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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.

James King

Growing up, my interests were always creative based and I challenged myself to not only chase those aspirations but to strengthen the core belief that you’re capable of anything you put your mind towards. Throughout my years of growth, my interests also matured as well. I grew up around music and art, which naturally developed my tastes & persona into what I’ve grown to be today. I picked up a digital camera at age 13 but would always use my family’s collection of film cameras as experiments. Most of the time wasting film and tape. I remember my first camera: an HP 2.1 megapixel point and shoot, fitted with a 512 MB SD card. What a time. I used that camera until it crapped out, and ironically, lost all the photos due to a corrupted hard drive. My parents observed my growing passion and helped kickstart what would end up becoming an aspiring career path. Over the years, I was gifted various cameras until I graduated high school, where I received a Nikon DSLR bundle. I used that for years and continue to use gear from that bundle in my current projects. Read more>>

Lance Barresi

The history of Permanent Records has been a long, strange trip. We started in Chicago in 2011 on a wing and a prayer as a salmon swimming upstream against the current of digital media shuttering brick-and-mortar record stores everywhere. With tenacity and persistence, we have adapted with the times and survived against insurmountable odds as a small independent business in an extremely competitive marketplace with multiple physical locations in a digital world. We fought tooth and nail and worked our fingers to the bone to get to the point where we could open our new venture, the Permanent Records’ Roadhouse, a live music venue / bar / record store in 2019. And then, just five months into it, an unprecedented pandemic hit. We weathered that storm as well. We are called Permanent for a reason. We are here to stay. Read more>>

Ryan Koo

Ever since I was 17 years old, I thought I wanted to be a collegiate-level choir professor. I have an AA, BM, and two Masters degrees in Music Education/Choral Conducting. Lord knows I probably spent enough money on private voice/piano/arranging lessons to buy a house! Anyways, during the pandemic, I started taking improv/acting classes because I wanted to get into voice acting since I had a home studio that I put together for musical purposes. However, as this was happening, I was seriously getting burnt out from teaching because teaching choir on zoom is pretty much not possible and it’s been going on for almost two years at this point. It didn’t help either that my principal put me on probation after two years of putting in countless hours before/after school and thousands of dollars out of my own pocket in trying to build a choir program with literally no support. You can probably tell that I’m still not bitter about this at all! Read more>>

Frans Tedja Kusuma

I was raised in Indonesia and immigrated to the United States on my own after the May 1998 riot. The tragedy of mass violence and civil unrest was triggered by food shortage, high rate of unemployment, corruption, and Asia monetary crisis. Chinese Indonesian was the main target of the racial violence. Many properties and businesses were looted and burned with people still inside. A part of my house was also burned during the riot by the mass. Fortunately, my family survived due to the fact that our house was a small duplex property. The front unit that got burned was unoccupied at the time. We hid inside the house for a week with little food and water. This event propelled me to shift my paradigm with me moving to the California to pursue higher education. I finished college and employed as a Visual Development artist for live action and animation. I am currently a faculty teaching Production Design and Visual Development courses at my local universities and community colleges. Read more>>

Alex and Elvia Garcia

Evil Cooks was born in December 2016. It started up as a t-shirt company made by cooks for cooks. Alex and Elvia have over 3 decades combined in the food industry and after many attempts from their costumers they finally decided to start catering in 2018. Alex quit his job from one day to the next and it although it took Elvia a full year to quit, she conquered her fear and decided to go in 100% in 2019. In 2019 Evil Cooks finally got their break and got recognized for their Flan Taco. Since then they started doing bigger events such as concerts, festivals, smorgasburg. March 2020 came and the pandemic hit. Evil cooks took a 2 month break and decided to regroup and really think about what was the next step. We decided to start selling home made jam and moles and surprisingly we got a good response from the costumers. May 2020 we decided to pop up right in front of our house and it instantly became a hit. Read more>>

1 Comment

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    September 17, 2019 at 03:19

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