There are so many factors that affect how our lives turn out, but one of the most interesting is how our backgrounds give us unique strengths and perspectives that affect who we are as adults. We asked rising stars from the community to tell us about their background and upbringing and how they feel it’s impacted who they are today.

Ruben Aguilar | Artist

I was born in San Francisco California and moved around a lot growing up in the Bay Area. When I was five years old, my mother took me to a Pawn Shop in SF, right next to a local record shop. I decided to explore it and right when I walked in, I heard Dead Kennedys Kill The Poor play. I never heard anything like this in my life. My parents were into Classic Rock, so hearing Punk Rock for the first time, especially at a very young age took me away. Read more>>

Andrea Saurer | IFBB Professional Bodybuilder

I’m from a small town in Massachusetts. We were poor and my parents fought their way to a divorce. From the age of four, I remember the desire to become a professional athlete in order to get out of my current situation of living in a trailer on a farm. The heating furnace produced so much black soot, the few stuffed animals I had were covered! I couldn’t play with them because my mom had to wash the black residue off. There was nothing to be happy about except the animals that provided some comfort. Read more>>

Cristina Garcia | Mom Content Creator

My name is Cristina Garcia and I was born, raised and still reside in South Los Angeles. Growing up as a first generation Latina in South LA, early on in life I had to learn that life is what we make of it. I come from a working class family that constantly drilled into me that hard work and education are the key to success. Watching the struggles of poverty in my community and my own parents crossing the border and coming to the United States and having to navigate this new world made me resilient and created this fire within me to be the change. Read more>>

Serena Nguyen | Food & Social Mediaholic

Born and raised in the Bay Area (specifically South Bay) and so grateful to have grown up in a diverse and loving city. I come from a family that always paved their career paths by being entrepreneurs. My mother, aunts, and uncles have owned restaurants throughout the past 20 years and have inspired me to do something similar. Read more>>

Yuliya Gabriella | Artist & Creative director

I was born and grew up in a small town in Kazakhstan. My parents were not giving me pocket money, instead, they were giving me opportunity to work and earn my allowance since I was about 12 years old. My father and my grandmother taught me how to be organized and plan my day. I was spending summers and my grandparents’ country house and I remember how every night my grandmother was asking me to make a plan for the next day, which included studying, helping her with farming work, Read more>>

Simone Feroci | Bass player

I was born and raised in Parma, Italy. Since even at a young age I’ve always shown an interest in music, my mum had me join the city’s choir. I’ve done some cool things with them (like singing at Pavarotti & friends 1998), then rock’n roll happened and amongst other bands I discovered Red Hot Chili Peppers: I fell in love with Flea’s bass lines so much that at the age of 12 I decided I’d start playing bass, and to this day I never stopped, I guess! From there to touring Europe, moving to London (Uk) and finally to the States. Read more>>

Sarah Rewell | Artist, Entrepreneur, Humanitarian

Im from a small town in the south is Brazil. I lived there for the first 17 years of my life, then shortly before turning 18 I moved to California, and started a life here. In the past 8 years so much has changed in my life. As well as I’ve changed In endless ways. My younger self dwelled in lots of insecurities, lots of uncertainties, lots of overwhelm. That impacted who I am today, Read more>>

Samantha Bass | Wellness Center Owner- Massage Therapist

I’m originally from the south. I was born in Austin, raised in Houston and moved to a small town in the Carolina’s as a preteen. Growing up in the south was definitely a unique experience. I was raised saying “yes ma’am, no sir, please, thank you and y’all”. I was raised primarily by a single mother. She is the strongest person I know and my biggest cheerleader. She always treated my brother and I with respect and kindness. She instilled in us the importance of making people feel, seen, valued and heard. She also demonstrated the importance of community and community service. Read more>>

Miroslav Kostic | Product Designer

I grew up in the city of Novi Sad, Serbia. In one of the town’s worst and most hostile neighborhoods, Detelinara (Cloverfield). During the era of Slobodan Milosevic as a president. This means that I have also lived through the worst era in the history of this country: the 90s, which ended with the cherry on top NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999. Read more>>

Sean Loeffler | Business owner, coach, mentor, and investor.

I’m originally from Hermosa Beach California. My father was an LAPD helicopter cop after being a street cop for two decades. My mother was a Catholic school secretary. And I had a twin sister name Kim. I believe that growing up in Los Angeles had a giant impact on myself because I got to see true entrepreneurship. Being born in 1982 and growing up after Reaganomics really showed me what a self-made person could do with a little bit of motivation. People were investing when I grew up, people were starting their own companies, and people were thriving in the markets of the early 90s. Read more>>

Mary Iris | permanent makeup artist

I was born and raised in San Diego. When I was 18 I started working as a medical assistant administering shots and phlebotomy. Growing up in a Filipino family, my mother encouraged me to work in healthcare. So I attended Cal Poly Pomona and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nutritional science. Thereafter, I decided to stay and live in Los Angeles. But ever since I was young I was very interested in beauty and skincare. I used to read so many glamour magazines like Seventeen magazine, J-14, and teen vogue. Read more>>

Ashley Calloway | Facialist & Holistic Health Practitioner

I was born in Chicago Illinois and moved to San Diego at the age of 2 after loosing my father to violence. Watching my mom take care of 3 children all while attending SDSU and working 3 jobs motivated me to be as resilient as her.. Seeing her dedication, hard work, independence and strength was inspirational. I learned the value of sacrifice at a very young age. Read more>>