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Pasadena’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 Pasadena’s gems below.

Charles Fossett-Lee

I started working for My Gym in 2007, which is kind of crazy to think about cause it’s a full circle moment for me. In 2007 when I started at My Gym, I didn’t think I would be where I would be right now. In 2007 I started as what here at My Gym called a trainee, and then I loved up to lead teacher. I stayed with the Santa Barbra location until 2009; then, I transferred to Sac State, where I worked at that location until I left for the summer and worked at Hume Lake, where everything I learned at My Gym helped me thrive and be the person that I am today. Read more>>

Dee Clement

I have been very active and involved in competitive sports my entire life, so becoming a fitness trainer was not far-fetched for me. I didn’t begin my health/fitness journey until my early 30’s. Now, I’m about to turn 37, and I can honestly say I’m stronger, healthier, and more mentally in tune with my body than I have ever been before. It all started when I managed a body-positive, and queer-friendly gym in Cypress Park called EVERYBODY for almost 5 years. When I started there, I rarely worked out, and I was very nervous and intimidated by all the equipment. Read more>>

Ge Song

In 2020, I moved from Chicago to Pasadena to start my furniture design journey. During my time here, I traveled around LA to find materials, learned the manufacturing process, and met people from different backgrounds. The cultural diversity here encouraged me to explore new possibilities in design based on my heritage growing up in China. As a result, I was committed to fostering a tighter intimacy through people’s reactions to cultivating and touching. I am passionate about building meaningful connections by creating sensory designs. Read more>>

Sara Blumenkranz

I spent my career designing shoes that were anatomically unhealthy. My name is Sara Blumenkranz, I’m the owner of Archetype Yoga, LA’s first Katonah Yoga Studio. I used to fantasize about the ‘Sex in the City’ life, imagining a closet full of Jimmy Choo’s and Manolo Blahnik’s. Then, I got ‘the’ dream job offer a few years out of college. The one that pays for your relocation from CA to NY the golden ticket that I had been manifesting since middle school. Read more>>

RAYLR

We met while attending Azusa Pacific University. We have all been friends for years but did not start making music as a group until 2020. Guitar player Taylor Warnecke and, Richard Guinta had been living and playing together for a couple of years and decided to start to write together. One session birthed a song called “Radio Silence,” an unreleased RAYLR that you might hear at a live show from time to time. Read more>>

Alex Estrada

I was raised in a musical family, my father is a musician and arranger who has worked with the likes of Linda Rondstadt, Juan Gabriel, The Beach Boys, Green Day, and More. My Mother was a professional folklorico dancer who toured the country with Linda Rondstadt on her “Canciones De Mi Padre” tour. Music was always the center of my universe. I first studied trumpet and soon after picked up the guitar which led to years of playing in rock bands and eventually embarking on my own studio and touring adventures. Read more>>

Zhenyuan Shi

I have always been drawn to art and stories since I was a small child. I was born and nurtured in Shanghai, a city with a vibrant art scene. Being exposed to art and artists of many backgrounds and techniques constantly as a child inspired me to appreciate the diverse range of art forms and subsequently incorporate them into my own artistic practice. When I first moved to the United States, I majored in film production, where I learned a lot about using framing, lighting, narration, and other techniques to make interesting stories. Read more>>

Jesamine De Guzman

Years ago, I interviewed for a Case Management role at a law firm. After meeting with a panel of 4, the Marketing Director gave me a call back a few days later. “Hey, thanks for coming in! We really liked you and would love to hire you. But not for the Case Manager role; you’d be our Marketing Associate.” I had never worked in Marketing before. Why offer me a role in something I knew absolutely nothing about at the time? I still, to this day, am so thankful I had been given that opportunity and was pushed outside of my comfort zone.  Read more>>

Melissa Wang

I always wanted to be an artist. Growing up in LA, I experienced a rich cultural ecosystem. Through free civic arts programs, I learned how to sketch and paint (skills I still use today). Unfortunately, I graduated during the recession, so I felt pressured to professionalize my creativity. I worked in healthcare, academia, and tech for 12 years. When I started working for Facebook in 2017, my family and friends thought I had made it. Do I keep climbing the corporate ladder or pursue my childhood dream? In 2019, my uncle, who was an artistic soul, passed away from cancer. So, I quit because I didn’t want to have any regrets. Read more>>

Leeanna Gantt

I was diagnosed with breast cancer just after Christmas 2017 and was in treatment throughout all of 2018. While I was in treatment, I had tons of medications and supplements to help manage the side effects of my treatment. They were all on different schedules and in different forms. My family and I looked for a simple way to keep track of the ever-changing rotation of items and we couldn’t find anything. So, I started to make my own little system from sticky notes, and it really helped us a lot. Read more>>

Evan Jackson

I started Young Bold And Regal as an entertainment media news company in 2013. The essence of what I wanted to create was a platform tell the stories of Black women in the fields of the arts, entertainment, and entrepreneurship. Before starting Young Bold And Regal, I had interned at print magazines, but I wanted to create my own platform to expand my ideas. I love pop culture, and I wanted a more expansive look at what Black women were doing behind the scenes, so I decided to start my own imprint. Read more>>

Jen Venegas

Seven years ago, I lived with my best friend, Aria Serpa. This was during a time when I was struggling with my spirituality. I considered myself an atheist and rejected my Roman Catholic upbringing. Aria identifies as a witch. She began to mentor me in reading tarot and oracle cards. And we talked a lot about spirituality and religion. I realized that the more I was processing my upbringing, the more I was healing my relationship with my spirituality. Read more>>

Harley Jackson

The founders of Offworld Biotech are a collection of 7 individuals with the unique overlap of expertise in space and biotech. We formed Offworld Biotech to build the biological infrastructure for the New Space Economy. Each of us wants to see human civilization become multi-planetary, and we believe that microbes and plants the thrive in off-world environments are crucial to maintaining the closed-loop systems necessary to support long-term space missions and off-world settlements. Read more>>

Rachel Grant Jackson

After graduating from Columbia University, I began practicing yoga in New York in 2000. A move to Los Angeles brought Anusara® yoga into my life, and from that point forward my passion for the practice grew rapidly. Classical Tantrik philosophy combined with rigorous alignment created a dramatic shift in my body, mind, and heart almost instantly. This personal shift inspired me to become a yoga teacher. I hope my vast knowledge, coupled with my authentic concern for my students, creates a safe space for all who chose me as their teacher. Read more>>

Jon Narcisso

My journey in hat-making started 10 years ago, with a lot of passion and a lot of desire to truly learn the craft. My resilience and consistency is what got me here today. I took the time, in the beginning, to truly learn and develop the skill. I never asked for handouts or had any expectations for other hatmakers to give me anything. NO SHORTCUTS; we live in a time where information is at our disposal, and if you’re truly passionate about something you’ll do everything in your capacity to try to gain insight. Read more>>

Jayme Burrows

I started shooting in high school– taking photography classes, then becoming my school newspaper’s photographer and photo editor. I loved photography right away but thought I needed to go into something more stable like law or business. I went to UC Santa Barbara to study law but quickly found that it was unfulfilling for me. I completed that degree but also attended the Brooks Institute of Photography at the same time while in Santa Barbara. I began my career in photography as a photojournalist shooting breaking news, sports, red carpet events, and covering general assignments. Read more>>

Brittany Falardeau

A college professor of mine told me in my sophomore year, “I think you’re being called to do film, and if you don’t, I believe you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.” That, as you can imagine, was a sharp turn in my trajectory. I don’t think I had ever really given myself full permission to believe in the possibility of film. That conversation reignited it. I moved out to LA about 2 weeks after graduating college. I slept on an air mattress in a shared guest bedroom, and I just remember eating dry, off-brand cheerios and applying for jobs on Craigslist. I felt swallowed up by the city. I was terrified. Read more>>

John Kubin

My name is John, and I currently am a full-time Entrepreneur, Voice Over Artist, and Business Owner. I hail from Moscow, Kansas. Population 150. Voted Class Clown and Mr. Unique by my wonderful 12 classmates. After pursuing music and dabbling in acting and stand-up comedy, I decided to jump in the truck and leave the farmland for Hollywoodland in 2006. I quickly (and surprisingly) found great representation with a bi-coastal Management Team and Buchwald Talent Agency; one of the top 10 talent agencies in Los Angeles. I started getting sent out for various Acting roles. As the business of acting became stagnant and unfulfilling, I found a more exciting way to perform behind the camera. Read more>>

Maria Motta

I´m a mom and a children´s book illustrator, and I created Twibbles, knowing that my purpose as an artistic mom was to create gender-neutral designs and to inspire curiosity and creativity through them. Twibbles, is Latina owned business, started in 2017 when my son Benja was born, and it officially became Twibbles in 2019. It is all about wearable illustrations that come to life with downloadable creative materials that will encourage kids to use their imagination and motor skills in positive ways. I also want to help kids reassure their uniqueness, expressing themselves however they want and make them happy. Read more>>

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