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

Hugo Medina: Phoenix Muralist and ASU Art Faculty

Hugo Medina, Phoenix artist, in front of his acrylic and aerosol on canvas, 'The Westward Ho,' at MonOrchid in Phoenix, photographed by Nicki Escudero

Hugo Medina, Phoenix artist, photographed in front of his acrylic and aerosol on canvas, ‘The Westward Ho,’ at MonOrchid in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Hugo Medina
twitter.com/Hugos_Art

Hugo Medina‘s art is seen all over the Valley, as the painter and custom metal fabricator has more than 30 murals up throughout the Phoenix area, from a 300-foot-long mural at Fountain Hill’s Fountain Park, to more than five in the downtown Phoenix area.

The 41-year-old Bolivia-born Phoenix resident is heavily involved in the Phoenix arts community, serving as an adjunct art faculty member at ASU teaching a community mural course, as co-founder for the Calle 16 mural project, and as board member for Artlink, Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission and Arizona Artists Coalition. He won the Phoenix Public Art award in 2012 and is currently planning for the Phoenix Festival for the Arts and Art Detour. He’s also working on a new installation for Cycle 5 of IN FLUX, a public art installation program.

Medina works as a custom metal fabricator and on his own paintings, the latest of which can be seen at his Home exhibit at MonOrchid in Phoenix through Friday, November 28. Join him this Friday, November 21, for the free artist reception at the gallery, from 6-10 p.m. Medina will talk about his collection at 7:45 p.m.

Medina talked about where his passion for art comes from, and you can hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was chasing my heart. My sophomore year, I taught at a vacation Bible school at a Native American reservation in San Diego and fell in love with the Southwest. I moved to Arizona in 1998 after I graduated college.

I was born in Bolivia and moved to New York with my family when I was 7. We were chasing the American dream. Continue reading

Hector Coris: Actor with Scottsdale Musical Theater Company

Hector Coris
facebook.com/ScottsdaleMusicalTheater

Hector Coris loves inhabiting different characters and bringing them to life on stage. In the past four years, the Phoenix resident has performed in more than dozen local theater productions, having caught the theater bug back in college in New York before bringing his talents to the Valley. He’s gearing up to next star in Scottsdale Musical Theater Company‘s The Producers, at Tempe Center for the Arts Wednesday, December 31, Friday, January 2 and Saturday, January 3. The New Year’s Eve show also features a post-show gala.

Coris, who works at ReachOut Healthcare America in Phoenix, also is the associate producer for Scottsdale Musical Theater Company, as well as works in marketing and publicity. He talked about why he’s so passionate about local theater and what he’s looking forward to about starring in The Producers. Continue reading to watch a video of Coris name his favorite parts about living in the Valley, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

I grew up in New York. I did a show here in March of 2009 for two weeks at the Mesa Arts Center, and I loved being here in March because it’s perfect weather. When I went back to New York, I got laid off from my job, so my partner and I were looking for a change. We decided to move to Phoenix. 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

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