Jennifer Boonlorn: Founder of Soul Carrier

Jennifer Boonlorn, founder of Soul Carrier handbags and accessories, photographed at Sip Coffee and Beer House in Scottsdale, holding one of her products, by Nicki Escudero

Jennifer Boonlorn, founder of Soul Carrier handbags and accessories, photographed at Sip Coffee and Beer House in Scottsdale, holding one of her products, by Nicki Escudero

Jennifer Boonlorn
www.SoulCarrier.com

A tragedy inspired Jennifer Boonlorn to pursue her true passion: fashion. After losing both her parents in a car accident she was also in, Boonlorn has created Soul Carrier, a line of handbags and accessories in upliftingly named collections, such as her upcoming Conscious Intentions collection. Items from that collection will be available exclusively through a Kickstarter campaign this month — check the Facebook page for details — while current offerings are found at www.soulcarrier.com and at Chestnut Fine Foods and Provisions in Phoenix.

Learn more about the 36-year-old Phoenix resident’s goals with Soul Carrier, and keep reading to hear Boonlorn name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born and raised here and was home-schooled before studying marketing at ASU. I spent four years in New York City going to fashion school for design and marketing at Parsons The New School for Design. I interned for Oscar de la Renta, got to go to Marc Jacob’s Christmas party, Kate Spade and Tory Burch spoke to our class — it was a wonderful experience.

It was really my little niece who was born who brought me back to Phoenix. I loved New York, but I really love the sunshine and having a car, and was craving home. Continue reading

Pavle Milic: Co-Owner of FnB, Founder of Los Milics Wine

Pavle Milic, co-owner of FnB, Bodega Market and Arizona Wine Merchants, photographed in front of his Los Milics wine label at Arizona Wine Merchants in Bodega Market, by Nicki Escudero

Pavle Milic, co-owner of FnB, Bodega Market and Arizona Wine Merchants, photographed in front of his Los Milics wine label at Arizona Wine Merchants in Bodega Market, by Nicki Escudero

Pavle Milic
twitter.com/FnBAZ

Pavle Milic has been a fervent force in the Valley’s dining scene, with more than 25 years of experience in Arizona’s restaurant industry. The Colombia-born, 42-year-old Chandler resident has worked at Phoenix’s Racho Pinot, Cowboy Ciao and Royal Palms, as well as restaurants in New York City and Napa Valley. He now co-owns FnB restaurant in Scottsdale, as well as next-door Bodega Market and Arizona Wine Merchants. He has his own wine label, Los Milics, and hosts brunches on Rabbit Island with Desert Splash Adventures.

You can hear Milic on the online radio station he founded, MyAzNowRadio.com, where he interviews notable professionals in the Valley. Read more to learn how Milic became a formidable player in Arizona dining, and keep reading to watch a video of Milic naming his top five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was 15 when I came to Arizona. My stepdad became partners with Franco Fazzouli, who owns Franco’s Italian Café in Scottsdale. We moved here in 1987 to open up Franco’s Trattoria in Scottsdale. I went to Saguaro High School and Scottsdale Community College, and got a degree from the Academy of Broadcasting in Phoenix in communications and broadcasting.

My dad defected communist Yugoslavia in 1962 and wound up in Colombia, where he met my mom, and I was born. We moved to Queens, New York when I was 11 because my mom wanted to live here. 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

Taso Tirkas: Co-Owner of Salut, Co-Founder of Ufficient

Taso Tirkas, co-owner of Salut and co-founder of Ufficient, photographed at Salut, by Nicki Escudero

Taso Tirkas, co-owner of Salut and co-founder of Ufficient, photographed at Salut, by Nicki Escudero

Taso Tirkas
twitter.com/SalutKitchenBar

Walk into Salut Kitchen Bar in Tempe, and you’ll soon encounter Taso Tirkas. The 33-year-old Tempe resident from Cypress co-owns the restaurant, and is constantly seen milling about the space chatting up diners and drinkers and charming them with his enthusiasm and worldliness. The spot has quickly become a Tempe stand-out since its opening last year for good reason — the menu blends cuisines into tasty handcrafted offerings, the beer and wine selection is plentiful, with more than 100 wines offered, and the atmosphere is both relaxed and classy.

While Tirkas is thrilled with the success of Salut, he’s also working on a new venture, a mobile application called Ufficient, which puts users directly in touch with a variety of service providers and allows users to vet them before hiring by perusing reviews and making sure they’re appropriate for the job. The app is currently in beta testing, and Tirkas is confident it will also be a hit.

Read on for how he’s created his businesses, and check out a video of him talking about his favorite reasons for living in the Valley below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I came here to go to ASU for business and marketing when I was 22. I’m from the island of Cyprus, a small island close to the Middle East on the Mediterranean Sea, close to Greece, Turkey and Egypt.

I came here because my brother, cousin and uncle were at ASU. I was choosing between London and ASU for college and had never been to the States. I was at an American college over in Cyprus, the University of Indianapolis, so I was able to transfer all my credits. I had been to London before and didn’t want to go there, because it’s very moody weather. Continue reading

Adeel Yang: Co-Founder of Picmonic

Adeel Yang, co-founder of Picmonic, photographed at his office in Tempe by Nicki Escudero

Adeel Yang, co-founder of Picmonic, photographed at his office in Tempe by Nicki Escudero

Adeel Yang
twitter.com/AdeelYang

Like most med school students, Adeel Yang and Ron Robertson found it difficult to remember everything they needed to know for their University of Arizona studies. Instead of cramming for exams simply by memorizing through repetition, the friends created colorful, visual stories – pictorial mnemonics – to help them learn.

Their method was so effective, the duo took a leave of absence to found Picmonic, a now-16-person company that’s made $1 million in revenue in the past year. With Picmonic going strong, Yang, a 27-year-old Chandler resident, is back at U of A this semester to finish up med school before coming back to focus on Picmonic. He talked about what it’s been like to start such a successful business so quickly, as well as named his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley, below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I grew up in Taiwan, and when I was 14, I came to the States by myself, attending high school at Glendale, California.. It was tough at first because I didn’t speak English, but I stayed there for a year, and then my mom joined me.

We moved to Arizona when I was 15, and I went to Chandler High School. I have Bachelor’s degrees in economics and molecular and cellular biology from University of Arizona, and I’m currently in between my third and fourth year of medical school at University of Arizona. I’ll start my rotations in January and have about seven months of school left. Continue reading

Eric Braverman: Founder of Heavy Metal Television

Eric Braverman, founder of Heavy Metal Television, photographed at Asylum Records in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Eric Braverman, founder of Heavy Metal Television, photographed at Asylum Records in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Eric Braverman
twitter.com/heavymetaltv

Eric Braverman is one of heavy metal’s self-proclaimed biggest fans. The 48-year-old Phoenix resident has done everything imaginable in the heavy metal world – he’s toured with famous musicians (Flotsam and Jetsam), shot band documentaries (including the Metallica fan film Metallimania), and hosted radio shows playing metal music. Now, he’s created, he says, the first-ever Internet music television channel, HeavyMetalTelevision.com.

The site is a 24-hour-a-day display of heavy metal music videos spanning the past 40 years, with a crew of about a dozen VJs at the helm of the channel. More than 200,000 unique IP addresses have logged on to the channel since it launched in October 2012, and Braverman says he may extend the constant streaming idea to other types of content.

The Heavy Metal Television crew is heading to their first music trade show, hosted by the National Association of Music Merchants, in Anaheim, Calif. this month. Keep reading to learn more about Braverman’s colored past in the world of heavy metal, as well as to hear him say five reasons why he loves living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

My parents brought me to Arizona in an airplane when I was 4 years old from Buffalo, New York. I went to Agua Fria High School and University of Arizona. Continue reading

Steve LeVine: CEO of Steve LeVine Entertainment

Steve Levine, CEO of Steve LeVine Entertainment, photographed at his office in Scottsdale by Nicki Escudero

Steve Levine, CEO of Steve LeVine Entertainment, photographed at his office in Scottsdale by Nicki Escudero

Steve LeVine
twitter.com/SteveLeVineEnt

If you’ve been to a Valley nightclub in the past six years, you’ve probably seen some of Steve LeVine’s work. The 39-year-old Scottsdale resident and Los Angeles native is the self-titled “Chief Entertainment Officer” of Steve LeVine Entertainment, which organizes some of the Valley’s biggest nightlife shindigs, as well as concerts and sports-related events. He’s been working in the entertainment industry since he was only 14 years old, when he started as a DJ for his friends’ parties before moving into Greek life parties and starting his own DJ company. Now, Steve LeVine Entertainment, launched in 2007, employees 35 full-time staff members and more than 70 independent contractors, organizing parties around the Southwest.

LeVine is also an investor in Maya Day & NightClub, which hosts Audien for tomorrow, December 31’s New Year’s Eve party. He’s also an investor in restaurant Majerle’s. Keep reading for how he started his business, which also signed singers Kelley James and Scott Keo and does public relations for clients such as fitness studio Amenzone. Plus, scroll down to hear five reasons why he loves living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I liked baseball and used to come to Arizona with my family all the time for spring training. I came to visit Arizona State (University) and fell in love with the place. I originally wanted to go to school to be an architect, and ASU’s school of architecture was top-rated and pretty amazing.

I ended up choosing a whole different path. I got into mass communications quickly and was in the very first class to get a Bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. Continue reading

Nicholas Polando: Designer for State Forty Eight

Nicholas Polando, designer for local T-shirt line State Forty Eight, photographed in downtown Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Nicholas Polando, designer for local T-shirt line State Forty Eight, photographed in downtown Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Nicholas Polando
twitter.com/StateFortyEight

When it comes to T-shirts showing off Arizona pride, cartoon cacti aren’t the only way to go. A new locally printed line, State Forty Eight, sets out to impact the Arizona fashion scene in a big way with chic, eye-catching, stylish designs showing off state pride. The line includes lightweight hoodies perfect for Valley winters, as well as women’s, men’s and children’s shirts and accessories. Designer Nicholas Polando started State Forty Eight with his brother Stephen Polando and their friend Mike Spangenberg, and it launched this past March. The 25-year-old Tempe resident talked about the future for the line, with Phoenix Suns and Coyotes themes expected to launch by early next year. Keep scrolling to hear Nicholas talk about his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I moved here when I was 3 from Urbana, Ohio with my parents. I grew up and lived in Chandler and went to Chandler High School and Scottsdale Community College. Continue reading

German Osio: Owner of Sumo Maya, Central Bistro

German Osio, owner of Local Bistro, Central Bistro and Sumo Maya, photographed at his office in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

German Osio, owner of Local Bistro, Central Bistro and Sumo Maya, photographed at his office in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

German Osio
twitter.com/CentralBistroAZ

German Osio is already responsible for some popular names in the Valley dining scene, Local Bistro and Central Bistro. Early next year, the 32-year-old Scottsdale resident will bring a very innovative concept, an Asian/Mexican fusion spot, to the Valley: Scottsdale’s Sumo Maya. The trained chef collaborated on his restaurants’ menus with his partners and executive chefs, Andrea Volpi of Local Bistro and Central Bistro, and Herb Wilson of Sumo Maya.

When he’s not running his Valley restaurants, Osio owns a commercial real estate company in his native Mexico City. Read on for how this restaurant mogul got his start, and for what diners can expect from Sumo Maya.

What brought you to Arizona?

Weather, family and business opportunities. I was born in Mexico City and moved to Connecticut when I was 6 years old, then went to Les Roches university in Switzerland and majored in hotel business administration and got a culinary degree. I pursued that for about five and a half years before moving to Texas and lived in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio for about six years and opened four restaurants.

My business partner ended up selling the restaurants, so I decided to move to Phoenix. I was always attracted to Arizona because of the quality of life, the kindness of the people, the cleanliness of the city, and the weather. It was also a market I knew indirectly because my family always had a winter home here. I moved here in 2010.

Continue reading

Taryn Liberman: Fashion Designer, Owner of Moderndrift Clotherie

Taryn Liberman, fashion designer and owner of Moderndrift Clotherie, photographed at The House in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Taryn Liberman, fashion designer and owner of Moderndrift Clotherie, photographed at The House in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Taryn Liberman
moderndriftclotherie.com

Taryn Liberman had no fashion design experience, but after an inspiring trip to Hawaii and within only about six months, she designed and produced her own line of resort and beachwear. The brand, Moderndrift Clotherie, is characterized by light and flowy fabrics and bold prints and includes tops, a dress and shorts. The 28-year-old Scottsdale resident launched the line in June and plans on an official launch party this December, besides bringing it to farmers markets and boutiques in addition to having her current e-commerce and Etsy business. She talked about where her drive comes from and how she started her line, as well as why she’s happy she lives in Arizona, below.

What brought you to Arizona?

My current company, Republic Services, brought me here from Los Angeles. I’m a Sales Supervisor. I was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, went to college at the University of Central Florida and got a degree in marketing, then moved to Orange County and Santa Monica with my company. I came to Tucson, then came to Phoenix and have been here for a year. Continue reading