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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.

Brintney Green-Conerly

In 2019 the thought of life after college started to hit me hard to a point I didn’t know what I was doing or who I was anymore. I thought I had a hold of my emotions and I tried to mask it by pouring into my kids and building a business. Only to realize I was in deep depression. I experienced intense mental attacks that led to imposter syndrome which then, led to suicidal thoughts. I was on the brink of losing my marriage, family and myself. But, God! At one of the lowest moments of my life God found me and showed me there was more in me. Forcing me to see that something needed to change and it started with [ME]. Through the beginning stages of learning, growing and becoming everybitofbrintney, the love of Christ Jesus repurposed me by renewing my heart, mind, character and purpose. Which is how I started BCME INFLUENCE. Read more>>

Miyona Lenoir

I’ve been writing since the age of 14 and never stopped. I started out as a battle rapper but never set out to conquer that style of rap. My goal was always making music. Once I started recording there was no turning back. Read more>>

Jay Cardoza and Sarah Rewell

GrlSwirl was founded in LA by eight women who met as strangers. They formed a community within Venice and quickly found the necessity of expanding when numerous people throughout the country & the world were so inspired by their actions and wanted to build a GrlSwirl community in their own cities. The energy of the meetups is contagious. In February of 2020, we held our first group skate as the leaders of Grlswirl San Diego, and we were amazed to see 60 attendees: womxn + queer, who showed up to skate with us. We took over the streets of Ocean Beach, taking up space and turning heads. Within a few hours, it already felt like we were forming a family. It’s amazing to see people coming to our meetups who have never once stepped on a board, and they leave proud of themselves and empowered. Read more>>

Isaac Barrocas

As a graduate from the Art Institute, I weaved my way through the industry working in various design positions, freelance jobs, and creative roles. I learned the ins and outs of the large format industry and got addicted to seeing my artwork on such a huge scale. I had always wanted to own a business and at the first hint of opportunity, I took the plunge. I began networking with former clients, friends, family, and business owners in my area until I had a few opportunities forming. I spent my life savings on the best machinery my money could buy and got to work! A good friend of mine had recently started an event production company, so we worked together in the creation of pop-up art exhibits in L.A. I continued to grow my relationships, joined a global networking organization, and kept my eyes on growth and development. Read more>>

Kristy Drutman

I am a mixed-race, Jewish and Filipina environmentalist who is passionate about the intersections between digital media and environmental justice. Brown Girl Green was created my senior year of college at UC Berkeley as a response to the lack of representation of Black, Indigenous, and people of color in the mainstream environmental movement. I wanted to create a media platform to highlight the perspective and experiences of diverse environmental leaders and advocates worldwide pushing for an environmentally just future. Now I have a small team of creatives working to sustain and keep this platform going via my videos, blog, podcast, and newsletter! Read more>>

Emmanuel Pedroza

I’ve been playing music in one way or another since I was in the 5th grade when I got my first bass and learned about guitar tabs online. I have a laundry list of old bands, but the first release under my name and with me singing every song came out almost three years ago. I had always written songs but was finally able to record my own music once I got Ableton. This year I put out a new EP in May, which is also self-titled (Emmanuel Pedroza EP), and it works sort of like a fast-forward montage. It starts with a song that could have been on my first album but also has one of the newest songs on it. Putting new music out in 2020 is a bittersweet pill, but now that we’re here, I’m going to try and share the newest best stuff I have in the best way I can under the circumstances. Read more>>

Tiffany Wojtkiewicz

I started working with a well-known wine company right after I graduated college; it was a great introduction into the wine industry. I was able to learn from the best really fast and meet some really inspirational teammates who became my fellow co-founders of ONEHOPE. When we were first starting out in the wine industry, we started to see numerous brands support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month during the month of October. These temporary cause marketing campaigns really inspired us to want to push the limits on giving. We wanted to create a brand and build a company that made a social impact 365 days a year and in turn, give our community the opportunity to support causes they truly cared about. To date, we’ve donated over $5M to meaningful causes including childhood hunger, reforestation and pet adoption. Read more>>

William Valle

I originally began making beats about 12 years ago as a hobby when I was 13. Then I met a close friend of mine in High School, his name was Jahmed and we started working on music together. After high school, we ended up making a small project called Barabas and we put it out on SoundCloud and passed out CDs to local friends. After we had finished the project, Jah and I got disconnected since he ended up moving to Texas while I got a full-time job working at a local Toyota dealership. With him being out of state, I ended up not really making music and with my job taking so much out of my day, I slowly went away from it and this turned out to be the case for almost five years until 2020. We still stayed in touch a little throughout the time he stayed out in Texas until he moved back. Read more>>

Teresa Ho

I discovered I had an interest in art when I was quite young. However, I was strongly discouraged from pursuing art and wasn’t allowed to take art classes or freely explore my interests. My first art show was in 2nd grade, and the piece I created was fan-art of The Cat in the Hat. I got a blue ribbon and I wasn’t allowed to do anything artistic after that. My free time after school was the only time I could explore and experiment with creating art. I would spend hours on YouTube and reading tutorial blog posts on expanding my skill sets. Most of what I taught myself was learning how to edit photos and how to code for my K-pop Tumblr blog page. I went to community college, switched from studying pharmacy to graphic design and then transferred to study illustration at Art Center College of Design in 2017. Read more>>

Dolly Nophaenkham

I started off as a Newborn photographer, portraits, etc. I am also a fitness instructor. Working with people taking their photos and also teaching classes to women really made me realize that I want to also do photography for women. As females, we already are so hard on ourselves because of stereotypes and with society always portraying that is sexy and how a women should look like. I use to train fellow mommas like myself and I got to see that I wasn’t the only one that was so judgmental with ourselves. We are our biggest critics and it’s hard enough to hear it from others. I started Honey Dove this year, and it’s more than just Boudoir. I just wanted to do something for women to make them feel amazing, beautiful, worthy and just like the queen they are. Read more>>

Samantha Reed

I’ve been acting since the age of four when I played Becky Thatcher in a children’s production of Tom Sawyer at Garbeau’s in Sacramento. I kept performing whenever I could, whether it was singing in a church choir or participating in school plays. My first big opportunity came when I took a voiceover class meant for adults, and the teacher refused to let me into the class unless I came and auditioned for her privately. I went into her home studio and read for her, and at the end she said that she wasn’t going to let me into the class because I didn’t need it. Instead, she recommended me to a voiceover agency with a local branch, and I started booking gigs. I voiced multiple toys, I did several spots for national radio, and I even got to do an audiobook for Sesame Street. Read more>>

Grace Recka

I’ve always been an athlete playing sports in school. My brother and I took gymnastic classes as small kids which we loved. My first entry into competitive sports was playing on a boys’ basketball team with one other girl. I’ve always loved the feel of learning a sport—I ran track and played lacrosse in high school. That sense of accomplishment, whether it was an individual event or team was important to building confidence but also a healthy lifestyle. As a family, we always ate healthy and rarely indulged in fast-food so I felt like I had a head start of understanding the importance of fueling your body with lean food. Read more>>

Lola Osinkolu

I started my blogging journey five years ago. At that time, I knew little to nothing about what being a blogger actually entailed. All I had was my cooking skills, my passion for food and sharing it with others, and a supportive husband. Cooking has always been an important part of my life. I started cooking before the age of 10 and never turned back! Though I studied geology and mining for my first university degree, I never worked in the field; instead, I went straight into cooking. I got my first job as a restaurant manager, which gave me a bit more exposure to the cooking world. When I came to the U.S. a decade ago, I wasn’t able to open my own restaurant for a lot of reasons – raising my kids, financial restraints, and cultural shock amongst others. Read more>>

Selena Gibbons

I am Author/Financial Life Coach/Founder & CEO of The 800+ Financial Freedom Club LLC. I became a Certified financial life coach in December of 2019. With the wealth of skills, knowledge, and tools I have gained over the years, I have been able to positively impact lives and gain the trust of my clients. I hosted my first Financial Literacy Workshop December of 2019 and was able to Host my second workshop March of 2020. I self-published my first book The Ultimate Guide and Tips Towards Financial Freedom in August of 2020 which is available on Amazon. I launched 800+ Financial Freedom Podcast in September of 2020. Selena is an inspirational and motivational speaker she loves to inspire and motivate change in communities. Read more>>

Justin Le

Well, I am an Asian American from the Bay Area, and my love for automotive is what help push me to start doing photography. Growing up in the bay, there was a big scene in the automotive community and back then, every week at the quickly’s parking lot there would be car meet where all these modified cars came out to show off what has been put on their vehicles. I would see so many nice cars around but I would also see other people with cameras out and taking pictures of all these cars that came out to the meet. At the time, I was in high school and only really cared about the modified cars so I never paid attention to the photographer. It wasn’t until I got out of high school when I got more interested into photography. Read more>>

Tehani Sun Tobosa

I am 11 years old. I was born in San Francisco and moved to O’ahu when I was 1. I was raised on the Windward side of O’ahu where I attended a Hawaiian Immersion School (Punana Leo). I learned how to speak the Hawaiian language and all about my Hawaiian culture. We now live in Southern California. I have the best parents ever (Mom is from the IE/OC and my dad is from the Bay Area/Hawaii) and the coolest little sister named Ranitea who was actually born on Hawai’i. So we were both literally raised on the beaches of Hawai’i and California where we learned to respect the ocean and all of its creatures and living things by surfing, diving, swimming and observing. We were in and out of the water and sun all day EVERYDAY! Read more>>

Rachel Serrato-Morrisey

We are a husband and wife dog nerd duo. Our first dog together is named Kira and we knew right away we wanted her around for as long as possible and nutrition would play a major role in assuring that. At the time, we couldn’t find a truly raw product that was free of preservatives and affordable for a young growing family. Coming from a family-owned meat company and a long history of entrepreneurs, I knew my father could help make this product a competitor of its category. He was and still continues to work as our manufacturer and together we’ve listened, learned and grown to understand the fresh pet food community and what it takes to thrive in this growing industry. Read more>>

Delia Bush

Honestly, it’s been a slow, surprising, and exciting journey building this little photography business. As a kid, I was always so interested in swiping away my mom and dad’s little digital cameras and phones to take pictures of RANDOM things on vacations, forcing them to pose in interesting ways, and of course, pictures of our dogs – but who isn’t obsessed with taking pictures of their dogs, let’s face it, we’re all dog photographers. I never owned my own camera until my first year of high school. It was a Pentax K-50 DSLR camera, and I felt so cool carrying around this big bulky high-def camera – that is, until it broke. Devastating, I know. Luckily, my parents could see how much the loss of that camera affected me, and after I did lots of research on what I wanted, I got my beloved Fujifilm XT-10 for Christmas – which I still use and cherish to this day. Read more>>

Rebecca Ruland

I started Sweet Dreams Bakery OC in April of 2020 — right around the beginning of the pandemic. I came home from college in March for Spring Break and shortly after, quarantine happened. Unable to go back to school for the end of my senior year, I was bored out of my mind and honestly really sad about missing out on all of the fun and my graduation. I started to bake — mostly to ease some anxiety but also just because it was a fun hobby I already dabbled in. I made an Instagram to post some of my creations and almost immediately the orders poured in! I really began with macarons (and still make them all the time) but I’ve expanded to cakes, cupcakes, cookies, cake pops, chocolate-covered strawberries and meringues. I am now doing weddings and other events, teaching cake decorating, running Sweet Dreams Bakery out of my home and trying to gain as much knowledge as possible! Read more>>

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