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.

Olga Shmaidenko | Curious Storyteller & Photographer

I was born and raised in Soviet Union’s Ukraine, immigrated to Canada in the 90’s then moved to New York City in my 20’s. I’ve lived third of my life in different countries and cultures. I’ve experienced different societal norms and attitudes toward achievement, failure, perseverance. I was able to feel what it’s like to be an outsider, without the ability to verbalize frustration, hope, happiness and desire. My background, upbringing and immigrant experience taught me to avoid judgement, be open to differences in people, celebrate and lift up those striving to survive and prosper. Read more>>

Felipe Patino | Music Producer

I was born and raised in Lima, Peru. My family moved to the US almost 20 years ago. Playing music at an early age and enjoying listening to records is what drove me into music production. That turned into a passion, and that turned into a business! Read more>>

Shira Brown | Metalsmith & Pediatrician

I was born and raised in Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. I grew up with a family that was always incredibly supportive of my dreams and aspirations and I was made to feel that anything was possible with hard work and determination. From the young age of 5 years old I would wake up early to grab my sketch paper and pencils, and sit with “Captain Bob” on the TV, practicing my drawing. Around the same age I was already carrying around my “Fisher Price” doctor’s kit, proudly checking my dolls and family members with my stethoscope in the backyard. My love of art and natural inclination to “create” never faltered and remained an important part of my childhood and adolescence, but my love for science and desire to pursue a career in medicine became the driving force in my young adulthood. Knowing that I was supported in either direction was a huge gift. Read more>>

Stephanie Kleewein | Communications Specialist, Copy Editor & Writer

I am from Colorado—born and raised in Morrison. We lived near Bandimere Speedway and Red Rocks, so even now, hearing the jet cars in the distance evokes nostalgic thoughts. I grew up with seven siblings and at one point shared a room with three sisters. We learned to work as a team and help each other. I LOVE having a big family! But I think it also gave me a sense of independence. I moved out when I was 18 and started my own family very young. My parents are my inspiration for providing my kids and family a wonderful life. Although it took a while and a lot of support from my husband, friends, and family, I was able to get my degree and follow my dream of one day becoming an editor. Having a big family, I know the meaning of loyalty, so when I was hired at a medical device company, I vowed to always be grateful and indebted to the company and the people who helped me get there. Unfortunately, after nearly 14 years, I was laid off. That’s when I decided to start my own business. Read more>>