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East LA’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 East LA’s gems below.

Morganne Kennel

I started college at CSUN as a music major but after realizing how incredibly talented and classically trained most the students were (and how I was only self-taught to play instruments and sing), I decided to switch majors to the other thing I loved: art. While taking classes. Read more>>

Maritza Navarro

I think the shortest way to explain how I got here is that I have always been curious. Growing up, my cousins would tease that my favorite word was, “Why?” and I’ve continued asking that question my whole life. That curiosity fed my desire to pursue non-fiction storytelling and it is the force that motivates a lot of my dance work as well. Read more>>

Sophie Bom

I grew up in LA and would perform around Los Angeles singing songs I wrote on the piano. I moved to Boston to go to school and when I came back my boyfriend at the time wanted to write music with me. He worked with Linda Perry then, and one day she called me and asked to use one of my songs I had written and talked to me about becoming a songwriter. Read more>>

Og Serg

As we was hanging out, one of the DJ’s had mentioned that they had the tables set up in room and we should all go “cut it up” as us DJ’s like to call it. About 15-20 DJ’s were all packed up in this room. Everyone was having fun taking turns cutin and scratchin and all, then it was my turn. Read more>>

Juliana Carpino

My background in film began as an actress on a few smaller budget projects and found myself growing increasingly interested in becoming a director. At that time, I had no reason to believe that I would be successful in the field because of my gender and the amount of awareness that was brought to the issue almost seemed to highlight the problem, but in a negative context. Read more>>

Joanna Galis

My entire life was centered around becoming a professional dancer. Due to a skiing accident at the age of 19, I was unable to continue perusing that route and redirected my focus solely to teaching. I graduated from Florida International University with a bachelors degree in dance education. Read more>>

Anel Salgado

I was studying psychology for a couple of years when I found the opportunity to intern for a magazine- Arsenic. I was there another couple years, subconsciously learning about myself, creatively and really in all kinds of ways as the days went by. From there, I began doing casting work. Read more>>

Nicole Swartz

My background is in startup law. I worked to regulate publicly traded companies and I’m published in the area of cryptocurrency regulation. But I started feeling pretty burned out and uninspired. So I started a skincare company. I created a formula, started making them in my kitchen, and selling them at festivals. Read more>>

Mollie Elizabeth

I worked in the Entertainment industry for years, but never felt fully satisfied with my job. When I had my daughter in 2015, I ended up leaving my full-time job to stay with her at home and vowed to myself that I would not go back to work unless it was truly something I loved enough to pull me away from her. I spent the last couple years in a lot of prayer trying to put my finger on what it is I am to do. Read more>>

Claudia V. Solórzano

My first experience with clay was at ELAC (East Los Angeles College), where I enrolled in an intro to ceramics class taught by Chris Turk. Although half my projects that first semester looked a little silly/childish (not in a good way), I was still interested in putting in time and effort to do better. Read more>>

Michael Martinez

Having been born and raised in Los Angeles, I had the luxury of playing outside most months out of the year without having to worry about weather. Playing outside allowed my brother and I to make several connections to the natural systems that we were a part of. From my grandfather’s garden. Read more>>

Sammy Ruiz

I am a Left-Handed Artist, Musician & Writer from North East Los Angeles, CA. I took an interest in Art, Music and Writing at a very early age. My Mom would draw Dinosaurs with me at the age of three. I remember copying my Dads doodles of The Exploited’s skull logo. We would listen to Punk Rock and Heavy Metal together. Read more>>

Arnol Guity-Martinez

I started off as a Garifuna dancer at the age of 12. I was eager to learn more about my culture and embrace it to the fullest capacity. My parents are both from Honduras, and they gave me the leisure of teaching me some of what they knew, but it just wasn’t enough for me. I joined a dance group and took if from there. I began to get involved more with the community to service as much as I possibly could. Read more>>

Blake Baldwin

I started playing guitar when I was 13 years old as a freshman in High School. I had some lessons on drums before that but my parents never got me a drum set so I sort of lost interest. I do remember I broke one of my Dad’s guitars when I was in band class in 5th grade (sorry Dad). He wasn’t a musician per se, but I have some great childhood memories and embarassing videos. Read more>>

Danielle DeBay

My self-worth journey started when I was younger, doing the things that I knew would please others. Getting good grades, being a teacher’s pet, doing all the ‘right’ things externally because that’s what I was shown was the way to success. I tied my self-worth to the external validation of others as most of us end up doing. Read more>>

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