Updated Jan 25, 2024 - News

Clevelanders to watch in 2024

Binoculars merged with pair of 2024 new year's glasses.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

With a new year comes a new collection of local go-getters worth watching.

  • We're taking a look at Northeast Ohio homegrown talent looking make their mark on 2024.

Siena Bella

A woman sits at a diner both with pancakes on the table.
Singer Siena Bella. Photo: Courtesy of Siena Bella

Singer Siena Bella is sure to have a lot of people waiting for her next song.

Flashback: Bella, daughter of Fox 8 news anchor Stefani Schaefer, began posting singing videos on TikTok in 2019.

  • She has since amassed 1.6 million followers on the platform.

The intrigue: Bella's following drew the attention of Cleveland DJ and music producer E-V.

What they're saying: "They are all people I look up to," Bella tells Axios.

  • "I'm so honored and grateful that I get to learn from them, be mentored by them and call them my friends."

What's next: Bella says she's spent most of 2023 in the recording studio and plans to roll out new music she calls "more vulnerable" in the coming months.

Chrissy Cavotta

Photo: Still Moving Creative

Cavotta has been putting together events as a side project for more than a decade — but she just recently made it her full-time gig.

Flashback: Some may remember Cavotta as the owner of Tre Sorelle, a boutique in Little Italy that closed in 2018.

  • The shop was known for seasonal fashion shows Cavotta hosted to promote the business.

The intrigue: This past November, she launched Events by Chrissy Cavotta and has already put on, among others, a Browns watch party at The Velvet Dog.

What they're saying: "Tre Sorelle was known only for fashion shows and fashion-related events," Cavotta tells Axios.

  • "The idea behind the new venture is to not be boxed into one category and be an all-encompassing event production company."

What we're watching: Cavotta's company has several things coming up, including a lingerie and burlesque show at The Ivy on Feb. 8, a Galentine's Day dinner party at Mama Santa's on Feb. 13 and a singles mixer at Lost Social Club on Feb. 15.

Natalie Cockburn

Woman poses in studio with white background.
Photo: Agnes Szlapka

Natalie Cockburn knows how to stay busy.

Flashback: In 2017, Cockburn opened Cocky's Bagels with her husband, Keene.

  • The business now has three locations, two food trucks and a bakery.

The intrigue: She also co-owns The Workshop, a dance and fitness studio in Westlake, and serves on the board of Stepstone Academy, a charter school in Cleveland's Central neighborhood.

What they're saying: "While entrepreneurship is great, what I'm most passionate about is giving back to my community," Cockburn tells Axios.

  • "As far as finding time for everything, my sleep schedule is completely messed up, and I get the majority of my work done at 3 in the morning."

What's next: Cockburn says she'd like to take it easy in 2024 but admits she's already eyeing a fourth Cocky's location.

  • "In the meantime, I want to create a late-night scene at our Flats location and am planning a few fundraisers," she says. "I've also dabbled with the idea of starting a podcast."

Doe Boy

Rapper Doe Boy performs on stage.
Photo: Prince Williams/Wireimage via Getty Images

There's a good chance you've heard hip-hop artist Doe Boy recently.

The intrigue: The East Cleveland native's song "Way Too Long" is the most Shazamed track in the United States thanks to being featured in Apple's popular iPhone 15 Plus commercial.

Flashback: Doe Boy first gained popularity with the track "Mini Vans" in 2018 and then reached viral status in 2019 when LeBron James posted an Instagram video rapping to Doe Boy's song "Walk Down."

What they're saying: "I've got so much music I've been working on," Doe Boy said during a recent podcast interview.

  • "I've just been perfecting my craft and how I want to come out to the world."

What's next: Doe Boy, who is signed to rapper Future's Freebandz label, recently released the video for the single "Huh" and plans to keep dropping new music throughout the year.

Lauren Jabel

A woman poses for a photo in a red suit.
Photo: Amanda Dela Rosa

Lauren Jabel was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers Girls when LeBron James led the team to the NBA championship in 2016.

State of play: This year, she's focused on her new company, Astir Marketing, which provides solutions for small businesses like restaurants, bars and construction companies.

What they're saying: "My mission is to enhance companies' visibility," Jabel tells Axios.

  • "I want to scale up by introducing different departments, enabling me to assist a broader range of services to companies and fulfill their marketing needs."

Yes, but: Jabel hasn't given up dance. She's established Indulge Heels, which trains women to dance in high heels.

  • "Dancing in heels has made me feel alive and confident," Jabel says. "My goal is to empower women to feel comfortable in their own skin while imparting the skills and grace required for dancing in heels."

Morelle McCane

A referee holds up a boxers hand
Photo: Javier Torres/AFP via Getty Images

Cleveland native Morelle McCane will look to make more history this summer in Paris.

What's happening: In October, the 29-year-old became the first athlete from Cleveland to qualify for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

  • She's the first-ever female boxer from Cleveland to earn a spot in any Olympic Games.

Flashback: McCane earned her spot on Team USA with a victory at the 2023 Santiago Pan American Games.

What they're saying: "I am honored to continue the Cleveland legacy and to be the first female from Cleveland to join the list of greats before me," McCane told Olympics.com in November.

What's next: McCane is asking for donations to help with travel expenses to Paris for her family and coaches.

Justis Mendez

Man poses for photo in sunglasses in Florida.
Photo: Courtesy of Justis Mendez

Justis Mendez has set an ambitious goal for 2024.

The intrigue: His firm OneSixOne Ventures, which invests in enterprise software startups, is looking to raise capital by year-end.

Flashback: Mendez founded OneSixOne with Pablo Casilimas in 2017, joining the fewer than 2% of the U.S. fund managers who are Hispanic.

By the numbers: In its first two years, OneSixOne helped 40 startup companies raise over $13 million, including sports gambling app Betr, which is now valued at more than $440 million.

What they're saying: "We saw a really massive gap and wanted to change the narrative," Mendez tells Axios.

  • "I think we have a compelling story, and we're doing something different than a lot of people."

What's next: Mendez, who grew up on Cleveland's west side amid poverty and gang violence, hopes to bring OneSixOne's accelerator program, which teaches entrepreneurship, to local schools.

Isis Smith

A woman poses in a white dress on a beach.
Model Isis Smith. Photo: Howard Bruce

The past two years have been a whirlwind of runways and fashion shows for Isis Smith.

Flashback: The East Cleveland native and Shawn High School alum got her first taste of modeling with a local designer in 2021.

The intrigue: Smith committed to modeling full-time in 2022. Since then, she's walked the runway in the 2022 Pre-BET Awards fashion show and Gloria James' NBA All-Star fashion show and has participated in New York Fashion Week.

What they're saying: "It's been a wild ride full of vast experiences and emotions," Smith tells Axios.

  • "Over the past few years, modeling has become more of a goal than just a hobby or something I'm curious about."

What's next: Smith hopes to sign with a top 10 modeling agency in 2024.

  • Smith also has her bachelor's in criminal justice from King University and plans to attend law school.

Stephen Vogt

New Guardians manager Steve Vogt poses for a photo at the stadium.
Guardians manager Stephen Vogt. Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

Stephen Vogt has big shoes to fill as the new manager of the Guardians.

What's happening: In November, Cleveland tapped the 39-year-old former MLB catcher to replace Terry Francona, the winningest manager in Guardians history.

The intrigue: This is Vogt's first managerial job.

  • The two-time All-Star spent last year as the bullpen and quality control coach with the Seattle Mariners.

What they're saying: "I feel like I've been planning for this for a long time," Vogt said during a press conference in November.

  • "I don't feel any pressure to replace [Francona]. You can't fill those shoes. This is one of the greatest managers our game has ever seen."

What we're watching: The Guardians will look to bounce back after a disappointing year that saw them miss the postseason.

Editor's note: Check back this week for more people to watch.


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