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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.

Della Hamby

I am named after my mom who is my hero, a Daddy’s girl to William Hamby and the youngest of two older brothers/football coaches Chuckii and Chavis. I grew up in Romulus, Michigan a mixed suburb of Detroit where I had to walk to and from school each day. There was only an after school bus once I started extracurricular activities. Post-college degree, dance led me from Detroit to New York, Walt Disney World in Orlando and then to FINALLY LA!!! I am verified influencer and popular professional performer/dance professor rooted in Los Angeles & Metro Detroit. I come from a technical dance, band and cheerleading background. In the beginning of my career, I taught Pom to national cheer camps, competed in drum competitions and reigned international pageant titles to feed my craft and pay for university performing arts education. After 11 years hustling and landing major placements in LA, I am CEO of Damn Della LLC talent connection & a movement mentor having worked closely with today’s most mainstream artists and eminent projects including but not limited to Beyoncé, Chris Brown, Taylor Swift, Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg & many more. Read more>>

Mimi Rose

Mimi has exhibited musical talent from a young age, playing violin in the school orchestra at six years old and then transitioning seamlessly to guitar and piano. In 2018, Mimi’s single “The Mission” put her on the map with Latin American press and became one of two singles to leap into the #1 spot for iTunes Argentina (the other single being “Wherever You Go”). Read More>>

Mragendra Singh

The inciting incident in my story was a nearly fatal car crash at the age of twelve that made me question life, death and everything in between. The nine months that followed to recovery, I see as my rebirth. On the flip side of the accident, I came out as an empathic and curious teenager who freaked everyone around him out by asking the difficult questions. However, the grind of being from a middle-class family in India caught up to me, and as any obedient South-Asian kid, I became an engineer to eventually disappoint my parents by nose diving into filmmaking. I was always drawn to storytelling as a child and to act one of my story was nothing short of an eventful roller coaster ride. I moved town, slept on railway stations, moved countries, pursued higher education, started student organizations, got a great paying job, dealt with immigration challenges and basically checked every box but still felt unfulfilled. Ten years ago, I finally realized that storytelling is what I want to do with my life. My first feature film, normal., the story of a millennial interracial couple who lose the spark in their relationship after having their first child, premiered at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in May 2019. Read more>>

Christopher Suchánek

In 2009 I was the owner of a small local digital marketing agency called Firm Media, and my wife owned a local restaurant that she had recently purchased called Cowboy Burgers. Because the restaurant was near my office, I would go there for lunch with my few employees. Ana Karina and I would talk about the struggles of owning a business in the wake of the 2008/09 market downturn. One of the things we had in common was a passion for giving back and helping others. I enjoyed the volunteer work I did with Union Station Homeless Services, and she spent time helping underserved families back home in Tuxpan, Jalisco. Over time we bonded over concerts, travel, business, and giving back. Eventually, we married, and I think this is when we really started to think and collaborate seriously around business and what it would look like to build companies that made a difference in the world. Shortly after, we rebranded the restaurant to Hitch Burger, and Firm Media had slowly become a national marketing agency serving over 100 clients from Los Angels to New York and parts of Canada. Read more>>

John Kim

While working in the corporate world, I volunteered at my community church teaching math. From there, it blossomed. I sent out 200 flyers out to a community residence area by hand and received two students. From these two students, I expanded my business to about 1,000 families over the course of 18 years. In 2008, I started working exclusively with high school students only in math. Although I occasionally tutor middle school students, I love working with high school or college students that are either struggling or want that edge in mathematics. I formally started this business on August 15, 2002 with little seed money and assistance from my church. I think that there are several factors that contribute to my success in this field: teaching with passion, passing down knowledge to the students, and making sure that every student leaves with the satisfaction of learning new material. Read more>>

Stephen Rowe

Stephen grew up in a small mining town in the outback of Australia called Broken Hill. It’s about 1,144 Kilometers inland from Sydney, where it’s sweltering hot in the summer, and it can get freezing cold in winter. Early on Stephen enjoyed art and showed an early talent for drawing, painting and other artistic endeavors. However, this energy and passion for the visual arts was temporarily put on the back burner for other pursuits. He left school at a young age, 14 and 9 months to be exact, and did his trade as a carpenter, falling in the footsteps of his family members. During this time, he raced motocross for Suzuki and was sponsored by a local dealership. To keep in shape for motocross, he did four years of boxing training, and believe it or not, he also studied classical ballet – a rarity for a boy from Broken Hill. At the age of nineteen, he left his hometown and moved to Adelaide, where he was offered a full scholarship for two years to study classical ballet after completing a summer program. Ultimately, this led to Stephen’s sixteen years career as a professional classical ballet dancer, starting with the Western Australian Ballet Company and then moving to the Queensland Ballet Company. Read more>>

Tracy Stum

I’m a professional 3D artist, street painter, muralist and creative director for Inspire Artfulness, Inc. I began my career as a street painter 22 years ago when I serendipitously stumbled upon the street painting art form at the Santa Barbara I Madonnari Festival. As soon as I saw the work being created there – large pastel murals on the ground – I knew I had to try this for myself. I joined the following year and drew my first chalk pastel street painting. It was an entirely new practice for me, drawing on the street – so freeing, so spontaneous! I just fell in love with both the ephemeral nature of the practice and the public performance aspect and decided to pursue this practice in my spare time. (I was a working muralist at the time.) I began drawing at other festivals and eventually began sharing my work online, which then led to commissions for all sorts of markets. I was picked up by Justin Sudds, an arts manager out of Canada, who helped guide my career and navigate a market that really had just been born – street art used for marketing and advertising initiatives. Eventually, I received awards and accolades for my work, including a Guinness World Record. Read more>>

Cassandra Tsolis

I knew at a young age I wanted to dance, but it wasn’t until many years later that I would give myself permission to. Dance has been and was my lifeline. It started with living room sessions, watching my Yia Yia explaining our cultural Greek dances. Little did I know that my Yia Yia was teaching me more than just dance, she was teaching me how to hold onto joy in the midst of life’s circumstances. As I journeyed through life with a single mom and the adversity that comes with that, dance was where I felt alive. I attended college as the first in my family, where I pursued Dance at first. After one year, I told myself it wasn’t a steady career and focused on psychology in hopes to be a college counselor. My first thought of a career was to give resources back to students whose parents weren’t able to by being a college counselor, just like the counselor who gave me a chance to go to school. While I had this in mind, I experienced a spiritual awakening that led me to pursue the non-profit world four years after. InterVarsity was the non-profit I was on staff with at a local community college in Santa Rosa. Read more>>

Jesus Martell Gonzalez

I’m originally from Claremont, California and I moved to Bakersfield California about four years ago. I originally intended to only be here about a year, but I met my fiance and totally fell in love with the city. Now I’m proud to say that we built our very first home here in Bakersfield. I work in the healthcare industry by day. I’m an extremely social person, and Bakersfield has given me the opportunity to branch out and become more involved in my community. I currently co-host a podcast named hellobakersfield! Where we focus on sharing the many incredible stories of some of our most inspiring change-makers in our community. It’s great to be able to drive pretty much anywhere in the city in under 20 minutes — that’s a huge perk of Bakersfield. I also love downtown. From the food to the arts to the people, there’s so much culture. Above all, I love the people. There are so many who have interesting stories about how they got here, and they make this town so colorful. I’m constantly inspired by young people who are moving here and transforming the city with their ideas. They’re making Bakersfield into a place where people want to hang out and be social outside of work. Read more>>

Sarah Tubert

I am a first-generation American, with my dad immigrating to the United States from Argentina. When I was three, a surgeon severed my facial nerve paralyzing the right side of my face and taking my hearing in an operation I did not need. I used to ask my mother, “Why am I the only one with a crooked smile and a hearing aid?” She would say, “I don’t know why, but this is your journey. Let’s see what we can do with it.” That was the quote I lived by and it made me who I am today. I am the type of person who loves to show people that you can do anything you set your mind to. I am an actress, Captain of the USA National Deaf Women’s Volleyball team, a signer of songs, with my latest one being a collaboration with DisneyMusicVevo for the song “Show Yourself” from Frozen II. I am also a motivational speaker, with the dream to inspire people and show that everyone has a journey… let’s see what we can do with it. Read more>>

Bhargavi Anganarasu

The ability to create has always intrigued me. I grew up in a family of artists. My mom always encouraged us to learn and experience different forms of art. During my high school, I volunteered in short productions for backstage production work. The productions were based on Indian epics and portray principal characters and events in the lives of ‘Karna’, ‘Raavana’, ‘Krishna’, ‘Mahabharata’ etc. It was then that I had been introduced to the term ‘design’, way before I knew anything about production design or even architecture. What attracted me to theatre/Film Design is that it is a very diverse subject, combining soft skills, such as interacting with the director and the team, with art, creativity and “hands on” work to create a perfect production. Production design is a process of discovery and it is this genre of design that inspires my imagination and visualizes a scene that speaks to audiences. I wanted to learn what occurs backstage in a production and how the backdrop and the surroundings influence the script and characters and vice versa. Read more>>

Molly Ritter

I guess my story began in kindergarten, with my education. My parents put both my brothers and me through Waldorf schools, pre-k through high school. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it is a holistic form of education, with an emphasis on the arts and practical skills, originating in Europe. So creativity was encouraged and fostered from a very young age. Growing up in such an environment, it was a natural transition into performing, which led me to Los Angeles and acting. Over the years, I have created a robust commercial acting career, which I am thrilled with, and continue to work on my craft every day. As an artist, I firmly believe that art begets art; I have the most success when I am creating on a consistent basis. This has meant various things over the years for me: painting, writing, and most importantly, food blogging. I create, write, and photograph all my own recipes, sharing my love of plant-based, healthier, always delicious, meals on my blog Thyme for Honey. Read more>>

Shellye Broughton

When I was a little girl, in my mind I knew I was Shirley Temple–I could sing, I could act, I had charm…no one else could see it through. I grew up in the South where being Black mostly meant that you had a life doing manual labor or being a maid or a nurse. There weren’t too many other options. I decided to keep my secret to myself (who believes a child anyway?) and began reading everything that I could get my hands on, which deemed me weird by children and precocious by adults. Reading allowed me to dream of something more…to see not what was, but what could be. If characters in books could make a life for themselves from poor beginnings, then so could I! I’m a curious person and I really like to be around people with different perspectives than my own. I’ve never met a stranger and I really believe that the older people get, the less curious they become. Being and feeling “young” is a state of mind-it should really be called “being and feeling FORWARD”. Read more>>

Jakari Fraser

At five y/o, I told my mom & dad that God told me I was supposed to be on the tv. My mom was really shocked and she did not know what to say. Then she responded with she didn’t know anything about the business or how to get me in the industry. That didn’t stop me from asking, two years later my mom figured out how to get me involved in the industry full time. This is when I landed a very great role in my first movie alongside Julia Roberts and Courtney b Vance playing my parents. My dream quickly turned into a reality. I then started to land roles in movies, commercials and animation. As of now, I’m on three different animated series that I can not yet reveal but they are super fun and very exciting projects. My goal is to help other children like myself live their dreams And show them to follow their hearts no matter what. I also love to use my voice to help others and I’m also a hunger hero for no kid hungry. Read more>>

Tanner Horn

I was born in Phoenix, Arizona. My parents will tell you they were good, law abiding people but really they were just dope smoking hippies at a time when dope smoking wasn’t exactly accepted by society. They loved us and tried their best but my dad’s alcoholic nature meant that he wouldn’t live to see 30. Unfortunately, he took his own life when he was 29 & I was just four years old. I didn’t talk about this stuff for the longest time, but now I know that through my honesty and openness, I might be able to help someone who I’ve never even met, and that’s really what it’s all about. It’s through that tragedy that I began my musical journey. It’s through that loss that I yearned for acceptance and communication. And it’s through the acoustic guitar that I first found my vehicle for that communication. On top of songwriting and performing, I also create modern art/paintings that are hanging in spaces all across the country. My main inspiration for my art is Basquiat, Warhol, & Picasso just to name a few. Read more>>

Farrice Cain and Jen Santulan

You can say the idea of MyBPM came as the result of the fear that comes when you’re faced with losing the person you love most. At the time, my relationship with Jen, the co-founder, was on the verge of breaking. What ended up healing our relationship was the thing that brought us together, which was our shared love for dance music. If you’ve ever been to an EDM festival, chances are you’ve experienced this incredible sense of love, happiness, and connection that almost seems too good to be true. That feeling is magical, awakening us to the fact that we are all one and that love is always the answer to our “problems.” We realized how powerful believing, feeling, and knowing this truth has positively affected every aspect of our lives. When I discussed creating an EDM streetwear brand with the mission to share the life-changing magic we ravers believe in, something inside us both said to do it! So MyBPM was born. Read more>>

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