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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.

Royce Whittaker

I’m from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and grew up with a very musical Father, who is still an active musician and composer. When I was a young kid, he had an old Cakewalk setup with a keyboard that I learned to record myself on, exclusively playing the theme from “Phantom of the Opera”. By the age of 17, I was in a band playing guitar and writing the music and began touring Canada with several different acts over the next few years. Read more>>

Nancy Crowd

While reading, I write down pop-out words. A pop-out word is just a word that stands out and leaves an impression. In one of my lists, “Silent Crowd” just spoke to me. Interestingly, I was reading the Bible and so I like to say “Silent Crowd” was gifted to me from the heavens. Love is my religion and I think it’s important to be well versed in many cultures and that’s where the logo comes in. I’m what you call a deep thinker and to me. Read more>>

AJ Absy

In 2016, I was attending Cal Poly SLO when I moved into an off campus house associated with the sailing team. I met my roommate, Sean O’Donnell, who also played guitar. We would jam almost every day. We both agreed that we wanted to include more musicians. We had no set goal to create a band; we just wanted to jam. Sean knew a drummer that he used to work with at Albertsons. That was my introduction to Josh Hill. Read more>>

Uno Mash

I grew up on the dark side of reality. Crime, drug use in the home at an early age, Gang Violence, police brutality, you name it, I’ve experienced it in some form or another. I made a lot of bad choices early on and it cost me my freedom more than a few times. I think I was so influenced by what was going on around me, I became a victim to it. During my incarceration, I found that I enjoyed writing music. It became like a window to the outside world, and also a new type of therapy. Read more>>

Johnathan Huang

I’ve never not liked art. People say that some were put on this earth to be destined for something, and I think from a very early age, I figured that out, but I just hadn’t realized it yet. There are many things I could label myself as, whether it be artist, painter, designer, illustrator, but recently I’ve stumbled upon one that I feel truest to: maker. It might be my slightly competitive nature that has always made me want to master everything I try to learn. Read more>>

Leah Anova

Cinematography is my 2nd career. Before I moved into film production, I was a Photo Editor in the Washington, DC area. After about seven years, I had a mid-life crisis and I knew I needed a change. I walked into my boss office and quit. No two weeks notice. Nothing. Many say I DROPPED THE MIC! My interest in film was always very strong and I knew several people in the industry already. I worked on their sets and started as a camera internship at Ventana Productions right after quitting my photo editing job. Read more>>

Frank Simes

Born in Japan as an American, as my father was a US appellate court judge, initially assigned as General MacArthur’s legal attache, I grew up in Tokyo and later moved to Camp Zama, US Army Headquarters, Japan. I started playing guitar at 10, and by 14, I landed a record contract on RCA Victor with my band Sunrise. Under the auspices of our keyboardist, Mickey Yoshino, a young celebrity known as a child prodigy keyboardist, doors of opportunity seemed to fly open for us. Read more>>

Lisa Santacroce

In August 2014, I moved to Los Angeles from Garfield, New Jersey, which is a suburb of New York City. I had recently received my Master’s Degree in Counseling with a focus in Career Counseling and I knew I wanted to look for jobs in Los Angeles and move out west. While I didn’t move here for work, I ended up getting hired at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena in the Career and Professional Development Office as an Internship Specialist and Career Counselor. Read more>>

Carolyn Iga

My identity is that of a 4th generation Japanese American, an evangelical progressive Christian, who believes it is the love of a personal God that provides, sustains, and propels me to create a business and environment that is values-centered and focused on character development, while really attempting to engage the world with a relevant message, that as we care about people, and we teach people to care about people. Read more>>

DeShawn Roberson

Since birth I’ve been around music due to my family being majority musicians but at the age of 13 my parents got me my very first drum machine it was on Christmas, I can still remember the name…… a streetbox 246 it wasn’t a fancy one but it got me started on coming up with melodies that I was hearing in my head for years and I went crazy on that drum machine for about 2-3 years then I realized I could also put words together and that was when $Paid came about. Read more>>

Jasmine Green

I am the current designer for a couple of other brands as well as the owner of a couple of Fashion Businesses. However, I started Amiyah Mae Couture a children’s wear brand back in 2018 to establish something to pass along to my daughter. My daughter was born September of 2018. I wanted the brand to showcase unique items for children. AM Couture currently does Custom Items only and will be branching out soon to offer ready to wear items. Read more>>

Mackenna Rowley

In 2016, my husband Leland and I were running a letterpress wedding invitation studio and pregnant with our first child. We loved the creative part of design and the amazing people in the traditional printing industry, but we were ready for a change. A good friend contacted us and asked if we knew where she could get a Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides). She knew Leland loved plants and was good at finding unusual things online, and she hadn’t been able to find one for sale anywhere. Read more>>

Anastascia Duchesse

I’m a Texas-born, San Diegan vibe to be reckoned with who moved to the OC/LA area for college over a decade ago. I studied media, French and psychology as all three subjects interested me. I have stayed in the area since graduation with the initial premise of working in media production because I’ve always enjoyed the creative and storytelling process. Growing up, I was often told I was a strong writer in school, but never planned nor dreamed I would write a book someday nor start a publishing company. Read more>>

James Diamond

Ever since I was a young, I knew that I wanted to be a performer. I would run around my house singing and dancing so much that my mom thought it would be good to enroll me into something to channel that energy. At eight years old, she enrolled me into ballet. A few years later, I became a part of Authoring Action. A2 is an organization that provides tools to youth for their personal success through creative writing, speech, film and design. Authoring Action is where I started writing music and using my voice. Read more>>

Jenapher Zheng

I was a terribly shy and bullied child who found refuge and freedom in writing imaginative poems and stories I would perform under my breath on long car rides home. When a 6th grade teacher tasked us with making a creative project for the novel The Secret Garden, I chose to write/direct/act in a parody play that became so beloved that we showcased it three times in a day- once to our homeroom, once to all the three combined 6th grade classes, and once as a private showing to the school principal. Read more>>

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