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.

Dmitri Zurita | Artist, Lecturer & Director

I am a progeny of the border; I formed an identity of antinomy and interstice tied intrinsically to the geospatial politics around this un-imaginary line, la frontera. I was born in San Diego to mixed parents, but after their divorce I spent most of my time in Tijuana—the third nation as some call it, reinforcing its complex history—a city whose physical and psycho-topographies are shaped by an entangled relationship with its neighbor to the north and the mirrored projections to the rest of Mexico. I’ve learned to navigate both worlds, the language of code-switch and camouflage; to look from the center and the periphery. Read more>>

Sharon Louise Barnes | Artist

I’m a native California who grew up in South Los Angeles. The cultural, social and political environment of my childhood and youth, formed my worldview through experiences that directly influence the art work I create. I lived not far from where the Watts riots erupted and where the singer Sam Cooke was killed. I can remember house parties, barbecue being cooked in front of churches, and my parents discussing Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. When I entered college, I learned from Samella Lewis, Quincy Troupe and other cultural icons. This background shaped my thinking and my art. Read more>>

Janet Pitcher | Artist & Owner

I grew up in a very artistic family. At a young age I did not understand that we didn’t have a lot of money, because our home was filled with art. My grandmother was a ceramicist and my father a painter, sculptor, and lapidary artist, my mother a seamstress and quilter. At a young age I created clothing for troll dolls, then Barbies, and was creating clothing for myself by middle school. While in high school I was interested in fashion design as a career, I was also quite the salesperson, and very interested in marketing. Studying in college for a degree in business/marketing with a concentration in fashion merchandising and design led me to a career in retail management and buying. Read more>>

Czarina Salido | Chief Executive Officer & Founder

I am Mexican American. My background is mostly a mix of Indigenous and European ancestry. My family was considered low income. Grandpa had a small pension from when he fought in the Mexican Revolution at the age of 14. Mom was the only one working and had to support not only herself, but also my brother and me, her eldest sister, and her mother and father. Sometimes I wake up and still can’t believe that I live in San Diego. It’s taken a long time to get here. Growing up in the desert with extreme heat and a twenty-degree difference from day to night, you think you’ve grown thick skin: but it’s more of an awareness not to get your thin epidermis too close to a cholla cactus. Read more>>

Gavin Fleming | Hotel Manager & CEO

I was born and raised in Northern California. My mother worked for restaurants her entire life, and not having much money for a sitter back in the day, she would bring my older brother and I to work with her and help out. This is where I give all my experience credit to! This will make anyone grow into a mature individual. Being forced into awkward situations, people demanding, then being super nice all in the same dining. Really shows one how to adapt to certain situations and at the same time, improve your communication skills. I’ve learned to talk with many types of walks of life. I also played team sports my entire life, multiple sports and teams at once. Read more>>

Erik Arreaga | San Diego Freelance Illustrator

I’m born and raised here in San Diego California. I love my city, San Diego is one of the greatest cities I’ve ever known. Being a comic book illustrator it’s great to live in the city that houses one of the biggest and greatest Comic Cons in the world. San Diego Comic-Con has had the greatest and biggest impact on my career. Read more>>