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Mid Wilshire’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 Mid Wilshire’s gems below.

Josh Goldberg

I grew up in Dallas, TX in a very musical family. My dad was proudly a long time member of a barbershop quartet, and my mom was a former jingle-singer for radio commercials. I grew up doing musical theatre, playing piano from a young age, and eventually learned guitar. Learning guitar opened up a whole new world for me because I realized I didn’t just have to play what was on the page, but I could learn songs by ear from listening to CD’s, and quickly started writing my own songs. I ended up going to an Arts Magnet High school (home to Norah Jones, Eryka Badu, and Edie Brickell), where I got to do music and theatre basically every day. I studied with Norah Jones’ piano player for years. And when I graduated, I packed up and moved across the country to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California’s famed Popular Music Program. Read more>>

Fred Hopson and Nyesha Hopson

Our story begins with Fred, a Chicago native who has always had a passion for cooking from the age of 12. His mom always ensured he knew his way around the kitchen, and he has not looked back since. In 2013, Fred knew he was on to something. He entered and won 1st place in the “Street Loyalty BBQ Competition” then won 1st place again the following year in 2014. Since then, Fred has studied under the mentors of Pit Masters Kevin Bludso of Bludso’s Bar & Que, Neil Strawder of Big Mista’s Barbeque & Sammich Shop, and several other world-acclaimed pit bosses and has perfected and honed his craft. Read more>>

Catalina Piotti

My life journey was non-linear and extremely versatile. It was hard for me to understand and assume that the real magic in life only occurs when you abandon your comfort zone and, as the heroes of the stories I create, always seek for new adventures. As a kid, back home in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I spent hours writing and creating my own stories. Acting and painting became true passions as well. For some reason, I decided to study Political Science. On my senior year at the University, I suddenly realized that I wanted a different life, a life driven by art in every form. I felt so different and weird. Read more>>

September Penn

I’ve been singing my entire life, and I developed a love for theater in high school and college, where I majored in communications. I love storytelling through theater and musical performance, and I believe I operate in the greatest flow when I’m working in the theater space.Theater work has taken me to Beijing, China, as the co-music director for a production with the National Theater Company of China, a play called “Passages of Martin Luther King.” The play was written by Dr. Clayborne Carson, a Stanford University history professor who was commissioned by Coretta Scott King to edit Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s papers. Dr. Carson named me a music director for his play. Read more>>

Latoya ‘Toya From Harlem’ Coleman

I’m known as Toya From Harlem, aka your #HistorianHomie, aka the Anthony Bourdain of history.⁣ I’m a writer, social media manager, plant mom, tattoo enthusiast, trap griot, podcaster, and blogger. I’m the founder of ToyaFromHarlem.com and host of That Wasn’t In My Textbook podcast. I was born and raised in Harlem, where I went to elementary and middle schools founded by Black people that create predominately Black spaces for Black children, with Black teachers, (RARE I know.) They were each founded by people who wanted to give back to their community and who were not satisfied with how students of colors’ history were left out of traditional curriculums. Read more>>

Pat Payne

MIGGIE+LEA is a woman-owned company that celebrates my mother Lea and aunt Miggie’s legacy of style. They came from a working-class West Indian immigrant family during the Great Depression and wore impeccably made home sewn garments they copied from display windows and store catalogs, but the ladies adorned their outfits with beautiful accessories whenever they left home. When they transitioned, I inherited their jewelry, and although many of the pieces looked dated, I didn’t want them to collect dust in a closet. Miggie+Lea was born out of my desire to blend modern and vintage elements into contemporary designs that incorporated those heirlooms. Read more>>

Jordan Dil and Mikel Noriega

My partner, Mikel, and I met in business school at UCLA Anderson. I moved to LA from Calgary, Canada and Mikel from Mexico City. We connected over our desire to break out of our traditional corporate job molds and love for mezcal. While in business school, we had the opportunity to start a business and decided to explore launching a mezcal brand with a few of our friends from business school. We spent a year researching the category, interviewing people in the industry in the US, and traveling to Mexico several times to immerse ourselves in the world of Mezcal. We realized that while mezcal is a booming category here in the US, there were already so many mezcal brands out there positioning the spirit as a cocktail ingredient. Read more>>

Jeron Kim

Being born into an Immigrant Korean Family trying to pursue the “American Dream” was brutal. However, surviving evictions and living in poverty taught me that life is unfair and I had to get out of the funk myself. From being kicked out of school to being addicted to substances, I can admit that I failed to do so for a long time. While going through these obstacles, I used music to alleviate the void I had been feeling. I slowly started to realize that without making music, I would have no purpose in life. I decided then and there to find stability and to push in the direction of living a better life. I’ve worked part-time jobs serving tables and managing restaurants to support my purpose of making music. Flash forward to the present and I am performing with a following and live in my own Condominium. Read more>>

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