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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.

Carl Bird McLaughlin

I grew up in the small suburban desert town of Canyon Country, California, thirty miles north of Los Angeles. In many ways, my story starts with the people who influenced my work from the beginning, my parents. They had come to LA in the sixties and seventies to pursue show business; my father, a theater trained actor coming from a long line of thespians, and mother. Read more>>


On the hook to his upcoming single “Raw,” R&B singing sensation Shraban coos: “Raw. Real, no fake sh*t.” It’s more than just an obvious acknowledgment of his unbridled authenticity. It’s a testament to years in the making of weathering storms and entering stardom with a clear focus. As Shraban embarks on the next chapter in his career through KIDinaKORNER / Republic Records. Read more>>


We actually started out because we were contacted by a producer of a Tesla commercial, asking if we could send a song in asap. We ended up writing the song in an hour and sent it off. The song ultimately didn’t get picked, but we thought it had something really special, so we started our duo and released our first single “Electric Flow.” Since then, we keep putting music out and growing. Read more>>


I fell in love with hip hop in the 1st grade. By the time I was 13, I was writing my own raps and looping samples on my dual cassette boom box in my room. That same age is when I rapped out loud, in front of my peers for the 1st time, and from that point, my grades began to slip, as I honed in on my true passion. Nothing else mattered to me after that. Read more>>

Taylor and Jon Siegel

We got started in music after moving across the country in 2015. We were born and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan and played music as kids, but never really saw it as anything more than a hobby until moving to LA and going to a few concerts. We really got started after buying a MacBook and discovering GarageBand in 2016. That was the coolest thing. We just started playing around with sounds and recording it. Read more>>

Luca Pisanu

My love for art started at an early age, thanks to my father, who put a pencil in front of me even before I can even remember. I clearly recall the first time I saw Disney’s The Rescuers. I was even impressed before we played the VHS of the movie in our house. I couldn’t understand what I was looking at in terms of art, but I knew that was something I wanted to learn and do. Read more>>

Tali Soffer and Suzana Tsimerman

With years of experience in early childhood education settings as educators and studio teachers inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, we realize it is time to reclaim childhood and bring a unique approach to children and creativity in the San Fernando Valley. As educators with a passion for nature and art, we bring an approach where slowing down, taking the time to marvel, getting messy, taking risks, making decisions, and thinking creatively, is always encouraged. Read more>>

Phyllis Morgan

My husband, Terry and I went to high school in the Redding area. Way back in 1982, we both became involved with a traveling “tent revival ministry” and decided to move with the Gospel Tent. Although we both grew up and lived in the Redding area, we met in Sacramento, and eventually married. We lived in the Sacramento area for many years until we felt God was leading us to move back to Redding and start a new church there. Read more>>

Angela Thomas Friis

When does enough become enough? How many nights do we cry alone or look into a mirror and disapprove of our own image looking back at us? From a turmoil ridden childhood to several toxic relationships, I was in a spiral pattern of repeat behaviors and believing the lies people told me about myself but never really knowing who I was. Read more>>

Jimmy Brogan

After I got kicked out of graduate school at Notre Dame for organizing a kissing marathon on the main quad, I did volunteer work for a politician for two and a half years. With my help, he lost four elections in a row. After the 4th soul-crushing defeat, he said to me, “You’re going to have to find something else.” So one night I convinced my friend Larry Lee to go on stage with me as a comedy team. We called ourselves The Brogan Brothers. Read more>>

Carly Birker

I’m born and raised in Studio City, so I’ve been around all of the entertainment industries all of my life. My brothers were musically inclined; I wasn’t. However, they inadvertently influenced this whole career. We grew up listening to Red Hot Chilli Peppers the most. In 2016, I was in an emotional time of my life, and I needed a distraction other than college essays. Read more>>

Costa Nicholas

I began acting my senior year of high school when I decided to join my friends who were all in the drama club. I loved it and knew this is what I had to do with my life; changing my career pursuit from carpentry to acting. I went to Cape Cod Community College for a year before I was able to transfer to Salem State University, where I got my BFA in Theatre Performance. Read more>>

Raymond Logan

Do not take this the wrong way, but asking an artist a question like this is like asking us to write our artist statement. Most of us initially type “I do this because I must,” and then we delete it and stare at a blank screen for what seems like an eternity. Here goes… You know those annoying people who say that they were born to be an artist? Well, I am one of those people! It just seems like I have always been an artist. Read more>>

Lyndsey Palumbo

I’ve always known what pushed me to achieve a goal and I used negative emotions to ignite the fire in me, I am originally from Connecticut, I’ve always dreamed of living in California, but it was nothing short of an unrealistic dream at that time. So many people doubted me and warned me about LA. I was working in a salon at the time and the thought of moving replayed over and over again my mind, so one day I said screw it. Read more>>

Tessa Markle

I moved out to LA from the Pittsburgh area about five years ago to pursue acting. I had always known that I wanted to act. As a kid, I pretty much grew up in my community theatre, The Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale, PA. I did every show I possibly could for about a decade. I was also in my high school’s musicals every year at Geibel Catholic and went on to major in theatre at Washington and Jefferson College. Read more>>

Elinor Shapiro

Art has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My childhood friends were Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Sam Francis, and Alexander Calder, among others. I grew up in their care, dreaming about Monet’s garden and dressing up as Picasso paintings for Halloween. I spent hours trying to make mobiles out of coat hangers like Alexander Calder did. Art was and still is my life. Read more>>

Gbari Gilliam

Gbari Gilliam, aka “GQ” is an artist that grew up in Berkeley, CA. He began dancing in the Bay Area with West African, Hiphop, and modern dance. He later moved to Los Angeles in 2012 when he was accepted into UCLA as a dance major. Where expanded his movement vocabulary and he met his mentors Jackie Lopez and Leigh Foaad, who are also the co-Artistic directors of Versa-Style Dance Company. Read more>>

Stephen Jude Mills

I’m a Northeastern PA native. Born in Scranton and raised in Old Forge. I started playing drums when I was eight years old. Two of my older brothers played, and the one who was closer in age to me would practice in the basement with his high school cover band. I’d hang down there for hours, watching & listening. Visually, what he was doing with his four limbs just made sense to me. Read more>>

Jules Whelpton

My artist story began in grade school, where I was presented a violin and electric bass. Little did I know, those instruments would carry me through a music degree from Humboldt State University and the beginnings of a music career in Southern California. Since then, I’ve gradually been growing my fan base around town, as well as around the country, touring with various Rock and Roll acts. Read more>>

Kat McDonough

I was the oddball kid of five siblings. The creative child, joyfully making little replicas of characters from my favorite books and replaying their stories for hours. Every great memory I have from childhood involves making something, going to make something, being shown how to make something, or being at the beach. Read more>>

Laura Sreebny

I get to write cartoons, which is maybe the coolest, goofiest, most fun job you could ever imagine – I’d say it was my dream job, except that I had no idea it was a career option until I was in my 20’s. Growing up, I was always writing stories and drawing comics, mostly about talking animals or “why my parents should buy me a pony.” I loved writing but thought that “being a writer” only referred to authoring books, and as much as I loved reading. Read more>>

Brian Luong

My name is Brian Luong and I am an artist and illustrator. Growing up, I would always draw and my parent’s encouraged my hobby. One of my earliest art memories was when my dad would sit down with my brother and I and create drawings for us, which I would hang up or add to my art collection folder. I have a cool Alien xenomorph drawing from my dad, but I don’t know where it went… Read more>>

Darion Queen

When you’re working freelance, you never know when the next paycheck is coming so I started taking jobs I didn’t necessarily care for to survive essentially. This has been my biggest struggle to date because it caused me to become distracted by day-to-day things like bills, food and the basics to survive rather than solely focusing on what I need to do to be as successful as I can. Read more>>

Jamie Hurtarte

It definitely wasn’t a smooth road the first few years, it takes a lot of dedication, patience, and commitment. Struggles along the way were perfecting your craft, doing a lot of free gigs and also trying to stay afloat. Putting your self out there can be a struggle but if you stay persistent and perfect your craft people will notice. Read more>>

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