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Orange County’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 Orange County’s gems below.

Natalie Collins

I am the owner and creator of Zen Mind Crystals! I have been wire wrapping for about four years now and opened my little online shop almost a year and a half ago! For the longest time, I felt like I didn’t have any “real” hobbies other than yoga; I did not feel creative. So, when I saw a friend of mine wire wrapping, I asked them if they could teach me and I fell absolutely in love! I’ve always had a special place in my heart for crystals and their healing abilities too. I feel like this passion evolved naturally. At first, I would just wrap crystals to give as gifts, but one day I realized that it could be so much more than that. I had been in a very dark place for many years as I was addicted to drugs and alcohol. Through my recovery, I gained not only a strong spiritual connection with a power greater than myself but also a stronger bond with myself! I began meditating during the beginning months of my recovery and found who I truly was. So, the next time I picked up some wire and a crystal, I realized that this would become my creative outlet. When I create jewelry, it puts me in a zen state-of-mind, that is why I named my shop “Zen Mind.” Read more>>

Luis Del Mar

I would love to sit by my mother or my sister to watch them apply their makeup on themselves… I always asked questions and wondered why they used such products I was always very fascinated… eventually started using their mascara or powders in secret! I would wear it to school… Fast forward, I turned 16 went to Sephora and bought my four pieces of makeup and tools and started my journey. I shot my first tutorials on my phone… started practicing more and more… I had my days where I wanted to give up and not try anymore but I kept pushing… eventually my work started to pay off… I started getting noticed by bigger brands… and got reached out to… started receiving products for testing… At 19, I collaborated with Klepki co and brought to life a pair of lashes which sold out this was one of my greatest accomplishments… I am 22 now and I now work with bigger brands. Such as Anastasia, Gerard cosmetics, beauty bakeries and more. I have announced my own business (not in makeup) but I am very passionate about animals and decided that I wanted to open up a dog bakery here where I live. Read more>>

Kelly Schwarze

Around the age of nineteen, I had my first management job. I was the manager of a small amusement park about fifteen miles from the Las Vegas Strip. At that time, I was focused on two things: getting through college and finding a job in the entertainment industry. I remember one hot summer morning, the general manager made a surprise visit. Like most of the employees that day, I was on pins and needles, hoping that he didn’t see any imperfections with our work. He was a stern taskmaster with a reputation for firing people without flinching. I tried to hide as much as I could. I did my best to avoid any interaction that would jeopardize my hard-earned day job. After all, it was the only thing helping me pay my way through college. Despite my attempts to go unnoticed that day, Mr. Sullivan had cornered me inside the management office while I was breaking change for the cashiers. Mr. Sullivan was an older man, well into his seventies, and spoke with a deep, authoritarian voice. He politely asked me to have a seat. I was beside myself, ransacking my memory bank, trying to figure out what I had done wrong. Read more>>

Katey Kalanges

I grew up in a really small town in Upstate New York, and I’ve always gravitated towards the arts even when I was super young. Art was always my favorite subject in school and my art teachers were my idols growing up. While I struggled in subjects like Math and Science, art class became my refuge and my passion. I went to college in Buffalo and I chose to study Art Education and Ceramic Arts. Honestly, having this option seemed like a dream come true. Having the opportunity to dip my toes into several subject matters was really exciting for me, and I was inspired to combine techniques and create mixed media work. My last year in college was without a doubt the busiest/most hectic time in my life. I was student teaching Monday through Friday, working to complete my teaching portfolio for my final, bartending at least five days a week, and it was at this point I decided to start my Etsy shop and get my side hustle going. This was 2012. I would get home at night around 11pm and spend hours working on pieces to sell on Etsy. Sleep was definitely a stranger to me, but I set goals and deadlines and pushed myself to meet them. I was saving up money to move to the west coast. Read more>>

Dazzy Shah

If someone would’ve told me that I would be working in the arts when I was a kid, I would have laughed at them. I was born and brought up in India, and due to the fact that for most of my academic career Art had really just been a box to tick off, my rendezvous with It really began when my parents made the challenging decision to immigrate to Canada from India. Canada is where I finished my junior and senior year of high school, and this is when I started specializing in graphic design. From here stemmed a curiosity for all things visual arts! It wasn’t until my junior year of Architecture School at the University of Toronto that I discovered my love for Production Design. With my other major at the time being Visual Studies, I often got the opportunity to combine art and design in the form of installations, which is what made me fall in love with the phenomenological aspect of the field. I was very much into creating entire narratives and atmospheres rather than lone buildings. Read more>>

Younghae Chung

I’m a classically trained left-handed calligrapher, teacher, and creative entrepreneur based in Southern California. My first exposure to calligraphy was 2005 during my senior year in college. I had taken an elective Italic calligraphy class for an easy A (which I did! 😉) and still remember how therapeutic and enjoyable the class was. Little did I know it would come in full circle for me in my 30s. In 2014, nine years and two kids later, our family found ourselves in a tough transition and was temporarily living in Orlando, Florida. It was during this seemingly hopeless season when I longed to write words from Scripture to hang as visual reminders of hope around my home. A google search led me to sign up for a Copperplate calligraphy workshop with Kaye Hanna and I was instantly hooked. Through calligraphy, I’ve learned the value of slowing down and the power of words. I think of the phrase “beauty from ashes” because this has been such a sweet gift from the Lord and has brought much joy to my heart. My journey into teaching: Soon after I went all-in with practicing and diving into the calligraphy world, I decided to start a separate Instagram account (@logos_calligraphy) to document and share my progress. Read more>>

Jynne Ross

My passion for hair and beauty developed in my early childhood years. I was raised by a single mother of two, who had various financial hardships that came in waves. As a result, my mom was often unable to provide my sister and me with money to get our hair styled at the local beauty salons. For years, I admired the creative hairstyles worn by my neighborhood friends in the area and my middle school classmates. Determined to be a part of the stylish in-crowd and given that individuals and cornroll braids were one of the trendiest looks in the ’90s, I decided to teach myself how to braid hair. In due course, I mastered the skill! At the tender age of 11, I had indeed honed the art of braiding. I curated my craft to develop unique styles, cultivating a fan base among my friends and family—many of whom were eventual customers. If my clients could not pay, I would often braid for free to gain more experience simply because I enjoyed styling so much. By seventh grade, I moved on to learn how to install ponytails. I often sampled and used many of the popular brands, such as Let’s Jam, African Pride, Eco Styler, and QP to create these styles. I used the products on my clients and my 4-A type hair while styling. By the 8th grade, my at-home business was a hit. Read more>>

Brandie Kekoa

Brandie Kekoa is a 3rd generation hair care professional following in the footsteps of her aunt and grandmother. At a young age, she understood the true magic of being in the hair industry was empowering clients to love themselves from the inside out. Following this path, she became a hairstylist with dreams of one day owning a salon. In 2011, she stepped out on faith and created what’s known today as the Be Kekoa salon and healthy hair care brand. Read more>>

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