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The Valley’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 the Valley’s gems below.

Ashley Dulaney

I always knew I wanted to be an actor my mom and dad said that when I was a baby I would just memorize tv shows and movies – so naturally when I went to school I got my BFA in acting from the University of MS also known as ole miss. I moved straight out after college and I started a theatre company which had a run for about three years… during that time I started doing commercial work which landed me one of my favorite jobs opposite Joan and melissa rivers. Read more>>

Sarahjeen François

I am a first-generation Haitian-American woman who was born and raised in North Miami Beach, Fl. I grew up with a lot of Caribbean and Latin American influences and I carry those influences in my DNA. I come from a family of gifted and talented individuals, my mother (who constantly reminds me that I am following a path that she once began, but was not privileged enough to fulfill) was a model and was a flautist in Haiti and my father was a musician in a Kompa band. Read more>>

Alicia Doyle

A sport that, despite its dark business side, is filled with athletes who want only to discover the best part of themselves. Boxing brought out the best in me. I discovered boxing in the late 1990s while working as a newspaper reporter for the Ventura County Star in Southern California. I received a call from a community activist about a place called Kid Gloves, a boxing gym in Simi Valley for at-risk youth that was destroyed by El Nino rains. Read more>>

Matthew Fosket

The story of Yonder House goes back a few years to the end of 2016 in a small town outside of Portland, Oregon. I was working as a wine director at a Restaurant called the Painted Lady, and living just a few blocks away in a house my wife and I had bought a couple of years prior. While the life of a Sommelier is rewarding, I was starting to realize that there was a certain creative itch that it just wasn’t going to scratch. Read more>>

Adriene Brathwaite

I am an actor born in a suburb right outside of Washington D.C. to two Guyanese parents. If anyone knows anything about West Indian parents, you know I grew up with structure, especially with a Father who was in the Army! Though I was raised with that structure, my sister and I were always encouraged, especially by my Mother, to express our creativity mainly through our participation in our church, school, and local community plays. Read more>>

Jason Wisch

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. For most of my adult life, I have been in the entertainment industry. My career started as an actor, but I quickly realized I liked to be behind the camera better. I’ve worked in almost every aspect of the biz, but have settled into location managing and directing. Location managing has opened many doors for me. I have become highly sought after in my field and work with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Read more>>

Victoria Strong

I grew up in Los Angeles roaming Topanga Canyon, cruising Ventura Blvd, and exploring thrift stores in Venice Beach and on Melrose. My husband and I met at TGIFridays in the Valley (you can meet your significant other anywhere) and after doing the commuter life for several years we decided to pause our careers, sell everything, and travel the world for a year. Read more>>

Reece Lyons

I picked up the guitar at a young age in my hometown of Boise, Idaho. I fell in love immediately and realized the stories I had to tell came to me through music. As the years past and my love for music continued to grow, I had no doubt in my mind that music was exactly what I wanted to pursue. I was accepted into the conservatory college, the American Musical and Dramatics Academy in Los Angeles to obtain my bachelor’s degree and never looked back. Read more>>

Alec Figueroa

In March of 2018, I realized that the interesting phenomenon of not being able to visually imagine finally had a name: Aphantasia. When one experiences aphantasia, the individual will experience a lack of thoughts in the form of images. I had known about this phenomenon for a long time, though. The first person I ran across was a roommate of mine back in 2011. I remember we were practicing some meditative visualization together when he reported to me and the other roommates “I can’t do that”. Read more>>

Emanuel Giella

I was born in a small town in Mexico and my childhood was not easy. My mother’s husband was not very kind and it was a very dark and scary time for me which led me to leave home when I was only 14-years old. Homelessness was a much better option for me than living with my mother and her husband. I was lucky though because a friend who had recently lost his mother invited me to stay with him and his family. Read more>>

Linda Alcala

I’m a classically trained (French-American) chef but my story with food began at age 8 when my mom ( a Mexican migrant ) sort of forced me into learning how to make arroz (Spanish Rice); a staple in many Mexican & Chicano households. In my mid 20’s I found myself paying hella rent to live in a storage room space in silver lake to be closer to the scene and my not so nice boyfriend. Read more>>

Amy Sullivan

I told my parents at age seven, I’d be moving to Los Angeles after it was very apparent that that’s where all the Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen movies were filmed. After graduating from Boston University for Film/Television, I moved to LA and started immediately telling people I’d like to be the next Tina Fey. When that (shockingly) fell on deaf ears, I took a job in the film industry, starting off my career-path at the infamous Weinstein Company as an Acquisitions Intern. Read more>>

Shea Peters

I began my love for baking right after high school. I got my first job at a nearby Vons working in the bakery department (Also where I met my husband), gained knowledge of different products, and realized I had a true passion for making different sweet treats like cakes and cupcakes. Not only did I realize how much I loved decorating cakes, but realized I was good at it. Read more>>

Ron Sarchian

I have been a professional stuntman and an actor for 30 years and I have also worked as a personal trainer for 20 years. However, the reason I am writing to you is that I am trying to do what very few people have done before me and that is to be one of the top Guinness World Breakers in the country or quite possibly in the world. Read more>>

Steven Saleem Pervez

I grew up in sunny Los Angeles County, fell in love with music and gravitated towards the sciences at large-except chemistry! I worked as a bartender for a few years while completing my undergraduate degree at Cal Poly Pomona and even ended up working a wedding once. I was excited to hear back from Keck Graduate Institute of the prestigious Claremont Colleges and accepted my offer but was diagnosed with stage two Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma weeks before the term started. Read more>>

Lola Romero

It seemed that nothing truly interested me enough to do every day for the rest of my life. I had one idea in mind but it seemed far fetched and I wasn’t sure where I would fit. I was always interested in music but being that I did not play any instruments, I wasn’t sure if there was a lane for someone like myself. I signed up for general education classes at San Francisco City College to stay active in school until I was able to figure out exactly what piqued my interest. Read more>>

James Lucas and Neil Arora

I had written a few songs in 2011 with the intention of getting some ideas I had swimming around in my head out on record. A close friend of mine, Rick Holbrook, really encouraged me to take the music seriously and start a group to perform the songs live. Seeing as he also happens to be an amazing drummer, he was the obvious choice to be the first member of the band. It wasn’t long before we started putting ads on craigslist and got Neil in the band. Read more>>

Chris Fulcher

I am a freelance photographer originally from Newtown, Connecticut. So I started photography when I was 13 years old. I used to play “speedball” paintball around that time, but the sport become very expensive and my dad couldn’t afford every weekend for me to play. I would remember seeing photographers at the fields we would play at, and how they would be charging teams to do photos per game. Read more>>

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