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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.

David Bravo

I first developed an interest in playing music at about eight years old when my older brother started guitar lessons in high school. My dad bought a guitar, so there was suddenly an instrument in the house within my reach. I was always drawn to playing it, so I began teaching myself little by little with the help of my brother. To my advantage, there was a library across the street from where we lived, so I began printing tons of guitar tabs to keep me busy learning them at home. Read more>>

Keith Mills

I was unfortunately laid off from my job I held in Virginia in 2017. Since I knew that I was going to be laid off, I finally decided to pursue my dream of moving to California and becoming an actor. At first, I was down because I lost my job, but the belief in my craft gave me hope and kept me going. Coming out here and being an actor and doing what I love has been a blessing. Read more>>

Whitney Skauge

I grew up in the early 90’s in Los Angeles with a single mom who was putting herself through law school. The television and VHS player become my babysitters and mentors very quickly. Growing up with a young parent is tough because they are still figuring things out and aren’t ready to pass along lessons to you. So I had to find a different method. Read more>>

Marlee M. Schneider

Since I was about 5, I knew I wanted to make movies. I grew up watching a lot of stuff ahead of my time because I had older siblings. I remember everything from a Disney Classic to a 90’s high school Rom-Com and even the occasional, long-winded history movie that I would watch with my grandpa. Each genre had a different voice that was inspiring and unique. Read more>>

Anna Telfer

I moved to Los Angeles almost exactly one year ago today. It felt weird and silly and scary, but I knew I wanted to be an actor and I knew LA would be a place that could foster that sort of creative opportunity. A dear friend of mine, Jeremy Scharf, also lived here, and we pretty quickly started working on little projects together. Most relevant was a little play called “Thumbelina” (by Cecelia Raker). Read more>>

Joe Levi

I am an L.A. based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist originally from the rural English countryside. I was raised in a remote hamlet called Cumberworth, a small community in Northern England with a population of just 50 people. Growing up devoid of any outside distractions such as cable television or the internet, shops or even a pub, we had little choice as children but to delve into our imaginations for entertainment. Read more>>

Travis Swope

Two Felons Skate Shop has been a Whittier staple since May 29, 2004. I’m the owner of Two Felons Skate Shop. Along with my older brother Brandon, AKA “Fat Boy” (He’s somewhat of a mascot more than a partner) we stumbled across the opportunity almost 16 years ago to open the doors of our own store. The World Famous Two Felons Skate Shop. Read more>>

Rhym Guissé

I was born in the North African country of Algeria and grew up in Mali, the Ivory Coast and Paris before immigrating to the U.S. I discovered my love of acting at my visual and performing arts curriculum High School – where I took ballet and played the Clarinet in orchestra. I later received my Bachelor’s degree in Writing in the small Pennsylvania-Dutch town of Kutztown, PA. Read more>>

Laura Pakasaar

I am a professional dancer from Estonia, which is a small country in Europe. Don’t worry if you never heard about us, usually people here think they heard me wrong because of my accent and I often get questions back like “Oh, Astoria, Queens?” or “That’s awesome, but where is it?” I don’t blame them, my home country is small and I am proud of my nationality so I’m happy to tell people about Estonia. My dance journey started when I went to 1st grade and saw a poster about dance classes. Read more>>

Allante Steele

As a young entrepreneur, my first business was a Cleaning Service. Over time I grew to learn my passions more & now I do Creative Artist Management, Brand Development, Model, Act, Photography, some Videography & I’ve also done some Directing for visuals. I work with a team of creatives & entrepreneurs that respectively do what we love. We created a youth program for young men the ages of 13 to 19 around the sustainability around entrepreneurship. Read more>>

Eric Garcia

I’m 23 years old and I’m an artist from Los Angeles California. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved to entertain from my parents buying me my first drum set at the age of 9 and learning other instruments like the guitar. And over the years, I just found I had a passion for music as I got older. In my early life growing up, I had many great memories with my childhood friends, we would call ourself the “Sandlot” kids just because of all the adventures and trouble we would get in sometimes as kids. Read more>>

Brandi Bradley

I’ve never been one to follow rules. I even defied my birth date by arriving a full month late. While my rebellious ways have ranged from trying pot for the first time in my childhood to sneaking my teenage boyfriend into my bedroom, to accumulating losses as an adult; quitting job after job and dropping out of college (years before earning a Bachelors in Business and Masters in Education). Read more>>

Dontrell Jackson

I’ve been strictly painting for about three years now but I’ve always been into art from an early age. I always found myself doodling on the sides of my classwork in class from an early to my later high school day’s as well just always doodling. I played sports in high school (Fontana Summit High) and I really didn’t like how art was taught in class, with all the rules and regulations of art and I just didn’t like so I mainly focused on sports. Read more>>

Hannah Criswell

Photography is a pretty recent development—I’ve been doing it for about two years. I started while working as a model during college. I was curious about being on the other side of the camera and started shooting portraits on my own. I’d set up shoots, cast and style people, and connect with makeup artists. I left photography behind to pursue my master’s degree in classical flute performance at Yale. Read more>>

Jake Mitchell

When I was nine years old, I would spend hours with my LEGO’s and family camera creating stop motion animations, allowing my imagination and moving images to bring my toys to life. From there, a natural progression began of creating films in different forms, from physical stop motion and stick figure drawings to action short films and comedy skits. Read more>>

1 Comment

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