Chicago's Hottest 30 Under 30

Truth: This town has never been short on successful creative thinkers, movers, and shakers. In fact, the city is just as known for local talent as it is for sub-zero winters. From Mike Ditka to Dwayne Wade, and from Patti Smith to Lupe Fiasco, Chicago has always been home to those who know how to break the mold and make a lasting impression. And we think our latest list of rising stars is no exception. In fact, we're pretty darn floored by the professional prowess of the 30 Chicagoans you're about to meet...and you're likely to see a lot from these folks in years to come since they're all just shy of the big 3-0. From our hottest new soccer star to our brightest public relations maven, click through to see who's making big waves in Chicago proper.
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Kyle LaMere, 28, Photographer

You've probably already admired Kyle LaMere's work, you just didn't know it at the time. Kyle is a freelance photographer operating under the alias IShootRockstars. At the moment, he's on his way to Ethiopia to photograph the Hawassa Children's Center in order to donate professional photos to help raise awareness about kids in need. We are huge fans of Kyle's work and are thrilled that he gets to use his skills in this way. For more IShootRockstars goodness, look for Kyle's first book, Visitors, due out this May.
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Meg Lewis, 27, Model

Like the Supers, Meg Lewis owns the title "Model." Repped by Agency Galatea in Chicago, this self-made, multi-ethnic beauty didn’t have to smize with Tyra Banks to make it big—it’s truly her drop-dead gorgeous looks, plus her intelligence that carries her to the top. Just look at how awesome her site is, if you can peel your eyes away from all her photos. She designed and coded the whole thing herself and is, of course, responsible for all the content, too.
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Luke Jensen, 29, Entrepreneur

Luke Jensen has seen Chicago from the ground up. From a small town outside of a small town, he launched his first LLC at the age of 18, and began his career from a garden apartment. He now finds himself heading Chicago’s YouSwoop. The alternative to the common Groupon, YouSwoop offers a more personalized selection of specially curated deals for Chicago locals. Luke has helped grow the company since its first days and can be found working on "Swoopermarket," their new site designed to trade or sell secondhand Swoops.
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Julia V. Hendrickson, 24, Artist, Curator, and Writer

Julia has touched nearly every part of the Chicago art world. From her work as Gallery Manager at Corbett vs. Dempsey to her teaching at Spudnik Press, Julia not only creates art, but works to develop the art community as a whole. She has showed work in Tel Aviv and Luzern, all the while continuing to contribute to publications like Printeresting, Bad At Sports, and her own outlet, The Enthusiast. Julia is currently publishing a collection of poetry and guest curating a show titled, Territories, at Marwen, a program that works to educate and inspire under-served young people through the visual arts.

Photo by Maureen Sill
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The Hood Internet, 28 and 29, DJs

The Hood Internet is Aaron Brink and Steve Reidell, two Chicago DJs touring North America and having a damn good time doing it. The two are currently in the process of producing an original collaboration record, which we obviously can't wait to hear. The Hood Internet will be part of the upcoming Bamboozle Road Show, so get it together and catch them at House of Blues on May 30.

Photo by Clayton Hauck.
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Brian Kachinsky, 29, BMX Pro

Brian never stops moving. The BMX pro calls Ukranian Village home, but has taken his bike and cheesy puns all around world, including Latvia, Qatar, and Russia, just this year alone. But between transatlantic flights, Brian can be found working with his sponsors, DK Bikes, home to his signature Passport bike frame, and sneaker brand Etnies, who designed his namesake shoe while collaborating on their "Autism Speaks" campaign. The X-Games bronze medalist may have a million frequent flier miles, but he’s recently made a claim to his hometown, opening up an exclusive practice space for other pros on the Southside called The Bakery.
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J. Lynne Bredfeldt, 27, Public Relations Director

The Director of Public Relations for the award-winning Park Hyatt Chicago, Lynne handles all the buzz for the hotel and its crown jewel, NoMI. Injecting everything she touches with her fresh, fashion forward energy, she also finds the time to work her magic for the philanthropic set, and is currently sitting on the Executive Founding Committee for Mantra for Good and SAIC’s 2011 Fashion Committee, to name only two.
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Kevin Kujawa, 29, Musician

To say Kevin is a musician is an understatement considering he's in about four bands, last time we checked. He also fronts Mannequin Men, and is known for asking the crowd for Blackhawks scores during shows. Check out Mannequin Men, Chicago's premiere can't-miss rock institution, at The Empty Bottle on April 30.
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Lisa Frame, 27, Digital Producer and Community Manager

She's the woman behind the wheel at Mugshot Monday, bringing successful creatives together in the world's cutest network. Check out her blog to see what we mean, then submit your own mug. When she's not blogging, she's running the show at Abe's Market, a local organic online shop dealing in all things green. Easy on the eyes and successful? Not bad, Frame. Not bad.
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Abi Noda, 20, Entrepreneur

Abi Noda has already improved so many things for us Chicagoans. He has developed and designed the outstandingly simple wedding and event-planning program, Posy, and has also brought his signature aesthetic to OrangeQC, a software platform that helps companies perform and manage quality control inspections. Abi believes that good software can “intelligently constrain” user choices to create more efficiency, and a quick look at Posy or Orange QC shows just how lovely that can be. He’s a world traveler, currently located in Santiago, Chile while pressing forward on new projects such as EventBacker, an online service that matches event sponsors and organizers.
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Stephanie Bassos, 27, Photographer

Stephanie is a photographer specializing in portraits, abandonment, and color. Her gorgeous snaps have been found gracing the walls of Morning Glory Studios, The Coop, and most recently were featured on the album cover of Margot and the Nuclear So & So's album, Buzzard. As if that didn't keep her busy enough, Stephanie is also an image designer at Groupon, who photographs the staff weekly. This creative babe inspires us to get to work, stat. Check out her portfolio here.
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Ryan Beshel, 28, Agent

Ryan is one of Chicago’s brightest energies. As the Director of Runway for Agency Galatea, he scouts new models and develops their potential while planning and attending amazing events around Chicago. When he isn’t looking for the next Karlie Kloss, Ryan is the chief wordsmith behind The Darling Company and J. Cheikh Clothing’s public relations. You can also find Ryan being sartorially expressive on his own blog, The Bowtie Memoirs. Lately, Ryan has been channeling his energy as the Official Publicist for the Chicago Red Dress Party, which allows him to cultivate his love for philanthropy while helping to fundraise for a very worthy cause.

Photo by Meghan Turner.
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Christina Fan, 27, Fashion Designer

An alumna of the 2010 Chicago Fashion Incubator, Christina is a philosopher-at-heart and professionally-repped model blessed with looks that just won't quit. Everything she takes in and dishes out goes into her stunning clothing line, C/FAN. With her garments at boutiques like Sofia on Oak Street, the super saucy SHE in Highland Park, and an ever-increasing number of shipments to stores across the U.S., Europe, and Australia, C/FAN is pure rocket fuel.

Photo by Beking Jossaint.
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Shannon Sangster, 28, Entrepreneur

By day Shannon manages @superfun, a creative lifestyle marketing company he owns with a few friends. But by night, he and his team host @superfunparty, Chicago's "It Party" known for its cult following and stylish aesthetic. With his business card reading “Connector of the Dots,” Shannon truly is patriot and party-maker (as well as true-blue poet), spinning under the name Yours Truly. And with Chivalry Is Not Dead, his new line of ties, you can be sure that Shannon is a real, modern day gentleman.
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Elise Bergman, 26, Fashion Designer

Having launched her line by creating her own course of study concentrating in fashion design at the University of Michigan, Elise Bergman's eponymous clothing line claims rack space at more than 30 high-end boutiques nationwide, including select pieces at Anthropologie. This enterprising beauty sews and hand-dyes in her home studio, stocking her website and Elise Bergman Studio at Roslyn with one-of-a-kind items. Introducing new accessories each season, this spring ushers in leather belts, followed by next fall’s jewelry and fabrics printed with her original designs.

Photo by Anthony Tahlier.
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Kyle Woods, 22, DJ

You might know Kyle Woods better as Kid Color, a DJ who sends disco-influenced sound all across Chi-Town nightlife. He's supported Cut Copy, Hercules & Love Affair, and Chromeo to name just a few, and is currently resident DJ at Smart Bar (we've been, he's amazing). If you're looking for hotness behind Chicago's turntables, you've found it.
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Chelsea Culp, 26, Artist

Chicago artist Chelsea Culp has much to say about being a woman and being human. Her sculpture, installations, and performance work express the spectacle of gender while focusing on movement, speech, and translation of the human experience. Her exhibit at the Seerveld Gallery finds church pews tangled and stacked in a mobius strip with intricate finger paintings surrounding them. Along with Ben Foch, Chelsea also runs New Capitol Projects, which provides “ambitious and uncompromising work to audiences that prefer an uncompromising atmosphere."
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Davis Paul, 22, Athlete

The Chicago Fire’s newest addition, third-round draft pick Davis Paul, is truly a multitalented player, relishing working hard, running hard, and playing just as hard. Soccer fans might know him for his shot-closing skills, but Internet fans probably know him from the infamous viral video he filmed documenting his teammates' boredom while on the road. In fact, Davis almost ended up with a second career in videography because of it. Luckily for Chicago, he can be spotted on the field weekly. Can’t get enough of Davis Paul? His passion for graphic design and philanthropy has kept him involved with groups like Tom’s One Day Without Shoes. Photo via Cal Men's Soccer.
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Megan Connelly and Richard Edwards, 23 and 27, Artist and Musician

Megan Connelly and Richard Edwards are two of Chicago's finest creatives: She's an artist, he's a musician, and in the midst of that, they're parents. We're instantly drawn to Megan's evocative paintings, all of which are for sale here. Richard fronts Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, a local Chicago band you needed to start listening to, like, yesterday. Call them what you like; indie rock, rock, your new favorite band, etc., we can't stop listening.

Photo by Stephanie Bassos.
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Patrick Shaffner, 28, Entrepreneur

As proprietor of The Boring Store, Patrick is charged with keeping the store’s superspy contents under wraps, lest he be the one to let out the true secret of the space: extreme amounts of learning. His real identity is that of the Director of Outreach of 826 Chicago. This top-secret tutoring and writing center is a place for children to develop writing skills, get one-on-one help, and find secret powers of their own. Patrick is the man behind fundraisers like Prom Hanks, Mustache-A-Thon, and Keep Promme and Carry On, and was most recently featured at as the Chicago Zine Fest’s guest bingo caller at Beauty Bar.
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Katie Bezrouch, 25, Marketing Manager

When she's not living the life of a workerbee as Marketing Manager for Doejo, catch Katie co-founding Tour de Cafe Chicago, a program designed to promote homegrown coffee shops. This summer, she'll partner with Loud School Produce Squade and Clarendon Park Community Garden to bring education in sustainability to the residents of Chicago's 46th Ward. At 25-years-old, Katie is already changing how Chicago thinks and works, with dedication. That's downright impressive.
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Bradley Bolt, 29, Bar Master

Managing Partner at Bar DeVille, Brad handles day to day operations, marketing, and public relations. You can also catch him behind the bar at this hot, cash only drinking den teaching his staff a thing or two about mixology. Brad's racked up the awards for his drink-making skills, been lauded by more than a few local publications, and took first place in Bacardi’s Legacy Competition, amongst many other noted wins. The man makes a stiff drink that no one can turn down.
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Lynnette Astaire, 29, Artist

Lynnette Astaire makes things happen of her own accord. Pushing her online project, CY Magazine, she gets contributions from the newest and brightest, publishing artfully curated news on Chicago’s freshest scene. Having signed up clients like Saks 5th Ave, Diesel, charity:water, Pepsi, and Deitch Projects for her wide range of artistic endeavors over the years, she’s perhaps most well-known for being an accomplished photographer who’s shot many noteworthy names in entertainment, sports, and fashion.
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Derek Simcik, 27, Chef

Derek is the executive Chef at Atwood Café. Born in Greece and trained at Der Haussen in Vienna, Derek came to Chicago to assume the role of Executive Chef at Atwood Café. His fun spin on classic cuisine reaches back to his mother’s Louisiana roots and looks forward towards the future of his restaurant. An avid environmentalist, Derek has started construction on a rooftop garden where he plans to grow Atwood’s tomatoes and herbs. Yum!
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Sam Rosen, 25, Entrepreneur, Artist, and Web Designer

Sam calls the shots at One Design, a web design house responsible for the likes of Desktime and other ingenious additions to the Chicago tech landscape. In his spare time, he's also a member of The Post Family, an art collective currently causing a happy stir in the Chicago art community by working up letterpress designs from their own antique rig. The Post Family is known for throwing some pretty radass parties, too, and we suggest you look into this.
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Beth Stelling, 26, Comedienne

Things are happening for Sweet Beth, with every major Chicago media outlet crowning her with awesome titles like, “Best Stand-Up Comedian.” Yeah. This funny girl doesn’t mess around while she pulls your leg. You can see her act at comedy joints all over Chicago as well as places like the Knitting Factory in NYC, The Punch Line in San Francisco, and What’s Up, Tiger Lilly? in Los Angeles. This summer, she’s producing and performing in a decidedly saucy play about quiche at the Dank Haus. Her casual Sunday night set is a don't-miss show at Town Hall Pub.

Photo by Duchess and Monroe.
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Joe Pug, 25, Musician

Joe Pug made his debut EP, Nation of Heat, after skipping his senior year at UNC and high-tailing it to Chicago for late night, no-budget recording sessions. Allowing the people to have their say about this emotionally taut, lyrically complex sound, he sent out free, hand-stamped, two-song samplers to anyone who requested one (to date, over 15,000). With high-handed critics comparing him to greats like Bob Dylan and saying things like: "You could face-palm yourself to death trying to pen songs half as inspired," don’t deny yourself the pleasure of witnessing the birth of great American music.

Photo by Taylor Castle.
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Jessa Brinkmeyer, 29, Entrepreneur

Jessa’s acclaimed shop, Pivot, made a graceful exit in 2008. But lately, she’s been shoring up her mind and sharpening her skills at, a tech accessory startup that’s gone global with its cutting edge technology and the designer-artist collaborations she brokers for the brand. We’re told the Pivot site will relaunch later this year with fresh, new content espousing the know more/care more ethos Jessica is known for. The girl is green, through and through.

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