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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.

Cristian Leal

I was always intrigued and dabbled in the Arts, middle school I discovered makeup since I was always in a theater. Then started wearing makeup as a daily thing at school, back in those days a boy in makeup wasn’t normal or acceptable in society especially being the only boy that wore makeup. Read more>>

Jim Hernandez

I am a 21-year alcoholic that allowed my addiction to end me up homeless in the streets and alleys of Venice Beach/Santa Monica. Literally went from Riches to rags. After hitting rock bottom Homeless Health Care of LA landed me a bed in a Transitional Rehab facility in Venice Beach named Phoenix House. Read more>>

Rey Kumar

I was a corporate slave in a robotics company until I decided to take a trip to India where I saw animals eating plastic off the streets which was a disturbing sight. To be honest, it never hit me prior that plastic could be so deadly until seeing these animals feed on it and no matter how much I tried to stop the dogs. Read more>>

Jeremiah Baker

I seek to irreverently blur the lines between design, fashion, art, gender and I am formally trained industrial designer with 10+ years of professional product design experience, having shipped successful products with the worlds leading brands (Samsung, Panasonic, Kswiss, Google…to name a few). Read more>>

Domonique Brown

I’m a 26-year-old portrait artist from Pomona, CA. I’ve always loved to draw and was encouraged by my family when I was growing up. It’s been a natural progression for me. My love for art led me down a path in my college years that circled me wanting to have a creative career where I can express myself artistically. Read more>>

Deidge Dunham

I began art as a small child, about 5 or 6 years old I can remember tracing all the art my mother would sketch, she is an artist and a graphic designer, creating custom lettering pin striping cars and mural painting. in Jr High school I made stationary in printing class that read. Read more>>

Christine Bumatay

I was born and raised in a low-income neighborhood in Mandaluyong City, Philippines. While I grew up underprivileged, I remember always having food on the table. I remember always playing outside with other children whose parents played with my father when they were younger. Read more>>

Thomas Kresge

Aside from a short stint with piano lessons as a kid, I basically started music in middle school. I wasn’t interested in any extracurriculars, but my parents gave me an ultimatum: I can play sports, or I can join band. Sports was never going to happen, so I reluctantly joined the band on saxophone. Read more>>

Tyler Downey

I am an animator, illustrator, and someone who loves using art to help tell great stories. As is for many artists, my story is less than conventional. The twists and turns that lead me to the place I am in today have happened so quickly that some are hard to recall. Read more>>

Jessica Rea

Anything beauty I learned on my own because my mom is a tomboy and naturally beautiful. I used to work at Chevrolet as a head cashier so I was always behind a computer screen. Although I shouldn’t have been, I would spend most of my day browsing through different makeup websites. Read more>>

Caeli Goodson

I grew up in Compton with my three sisters and my mom with hardly any father figure in my life. One thing my mom always instilled in me as a kid was to take pride in how I look when I step foot out of her house. My mom was the most fly when rocking her Baby Phat and BeBe clothes. Read more>>

Selina Hall

I wanted to start modeling a couple of years ago but “life” got in the way. At one point, I just broke free from the limitations that were placed on me and decided to give it a go. When I was just beginning to build my portfolio, I was working full-time customer service from home for Hulu LLC and my hours were pretty set in place. Read more>>

Lazar Andreea Beatrice

I was born in Bucharest, Romania into a family full of artists. So, the story you are about to hear will be very interesting, as the lead character – me – did not have a choice but to be an artist. When I was young, I was quite the “Performance Kid”. Because I was too energetic ( and loud). Read more>>

Michael Eichstedt

A lot of this started back in 2005 with a PC and a handheld camera. I found a way to record music of my bands in my bedroom so we can then listen back and enjoy for ourselves. From then on this passion only grew more and more as I wanted to hear better and better quality recordings of myself. Read more>>

Chantel Sparks

I remember this moment vividly… I had just finished submitting college applications to transfer into a university. I shut my laptop, laid in bed and started BALLING crying. For days. I knew if I had transferred to a university for what I was studying – kinesiology- I’d regret it. Read more>>

Whisper Sixx

I was raised by parents who are both pastors, I was in church every week, sometimes twice a week, I wasn’t allowed to listen to music that wasn’t Christian or oldies, and a lot of my childhood I was pulled out of schools because of bullying, forced to enroll in Christian homeschool classes. Read more>>

Kyja Ruth

Finding Queendom Started with just me painting one day and I came up with the concept Finding Queendom. For me, this was and still is a place for me to heal all my past wounds through my talents and to uplift other women who may be suffering from internal struggles. Read more>>

Leon Wright

I’m a singer/songwriter and recording artist born and raised in Valdosta, GA that now resides in Los Angeles, CA. Initially recognized as a rapper/hip hop artist, I transitioned into r&b in 2015 as I discovered my true passion wasn’t for writing bars, but instead melodies. Read more>>

Michelle Corvino

I started doing photography when I was in high school. I took a black and white photography class where we got to develop our own film and print our own photos, which was rare in a high school environment. I didn’t really know what I was doing, just kind of shooting my life and friends. Read more>>

Valente Bertelli

I was born in Rome (Italy) and raised in the Italian part of Switzerland. My Father was a Theater Director working mostly within the Opera world at the time, my Mother was a Jazz singer, and my sisters were Punk and New Wave fanatics. In one shape or another, music had always been around me. Read more>>

Janelle Gamboa

I was working a corporate job for a company I would have never thought I would have the opportunity to work for. I was fresh out of college and I finally landed something that was a dream. My expectations were quickly changed into reality and what I thought was my dream career was now questionable. Read more>>

Bradley “El Yatch” Hamilton

I have been nurtured in music since I was conceived, which is where my story starts. Dancing in every store with a background as a child, to playing drums in church from the age of four explains my passion for music and my consistency encouraged my family to assist with no limits. Read more>>

June Clivas

It all started with a little girl at the age of two. Her Cowboy hat, her plastic guitar, and a microphone. I was told that at a young age, I would like to entertain the family by modeling, dancing, and singing for the family. Just like every other kid. (funny to me because I was a shy person). Read more>

Ashley Woods

She made the decision to serve in the U.S. military. Prepared to stand up and stand for something meaningful she strongly dressed in uniform to serve her country from the year 2002 up until the year 2007. Though many obstacles arose on her journey to finding her Collingwood continued to keep her faith high and remain humble. Read more>>

Oluwamayowa Adesoye

I am an immigrant from Lagos Nigeria. I came into the United States in 2011 with my sister. My mother came earlier working extremely hard in order to pay for both my sister’s and I plane ticket. When I got to the United States, fitting in was extremely hard. I was bullied and tried in any attempt to conform and yet. Read more>>

Raz Azraai

Music, photography and adventures are my favorite drugs. Born in Borneo Island. Spent my childhood failing school but waking up to paradise and the sounds of metal music and soulful blues ballads. Picked up the guitar at the age of 13 and always photographing everything I do with whatever camera my parents had. Read more>>

Joy Ray

I had a very DIY childhood, growing up in Humboldt County. I learned how to embroider, sew, do cross-stitch and needlepoint, draw, paint, garden, make all sorts of things. I kept making things, although for a long time I didn’t think of it as “art”. I moved to LA in the 90’s where I played in bands (Sissy Bar. Read more>>

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