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Hidden Gems: Local Businesses & Creatives You Should Know

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 our latest local gem features below.

Cort Holland

Being young and playing outside, my brother introduced me to skateboarding at the age of 10. It was new for me to learn, but I soon found a love for it. I then began to ride the skateboard almost everyday. With time I only became better. Years later I found that there were more people like me skating around in the city of Saint Louis. We became close friends from the love of skating. We began to meet up at random places and skated around the city. I used Instagram to share my love through digital media and noticed many people were interested in learning. I started teaching people throughout the city and began the group SkateStl. Read more>>

Emily Greenwell

I grew up in Detroit, MI. I started dancing at age 4, I continued to dance competitively as well as attended a performing arts high school. After graduating I knew I didn’t want to go to college so I moved to NYC and sought out my own education doing training programs and open classes. Through assisting and being mentored by some AMAZING humans I was given opportunities to teach and choreograph, which has now become my passion! Read more>>

Renee Steward

I have always been a creative person. Growing up, I constantly (and still do) have tons of ideas all the time. My home didn’t really support that, though, so I never explored my creative side. As a grown-up, I worked a corporate job and put all of my time and energy into my work. My creative side would always poke through though. Anytime I would get a little time, I would find some kind of crafty thing to get my hands in. I was managing retail stores at my corporate job and had worked my way up the ladder, but I was feeling so lost and unfulfilled. Nothing in my life felt like it was going right. Read more>>

Vahdet Karatas

Our club was started in 2016 with 5 members, our current mentor being one. They set the layout for the club, its rules, amendments, office positions and we are continuing what they started. We learned from their experiences and improved upon them. The first year they were only able to hold one fundraiser event, now, despite COVID, we were able to host two fundraiser events (currently working on the third) and have held interfaith dinners, volunteered at food banks, park cleaning, and made donations to several charities/organizations. Read more>>

Shantelle Buckner

Getting where I am wasn’t an easy task. It all started with wanting to work in anyone’s kitchen just to get started. I was told time after time that without kitchen experience they couldn’t hire me. Although I was in culinary school and a great cook, that wasn’t good enough. I’ve even had places that wouldn’t hire women in their kitchen. Eventually, I settled with working for a Mexican dine in fast food restaurant. Being a single mom with a special needs child became to much for my job so I was fired. I can across that obstacle so many times that I decided it was time for me to work for myself. March 18, 2018, I started TBT CreaTiviTy. Later that same year, I went back to culinary school as well to enhance the skills I already had. Although it has been challenging marketing my company I have come across very good clientele. From catering to private dining I bring my clients a wonderful experience with reasonable prices. Read more>>

Trifton Rose

RoseAboveIt Podcast was created to provide a space to have dialogue on issues (social, financial, relationship, political, life, etc) that aren’t always the easiest to have. We debate all topics with the utmost respect and do not aim to disrespect or offend any person or group of people. The hosts of this podcast are, T.Rose, Malcolm, Honeyy; and the voices you may hear behind the camera are Damm Denz and PJ. RoseAboveIt Podcast was created by host, Trifton Rose. The platform was created initially to show his on-air and interview skills in the media industry. “Every job/internship wants you to have experience in media, but nobody wants to give you an opportunity to have experience. I created my own avenue of experience and that drive and mentality lead to the evolution of RoseAboveIt Podcast.” Read more>>

Heidi Fahrenbach

When I was 12 years old, someone anonymously entered me in a beauty pageant. My parents were very hesitant to do so because of the stereotypes about the pageant world. We decided to give it a shot and the experience was just going to be a fun experience, I didn’t have any expectation of winning. To say the least the pageant even as young as 12 years old was extremely competitive as stereotypical. My mother and I sat there while the other mothers and daughters were stressing out over hair and makeup. When the unexpected happened I won an award for a fabulous face, I was ready to go home I was ecstatic I won something. A few minutes later while I was memorized by the small award my name was called again, I walked up there hearing my mother going crazy they were crowning me the winner. That’s where the journey of modeling all began.

Dee Dee James

I started playing guitar in high school with local bands. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with a variety of prominent groups such as Color Me Bad, Jesse Johnson, Bootsy Collins, Ice Cube, and Lenny Kravits to name a few. That is how I got to where I am today. I started the concept of The Dirty Muggs 10 years ago and it has been a successful venture. Read more>>

Sacrifice The Sacred

Sacrifice the Sacred is a Progressive Metalcore band from Collinsville, Illinois. We were founded in early 2021 and finalized their line up in November of 2021. Taking a melodic approach to the typical Djent Metal sound, Sacrifice the Sacred consists of Devin Carter and Chris Peters on guitar, Kurtis Mraz on vocals, Mitchell Bailey on bass, and Jack Tripi on drums. The band members have a broad range of musical influences, but growing up with a passion for metalcore and progressive metal brought them together to form STS. Read more>>

Marci Hall

I began working in retail briefly after graduating high school. I changed careers while attending college. Over the years I always dreamed of owning my own boutique. Instead, I sold on sites that offered consumer-to-consumer sales, worked as a sales affiliate, brand ambassador, and as a representative for various small businesses. Fast forward to the beginning of the pandemic, I became the guardian to my two nieces. In school, my nieces are being taught to receive good grades and obtain a job once all schooling is completed. Little emphasis is placed on being an entrepreneur. I knew it was time for me to follow my dream which will also provide my nieces the experience of entrepreneurship. Read more>>

Arturo Smith

Hey, my name is Arturo Smith but all my friends call me Ace. I’m a Hiphop rapper turned serial Entrepreneur which also followed by a film director. I stepped away from the hiphop scene years ago after doing tons of shows with artists like d4l, shawty lo, young buck just to name a few. I created a company called Promogeeks Media where we specialize in graphics, photography, videography, and making custom items. We quickly rose to be one of the top media company’s in the Midwest. It wasn’t easy by any means. It took long nights and days of spreading the brand around so everyone could know who we were. Read more>>

Rachel “Luve” Sudduth

Spirituality and religion were always a big part of my upbringing growing up. My great grandmother Virginia Cannon was known in Hope, Arkansas as the lady that saw spirits and knew things to happen before they came into fruition. She passed before I was born but the stories I heard from my grandmother and family never left my mind. I grew up in a Christian church known as New Northside Baptist Church in North St. Louis. My grandpa Reverend George Rhodes used to preach when I was younger and my grandma taking me with her to events as the secretary for the missionary board. For me, that really laid the foundation of structure and how faith plays a big part of how my grandma and grandpa were so successful and never lacked growing up. Read more>>

Michael and Jennifer Robinson

During the winter vortex of 2017, Michael Robinson and dEstiny Family Church partnered with Bridge of Hope Ministries to address the void that the City of St. Louis was experiencing due to the New Life Evangelistic Center being closed. That winter they housed 60-75 people nightly. The following year, dEstiny operated a pop-up shelter in south St. Louis city. Nearly 60 individuals were housed nightly. During this time Michael Robinson & Jennifer Turner began discussing plans for the future of shelter work. Read more>>

Kyla Hawkins

I started creating at a very young age. Art was therapy for me during my troubled childhood. As my skill level in art increased I thought to myself “how can I make money from doing what I love?” A fellow artist and friend, Amiriana Payne invited me to showcase my art in her art show in 2016. That was my very first time being in a showcase and I loved it. Read more>>

Tia Latimer

A native of Saint Louis, MO Tia Latimer, is the creator of Pretty Little Candle Co. Tia has always enjoyed the method of how candles worked and the amazing aroma they give off. She had a vision to design scented candles that were very creative and different from your traditional candle. Tia put her thought into action and that thought then became a reality when she launched PLCC. “I want people all over to know that it’s ok to be their true authentic and unique selves, regardless of others’ opinions as to what they may think is normal. PLCC embodies the unique personal of boldness that I wish for all everyone near and far to feel within themselves.” Read more>>

Chris Cosby

When Chris Cosby graduated from high school in 1973, he started taking art courses at Meramec Community College. In 1974 he took a portfolio of his drawings to Unique Art Glass in St. Louis and was hired there. In 1978 he started his own business, Chris Cosby Art Glass,and eventually moved into a small space on the second floor of the Gorlock Building on Lockwood Avenue in Webster Groves. When a friend noticed a tiny “For Rent” sign in the window of a Webster storefront at 747 Marshall Avenue in 1982, Chris promptly leased the space and moved in. His brother, Tim, had gone to art school at Meramec and Washington University before studying Celtic and Anglo Saxon Art in the field by hitchhiking all over the British Isles. Read more>>

Chelsea Whitacre

I would have to say my whole journey started in 2014 when I truly discovered my love and passion for dogs. I was at a really low point in my life just in every aspect and then I got this job as a day care attendant at a dog day care in St. Louis city. Honestly at first it was just a job to get by but it ended up being a turning point in my life. I remember being at the day care ALL THE TIME just because no matter what I had going on in my personal life the dogs were genuinely happy to see me. Read more>>

Kim and Charles Saso

We started out homebrewing, and wanted to find a way to reuse the spent beer grain (leftover barley mainly, with possible rye, oats, and wheat). We knew the grains still had so much flavor and nutrition in them, so it felt like a waste to just throw them out. We did some research on different things to do with the spent grains, and one of those things was making them into dog treats! Well, our dogs LOVED them – they even acted differently to these treats, than they had any other treats before. So we decided to give them out to our family and friends, and their dogs loved the treats too! We wondered if it was possible for us to turn this into a little business. Read more>>

Saint Boogie Brass Band

The Founder, leader, and tuba player of Saint Boogie Brass Band Christopher “Turtle” Tomlin born in New Orleans is the real definition of a True New Orleanian. He started playing music when he was 12 yrs old on the alto sax. He was very active in all the different music ensembles that he was allowed to be a part of. Read more>>

Victoria Sheldon

Relish is, at its core, simply my love affair with plants + the wonders they do for your skin, your body, + your mindset. I have been gardening for over a decade, I interned at Urban Harvest in 2019, + in 2020, I took advantage of the lockdown + the extra time off for some online classes + farm programs: Earthdance farm school, Tend & Flourish herbalism program, growing mushrooms with Cornell + herbal skin care with the Herbal Academy. I learned so much from all of these incredible opportunities, + got to connect with inspirational, creative, + driven people. Read more>>

Lisa Nolan

My story started in 2018 when my mom passed away tragically. I had lost myself after losing her. Death was not new to me. I had lost my father at the age of 15 in 2007. In between the years of 2007 to 2018, I had attended many funerals. Once, my mom passed and I planned her funeral, I was in shock. I was totally different person. Moving on in life was extremely hard. Prior to this, I started my self-love and healing journey in 2017. I declared a season of healing. When I declared that, I went through a toxic break up, the death of my cousin and the death of mother. It felt like everything was thrown at me to hold me back. When all of this happened, I realized that I had declared a season of healing. Read more>>

Tara Nesbitt

The non-traditional path started when I went away to university following high school because that was the expected next step on the journey that is instilled in your head from a young age. My brief time at university only lasted two years and it was there the non-traditional path started. If I wasn’t going to go to school, my parents made it clear that I was going to get a job. I worked in retail sales for small local companies for a few years as a way to support myself and explore different opportunities. Read more>>

Rachel Williams

I began my career with State Farm during the summer of 2006 in Columbia, MO as an intern at a State Farm corporate office while I was there attending Mizzou. I was studying for my B.S. in Business with a focus in Marketing and a minor in Sociology. I worked in a State Farm agent’s office in Columbia, MO after I completed my internship with corporate. Working in the agent’s office was when I was introduced to what owning my own State Farm agency could look like and what it entailed. After college, I knew I enjoyed working for State Farm, but wasn’t completely sold on what I wanted to do with my future. I moved home to St. Louis to pursue a master’s degree in Public Relations. While going to school, I continued my journey working for State Farm, but I switched gears from the insurance side and started working as a Mortgage Loan Consultant at State Farm Bank. I really enjoyed the work I was doing, but I also knew it wasn’t my forever career. In 2013, I met with an executive with State Farm to learn more about the path to owning my own agency. I am so grateful that I met with him because he has been my mentor ever since. I entered the State Farm Agency training program in 2014, and after rigorous training and business plan development and interviews, I was selected to open my agency in February 2016. Read more>>

Marlina Yarbrough

As a little girl, my mom reminds me that I would want to go outside and paint my friend’s nails. I remember getting up early before catching the bus curling my friend’s hair. When I entered middle school “pixie” braids were popular. My friends trusted me enough to practice on them. I began styling hair in high school. I would see certain styles and just believe that I could achieve them. I’ve always considered myself a visual learner. In college, the demand of braids grew more. I soon realized that no matter what degrees I had obtained, nor what path my career took I enjoyed braiding hair. When Covid19 resulted in my being furloughed as a single mother I had to rely on my passion to meet our necessities. I was the “essential braider”. That time away from work grew my clientele. During that time I attend workshops and seminars to become knowledgeable on keys that would help my business grow and become successful. I now get to wake up and do what I love and enjoy. Read more>>

Aliyah Roettgers

I always loved to capture any and everything so I could look back and relive those memories. I could never afford the best camera but I remember my mom getting disposable cameras and a smaller camera growing up so I could practice. it wasn’t until this past summer that I finally saved up enough money to buy my dream camera. I am grateful to be able to capture memories for families, couples and kids to go back and also relive those memories that will last a lifetime. Read more>>

Farah Babu

I had always been passionate about baking ever since I was a kid. I am originally from Chennai, India and food has always been a beautiful way to connect with everyone. My mother always stepped out of her comfort zone and tried various cuisines that she came across on any cooking shows. She used to bake this delicious apple pie and I have such beautiful memories growing up to the warm and comforting smell of a freshly baked apple pie. I believe that was my first connection to baking. I watched a lot of baking shows however, never thought I will be able to create anything myself. In 2013, I decided to give it a try and I never looked back. I started baking at home on a regular basis and shared my treats with my neighbors and family. I was not perfect but I never gave up. It all started with a small batch of cookies and a couple of cupcakes. I moved to America in 2015 and kept my passion alive by sharing my baked goodies with my near and dear. I was very intimidated by baking and frosting a cake, I used to watch multiple YouTube videos on different techniques. I kept baking cookies and cupcakes however, cakes still intimidated me. In 2018, I remember baking a chocolate cake for a friend and I decorated it with different colored rosettes on top for their anniversary. Their words of encouragement made me want to do this more and so I kept going. After a couple of years I grew more confident with my work and wanted to pursue my passion by making it into a small business. With the support of my family, I was able to start Bake Leaf, my home-baking business a custom cake/dessert shop, on July 17th, 2021 in Lake St. Louis, Missouri. Read more>>

Hannah Hill

I can’t speak on how I started this journey without speaking about my family. Baking, more specifically, pie baking, is a skill that has been passed down from my great-grandma (who spent so much time in the kitchen and was always baking cookies), to my grandma, to my mother, to me. I baked my first pie by myself when I was eight or nine, and never stopped after. I pursued baking in my college education, went on to bake for a locally owned business for three years, and then COVID hit. I lost my job, like so many others during that time, and decided it was time to set off on my own. Milk and Honey started as a sink or swim kind of decision to cover my bills during the pandemic, and has only grown from there. I found a kitchen to rent as quickly as I could, buckled down, and got to work on building a product and name I could be proud of. I started getting into weekend vendor events and doing pop-up shops inside other locally owned businesses, which have become the foundation of what I do. Most days, I feel like it happened overnight. Like I blinked and I was in the middle of what I’ve been working towards since I was a little girl. Read more>>

Ramón Cubiles

My childhood was full of dreams of space travel, colored pencils and collectibles for kids until I started working in my father’s toy store. Later, I sold newspapers, cooperated in a local radio station, cooked for fast food restaurants and I did artistic commission work to pay my expenses until I started University. Read more>>

Lavinia McCoy

After graduating from high school, I joined the United States Air Force – saw places most people only see in books – traveled and experienced the culture/food – Biloxi MS, Enid OK, Philippines, Dover DE, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Omaha NE and settled in St. Louis MO future home of Gourmet Soul Restaurant and Catering. Read more>>

Inner City Witches

The band started whenever I (Addison) was desperately looking to start a band just out of high school in 2020. The majority of my friends who play music were all into either super hardcore music or the most sleepy indie music you can pull out of a top 100 bedroom pop songs mixtape. Although I did not know our drummer Aaron very well, I did know he sounded like the type of drummer to fit the music I was planning to create. Aaron then contacted our bassist and recording engineer Allan and we all got together and played Scentless Apprentice by Nirvana around 5 to 10 times before calling it a day. Flash forward to the spring of 2021 and we finally got our chance at playing a show, but it wasn’t only that. Our first show was the most frantic and packed DIY punk experience anyone can ask for. This sparked our passion for playing live and networking in the St. Louis music scene rather than being an exclusively recording band like we were previously. One of the things we love most is being able to play in front of as many people as possible and making them go as crazy as our music sounds. Read more>>

Sarah Sanchez

I’m a teacher by day and baker by night (and evenings, weekends, mornings). I was out of work due to COVID-19 and decided to turn my love for baking and sustainability into a business! All my products are Earth-friendly and made with lots of love! It all started in April 2020 when I was looking through my refrigerator and found a 4+ week old loaf of bread that still looked brand new. Gross! This lit a fire under me to start making my own and ensuring that everything was natural and sustainable. I had a lot of interest in my bread and other baked goods from neighbors, friends, and family. Now here I am 12 months later with a legit business!. Read more>>

Genny Jessee

My life forever changed on April 29, 2012, not just because I became a mother but also because I became June Jessee’s mother. June had an undiagnosed, medically complex, neurological disorder. We had no idea there was any indication of something wrong with her health until shortly after she was born when she failed the newborn hearing screening at the hospital. And we wouldn’t fully realize the magnitude of her health until roughly 2 years later.  After further testing surrounding June’s hearing, we learned she had auditory neuropathy, a type of hearing loss associated with how the brain processes sound.  I remember asking the ENT physician, “If there’s something wrong with how June’s brain processes sound, how do we know if there isn’t anything else wrong with her brain?”  “We don’t,” she responded empathetically. “We will just have to wait and see if she meets her milestones.”Read more>>

Molly Reinhardt

I have always worked on various creative projects and collected vintage pieces for years. Which is why I decided to combine the two… cement goods + vintage finds = Cementage.  During the pandemic, I needed a new creative outlet so I started searching for some inspiration which led me to cement DIYs. With that, I bought supplies and decided to try my hand at it making my first cement tabletop fire pit as a holiday gift for a family member. Since then, people started asking if I sold them or could customize – which led to creating all the different shapes, sizes, colors, candles, planters, bowls, and more that I offer now. It has evolved a lot over the past 8 months. Read more>>

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