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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.

Addi McClure

I’ve been creating art my entire life, pretty much from when I was old enough to hold a crayon. Though I had been studying drawing and painting for years, it wasn’t until I lived in Tokyo my junior year that I started exploring what it was that that truly made me happy to create. I found a lot of inspiration in sumi-e fashion illustrations, Art Nouveau, and the animation and design scene. Read more>>

Rachel Catchings

I was attending vet school at the time and had to really buckle down and spend time at home studying and dedicating my time to the path I had chosen to take. This meant being a good kid and staying away from partying, going out, and other distractions. While taking breaks from long hours of reading and homework, I started drawing. Read more>>

Teddy Martin

I’m originally from Columbus, Ohio I moved out to L.A. in 2012. I was only here for a year. I found out my father whom I had only met nine months prior had passed away from a heart attack. When I went back to Ohio, I also found out my mother was diagnosed with fibromyalgia on top of losing nine other family members within the six years of me being back in Columbus. Read more>>

Frenchie and Nika and Wes

Our origin is actually our favorite part of The Black Umbrella. We are a tight-knit group and love to go all out when we can get all of our friends together for an outing. So, on one warm summer day, we made a plan to go out to brunch and spend the whole day with friends. This being our first summer officially done with college, the clear theme was celebration. Read more>>

Michael Arrom

I’m a pianist and an LA transplant from New Jersey. Music first brought me to Los Angeles in 2010 and I’ve never looked back. I never quite had a “Plan B”… As a young person planning my music career, I had always thought that it would be smart to have a supplement to help with my “Plan A”. I worked hard in school and was admitted to Northwestern University during my senior year of high school. I was going to major in economics and continue pursuing music outside of classes. Read more>>


I’ve always been around music. Whether it would be uncle singing at our family parties, or my grandfather singing classical songs with his friends, music has been an essential part of my upbringing. Although I love to sing and rap, initially, I couldn’t picture myself doing this in front of a camera yet alone a live audience. I wanted to be the guy behind the scenes managing talented artists, however, that plan didn’t work out. Read more>>

Tekisha Bonner

I am 25 years of age and I’m from Peoria, Illinois. All my life I’ve had a passion to have a career in either beauty field or education. I chose both but the route I stuck with is being an entrepreneur. I started my business Extensionzbysavonne in May of 2016. I sell high quality hair extensions. From clip ins to lace frontals I have it all. My business was built without any hand outs or help. I started it with $500. Read more>>

Lilah Rose

A few years ago, while I was still living in Olympia, Washington, I was apprenticing with a costume designer and hoping to follow her into a career of challenging, elaborate work for theater and opera productions. Before that, I was living in Chicago going to film school and crossing my fingers that knowing how to use a camera would somehow parlay into production design for something fun and weird like another Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Read more>>

Nicole L. Thompson

I am an independent filmmaker from Newark, NJ who is currently based in downtown Los Angeles. My production company is Dream Factory Productions. I’ve lived in LA the past five years and I’ve directed eight short films during this time. I’ve also written two feature scripts. My films have won many awards including Grand Jury Award and Best Screenplay at various film festivals. Read more>>

Jazzston Williams

Objectively speaking, my story is so unbelievable that I often say to myself, “I’ve lived a wild, crazy life!.” I’ve played basketball both collegiately (Southern University) and professionally (The Harlem Globetrotters). I have a degree in Finance mainly due to the fact that I’m a money and numbers guy. I mean, the list goes on and on, but ultimately, I’ve landed within this creative space in film and music! Honestly speaking. Read more>>

John Corsa and Robert Warner

It all started slightly after John and I met. We were in the living room learning about one another which lead to eventual conversations on how we could utilize our past experiences to develop something that interested both of us in bettering the well-being of our shared community. John has many years of direct wellness experience as a consultant in Boulder, Colorado. Read more>>

Tony Camaro

In short, It wasn’t until I took a trip out to New York for a semester studying abroad that I realized I could make a living creating art. Something really spoke to me on this trip, around 2017, that allowed me to hyper focus on painting and fashion. I started going into every store and gallery asking questions, painting on any piece of found wood on the streets that I could find. Read more>>

Roderick Burke Jr.

I had to deal with the tourist attractions, the safe space events, gimmicky and superficial attractions. The culture of the community was missing, the spice of what makes that place special was lost to capitalism. So while traveling through Thailand in a cramped cab my fellow Co-Founder Roberto Jolliffe  and I came up with the concept of Evntures. We wanted to know what the alternative events in each city were. Read more>>

Monica Windom

I moved to LA about a year and a half ago. I originally came to visit for a week, and the day before my flight, I got convinced (by a few friends) to stay. They offered me a place to stay which was with them in a small studio apartment in Koreatown. I immediately started looking for jobs on sites like Craigslist (That site works). Read more>>

Elin and Anh-Thu Dannerstedt

NCLA Beauty was founded in 2010 in Downtown, Los Angeles. The brand was founded with a selection of unique, hard-to-find, nail wrap designs. NCLA Beauty burst into the scene when nail art was at its peak with a product that was easy to use. We quickly made headlines with the press by collaborating with the likes of Hello Kitty, Beyonce, Barbie, and more. From there, the brand soon developed a line of 7-Free, Vegan nail polishes and treatments. Read more>>

 Aaliyah Muse

I’m usually referred to as Aali. I am a 24 years old singer/songwriter born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. Performing Arts has always been something I’ve loved since I can remember. I began dancing/choreography at 11 years old and continued frequently until I was 17. I desired to express myself via multiple art forms. During my grade school years, I was involved in after-school programs which catered to my creative needs. Read more>>

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