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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.

Kristen Cramer

It’s not easy to find the source of a river, not until you are swept up in it, caught in the current. If I had to point to the bend in the river of my life that got me here, to this point in my life, where I am an artist, a ceramicist and the owner of an all handmade gift store and art gallery. Read more>>

Jnae Flythe

I grew up in foster care where my two siblings and I were eventually adopted by my aunt and uncle. It was a struggle growing up in Philadelphia, but all that my parents wanted was for us to beat our odds and make something of our selves. Read more>>

Edgar Gutierrez

I started to really get into art around 14 or 15. That’s when the drawings on my school notebooks transitioned to paintings on canvas. Around this time the group of friends I hung out with were really into graffiti so that had a heavy influence on me. Read more>>

Morgan Pine

When I moved to LA in 2012 my goals were set on becoming famous! I had just moved from Chicago where I had been building my resume, in theater, so when the stars aligned I took my shot and drove across the country to be discovered! It wasn’t long after I had been in LA that the parts of acting I used to love were becoming a burden and more like a chore rather than a passion. Read more>>

Lars Deutsch

I literally grew up in a village in Germany with more cows than people. No one in my family or any of my friends worked in music or film. No one really played an instrument either. Soccer player or car dealer seemed a more likely career choice. I got into music relatively late, but then committed 100%. As a 15 year old, I played guitar all day. Read more>>

Mateo Barragán

I’m an audio engineer originally from Quito, Ecuador. LA has been my home for four years now and has given me the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects including movies such as Deadpool 2 (Fox), First Man (Universal); music albums like ‘Los Autenticos Decadentes MTV Unplugged’ or Grammy award-winning album ‘Un Azteca en el Azteca’ (Vicente Fernandez). Read more>>

Jonas Suber

I’m originally from Bryan/College Station, Texas and I’ve been living in Los Angeles for six years now. I grew up the middle out of five children with four sisters and being the only boy wasn’t always easy, especially because I loved to dance but since that wasn’t a “normal” thing for my family. Read more>>

David Darling

The band Boxing Gandhis, formed in the early 90s, started by Dave Darling. Signed to Mesa Blue Moon Records by the mid-90s, the Gandhis had a triple A radio hit “If You Love Me (Why Am I Drying), written about how we humans are fucking up our mother Earth…and oddly, it made people want to dance. Read more>>

Connor Price

My younger brothers, Thomas and Ryan, are twins and they started acting when they were four years old. I was six years old at the time and was being brought along to every audition with them. One day I decided that I wanted to try it out myself and began auditioning. I started with commercials and then moved on to TV and film. Read more>>

John Loos

I started improvising in college at the University of Illinois and fell in love with it and decided one day I was going to be on Saturday Night Live like my hero Cheri Oteri. Upon graduating, I immediately moved to LA (well, Rancho Cucamonga) and commuted endless hours to take improv classes in Hollywood. Read more>>

Sarah J Eagen

I have been driven to be an actor. I delight in expressing different aspects of humanity and exploring situations I wouldn’t necessarily encounter otherwise. I heard recently that acting allows you to break the rules you’ve set for yourself – I love that! I performed in countless plays and dance recitals growing up. Read more>>

Eric and Rashi Wiese

In 2009, I started Happy Puppy Dog Training – providing behavior consulting for veterinary practices as well as training for the general public in Los Angeles. At the time, my wife Rashi and I had two adopted dogs – Archy, a German Shepherd and Rupert, a poodle/terrier mix. Both dogs had endured trauma during puppyhood. Read more>>

Jeff Cronin

Every review we watched was lead by women. While they were helpful, I found it hard to relate to them as a new dad. I searched for other dad’s who reviewed baby products and couldn’t really find anything. That’s when I had the idea of starting, Jeff the Baby Dude. I’ve been doing it now for about a year and I’m having a lot of fun with it. Read more>>

Ethan (Itay) Jerufi

I was born and raised in Petah-Tikva, Israel (which is anywhere between 15-90 minutes from Tel-Aviv, depending on traffic…). At the age of six I started to stutter heavily after some trauma I had on a stage. My teacher asked four kids, myself included, to recite poems on the gigantic stage at my 6th grade graduation ceremony. Read more>>

Rambo Lee

I’ve always had a passion for music, around the age of 12 me and my cousins would freestyle battle at our grandmother’s house. At that point it was just something we did for fun, eventually I gravitated towards songwriting and what was once a hobby blossomed into a real love for expressing myself with song lyrics. Read more>>

Low Octane

Low Octane is a rock n’ roll band that write and perform material for the middle-aged set. But if you think that means easy listening, think again! Low Octane know that there are plenty of rockers of 40 years and over who still crave heavy music delivered at a reasonable volume… and Low Octane is here to fulfill that need. Read more>>

Natsuko Higashikawa

I’m from Tokyo, Japan. I moved here when I was 19 years old chasing my dream of becoming a professional Dancer. I didn’t know anything about industry in LA. I was young and have passion to be a dancer. I used to take dance classes at dance studio everyday. Read more>>

Brittany Davis

I’ve always been interested in art my whole life. I found that it was one of the few things I was truly passionate about. When I started college at the Fashion Institute of Technology, there was a spark that ignited within me and that’s when I really started taking my artwork even more seriously. Read more>>

Dan Pineda

I have always had a camera on me, as a kid, I had my a 35mm, 110’s and polaroids, but I bought my first digital camera in 1998 and began using it in what was to be my profession for the very early part of my career, a graphic and web designer. I ran my own design company and had a 9-5 as a marketing director in which photography was a very small part of the daily duties. Read more>>

Ololade Ebong

I’ve always had dreams of telling stories about culture, beliefs, values and customs of a people for the world to see, Sensitize us of the ills and vices of our society and how it affects us. In order to achieve these, the appropriate medium to bring it to light is through film production. Read more>>

Mehgan Sapphire

When people ask me, “How did you get into radio?” I always answer that “I stumbled into it, and have had quite the journey doing it”. I started doing radio when I 19 while at San Francisco State University as a Broadcasting major. It was there I created my current podcast Sapphire’s Earplay which was called ‘Erotic City Radio” after the song by Prince. Read more>>

Kaila Dinius

I started waxing my life away in the back room of my mother’s hair salon. After sitting through college classes, not really knowing what I wanted to do with my life, I said, “I love helping people” and I have the perfect set up with her! So, I went to school, worked in the salon, had a baby, got married, and really started to get serious about my new career. Read more>>

Ted Wulfers

I’m a musician, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, recording artist, touring performer, music producer, composer, recording engineer and a filmmaker. I was born and raised in the Chicago area, I went to college in Ohio as a philosophy and music major and after a decade of traveling and touring. Read more>>

Jammie Jelks

I am a bell city kid. I was born and raised in Riverside, CA. Before graduating from Martin Luther King High School, I attended 12 different schools across So Cal and North Carolina. After high school, I went on to attend Chico State, where I got my BA in Political Science and studied Leadership. Read more>>

Tim Genciana

I moved from my little home town in the Philippines, Iloilo to the United States about six years ago with nothing but $300 in my name and a dream of creating videos. Good thing about being Filipino is you always have family everywhere and if you are lucky enough, they will help you while you figure things out. Read more>>

Mindy Johnson

Award-winning author/historian Mindy Johnson’s latest treasure Pencils, Pens & Brushes – A Great Girls Guide to Disney Animation enchants readers with the unexplored stories of these trailblazing women of animation. Her landmark volume Ink & Paint. Read more>>

Oula Oussi

Oulalala was created by Oula Oussi in summer 2016. Oula was born and raised in Damascus Syria. She moved to California in 2007 to turn her dream into reality. Her love affair with the world of fashion and celebrities started in her childhood. She always knew that she would become a fashion designer and illustrator. Read more>>

Ben Zeadman

Ever since I can remember, the world of theater and music has always been a part of my life. When I was a child, my mom didn’t spare any opportunity to take me to see plays, concerts, or musicals that were appropriate for my age. She saw the sparkle in my eyes when the lights dimmed and the show began. I was driven to this magic deeply. Read more>>

Jeffrey Sugishita

There was never an exact reason for why I started creating. The strong desire to create must be a trait I was innately born with because I started the act of creating long before I was able to read or write. Granted, they were of simple crayon drawings and playdoh sculptures. Read more>>

Jake Knox

Music has been a part of my life from the beginning. Whether it be my father teaching me guitar, playing jazz in the D.C music scene, or producing records in my basement. It has always been a companion in my journey. This journey led me to work with amazing artists/writers at Berklee College of Music in Boston and eventually dropped me off in sunny Los Angeles. Read more>>

Renji Philip

My story began in Los Angles 1 month before the Northridge earthquake. After studying acting in New York at the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting for three years, I moved to Los Angeles to become an actor. Looking for a place to live, I drove through all the neighborhoods of Los Angeles and settled on Studio City. Read more>>

Sixela

As a kid, I was always dreaming, creating and trying to run things. Everything really started in high school, fashion was always something that I loved and wanted to be apart of my career so I made sure to immerse myself in it. I would read magazines and study the mastheads. Read more>>

Kathleen Randazzo

I started as a young kid headed out to the West from the East with dreams of working in the Entertainment Industry. Being the youngest of 12 children, I had a tendency to entertain my older brothers and sisters. I guess I was born to be an actor, a storyteller. Read more>>

Sonny Mceachran

I started barbering when I was 15 years old in the basement of my parent’s house in Detroit. I was a young skater Punk, too broke to afford haircuts and most certainly hair color, I tried to imitate the mohawks, Liberty spikes, and other punk rock hairstyles I would see inside the CD booklets I owned. It was always just a hobby, skateboarding came first. Read more>

Zaire Michel

I’ve been artistic all my life. I’ve started dance classes at five, tennis at seven, and golf at nine. My mother wanted to keep me active. I solidified dance being a career in high school. I played tennis competitively, apart of the USTA (UnitEd States Tennis Association) and all! I had the opportunity to balance out dance and tennis but once competition season came dance took over and I never looked back. Read more>>

Nick Cutelli

I started acting and comedy when I was in elementary school. I credit watching Phil Hartman on SNL as my inspiration to become an actor. I studied theatre in college at the Dobbins Conservatory at Southeast Missouri State University. There I earned my BFA in acting and directing. After college, I performed in theatre from Musicals to drama and got my Actors Equity card. Read more>>

Laci Mercede

My earliest childhood memory with singing was when my parents bought this little dancing Santa statue. It sang “Jingle Bell Rock”, I must have been five years old. I learned every single word to that song and his dance and I mimicked the singing/dancing. I saw how my family was enjoying watching and laughing with me and it made me light all the way up. Read more>>

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