Sara McClellan: Author of ‘The World Needs Hope’

Sara McClellan, author of 'The World Needs Hope,' photographed in downtown Gilbert, by Nicki Escudero

Sara McClellan, author of ‘The World Needs Hope,’ photographed in downtown Gilbert, by Nicki Escudero

Sara McClellan
twitter.com/worldneedshope

For some people, uncertainty and loss can be debilitating. For Sara McClellan, she chose to turn hard times into a positive message anyone can benefit from, by writing and self-publishing the recently released book, The World Needs Hope. The 36-year-old Gilbert resident, with about 20 years of professional writing experience, crafted 19 chapters of how hope can be interpreted, with a desire to inspire readers to integrate hope more into their own lives. The book also features art by 20 contributors, all who have lived in Arizona, who visually showed what hope means to them. In addition to writing and editing a blog related to the book  at www.theworldneedshope.com, McClellan will be releasing book-related merchandise starting Thursday, January 31. She talked about her inspiration for the book, what she hopes people take away from it, and why she loves living in the Valley, below.

What brought you to Arizona?

My father was relocated for a job, so we moved in high school, having never been in Arizona. My grandparents were here, and it was an opportunity to start completely fresh in a new climate. I was born in Wisconsin. Continue reading

Amber Harrold: CamelBackpackers Hostel Owner

Amber Harrold, CamelBackpackers Hostel owner, photographed at the hostel in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Amber Harrold, CamelBackpackers Hostel owner, photographed at the hostel in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Amber Harrold
facebook.com/CamelBackpackers

While Phoenix might not quite yet be a popular travel destination, Phoenix resident Amber Harrold is trying to put it on more travelers’ radars. The 33-year-old owns CamelBackpackers Hostel, one of only two hostels in Phoenix, with an occupancy rate of 18. The hostel has a full kitchen and events board, and it was Harrold’s own experiences staying in hostels that inspired her to open one of her own here in the Valley last summer. Read on for how she became a hostel owner, as well as five reasons why she loves living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m originally from Nebraska, but I joined the Army when I was 17, and that helped me put myself through college. I got my commission in the Army and went to Germany for 6 years, and after I was done with the military, I came back to the U.S. and job hunted. I interviewed with Pepsi in Texas, and they told me to come out here and check out their Phoenix location. I did, and they took me out on the city, and I instantly fell in love with it. The weather was great, and I thought I could definitely live here. I’ve been working as a production supervisor and logistics supervisor with Pepsi for 6 years now. Continue reading

Patrick Battillo: Mr. ORNG, Phoenix Suns Super-Fan

Patrick Battillo, Phoenix Suns super-fan Mr. ORNG, photographed at US Airways Center in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Patrick Battillo, Phoenix Suns super-fan Mr. ORNG, photographed at US Airways Center in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Patrick Battillo
twitter.com/PHXMRORNG

He wouldn’t want you to call him it, but Patrick Battillo might just be the Phoenix Suns’ number one fan. The 26-year-old Peoria resident and Brooklyn, N.Y. native, can be spotted at every Suns home game, donned head-to-toe in bright orange as “Mr. ORNG,” a Suns super-fan who is known for his whistles, chants and all-around Suns support both at home and at road games. Battillo, a life-long Suns fan, works for Target as a logistics group leader during the day. He also volunteers as a basketball coach for National Youth Sports in the West Valley, gives post-game interviews to KTAR 620-AM after home games, and makes appearances at community events as Mr. ORNG. He stresses that just because many fans may not be able to make it to games, doesn’t mean they’re not loyal or passionate, but he’s happy to help represent them at the arena. He shared his motivation for supporting the Suns as Mr. ORNG, how he hopes to support the community in general, and five reasons why he loves living in the Valley, below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I moved here when I was 7 — my parent’s job brought me here. What was interesting is that I always followed the Phoenix Suns, but I didn’t know they were in Arizona. When I moved here and was able to follow them live in person as opposed to the TV, that was really cool. Continue reading

Holli Christensen: Park Avenue Blow Dry and Beauty Bar Owner

Holli Christensen, owner of Park Avenue Blow Dry and Beauty Bar, photographed at her salon in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Holli Christensen, owner of Park Avenue Blow Dry and Beauty Bar, photographed at her salon in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Holli Christensen
twitter.com/ParkAveBlowDry

Holli Christensen may be the owner of one of the cutest salons in town, but don’t think this lovely lady is all beauty and no brains. Christensen started her professional career as a neuroscientist before deciding to pursue her true passion — opening up her own business. Now she’s the owner of Kensington Makeup Artists, a 30-person team of makeup, hair and tanning specialists; and Park Avenue Blow Dry and Beauty Bar, a Phoenix salon with hair, facial, tanning and makeup services, with a soon-to-be-launched manicure and pedicure station. Christensen talked about where her passion for her businesses comes from, as well as five reasons why she loves living in the Valley, below.

What brought you to Arizona?

My back story is always fun to laugh about because I did my undergrad at San Diego State in psychology, but I loved neuroscience, so I did a neuro-psychology emphasis. I decided to get my master’s degree because I thought I wanted to go to med school. I got accepted to King’s College London University and got my master’s degree in neuroscience. After I graduated, I moved back home to Thousand Oaks in California, and worked for a pharmaceutical company.

I got laid off and decided to go to school to become a makeup artist, because I had a lot of fun putting makeup on people and got tired of working in a cubicle and not talking to anybody. I seriously thought I lost all my social skills because of that, so I wanted to do something more interactive. I went to makeup school, and my teacher said one of the best industries to be in is the bridal industry because it can be very profitable. I thought about it and decided to start a business. I didn’t know what it was going to look like, but I thought I should start it in Arizona because there’s a really huge bridal industry here, and it’s a small large city, so it’d be easier to grow a small business. Continue reading