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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.

Erika Flores Bermudez

I was born in Texas and grew up in Juarez, MX. I was fortunate to be surrounded by very talented, artistic, and inspiring people in my family who painted, drew, and designed. This encouraged me to start drawing and sketching from a very young age, and I found my voice there. With their nurturing and support, I spent a lot of time creating and was drawn to anything that was cool and different. Read more>>

Julie Cox and Rel Lavizzo-Mourey

I grew up in Agoura Hills learning to surf Malibu as a kid. In my twenties, I was a professional surfer on the women’s longboard tour; I traveled the world surfing and also supplemented my income as a surf instructor in Mexico. Later on, I settled down in north county San Diego as Director of the California Surf Museum and also embarked on my first entrepreneurial partnership designing a line of surfboards for women called the Jule Collection. Read more>>

Emelina Adamo

Growing up, I had a passion for the arts, and I was involved in dance, choir, and theater. After high school, I went to the University of Arizona and earned a B.A. in Psychology and Pre-Law. Once I received my degree, I moved back home and won the title of Miss Nevada USA 2016 and went on to compete at Miss USA. Competing in pageants helped start my modeling career and provided me with more opportunities in the entertainment industry. Read more>>

Jerrold Smith

A lot of people like to say it’s really rare to meet someone in LA that’s actually from LA. I like to tell them they’ve been looking in the wrong places. On the surface, I can be deemed an athlete, creator, tastemaker, and micro-influencer, but I’d never limit myself to one defining label. Read more>>

Westside Blanco

The SGB ENTERPRISE is a recurring physical manifestation of my intellect adapting to the ever-changing idea of business. It’s me conceptualizing products & experiences, building them. Then curating the way in which my niggas and I can monetize them. I started with the discovery of my abilities. My talents, my skills, my unique qualities. Then I put them to work, and I gave that work a name. Read more>>

Maria Simpson

I’m an executive coach and consultant on conflict resolution to organizations, but I’ve actually had two careers, one in New York as a senior manager in a variety of nonprofits and a second here in LA. In NY, my first job was as the administrative assistant to a university Dean who put me in charge of the typewriter inventory and watering his African violets. Read more>>

Johan Carpenter

I like to remember the start of my story from when my mother carried me as a child while performing as a concert pianist. I would travel from concert to concert in my mother’s womb, lulled into serenity by her beautiful playing. From conception, I was surrounded by music. I was the first child of Howard Carpenter, a computer programmer from Upstate New York, and Chiharu Sakai, a concert pianist from Tokyo. Read more>>

Cliff Beach

Funk music artist Cliff Beach has been performing live for more than 15 years in Los Angeles. The Berklee-trained singer/songwriter/keyboardist and DC native has created a style of music he coins as “Nu-funk,” a hybrid of soul, traditional R&B, funk and neo-soul which he performs regularly throughout Southern California. Read more>>

Elizabeth Rossi

Motivated by dreams of sunshine and following my creative pursuits, I left everyone and everything I knew in a small mid-western town, to move 3000 miles away to the big city, Los Angeles. For anyone making that kind of move, it’s a huge risk and undertaking, and many speculated I’d be back within six months. Those who really know me knew I wouldn’t give up and I haven’t. Read more>>

Stella Blue

Writing has always been my emotional outlet. I’ve always had what I consider to be a “crowded” mind. Overactive imagination, anxious thoughts, and constant distractions have been flooding my mind since I can remember. While at first glance, most would consider me an extrovert, I would consider myself an introvert glued behind an extrovert mask. I am often stuck inside my head and wrapped up in my own thoughts. Read more>>

Forest Green

I grew up in Redlands, CA – skateboarding & playing basketball with a diverse group of friends. Then somehow for us, skateboarding turned into partying, which lead to concert/event-going, which inspired us to get into making beats. Read more>>

Candice Tzeng

It all started when my partner, Phil, and I went vegan in 2015. He had been working in the restaurant industry for a few years at the time while I was working in Photography and Marketing – both relatively stuck in the same, repetitive routines. We both left our jobs to take a summer work opportunity in Alaska together which led to us backpacking Southeast Asia for five months, where we were able to deepen our self-discovery and explore other cultures and ways of being. Read more>>

Lambert Grand

I grew up in Paris (and lived one year in Aix-En-Provence in the south of France). I was quite an introvert and quiet kid. I use to love video games, movies, and reading and as a kid I also did fencing for 6 years on a very high level (competitions all over France and Germany) but after that I was never the highly athletic kid even though I played a bit of basketball, tennis and even did rowing for a year as I was a teenager. Read more>>

Tasneem Noor

I am always surprised when I meet people my age and older who don’t have a passport and don’t even think of it unless they have an international trip coming up. And even so, as an American traveling to many other countries like Mexico and places in Europe, it is a breeze—no long lines and ambiguous timelines to get a visa— just book a flight and show up! I, on the other hand, had a passport as soon as I was born. Read more>>

Mario M. Muller

I suffer from daily attacks of Aesthetic Arrest. You know, when something is so perfect, so pleasing, so visually engaging that your knees get weak and your lungs forget to inhale. Goosebumps or shivers can creep in. This can happen in a museum as easily as it does on a street corner. I’m an equal opportunity appreciator. Read more>>

Kazu Nagahama

Born in Hokkaido, Japan, Kazu was raised by his grandparents and moved along with them to various locations. His creative instincts are inspired by nature, Japanese traditional dance, and theatre experiences throughout his childhood. His first play started when he was seven years old at his elementary school playhouse as Japanese famous folk tale MITO KOMON (Lord of Mito) as Lord Mito. Read more>>

John and Amy Ruskin

I was graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder and planned to go to law school. My father was a lawyer, his family were all lawyers and judges, and I thought it was what I wanted to do. I started to study acting and film at the university, and on the day I was supposed to take the LSAT, I woke up and realized that the law was not my passion. I really wanted to pursue acting. So, I never took the test. Read more>>

Karolina Leonte

Due to my father’s influence, I was only a few years old when I started drawing. My Dad drew in the past, and he was quite good at it. He was the first to spot a real talent in me. I have never gone to an art school, although I did participate in a drawing workshop after school hours in my hometown where I practiced drawing still life. Read more>>

Spencer Galbreath

Spencer is an LA native. Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA Baldwin Hills to be exact. After graduating high school from palisades high school he started in corporate music America at Universal Music Group / Interscope records. Just like others, Spencer journey started as an intern which lead him to getting on the books to becoming a label executive to where he oversaw the Tupac estate, Maloof Music, to working with some of today’s top producers and artist. Read more>>

Liz Marz

I stopped hiding and began to share the wisdom that was coming through me in conversation and on social media. I began to realize that by embodying the human experience and sharing the highs and the lows, I was helping others feel less alone. This became my purpose. Read more>>

Jay Blaze

In high school, I started washing cars and using the money to pay for studio time. I would ride the bus across the city and record at some run down backhouse studio a manager of mine had found. I was curious about every detail of the business. From how you write & produce a song, to how you make a music video and get it played on TV & Radio. Read more>>

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