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Inspiring Stories from Brookline, Brighton & Allston

The heart of our mission at the BostonVoyager is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of the Boston’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool. Check out the rising stars from Brookline, Brighton, Allston and surrounding areas below.

David Agnew

My interest in carpentry goes back as far as I can remember. As a child, I loved using a hammer and building small projects in the garage. I attended Blue Hills Technical High School in Canton and then went to work for contractors in the Boston and Cape Code areas where I learned the ins and outs of project management, construction site happenings, and refined my carpentry skills. In 2004, I branched out on my own and started doing small projects – window and door replacement, and decks and then quickly moved on to small additions and renovations. I have since moved on to larger home renovations. Read more>>

Michael Tilton

I moved from Northern NH, Berlin NH to Natick in 1977. I had a management degree and answered a management training ad for a carpet cleaning company in Wellesley. I worked as a Technician for them for 2.5 yrs. Then I was hired by a Framingham Carpet Cleaning Company and became the manager of the operation with up to 8-10 technicians under my command. In 1982, I began my company and 40 yrs. in the business here I am today the number one ranked carpet cleaning company in the Greater Boston area on Angie’s list along with thousands of repeat customers. Read more>>

Pam Pandey

When my mom was a child she used to dream of creating recipes. When she grew up she started creating amazing Indian cuisine for her friends and family. We wanted to find a way to share my mom’s passion for cooking. The idea of the cookbook came to light. And with my brothers help we put the cookbook together. I contacted a wonderful Manager at Williams-Sonoma and explained to her my mom’s passion for cooking. This led to my mom and I doing promotions of her cooking at the stores. As a family, we noticed that her spice blend was authentic and amazing. This led to my brothers and I packaging my mom’s spice blend which we currently promote at Williams-Sonoma. Read more>>

Cathy Deale

I moved to Boston from South Africa in 1997 with my husband and two children for my husband’s business. I’ve always loved beautiful embroidered linens and enjoyed browsing gift and linen stores in the Boston area. I couldn’t help thinking how much I’d like to share the embroidered linens made by the talented Zulu women in South Africa with these stores. So on a trip back to South Africa I spoke to a group of these women and asked if they’d like me to see if we could sell their work in the USA. Of course, they were delighted! Read more>>

Masha Sorkin

I moved to Brookline, Massachusetts in 2012 to manage a satellite office for a non-profit agency that I have worked for since 2006. I was working for a wonderful therapy practice in Hingham, Massachusetts part time on top of my full time employment as providing therapy is my main passion. In 2014, I got into a bad car accident and needed to figure out how to work closer to where I lived. I found an amazing and kind woman in Brookline who agreed to let me rent a space hourly while I built up a therapy practice of my own. She was even flexible and didn’t start charging me until I began to incur revenue. Read more>>

Judi Swirbalus and Marissa Lazor

We are two working mothers with very active lifestyles, who have been friends and neighbors for many years. Trying to be more efficient while juggling the needs of work and family, we quickly adopted the fashionable large handbags and totes in order to carry all our essentials and technology. With this came disorganization and chaos in our handbags! We struggled to find cell phones, keys, and sunglasses at the bottom of these cavernous bags. Even with these frustrations, we loved our roomy totes, which led to the idea to design a purse organizer. Our stylish organizer slips inside your handbag or tote and is large enough to accommodate everything a modern woman needs to be efficient. Read more>>


I accompanied a friend to what I thought was a “doctor’s appointment” but turned out to be an energy healing session. I was so intrigued by what I say, I wanted to schedule an appointment. The practitioner was nice enough to give up her lunch break and I had my session that very day. She was able to help me with an ongoing issue that conventional medicine had not been able to help me with. When I got home I immediately started researching energy healing and its effectiveness. The more I researched the more sense it made. Read more>>

Lisa Lentino

My passion is self-actualization. I’m driven to help as many people as possible live their ideal lives – the lives they were innately designed to live rather than one they were programmed to live. Currently, I pursue this mission through three different avenues, each with a larger scope of impact: my private practice as a clinical psychologist, my company Grow Beyond Your Mind and The Coaching Connector, Inc. My philosophy for living your ideal life involves a three phase process: 1) freeing yourself from the programming you may have inherited while growing up; 2) discovering your true self; and 3) learning to program your mind in a constructive way that actually helps you manifest your true purpose. Read more>>

Steve Garson

In 2007, my company was assisting then hot battery company, A123 Systems to improve its global network connectivity to manufacturing plants in China. The process made me aware that most IT professionals did not understand the global wide area networking market adequately enough to make the best decisions for their companies. They were beholden to the sales people for the different global companies that told their prospects what they wanted them to hear, skipping over facts that were truly important, in many cases. Read more>>

Dr. Karen S. Clickner

I had laid out my future through college and then fate intervened when I gave up graduate school in international law and moved to Europe on a whim. Shortly after that I was diagnosed with a serious illness and chose to stay in Europe and treat it naturally. This was the beginning of my realization that our health care system was flawed and has continued to progress in a negative direction in the true care of the entire being. I studied Myofascial Release therapy, medical Herbalism and then Naturopathic Medicine beginning private practice in 1986. Read more>>

Nur Kilic

I wanted to follow my passion of creating the best chocolates. From a young age, I was fascinated with chocolates and baking. At age 12 when I was living in Germany I took a baking class and have been creating confection ever since. At Serenade Chocolatier, we only make confections. First I had to please my parents so I went to college and graduated as a mechanical engineer and worked for GE. My passion was calling me. Serenade Chocolatier was opened 1987. We had 2 stores for 17 years, one was located in South Station in Boston. We closed the South Station store 4 years ago. Read more>>

Stacey Borden

My focus has remained steady although it has been difficult with working a full time job as a Substance Abuse Counselor and trying to establish my organization. The ultimate goal is to have a Residential Reentry Program, migrating from Services to Residential. We are in it’s infancy (grassroots organization), fundraising, corporate sponsorship and learning grant efforts! Supporting and empowering formerly incarcerated women to successfully navigate the complex challenges of reentering their communities. Read more>>

Lauren Johnston

Lauren Johnston, owner and founder of Sew Easy has operated since 1995. For 21 years this business has taught over 17,000 kids how to sew. Beginning in her home with the neighborhood children, she soon realized the value of this “screen-less, 10-finger activity”. Armed with personal expertise, a superb gut instinct, and market research, she opened the doors of Sew Easy for Kids in Needham, MA. Today, Sew Easy for Kids has added a Wellesley, MA and a Naples, FL location. Lauren is a native of Boston, MA educated in business and textiles at Massachusetts Bay Community College and Framingham University. Read more>>

Daniel O’Connor

Many years ago I had a studio in Fort Point. I would paint portraits of the children and pets of people who owned deli’s and restaurants. In exchange, they would feed me the best meals. I worked at a health club so I could shower…. the rest of the time I worked in a huge cold studio in the Revolving Museum. Which was filled with similar tribes folk in a synchronistic mindset. It was bliss. I started showing my collages at Zaftigs and within a year they asked me to be the house artist. Over the years I have sold many paintings and received many commissions from that honor which is very dear to me. Read more>>

Jeff Bonasia

The initial idea for Fuel America came as we were coming out of the financial crisis of 2007-2008. The country was in bad shape and felt the taxing effects of years of US involvement in the wars in the Middle East. There seemed to be a negative feeling in the country. We had an inspiration to help change that mindset – in our own personal way. We felt there was a need for a “New American Coffeehouse”. A place that celebrates this country’s “Can-Do Spirit” and the diverse American “melting pot”. A place for those who share friendships and seek inspiration, who work hard and play hard – who live their lives to the fullest every day. Read more>>

J. Scott Brumit

In 1986 Longwood Opera was created by Needham resident J. Scott Brumit and conductor John Balme to fill a void in New England’s performing arts network. After students graduate from the universities and conservatories in the Boston area, they have the skills necessary to make a career as opera singers, but they lack the opportunity to utilize their talents. Producing opera is a costly undertaking. Most major companies are reluctant to risk using “unseasoned” singers in leading roles. Longwood Opera gives these talented singers a chance to practice their art and to polish their performing skills, so that they may become successful artists. Read more>>

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