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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.

Tim Campbell

My childhood wasn’t full of music like some producers. We all listened to music because, well, who doesn’t listen to music. But music just wasn’t a major role when growing up. But I still gravitated toward it. With incredibly supportive parents, I was always encouraged to follow my dream. But music production wasn’t my “dream”. I didn’t even really have a dream. The only thing that was certain was that I wanted to follow an unordinary path. Unordinary in the sense that normal, business-hour careers were not attractive. As a music fan and musician, I never actually considered what happens behind the scenes when recording music. I suppose it was a sense of “music just happened”. So basically my career started in 2006 when I received a flyer in the mail for Full Sail University’s Recording Arts program and I thought, “Sure. I can do that. This seems cool”. Fast forward a few months and me and my best friend left from Western Maryland to Orlando, FL. Read more>>

Terrell Harris

My story has started since I was young I had seizures and I wanted to make a change to others and show them that it’s okay to be the underdog cause I’m always the underdog. People told me I wouldn’t graduate high school and I’ll just be McDonald. I like to think of life like a game of basketball there are winners and losers but it depends on are you willing to show up. I love to support and I wanted to make a difference in kid’s life and all kids with seizures. Like we all color the world but you gotta understand my story coming from where I am and who I become. I started doing music and playing basketball that has started me in my life and now I’m a supervisor at Tim Hortons working two jobs and just grinding all my life. Read more>>

Kishna Celce

I was in an abusive relationship for the better part of four years. When I finally made the decision to leave, I was stuck with all of the mental and emotional trauma that the relationship left me with. When I finally realized that it was abusive and that I needed help, I did all that I could do in terms of finding counselors, therapists, and social workers to help me. Unfortunately, they were unable to; I had to learn how to do it on my own. So that’s exactly what I did. After going through that healing journey, I realized that there were other people who need that same type of help and they may very well be struggling to find it. It was that thought, that realization, that pushed me into becoming a trauma specialist. Read more>>

Amariel Ross

My business was started in 2020 after graduating high school during a pandemic. What a time to be alive? Right? After quitting my full-time job at a cookout, I started a lash business. It failed. I started a hair care line. It failed. When I transitioned into branding and strategy full-time, that’s when I knew exactly what God’s plan was for me, I just had to do the work. When I actually put in the work on my signature course, Photoshop Bootcamp I made 30k from one digital product in only my second year of business! Between the two years, I’ve been in business, I have had multiple 4-figure digital course launches! This journey wasn’t just handed to me and that should be emphasized. I HAD to put in the work, just as anyone else. I NEEDED the support, just as anyone else would. Looking back, there’s not a thing I would do differently. Read more>>

Hope Goins

Staff Director for a powerful Congressional Committee, published author, and lawyer. Born and raised in Grenada, MS. Graduate of Tougaloo College and the University of Arkansas. Enjoys traveling the world, history, museums, and reading. Read more>>

Juliana Hung

I spent most of my childhood in Taiwan and moved to LA after high school. Most of my family still lives there, so The Wax Apple also gives me an excuse to go to Taiwan often (pre-pandemic of course)! Since I was young, I remember loving to hunt for treasures at my grandma’s house and eating lots of fruit. My grandmother was never a homebody and traveled around the island often, I tagged along. I wanted a name for my brand that would represent my love for Taiwan, wax apple is the name of my favorite native fruit, thus being the perfect name for my project. I will always call Taiwan my home, and The Wax Apple is a way to bring a little piece of Taiwan back with me to the US. A lot of the pieces I started with are things I found at my grandma’s house or places that I’ve visited with her. Often times she still comes with me to talk to the makers, some of them in their 70s-80s. Read more>>

Amy Jones

My journey in LA has been anything but predictable! What initially started as a twenty-year-old girl looking to leave her hometown and pursue modeling quickly unraveled into testing out many different career options and rolling with the punches throughout the years. Fast forward to March 2020 when the world as we knew it came to a halt. Modeling was not a viable option so I had to become resourceful, something that at least came naturally after being self-employed for so many years! It had been a lifelong dream to decorate my home in nothing but the 80s, postmodern furniture. I have always made vision boards with images from 80s interior magazines and been inspired by music artists such as Prince, Devo, Duran Duran and so on. My favorite artist of all time is the iconic Patrick Nagel! I’ve always felt like I grew up in the wrong era. Read more>>

Chandler King

In my life I’ve always been into music, singing/songwriting was my first life. However, over the pandemic, I was off work for seven months. During this time I picked up sewing because I wanted to make a bikini. I had never seen it before, so I ordered a super simple machine on Amazon, and tried my hand at it. Surprisingly, I really liked it, and then wanted to try more things. From there I just hopped on youtube and started learning how to make more things. When I went back to work in October I told myself I wanted to be out of there by May. One night in March of 2021 I was at home, and had the “lettuce” fabric, and thought to myself “this would probably look really cool as pants”. So I made the first pair that night and posted them on my Instagram story. When I woke up in the morning, I had so many messages about them, and people asking if they were for sale. About a week later, I decided to put them up for sale on my page and made about $1200 in less than an hour. From there, I knew I had something to work with, and started planning my escape from work. Read more>>

Felecity Havens

I never really chose my journey, it chose me. Coming out of college a 2,000 point scorer, 2-time All-American and leading scorer in program history I just knew that my journey was to play ball for at least the next ten years of my life. But God had a different plan than I had for myself. I graduated from the University of Mount Olive with my Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Education. Quickly after that, I was recruited to play and picked up by a D1 team out of Kalithea Greece called the “Esperides”. This was honestly a dream of mine since I picked up a basketball. But I was very surprised when I got there that I didn’t feel IN PURPOSE. I sort of just felt like I was checking off another goal on my list that I created when I was a little girl. Truth be told to play pro ball was actually the last thing on that list and it became clear to me that that was my ceiling for this all along. Read more>>

Christopher Balgos

Born 12/27/1981 and raised in San Diego. I have always been around hip-hop music all my life since a child. Around middle school, I realized I can express myself through rapping. In my late teens, I started to be around recording equipment and home studios. Through my years as an adolescent, I continued to write raps for fun but never took it further than that until I turned 27 and bought my first Desktop Audio Workstation in 2011. Thinking it would be fairly easy to make a beat, record to it and mix it down, I didn’t realize how much skill set was needed to make a song sound “up to par” with today’s commercially produced music. The following decade would be an extremely long learning process with plenty of trial and error to understand how a song is created from start to finish. After finally realizing what it takes to complete a song, I now had to learn the basic skills to be able to record, mix and master a song. Read more>>

Nick Black

I am a Black, Queer hair and makeup artist based in LA and this is my story: Branching into becoming a professional makeup artist began back in 2018 on the South Side of Chicago. Shout out to 67th. However, my love affair with beauty began when I was just a wee lad growing up on the West side of Detroit. “HP all Day” I have always loved makeup despite being a tomboy. Thick Black lip liner doused in gloss thick enough to choke on, eyebrows sharper than knives and finished with a dash of powder that would never be my shade was my daily recipe for beauty. My mother didn’t approve which made it even more daring. But at the core, I felt beautiful. I felt powerful and I haven’t looked back since. In 2018, my first paid gig as a makeup artist was with a dear friend at her book signing. Now, I had made the decision to start doing makeup professionally and shared that ambition with friends however I hadn’t put makeup on another person officially yet. Read more>>

Andrea Johnson

I moved to LA in November 2019 to take over producing a now-defunct podcast. It was a comedic storytelling podcast with three comedians. During the pandemic, I had the privilege of meeting and filming some amazing comedians to still provide content to our audience. I continued working my day job as an Accountant. I’ve always loved comedy since the Comic View days. I realized that I had the comedy bug but I didn’t act on it. I’d learned so much from working with those guys regarding stand-up comedy. In April, I was requested to be a manager for an up-and-coming comedian in St. Louis, MO named Brandon Taylor. Because I believe in being able to relate to what I’m doing in all aspects, I finally jumped into the waters and stepped on stage in October 2021. Being a stand-up comedian while also being a manager helps me to better relate to Brandon and create and maintain those relationships in the comedy world out here. Now, we have Uncharted Entertainment! Read more>>

Syke

Music and the arts have been huge staples of my life. I’d like to think I came singing out of the womb (haha). I grew up performing from being the lead in school musicals to the frontwoman of bands all the way into and after college. However, I didn’t start my solo project, SYKE, until last year (2021). My story begins in Russia – I am a first-generation Russian-American immigrant. Growing up, I had pretty strict parents that didn’t believe that music and art were an option as a career choice. In fact, they heavily discouraged it – to the point where music was forced out of my life and my creative outlet was completely stripped from me. I felt extremely bullied and alone, which naturally led to heavy depression and anxiety. It was heartbreaking and it’s honestly hard for me to remember that part of my life now because I shut out the painful memories of being called worthless, talentless, and always being told I would amount to nothing by the people that were closest to me. Read more>>

Lola Adabale

I had always been a creative soul growing up. From soaring at arts and crafts at school to singing in the church choir and posting hair videos on Youtube, I was always willing to challenge and reinvent myself. I disliked the idea of having to stick to one hobby or career for life; discovering more was the way for me. I first started out experimenting with my own hair around 16/17. I was cutting my hair, sewing more hair in, and everything else you can think of. My mom was the first person who told me I should make it into a business and create a legacy for myself. Soon enough, I started taking on clients of my own and building my own brand organically. While attending college at UC Riverside, Youtube was a big deal that led me into the world of makeup. Soon enough, makeup was the second half of what would soon become Looksbyloladoll. Whilst figuring out entrepreneurship, I also pursued my academic passions and graduated from UC Riverside, attended Loyola Law School, and became an attorney in the heart of Downtown LA. Read more>>

Monique Henry

My name is Monique aka Ms. Peacherino, Founder of What We Watch. I’m from Panama and I take pride in my culture. I’m a Civil & Environmental Engineer by trade. After working for over a decade in the business, in November 2020, I began moderating discussions on film & TV on the newer audio app, Clubhouse. By March 2021, those discussions gained so much support on social media, that I created a club to connect moviegoers, artists, and entertainers in the industry. Marketing managers, web developers, screenwriters, and filmmakers were always participating in the discussions and wanted to support my journey to expand the platform. I hired a marketing team to create a website for the club that eventually turned into the only newsletter by a Black Latina that keeps you up to date with what’s hot in film & TV. A few designers chipped in to create logos and websites for me to aid in our online conversations as well. A year later, as one of a select few Twitter Partners and Spaces Hosts, What We Watch became an ongoing space for unique conversations on film & TV hosted by me. Read more>>

Robert Ancill

TNI Design was originally the interior design department of The Next Idea Restaurant Consultancy, (an International concept development agency specializing in restaurants, hotels and cafes). Our clients were always happy with our restaurant designs and would ask us to design their office or home or another building, as such it became a bit weird as we were designing luxury houses yet our online presence was all about restaurants. In 2015, we broke off TNI Design into its own entity and developed the business separately as a Design and Architecture Agency. Read more>>

Joslyn Rose Lyons

I started out at an Emmy Award Winning Production company during my film studies. Contributing to documentaries and television specials for MSNBC, PBS, and Discovery in the early 2000s. I directed my first doc feature on the spiritual connection in Hip Hop, winning Best Music Documentary at the New York International, after premiering at Urbanworld. My work in television and film includes content for HBO, BET, MTV, Vh1, OWN, Warner Bros. Pics., STARZ, and Lionsgate. I produced and directed the first Music matters Grammy showcase at CAA with Mali Music and PJ Morton, and produced the BET Awards Celebrity basketball with Nick Cannon, Angela Yee, and Chris Brown. I created a show for UNINTERRUPTED and as a producer on Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power featuring Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Alice Walker, Cory Booker, Van Jones, Danny Glover, won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Documentary before the film premiered on STARZ. Read more>>

Coquito Martinez

At the age of five years old I knew my passion was to become an actor. I always loved being in front of the camera. Growing up my parents were not supportive of me trying to chase my dream. Telling me I needed to think realistically & go to college or trade school. In my pre-teen years, I failed managing getting into acting school due to my parents not having the time to take me. In high school I was fortunate to take Tv Production & Broadcast News, there I got to learn what happens on in front & behind the scenes. I created a YouTube channel in 2012, my goal was to grow an audience to the point where I could start showing my talent on screen. The goal was to reach an amount of viewership, subscribers, & shares to the point where one day someone would reach out noticing I had something valuable to bring to the industry. It’s crazy to think the way I did but it was possible. I reached local fame in my area but that wasn’t enough for me. After one year completed of community college, I dropped out. I tried it yet it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Read more>>

Johnathan Mueller

I’m an Indie 3D Props Modeler / Game Dev. I started my journey back in 2014 when I signed up for Facebook, found some friends with the same interests as me, and my first client + mentor Tim Vincent. I’ve been a part of games like Valiance Online, Legends of Etherell, WarBox: Camouflage, Binarium, Quest, Remnants of Chaos, and Neon D-Fence. For a long time, I wanted to make games out of personal curiosity. Never imagined that I’d be working on multiple MMORPGs, Mobile, and Web games! Read more>>

Gabriella Almanza

I’m originally from San Francisco and I worked exclusively at record stores. Music and art are my loves but they don’t pay the bills and when I transferred to the LA location of the record store I realized I needed something more in my life. I looked into going back to school but I honestly can’t stand the idea of being in a classroom for another four years; so I looked into trades. I looked at becoming a hairstylist and enrolled at the Aveda Institute in LA near UCLA. I had no experience whatsoever with hair, I never even owned a blow dryer or brush! It was a struggle in the beginning but I preserved and I got my license at 26. I went straight into working as a commission stylist at a salon but later assisted at a high-end salon in Beverly Hills. I grew to love color and pursuing more education in that and also curly hair. I now have been doing hair for eight years now and I finally feel secure in my career and I also get my creativity out in the cuts and colors I do. Read more>>

Michael Riggins

It all started with a dream is what I like to say. I always say that because for me it always comes to me in a dream then I wake up trying to figure out how to execute it. You know what your passion is because all you do is think, daydream, talk about it, and hopefully study it so you can become better at it. It gets hard but with the passion, tunnel vision and self-investment you can get it done. I know I do. It gets hard and you may question why you, why this and why that along when will it happen for me just because you want it so badly but keep moving and the why’s and when’s will reveal itself but be prepared and know you deserved it because you’ve invested and worked for it. manifestations are real but doing the groundwork is the reality of it all. Read more>>

Annētta McBain

I was born and raised in Rockford Illinois just outside of Chicago. I am the oldest of five to my mother and the only child of my dad. Being the oldest of five with a single mom after losing my father tragically taught me a lot about life at a very young age. It has always been important to me to make sure the people around me are well taken care of. I have always been a provider. Which makes me the determined, hard-working businesswoman that I am today. Having three incredibly beautiful children of my own, it is my mission in life to show them that with hard work and determination they can truly have it all. I started my career in make-up artistry after finally getting the courage to leave my “cool” career as a radio personality to become a licensed aesthetician/professional makeup artist. Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE the microphone and don’t plan on putting it down anytime soon…stay tuned. Read more>>

Torera

I am an Entrepreneur, Editor, and Singer! I’ve always been someone who enjoyed singing, acting, dancing, and creating things. When I was in elementary school my overall goal was to become a professional musician and actress. I did pursue acting during my elementary years, but nothing stuck. However, I still took part in school plays, and filmed skits at home that will probably never see the light of day! Middle school was the last time I took part in a school production, but I do hope to give acting another shot in the future, if possible. Aside from my interest in acting, I’ve always enjoyed singing. I have been singing for a long time and have been graced with numerous opportunities to perform within my community! Outside of channeling my creativity with music, I also used to channel my creativity through arts and crafts! I would cut up paper, make cards by hand, learn different origami techniques, cut up my jeans and old clothes to make new ones, make false nails out of paper­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­— the list could go on! Read more>>

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