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.

AJ Ellison | Atlanta Realtor and Entrepreneur

Being born and raised on the Westside of Detroit, Michigan in the early 90s as the oldest child of 5 and as a black male had its growing pains. I used to be a hothead and got into fights a lot because that’s what the world around me required. Growing up in my environment which people call “the hood” it was every man for himself. You had to stand 10 toes down with your chin up and grind it out every day or else you’ll get the bad end of the stick every time. I have to give props to my parents for doing such an amazing job instilling certain morals and values in me at a young age. Read more>>

Levie Rainey Alfaro | Multidisciplinary Ceramic Artist

I’m from Bronwood, GA. It’s a small town. Really small. The population hovers around 300 on a good day. My upbringing impacted the kind of life I’m striving to built for myself. One that’s built on community, conversation, and creating meaningful things. Life moves slower here, so it’s easy to miss the things that make life worth living. Growing up here forces you to see value where other’s don’t. It feels like a superpower sometimes. Read more>>

Ianaa | Singer/Songwriter Music Artist

As most of the legends have started out, my love for music started in the church! My grandad was a pastor so we were in church allll the time. Growing up in the church, I remember being obsessed with the idea of music, singing, and instruments in general. I wanted to learn how to sing like them, play instruments like them, and truly learn how to express myself through music the same way as they did on Sundays. Read more>>

Streeter & Neisha | TikToker

We are from Alabama. Both of Our parents were single mothers ( Neisha’s father passed in 2010 ) . Our upbringing situations are Little different but similar in many ways! Our mothers They taught us how to handle situations on our own & most importantly how to hustle life situations changed both of us mentally struggling homelessness etc! It really made us who we are today! Read more>>

Melanie D. Salim | Digital Art Designer, Business Coach, Independent Author

I am from a small town outside of Richmond Virginia called, Freeman. I was born in the home that my father built and as a young child, I enjoyed playing on my family homestead with my cousins and older brother. My family heritage is one of resilience and hard work. I realized this even as a child and assumed, that hard work and being resilient during tough times, was the norm for every family. Read more>>

Meosha McDaniel | Shop Owner & Creator

I am from a small town in South Carolina between the cities of Columbia & Charleston; the little big city of Orangeburg. I came from a single parent home where expression was encouraged. My mother taught school but dressed us like none other. She sewed, created & design the dopest matching sets. (She still had pictures) My paternal grandfather owned the first black owned gas station in our city. My maternal grandfather owned a pool hall and my step grandfather owned a record shop. Needless to say, it’s just in my blood. Read more>>

Ezzo | Musician/Artist

I am from Brazil. Born but raised in Canada. I came here when I was about three years old and music has been in my blood since I was a baby. My mom was in a church choir and my dad also saying. Out of the youngest of five siblings I looked up every single one of them who are also music inclined and served in the church. I always felt music pulling towards me. I was first self-taught on the drums when I was eight years old and became part of the worship team at 12. I then went on to receive classical piano lessons before the age of 15 and then became the worship leader of the church’s music ministry and that’s when I began singing. throughout this whole time I was dabbling on FL studio. Just for fun, but then I quickly grew an addiction to it and found myself coming back every day. It’s now been over 11 years. Read more>>

Charmarie Virgin | Singer, Songwriter, Vocalist, Co- owner and Co- CEO of Virgin Magnolia Pure & True

I’m from a small island named Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean. Being raised there really helped me to understand the value of community and family. Bermuda is such a small island, and because of that, the culture is very close-knit. It is rare to walk down the street in Bermuda and not see someone that you know, or your mama knows, or that you’re related to. So being raised in that environment really helped me to understand how to cultivate relationships, and the importance of business and even life pursuits being based on the principles of family. Now living in Atlanta a much bigger city and community, it’s easy to get lost in the size of the city and to become isolated, so I am learning to bring my small country upbringing to this large city. Read more>>

Tina Thomas | Founder and Executive Director of The Loving Arms Foundation

I am from Newark & Hillside New Jersey. I grew up poor, food deprived and in a very abusive and neglected home with my 7 siblings. I always wished we could be rescued but that never happened. Who I am today is remarkable because my life could be totally opposite of what it is. I am a proud parent, grandparent, a working professional and the Executive Director of The Loving Arms Foundation. We assist families in need. Each case varies it depends on the need of the family. We provide a number of community services such as free Health Fairs, winter coat giveaways, holiday luncheons, Mother’s Day dinners, backpack giveaways, toy giveaways and so much more. It is our pleasure to help families who could use assistance, get what they need for their respective families in order to have productive family living. Read more>>

Anna Golden Ray | Body Intuitive & Spiritual Mentor

I was born and raised in a calm suburb in Stockholm, Sweden. My parents started renovating our house when I was about 3 years old so I grew up helping out my father with the construction. In the beginning it was just about passing him tools but as I grew older & with all the other gazillion renovation projects we’ve had I’ve ended up pretty much building a couple of houses from scratch. This has shaped me into a person who really doesn’t see limitations where other people see them. Others consider me wildly creative but honestly it’s because I grew up seeing how things are so easily made. Read more>>

Jeff Ligon | Senior Loan Officer

I was born and raised in Augusta, GA. I grew up in a blue collar family in a diverse area of Augusta. The schools I attended bussed kids in from all over town, so I went to school with kids from the projects, kids from affluent neighborhoods, and everything in between. In addition to this, my mom had us in church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. Church was a major influence on my life growing up and it taught me to treat people with kindness and respect. Since leaving Augusta, I’ve lived in other areas of the country such as California and Pennsylvania. Read more>>