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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.

Kate Kats

I am doing makeup with more than 12 years. Makeup was a hobby while I was a student. Creating makeup looks, participating in different championships in Russia was my passion. I loved to create special overwhelming looks and always loved to create something special for the stage and models. I reached the TOP-10 Russian makeup artists in 2009 according to the international organization OMC. A few years later, in 2013. Read more>>

Esther Lee

I was always crazy about jewelry, gemstones and crystals ever since I was a little girl. One of my favorite things to do was to watch home shopping networks and gem auctions. I would literally obsess and drool over the sparkly jewelry I saw on tv and was completely hypnotized by the way the sales-women would market them. I thought they had the coolest job in the whole world and I wanted to be just like them. Read more>>

Cindy Roopchand

I have a heart for serving and encouraging others. As a little girl, I grew up in an unstable household which led my parents to file for divorce. I remember bouncing from house to house and witnessing many things growing up in New York City. Therefore, school became my escape. My love for learning and having a heart for children led me to become an elementary school teacher. After a few years of teaching, my husband and I decided it was time for us to start a family. Read more>>

Alessio Grancini

Why LA? I have always wanted to move to Los Angeles. It sounds clichè, but when I was a teenager, I was deeply influenced by the alternative art scene that was happening here in LA; and when the opportunity presented itself, I could not resist the idea of moving here. Almost all of my interests, from animation to music, seemed to have some sort of connection to this city. When I would look online at my favorite artists, projects, etc., it always somehow tied back to LA. I decided that this was not just a coincidence, it was a sign. Read More>>

Emani Pitter

Formally known as Mani Marie, and I am a 20 years old lash artist from South Central LA. I’ve always been interested in everything about the beauty industry but lashes really caught my eye. In 2017, once I graduated from high school I saved up money and took a lash course. From there, I continued to practice my craft and invest more and more into classes. I finally got my esthetician license and immediately started renting a booth to start taking clients at. Read more>>

Konli

I grew up in Florida in a house where music was always on and always appreciated. My mom loves to dance, my brother did DJing in college, and my dad is a singer and drummer! He was the lead singer and drummer of a band called Dr. Feelgood in my hometown Sarasota. While I was still a baby growing up, they played all over at bars and nightclubs and would practice at our house. I loved watching them set up and run all the wires for practices and performances. Read more>>

Josh Buckwald

Since as early as I can remember, pasta has been my comfort food. My grandma made the most incredible noodles with butter sauce that no one else could replicate throughout my entire childhood. (It turns out she was just salting her pasta water properly… but I wouldn’t learn that for another 25 years.) I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a chef. I spent a year working on Broadway for Wicked right out of college. Read more>>

David Puck

I’m a painter and muralist, focusing on queer culture and mental health awareness. I paint mostly queer portraits, such as of drag artists, and through their stories, explore universal principles of life and mental health. I see art and painting as a vehicle for communication and connection. I’ve always loved art and been fascinated/confused by humans, how differently we think and experience life, partly informed by my own mental health challenges. Read more>>

Segan Friend

I moved to LA in June 2006. Previously I had been living in London working on film and TV as a propman and art director. I must be one of the few people to move here to get out of the film industry! The usual story of boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl gets boy to work for her lucha libre/burlesque show. I started working with Lucha VaVOOM. It began with designing show posters and building specialty props for the show. Read more>>

Devon Blow

I’ve been an artist my entire life but had never really shared my art publicly. I started leaning more heavily on my art as an outlet for my mental health. I eventually began to realize that I could create art that impacted others, whether it was making them laugh, sparking some sort of nostalgia, or even just uplifting others. From those “thoughts”, Purple Pineapple was born. Read more>>

Viola Choice

I am 23 years old originally from the Bay Area. I am a business owner, business consultant, college graduate, financial coach and good person. My business, Chosen Official LLC, is a motivational clothing company created to not only bring you style but to motivate you to turn your test into your testimony. God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers aka “The Chosen Ones”. Read more>>

Ryan Rehbock

A decade ago, I started buying small cases of jewelry from my friends who were incredible emerging artists. After selling the entire case, I’d buy a bigger case… I did this for years until I created an extensive collection of pieces. Over time I created a network of collectors and artists and became the curator I am today. As time went on, I started to build complex custom pieces for unique customers with rare gemstones and precious metals. Read more>>

Mollie Moore

Mollie Moore is a documentary filmmaker originally from South London. Mollie started in the theatre and narrative world but discovered her passion in documentary filmmaking after leaving the UK at 19 years old and discovering the world for herself, with a camera in hand. After moving around for four years, she settled in New York City to establish herself in the documentary world and has gone on to make three films in collaboration with filmmaker Lucia Florez, as well as work as a cinematographer on many other projects. Read more>>

Rubella Spreads

I started Drag around seven years ago on a whim. I was in a relationship with someone who wanted to try it but said he was scared to try alone. I threw a party and told everyone to dress in drag so he wouldn’t feel alone. Little did I know I’d enjoy it. Started off in a living room and then just got the bug to perform. I met Ms. Luna and Saint Peter D’vil along the way. They really helped me get my start by letting me perform in their shows when I had basically no experience. Read more>>

Xi Chou

When I was four, my grandma got a new TV set. My friends and I loved to gather in front of the TV to watch Disney films. I was amazed. I wish I was the magician who created the world inside the screen. I started making sets out of Lego, imagining myself as that “screen magician”. I kept chasing this dream and was accepted to the university with the most prestigious traditional Chinese theater program, learning scenic design of Chinese arts. Read more>>

Shyama Golden

My background is in oil painting and graphic design, but after a decade of working in the graphic and interactive design fields, I’ve focused my practice on figurative art. Primarily I work as an independent visual artist. I’m based in LA, but I’ve also lived in Austin, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and many different places in Texas where I grew up. I started out doing oil paintings, but I also work digitally when I want to create seamless patterns and looping animations. Read more>>

Roni Davis

Josh and I used to work in a restaurant together for a while and became really close friends. We would talk and daydream on the line about when he would open his own concept and what that would look like. Josh had left the restaurant and the ball started rolling on Orso, which was initially supposed to be a dine in casual fine dining establishment. Then COVID happened and obviously everything kind of came to a halt. Read more>>

Rick Dbnr

The first time I ever shared any of my music in public was in a small church in Forestville Maryland. I was 13 years old and didn’t know how people would receive it. Over the years, I battled back and forth with how I would express myself creatively. Whether it be through sports, music or other extracurricular activities I was involved in. I was a teenager and was heavily influenced by my family to take a traditional route to life. Go to school, get a degree, get a good job and have a steady income. Read more>>

Jasondra Johnson

I’m a singer/actress originally from Chicago…well I claim Chicago but I grew up in the South Suburbs. LOL! I started singing when I was about three years old per my parents. They always say that I started singing as soon as I started talking. I don’t remember not singing that’s for sure! My parents always talk about how my daddy would play music and sing to me when I was still in my mama’s belly. I’m sure that’s where it all started for me. Read more>>

Ezra Vallez

I may be four foot seven but, I was born with no choice except to fight. I grew up bi-racial. My father is black, and my mother is Mexican. I was raised between the bay area and Mississippi by my grandparents on both sides. I grew up in a traditional southern household and a Latino household. I spoke three languages constantly shifting between homes. Spanish, English, Farsi. I moved to DTLA in 2019 after being offered a rare opportunity with Warner Music Group. Read more>>

Moises Zulaica

I was born in a very non-musical family. Don’t get me wrong, I’m Latino, and Latinos love music, we love to dance, sing, and party, but choosing music as your profession is definitely something that would give your grandma a heart attack, at least that’s how it is back in Mexico. Remember the movie Coco? It’s just like that. Even if there weren’t any musicians in my family, I’ve always loved music and felt a special connection to it from a very early age. Read more>>

Mev

I got my start in Jacksonville, Florida at the ripe age of 12 after being introduced to a software known as Fruity Loops by a friend. Little did I know that from that day onward, I would spend the rest of my life using Fruity Loops and many other production/recording programs like it. I spent my first six years from that life-changing day teaching myself how to craft instrumentals. Read more>>

Tharathip Soulisak

I grew up in Northern Virginia right outside of DC as the child of Lao refugee parents that fled their home country of Laos in the 1970’s along with many other Lao people. At a very young age, my mother taught me the importance of cultural and Buddhist traditions. I was only about 12 years old my mom first shared her story of risking her life fleeing her country and coming with not a cent to the US a foreign and unknown place struggling to take care of their family. Read more>>

Mar Fayos

Mar Fayos is a Jazz vocalist from Barcelona. Her music could be described as Jazz fusion creations with Latin, Pop, Mediterranean and Soul influences, able to satisfy the tastes of the most demanding listeners of each genre. Where the elegance and sensitiveness of traditional jazz intersect with powerful and personal messages, Mar Fayos finds the perfect environment to create special memories for the audience, transforming a jazz concert into a complete and intimate shared journey.​ Read more>>

Nia Smith

I’ve always been involved with advocacy and student government. It’s one of the few things that stay pretty consistent when you move every couple of years. Everyone needs advocacy, and everyone has a system set up to allow it. When I got started at Trade Tech, I had only planned on being an architect. I just wanted to do something about the housing crisis, climate, and young POCs in design. Read more>>

Cho

I graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI in 2014 with a degree in finance. I found a job as a mutual fund accountant and worked in that career for the next four years. I started sewing in 2016 just to tailor my suits and have nicer fitting work clothes. Soon that hobby was starting to consume my life. I found myself sewing for hours after my 8 hour work day. Just making clothes for myself-mixing and mashing pieces together. Read more>>

Svet Jacqueline

I got into photography in high school learning in a darkroom. It was more of an avocation until I was selected as a photography finalist for both YoungArts and Scholastics Art & Writing Awards in 2010. In 2012, I was featured on the HBO documentary, Masterclass, where I was mentored by Bruce Weber and had a show at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami. I went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism from the S.I Read more>>

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