Through our work we have had the good fortune of seeing firsthand how success comes in every shape, size, color, faith, and orientation. More importantly we’ve learned that success is often the result of people embracing their unique backgrounds and so we’ve asked the community to tell us about their background and how it has impacted where they are today.

Dana Patel | Photographer

I was born and raised in San Diego, California however after 23 years, I moved to Lusaka, Zambia. I attended a performing arts elementary school and it really taught me to value art and creativity at a young age. As I grew up, I was always drawn to creative outlets such as drawing, painting, dance and music. At the age of 15, I gathered what little savings I had and purchased my very first camera. It came everywhere with me – family trips, outings with my friends, and just in my daily life. I initially wanted to pursue an artistic career however the reality of life pushed me to study Public Health at the University of California, Irvine. Read more>>

Vanessa Shields | Travel Writer & Content Creator

I was born and raised in San Diego in the North County area up until I went off to college at Cal Poly SLO on California’s Central Coast. Growing up near the beach and taking yearly camping trips throughout California I was introduced to adventure whether it was hiking, swimming, fishing, or mountain bike riding. When I was 13, I spent three months living on the island of Oahu in Hawaii with family and instantly felt right at home snorkeling, surfing, and exploring the island as a local. The following summer I spent four months living with family in Germany with the opportunity to travel to seven countries that summer. Read more>>

Grant Gilmore | Founder / Editor-in-Chief of EDM Identity

I was born in San Diego and I’ve lived here my entire life. My parents have always been very supportive of me in whatever I’ve done or tried to do – from playing sports and competing in laser tag to the years I spent in school and inevitably my passion for music and festivals. Their support, and the support from the rest of my family, really helped push me to always do the best that I could in anything I’ve done. They’ve been with me through the ups and downs of my life and I can’t thank them enough for that. Read more>>

Jacklord Tomas | Professional Artist & Designer

I was born and raised in Honolulu, and discovered at an early age that I was a visual person because of growing up in a dynamic environment. I came to Los Angeles to study architecture and then onto industrial design. The urban architecture and landscape was so fascinating of Los Angeles because it was so different from Honolulu that I could not resist painting. One of my first paintings that I completed was a painting titled, “L.A. River,” a painting of the original 6th street bridge in Los Angeles before it’s demolition and reconstruction. I was encouraged to spend a great deal of time on that painting, which proved to be my breakthrough painting as far as style and application. Read more>>

Danica Ramirez | Veteran and Owner of Thrive & Thread Boutique

I was born and raised in California’s Central Coast and although I was unaware of it as a child, the desire to start my own business was strong in my heart from an early age. I was very creative and loved making things, which I would end up trying to sell. I worked retail out of high school and at the age of 20 decided to join the Navy, serving an enlistment in San Diego. Retail stuck with me as I ended up working in supply aboard the USS Peleliu; assisting in bringing supplies on board for the ship’s store and creating window displays. Read more>>

Chelsea Naylor | Indigenous Mother & Artist

I am from a small rural area in the Central Valley foothills. I grew up in a multi generational home with my grandma, parents and sisters. We lived in Grandmas house till our house was built in the early 2000’s. Which is right next door to Grandma on the family property. I grew up having both my parents work with the Forest Service where they had very successful careers. With their hard work and determination we had a comfortable childhood. Having only daughters, my dad taught and raised us just as boys. Read more>>