Where you grew up and your background can often have surprising effects on our lives and careers. We’ve asked folks from the community to tell us about how their background has affected them.

Jose-Noel Rocha | Co Owner, Marketer, and Designer for J.L. Rocha Collections: Luxury Leather Goods.

I was born in San Diego, California close to my mothers family but far from my fathers in Leon, Guanajuato, México. Regardless of this separation I was raised with consistent exposure to my Mexican cultures, values, and traditions – spending many of my summers in Leon at my grandfathers workshop. This upbringing instilled in me a love for artisanry and heritage while also providing me the opportunity to receive an American education and opportunities. San Diego allowed me to walk the line of a bicultural upbringing that has made me who I am in many ways. Read more>>

David Martin | Photographer for David S. Martin Photography

I was born and spent my formative and early teenage years in Spain, which had a huge impact on who I am today. Yes, the Spain of many beaches surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean and Cantabrian seas. The Spain of Germanic tribes, Visigoth, Iberian and Celtic, Phoenician, Roman, Jewish and Moor influences. The Spain of Inquisition, El Cid, colonial empires, civil war, dictatorship, monarchies, bullfighting and flamenco. Read more>>

Uli Smith | Artist, Muralist, & Public Health Professional

I am a self-taught artist who was born and raised in the Bay Area. I started painting with acrylics as a teenager for fun, and would paint during my free time from school, really any chance I could get. Even as a young child, I have always considered myself to be crafty and artistically inclined. However, I am from a socio-economically disadvantaged household, and because of this, I did not feel as though I could pursue my love for creating and the arts in a professional manner. Read more>>

Abi Mustapha | Artist

I’m originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana. I grew up there and graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Political Science and an emphasis on sustainability. I was brought up in a multiracial and multicultural home. I didn’t realize growing up that I was having an immensely different experience than my peers, as a biracial person operating in primarily white spaces. I didn’t realize that most of my friends didn’t have connections to people oversees or anywhere else in the world. I just didn’t think about it and was probably a bit sheltered from many things until they just couldn’t be hidden anymore. Read more>>

Korissa Silverthorn | Wife, Mom & Candle Maker

Hi! I’m Korissa Silverthorn and I am a native San Diegan. I was born in Escondido and currently live in Ramona with my husband of 15 years, and our 3 kids, 1 puppy, 2 cats, 2 fish and 2 snails. I’ve also lived in Valley Center, Vista, and Poway, so you can see I’ve never ventured too far away from North County. 🙂 I grew up with my mom and dad and siblings. I’m the second of 4 and have 2 brothers and a sister. I lived in Escondido until I was in 4th grade, when we moved to Valley Center. Read more>>

Viviana Castellanos | Small Dog Business Owner

I was born and raised in Chula Vista surrounded by a big loving Mexican family. My upbringing shaped me in so many ways both positive and not so positive. I am the youngest of 4 daughters. Growing up we were expected to follow the rules of our parents, do well in school, and be overall good helpful people. My parents worked hard to provide a comfortable life for us and therefore expected us to excel at anything we did. While I appreciated the expectations placed on me, it did create a fear of failure that I would later have to unlearn. Read more>>

Jeannine Martyanik | Bodyrok Instructor

I am from a small town outside of Raleigh, NC and, while a bustling city now, growing up it was very much a smaller town with big plans to grow. Because not much entertainment was available at the time, you really had to build connections with those around you in order to create your own fun and experiences. It’s the case of “it’s not where you are, but who you’re with.” Sure, we didn’t have much going on around us at the time, but I believe that worked to our advantage as it forced us to focus on our relationships, truly connect, and get creative together when it came time to seek out adventure. Read more>>