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South LA’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 LA’s gems below.

Lily Tapia

I’ve had a passion for photography ever since I was a small child. I learned the value of a single photograph growing up in Mexico and coming to the United States because we left with a limited number of my family’s images. In high school, I was introduced to film photography techniques and learned about the art world. Thanks to The Olsen Twins, I also had a passion for fashion and everything Tres Chic. For a moment in time, I wanted to move to New York and work in Vogue! haha. Guys, I fell in love with the art and fashion world! Read more>>

Janae’ Franklin

Through the power of self-compassion via self-care, a whole lotta THERAPY lol, a tighter and supportive circle, a desire to keep going further than what my ancestors were allowed, and my higher power; I am Janae’ Ethra Franklin. I believe that certain circumstances in my life happened; that was the right catalyst for becoming a self-care and mental health advocate and the Co-Owner and CMO of Brooke Blaze. 

Edward Macon

I started out as an athlete: just growing up playing sports; pretty much that’s all I knew. My whole family was involved in me playing sports. I didn’t know much outside of that. Where I come from, it was either sports or gang banging. I watched my oldest brother spend his entire childhood in and out of jail. I watched my cousins my mom took in get killed or end up in jail, doing life. I saw my brother Junior go from being involved in sports then lose it at the end. I just knew I couldn’t be that; I have to be anything but that. I took sports as my only option. It helped me stay out the streets. I spent so much time wanting to be an athlete that I didn’t see anything else; I didn’t see what my future could be. It became what I had to do if I wanted to pay bills and get my degree, so I was willing to do it. Read more>>

Amirh Releford

I fell in love with working out at the age of 16, any time I had after completing my homework and basketball practice, you could find me at the local YMCA working out in the weight room. It was a way for me to learn focus and discipline. The rush I felt from learning the mechanics of the body and watching my body change drove me to become more serious about educating myself about nutrition and fitness. After graduating from CSUDH with a B.A. in Kinesiology, Pre Physical Therapy and acquiring my personal training Certification soon after, I knew it was less about me and more about helping people improve their general fitness goals, confidence, and becoming the best version of themselves. Read more>>

Tamika Simpkins

As a child, I always felt I was meant to be a storyteller and an artist in some way. I would do modeling competitions with my mom, played instruments, writing, dancing, etc. At the same time, there was a logical aspect within me. I feel like these are the foundations of my ying & yang, the two careers I balance like two spinning plates on my fingers. The path I’ve been down the longest is my journey with technology. As a Marine, my dad always thought it was best to have a skill that was sound and would look to be relevant in the future. Read more>>

Charlie Alpisar

Let me walk you through the story of 2oona Beatz and how everything started. Everything started when my sister and I went half on a desktop. The homie silent aka trek gave a hacked version of FL studio and watching him do beats off the software got me motivated to do the same. Started by just by playing the loop and add those drum patterns until I told myself that I should chop those samples which I knew others were doing but I was thinking flip the sample until it wasn’t recognizable, lol. Work with some artists in LA that most is unreleased or most got lost on the desktop hard drive once it crashed. Read more>>

Ozzy Urena

Well, I started my first brand when I was 13 in middle school actually. It was literally like a Saturday morning, May 6th, to be exact and it was like I always had the idea of wanting to make something just never fulfilled what but it did have to do with clothing. I also didn’t necessarily want to keep asking for money and you know I was still pretty young to get a job. So I opened up my notes and started coming up with like corny names right and looking at other brands for inspiration as well. I decided on the name “Nov Amor”, Nov being November, my birth month and Amor being Spanish for love, connecting to my Latino roots. Read more>>

Charlene Carter

I have been a licensed Cosmetologist for 15 years. I began focusing more on hair health. I noticed that a lot of women were dealing with chemically damaged hair from lots of relaxers and other chemicals. The over processing of the hair was really bad. I started to create products focused on hair health. Assisting women to regain control of their hair health became what I loved more than just styling hair. I decided to go completely natural myself. There was not many products on the market that helped me or any knowledge out for me to take in. I shared with friends and family for over two years before I finally launched my first product, HAIR SERUM. Read more>>

Kristin Mendez

I grew up experimenting with cameras in my hometown of Huntington Beach, CA before moving to NYC to study at the New York Film Academy. While there, I dove into the world of cinematography. I worked under experienced Directors of Photography on a wide range of films and learned the technical aspects of camera and lighting over the course of five years. In 2013, I returned to the Los Angeles area to pursue cinematography full time. Since then, I’ve worked to establish myself as a Director of Photography on the west coast and have shot a myriad of projects. I’ve been able to take my experience with narrative filmmaking and cinematic lighting and apply it to several documentaries, music videos, and commercial projects. Read more>>

Shandrea Moody-Wilson

In 2013, my child, Vaniya Yoakum, was discovered running at a high-end speed at the age of six in a community park in Los Angeles. Later that week, she was invited out to training with a group of children above her age group and her results were breathtaking. As a single mother, who challenged with rent, college, resourced materials, on top of everything training expenses for my talented six years old daughter, was beyond stressful. Once I saw the challenge, it was for me as well as other parents and guardians who did not have it, it caused a bit of heart break. But the smiles and cheers from the children once they won medals and trophies was priceless. Read more>>

1 Comment

  1. Jane

    October 9, 2019 at 03:32

    JBalloonFiesta is a hand made shop run by an great woman with an amazing story

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