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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.

Erika De La Teja

One Social Design started back in 2014 as One Social Events. I have done interior design for over 12 years under a different entity for commercial and retail clients. After planning my own destination wedding and then having to replan per drastic weather changes in the country where it was located, I had to replan my wedding in just three days. While all my guests were out and about enjoying their vacation, I spent three days nonstop replanning my three-day wedding festivities when I realized I didn’t mind doing that at all. I actually really enjoyed the design process, the planning, etc. My existing design clients were always asking me if I would help with their kid’s birthdays, or corporate events, etc. as they liked my aesthetic and style. I also have sat on the boards of different nonprofits and always was in involved in the planning of our charity events. However, I just never thought of myself as an event planner. Fast forward to 2014 when I met a colleague who was also looking to start a party planning service. Read more>>

Jamecia Nicole

Having a clothing store has always been a dream of mine. More so, designing clothes. I remember being in elementary school drawing out dresses and bathing suits during class, promising to one day wear them. Over the years, I’ve become what people like to describe me as, an “Overdresser”. I’m proud of that, lol! People always took a liking to what I was wearing or how I could put an outfit together. ” Getting dressed ” has always been my thing. I love putting a complete look together in my head, I mean from head to toe and then seeing it come to life. My Absolute Favorite Thing!! I don’t even have to go anywhere, lol. The art of ” getting dressed ” and doing it well, my forever thing, haha! I’ve styled tons of friends & relatives throughout their life milestones & opening a store was always on the forefront of my mind. I’ve held many different types of jobs, none of which would bring me any closer to my dream. Discouraged by the immense amount of online boutiques & clothing lines, I continued to shy away from what brings me so much joy. Read more>>

Leonardo Romero

My father, Ramon Romero, started making paletas aka popsicles, in 1979, out of a small retail space in Huntington Park, CA. He named the business EL PARAISO, which translates to Paradise because he wanted his customers to feel like they were in ice cream heaven when they tasted his paletas. Ramon’s dream was to bring the tasty treats from his hometown of Jalpa, Zacatecas, Mexico to the people of Los Angeles. As demand quickly grew, he later moved production to a larger warehouse space in East LA, located at 515 N Mednik Ave, which is still in operation today. Here my family and staff would make paletas day and night, package them, and sell them directly to consumers mainly by way of Paleteros, aka street vendors. During this time, there would be up to 100 paleteros pushing our paleta carts throughout the city, stocked with a variety of fruit flavors, such as Strawberry, Coconut, Tamarind, Lemon, and Watermelon. In 1982, as the business continued to grow rapidly, Ramon opened a second store in South Central Los Angeles, with plans for a retail storefront located at 1760 E Florence Ave. Read more>>

Andrew Kim

After finishing art school, I was floating around doing odd jobs. Everything except art. It wasn’t until I decided to get my first tattoo that I fell in love with the art, lifestyle and industry. Nine years ago, I started my apprenticeship and after a very slow start, I became a professional four years later. Even then, it was a rocky start to my career. Working for Carlos Torres has been a dream of mine from the beginning of my infatuation with tattooing. In March of 2021, that dream became a reality and I got to join the crew at The Raven and the Wolves. My short stint at the studio has been nothing short of amazing. The mentorship, crew and shop has been a complete blessing. I am extremely proud and lucky to be here and plan on pushing myself in all aspects of art and life. Read more>>

Kyle Lerner

I am the proud Owner and President of Lerner IT Consulting, LLC (“LIT”), a company that provides Information Technology (“IT”) services to small to medium-sized businesses. We are a Managed IT provider that essentially provides IT support for several businesses that are too small to need a full-time IT Administrator on payroll. If there’s anything I’d like to share about the company brand and the story about it, it’s that I always had an interest in computers, ever since I was a kid. My 5th grade yearbook literally says, “I want to be an IT Wizard when I grow up.” I used to get called out of Middle School class at least twice a week to assist the school teachers/faculty with their computer issues/questions (LAUSD should’ve had me on payroll, haha). People would drop their laptops off at my parent’s house when I was 11-12 years old for me to try and fix. I saved up money to purchase a home when I turned 21 and started my dream business five years later. Read more>>

Christian Stewart-Estrada

I have always loved sports growing up. Rather I played sports recreational or organized, I just wanted to play. Basketball attracted my attention the most out of all the sports. Listening to basketball on 710 ESPN growing up with my dad in the car helped develop my fandom for the game while also exposing me to the sports talk world. Ever since 2017, I’ve been on a mission to let the voices of all fans be heard on The Occasional Hoopers podcast. Read more>>

Michael MacLeod

I have been fortunate enough to travel to many different places and talk with some truly inspirational and insightful people over the years. Maybe it was this that drew me to an industry that specializes in understanding people and how we can all relate to one another. Growing up, I loved acting in school plays and was ecstatic when I landed my first lead, at six years old, as “Thomas Gardner.” I could say that I was fascinated with human nature at that age, but that would be a blatant lie. I was six. I was allowed to wear a fake beard and talk a lot without interruption. It was amazing. After that, we performed a school play every other year and I became more and more invested in the characters I was portraying. At 16, my uncle asked me what I wanted to do as a career. The answer was clear in my mind, and I responded “I want to be an actor.” Understandably, this was a shock as I wasn’t doing all that much acting. Read more>>

Queen Nina Womack

A third-generation native from South Los Angeles. I’ve spent my whole life in entertainment starting out as a child actor and print model. I experienced ongoing sexual and physical abuse during my childhood years which produced severe PTSD symptoms in me as a teenager and young adult. My mental health issues ranged from depression, recurring nightmares, juvenile delinquency, early drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, anger, fear, toxic domestic violence relationships, date rapes, suicidal ideation, homelessness and more. After becoming a mother in my mid-20’s, I went on a self-improvement journey to heal from past trauma so I could provide a better life for my son. I enrolled in college to earn a degree in Theater Arts. I read self-help books, talked to therapists about my painful past and learned about holistic wellness tools for healing. 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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