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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.

Tamarra Younis

Where to begin! I guess it could be said that I have lived my life at the cultural crossroads of the Middle East, Europe and North America. I was raised between London, Dubai, Lebanon and New York City. As a young girl, I spent many of my weekends and time off from school hunting for treasures with my fabulous art and antiques-loving mother. Though at the time I would have much preferred to be playing in the park or eating an ice cream, I was being dragged around the world from shop to souk, getting lost in antique markets, hunting for bargains at car boot sales, and being warned not to put my grubby little fingers on any of the beautiful paintings in my mum’s favorite art galleries. I could never have predicted then that those experiences would have such a profound effect on who I am today, but I have to confess it’s probably been one of my biggest inspirations. Read more>>

Maria De Jesus Cruz Gonzalez

To get to where I’m at today hasn’t been easy, but I am thankful for each experience. Growing up as an undocumented Oaxacan immigrant hasn’t been easy. I feel limited sometimes because of my status, it wasn’t easy hearing and seeing so much anti-immigrant propaganda as a child, it made me frustrated. I couldn’t understand why my status was seen as something criminal. As I got older I found reason to not let these labels decide who I am. I am more than my status. School wasn’t easy for me as a kid. I had a lot of shit going on at home and I couldn’t focus. But something that got me through all of that was messing with my hair. It became a passion to make sure I had a different color every week. Towards the end of high school, I felt so down because I wasn’t going to a four years school or didn’t even know what my next step was like other peers. But I became determined when a friend told me about doing cosmetology! Read more>>

Zander Torres

My story like many has been a very crazy ride. I remember being a kid and always being drawn to film. I still remember one Halloween sneaking into my room to watch John Carpenter’s cult classic “Halloween” wow seeing that at a young age was wild. This was amongst many other films I was exposed to as a kid. I have my mom to thank for that. Flash forward many years later, being in high school making short films and random little movies with my childhood friends. We were always trying to come up with some crazy ideas and bring it to life all captured on our phones. Goes to show you don’t need much to create, just have to do it. Long story short I got here today by just pure will to create and keep pushing forward. Acting for me is a very important thing. I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to do What I do. “If you keep going you’ll get somewhere”. I don’t even think that’s an actual saying, but hey I like it, after all, it’s about the journey right? Read more>>

Soyeon Yoo

I’m a Character Designer and Visual Development Artist based in LA. I grew up in Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea and I moved to the US to go to college back in 2011. I have been always drawing, watching cartoons and anime and I started pursuing my dream as an artist since I was a kid. I was a very introverted child and I remember the only time I felt confident was when I was doing arts and crafts or drawing. As I grew up, I found out there’s artists working in the animation industry and I have wanted to be an artist in animation ever since then. When I was in high school, Pixar held an exhibit of its artwork in Korea which blew my mind and I decided to pursue my dream in the States. I wanted to be an artist who contributes to those amazing animated films to inspire people. I studied character animation at the California Institute of the Arts. For the past few years after I graduated, I have worked with various studios such as DreamWorks Animation Television, Six Point Harness, Wild Canary Animation, Crunchyroll, Studio Mir., and others in various roles such as Character Designer, Prop Designer, Visual Development Artist, storyboard revisionist, and Storybook artist. Read more>>

Bianka Rocio Saavedra Ortiz

I was born in a beautiful small town in Michoacán, Mexico and at the age of five, my family moved to California seeking the American dream. It was no easy task to start kindergarten in a new country with a language barrier, thankfully I met Mrs. Traber and Mrs. Augustine who helped me overcome the fear of not fitting in and welcomed me with open arms. When I attended Glendale High School I saw that they offered a four years program to be a part of the Cosmetology Academy, I joined and discovered my love for hair and makeup. After graduating, life took a different route and I left my first job as a cashier. I dove into the construction industry which helped influence my drive to better myself. I started out as a part-time assistant then became an onsite manager from 2015-2021. During this time I knew in my heart that there was more out there for me. The passion I had expressed myself through hair and makeup and getting asked to do my cousin’s glam inspired me to follow my dreams. Read more>>

Dinesh Dave

Dinesh is an Art Director and Product Designer at Meta. Currently, at Meta, Dinesh is responsible for building strategic, narrative-driven experiences on the Facebook app, using machine learning effects, Reels, avatars, web3, and the Metaverse products. Before joining Meta, Dinesh worked at Apple on the Interactive dot com team, helping launch Apple’s newest products into the worldwide web. Previously, he worked at AKQA and Wieden+Kennedy in Portland, Oregon where he designed delightful marketing campaigns in a variety of mediums, such as print, web, film, motion, and interactive experiences for clients like Levis, Oreo, Coca-Cola, and Nike. Originally from London, England, he left at the age of 18 to pursue the American dream. He currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, California where he happily no longer worries about crummy British weather, but dearly misses crumpets. Read more>>


PRYSM – consists of; Gerardo (Vocals/Rhythm Guitar) Martin (Lead Guitar) Robert (Bass) Rudy (Drummer). The band was established in the summer of 2018 when Rudy responded to an online ad that the rest of the members posted via Instagram. After a few months of practicing without a drummer, Prysm had their first official practice in Boyle Heights. After some time we began practicing in a garage in Montebello where most of our songs and recordings are still done to this today. During the early days, we focused on writing, rehearsing and establishing that connection as a band. As time went by and started playing shows, we noticed an interest for our music due to our eclectic sound. 2019 was spent mostly in the Inland Empire (MoVal, Riverside) area. The crowds in those areas are crazy, wild and everything you’d expect from a Rock N Roll scene. Read more>>

1 Comment

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    September 17, 2019 at 03:19

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