Ashley Naftule: Actor, Improviser and Theater Performance Organizer

Ashley Naftule, actor, improviser and theater performance organizer, photographed at Desoto Central Market in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Ashley Naftule, actor, improviser and theater performance organizer, photographed at Desoto Central Market in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero


Ashley Naftule
www.ashleynaftule.com

For followers of the Phoenix community theater scene, Ashley Naftule is a constant fixture, whether he’s organizing shows like 7 Minutes in Heaven at Space 55, performing characters such as professional arm wrestler Thunderbolt Tsunami on stage, or presenting short plays he has written at events such as Phoenix Fringe. The 32-year-old Scottsdale resident constantly comes up with creative personalities and ideas for the stage to keep audiences entertained, and you can catch him next this Thursday, December 3, when he’ll be performing at the PEP (Phoenix Educational Programming) Rally variety show at Lawn Gnome Publishing in Phoenix. The show kicks off at 8 p.m., and this week’s theme spotlights vignettes about the occult.

Naftule, who works as a copywriter for marketing agency Loud Rumor during the day, is the “Czar of Limited Engagements” at Space 55, where he runs special events at the theater. He shared why he’s so passionate about the stage and the local theater scene, 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 was born and raised here. My whole family is from France. My mom is from Algeria, and my dad is from Switzerland, and they moved to the States around 40 years ago and drifted here.

I was born in Phoenix, went to Horizon High School, and went to ASU for a few years. Continue reading

Natasha Duran-Lynch: Fashion Designer and Founder of Hues of Ego

Natasha Duran-Lynch, fashion designer and founder of Hues of Ego, photographed at Kierland Commons in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Natasha Duran-Lynch, fashion designer and founder of Hues of Ego, photographed at Kierland Commons in Scottsdale wearing a coat she designed, by Nicki Escudero

Natasha Duran-Lynch
www.huesofego.com

In just a few years, Natasha Duran-Lynch has catapulted to the center of the Phoenix fashion scene, winning Phoenix Fashion Week‘s Couture Designer of the Year title this year, after only graduating from fashion design school in 2012. Duran-Lynch has her own line, Hues of Ego, which focuses on blending structure with femininity.

You can catch the 32-year-old Scottsdale resident on home shopping channel EVINE Live early next year, where she’ll be selling some designs inspired by her award-winning line. Keep reading to learn the inspiration behind Duran-Lynch’s designs, and you can hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

My mom. We moved here when I was in high school. I’m originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and she just didn’t see us being there any more.

I graduated from Highland High School and went to ASU, where I was studying for my master’s in architecture and a minor in design before attending Collins College. Continue reading

Danielle Victoria: Founder of Danielle Victoria Music Foundation

Danielle Victoria, founder of the Danielle Victoria Music Foundation, photographed at the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Danielle Victoria, founder of the Danielle Victoria Music Foundation, photographed at the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Danielle Victoria
www.dvmusicfoundation.com

Danielle Victoria knows the power of music, having played piano since she was only 5 years old and having a strong passion for the art form. The 17-year-old Scottsdale resident founded the Danielle Victoria Music Foundation in March 2015 to help provide music education to Arizona’s underprivileged students, by working with local arts and educational organizations to offer needs-based scholarships for music education.

Victoria talked about why she felt helping kids through music education in Arizona is important, and you can hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

After living in New York, my parents decided to relocate to Arizona in 2007.

I was born in Malaysia and switched between London, Hong Kong, and Malaysia for my first seven years due to my parents’ work. My family then moved to New York and lived there for two years before moving here to Arizona. This is our eighth year here, and I currently attend Desert Mountain High School as a senior and International Baccalaureate student. Continue reading

Dennis Wise: Founder of Dennis Wise Golf Course Design

Dennis Wise, founder of Dennis Wise Golf Course Design, photographed at T. Cook's at the Royal Palms Resort & Spa, by Nicki Escudero

Dennis Wise, founder of Dennis Wise Golf Course Design, photographed at T. Cook’s at the Royal Palms Resort & Spa, by Nicki Escudero

Dennis Wise
www.wisegolfdesign.com

Dennis Wise has added his touch to some of the world’s most beautiful golf courses, as a golf course designer with more than 35 years’ experience, personally responsible for more than 100 courses in three countries and more than 30 states, including several in Arizona. Seven of those courses are currently ranked in Golf Digest‘s America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses. The 57-year-old Scottsdale resident worked for golf architect greats such as Larry Packard and Tom Fazio, and he has also consulted on or renovated more than 40 golf courses.

Wise founded Dennis Wise Golf Course Design in 2012 out of an enduring love of golf, nature and architecture, and a deep personal desire to create memorable golf environments that would enrich lives and connect people to the outdoors. His first solo endeavor was the two-year redesign of the Makena Golf & Beach Club in Maui for the Discovery Land Company, which will launch as a private golf course community this fall.

Wise talked about why he’s passionate about working on golf course design, and you can watch him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I managed golf design studios for Tom Fazio in South Florida in the 1980s and then in Kansas City, Kansas, in the 1990s. I relocated 20-plus individuals from our Kansas City design team to Scottsdale in July 2000.

We felt that growth existed in the West for our brand. I had finished a private club in Scottsdale called Estancia, and was about to commence on a new project called Mirabel. Furthermore, I wanted to be nearer a larger metropolitan city with an airport hub that would allow all of us the ability to go nonstop to numerous cities, which did not exist living in Kansas City. I looked for a year and half throughout the West, and felt Phoenix had the airport, the weather and the Midwest people connectivity and was a very affordable place to live.

I was born in Waterloo, Iowa, and lived several places before settling here in Arizona. Continue reading

Meghan Pearce: Founder of Pearce Family Foundation

Meghan Pearce, founder of Pearce Family Foundation, photographed at El Chorro in Paradise Valley, by Nicki Escudero

Meghan Pearce, founder of Pearce Family Foundation, photographed at El Chorro in Paradise Valley, by Nicki Escudero

Meghan Pearce
www.pearcefamilyfoundation.com

Meghan Pearce is a fifth-generation Arizona resident who wanted to make a difference in her community and keep her family legacy alive by helping others. In 2013, she founded the Pearce Family Foundation, an organization that donates to families with children suffering from a chronic or life-threatening illnesses. With her foundation, the 30-year-old Scottsdale resident raised more than $60,000 through events in year one alone and has granted out another $13,000 to families in need, helping them with everything from paying grocery and electric bills, to getting service dogs.

The Pearce Family Foundation sponsors the Runway of Hope fashion show Friday, May 8, with a DJ, nine boutiques (including Pepper) and designers showcasing their fashions, cocktails and an open bar, pop-up shops, a silent auction and hors d’oeuvres. The event takes place in the old Coors warehouse building at 475 E. Lincoln Street in Phoenix, and doors open at 7 p.m. Get tickets here.

Learn more about Pearce and where her passion for helping others comes from here, and keep reading to watch her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m fifth-generation Arizonan. My family has been here since before it was even a state. I was born at Good Samaritan Hospital, went to high school at Desert Mountain, and went down to U of A and graduated with a degree in family studies. I moved back to the Valley after graduation. Continue reading

Mr. P-Body: DJ and Bassist for Elvis Before Noon

Mr. P-Body, Phoenix DJ and bassist for Elvis Before Noon, photographed at his home in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Mr. P-Body, Phoenix DJ and bassist for Elvis Before Noon, photographed at his home in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Mr. P-Body
www.mrpbody.com

Mr. P-Body is a Valley music veteran, playing around town for more than 20 years in various bands and hooking up venues with dance-worthy tunes via his DJ sets. The Scottsdale resident currently plays bass in power pop band Elvis Before Noon, and you can catch him playing music at events and spots around the Valley, including Hotel Valley Ho and private parties.

Mr. P-Body talked about his musical beginnings, what he wishes crowds would keep in mind when it comes to DJs, and what he thinks of the Valley’s music scene. Catch him naming his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

My parents moved out here when my dad got a teaching job in Phoenix. I was born in Louisville, Kentucky and moved here when I was 5.

I went to Alhambra High School. I went to college at Dillard University in New Orleans and ASU to acquire a business degree. I’ve been here since and love the city. It’s nice visiting other places, but I like living here because I like the fact it’s always changing and growing. 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

Joy Li: Fashion Designer and Co-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

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

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