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Downtown’s Hidden Gems

Every day we have a choice. We can support an up and coming podcaster, try a new family-run restaurant, join a boutique gym started by a local fitness champ or we could keep giving away our money to the handful of giants who already control so much of our commerce. Our daily decisions impact the kind world we live in; if we want a world where small businesses are growing and artists and creatives are thriving then we should support them with our time, money and attention. We’re proud to highlight inspiring creatives and entrepreneurs each week in Hidden Gems series.  Check out some of downtown’s gems below.

Walid Azami

I became fascinated with helping others, and I am a firm believer that there’s enough room for everyone to win. But we all must work together in saving photography, growing the art, evolving it and we must all stop working for free. I don’t like to do free work, and neither does anyone else. Read more>>

Ali Silverstein

It started with collecting shells on the beach in Hawaii with my dad as a child, organizing them by color and shape. Here in LA, going to the Blue Whale/ Pacific Design Center with my grandma, who was an interior designer for Hollywood celebrities like Lucille Ball, and playing with fabric swatches for hours. Read more>>

Scott Vasquez

My journey starts way back as a child, from experiencing extreme bullying in elementary school and junior high school, to having alcoholic parents, where as a result of their choices I was on my way to becoming homeless. Needless to say, I grew up fast and at 18 my dad told me one evening after getting home from a late night out, that we were getting evicted and only had until high school graduation to stay there. Read more>>

Don French

My career as a DJ started in 2018 during a time in my life where I found myself uninspired; a few years went by where being creative was put on hold to pursue my day job as an educator. But last August, on my way home from an ionnalee concert, I had an ah-ha moment. Read more>>

Nick Cavalier

Drawing and music were always an escape for me. I eventually got a scholarship to a school in central Ohio, where I started doing music videos on the side with a fellow metalhead friend of mine. It sort of took off for both of us, and we developed a solid reputation. Read more>>

Anthony Bawn

As an African American Male, who discovered himself at a late age, my husband has been a key instrument in why I do what I do. All of the personal struggles he told me he went through, knowing he was gay in his teenage years, made me have a new outlook out on life and how to prevent or help other young black men alike know that there are opportunities for you to thrive. Read more>>

Iain Muirhead

I decided to make Los Angeles my new home and bring all of my creative practices back into the studio. I spent the following three years completing my MFA in the Arts and Humanities Department at Claremont Graduate University. My wife, daughter, and I now live in Northeast LA (Hermon), and my studio is in the Downtown LA Toy District. Read more>>

Maureen Burke

I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time. While working in Chicago as a receptionist at the very prestigious Vidal Sassoon Salon, a Celebrity MUA from LA, Marie Augustine, started a makeup line for the company. She needed MUAs in all of the salon locations for a Nationwide launch. Read more>>

Tina Jo

When I was 15-years-old, I was going through a lot of hardship with depression. That’s when I found photography that helped me overcome the depression. I was very attracted to abstract photography at first but over time, I found joy in photographing people. It started from just taking photos of people on the street who I found attractive and interesting. Read more>>


I stumbled across a free music production program online about year ago. At first, I was just fooling around and experimenting with the sounds but after a while, I started to put some good music together to my surprise. I started distributing my music on music streaming platforms about a month later and promoting on Instagram. Read more>>

Peng Zhou

I have a deep dream that I want to be an oil painter when I studied in art school (same as high school leave). After graduated from Shanghai Theater Academy, I accidentally worked as a commercial photographer. Until one day, I thought I might change something for the current job (commercial photographer) which I had already worked for ten years. Read more>>

Monique Herrera

Through starting my own brand, I have had some bumpy paths in my road. I have had people take advantage of my talents and steal my ideas. I’ve had some very unpleasant people to work with. Its been a really big eyeopener for me. My advice: it takes a lot of passion, drive, commitment, energy, courage, and a positive mindset to start a company. Read more>>

Wendy-Sème Orleans

It all started in high school when I decided to do the High school play “The King and I. However I missed the audition the only part left which was play the slave (none speaking role). Since I had so much energy and enthusiasm, the director adds several new scenes for me. By the time we were done with the play, I was in love with acting. Read more>>

Francesca Hogi

One of the benefits of my business is working with clients all over the country, and even overseas. I can coach from anywhere I have a phone and an internet connection. After going back and forth for a few years between NY and CA, I relocated from Brooklyn to LA and I couldn’t be happier! Read more>>

Mark Murphy

Hello. Cleveland, Ohio, is where it all started. With a great music scene and great art museums, I was exposed to a world bursting with radiant creativity no matter how challenging the weather. At some point, while skateboarding across campus during college, I took special notice in all of the school fliers hanging all over school promoting music events, social parties, and random punk rock inspired points of view. Read more>>

Madeleine Mayi

Every part of my life feels like a different chapter so sometimes it’s hard for me to track my stages of life and string them to how I got where I am, all I know is I made it here and there is good!! I love Santa Barbara so much and still go home to write songs on my childhood piano all the time. Read more>>

Debjeet Gupta

I decided to pursue my MBA and ended up in Los Angeles. Soon after, I started working with startups and adding value to them from my past experience, which provided me with a much-needed exposure to the Venture Capital industry. I realized that in a way, Venture Capital, Private Equity and Investment Banking (M&A) was all about helping a company start from an idea. Read more>>

Salmannsa (Sal) Rodgers

It all started back in 2015. After a sudden passing of my grandfather to whom I was very close too. I went into a deep depression and was unhappy with my life. To get me out of the house and be a bit social my husband got me a membership at Golds Gym. I use to dislike the gym a lot. I thought lifting weights would make me look bigger and masculine. Read more>>

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