Where you grew up and your background can often have surprising effects on our lives and careers. We’ve asked folks from the community to tell us about how their background has affected them.

Julliana Garten | Designer & Creative Director

I’m an Interior and Fashion Designer, with over 20 years of experience. I’m from Brazil where I graduated with an Architecture, Interior Design, City Plan and Landscape Design degree. I’ve worked with the best names in the industry, both in Brazil and USA, until I decided to launch my own company. Since then I has been creating beautiful, unique, personalized, and functional spaces and fashionable jewelry for her remarkable customers. Read more>>

Phil Chavanne | Web Designer & Photographer

I was born in the small medieval town of Chinon, France. My sisters and I were raised in a family of artists and small entrepreneurs. We were very fortunate to benefit from a strong classical education: literature, history, music, painting, languages, etc. Many of my childhood memories have to do with reading books on the floor of our living room, while listening to Bach and other classical composers. Most of my family was into playing classical music. My father was a photographer; my grandfather (who raised me till I was 5) was a motorcycle mechanic. Today, I make a living as a web designer and photographer, and my only mode of transportation is my motorcycle. That’s how impactful my upbringing was. France has such a rich artistic heritage and tradition, there is always a point of contact with art and history, wherever you go, whatever you do and learn. Read more>>

Teresa Strunk | VP

I was born and raised in Spokane, WA; about 45 minutes west of the Idaho border. Spokane experiences all four seasons, and we spent a lot of time playing outdoors, camping, & boating. I was a member of the Campfire organization, which taught me a lot about the outdoors, building a proper fire, tying knots, and so on. It sounds nerdy, but I’ll always value the skills I learned and hope my daughters learn all that, too. Spokane is much smaller than Phoenix, so I appreciate the values and work ethic of ranchers, farmers, loggers, etc. It was a fairly simple, small-town upbringing, and I’ll always appreciate Spokane and still love visiting family and friends whenever possible. I like to think I haven’t changed too much since moving to Phoenix 11 years ago, and will always call Spokane “home”. Read more>>

Janette Gomez | Chef, Owner & Food Photographer

I am originally from Chicago, but moved to South Florida when I was 8. I am first generation Cuban-American and was a creative and ever questioning “big picture” child. I saw my grandparents and parents work hard for everything they came to. My grandfather owned his own wedding and portrait studio, so I witness the entrepreneurial sprit early on. Art, photography, movies always fascinated me and watching my grandmother cook and create was wondrous. The way ingredients became dishes that would later become memories of times gathered around the table with family was and is fascinating. I was an only child in my younger years, so I also became very independent. I entertained myself with art and reading. And when possible, I would cook with my grandmother or join my grandfather at one of his weddings. Read more>>

Danielle Caron | Student, Artist & Engineer

I’m from Tennessee, and I think that growing up there exposed me to a lot of beautiful places. I have always loved the trees and the hills, and being able to get outside with my friends was always great. I think that nature has inspired a huge portion of my art, and I’m thankful to have been able to experience many different climates and landscapes. Read more>>

Shannon Steward | Owner & Hairstylist

I am from a town called Sunnyslope, which is located in north central Phoenix. My childhood was unique in that my parents have been in their house for over 45 years, they brought me home from the hospital to that home, my brother was born in the living room a couple of years later. I’ve lived all over the city, currently living downtown but Sunnyslope will always be home. When we decided to open a business, it was important to us to stay nearby. My shop, The Vintage Arizona is a mile north from the turquoise house I grew up in. The building where I am located has quite and incredible history. Built in 1940 it was the original church at The Indian School, later moved to its current location in the 1960’s where it was a daycare for many years. Read more>>

Diana Madaras | Artist & Gallery Owner

I am from Toms River, NJ, and grew up in an apartment attached to my dad’s veterinary hospital. I started caring for animals from a very young age, including wildlife that people brought to the hospital. Caring for animals has been a consistent theme throughout my life. I founded a a non-profit foundation for animals in conjunction with the Gallery when it first opened more than 20 years ago, and we have raised more then $200,000 for animal causes in Arizona. I have also led the effort to raise enough money to enable the Tucson Wildlife Center to hire a full-time veterinary staff. I had 2 horses, but both are gone now, and have 2 great dogs. Read more>>