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.
My creative partner (who goes by Sorry) and a few of his friends started a toy photography page on Instagram called TR4K_Alliance. Last year it really started gaining traction, so we decided to branch out to YouTube with action figure unboxing reviews. We started the channel in November, and by the beginning of February, we’d hit 1K subscribers. So we’re still small, but we’ve had a pretty decent growth rate so far and we’ve started getting hit up by prominent players in the nerd-dom for collaboration. Read more>>
I grew up in a small village in the Vienna Woods, near Vienna, Austria. I really enjoyed my upbringing on the countryside which was mostly shaped by riding horses and a short stint as a drummer in a church band – pretty much the only connection I ever had with the catholic church – or any – for that matter. Apart from my short-lived career as a drummer, I also attempted the guitar, both of which I enjoyed but never really fell in love with. I grew up with a Viennese father and an American mother, so I was lucky enough to have a bilingual upbringing and education. I really enjoyed the balance of my school being in the busy city and the quiet of my home on the countryside. When I was fifteen, I decided I needed a little change from my school life and moved abroad for one semester to see what a US school was actually like. I was fortunate enough to live with hosts whose daughter was in theatre because it solidified my interest in the arts and the moment I returned to Vienna, I immediately joined an English theatre program to begin training. Read more>>
I am a 23 years old tattooer in Los Angeles, California. I started tattooing five years ago when I was in college. I was tattooing in my dorm room for about $20 a piece for a while with no desire to pursue this field professionally. I ended up tattooing all through college slowly falling in love with my process. In my senior year of college, I rented my first studio with the LA tattooer Pix Leduke. We ended up inviting Sabrina Drescher to work with us and that’s when the conversation about Angel Kisses Studio started. We saw so much within the tattoo community that we didn’t agree with; I felt as though black and brown tattooers and clients deserved more space within the industry and she felt as though all bodies needed respect that oftentimes isn’t given in a lot of tattoo shops. We became aligned in our vision for what our space would be, and Sabrina and I birthed our studio that opened in January 2021. We now are working out of a space that has a team entirely made up of queer/female/POC artists. This is something we invited in, but our space is really for anyone who wants to work in a safe uplifting environment Tattooing for me is healing. Read more>>
I’ve been running Maeday Rescue for ten years and we were doing adoption events all over town. Since I’ve learned so much about animals through my work with the rescue, it seemed like the next logical step to open a rescue space where we can hold adoption events (pre-Covid), meet and greets, and put our knowledge of animals to more good use. My wife, Maria, and I decided to open a pet supply business which could help support the rescue. We’ve been open for a year and a half and things are going really well. The people in the neighborhood have been very supportive of us and we’re getting busier every day. We have a backyard for meet and greets and we have a lot of items in the store which are sold for the rescue, which gets 100% of those proceeds. Read more>>
My father is a world-class piano improvisor and also an incredible composer, so I was surrounded by music my entire childhood. I began playing the piano and improvising at age 3, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that I really knew I wanted to become a composer. I was initially recruited to play soccer at Oberlin, so I only applied to the college, not the conservatory. Once I began taking composition courses (after a fluke in the registration system let me take the first-year composition class in the conservatory), however, everything naturally shifted for me. Improvisation was always a form of expressing the seemingly disparate emotions that were bottled up inside of me, but the act of sitting down, thinking about structure and form, and the process of notating music opened up an entire new world for me. After the first month of taking composition lessons, I knew that this was my true calling and I was no longer going to run away from it. So I applied to the conservatory and officially became a composition major spring semester of my sophomore year. After Oberlin, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the master’s program at Juilliard where I studied with Robert Beaser. Read more>>
I grew up in Northern California, where the redwoods meet the Pacific Ocean. A little surf town called Santa Cruz, where I picked up the guitar at age eight and began writing songs. I always felt like the feeling and sound of Northern California where I grew up played a vital role in my sound. As a kid I would sit in my bedroom for hours on end playing along to The Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones until my fingers became callused. As a teenager I played in bands that would press our own CDs and book diy tours up and down the west coast before moving to New York at age 18. In college, I studied recording and would sneak into the studio at night to record demos for my band Mainland. Those demos eventually lead us to building a local following and a team around the band. We played locally for a few years at places like Pianos, Baby’s All Right, and Mercury Lounge.
After garnering buzz around our live shows we were signed and toured internationally for the next five years – supporting other artists, headlining, and playing festivals like Lollapalooza and SXSW. Read more>>