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West 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 West LA’s gems below.

Melina Charis

I truly had no idea how much my life could change in the span of a year until recently. A year ago, I was fresh out of graduate school and in my first job in higher education. It was a difficult and stressful transition into my new job but overall I was happy and fulfilled – I was on the path I had envisioned for myself. Read more>>

Reina Hidalgo

I was always was dancer since the age of 5 years old. I started in New Jersey taking ballet, jazz, and tap. I never stop since that day. I continue my training in Miami in dance studios and even in high school I was in a dance team all four years which two of those years I was as Co-Captain at Barbara Goleman Senior high. Read more>>

Robbin Turner

In 2014, I began researching natural remedies to help relieve my husband’s and son’s eczema. Slathering themselves in steroid creams filled with toxic petrochemicals and synthetics was not an option. I thought about all the times my grandmother would make homemade remedies. I immersed myself in books about African herbalism. Read more>>

Jamie Alimorad

Music has always been a part of my life. My earliest memories of singing are along to Annie in the car when I was three. Throughout school, I was involved in as many music classes, groups and organizations as possible from chorus, to marching band, to musical theater, to MEISA. Read more>>

Ximena Macarena

When I was five years old, I started creating my own plays and shows. I performed them to my family, friends, teachers and also to my ten dogs. I didn’t care that much who my audience was whereas I was acting and entertaining someone, I was happy. So of course, when I grew up and finished High School my idea was to study acting but my Dad, old school and conservative mind. Read more>>

Taylor Stevens

My story started very differently as I did not plan on being a barber due to the fact that barbering was not culturally accepted as a career path where I grew up. At the age of 10 years old, I started cutting my families hair and as I perfected my craft, word started getting about my skill set. Read more>>

Stevie Mack

I was born in Los Angeles, California to a family of six kids. We were like the Brady Bunch …if they all did crack. I always loved comedy, my mother and grandmother made me laugh a lot. I stayed up late at night to watch the Midnight Special and Don Kirshner’s Rock concerts because they always had a comedian or two. Read more>>

Bryan Lazar

I grew up listening to what I call “guitar heroes”. Guys like Hendrix, Clapton, SRV, Frampton were my idols. I loved the way they expressed themselves with not only their guitar abilities but vocally as well. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a great area in Thousand Oaks. Read more>>

Nicole Steen

My love for Dance and Fitness began at the tender age of three years old when my mother would take me to her Mommy and Me Fitness classes. I was obsessed and loved every second of working out and dancing. My parents put me in every activity possible which included ballet, tap, jazz, gymnastics, baton twirling, modeling, and even charm school. Read more>>

Aditya Dutt

Music had always been a part of my life, some of the oldest memories of my life have something playing in the background. My mother loved pop music, it was through her I discovered ABBA, Michael Jackson, Boney M, BeeGees, and my father listened to a lot of Indian Classical music, country-western and jazz. Read more>>

Temeka Zore

My first clinical rotation of medical school was OBGYN and I had an immediate draw to the field. I loved being in women’s health, as well as the mix of surgery and clinic that the specialty entailed. It wasn’t until I got to residency that I realized my passion for reproductive endocrinology and infertility and knew that was the field of medicine I wanted to pursue. Read more>>

Gina and Jenae Heitkamp

We’re sisters so our business partnership started decades ago when we would set up lemonade stands and brainstorm wacky inventions. As we grew up and into our careers, I became a child therapist and Gina pursed working with entrepreneurs. I was working with children in schools and I saw their deep connection to the characters of their favorite shows or toy lines. Read more>>

Baldev Sandhu

My dad introduced me to the Bond franchise when I was a kid and I became obsessed. I watched the movies, read the books, played the video games, memorized pointless facts, and all of this culminated in me asking my parents to borrow their video camera when I was eleven so I could make my own James Bond movie with my friends. Read more>>

Brette Sims

I am a feminist artist. I was born in Berkeley, Raised in Oakland and moved to LA for college at 18. I own a non-profit called STUK DESIGNS. STUK DESIGNS, (pronounced “stuck”) stands for Strong, Talented, United, & Knowledgeable. STUK DESIGNS began as my senior thesis project at Loyola Marymount University. Read more>>

Fernanda Kelly

NYTAQ (Not Your Typical Average Queen) was born after a year and a half of opening my first online store, Shop Her Closet KM, now closed. After making mistakes, learning the in’s and out’s of having an online company and really digging deep to find my voice as business owner, I decided to re-brand and launched NYTAQ. Read more>>

Angelique L’Amour

I am a writer. So I have always written. When I was about 30 I wrote down a one line sentence describing books I wanted to write and discovered 21 books in my head! I began working on my first fiction book at that time. I had already published a collection of quotations, A Trail of Memories, which had spent 16 weeks on the NY Times bestseller list. Read more>>

Alana Kerr Collins

I’m an actress, singer and Audie Award-winning audiobook narrator. I was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, far from the glitz, glamour and sunny skies of Los Angeles. I took part in all sorts of activities as a young child; music, dance, etc. but it was my weekly drama class that really fired me up. Read more>>

Anar Bhansali

My family has been in the diamond industry for generations. My father, Samir Bhansali, started his own jewelry line called La Reina. He became quite famous for his Couture Collections which featured many unique and cutting-edge materials and techniques. Read more>>

Samantha Herrera

I started off as an actor in New York City where I began my training at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. Acting will always be a huge part of my life along with this newfound discovery of filmmaking and now producing with ZOMO Visuals. Read more>>

Isabelle Kristiansen

I’m originally from Gothenburg, a small town in Sweden. I knew since I was a little kid that my purpose in life was to create and make people stop and feel something. In 2014 I moved to San Francisco where I studied advertising at Academy of Art University. In 2017, after completing my bachelor. Read more>>

Jason Williams

I decided to study graphic design. I went there looking for a way out of my shell that I buried myself in due to the fact that I was bullied and talked about throughout my entire school experience. A few months went by after starting college and I ended up having to have my mother take me to the hospital. Read more>>

Brooke Josephson

Local Singer Songwriter, Brooke Josephson, was born and raised in small-town Warsaw, Indiana. Her “Hoosier to Harlem to Hollywood” story is inspiring. Brooke grew up singing in church and began piano lessons at age five. Her father was of the belief if Brooke. Read more>>

Lucy Haro

Food is everything. It nurtures the body, the soul and the community. So as a martial artist, human rights advocate and entrepreneur, my primary business had to begin with our Family’s art of Peruvian cuisine. Growing up with two cultures, America and Peru, I never wanted to lose my culture. Read more>>

Ashley Gomes

I have always been an entrepreneur at heart and dreamt about starting my own company one day. I have been in the entertainment field as a singer, musician, and actress my whole life. I created a brand for myself in that field and included my passions about health, clean living, skincare, makeup, and fashion along the way. Read more>>

Nyesha Rose

I moved when I was about 17 years old and traveled down to Miami, Fl – where I studied Retail Marketing and Fashion Merchandising. While living in Miami, I really wanted to be a stylist/fashion editor. I went from studying my favorite Stylists and racking up my parent’s credit cards for magazines to read to styling my friends on campus for mini photoshoots and becoming the one of the Fashion editors for my school’s magazine. Read more>>

Yesenia Serratos

I started dancing when I was 18 years old, I never thought dance would become part of my life. I was born and raised in Mexico City, with a very traditional mexican family from Guadalajara, Jalisco. I loved dance since very young age, playtime as a child consisted of dancing and choreographing with my sister and cousins. Read more>>

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