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South Bay’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 South Bay’s gems below.

Amy Ruth

Like many others, my parents chose to put my older sister and me in dance when we were very young. Luckily, they chose a studio whose owner gave her dancers freedom. She held an in-studio competition every year in which we would select the music we danced to & the costume we would dance in (and as young as 6). At the time, I did not understand how the freedom of making those two decisions made my total experience in dance so much different from others. Essentially, having the freedom to make those decisions would also, later on, shape the philosophy of my first business and inspiration for my first two books, CREATE Dance Collection & CREATE Dance & Choreography Journal. Read more>>

Heaven Manuel

It all started when my mother (founder of Romance And Dance Pole Aerobics) was creating a promotional video to promote her dance classes. She finished the project and showed me the results. I then proceeded to ask “I mean it is cool, but why did you have to film from those angles?” And she claps back with, “well you can’t do ANY BETTER!” I accepted her challenge and when she posted my version it got over 3,000 views! Read more>>

Olga Bautina and Kamila Manzo

We started as a small e-commerce store that specialized in Bamboo clothing. The idea was to have our own brand and since we wanted to make a positive impact on the planet, we decided to focus on organic clothing. And last year, we acquired the Spun Bamboo brand that’s been known for more than a decade already. We worked with this brand before and we knew that this is where we would like to be. Read more>>

Jazmin Jimenez

I started making candles as a hobby in 2018 for friends and family but it wasn’t until COVID hit that I really sat down and started making them with the intention to start a business. The idea came when I was looking for Latinx owned and wonderfully scented black bruja candles. When I realized there wasn’t any, I set out to make some myself! The name was the easiest part: before my mom passed away she would always call me her Brujita Min (little witch Min) whenever I would talk about magic and brujeria. What I struggled with was the branding. I wanted something black and witchy but with a lighthearted image. Read more>>

Mariel Trujillo

As for many, the pandemic was sort of a time of self-reflection for me. I’ve always felt kind of lost and uncertain when it comes to finding a career. I graduated from college last May and wanted to branch out from the food industry. I’ve always wanted to be some kind of artist but never really found my way just yet. So once COVID started, I dabbled into woodwork, calligraphy and fill out tons of personality tests. One day I stumbled through an article titled something like “Jobs you didn’t think existed.” Professional organizer was on the list. I laughed at the thought of such a job but thought it fairly interesting, doable, and even meaningful. I entertained the idea and decided to build a website to “get started” while I laughed at the thought of me starting a business. Read more>>

Brandi Robinson and Erica Martin

About Pretty As Me Nails: Pretty As Me, LLC was created to help women and men look and feel good inside and out! Our first venture started in 2012 with a Kiosk in the SouthBay Pavilion (Carson Mall) offering clothing & accessories, which would eventually expand into a retail storefront in the Walmart Neighborhood Market Center in Carson, CA. In 2017, Pretty As Me LLC decided to close its retail doors and go digital. Read more>>

Teri Meredyth

Pianos have always been important to me. I started lessons when I was six and played all through high school, enjoying both classical and jazz. In college, I pursued being a Piano Performance Major for about a year and a half, then came to my senses! I didn’t want to become yet another starving musician, so I got a BA in Psychology (which would later prove helpful). Midway through college, I married, and my husband decided to work toward becoming a therapist in graduate school. Read more>>

Callie Laquidara

I have always worked a corporate job in sales, mainly the wedding and event industry. I love planning, organization, logistics, and timelines but creative freedom is always missing when you work for someone else. About a year ago, I bought my first camera, started my own photography business and never looked back, mainly because I couldn’t. I started this business on the brink of Coronavirus and failure was not an option. The uncertainty of the next few months left me with time to thoroughly dive into the basics of photography. I was going to teach myself everything about my camera from capturing a photo to editing. I treated learning this new art as a full-time job and then some. Read more>>

Angelica Chéri

I wrote my first play in 9th grade at Westchester High School. Then in 11th grade, I wrote another play, which I was able to direct and produce on the school stage. From there, I went on to obtain my BA in Theatre with a Playwriting Concentration from UCLA. I then moved to New York City and obtained two Masters Degrees back to back: an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University and an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU. While at NYU, my collaborator Ross Baum and I wrote a musical entitled GUN & POWDER, which is inspired by the true story of my great-great aunts, Mary and Martha Clarke who were twin sisters who passed for white in post-emancipation Texas and were notorious outlaws. Read more>>

Michael J. Creppy Jr.

Born in Pasadena, CA. Family moved to Maryland when I was two. My father Michael Creppy Sr. is a Federal Judge and was the first black Chief Immigration Judge in the history of the United States and my mother Hazel Creppy is an English & public speaking professor. I also have two younger brothers Kevan Creppy and Justen Creppy. My background is relevant because as I began my journey of playing professional basketball, I was able to look at the industry from a macro level which allowed me to create my company Vindicated Sports. Read more>>

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