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.

Paola Incisa di Camerana | Founder, Dolce Amore Rings by Paola Incisa di Camerana

My father was from Italy and my mother, Brazil. I was born in Rio de Janeiro (Cidade Maravilhosa = Marvelous City), while my father was posted as an Italian diplomat. The second of four sisters, I’m an Italian immigrant. My father’s job gave us the opportunity to live in Rio, London, Caracas, Buenos Aires and Rome, our home base. Living in different parts of the world taught me a lot about unique cultures and adapting to new ways of doing things. Having to learn the local languages to make friends has been a big advantage in everything I do today. When you’re fluent in 5 languages (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, French and English) you become the official family interpreter! My upbringing has fueled my curiosity and passion to continue to learn and educate myself. Read more>>

Lorna Harkins | Drapery Workroom CEO

My name is Lorna, I’m from London UK. My Grandmother heavily influenced who I am today, I’m not sure how that works that so many of us are influenced by a grandparent, but mine was fabulous. She taught me to crochet aged 9, and although I grew up wanted to become a teacher, I drifted quite comfortably into Curtain Design and Dressmaking in the UK. I completed a City and Guilds course in Curtain Design, and was so taken with my new found skills that I decided to open a small shop in Surrey. With my skills I was able to purchase a drapery business here in the USA, and moved to San Diego in 2015. Loving every minute of my exceptional position, going in and out of the most beautiful homes I’ve seen. Read more>>

Brettina Robinson | Bahamian Jazz/World Music Recording Artist

I’m originally from The Bahamas, Nassau to be exact. I come from a very music infused lineage. My grandmother had ten kids, so my grandfather wasted no time honing their voices and musical skills. The women were known as The Upsetters and my Uncle Theo was the self taught pianist, who accompanied them with Classical, Rhythm and Blues, Jazz and Rock. He later on went on to form the Funk group T-Connection, who was signed to Capital Records. They are considered to be Bahamian Treasures. My mother is a Traditional Gospel Singer with reminiscence of Mahelia Jackson. She has supported Aids Ministries and Homeless Centers. I also grew up listening to my father practice his saxophone, as neighboring kids and I played and climbed fruit trees in the backyard. When I could no longer hear the music I knew that I had roamed too far. Read more>>

Ayla Peña | Calligrapher & Stationery Designer

I was born in the Philippines, but now based on the Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I studied the fine arts and advertising design in a university in the Philippines, and furthered my education with an intensive design program when we moved to Canada. I’ve always loved being creative and working with my hands. My dad used to teach photography, typography, and advertising design, so I remember being curious with the lessons and creative homework he’d assign to his students. I never thought of graphic design as a career path until I came across the design reference books my dad owned. I’ve always been in awe with other designers’ styles and creativity. Read more>>

Yazmen Nuño | Founder / Creator for Gains Gang Apparel & WNBF Pro Figure Athlete

I was born and raised here in San Diego, California – brought up by a single mom into a family of four with very limited financial resources. With my mother working multiple jobs and devoting her time to bettering the lives of my brothers and I the best she could, there unfortunately lacked a type of structure and discipline at home that we always needed. As a way to keep myself occupied and out of trouble I decided to divide my energy between multiple sports which I eventually excelled in. Growing up, I saw a lot of what NOT to do both from peers and family – which impacted my mindset in the most positive of ways. Through these experiences and some mistakes made while growing up, I’ve always kept my faith high against all odds and told myself that I would do better and be the influence my siblings and I never had. Read more>>

Blaine Tiongson

I was born and raised in San Diego, which I genuinely, and maybe biasedly, believe is America’s Finest City! I was fortunate to grow up on 3 acres with multiple ponds, creeks and a beautiful variety of plants, trees, and flowers. As a child, I spent countless hours playing outside, discovering nature, and helping my parents with their gardens. Through gardening and my parent’s guidance, I learned the importance of patience, thoughtfulness, hard work and not being afraid to get your hands dirty! I can honestly say that nature has been the best teacher and has largely impacted who I am today. Read more>>