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.

Jessie Suitts | Salon Owner/Makeup Artist/Hairstylist

I was born and raised in Boulder by a pack of amazing woman; blood family, foster family, and my friend’s family. The first 16 years of my life were about learning about how to adjust to the uncertainty, unplanned and sometimes not fair events in life. My amazing pack of women in my young life made it very clear, make sure to be an independent strong women and to do whatever you want to do with your life! So thats just what I did and that is who I am today. I’m a strong, independent, minority business owner!! Dreams can come true if you believe. Read more>>

Stephanie Castellanos | Blogger/Photographer

I am from the smallest state in the U.S , Rhode Island . My parents immigrated from Guatemala in the 80s / 90s and decided to call this small state home . Since I can remember my mom has always taken videos or photography of me and my siblings growing up . Younger me hated all the posing and flashes But, now that I am older I’ve taken what my mom has done all 22 years of my life, into a hobby of taking photographs of nature which I love ! I also love traveling and wish I could travel to so many more places in the future so that I can take even more neat photographs. Read more>>

Hank Williams | Director of Awesomness

I was born and raised in Austin Texas, the live music capitol of the world. Growing up in a place that is saturated with amazing music and musicians I’ve always held the musical experience in the highest regard. I knew from a young age that music is one of the strongest bonding agents of society and that sharing music is one of the greatest gifts life can bring. Rocky Mountain Aardvarks are doing our part to impart some of that musical magic onto the next generation, to strengthen the bonds of community and to open a doorway to a life of dancing, jamming and musical expression. Read more>>

Therese Revitte | Master Nutrition Therapist, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®

I’ve lived in the Denver area my whole life. In fact, so did my mom. She grew up on a farm exactly where Pena Blvd and 56th Ave is now, during the 1930s, back when people always grew their own food organically. When I was growing up, my folks had a big vegetable garden every year. I would spend hours sitting in the garden, taking in the warmth and smells and watching all the bugs and critters do their work. We ate differently than a lot of my friends. Most of what we ate was homemade, with lots of variety and whole foods. I developed an interest in a natural way of eating and living. It made sense to me that natural was better than the packaged convenience foods my friends were eating. We had a Vitamin Cottage nearby, and I became a regular visitor there during my teen years. As I moved through life, I always had my own organic food garden whenever I had space. Looking back, I thought I was living a pretty healthy lifestyle, but there were plenty of ways I wasn’t taking care of myself. Read more>>

Amanda Warren | Designer / Bookmaker / Illustrator

I grew up on a wheat farm in Eastern Colorado. When my dad wasn’t working in the fields, he made thing in his wood shop. I’d help him measure, cut, glue and build all kinds of projects both useful and creative. This taught me about precision and attention to detail. I took his advice of “measure twice, cut once” very much to heart! My mom was an art teacher so I was surrounded by all kinds of materials and we always had discussions about art, and went to museums and art shows all the time. While my dad covered all the technical bases, it was my mom who really inspired me how to see and be curious about the world. When it was time to go to college, I knew I wanted to do something in art, but I wasn’t sure what. At the University of Kansas I had an Intro to Design course which I loved and it was there that I discovered it could be a potential career. I found that design satisfied both the creative and analytical sides of my brain. My parents always say that I am a perfect blend of the two of them!. Read more>>