Words by Jake Bullinger, Marjorie Clark, Natalie Deford, Dylan Foreman, Lauren Foster, Joanna Kresge, and Karen Miller. Photos by Rachel Coward.

Passionate. Philanthropic. Energetic.

We asked our readers one simple question: What professionals under the age of 30 are doing great things on the Eastside? You responded in force – and gave us more names than we could fit in the pages of an entire magazine. So we debated and decided. After culling from the dozens upon dozens of submissions, 425 Business presents to you our 2016 class of 30 Under 30 honorees.

Each one is ambitious, goal-oriented, and passionate. We predict great things for the future of the Eastside.

 
1

30 Under 20 2016: A – G

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Katrina Allen, 28

Owner, Love Blooms Wedding & Event Design

HOMETOWN
Redmond
RESIDENCE
Issaquah
FIRST JOB
Cold Stone Creamery
EDUCATION
Notre Dame de Namur University, bachelor’s in business
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
You are greater than your current career goals, and you will do great things in your future and own a business one day. — Allen’s former boss
THEME SONG
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake
SUPERPOWER
Teleportation

When it comes to weddings, Love Blooms does it all. From planning to floral arrangements to setup and tear-down, Katrina Allen’s company covers all the bases. Managing that busy company has its tough moments, though, and Allen is appreciative of the support in her life that helps her get through them.

Balancing her high-powered job with motherhood — she’s the mom of a 4-year-old boy — is possible thanks to her family and her spouse of seven years. “I have a very supportive family who has helped me grow throughout the years,” Allen said. “My group of friends has been the core of who I am for more than 13 years.”

Allen has been a business owner for six years, and while that’s rewarding, she does wish it gave her more time out on the soccer field, where she hopes to play in a league soon. When she’s not working to orchestrate the perfect wedding day, Allen likes to craft, coach T-ball, make calligraphy signs, and watch television. — KM


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Nicole Baxter, 25

Commercial banking assistant, Pacific Continental Bank

HOMETOWN
Arlington
RESIDENCE
Lake Stevens
FIRST JOB
Barista
EDUCATION
University of Washington, bachelor’s in business
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
Never give up the desire to learn and grow. The more you know, the more valuable you are. — a former professor
THEME SONG
“Brave” by Sara Bareilles
SUPERPOWER
Regenerative healing

Whether it’s banking or baking, Nicole Baxter strives for excellence. Baxter attended the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, and now works as a commercial banking assistant at Bellevue’s Pacific Continental Bank. At work, Baxter strives to learn all she can about the job and the industry, taking to heart the advice of a former professor who told her: “The more you know, the more valuable you are.”

Word has it Baxter knows plenty about baking cheesecake and restoring old furniture. Baxter also enjoys hiking and playing with her German shepherd puppy, Rey, and still finds the time to volunteer with her employer’s Giving with Heart program. Safe to say, Baxter’s great at much more than just banking — or baking. — DF


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Hayley Black, 29

General manager and wine program manager, Tutta Bella Neopolitan Pizzeria – Bellevue

HOMETOWN
Troy, Michigan
RESIDENCE
Seattle
FIRST JOB
Barista at a drive-thru espresso stand
EDUCATION
Seattle Central Community College, associate degree; Wine and Spirits Education Trust, Level 2; Vinitaly International Academy, Italian wine ambassador
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
Don’t let anyone, including yourself, make you feel you are not good enough or strong enough to do anything you set out to do. — Black’s mother
THEME SONG
“Your Song” by Elton John
SUPERPOWER
Be a unicorn

Hayley Black has an affinity for unicorns, Italian wine, and her regal cats Earl Gray and Sir Winston. If that isn’t enough to make you want to be her new best friend, just spend five minutes basking in this Midwesterner’s positive attitude and you, too, just might want to share a glass of wine with her.

“I love the joy dining together brings to a group of individuals,” Black said of her clientele at the Tutta Bella pizzeria in Bellevue, which she manages. “Stories, ideas, and memories are more than shared at the table, and often with a glass of wine.”

When Black isn’t studying to further her wine credentials, she often helps Bellevue LifeSpring and other local nonprofits that benefit Eastside families and individuals with Alzheimer’s. Black enjoys merging her job and her volunteer work. Tutta Bella has played host to 3D printing classes and trivia-tournament fundraisers.

“We also promote LifeSpring’s thrift store by having team members wear clothing from the store on shifts with a button saying ‘Ask me about my outfit,’” she said. — JK


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Taylor Brazen, 24

Real estate broker, Brazen Sotheby’s International Realty

HOMETOWN
Bellevue
RESIDENCE
Bellevue
FIRST JOB
Real estate broker
EDUCATION
University of Washington, bachelor’s in business
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
I may not be able to compete with other brokers based on number of sales or years of experience, but I could compete with other brokers based on my hard work, determination, and the promise to my clients that no one would work harder for them than me. — Brazen’s father
THEME SONG
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake
SUPERPOWER
Teleportation

It’s not uncommon to find Taylor Brazen in the office early and also see her there late, working to earn her clients’ trust. Brazen was exposed to the industry at a young age — she’s the daughter of Randi and Joseph Brazen, who are now her employers. But she doesn’t take her family ties for granted — Brazen is dedicated to carrying on her family’s name in luxury real estate. Because of her dedication and passion, she’s solidified herself as a competitive and successful broker for the family company.

Born and raised in Bellevue, Brazen is involved with various groups, including Bellevue LifeSpring and Old Bellevue Merchants Association, geared toward improving the city and the greater Eastside.

“I enjoy actively engaging in the community and bridging the gap between generations while leading my generation in assisting experienced clients and first-time homebuyers alike,” Brazen said. — DF


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Rian Buckley, 28

CEO, Fitcode

HOMETOWN
Olympia
RESIDENCE
Kirkland
FIRST JOB
Hostess
EDUCATION
University of Washington, bachelor’s in political science and government
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
Just because it’s always been that way doesn’t make it right. — Buckley’s mother
THEME SONG
Anything Beyoncé, because who runs the world? Girls.
SUPERPOWER
The ability to talk to animals, so I could talk to my fur baby.

Rian Buckley is a master of the life pivot. For example, when the University of Washington cut its swim team, of which Buckley was a member, she picked up modeling to fill the void. Then when she finished her political science and ocean conservation education, she became a professional model instead of pursuing employment in her field of study. And when she saw an opportunity in the fashion market, she quit modeling and founded a tech startup.

“A lot of people in our generation are so stuck on graduating from college and getting that first job that they settle on something they’re not actually interested in,” Buckley said. “Life is way too short to be in a job you don’t love. You cannot be scared because of your age — take the risk.”

Buckley’s latest risky move was founding Fitcode, a browser extension that gives women a better idea of how jeans they’re shopping for online might fit. Buckley knew jeans, but she didn’t know tech. That uncertainty, rather than hindering her, has shaped her management style.

“I’m a firm believer in letting experts be experts,” she said. “My employees are experts in the fields that I brought them in for, and I try not to meddle.” — JB


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Erin Cobb, 29

Owner, The Cobra Lounge, Float Seattle, Float Bellevue

HOMETOWN
Juanita
RESIDENCE
Kirkland
FIRST JOB
Hotel valet
EDUCATION
Boston College, bachelor’s in finance
BEST ADVICE HE EVER RECEIVED
In love and entrepreneurship, you can be wrong and fail dozens of times, but never give up. You only have to be right once. —Cobb’s grandfather
THEME SONG
“Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake
SUPERPOWER
Riding a Pegasus

Erin Cobb has ridden a scooter through the jungle in Cambodia, run with the bulls in Spain, and appeared on The Food Network dressed as a giant piece of bacon. It’s clear Cobb is a man of many hats. In addition to running a hookah lounge and saltwater float studios, Cobb is a social butterfly who enjoys spending time outside and traveling.

At Cobb’s first job as a valet, he learned that no matter your position, people notice when you put in your best effort and hustle to get the job done. “Customers can tell when someone’s faking it,” he said. “When I gave my best, the tips took care of themselves.”

Cobb has done a lot but still isn’t afraid to try something new. “The opposite of courage is not cowardice — it’s conformity,” he said. “I have tried to ignore social convention and walk my own path whenever possible.” This
was evident when his photo session for this 30 Under 30 feature ended with a spirited version of Michael Jackson’s iconic dance moves. — ND


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Elijah DiStephano, 27

Executive sous chef, Purple Cafe and Wine Bar Woodinville

HOMETOWN
Bainbridge Island
RESIDENCE
Seattle
FIRST JOB
Dishwasher
EDUCATION
Art Institute of Seattle, associates in culinary arts; Scuola di Arte Culinaria, Florence, Italy, certificate of professional program
BEST ADVICE HE EVER RECEIVED
Cooking is like love, performed with passion or not at all. — DiStefano’s grandfather
THEME SONG
“Alright” by Kendrick Lamar
SUPERPOWER
Flying

Elijah DiStefano faces a challenge familiar to many of our 30 Under 30 honorees: supervising older, more experienced workers. Few 20-somethings are named sous chef, a position that requires intimate knowledge of cooking and a particular kitchen. But DiStefano doesn’t try to compensate for his age when managing; rather, the position itself gives him confidence.

“If you’re promoted to a position that seems like it’s too soon for your age, there’s a reason your boss chose you,” DiStefano said. “That’s because they feel you have the skills to be that next person up.”

DiStefano’s skills were honed over years in the kitchen. He grew up cooking — his parents are excellent cooks, he said — and studied cuisine on the East Coast and in Italy before returning to the area. “I try to take a piece of everything I’ve experienced and incorporate it into my food,” he said.

Running a restaurant and culinary instruction are two options on DiStefano’s horizon, and he’s focusing on intangible skills to prepare himself. “When you’re a boss, a true chef, you have to be able to be personable and be more of a mentor even than a teacher of cooking skills.” — JB


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Shaili Guru, 29

Senior software engineer, T-Mobile

HOMETOWN
Ahmedabad, India
RESIDENCE
Kirkland
FIRST JOB
Sandwich maker at Quiznos
EDUCATION
Baldwin Wallace University, bachelor’s in biology
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
Everything happens for a reason, and failures make you stronger. — Guru’s husband
THEME SONG
“Not Afraid” by Eminem
SUPERPOWER
Teleportation

Shaili Guru didn’t follow the easiest path to becoming a senior software engineer at T-Mobile. She was born in India and moved to Cleveland without her parents when she was 14 years old. Her dad had a business in India and thought it would be easier to support Guru from afar. Her first job was making sandwiches at Quiznos. She studied biology in college to pursue a career in medicine, but it wasn’t the right fit, and she decided to focus on tech instead.

Guru also is the founder and chapter lead of CodeChix Seattle, a nonprofit that supports female engineers. In January she’s going back to school to pursue an MBA from the University of Washington. To say Guru’s a time-management, um, guru would be an understatement. She’s also a wife and a mother of two. “I have had enough failures in life,” she said, “to know when to appreciate successes.” — LF


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Mariah Gutierrez, 25

Director of operations, Sorella Salon

HOMETOWN
Everett
RESIDENCE
Everett
FIRST JOB
Desert Sun Tanning
EDUCATION
Some college
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
You can do anything you want in life. You just have to figure out how to get there. — Gutierrez’s mother
THEME SONG
“Hotline Bling” by Drake
SUPERPOWER
Flying

In just four years, Mariah Gutierrez has worked her way from the front desk to director of operations at Sorella Salon. There was no luck involved in that steady ascent: She’s worked hard for her success, and knows her job inside, outside, and upside down.

Part of what drives that passion is making sure her 65 employees and stylists are growing their own careers. “I care about my stylists’ careers as much, if not more, than I care about my own career,” Gutierrez said. Gutierrez says she has trouble delegating, even though Sorella Salon’s growing business keeps her plate full. Gutierrez must improve her own expertise while managing her employees and providing an excellent experience to customers.

Outside work, Gutierrez fosters kittens until they are old enough to be adopted. She’s also learning how to fish, and says there’s always enough time to meet up with friends for brunch and a mimosa. — MC

 
2

30 Under 30 2016: H – P

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Hannah Ham, 25

Event planner and designer, Juliet + Lou

HOMETOWN
Maple Valley
RESIDENCE
Seattle
FIRST JOB
Children’s ski instructor
EDUCATION
Seattle University, bachelor’s in English and creative writing
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
Don’t completely reveal your dreams to everyone. — Ham’s mentor
THEME SONG
“Forever Young” by Bob Dylan
SUPERPOWER
Invisibility

After years of helping friends plan weddings and parties, Hannah and her sister, Elsa, started their own wedding-planning business. Two years in, Ham’s biggest challenge is keeping up with growth, a problem many small business owners would love to have. Juliet + Lou will work on twice as many weddings this year as last.

Out of college, Ham worked as a freelance writer, contributed to travel blogs, and published a children’s book. Her first job — a ski instructor, though she didn’t previously know how to ski — taught her that work isn’t really a 9-to-5 thing. If you want to be good at your job, she says, you have to put in the extra hours to figure it out and to be the best.

“Running your own business is daunting, but it’s equally rewarding and exhilarating,” she said. Ham approaches her life outside of work with just as much passion and curiosity. She has traveled to 25 countries, served on multiple global mission teams to Uganda, and sponsors an orphan child there. — ND


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Matt Heikkila, 29

Executive chef, Salish Lodge and Spa

HOMETOWN
Snoqualmie
RESIDENCE
Snoqualmie
FIRST JOB
Assistant in a photography studio
EDUCATION
Whatcom Community College, associate of arts and sciences
BEST ADVICE HE EVER RECEIVED
Learn from everyone I work with, no matter what position they’re in. — Heikkila’s former boss
SUPERPOWER
Flying

Matt Heikkila first pursued a career in computer science, but eventually found himself needing a more creative profession. So after graduating college, Heikkila picked up cooking, found that creativity he was craving, and immediately fell in love with the craft. Heikkila’s passion for cooking grew, and he eventually turned his hobby into a career.

Today, Heikkila helps foster the Snoqualmie resort’s partnership with Camp Korey, an Eastside nonprofit that offers leadership camps for kids with severe medical conditions. The partnership is one of the things Heikkila is most proud of.

“It brings me a lot of joy to be able to give back to the surrounding community while doing what I love. Some of my favorite memories of the past few years have been gardening with the incredible people that make that place run.” — KM


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Brooke Hubbard, 27

Owner, MBMedia

HOMETOWN
Fairfax, Virginia
RESIDENCE
Redmond
FIRST JOB
Courtesy clerk at QFC
EDUCATION
Boston University, bachelor’s degree in business administration and English; University of Washington, master’s degree in digital media communication
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
No one is born knowing everything, so it’s OK to ask questions. — Hubbard’s mother
THEME SONG
The Kim Possible theme song, “Call Me, Beep Me”
SUPERPOWER
Telescopic vision

Brooke Hubbard likes to listen, possibly because her mom taught her to ask questions. So when clients need help with social media marketing, Hubbard first asks them to let it all out — their goals, their limitations, their dreams.

When it comes to finding solutions, that’s when she takes over. In addition to growing her business, Hubbard
teaches fashion marketing at the Art Institute of Seattle and offers her marketing skills to nonprofits at a deep discount.

After work, she usually settles down with a good book. She just finished the Swedish bestseller A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. She also loves her cats, her family, and Kim Possible — the crime-fighting star of the Disney Channel cartoon. “She is strong and determined, but she has a softer fun and loving side to her as well. And she always sees the best in people. I like to believe I am like her,” Hubbard said. — LF


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Andrew Januik, 29

Winemaker, Andrew Januik Wines

HOMETOWN
Kirkland
RESIDENCE
Seattle
FIRST JOB
Working in the wine cellar at Januik Winery
EDUCATION
University of Washington, bachelor’s in Spanish and Portuguese studies
BEST ADVICE HE EVER RECEIVED
Explore all aspects of life and the world to decide what path I truly wanted to follow. — Januik’s parents
THEME SONG
“What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye
SUPERPOWER
Turning water into wine! Duh.

Andrew Januik says his life is consumed by wine. His parents, Mike and Carolyn, own Januik Winery in Woodinville, and they introduced Andrew to the winemaking process at a young age. When he was 14, Januik began working in the winery’s cellar, filling and emptying wine barrels.

“It is very rare for such a young child to be able to work so closely with wine and feel they’ve contributed, even if in only a small way, to making a world-class product,” he said.

Januik still works for his family’s winery and Novelty Hill, but is now the owner and winemaker of his own company, Andrew Januik Wines, which produces a pair of cabernet sauvignons: Stone Cairn and Lady Hawk. He’s also working on expanding his labels to include wine made in the Southern Hemisphere. International expansion comes with a slew of importing legalities that need sorting out, Januik said.

But while he’s looking abroad for business opportunities, he’ll be the first to tell you how proud he is to be a Washingtonian. “[I] owe so much of what I have in life to the natural gifts of our state,” Januik said. — LF


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Andy Largent, 29

Co-owner, Flatstick Pub

HOMETOWN
Spokane
RESIDENCE
Kirkland
FIRST JOB
Home-construction worker
EDUCATION
Whitworth University, bachelor’s in business management
BEST ADVICE HE EVER RECEIVED
Strive to be the best at everything you do, and always be humble. — Largent’s father
SUPERPOWER
Flying

Andy Largent would say he is a pretty laid-back guy who doesn’t take life too seriously. He likes local sports teams,  local beer, hiking, playing golf, and spending time at home with his fiancée. But whether he is watching any number
of our home teams’ sporting events or manning the bar at Kirkland’s Flatstick Pub, the mini golf-themed bar he founded, this putter-toting entrepreneur said he always practices the values he learned while growing up in a large family.

“Being a genuine, kindhearted, and caring person are at the top of my list when it comes to what is most important in life,” he said. This compassion carries Largent through his personal and professional life as he endeavors to grow his business while still maintaining a high standard of service to his customers.

To further spread this ethos, Largent has championed many charity fundraisers at Flatstick Pub, including events with the Kirkland Boys & Girls Club, Kirkland Fire Department, and Seattle Humane Society, while also volunteering to coach youth sports in the community. — JK


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Adam Lieb, 29

CEO, Innervate

HOMETOWN
Kirkland
RESIDENCE
Kirkland
FIRST JOB
Karate teacher
EDUCATION
University of Washington, bachelor’s in political science; Pepperdine University, juris doctorate, master’s in business and administration
BEST ADVICE HE EVER RECEIVED
Trust your gut. — Lieb’s first investor
THEME SONG
“Pinball Wizard” by The Who
SUPERPOWER
Time travel

Adam Lieb’s first crack at entrepreneurship came about in an unremarkable fashion — he noticed a gap in the market, and decided to fill it. What was remarkable, though, was his age at the time: Lieb started doing business at 11.

Lieb was an excellent video gamer, and his friends wanted help playing the games. So the enterprising youth started selling his friends laminated manuals to all the hottest games. The venture grew beyond his elementary school. “The internet was relatively new, so I learned how to build a website to sell the guides,” Lieb said. “I made some money, and eventually got bought.”

Next came a company he ran while in college — which, Lieb said, generated more than $1 million in annual revenue — and his current venture, Innervate, which creates marketing products for video game developers. Though Lieb’s methods of today are more polished, he fundamentally goes about creating a company just as he did when he was 11.

“You just think about something, and figure out if it works,” he said. “I came up with an idea, showed a pitch deck at a trade show, and sold $100,000 worth of product that didn’t exist yet.” — JB


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Jeffrey McIntosh, 26

CEO, Teabook

HOMETOWN
Military brat — I moved every year or two
RESIDENCE
Seattle
FIRST (SUSTAINED) JOB
Tea shop
EDUCATION
GED. Some college, graduated from the Founder Institute and Founder Lab
BEST ADVICE HE EVER RECEIVED
It was a collective understanding of time and many failures.
THEME SONG
“Namo Amitabul,” a meditation soundtrack
SUPERPOWER
Heat water with the touch of my hand, so I can drink tea anywhere.

After dropping out of high school in ninth grade and a series of short-lived attempts to work at a diner, a print shop, American Eagle, and H&M, Jeffrey McIntosh finally found his professional calling — at a tea shop in Seattle’s International District.

“I actually just went to visit every week, then every day, then one day the owner asked me to watch the shop,” he said. Over time, McIntosh immersed himself in tea. He learned about proper temperature and steeping times, as well as the history, tradition, health benefits, and spiritual aspects of the herbs he was selling. Ultimately, he became a walking tea encyclopedia.

“Tea let me calm my overly active mind,” McIntosh said. “I found my calling.”

To further his knowledge, McIntosh journeyed to China to study with a number of renowned tea masters. There, he became fluent in Mandarin, and returned home to open his own tea company. Today, this meditation lover is a thriving entrepreneur headquartered in Bellevue. McIntosh has expanded his repertoire to consulting within the tea industry. — JK


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Brielle Perry, 27

Vice president of business development, Tagboard

HOMETOWN
Sammamish
RESIDENCE
Kirkland
FIRST JOB
Babysitter
EDUCATION
University of Washington, bachelor’s in business
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
“The fastest road to success is to empower those around you.” — Jenni Hogan
THEME SONG
“Work” by Rihanna
SUPERPOWER
Telekinesis

How does a 27-year-old earn the responsibility of opening a tech startup’s new office in London? Brielle Perry says it has a lot to do with luck and being in the right place at the right time. But there’s another important piece to the puzzle she’s quick to point out: “I worked my face off.”

After a two-year, post-college stint at a Fortune 500 company, Perry sought out a role she could be passionate about and really sink her teeth into. As an ambitious millennial, she made a BuzzFeed-style listicle outlining why Redmond’s Tagboard should hire her. Less than two years later, she’s the company’s vice president of business development.

A self-described risk taker, Perry approaches all things in life with passion and dedication. She is fully on board with her company’s Star Wars Thursdays. She qualified for the Boston Marathon. She helped raise $24,000 for Med25 International to build a children’s clinic in Kenya, crushing the $13,000 goal.

Need a new running partner, soccer player, or someone with whom to discuss your Game of Thrones theories? Perry’s your gal. — MC


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Vlad Popach, 25

Real estate broker, Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty

HOMETOWN
Lake Stevens
RESIDENCE
Bellevue
FIRST JOB
Paralegal
EDUCATION
Central Washington University, bachelor’s in law and psychology
BEST ADVICE HE EVER RECEIVED
“There are no limitations to the mind except those that we acknowledge.” — Napoleon Hill
THEME SONG
“Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw
SUPERPOWER
A limitless mind

Vlad Popach is a driven man whose career goal is to be the best salesman possible. That determination has led him to consistently crush his goals, both for client satisfaction and revenue, making him a valuable asset to the Realogics Sotheby’s team.

Popach’s passions, however, extend far beyond his profession. He’s very involved with the Seattle Union Gospel Mission as a volunteer at the men’s shelter. He also volunteers at KentHope Day Center for Women and Children, and has helped build homes for less-fortunate families in Mexico.

When Popach isn’t selling luxury real estate on the Eastside or volunteering his time, he takes part in outdoor activities such as biking, skiing, golfing, and traveling with his wife, as well as pursuing his passion for cars. — DF


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Greg Prescott, 28

Director of talent management, Columbia Hospitality

HOMETOWN
Issaquah
RESIDENCE
Issaquah
FIRST JOB
Banquet house person, Sahalee Country Club
EDUCATION
Washington State University, bachelor’s in hospitality business management
BEST ADVICE HE EVER RECEIVED
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” — Vince Lombardi
THEME SONG
“Home Town” by Eric Church

Greg Prescott has a big job overseeing Columbia Hospitality’s recruiting, training, and development. He joined the company in 2011 as the food and beverage manager at Salish Lodge and Spa, and now recruiting is his priority.

“I love being a recruiter because there is nothing more rewarding than helping someone find a job,” Prescott said. “That job might put food on the table, fund a college education, or help someone find their passion in life. While recruiters sometimes get a bad rap, my No. 1 priority is to develop phenomenal people so that exceptional experiences can be created for them.”

Away from work, Prescott enjoys traveling with his wife, Alisha; kayaking; skiing; and a good glass of wine. He also volunteers with organizations that benefit youth and families. He spreads his wealth of hospitality know-how as a member of the Hospitality Advisory Board for Edmonds Community College. — KM

 

 
3

30 Under 30 2016: R – W

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Shiv Rai, 26

Senior financial advisor, Merrill Lynch

HOMETOWN
Bellevue
RESIDENCE
Bellevue
FIRST JOB
Ski instructor
EDUCATION
University of Washington, bachelor’s in economics and international finance
BEST ADVICE HE EVER RECEIVED
Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
THEME SONG
“Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins
SUPERPOWER
Fly like Superman

Shiv Rai always seems to go the extra mile. He was born in India, grew up in the United Kingdom, and attended the University of Washington. In college, Rai worked full-time at a bank, which positioned him to be the youngest financial advisor at Merrill Lynch when he joined the firm in 2012. Now, he’s often coaching older colleagues. It’s a challenge that fuels his ambition.

“To win the confidence of all my peers, I’ve had to develop a deep knowledge of my industry, become proficient in my role, and demonstrate unwavering work ethic,” he said.

Outside work, Rai sets physical goals. Sometimes it’s 26.2 miles of pounding pavement to complete a marathon; other times it’s training for the grueling 8-mile climb to the summit of Mount Rainier. “The extra mile is a place filled with potential and opportunities,” he said. If he could be a superhero, he’d strap on a red cape and fly through the sky like Superman. Cue the John Williams theme song. — LF


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Parker Sjolander, 26

Chief operations manager, Lil’ Jon Restaurant

HOMETOWN
Issaquah
RESIDENCE
Issaquah
FIRST JOB
Dishwasher
EDUCATION
University of Washington, bachelor’s in communications
BEST ADVICE HE EVER RECEIVED
In a world that’s ever-changing, some things remain the same. — Sjolander’s company slogan
THEME SONG
“Bow Down to Washington,” the University of Washington fight song

Parker Sjolander’s restaurant career began at the age of 14 with his first job as a dishwasher. Now 26, he’s moved up the ladder and is running a tight ship as chief operations manager at Bellevue’s Lil’ Jon Restaurant. But that first dishwashing job always will have a special place in his heart.

“That job has instilled in me many lessons that I fall back on today,” he said. “One lesson was simply the value of hard work. Oftentimes, it is the sweat and labor in the back that goes unseen, but is ultimately crucial in the flow of things.”

Sjolander also oversees the restaurant’s gifts to nonprofits, schools, and charitable events. To stay motivated, Sjolander constantly challenges himself to up his game.

“I am my biggest competitor, whether it is challenging myself to sell more of our infamous cinnamon rolls than the previous day, or pushing myself to meet new sales goals,” he said. — KM


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Andrea Smith, 28

Designger, Demetriou Architects

HOMETOWN
Idaho Falls, Idaho
RESIDENCE
Kirkland
FIRST JOB
Drafter
EDUCATION
University of Idaho, master’s in architecture
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
Find what sets you apart, and use it. — Smith’s husband
SUPERPOWER
To manipulate metal like Magneto.

Growing up, Andrea Smith was incredibly close to her architect grandfather, who taught her the tools of the trade and encouraged her to pursue a career in the field.

After graduating from the University of Idaho, Smith began her career — yes, as an architect — with her husband’s words in mind: “Find what sets you apart, and then use it.” So what sets Smith apart? Her devotion to her career, for one. She also volunteers for Architects Without Borders, a nonprofit that designs and implements ecologically sensitive and culturally appropriate projects.

Smith once worked in the architecture and engineering department at the University of Idaho, and now works as a designer at Demetriou Architects. When she isn’t designing buildings, she enjoys playing Frisbee with her dog; spending time with her husband, whom she met when she was 12 years old; and studying for the seven exams required to attain her professional architect license. — DF


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Ben Smith, 27

Food and beverage manager, Salish Lodge and Spa

HOMETOWN
Kelso
RESIDENCE
Seattle
FIRST JOB
Dishwasher
EDUCATION
Washington State University, bachelor’s in wine business management; Court of Master Sommeliers, introductory sommelier certification
BEST ADVICE HE EVER RECEIVED
Work smarter, not harder. — Smith’s father
THEME SONG
“Superfly” by Curtis Mayfield
SUPERPOWER
Bottomless stomach

Ben Smith frequently thinks about the advice his father once gave him: Work smarter, not harder. He applies this advice to his job as the food and beverage manager at Salish Lodge, but he’s certainly motivated to work hard at the high-end resort. “Hospitality is where I’m meant to be,” he said. “I love providing people with special and memorable experiences, whether I am at work or at home.”

Smith likes to keep busy, and listens to music throughout the day to keep him inspired and focused. Wine is his business and his hobby, so Smith tastes wine both at work and off the clock. He also enjoys snowboarding, watching sports, cooking, and attending concerts.

He says his first job as a dishwasher is how he learned to love the fast-pace atmosphere of the restaurant business and to appreciate the people who work in it.

Smith supports Salish’s partnership with Camp Korey and spends his volunteer hours helping families deal with the stress of childhood illnesses. — ND


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Sahara Suval, 26

Northwest program coordinator, Student Conservation Association

HOMETOWN
Stanwood
RESIDENCE
Renton
FIRST JOB
Performing fudge maker
EDUCATION
The Evergreen State College, bachelor’s in American history; Western Washington University, master’s in environmental education
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
Always send a hand-written thank-you note. — A former colleague
THEME SONG
“On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons
SUPERPOWER
Take on an animal’s physical traits.

Chalk up Sahara Suval’s career path to the economic downturn. She studied journalism and political science in college, but upon graduation in 2010, she found that jobs in those fields were sparse. So she became a trail maintenance worker with the Washington Conservation Corps.

“It was the best three months of my life at the time,” Suval said. “I learned it was really important to be outside and to be a steward for these places that are part of our national legacy.”

The experience convinced Suval that she wanted to become an environmental advocate, so she returned to graduate school and got a master’s in environmental education. Today, she is the Northwest program coordinator for the Student Conservation Association.

Suval’s job is to expose youth to the outdoors and get them involved early in conservation projects. “We’re told that a lot of our climate issues are a problem for the next generation,” Suval said. “What better to do than to help that generation?”

Her environmental bent doesn’t mean Suval plans to just plant trees. She views her work as multidisciplinary; an ecosystem issue also can be an economic or political issue. Thus, Suval’s mulling a future in politics, in which she could more broadly affect her own environment. — JB


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Makayla Thom, 22

Owner, Heritage Blossoms

HOMETOWN
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
RESIDENCE
Tukwila
FIRST JOB
The Rose Flower Shop
EDUCATION
High School online via Idaho Virtual Academy
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
Hold my head high, follow my dreams and do what I love. Otherwise, I’ll never get ahead. — Thom’s parents
THEME SONG
“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten
SUPERPOWER
To turn into a cat

Many 22-year-olds are wrapping up college or trying to land that first job. Not Makayla Thom. She’s already got a job — at a business she owns. “When I put my mind to something, I don’t back down,” she said. When she acquired Heritage Blossoms in Renton, Thom turned an adage into reality: Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

Thom started working at then-Heritage Flowers after moving to the area from Grand Forks, North Dakota, three years ago. The owner could easily tell she had potential and a great desire to have her own place. So in July 2014, at just 20 years old, Thom took over and renamed the company.

Like many small-business owners, Thom is competing with companies far larger than her own, so a big part of her role is educating consumers about the value of buying from local florists.

“People just order flowers online without thinking about the shop that prepares and delivers the arrangement. If they call directly, they’ll get better service and build a relationship with a local business,” she said.

She’s become a great artist — her customers say she knows how to make people feel loved through her floral designs. After work, Thom enjoys paddleboarding and wakeboarding. She also volunteers for the humane society, at local charities, and at church functions. — ND


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Kristina Valiani, 25

CEO, The Beauty of Hope

HOMETOWN
Federal Way
RESIDENCE
Bellevue
FIRST JOB
Restaurant hostess
EDUCATION
Aesthetician program at Gary Manuel Aveda Institute
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
You can’t have what you want while doing whatever you want. — Pastor Kevin Gerald
THEME SONG
“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten
SUPERPOWER
Flying

Entrepreneurship wasn’t an accident for Kristina Valiani. Years before founding The Beauty of Hope, which sells soy candles, she envisioned herself starting a business, and was attending women’s leadership conferences as a teenager. It was at one of those conferences that Valiani, then 17, learned about modern slavery.

“When I learned that sex trafficking was happening in our community and how low the awareness was, I began to research and support organizations that were working to bring awareness and end human trafficking,” she said. “When I began to write my business plan, I knew giving back would be the heart of The Beauty of Hope’s culture and that our cause would be to bring awareness and end human trafficking.”

Ten percent of Valiani’s revenues go to REST, a nonprofit in Seattle that advocates for victims of the sex trade. Short-term sacrifice for a greater good is a theme Valiani applies to business, relationships, and fitness. “You can’t live your life by what only feels right in that moment. When my goals are clear and I know the why behind each of them, putting in the hard work becomes easier.” — JB


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Elsa Walker, 27

Event planner and designer, Juliet + Lou

HOMETOWN
Maple Valley
RESIDENCE
Issaquah
FIRST JOB
Soccer referee
EDUCATION
Seattle Pacific University, bachelor’s in individual and family development
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
Always show kindness, as you don’t always know what someone else is going through. — college roommate
THEME SONG
“I’m So Excited” cover by Le Tigre
SUPERPOWER
The ability to remember everyone’s name

Combine Cher Horowitz, Kate Hudson, and Leslie Knope, and you might get someone like Elsa Walker. Walker started Juliet + Lou with her sister, Hannah, in January 2015. Since then, the business has grown, and she has been able to combine her passions of helping people and party planning.

“Planning and designing events to celebrate people has been one of my greatest joys in life,” she said. “I love the rush of meeting with clients, drilling down into what they want their wedding to look like, and then finding a way to turn that into a reality.”

But life isn’t one big party, and Walker knows that firsthand. As a volunteer visitation supervisor for City Ministries Child Placement Agency in Kirkland, she helped adopted children spend supervised time with their biological families. More recently, she volunteered as team captain for the Columbia Tower Climb to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, a cause close to her heart.

She’s a passionate creative, a focused entrepreneur, and a small-business owner who really loves a good party. — MC


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Sara Waltemire, 26

Event services manager, Meydenbauer Center

HOMETOWN
Albuquerque
RESIDENCE
Seattle
FIRST JOB
Starbucks barista
EDUCATION
University of Oregon, bachelor’s in journalism
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
Not to stress out over the little things and not take myself too seriously. — Waltemire’s mother
SUPERPOWER
Teleportation

For the past two years, Sara Waltemire has been the event services manager for Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, where she manages two departments, and works with people from all backgrounds and business verticals.

“I love the fast pace of the industry and the fact that I always get to meet new people and do different things,” Waltemire said. “My current role really suits this love because one minute I can be reviewing the menu for an event, and the next minute I can be in one of our meeting rooms helping to transform the space from one setup to the next.”

While in college at the University of Oregon, Waltemire was involved as an intern and volunteer with the March of Dimes and the Portland Art Museum. She stays involved with her college activities by participating in the March for Babies walk. She enjoys volunteer service because it’s a way to get involved in her community by helping out.

A fan of the local food scene, Waltemire often can be spotted around town at restaurants like El Gaucho or Lot No. 3. She enjoys traveling across the globe, but she’s a dedicated Northwest explorer, too, who loves spending time at destinations such as Whidbey Island and the San Juan islands. — KM


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Katie Walvatne, 24

General manager, Thinkspace

HOMETOWN
Kenmore
RESIDENCE
Seattle
FIRST JOB
Dog trainer
EDUCATION
Western Washington University, bachelor’s in business management and communications
BEST ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED
The times when you crash hard truly expose your character and what you are capable of overcoming and achieving. — Peter Chee
THEME SONG
“Lionhearted” by Porter Robinson
SUPERPOWER
Teleportation

If you think interpersonal communication is hard, try communicating with 30 dogs in one room. Katie Walvatne knows firsthand this is no easy task: Her first job was training dogs. Commanding the attention of a room full of pups taught her patience, communication skills, and a new way of listening.

Like many of her former students, Walvatne has boundless positivity and energy.

“I love finding ways to shine light on other people’s passions,” she said. “Connecting with other humans is an enormous source of energy in my life.” That energy is channeled into her job at the Thinkspace coworking office in Redmond, training for marathons, singing karaoke, jumping rope, and plotting to get on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. What energy is left, Walvatne pours into volunteer efforts such as supporting individuals going through treatment for eating disorders. — JK


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Josh Woodbridge, 26

Bar manager, Lot No. 3

HOMETOWN
Renton
RESIDENCE
Renton
FIRST JOB
Pizza maker
EDUCATION
Hazen High School
BEST ADVICE HE EVER RECEIVED
Lead by setting an example, and earn the respect of your peers through hard work. — Leadership camp
THEME SONG
“Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent
SUPERPOWER
Speak every language fluently

Josh Woodbridge’s hospitality career started when he was a teenager making pizza. In this role, he learned how to multitask and keep customers happy. Both skills are critical to his current role as the bar manager at one of Bellevue’s hippest spots.

Woodbridge has cultivated a love for cocktails and spirits, and shares his knowledge with coworkers in his weekly “booze classes.”

“I want to make sure that every guest who comes in has the ability to enjoy those spirits to the fullest,” Woodbridge said. “That’s where my knowledge comes into play.” He put that knowledge to the test this past summer on a trip to Kentucky. There, he and two coworkers visited Knob Creek to hand-select two barrels of bourbon for Heavy Restaurant Group, the parent company of Lot No. 3.

Woodbridge said he enjoys the creativity and flexibility of the service industry, which often allows him the freedom to pursue personal goals. On his days off, he can be found, or not found, fishing and camping in the mountains surrounding Puget Sound. In the fall, his outdoor focus shifts to bow hunting and traveling whenever possible. — MC


Come celebrate the 30 Under 30 honorees with us on Sept. 15 at Cast Iron Studios. Tickets available now.

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