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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.

Christopher Arthur

It started with a conviction. I was tired of seeing certain clothing that was trendy or providing people with no lasting value after they buy a product. I wanted to create something that surpassed just the making and purchasing of a garment. A conviction to provide something of meaning that was bigger than myself. I knew that the trials and seasons I was experiencing, someone was going through the same thing. Through those trials, I wanted to encourage people through these trials and also glorifying God which doing so. I didn’t have any background knowledge of Fashion or the details of making a product. From beginning to this point has all been God’s hand and grace guiding me through each collection, every detail. God has provided the right people, the design, the how to when I questioned while keeping the message and Him at the center. I know he’s using this to plant seeds for his Kingdom and I’m excited to see him continue to carry me through this journey. Read more>>

Charity Dahl

Most of my childhood life, I knew I was obsessed with the world of fashion. I grew up in a military family and for the first couple years of grade school, I went to schools that required us to wear uniforms. My first memory of knowing that I loved fashion, at a very young age, I wanna say 3rd grade, was being able to at least pick my shoes and backpack that I got to wear with my uniform. I remember practicing runway walks in my uniform hoping that if I had good walk, it’d make up for the lack of creativity in my outfit. Fast forward to like sophomore year in high school. Before this period in my life, I never really questioned how I could make a career out of fashion, and I didn’t really even know what my options were. FIDM had visited my school for career day, their presentation was literally the only presentation I remember from that day, and I knew that that’s where I was gonna go. Read more>>

Myrani Figueroa

Growing up, I was always a little fashionista. I would throw on an outfit, pair it with the best accessories I could find (whether they were mine or my mom’s), and take a bunch of photos as if I was on America’s Next Top Model. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit where I actually started to take my interests seriously. Since I was forced to stay home, I was always online shopping, putting fits together, and posting on Instagram. Eventually, people started to notice my style more and asked me to model/style for photoshoots. Read more>>

Lena Herrero

I’ve been part of wonderful charity fashion show events back in the day to help and support the cause. I did not intend to become a fashion runway model until I got casted by an organization that supports highly about suicide prevention and created an epic 1000+ audience fashion show to generate awareness for a great cause. After that and a personal life-changing event within my family, I noted to myself, why not? Life is amazing and short so go for something that you think you’ll love even if it’s not your full-time job. And so I did. Since then, I’ve been in many shows including United Together Fashion Show owned by an amazing person, Farhan Chowdhury. Read more>>

Stephany Fashempour

19 years ago, while pregnant with my second child, I realized I wanted to be home to raise my kids. However, I needed to work as well to help provide for our growing family. While working in sales, I was also dabbling in photography by photographing friends’ family portraits, engagement sessions, and maternity sessions. At the time, there was no social media, and working from home wasn’t as easy as it is today. But nonetheless, I decided to start my own photography business. I remember driving around town to various businesses (bridal shops, florists, jewelers) and leaving my business card because the wedding industry was where I thought I wanted to take my business. I would second shoot for various photographers and really loved it. Read more>>

Tosha Hartzog

I’m 24 years old from San Diego, CA. I’ve always been into the creative arts. I’ve always loved fashion and as I got older, I started experimenting with my style like putting socks in my tops for shoulder pads haha, to wearing cool accessories and fun colors, to even starting a fashion club and wearing heels frequently to school in my last High School years. Started styling when after high school. I started going to FIDM as a Product Development major and it wasn’t for me so when a man who was in the industry came to speak to our class, I talked to him and told him I’ve recently been getting into styling and I think that’s more for me. He ended up recommending a local stylist in SD Lady and told me to email her. After that, I started assisting her and another local stylist Skylar and then I fell so in love with styling! I started developing my skill for photoshoot styling and the rest is history! I started creative directing and styling my own shoots to build my portfolio. Now I’m in LA taking my career to the next level. Read more>>

Jorgelina Chaij

I am originally from Cordoba Argentina, I moved to the US in 2000 after getting married. I have two independent smart daughters that are my life. After my firstborn started school, I decided to go back to be able to learn more and better adapt to my new community and support my kids in school. I completed a bachelor’s in Business administration in 2011, but shortly after losing both of my parents to Cancer in a two-year period, became very sad and started to have health issues. I returned to yoga practice and find peace and joy once again. Yoga helped me heal childhood traumas, it became support for my panic attacks after being sexually attacked while pregnant, it supported my body in many ways and clarity for my mind. I realized that my purpose in life was to become a Yoga Teacher to serve the community. Read more>>

Amber Manaz

My brand Perfect Manaz was just a thought like everything that starts up. It wasn’t until I noticed that every time I went anywhere, I would get compliments on my outfits. People often asked where I brought my clothing from and friends would ask me for advise on outfit ideas for events. I then knew that having style and a sense of fashion was something that came natural to me. After some time, I realized that I should start a brand to help other women with their style and help them build overall confidence when wearing the clothing. After the idea came, I would constantly talk about starting up a women’s online clothing shop. My mom was tired of me procrastinating on starting so she gifted me $800 on my birthday in 2019. Read more>>

Jeff Hafler

I am America’s Hairstorian. I was a History lover who became a hairdresser when I was a teenager. I thought I would be an archaeologist when I was a kid. I ended up graduating at the top of my class in beauty school at the Ohio State school of cosmetology in Columbus, Ohio. My career started in Columbus, Ohio. I then moved to Seattle and Hollywood, California before I settled in the high desert in Joshua Tree and 29 Palms with my husband Mikal Winn a fabulous jewelry designer www.mikalwinndesigns.com and our 16 years old son Cash! I started collecting when I was 19 in 1991, 30 years ago this year! The collection now contains over 3000 pieces of hair and beauty history and memorabilia and it’s all on display inside of my salon and museum in Joshua Tree, California. www.BeautyBubble.net I recently had an exhibit at the SFO Museum in the San Francisco Airport Harvey Milk terminal called Hair Style. Read more>>

Antjuan Ward

I’ve always had a sense of creativity to me, to explore my kid like imagination. When I was in high school, I used that creativity in the form of poetry and rapping. It was a way for me to tell the stories I had in my head. This led me to become a songwriter and a music producer. However, I always felt a connection with films somehow; I was never introduced to the world of cinema until 2012. Partnering with a friend who went to film school, I started learning new ways to turn the stories that were manifesting in my head into reality. I began teaching myself the art of filmmaking, focusing on Directing and Screenwriting. I finally found the outlet that made the most sense to who I am as a person. This led me to create my first web series entitled “Insomnia” in 2015, which gained 25,000 views collectively and accepted my script into a local film festival. Since then, I’ve created two more short films, two TV pilots, and another series entitled “Differences” and have been selected into more than 15 film festivals. Safe to say, I’m on the right path. Read more>>

B-Side Studios

B-Side Studios LLC was founded by Maurice D. Proffit on January 9th, 2019. Although the brand itself has been building for close to 10 years while Maurice has been piecing together all of the parts to create the company that he has today. B-Side was founded on the principles of “Everyone’s voice deserves to be heard”. After many years of facing a multitude of rejections and denials from opportunities that he pursued in the Chicagoland area, he came to a point where he was tired of asking permission from others “to be great”. It was a combination of those closed doors and the strength behind his self-belief that drove him to create a platform that not only allowed him to create his craft but also to give other lesser-known and nontraditional artists to build up their craft. B-Side doesn’t discriminate when it comes to age, experience, cultural background, socioeconomic status, social status, etc. If you have a desire to create, then B-Side is your home. Read more>>

Carly Waters

Being a descendant of many lineages of artists and creators and being the daughter of a farmer raised on the precipitous cliffs of Big Sur, I can safely say I have an appreciation for beauty and the natural world. My artistic interest, encouraged by my parents and my environment, blossomed and evolved in all of the right ways. Much of my inspiration growing up was drawn from the rugged splendor around me — the gentle roar of the waves, the glimmer of an abalone shell, and the smoldering sunsets I was able to enjoy. It was from all of this that the idea of CWD was born. I remember first experimenting with rocks and jewelry design as a kid. I tumbled some rocks I found on the beach, made them into an earring and necklace set and gifted them to my mother (which I still believe she has). Later in High School, after being reintroduced by a friend with some wire and pliers, I began to experiment again. I would mix semi-precious and precious stones without pretense or plan. Read more>>

Alejandro Amezquita

I’m a 22-year-old who is a music director and guitarist from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I started playing guitar when I was 12 years old and haven’t stopped ever since. After spending countless hours practicing guitar, I started looking for opportunities to perform live. I spent a couple of months performing with a cover band before taking the decision to move to Guadalajara to pursue my music career. Unfulfilled by opportunities, I took the next leap in my career and moved to Los Angeles where I currently reside since 2018. Read more>>

Kathe Madrigal

My journey as an artist all started at age 3 when I would wear my father’s oversized white undershirt and paint in the hillside backyard with my mother. My mother loved crafts and exposed me to many different mediums as I grew up. From finger painting and tie-dye to needlepoint and hook rugs, she always had me busy with my hands. When I had my own room, at the age of 14, she didn’t even balk at my request to paint my bedroom walls like Pollock. Although I enjoyed artistic activities, I never really considered having an art career. I was primed by my all-girls private school to achieve but, it was rarely directed toward art. It was more of an academic education as opposed to liberal arts. I entered U.C.S.B. as an art major because that sounded more fun than being a Comm major. It was here where I discovered all the fundamentals of art and found oil painting. It was magical and so satisfying. But still, never thought of it as a career. Read more>>

Manndola Dorsilon

I started off as a student of Hot Yoga. The practice and elements of the series transformed my life so much that I immediately began brainstorming ways to bring heated workouts to the world of modern fitness. It took me about 1.5 years to actually sequence, layout and solidify my workout known as it is today. Once I had my blueprint, I taught a pilot class in Beverly Hills and the rest is history. Thanks to my amazing clients and word of mouth, I’ve been able to expand out to studios and in 2019 won #1 workout in Los Angeles with hundreds of 5 star reviews and counting. Dolafit is a combination workout that is heated to 105 degrees with 80% humidity. Unfortunately, you won’t find many clips of my class online or videos of what we do…that’s done on purpose 🙂 Cameras/phones aren’t allowed! My class is a safe space for everyone taking and I’d like to keep it that way as long as I possibly can. The only way to experience the magic of DF is to be there. Every class is electrifying, different and communal! I never take it for granted and I’m extremely grateful that I get to wake up and do what I love. Read more>>

Giulia Borellini

I was born and raised in a small town called Carpi in the province of Modena, right in the center north of Italy. Though Emilia Romagna may be most famous for its local specialties – prosciutto, parmigiano, and balsamic vinegar – and its unmatchable automotive design, this region has a long tradition and thriving industry in fashion that has given birth to some of the most famous high-end luxury brands in the world. These roots and coming from a family that has worked in the apparel industry for their whole life, I’ve always been fascinated by it. While I was studying at the first three years of university, I started working at a vintage store in my hometown where I used to go shop for years and to this date. The owners became and still are family to me and we had traveled abroad together to trend forecast for many years. Read more>>

Franklin Fuentes

I remember picking up my dad’s Sony camcorder when I was in my early teens and attempting to make my first films. Horror, of course. This was after my older brother had introduced me to “Psycho” by Alfred Hitchcock. That was the beginning of an artistic ongoing journey. Once I realized I could create the worlds I wanted and could get friends to act them out for me, I knew this was what I wanted to do the rest of my life. This lead me to wanting to get as much knowledge and experience as I could in order to learn more about the business of filmmaking. My first goal was to learn the inside of it so I started an internship with an L.A. based talent management company. While at the company, I would get on sets and do any work I could do behind the scenes. Most of my earlier work was in music videos. Which explains my love for the synchronization of sonics and visuals that is still apparent in my work today. Read more>>

Diana Ninéth

I guess I got into fiber art when I was designing embroidery on apparel as part of work, I’ve worked in the apparel industry for about 11 years, I fell absolutely in love with embroidery. I did so well with it I was often assigned our womenswear embroidery projects, I learned a lot through collecting vintage textiles and Mexican or Guatemalan textile art. I am Mexican-Guatemalan born in the US, fiber art is a huge part of my roots, every time I visit Mexico I make sure to take a day to hunt for local textile art. My partner is an artist, I always admired his ability to create in his studio everyday after work. He inspired me to create art of my own, I decided to learn punch needle and tufting a couple of years ago, back then tufting wasn’t really well known and there was very limited information about it, I learned through a lot of research and trial and error. I started to create art for fun and then it became a part of my magic practice, I have been a witch for about 13 years, fiber art has really taken my practice to another level. Read more>>

Ilene Squires LaCourt

The truth is businesses cannot thrive without format. I know this the hard way. That is why I believe in empowering creative entrepreneurs and small business owners with modern accounting and financial analytics so they can be the ultimate best at what they do. As a creative and small business owner myself, I have the experience in setting up business systems so that tax time works for you instead of against you. I provide small business consulting and tax preparation with a listening ear when the grind often feels overwhelming. My 15 years of experience in tax preparation and decade in entrepreneurship allows me to support you with the right tools because establishing structures and routines compliant to governmental protocols is vital to our success. In 2005, I had my taxes prepared by a Woman of Color who worked on Wall Street by day and was dedicated to her tax preparation service at night. It was her investment in her future and her support for women small business owners that inspired my entrepreneurship and interest in giving back. Read more>>

Ericka Taylor

Erickatized started off as a Cosmetologist signature! And it turned into many things. Erickatized is a one-stop shop for all your beauty and accessory, catering needs!! I’m a third-generation Cosmetologist that has way more to offer than just hair. Read more>>

Dutch van Someren

Bike Shed Moto Co was founded in London in 2011, with an online blog celebrating the creativity, diversity and culture around motorcycles and motorcycle people. Having created a huge online community, sharing stories about motorcycles, people and their stories across the globe, in 2012 we decided to create an annual events to bring our virtual community together under one roof, for a face-to-face celebration, open to all, and encouraging non-riders to take part and to visit. Because being a motorcycle rider or aficionado feels like being in a club, we styled our annual event as a pop-up club, ensuring an accessible central-city location, stunning building, quality food, drink and hospitality, places to sit and meet, art, photography, and curated motorcycles, adding in a pop-up barbershop and tattoo studio to complete the eye-candy and encourage nonriders, friends and family to come too. Read more>>

Brooke Bittel

Since an early age, I have drawn for fun, to bring to life stories and characters from my imagination and dreams. While I always loved to draw, I did not take any art classes until the end of high school, and they completely changed the trajectory of my life. I was so fortunate to have supportive people in my life that encouraged me to pursue a BFA in Fine Art from Adelphi University. I spent my four years working heavily on drawing and painting techniques, particularly focusing on portraiture and realism. After completing my degree, I went on to work at an art gallery in NYC, where I was able to learn more about the business side of the industry. I then shifted my career into a more digital focus, working as a graphic designer, photographer, videographer and marketing professional. I spent several years working within the Skiing/Snowsports industry as a Marketing Designer and Social Media Manager, and I then went on to work for a charity called The Hometown Foundation. Read more>>

Daniella Altamirano

Coming up with my business was a little difficult, I wasn’t sure if people would really like grapes as a snack. So I tested it out with my friends first and I came up with these crazy flavors from cereal people had as a kid to ice cream flavors that people dearly love. Once I had these flavors down, I gave them to my friends to test them out and let me tell you, they were going crazy about it! So it motivated me to flourish this business and coming up with a name was so difficult, but I started to find out other people had the same idea as me so that’s when it hit me, I decided to become the villain to other people businesses. Then The Grape Villain was born, it was a place to enjoy and indulge in these snacks. Looking back at it, I’m beyond thankful for my friends who pushed me to sell these grapes, special thanks to my beloved friend spoety! Definitely my number one supporter. Read more>>

Anuja Ganpule-Sheorey

Growing up in a small farming town on California’s Central Coast, I was always made to feel different from my peers. I learned from an early age that I wasn’t acceptable the way that I was and always strived to ‘fit in’ – an impossible task since I cannot change my physical appearance. No matter what I did, I was “othered” – a basic pasta salad was ogled with wide-eyes and viewed as an ‘exotic dish,’ my prom dress bought at a local boutique was suddenly “foreign” and “authentic,” and my English-only upbringing was interrogated by passerby with a condescending “your English is so good!” As you can imagine, I was eager to move to a more diverse area as soon as the opportunity presented itself. However, these incidents didn’t stop entirely (I had a teacher literally turn to me and tell me about how I needed a work Visa for an entire semester in Film School and had to reminder her EVERY DAY that I was an American citizen; I had a well-respected teacher poo-poo one of my film pitches by saying a “Bollywood Movie” wouldn’t make it in America…when I was pitching nothing of the sort). Read more>>

DaBunni

I grew up in Long Beach, CA where the city is diverse in race, music, hobbies, upbringing, and perspective of life: you’ll find a bit of everything in the city. Long Beach is one of the most beautiful cities, but not everything that happens under them is laid back. Growing up in North Long Beach, I was exposed to what struggle looks like, whether it was my own families or my surrounding neighbors. That being said, I was still afforded opportunities like entering the Cal State Long Beach writing camp in the third grade which sparked my love and passion for writing. For high school, I went to Poly, a renaissance mecca, where I developed my love for rapping in front of the 100 building with my friends. I turned my passion of all these years into my new career and I see myself going all of the ways to the top! I released my first single 562 Anthem in April. Read more>>

Lejon Johnson

Everyone calls me Dragon. I used to rap years ago and picked up a camera to take pictures of what was going on around me, which started my journey to getting where I am today being a photographer and videographer out here in socal. Eventually, I decided to go to school to become a certified commercial photographer. Once I finished school, I started getting heavy work into portrait photography, but I always knew I wanted to tie my love for music into my photography which led me to doing behind the scenes photos for music videos. Now I have artists such as big sean, tee grizzly, Sada baby and more on my resume. This then led me to start shooting music videos. Read more>>

Chris Etienne

I am a photographer based in Pompano Beach, FL. Whenever it comes to thinking outside of the box, it’s a reflection of my open view of the world. Treating every portrait as if each were my own kin, you will embark on a journey of your representation with just a look from the visual aspect of my images. Aside from photography, I attend the Illustrious Tuskegee University, focusing on my career path of Aerospace Engineering. I am also active in helping out in my community, creating content for my YouTube channel, and spending time with my friends. Read more>>

Alan Montes

I’ve always been keen and interested in fashion since as a kid. I made it a goal to become a fashion designer when I was in middle school. After graduating high school, I was accepted to FIDM. Soon right after four short months, I dropped due to lack of finances. As soon as I dropped, I applied to community College and took the fashion program. Little after that, I discovered how I hated pattern drafting and I was just too impatient for sewing. Styling just landed on my lap after producing and styling a fashion show for my promotion and coordination class. For me, this was my epiphany and I knew I was going on the right direction. Read more>>

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