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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.

Sadé E. Moore

I’m an American Actress, Author, Dancer and Entrepreneur that uses art as a dual form of activism and entertainment. I got started in theatre and dance as a young girl but struggled with awkward tendencies and low self-esteem. Additionally, my Mother and Father had difficulties financially fueling my childhood interest, so I didn’t revisit art as a performer until high school where I became Captain and Choreographer of the Pepsquad Team and a dancer at “Philadanco Dance School” in West Oak Lane Philadelphia- studying Hip-Hop, Jazz, Tap and Ballet. Read more>>>

Chinyera Page

I am a 30-year-old wife and mom of 3+2. I grew up in Moreno Valley CA, then moved to Los Angeles in 2011. I spent 8 LONG years in LA. However, those years taught me a lot and allowed me to meet the love of my life. Got married, had babies, and started a business. In the mist starting the business I found out that this mom of 2+2 was now expecting a 3rd baby. We found out about our new bundle of joy on our youngest 1st birthday. Picture this in the middle of a pandemic trying to launch my first business with a baby that just turned one and finding out you’re having another baby. Mental all messed up at this point. Read more>>

Ryan Greger

I grew up with a passion for all things cars. Before I could even walk, I would sit for hours spinning the wheels of toy cars, and by the time I was three, I was identifying cars at night by their taillights – my mom always jokes that my first word was “Volvo,” and while I don’t think it actually was, it probably wasn’t too far off! I was constantly reading automotive magazines or websites, absorbing as much information as I could about all things cars. That passion continued to develop and grow throughout my youth. Read more>>

Collin Miller

I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona; South Tempe to be exact. The goal was always to get into the film industry and move out to Los Angeles. I decided to stay local and continue my education at Arizona State University studying film (go Sun Devils). While in school, my main goal was to pay the bills and I was shocked to find out I could do that with my camera. I started with club videos to music videos, and from there I slowly built out a network of contacts. Read more>>

Camilla Gibson

A couple of years ago, I got horribly injured in a surfing accident. I suddenly couldn’t do any physical activity, which was a huge lifestyle change for me. A few months prior, I had visited a friend who was making sourdough, and I left with a fascination for fermentation. While I was healing, I made my own sourdough starter and baked bread to keep myself busy and to share with my friends and roommates. Making bread is so fun and creative, and it brings so much joy to the people around me that I became obsessed and wanted to master the art. After a while, my bread got really good and people encouraged me to offer it to the wider community. Read more>>

Pablo Murillo and Morris Ellis

We started during quarantine amidst the pandemic. With all the uncertainty and the endless amount of time, I started creating flavors that were healthy enough for my three years old daughter. I wanted to create aguas frescas without sugar that reminded me of the ones I grew to love as a kid. I also knew that we needed a nice cocktail after a long day of quarantine. Once I had my flavors down, I knew I needed a strong logo and so I called my friend Morris. He completely brought my vision to life and so “Aguas Locas” was born. From the very beginning, we knew we wanted to be much more than a beverage company and so we have made it our mission to be a substitute for sugary-filled drinks that the whole “familia” can enjoy. Read more>>

Laura Konz

My current path started as a “trust fall into the universe,” as I said to my mom when I decided to quit my well-paying sales job with truly no new prospects plotted out. I just had a deep feeling that I needed to change course. There were a lot of aspects that I enjoyed about that old job, but I was also on the verge of tears every day on my way to work and throughout the day. Deep in my being, I knew my soul did not want to be in that career, but financially it was convincing to keep on that road. I’m sure a lot of people can identify with that too. Read more>>

Nicole Ham

I was spawned on the east coast, somewhere between Maryland in DC (Known to locals as the DMV). I grew up on cookouts, crab boils, and big family reunions. I was always an odd, introverted kid with a handful of friends, was a huge crybaby, and brimming with social anxiety. Naturally, I connected to cartoons and animation at a really young age, seeing the medium as a conduit for my outward shyness (but inward ideas). I spent a lot of time at grandparent(s) houses watching the same three cartoons and movies nonstop. Genndy Tartakovskys and Craig McCrackens — the allure of their simple but accessible style was a great In for a kid like me who was a terrible artist but compulsively drew all the time. Read more>>

Sharon Wang

I was born and raised in the Bay Area and moved to LA 6 years ago to attend UCLA. During my time at UCLA, I completely fell in love with this amazing city. The food, the culture, the diversity, and the plethora of wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure to meet here convinced me to stay post-graduation. After graduating a year early, I was so eager and ready to find a job and take on the world. What people don’t tell you is that finding a job sucks and most of the time, your resume goes into a black hole where you never hear back. After a month, I started feeling defeated— even with my UCLA education, I felt like I wasn’t enough. That’s when I decided to call into companies and that’s how I landed the job I love so much now. Read more>>

Cecilia Plasencia and Taylor Horton

Prince and Fox Studio is led by Cecilia Plasencia and Taylor Horton. Before we met: Taylor grew up in a small town in Alabama, he was brought up in a family of skilled woodworkers that make and restore church pews. Taylor began woodworking at the age of twelve, learning this skill from his grandfather. Cecilia was born and raised in Miami, first-generation Cuban-American. She grew up among a family of architects. She had a passion for the fine arts from an early age and chose painting and drawing as her main form of expression. Growing up with architects in the family she began understanding concepts such as space, form, function, structure, and construction. Read more>>

Daisyiona Howlett

I had gone to a conference a few years ago regarding purpose and people who were following their purpose. I hadn’t yet determined my own and became a bit obsessed with the concept. During meditation, it was revealed that I was supposed to help people by sharing my own mental health journey with others. And I was terrified so I didn’t do that. Instead, I ran away from my purpose for a few years but kept ending up there having to face it. Eventually, I just decided to embrace it. Read more>>

Aneesa and Grant Zizzo

Studio 203 started as a daydream that we talked about one night over dinner. It was time for me to find a larger studio space so I could host my own art classes and create larger artwork. There was an empty commercial suite in the building Grant worked at, and we asked the building manager if there were any plans for the space. It had been gutted by the previous tenant, all the way down to the subfloor and studs, but it was a huge space and had so much potential. We worked with the building’s contractor and drew up plans to create a clean gallery with white walls in the first third of the space, leaving the back part a little raw, which is perfect for studio workspace. As the studio slowly transformed into a beautiful gallery + workspace, we knew we wanted to share this space with others and create programming for our community. Read more>>

Liv Teixeira

I grew up having little to no idea as to what I wanted to do with my life. I never had dreams of being a doctor or firefighter like most kids. I did have dreams of changing the world, making an impact and helping people. Oprah was my first role model and inspiration. She came from humble and challenging beginnings but was still able to make a life for herself. She created a unique and different career that was geared towards helping people. I related to that a lot. Read more>>

Marshall Wang

I’m a graphic designer/digital artist based in LA. Growing up, I like to grapple with images by making collages. That’s my earliest memory of art-making – cutting off pieces from different magazines and playing around with the composition, trying to make new meaning out of rearrangement through forms. I like it as a kid because it opens up doors for me as a way of expressing my inner energy. I indulged in the feeling of having absolute control while decision making from boarder concepts even to the finest executions. It was all the nitty-gritty. Of course, I didn’t know all that when I was a kid, but this eagerness for image manipulations and convey meanings using graphics never go away, and finally, it got me into Calarts, where I polish my skill sets as a designer and trained to think profoundly. Read more>>

Julia Taft

Season 1: “love at first sight” – I fell in love with art and I wanted to know everything. Season 2: ART SCHOOL – I learn that art is an expensive relationship… Season 3: Almost canceled!! – I start exploring film and architecture. Art is still there. At this point, I feel most connected while drawing with charcoal. Season 4: Art and I get into an exclusive relationship… – I get signed as an artist!!! By two different companies. I am booked and busy. Read more>>

Katherine DiMaggio

I was born and raised in Long Island, NY. After I graduated from the University of Delaware, I lived in Manhattan for eight years. Within that time, I briefly worked as an Administrative Assistant at an investment bank, went to graduate school at Columbia, and began my career as a high school counselor. I worked for four years for some of the most prestigious public high schools in the city, called specialized high schools. Between the stress of graduate school and the intensity of working as a counselor for public schools, I realized the need for my own self-care. I dove into all things wellness to learn how to make myself feel my best so I could show up as my best self. Read more>>

Samantha Iwamoto and Vicki Sussman

For years, my mother and I have talked about working with one another, but we never knew exactly how to bring our skills together to form a business. I am a speech-language pathologist and my mother is a former preschool teacher of over 30 years. We knew we wanted to work with children, and we knew we wanted to have fun. When the pandemic hit, we decided it was our time to bring laughter and play into the homes of families with little ones, from a safe distance of course (behind a computer screen). We want to be a rainbow during this dark storm. Read more>>

Marissa Bobkowski

As soon as I graduated from college, I started traveling through Central America. You could say I never looked back. I held odd job after odd job saving up money just to travel again. In true movie fashion, I met a man at a bar who told me about a job where you could take people on active travel vacations. Three months later, I got hired and began taking people on cycling trips in California, Hawaii, Wyoming, and Italy. This fueled my passion for travel even more. I spent my winters in Nicaragua running hotels and my summers cycling, drinking wine, and meeting fantastic people. After almost five years living in a suitcase, I was looking for a place to call home. I moved to LA and started working in Event Operations at Red Bull. Read more>>

Mabel Ryu

I was born in Korea, went to high school in Canada, and now I’m here in California, majoring in Character Animation at CalArts. I have always loved watching animes, cartoons, and comics. There was this one anime show that I loved, it was called ‘Mermaid Melody’; It was a show about mermaid princesses with magical power transforms as human girls and fight the villains by singing. I was a kid who was obsessed with magical girls and mermaids at that time so I would just sit down and copy its drawings over and over as a kid. Drawing cute characters and writing stories of them were definitely what I have enjoyed the most ever since I can remember. Read more>>

Ke’Ari Brooks

I’ve always considered myself to be a creative person – whether it was through dancing or art, I always loved having a creative outlet. Back in 2018, after graduating from the University of Southern California, I decided to move to San Diego and take a job position doing graphic design. Outside of doing yearbook in high school, this was my first real taste in this industry. I completely fell in love with the work I was doing. Inspired by the work I was doing at my job, I decided to learn how to illustrate on my computer. Now we’re here in 2020, and I’ve launched a graphic design and art business. Read more>>

Denita Austin

The vision and dream started at the age of 15 years old. A desire to move to Los Angeles, CA was a huge goal. Originally from Washington DC, born and raised. I knew at a very young age that it wasn’t the place for me. Visualizing and dreaming my way through several jobs over the course of 10 years, it was never a good fit. Whether it was the private sector or government jobs, I was craving entrepreneurship and I felt like I’ve done it all as far as jobs are concerned. I knew there was something missing from my life but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I had a passion for stories, personal stories that is, and people. I was always curious about people’s backgrounds, their personal experiences, and just authentic conversations. Read more>>

Michelle Demaree

I grew up in San Diego to two hard-working parents, a custodian and a nurse, and had never set foot into a jewelry store before I accidentally fell into the world of high luxury jewelry. After putting myself through college with a full ride at Pepperdine and working the real estate boom and bust in Vegas and San Diego with Pulte Homes, I moved to the Midwest for a relationship that didn’t work out and got a job as the marketing director at Bentley/Lamborghini/Bughatti. Read more>>

Nick Westbrook

Ten years ago, I had a stroke of good fortune entirely by proximity — my best friend, Jordan, got a job at a high-end tea shop in Beverly Hills. Week by week, he would bring home hundreds of estate samples and bags of overstock that amounted to legitimate pounds of loose leaf tea; and not the dubious teabags I’d known my entire life… the good stuff, the stuff I never knew existed. Most fortunate of all, though, he took valuable time to pass on his growing knowledge of this vast, exciting and somewhat gated world of specialty tea. Read more>>

Ryley Gordon

I have always dreamed of being an independent entrepreneur with a mission to help women ever since I was a young student. It all started back when I was living in Santa Barbara, CA and I first was introduced to living a vegan/active lifestyle. I became strongly passionate about learning everything there was to natural living. I found myself spending time in natural foods stores testing out all the latest vegan products, skincare, makeup, and anything I could get my hands on. It was an expensive hobby at the time but a very enjoyable one to say the least. Once I moved to Los Angeles, I felt inspired to help educate women to natural living and help make the switch to using natural products on their skin. Read more>>

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