s degree in fashion merchandising from Mesa Community College.

The main reason that keeps me here is all my siblings are here. I’m the youngest of four, so I really like being close to them. Continue reading

Paul Goldschmidt: Arizona Diamondbacks First Baseman

Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman, photographed at Chase Field, by Nicki Escudero

Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman, photographed at Chase Field, by Nicki Escudero

Paul Goldschmidt
twitter.com/DBacks

No matter what happens, Paul Goldschmidt never loses his positive attitude. The 2014 season was a tough one for the Arizona Diamondbacks two-time Major League Baseball All-Star, who was sidelined in August and September with a hand injury. The team completed the season with the worst record in the MLB, and manager Kirk Gibson and bench coach Alan Trammell were fired this past Friday, leaving the team with a lot of re-building to do in the off-season.

Despite all the disappointments, Goldschmidt, who signed a five-year contract with the D-Backs last year, remains optimistic about his team. The 27-year-old Scottsdale resident, a Delaware native who grew up in the Houston area, talked about how he’ll be spending the off-season, why he’s passionate about giving back through charity, and what he likes to do for fun. Keep reading to watch Goldschmidt name his five favorite reasons for living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

Playing for the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks drafted me in 2009 out of college (at Texas State). I was in the minor leagues, so I lived in Montana, California and Alabama.

Then, I got called up here to Phoenix and loved my two months in the season, and decided to stay out here with my wife and rent a place. I heard so many things about it and had so much fun in the off-season, we decided to stay here and make it home. Continue reading

Brian Hill: Executive Director of Phoenix Fashion Week

Brian Hill, executive director for Phoenix Fashion Week, photographed at Schumacher Mercedes-Benz, by Nicki Escudero

Brian Hill, executive director for Phoenix Fashion Week, photographed at Schumacher Mercedes-Benz, by Nicki Escudero

Brian Hill
twitter.com/PHXFashionWeek

Every fall, the Valley’s biggest fashion event, Phoenix Fashion Week, brings notable designers from around the country and here in the Valley together, as local models strut the catwalk showing off innovative fashions for retailers to add to their collections. This year’s event takes over Scottsdale’s Talking Stick Resort Thursday, October 2 to Saturday, October 4.

The event isn’t just to display the latest trends. Phoenix Fashion Week features an Emerging Designer Challenge, where more than a dozen fledgling designers (including Phoenix People feature State Forty Eight) get to pick up business chops during a four-month apparel boot camp, before battling it out on the runway for the title of Emerging Designer of the Year.

Phoenix Fashion Week is the brainchild of Brian Hill, a designer himself with various fashion lines since he was a student at Arizona State University. As executive director for Phoenix Fashion Week, Hill puts on 10 fashion-focused events year-round throughout the Valley. He’s still working in the fashion world as a custom apparel designer and consultant for fashion lines around the country, and he’s also working on a new collection for a line he started at ASU, Femme Athletic, due next year.

Learn how the Phoenix resident started Phoenix Fashion Week in 2006 and where his passion for fashion comes from, and watch a video of him naming his favorite reasons for living in the Valley below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born in St. Louis and lived there until I came to ASU as a walk-on wrestler. I’ve been a fashion entrepreneur for awhile, and I graduated from ASU with a degree in real estate and marketing. Continue reading

Gardner Cole: Music Producer

Gardner Cole, music producer, photographed at his home studio in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Gardner Cole, music producer, photographed at his home studio in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Gardner Cole
twitter.com/GardnerColeHits

Valley music producer and songwriter Gardner Cole is responsible for some of music’s biggest hits, including Madonna’s “Open Your Heart,” which she performed in recent years at the Grammys and Super Bowl. It’s also been featured on television show Glee, and Cole’s thousands of tracks have been on 100 million albums — yes, 100 million. The prolific songwriter isn’t just a hitmaker — he’s also performed with groups a-ha and ABC, as well as had his own solo album deal with Warner Bros. Records.

Now, the 52-year-old Phoenix resident is producing local songwriters, as well as gearing up for charity shows and work in film. Read on for how he got into the music industry and where he hopes to go from here, and watch him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I bought the house I live in now in ’94 as an investment and met my wife in ’97. I had come out with some friends and loved the proximity to Los Angeles and Vegas. I was living with the Jacksons’ before I moved here, working with Tito and his kids. My wife and I were trying to have this relationship, and it wasn’t working when I was out in L.A. My brother had been living in my house, and I moved him out and moved my wife in.

I was born in Flint, Michigan. I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston, and from there, I moved to Los Angeles. I spent time in London working with some groups based in Europe (ABC and a-ha) before moving to Los Angeles to make albums and write songs for Warner Bros. I stayed there for 15 years. Continue reading

Liz Mays: Author of ‘The Get-Ahead Guide,’ ‘What’s Your Magic Power?’

Liz Mays
twitter.com/theeditress

Liz Mays wants to help young women achieve all they can in the creative field, which is why she recently wrote two incredibly helpful books about how recent grads can find success in the professional world: The Get-Ahead Guide: Go From Job Zero to Successful Career Professional and What’s Your Magic Power?

The 37-year-old Scottsdale resident, an L.A. native with a theater educational background, became a successful self-made journalist, writing for publications across the country, as well as editing Arizona Foothills Magazine. Now, she’s the Outreach Director for the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU and is always thinking of her next book idea.

Learn what she thinks are the most important tips for young women to succeed in the workplace, and keep scrolling to hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

It was the beauty of it. I really loved the lifestyle. It’s an easy place to commute. There are jobs. It’s a nice metro full of professionals.

The arts are really attractive to me, and the great part is you don’t have to go the distance from one side of L.A. to the other side of L.A. to experience what Scottsdale has to offer. It’s big, but at the same time, there are a lot of things that are central. I really love the center of Scottsdale and the way it’s walkable.

I moved here about 10 years ago and had always wanted to move to Arizona since I drove through it a long time ago. I must have been 22, and I was going to grad school in Illinois. I passed through Arizona and thought, “Well, this is where I would live if I didn’t want to be an actress,” which is what I was planning to be. Over the years, I realized I wasn’t meant to be in acting and was meant to be in publishing.

Long story short, I ended up moving with my now-husband to upstate New York, and we lived there for several years. I did nothing but freelance, though I burnt out on that for awhile. We moved to Illinois where he had some family ties, and I said to him, “I’m going to make four phone calls, and I’m going to call every publisher in town. If I don’t have a job by the end of the day, we’re moving to Arizona.”

On the third phone call, I landed a job interview, and by the end of the day, I had a job. It was a small-town situation, and after a year, we were ready to move to Arizona. Continue reading

Nikki Metzger: Owner of BODI Gym

Nikki Metzger, owner of BODI boutique gym in Scottsdale, photographed at BODI, by Nicki Escudero

Nikki Metzger, owner of BODI boutique gym in Scottsdale, photographed at BODI, by Nicki Escudero

Nikki Metzger
twitter.com/ScottsdaleBODI

Nikki Metzger is one strong lady. Not only could she kick your butt, at the age of 28, she’s already a successful Scottsdale business owner after opening her boutique gym BODI less than a year ago. The Scottsdale resident and Nike Master Trainer whips her students into shape, teaching more than 20 classes a week in a boot camp style.

Owning her own gym has been a dream of Metzger’s since she was only a kid, and she prides herself on providing all-encompassing healthy lifestyle motivation for her clients. Read on to discover what fuels her love for fitness, and check out a video of her naming her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born and raised on the Wisconsin/Minnesota border in Amery, Wisconsin. The town was only 3,000 people and I didn’t even live in the town – my house was on 150 acres of land in the middle of nowhere.

I was in Chicago the past seven years. My husband and I randomly vacationed here like five or six years ago and just loved it. Ever since then, we’ve come twice a year. Both of us are very warm weather people and hate the cold, and we wanted to move somewhere that had character and wasn’t just a suburb with a lot of franchises. We chose to move here in December last year. Continue reading

Rodney Hu: Owner of Yucca Tap Room, Arizona Distilling Company

Rodney Hu, owner of Yucca Tap Room and Arizona Distilling Company, photographed at Yucca Tap Room, by Nicki Escudero

Rodney Hu, owner of Yucca Tap Room and Arizona Distilling Company, photographed at Yucca Tap Room, by Nicki Escudero

Rodney Hu
twitter.com/YuccaTapRoom

Rodney Hu is responsible for some of the Valley’s biggest gems: one of the longest-standing live music venues, Yucca Tap Room, and purveyor of fine local spirits, Arizona Distilling Company. The 39-year-old Tempe resident is proud to be a native Arizonan, which is why he put so much passion into his businesses that show off the state’s talent.

Hu works tirelessly on his ventures and is gearing up for Yucca’s 42nd anniversary, to be celebrated this fall. He’s successfully combined his businesses by serving up Arizona Distilling Company spirits at Yucca, including Copper City Bourbon, Arizona Distilling Co.’s Desert Dry Gin and Arizona Distilling Co. Desert Durum Wheat Whiskey.

Sip on one next time you’re at Yucca, which features live music every night. Keep reading to find out what drives Hu’s work ethic and why he loves being in Arizona after all this time.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m a native. I was born in Phoenix, went to high school at Marcos de Niza and received my degree in finance from ASU. I moved to New York City and worked at a couple different investment banks – I also did sales and trading before moving back to Arizona about 11 years ago. Continue reading

Anthony Desamito: Stand-Up Comedian

Anthony Desamito, Phoenix-based stand-up comedian, photographed at Monkey Pants in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Anthony Desamito, Phoenix-based stand-up comedian, photographed at Monkey Pants in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Anthony Desamito
twitter.com/AnthonyDesamito

Anthony Desamito is instantly lovable. The local comic and 26-year-old Tempe resident is constantly smiling during his sets, making people crack up with his tales of messed-up romances and hysterical views on life. The Mexico-raised comedian has steadily grown his audience since he got his stand-up start four years ago, having performed at the San Luis Obispo Comedy Festival 2014 and Phoenix Comicon 2014. He was also a finalist in the first annual Arizona’s Funniest Comedian 2014.

Desamito, who by day is a videographer at ASU in the School of Engineering and teaches video at ASU in the School of Art, is polishing his material for two big upcoming shows: the first, his birthday show, is Thursday, August 28 at Monkey Pants in Tempe. The free show starts at 8:30 p.m. and also marks Desamito’s four-year comedy anniversary. He’s also performing at the Queer Queens of Qomedy show Thursday, September 18 at the Tempe Improv, opening for the Poppy Champlin.

Desamito is a busy guy: he plays a gay comic in a college town on Serious About Comedy, premiering September 9 on Trends TV throughout U.S. colleges. He also writes and performs in The Freakin’ A’s, a YouTube video sketch comedy group, and performs funny videos on his own channel. He regularly performs longform improv with groups Funnel Cake and Brunettes On the Run at the The Torch Theatre, and he’s also a writer for satire news magazine, Grown Up Recess.

Read on for why he got involved with stand-up comedy, and to watch him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I lived in Mexico until I was 8 years old. I was born in El Centro, California, right on the border of Mexicali, Baja California in Mexico. I was basically an anchor baby. My mom had me here in the U.S., and when I was 8 years old and able to say “American citizen” and walk across the border, we moved to Yuma.

I was culture shocked. I was like, “Wait, white people? I thought these were only on TV.” I didn’t know my name was Anthony — I thought it was Antonio. The doctor named me Anthony so I could fit in better here when I moved here. After Yuma, I moved to Flagstaff to go to Coconino Community College. I got some scholarships to ASU and moved here in 2010, and graduated two years ago with a degree in intermedia digital art and video. Continue reading