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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.

Suzanne Neforos

I have always been obsessed with sunless tanning, for as long as I can remember. I am naturally very fair-skinned and can’t tan my skin even if I tried. The fact that someone can achieve the look of glowing skin, without the harmful effects of the sun has fascinated me, and in 2016 I got serious and purchased my professional spray tan equipment. My intent was simply to have the convenience of giving myself a professional spray tan in the comfort of my own home, but it turned into much more. Read more>>

Michael & Jodie Owen

Coming from a background in Arts-based redevelopment & real estate both Michael & Jodie were thrilled when they learned of the opportunity to redevelop the former Shriber Auto Parts Building in Downtown Cuyahoga Falls. Jodie has a 30-year background in real estate and construction. Michael’s background is in Real Estate Law and Urban Recycling & Redevelopment. Cuyahoga Falls is Michael’s hometown, so it seemed as if the Jenks Building was the perfect fit for a project. Read more>>

Autumn Chisholm

When I was 13 my mother said to me “let’s go to a baseball game”. It was a warm Sunday in July and I had no clue that day would change my life. From that moment on, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I realized that I wanted to be a broadcaster and share my love of sports with the world. No, it hasn’t been. I was initially a journalism major in college, but after taking just 2 classes I knew that wasn’t the path for me. I then switched my major to communications and I still faced the hurdles of being comfortable within myself and in front of audiences. Read more>>

Love Freely, Journee B.L.U, and Honey Monai

Anuvybe is a collective of artistic friends formed in November 2021 “Love Freely” met Journee B.L.U at a show in early 2018 and was immediately drawn to her eclectic free-flowing style. In August 2019 Love set out to form her first band known as Mixed Feelings. Love scouted local karaoke nights for members where she met Deanna Fisher and through her met her sister Honey Monai Mixed Feelings went on to perform on bills with amazing artist all around the city and even became the featured bgvs on Smith Taylor’s self-titled album. Read more>>

Chelsea McDonald

Before starting my online personal training business, I fell in love with fitness after years of trying different methods of workouts. After having our first son I joined an online fitness program and quickly fell in love with the sense of community that it brought. Being a new mom, I love being surrounded by other woman who were working toward similar goals and encouraging one another. Read more>>

Julianna Williams

Vines Bakery is a small batch artisan operation that got its start when I finally listened to my heart instead of my head. It started as a daydream while I pursued my education degree from Ashland University. Upon graduation, I realized my passion for teaching slipped away and I was left with no plan B. Slowly, I began the journey of rediscovering my childhood love of baking and my passion for hospitality. Read more>>

Aujile Riley

In 2018, I was an overwhelmed and overworked new wife and mother. I realized after some deep reflection that I’d lost myself in the roles that I played for other people in my life. I no longer knew who Aujile was as an individual. I felt lost and not in control of my life. The fact that I’d ballooned up to my highest weight of 289 lbs. didn’t help, either. Looking back, that was clear evidence of my lack of self-care and self-prioritization, but I digress. Read more>>

Brittany Noble

Photography has always been a part of me. It really started as a child. I remember looking through family albums and being obsessed with photos. I would be that girl who had a disposable camera in my purse at all times just in case. I never wanted to forget any memories. It did not matter how big or small. When I had my first child, I would invest hundreds of dollars on photos for his every milestone. Read more>>

Andrea Amersdorfer

Our business began unexpectedly and in a most unique way. I was a photographer of classic cars and bikes and my husband was a highly skilled web designer with his own business. Thoughts of starting a food truck had been running through my mind on a regular basis for a long time. One rand0m day we sat down to eat lunch. I decided to pop the question. I took into consideration that he would probably think that the idea was crazy. Read more>>

Danielle Morgan

It’s something in my blood – like once you’re in it, you can’t get out. You feel connected somehow to the land, the history, the lifestyle. I am proud to say I grew up on this farm. The animals always came first – Dad said we farmed with our hearts not with our heads. We learned to appreciate life and value time. I wanted to be a veterinarian growing up and was passionate about agriculture but my parents pushed me to leave the farm for a while. Read more>>

Blue Green

I’ve struggled with ADHD my entire life and never did very well in school unless it was something that I loved. I studied media production and creative writing while at the University of Akron. I did very well in my core classes but would struggle with the ones that I had no interest in, so I’m a college dropout. Telling stories and making videos are my strengths, so I worked toward creating video content.  Read more>>

John Sabraw

My father was career air force and though born in Lakenheath RAF base in England my early years were spent on Mountain Home AFB in Idaho during the Vietnam War. It was a crazy desert existence and we spent time chasing lizards, building tumbleweed forts, and listening to jets taking off. In hindsight, though I realize that I was caught between the sense of heroism and sacrifice on the base, and the harm and futility of the war itself. Read more>>

Stephen Price

My journey in music started when I was eight years old in Buffalo, NY, at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church. The Minister of Music, Margeurite Robinson, agreed to give me piano lessons in exchange for assisting with choir rehearsals and playing for Sunday services. After about five years, I knew a career in music as a professional organist was my path. During my senior year of high school, I found an organ teacher in Buffalo and became the organ scholar at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, Buffalo, NY. Read more>>

Geeves Joy

I’m Geeves, a US-based travel writer and content creator who reviews destinations, restaurants, activities, hotels, products, and experiences. One day, after sharing my adventures on social media, I started getting questions from followers for tips and was encouraged to start my own travel TV show or blog. Little did I know that I would end up having so much fun, going on to travel 170+ days/year exploring exciting sights and being creative.  Read more>>

Ashlin Bacik

I started off from humble beginnings, my mother had me at 15, I grew up in the dilapidated neighborhood of Polish Village in my grandmother’s house. I worked various jobs until I found my passion in hair. Becoming a stylist felt right in so many ways! I was able to be creative and different, things that were applauded in this industry. Creating wearable art and making people feel great about themselves all at the same time. Read more>>

Leslie Rose Pequignot

My journey to becoming a clinical aesthetician & PMU artist was in my blood from a young age! I consider myself to be an empath, I have always had a strong passion for helping others and advocating for self-care. Becoming an aesthetician has given me an outlet for all the love I have for helping people and being able to do something I am passionate about and enjoy doing as well. I focus my work on helping clients with disorders such as alopecia & trichotillomania or clients recovering from hair loss from chemotherapy. Read more>>

Ashley Landers

After graduating from Penn State, I moved to Hoboken, NJ where I was a teacher for 8 years. After I got my Masters in Early Childhood development, I landed my dream job as a Master Teacher within our district. I loved my life in Hoboken with my husband and daughter, Everly! Then, God had different plans for my life. We up and moved for a job change for my husband and to be closer to his family. Read more>>

Christene and Andrew Logesky

My grandparents started one of Ohio’s first pizza shops in Reynoldsburg in 1961. My parents took over 40+ years ago and I have grown up around small business my whole life. in 2017 my parents expanded into the original Connells Hardware in the whole bottom floor. When they opened the entire upstairs had been vacant for years and we dreamed of one day utilizing the space. My husband and I have been wedding photographers since 2011 and had dreamed of owning a venue space one day. Read more>>

Stephanie Baumberger

The Crafty Sirens are a group of 3 women who put on eclectic/indie artisan markets in the Akron/Cleveland areas. We are Stephanie, Jacqui, and Keni. We started out under another name with Stephanie, Jacqui, and another small biz. The goal was to create a market in the Akron area for the alternative, spooky, and “weirdo’s”. After our first market Jacqui and Stephanie realized a new vision moving forward and went with a rebranding to become the Crafty Sirens with the addition of new member Keni. Read more>>

Da’Maris Lee

Where do I start? Well, my senior of high school, my interest grew very deeply in modeling and learning how to take pictures. I began to develop a sense of style and fashion as my college years went on. As of today, I have walked in various local runway fashion shows and continue to produce more work by putting out YouTube videos and doing more photoshoots with local photographers. Recently, along with my production company DASHON ELLIS Productions, I have come up with a platform for all local Ohio models called Ohio Models United. Read more>>

Steve Sessions

I believe everyone has the right to tell their story their way and that there’s no better way to do that than through the creative lens of photography and videography.  For as long as I can remember, taking pictures has always been something I’ve enjoyed. But it wasn’t until my mom gifted me my first camera that my passion for storytelling via lens was birthed. It was then that I knew I wanted to do more with photos than archive them for the purpose of reminiscing on at a later date; I knew I wanted to tell people’s stories the way they wanted to tell them!  Read more>>

Shane Grove

I have been a songwriter for almost 13 years and a podcaster for almost 3. I have always been interested in writing and for a long time focused on writing screenplays. Around 2009 a friend and I decided to try and write a country song. How hard could it possibly be! Songwriting turned out to be one of the most difficult yet rewarding things I ever decided to do. Not being in or even close to Nashville made it an even bigger challenge.  Read more>>

Jack Mullarky

In 2016 I opened up the Bible one evening looking for a new direction in my life to take me and read a passage whatever u find your hands to do, to do with all your might!” I got chills I had been playing poker for a couple years but not seriously I know I was good but I wanted to be the best and make it my life so I started studying the game soon I decided I wanted to become a poker dealer so I could learn all about the game from both sides, from a dealer’s perspective and as a player.  Read more>>

Natown Beats

I started in 2005 making beats as a career choice. I’ve always loved music, but something about that year made me want to make the decision to make music. I’ve always been a person that takes care of people whether it be my mom, my daughter, my wife, and family, I had to make sure the people around me we’re good and this always seemed like the most positive thing I can do to accomplish that and it was and still is. Read more>>

Jinjoo Cho

My mother idolized Albert Einstein, and she wanted me to play the violin, just like him. So, I started very young, at age 5. There’s a level of discipline and rigor that is required of you from early on as a classical musician. The expectation was to practice 3-6hrs every day and I did exactly that all throughout my youth. When I turned 12, I was invited to attend Aspen Music Festival and School which is a very prestigious summer festival in Colorado. Read more>>

Jade Rorick

I am an aspiring model. I started getting into modeling at the age of 12 when I got selected to participate in the ARTS in 2012-2013. Many individuals told me that a big girl couldn’t make it in that industry because it’s not the ‘look’ brands want. I decided that they were wrong and pushed myself with the goal in mind to show young girls around the world that it doesn’t matter your size, height, hair color, skin color, etc. Read more>>

Marie Negrón

I was born and raised in PR and at the age of 21 I moved to Kansas with my husband and my 4-year-old son because my husband joined the Army, we lived there for 4 years. It was very difficult for me because I didn’t speak English at that time and I had to learn by just watching tv or listening to others around me. I worked in a chocolate factory and that also helped me to keep learning the language.  Read more>>

BreAuna Campbell

I always knew I wanted to be in the beauty industry but I didn’t exactly know how. It started with just creative eye shadow or edgy lipstick, before you know it, I had a suitcase full of inspiration. I saw makeup as a way to exercise my creativity but also utilize my business knowledge. I’ve been in love ever since. Before I started doing makeup and lashes, I tried a lot of different things that didn’t work. In 2018 I wanted to be a model I walked in some shows and made a lot of connections, but it wasn’t for me. Read more>>

Shellee Fisher

My love for the camera started as a teenager in high school. My Daddy and Uncle were hobbyists. However, when I told my parents I wanted to go to photography school upon graduation, they told me that I had to go to a real college, get a real education to get a real job. To make a long story short I ended up getting a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice, working for an airline, and owning an office equipment company.  Read more>>

Kylie Olney

Ever since I was in middle school, I loved the idea of taking videos and meshing them together to a song I liked at the time. I started editing videos mainly to highlight my family vacations. (and for my own entertainment of course), which eventually led to the passion of making videos of just about anything. I upgraded from using my cellphone camera to now a nicer video camera. Read more>>

Gabriel Ford

As a child I an abundance of energy. I was diagnosed with ADD at an early age and was introduced to different outlets to direct my focus and help with my attention issues. It was my grandfather, Bernie Ford, who had suggested I try out various sports throughout my elementary school years. But even in these programs I was still struggling with learning rules and paying attention to other teammates. Read more>>

Ayana Campbell Smith

Personal finance and financial literacy has long been a major interest of mine and in 2019, I was looking for something to devote my time to as a creative outlet outside of my 9-5. One day I got a random spark of inspiration and started a list of money topics I thought would be worth sharing with others. It was a combination of things I wished I’d been taught about money when I was younger, things I’d read, helpful advice I’d heard, etc. Read more>>

David DeMasi

We started out of a discussion with some friends. I had been working as an advanced nurse for over a year at that point in time and a friend made a suggestion, “hey, we already get this done… why don’t you open a company for it and do it for us”. That comment got my wife and I thinking, was this feasible? We did some research and decided to take the plunge. We fully jumped in with research on classes, tutorials, business, etc… Read more>>

Shorook Attar

I have always been interested in helping the environment and giving back to the community. When the pandemic hit, I had the opportunity to further explore what I could do to fulfill this interest because we were under strict guidelines to remain at home. I had multiple people in my life that were avid beekeepers so beekeeping was always an interest of mine and I was introduced to backyard beekeeping. Read more>>

Raijphinai Harris

I started out in The Pursuing Career field of being a musician, but the burnout for almost 9 years was enough for me to let it go and find another route for me, in the midst of my retirement sort to speak, I started dabbling with Photography as a Hobby originally, until I self-taught with interest for almost 5 years, since then I’ve grown in my work after doing a few test shoots in my local area for portrait photography work and never made it a full career until 2014 during my transition between living in Ohio and Arizona.  Read more>>

Katie Blauser

My story starts with my photography! I went to college at Ohio University for a degree in Commercial Photography. I started photographing weddings and took on a job full-time as a wedding and portrait photographer. A few years in I needed another creative outlet so I started my Instagram account, Eat Pretty Darling, to share fun kids’ food ideas for my house full of picky eaters. Read more>>

Paul Perkins

The ORION Electronics Company, Inc. is a global consumer electronics company founded at the Beijing University of Technology (BJUT) in 2013 by co-founders, Paul Perkins (CEO), Sydney Mwaimba (COO), Colin Curry (CDO), and Pius Gadosey (CTO). We are currently headquartered in Ohio, USA. We develop affordable, innovative, and eco-friendly products for the 21st Century. Our vision is to develop a more innovative and sustainable future, a vision we call the “Internet of Us™”. Read more>>

Jodi Bird

During the summer of 2019, while coming home from a mission trip in the Dominican Republic, a friend and I were brainstorming a niche for a travel blog. I’d always wanted to write about and share my travels, but I knew it had to have some type of focus. Over the years, I’ve found it a bit difficult to find drop-in volunteer opportunities for me and my family. This friend has had the same struggle.  Read more>>

Crazy8theGreat

As a survivor of horrific bullying scenarios throughout my schooling years, I found my voice, my confidence, and my strength in music. Recalling almost being stabbed to death in the second grade or moments being corned in hallways during high school, I chose to turn those moments into triumphant testimonies and proof that there are better days ahead for anyone that presses play on my music. Read more>> 

Kat Niekamp

Photography has always been a part of my life but it wasn’t really until my freshman year in college that I decided to pursue a career in it. I was taking film photography my freshman year of classes for my Graphic Design Degree and absolutely fell in love with 35mm film and the development process. I ended up graduating from UD with my major in graphic design and a minor in photography. Read more>>

Rebecca Gordon

We started as a 4 chair, 4 nail desk, 4 pedicure bench salon in Lakewood Ohio in 2016. We’ve now grown to two locations with a total of 16 chairs, 14 nail desks, and 12 pedicure chairs! Our Westlake location also offers spa services and spray tans as well. Our Westlake location opened in 2018, and we’ve been growing ever since. Business ownership is never a smooth road. If someone is saying that I want to do what they do. The pandemic was very difficult to navigate, and there are always ups and downs with owning your own business. Read more>>

Britt Johnny

Johnny Britt is from Cleveland, Ohio. At an early age, he was drawn to singing and the trumpet. After graduating from Cathedral Latin High School Britt had the opportunity to study trumpet in Paris, France with Roger Delmotte at the prestigious Conservatoire du Versailles. Not only did he master the trumpet but he also mastered the French language. After his studies in Paris Britt continued his studies in Chicago at Governors State University where he earned a full scholarship and was awarded the Gerald Myrow Award for Composition by Dr. Warrick Carter.  Read more>>

Demetrius Williams

I was born and raised in the inner city of Cleveland, Ohio in a household that consisted of two blind parents, disabled siblings, and have several disabilities of my own. I am vision impaired, hearing impaired, and because of that hearing loss, I have a speech impediment. As a result of these disabilities, I struggled in a lot of aspects of life, socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Despite all of these challenges, I overcame the odds and went on to obtain my bachelor’s degree in Business Management and my master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration both from John Carroll University. Read more>>

Eric Murray

The first six months of my life I had severe ear infections that limited my hearing, which I believe is at least partially the cause of my strong enthusiasm and appreciation for anything that’s sonically pleasing. I’ve always been an observer of society; always very fascinated by the human experience. And as a kid, I naturally drawnj to creativity and imagination as a way to interpret the world around me while expressing the world within. Read more>>

Samantha Harris

I fell In love with makeup when I was sixteen because my best friend had bought me a Sephora gift card for my birthday. I had never been there before, but as soon as I stepped foot in the building, I knew I had found my passion. I started doing makeup on all of my friends in our free time and even posted tutorials to YouTube. I was having a conversation with my sister and she said to me “why don’t you go to school for this and make it your job?” Read more>>

Mike Bankhead

There was always music playing at home growing up for as long as I can remember. My mom made sure I could read before I went to kindergarten, so it’s her fault that I have a life-long personal relationship with words. My dad had been a drummer, so it’s his fault that I get nerdy about my favorite music. I always wanted to be a writer, but never managed to learn how to write a plot, so when I was young, that creativity went toward poetry.  Read more>>

Nicole Weiss

I was originally born in Alice Springs, Australia, and I lived there for the first half of my life. My grandparents got sick right around the recession in 2008, and my parents wanted to move back to the States where they lived, so they could be closer to them during that time. We ended up moving back and living in Dayton, OH, and I finished middle and high school here before attending university in Chicago, IL. Read more>>

Courtney Ranes

I have loved photography for as long as I can remember! I got my first digital camera for my 15th. It was purple and amazing and I took it everywhere with me!! After that, I wanted to get more into photography and learn everything I could so I took a photography class my senior year of high school and then even went to a small community college where I took more photography classes and even some business classes as well.  Read more>>

Brittney Blystone

As far back as I can remember I was always taking photos! I’m talking back in the mid-2000s with those super cheapy, awful quality, digital cameras. Taking photos of friends at Friday night football games or just hanging out at the park. When I graduated high school back in 2012, I took 1 year off and really contemplated on going to college for photography. I let the fear of others hold me back. “it’s not worth it, it’s a waste of money, you won’t learn anything, it would be a waste of time, etc.”  Read more>>

Melanie Ziaziaris

Throughout my life, I was always a very active person. Prior to college, I figured skated for majority of my life, participated in gymnastics, did the occasional track and field, and other sports from time to time. Going to college at Miami University was a big change because I did not want to be a student-athlete. That being said, once I got to Miami, I felt somewhat incomplete. I was always on the path to getting my Doctorate of physical therapy and motivating people to living a healthy lifestyle through mindfulness, movement, and nutrition.  Read more>>

Jeff & Kate Stuttler

Hello, we are Jeff and Kate Stuttler, husband and wife duo. Middle school sweethearts and entrepreneurs. Almost 7 years ago, we had a dream to turn a family property into a place where people can gather, relax, and be restored. We started Heritage Life in 2016 with the launch of our bed and breakfast, Heritage House. The following year, we added Heritage Barn, a wedding and event center. Over the last few years, we have grown into a hospitality brand encompassing two other companies, Heritage Candle, and The Village Gathering Place. Our company specialize in getaways, gatherings, and gifts. At Heritage Life, your moments matter. We are redefining hospitality, where your experience makes you part of the family. Read more>>

Skyla Johnson

My entire life from a young age of 3 I loved to bake (more specifically mix ingredients together in bowls). I spent a lot of time in the care of my great-grandmother, and she began to actually teach me how to bake as I grew older. We made desserts completely from scratch, adding a little of this and that, and tasting along the way until it was just right for baking. I baked my entire childhood & adolescent years, and eventually once I became a sophomore in college, I turned my love for baking into a business. In 2011 College Girl Cupcakes was born! Read more>>

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