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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.

Chinasa Broxton and Carlos Moore

We’re from Austin, Texas, the musical capital of the world so music played a huge role in our childhood. Although I was introduced to music at an early age in my household, I really didn’t start getting into it until high school when a classmate of mine complimented the poetry I had written on my notepad. At that moment, I realized that I had some sort of lyrical flow and started to write my own songs. Read more>>

Greg Bryson

I was managing the bar at the Wallace in Culver City. I was buying ice from a company that had just raised the price on me substantially without notice. When I called him to negotiate, he said “the price is the price.” This guy had a monopoly on the craft bar community… and he is a total asshole! We had to stop him! My business partner and I flew around the country to learn the ice game. Read more>>

Sami Balchum

After graduating from college and finding myself unfulfilled, uninspired and burnt out, I became tired of the long commute to and from my corporate job in marketing and wanted desperately to be in an industry where I felt like I was truly helping people and impacting their lives doing something I loved. Growing up, I had always been athletic and played competitive sports throughout high school. Read more>>

Renée Fox

I’ve made art since I can remember. I’m also a very positive person, and my optimism allowed me to believe I could follow a career as an artist, probably one of the most difficult professional directions to take. In my own headstrong way, I followed through and chose to study for a BFA after high school. I took advantage of opportunities to learn along the way, with mentors both in and outside of school. Read more>>

Talia Landman

This is a tough one because “my story” is still on-going. To be honest, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of my own potential, so it’s crazy that a publication would want to interview me. However, I have accomplished a lot and had many incredible experiences that I love sharing. I am a storyteller by nature, so whenever something significant happens to me, good or bad, I talk about it. Read more>>

Suzanne Borders

For the past 8+ years, I’ve been working as a user experience/product designer in the tech industry, helping determine how tech products and apps should function and how the interfaces for these products should be structured and displayed to users. During this time, I ended up leading the design of several 2D data visualization and analytics tools, geared towards providing solutions for the real estate industry. Read more>>

Derek Mari

I’m from Modesto, CA, a small city in the central valley where my desperation for escapism was manifested in creating “movies” with my older brother. With our first video camera, we’d recreate episodes of “Drake and Josh” and other movies/TV that we loved, like Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein,” for some reason… For the next 12 years of living in Modesto. Read more>>

Joseph Cohan

I’m the son of a structural engineer and so of course when I was younger my summers in grade school were spent tagging along with him, going to job sites for field visits and inspections, as well as visiting the building departments all around the LA area. I had a knack for math and science class (felt the opposite way for English Lit. or Composition) and naturally I thought about being an engineer like my dad. Read more>>

Daniela Swain

I was born in Mexicali, Mexico and at the age of twelve migrated to California without knowing a word of English. I have loved art ever since I was a kid and naturally pursued learning more about it in every stage of my life. In middle school, I joined the yearbook club and came up with the idea to create the first DVD yearbook ever which I filmed myself. Read more>>

Cushing Donelan

Originally from the east coast, I moved to LA upon graduation and some European travel. Always involved in the arts; studio, film and television I got an internship with a production company. That turned into an onset job as a producers assistant and taking care of the talent (actors). Making an impression on the movie star Matthew McConaughey, he hired me as his executive assistan. Read more>>

Nolan Smith

Being surrounded by people who have an ear for music influenced me to pursue music. So, I locked in and started to hone in my craft. I built my work ethic by consistently producing songs which led to tremendous growth. I am still improving my craft but I’ve noticed how far I’ve come from when I started. Read more>

Colleen Louise Barry

As an artist and writer, I feel like I’m constantly starting and arriving. I am always trying to make my life flow and integrate as much as possible, despite having a lot of variegated interests and projects. It’s hard to say where I began and even where I am today, but I do know that I have a vision for my work, which I am slowly growing closer to (even as it morphs). Read more>>

Michelle Ellamae

I started working in the events industry after high school, interning for a prestigious event production company while attending college at Pepperdine University. After university, I was offered a full-time position as the CEO’s executive assistant and I was thrilled to take the position. In total, I worked eight years for this organization and it was the most educational years of my life (in terms of event planning). Read more>>

Anita Ungo

Back in high school my friends and I would walk around the East Bay taking pictures on our phones. I remember it being such a fun escape to all I had going on at home, so eventually I started doing it on my own to cope with the heavy things I was dealing with on top of teenage angst. When I turned 15 my grandpa gifted me a small camera for my birthday. Read more>>

Madi Rindge

Triple-threat singer-songwriter, artist, and producer, Madi Rindge debuted her self-produced single, 7.13 in 2019. It was the first of many that Madi not only wrote and sang but also engineered and produced. Currently releasing her next project through a series of singles, Madi will again be a producer on a number of the tracks. This project is headed in a much more R&B direction and the first one of a group of singles, called Good Love, will be released Friday March 13th. Read more>>

Brad Neaton

I grew up in the shadow of North Detroit and spent the entirety of my childhood there. Even as a young kid I was a bit of a nonconformist. Getting picked on will do that to you – make you different – and I was picked on a lot because of my weight. Circumstances basically relegated me to socializing with older kids, and as the younger fat kid I was an easy target. Read more>>

Kelli Binnings

I started where most creatives start: coloring, sketching and looking to music for influence. Every creator’s instincts are rooted in those early-life explorations and discoveries and I was one curious kid. As I grew into my own, the question then became: how do I develop those curiosities into a profession? In college, I double-degreed in Graphic Design and Communication Studies with a minor in photography, which became a fast love of mine. Read more>>

Adriana (aka Chica) Barbosa

I was born in Brazil, raised in Mexico and then moved back to Brazil for college. I spent a few years in a career that I didn’t love but only stayed in it because I had to pay the bills; even then I was always passionate about theatre and films. I started studying and thinking about cinema through the film collective “Cinefusão”, in São Paulo where I participated in the script and art direction of the short films “Wax” (2009) and “String Quintet” (2010). Read more>>

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