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

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

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

Simon Nicolia: Co-Owner of Forever Tango

Simon Nicolia, co-owner of Forever Tango in Phoenix, photographed in downtown Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Simon Nicolia, co-owner of Forever Tango in Phoenix, photographed in downtown Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Simon Nicolia
twitter.com/TangoForCouples

Argentina-born Simon Nicolia has been dancing traditional Argentine dances for two dozen years. In Arizona, he’s spreading his love for tango as co-owner, with his wife, Tiffanie Nicolia, of Forever Tango, weekly classes held at 5th Row Dance Studios in downtown Phoenix. The 31-year-old Phoenix resident, who has been teaching private tango classes for couples, and Tiffanie lead students through passionate moves, helping all ages and experience levels during private and group classes Friday and Saturday nights.

Get more information about the classes here, and keep reading to see why Nicolia wanted to teach tango in the Valley, as well as watch him name his favorite reasons for living here.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m from Argentina. My family and I moved to Utah when I was 16. I moved from Utah to Arizona in February for my job as a program coordinator in the non-profit sector. I’m very excited to be here and get to know the people and enjoy the good weather. Continue reading

Lisa Starry: Founder of Scorpius Dance Theatre

Lisa Starry, founder of Scorpius Dance Theatre, photographed in her studio in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Lisa Starry, founder of Scorpius Dance Theatre, photographed in her studio in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Lisa Starry
twitter.com/scorpius_dance

For 15 years, Lisa Starry has brought spooky vampires, passionate lovers and aerial flyers to local stages, all of who know how to groove. As founder of Scorpius Dance Theatre, Starry has choreographed and directed dancers at worldwide performances, with her company of more than 20 dancers, as well as aerial performers.

The 44-year-old Phoenix resident is also helping shape the future of the local dance scene, as co-founder and Associate Head of School of Metropolitan Art Institute (Metro Arts). In-between her day job and coming up with new moves for Scorpius, she teaches modern dance for Scorpius and the public Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. in the studio at Metro Arts.

See her work this weekend as Scorpius Dance Theatre performs Catwalk, with music by Duran Duran, Friday, July 11 and Saturday, July 12 at Phoenix Theatre. Find tickets here. Starry explains how she started her company below, and you can watch a video of her name her five favorite reasons for living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

My parents moved here when I was 11. I went to Central High School, then studied at the Phoenix School of Ballet before going to California Institute of the Arts to get my degree in dance choreography. I was born in Dover, Delaware. Continue reading

Julianna Curtis: Co-Founder of Scandalesque, aka Lady Fontayne

Julianna Curtis, Lady Fontayne and co-founder of Scandalesque and Vega Arts & Entertainment, photographed at Heritage Square, by Nicki Escudero

Julianna Curtis, aka Lady Fontayne and co-founder of Scandalesque and Vega Arts & Entertainment, photographed at Heritage Square, by Nicki Escudero

Julianna Curtis
twitter.com/Scandalesque

Julianna Curtis knows the power of a confidently sexy move, whether it’s the swing of the hips or a strut down a stage. Seductive dance doesn’t just entertain, it empowers those who do it, invigorating them with poise and assurance that translates off-stage, too. As co-founder and performer Lady Fontayne of Scandalesque, and co-founder of Vega Arts & Entertainment, Curtis has been entertaining Valley burlesque lovers for more than a decade, with highly polished choreographed shows and stunning dance moves at events around town and across the country.

Curtis, a 34-year-old Phoenix resident and massage therapist-by-day, disperses a roster of more than 50 performers to Valley events, with quarterly Scandalesque shows that command huge crowds. Scadalesque also offers classes, including burlesque, pole, aerial and stretch/dance conditioning.

You can catch Curtis in action at a Sexy Sci-Fi show by Scandalesque at Phoenix Center for the Arts Friday, September 26 and Saturday, September 27.

Read on for what inspires this beauty to share her talents with the Valley, and scroll down to watch a video of her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born in Mesa, the seventh child in a family of eight. I went to Gilbert High School and attended Scottsdale Community College. I got into the modern dance company at SCC and two other modern dance companies there after. I have been a vocalist in several bands and started my companies here.

Now that I’m a mommy, and my daughter starts pre-school and my son starts kindergarten this August, I know Phoenix will be a home base for me for years to come. Continue reading

Tracy Perkins: Founder of Strawberry Hedgehog

Tracy Perkins, owner of Strawberry Hedgehog vegan soaps and beauty products, photographed at her headquarters in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Tracy Perkins, owner of Strawberry Hedgehog vegan soaps and beauty products, photographed at her headquarters in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Tracy Perkins
facebook.com/StrawberryHedgehog

Tracy Perkins was sick — literally — of the beauty products she was used to. The longtime vegetarian-turned-vegan turned her frustration for animal testing and health issues caused by mainstream brands into creating her own soaps in 2003. After popular demand for her soaps from friends and family, she launched her business Strawberry Hedgehog in 2007, while balancing life as an adjunct geology professor.

The 32-year-old Phoenix resident has seen her business take off, now selling her products around the world and in Whole Foods across Arizona. She’s still an adjunct professor at Phoenix College but is looking to expand her business from a one-woman show to a bigger operation. Read about some of her products here, and meet her for a distilling workshop Thursday, July 17, from 6-9 p.m. at her Phoenix headquarters.

Learn how she crafts her handmade wares below, and keep scrolling to watch her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was a Navy brat, and my dad got stationed in Yuma around ’90. I came up to Phoenix to go to ASU in ’99. I got my undergrad degree in women’s studies and religious studies, and my Master’s is in geological science.

I was born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, then lived in Key West, Florida before moving here. Continue reading

Steve Weiss: Founder of No Festival Required

Steve Weiss
facebook.com/NoFestivalRequired

Some of the best films shown in the Valley come courtesy of Steve Weiss, whose No Festival Required film showings have brought cutting-edge and impactful independent movies to art galleries and theaters across the Valley since 2002. The 58-year-old Phoenix resident is a photographer who also worked professionally in the film world, and started NFR when he saw a need for high-quality film showings. Now, he’s the resident programmer at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts and is working on series at Phoenix Center for the Arts.

This week, you can catch two of his events. The first, Thursday, June 19, starts at 7:30 p.m. at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts and includes two films about American suburban living, Gimmie Green and Wagonmasters. Then, Sunday, June 22 at 1:30 p.m., he shows Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense at Phoenix Center for the Arts.

Read on for where his passion for film comes from, and keep scrolling to hear him name five of his favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born and raised here. My parents came here in the late ‘40s when my father became the first full-time dentist at the Arizona State Prison in Florence. My parents were initially interested in Arizona and moved from New Jersey to come here.

I went to Camelback High School and got a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from ASU. Other than living in Phoenix and attending ASU, I went to San Francisco Art Institute for a year and then returned there after I got out of ASU in 1978 for a total of three months. I’ve been back here ever since. Continue reading

Steph Carrico: Co-Owner of The Trunk Space

Steph Carrico, co-owner of The Trunk Space in Phoenix, photographed at The Trunk Space, by Nicki Escudero

Steph Carrico, co-owner of The Trunk Space in Phoenix, photographed at The Trunk Space, by Nicki Escudero

Steph Carrico
twitter.com/TheTrunkSpace

The Trunk Space has hosted rowdy punk shows, moving poetry readings, sexy burlesque, and life-drawing sessions. For the past 10 years, it’s been a haven for all ages to come express themselves through art and music, featuring monthly art exhibits, touring and local bands and sideshow acts that inject a quirky feel into the Downtown Phoenix Grand Avenue space.

Thank Steph Carrico, who along with co-owner JRC, strives to cultivate a diverse line-up of entertaining acts. The 38-year-old Phoenix resident is a photography and 2D/3D design teacher at Metropolitan Arts Institute and a freelance photographer when she’s not running the space.

Get excited for new Trunk Space developments. The venue, which also features an artist-made gift shop and vintage photo booth, is getting an air conditioning unit this summer, and Carrico and JRC plan to expand their coffee bar hours to all day by summer, too. Carrico talked about her motivation for running the space, and keep reading to see a video of her talk about her favorite reasons for living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

My parents brought me to Arizona when I was 9. My dad was a contractor, and we were living in northern Utah where it’s snowy. There’s no snow here, so they decided to move here because it was safer for him to work year-round.

I was born in Salt Lake City. Here, I went to Coronado High School and graduated Arizona State University with a degree in fine art photography. Continue reading