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.

Rigel Bitterman |  Entrepreneur, Husband & Father

I had a unique upbringing – I grew up on a 60ft wooden brigantine sailboat (looked like a big pirate ship). My parents were hippie (for lack of a better word) sailors who bought the boat as our first home when I was a toddler & planned to home school my little sister & I while sailing around the world together as a family. My sister & I quickly made friends & grew roots in San Diego, so my parents decided against uprooting us & instead we went to San Diego public schools, played team sports, participated in extracurricular activities, etc etc but lived on our boat, docked in Mission Bay Marina until I was 12 years old. My parents are the best people I know & they created the ultimate childhood for my sister & I – it was incredibly happy & wholesome & full. We never had money but we also never wanted any more than what we had or felt like anything was missing. Read more>>

Natalia De la Motta | Esthetician & Brow Artist

I was born and raised in Lima, Peru. My dad is a business man and my mother was the general accountant for the largest construction, real estate company in Peru. Growing up with working parents as role models, I was taught to be independent, set high standards in personal life and never give up on my dreams. I started traveling at a young age and had the opportunity to visit many countries, learn different cultures and meet interesting people along the road. I think when you travel, you see the world through another perspective and use the experience to grow as a person, find purpose and gain confidence. Read more>>

Robert Smith | Director and Reentry Expert

Robert Smith was destined to work in the field of Prison Reentry. From an early age he began going in and out of Juvenile Detention, County Jail and graduating to State Prison. Growing up in severe poverty in a violent home fueled by alcoholism and drug addiction making the transition into criminal activity wasn’t a huge leap. Robert worked in a variety of jobs and industries while incarcerated and even reached the highest honor of Trustee. March 6th of 2000 he walked out of prison with his GED and less than two hundred dollars in gate money. While he was incarcerated he began mentoring other inmates for a life beyond prison as a GED tutor and reentry planning advisor. Noticing the revolving door, he was truly worried if there was any hope for him to succeed on the outside or whether he’d be just another recidivism statistic. “All I kept hearing was – “I couldn’t find a job” or “I couldn’t find a place to live”. Read more>>

Kristi & Stacey | Hair & Makeup Artists

We are ironically both from Ventura County but we met in San Diego after starting our own individual beauty businesses. Kristi: I have an early upbringing working behind the scenes in beauty pageants. My parents ran the California Gold Coast Beauty Pageants that were held statewide and featured on the hit show Toddlers and Tiaras. I was born into beauty and was lucky to take the reigns from my experience to create my own business as a makeup artist. Stacey: I grew up in dance and performing arts. This community showed me the value of discipline, creativity and teamwork. Hair and makeup go hand in hand with performance arts so styling was naturally a part of my life. It was always my future plan and I’m so grateful to be doing it. Read more>>