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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.

Amber Logan

I’ve always loved creating content and sharing it on my Instagram profile. My passion for this really started around 2013 when I was in competitive cheer and had an account centered around all things cheer! Since then, my account has evolved into sharing my life experiences, love for fashion, home decor,… and iced coffee obsession! It wasn’t until October of 2020 that I began monetizing my social media, and in 2021 I received my first paid collaboration offer (from Target!!!). Read more>>

Lynn Garza

As a young girl, I loved putting makeup on and watching my mom do her makeup before work. When I got a little older and was allowed to get my hair highlighted for the first time, I fell in love with the transformation it gave me. I think that was the real draw for me. I found it fascinating that you could elevate and change how you felt about yourself with something as small as changing your hair color or putting on lipstick. Read more>>

Teneisha Thompson and Angel Cephas

Names: Teneisha Bell-Thompson and Angel Thompson Cephas Teneisha and I are a mother and daughter dynamic duo who own and operate Bell’s Reines – Gourmet Cookie Brand. We started our company in early 2019 as a food blog with the idea of sharing our delicious restaurant-worthy food and beverages. My mom Teneisha decided that we needed to start selling the amazing food from the blog. The love and happiness we found with making recipes, playing around with different high-quality ingredients, and seeing friends, family members, and new customers was priceless. Read more>>

Talithia Bell

Talithia Co was created from one candle. My mom passed away when I was a little girl. I found myself missing my mother as an adult. I started thinking about what I could create to help her memory comfort me. That is when I thought of creating a candle but not knowing what fragrance the candle would be. I started thinking of my mom’s pound cakes that she would bake, and that was it! I created a pound cake soy candle just for myself. Read more>>

Camryn Santos

When I was in high school and working for my local Scouts, BSA camp, I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons. My coworkers and I would hold sessions every night at camp, and I eventually carried the tradition over to my friend group, where we’d continue the tradition with a weekly session. It wasn’t long, however, before I began exploring YouTube for inspirational music, character design ideas, and other concepts, and that’s where I ran across a few assorted videos on LARPing that caught my attention. Read more>>

Tyjah Hisle

I started out always being the one to take pictures of my friends or different objects just by request. I never wanted to do photography; I didn’t believe I had the eye for it. As time progressed and years passed, people would tell me I have a gift for it, but I still never saw it. When my grandmother and other family members passed, I would go through pictures and see that there’s just not enough. I wished I would have had somebody to just be there and capture the moments. Read more>>

Brandy Coffey

My candle journey started as a hobby in 2011 when I was going through chemo for 3rd stage Colon and Thyroid cancer. Once chemo was over, and I was cleared, my hobby switched to a business in 2014. Sweetlycreated4u was birthed. From that place, I created until I felt my candles were not selling fast, so I shut down, prayed about it, and re-launched with my signature line dessert candles. Where we create desserts in candle form. Now we are carried in a few local small businesses. We have several lines we have created under Sweetlycreated4u with my faith being the foundation of my brand. Read more>>

Antonette Parker

I started my business in the summer of 2020. We were in the middle of the pandemic, and I was thinking about my life and how far I came. When I was growing up, I always got bullied for not having the best clothes and shoes and also being fat. So, as I became an adult and was able to take care of myself of course, I was able to buy what I wanted. It felt great to hear people say where did you get that from or you look so cute. And if you know with being plus size it’s always harder to find things to wear without someone having something negative to say. And here came the great idea to start a clothing business for plus-size women. Read more>>

Caleb Folkerts

2020 was a year of global traumatic stress. Cornerstone Behavioral Health is a solution to that shared suffering. The company was formed in March of 2020 as a foreseeing response to surmounting mental health needs challenging already-strained systems of care. The observable burnout that occurred among the vast majority of healthcare providers throughout the pandemic was palpable to the mental health professionals there at the start of Cornerstone Behavioral Health. Read more>>

Miranda Powers

I started content creating about 6 years ago. At first, it was just blogging where I reviewed products and hauls. Then I started to use my Instagram more. I really enjoyed having a creative outlet since, at that time, I was living in Alabama. I eventually went to school to be an esthetician. Then I moved back to Cincinnati around 3 years ago. I’ve been working in retail since then, and I’m still creating content and influencing on Instagram and TikTok. Read more>>

The BLT Podcast

The Black Lunch Table started precisely as the name suggests; a group of black kids sitting at the lunch table, cracking jokes. It then involved a group chat (of which there have been many versions) and then finally a podcast. Being a group of black men growing up in predominantly white schools, we always needed a safe space to find support, ask weird questions, and overall, just be ourselves. The idea for the podcast was simply to share that daily experience with more people and hope it brings some joy to people’s day. Read more>>

Beth Kuhar-Miller

I started One Sweet Thread as a side hustle in 2015. I have always loved vintage clothes and old things. I started wearing my parents’ clothes (’60s and ’70s pieces) in junior high in the ’80s to pad my wardrobe, and really the obsession grew from there. I would thrift vintage clothes and mix them in with modern clothing to get a quirky, unique look. So, picking this as a career seemed really fitting to me! I paused my business in 2019 for personal reasons but decided last year to quit the job I had in medical aesthetics and make this my main focus, doing what I love full time and slowly building my business. Read more>>

Raushanah Sheffield

How it started All started when I was a little girl. I always got teased about how kinky my hair was. As a result of my hair being so kinky my mother mixed to brands of relaxers together and put it in my hair. As a result of her mixing to different brands of chemicals my hair broke off and started shedding. That was the most embarrassing time of my life. My aunt told me to mix mayonnaise, a little hair oil, and eggs together in a bowl. Read more>>

Tom & Kat Hansen

In 2014, our lives were radically changed when our son, Harding, was diagnosed with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) during a routine ultrasound appointment. We initially believed the hardships that awaited would surely destroy us, but we made the imperative decision to use the hardships CHD brought to our family’s life to positively transform us. Each open-heart surgery, medical complication, and lengthy hospital stay taught us a powerful lesson, and we discovered a life that is richer and more fulfilling than we could have ever imagined. Read more>>

Ja’Cole Tabor

I started selling sunglasses back in 2018… I originally was selling them for women only, then the following year I added men’s and children’s options. When the pandemic hit in 2020, I noticed a lot of people starting “accessory” businesses which included sunglasses and I knew I had to separate myself from others. So, in 2021, I designed my very own logo, found a vendor to put that logo on my frames, and history was made! Read more>>

Rowan Grebeck

I got into dog training because I love dogs and have always striven to provide the best life possible for my own dog. This means I spent tons of time researching food, medicine, products, and finally, training methods. When I was set to move out of my parents’ house and planned on taking my dog with me, I signed up for a training class. I worried Chloe would have trouble adjusting to city life since she was raised on a farm. I enjoyed the class and was good at training but didn’t think too much about it when my instructor asked if I had considered becoming a trainer…Read more>>

Lauren Shaffer

Hi! I started baking at a super young age, just helping my grandma in her kitchen and getting meals ready for the family. That really fostered a great love of food in me and especially food made with good intentions and love. My aunts are all also amazing cooks and bakers, so I was always surrounded by an amazing women who made just the best food. When I was a very anxious high schooler, I decided there really wasn’t another option I needed to go to culinary school and be a pastry chef. Read more>>

Corey Winborn

As an unpopular school kid, I started sewing self-taught to change already made items and eventually was able to create items from scratch no pattern, just measurements, and creativity. I later started being requested to do it for pay and created Designs by Winborn. It was not a smooth road at all. Nobody believed in me at first. I was a heterosexual male interested in not just looking good but creating the item to look good in, unheard of at the time. It was hard for my family to wrap their heads around a dreamer. Read more>>

Eric B. Author

REALM OF THE INVADER (Night Crusaders Series Episode 2, History of Draegahn Part 1) is a story about alien invasion, devastation, tyranny, oppression, persecution, and resounding triumph. Lord Draegahn from the planet Plaxia descends upon late 23-century downtown Chicago under the guise of a friend but with aspirations of total world domination. Siris — former friend, now prisoner of Lord Draegahn — has lost his military position, his career, and his freedom. Read more>>

Lindsey Scott

Ohio native Entrepreneur Lindsey Scott, better known as “Lindsey Renée” is a millennial on the move when it comes to beauty, fashion, and lifestyle topics. She has built a brand that speaks to young women and those who want to live their best life. After graduating from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications and a minor in Entrepreneurship, she set her eyes on the fashion and beauty industries and never looked back! Read more>>

Deiahna Garner

I began my career journey working retail throughout college at The Fashion School at Kent State University, and over the years, I worked freelance as a Wardrobe Stylist, and most recently, I’ve launched a Creative Consulting Agency with a focus on fashion and art clients. Absolutely Not!!! My route might as well be the Grand Canyon! I’ve struggled a lot throughout my career, but the major issue that I’ve had to navigate through it all has been my diagnosis of schizophrenia and how to push through with my career despite my condition. Read more>>

Mindee Arnett

I started my publication journey in the sixth grade when my teacher gave me my very first creative writing assignment. I’d been an avid reader–and budding storyteller when it came to playtime–but I’d never considered writing stories down. I never realized such a thing was even possible. But this writing assignment was like finding Lucy’s wardrobe. Suddenly, I could go wherever I wanted whenever I wanted. All I needed was a pencil and piece of paper. Read more>>

Taline Qutub

My story of how I got into concert photography came out to be very organic and spontaneous. It stemmed from a photography course I’ve taken in my sophomore year of college to knock a few credits out of the way (had no prior experience or interest in photography). A few months into the course, I began to enjoy shooting nature, landscapes, and candids of people! Once the photography course came to an end, I didn’t stop shooting. I still went around scenic nature spots and was shooting around. However, I was getting bored of just shooting nature. I felt that if I stuck with a spectacular niche, it would get me even more driven to be inspired by the hobby! Read more>>

Pascale Sablan

Pascale Sablan, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP, Associate at Adjaye Associates, with over 15 years of experience, has been on the team for a variety of projects around the world. Pascale is the 315th living African-American woman registered architect in the United States. She is an activist architect who works to advance architecture for the betterment of society through bringing visibility and voice to the issues concerning women and BIPOC designers. She founded the Beyond the Built Environment organization to address the inequitable disparities in architecture. Read more>>

Kim Kramer

My family is from the south. Not wealthy, just hard workers. Getting our strength and our worth from the land. Farmers for generations. The value the status has always been about the land. Little did I know I would come full circle and devote my career to the selling of land, homes, etc. It’s always been about the land, my connection to it…it would take years before I realized it. I had a failed marriage, raising 3 kids on my own. Read more>>

Judah Early

While in high school, my older brother gave me a camera, and that’s where I discovered a love for taking pictures. Fast forward, I’m married, I have a family, and need a side hustle, so I decided to try photography since it seemed to come naturally. I bought a camera off of Craiglist in 2012 and I’ve been shooting ever since. No, I struggled with the learning curve from amateur to professional. One of the biggest struggles was knowing what to charge. Knowing what equipment to buy. And wrapping my mind around editing. Read more>>

Naeemah Purcell

I was born in Washington, DC and briefly lived in King George, Virginia. I was born Muslim. I come from a family of entertainers, authors, and creatives. I always loved to entertain and would come up with my own shows at home. I was taught singing and piano by Mrs. Bernice Hammond at the Northeast Academy of Dance. It has not always been a smooth road. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 14 years old and Endometriosis at 26. I was bullied in my school years. I also dealt with depression, PTSD, and anxiety which made it hard for me to perform. I’m a domestic violence and rape survivor and I speak out about these topics a lot. Read more>>

Khadzhi Komilov

I always knew I was born to be in the entertainment industry. YouTube seemed to be the perfect platform for me to express my personality and my passion in front of the whole world. I started my YouTube channel in 2015 doing drawing tutorials. Sharing my skills and knowledge with my audience that wanted to become a better artist. Throughout the years, I branched off to creating different types of content. I maintained my consistency on being a Youtuber when I started college in 2016 while being a full-time student. Read more>>

Steve Westhoff

I’ve been making games on and off since I was in 3rd grade and decided to break into the AAA video games industry in 2008. After several years designing games for studios such as Sony and Disney on games such as DC Universe Online and Epic Mickey 2, I decided to learn more programming and eventually ventured into starting my own indie games studio, Single Step Games. The first VR game published under SSG was Psyche Soldier, which had a vast array of dynamic gameplay, but when I noticed the players were having more fun breaking the glass jar in the menu area than main part of that game, I knew what my next game was going to be, just breaking glass jars and other fun things. Read more>>

Octavia Merritt

As a little girl, I always was into girly things like makeup and hair. My aunt BJ used to call me Ms. Prissy. Lol I loved it. I always had to have chapstick on, and hair had to be done. So, when I started middle school, they had us take a career class, and I decided I wanted to be a hairstylist. That is how my journey began. After high school, I decided to go to hair school at Ohio State School of Cosmetology, and after 10 months I felt it wasn’t for me so I went to college. Read more>>

Ysian Hassel

Youth Connect 216, originally known as the Youth Workforce Advisory Board, was founded in early 2020, prior to the global outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. Funded by the non-profit organization MyCom CLE, in partnership with Ohio Means Jobs, the initial idea of the board is to advocate and engage high potential youth; individuals who identified between the ages of 16-24 who were unemployed, not currently enrolled in school, or any type of training program. Read more>>

Matthew Campbell

I was raised in New Jersey, not far from Asbury Park, which most people know because of the famous Stone Pony and Springsteen. After high school, I studied Radiography and Nuclear Medicine in college, which set me up for a career in medicine. I worked in the medical field for 14 years as a CT technologist and a Nuclear Medicine technologist. I spent the last 5 years of my career working full-time with cutting-edge PET/CT oncology scans. Read more>>

Amber Sironen-Massey

As many young people in life, I had no serious direction on “what I wanted to be when I grew up.” I went to a state college and majored in Communication Studies, which is often the butt of many jokes. I knew that I could and enjoyed writing and I was never a shy person, so public speaking didn’t spark the fear in me as it did in others. As I continued to meet people within my classes many women would state they wanted to be wedding planners. Read more>>

Robert Kundel Jr.

The Restorer Tool Inventor | Born and raised in the rust belt of NE Ohio, Robert began working for his father’s business Kundel Industries Inc., a manufacturer of trench shoring products, at the age of sixteen. During his teen years, Robert found great interest in understanding how things worked and he spent much time repairing his own cars as he grew into his twenties along with repairing his own appliances and household items as he grew in his mechanical skill set. Read more>>

Chelle Franklin

I came from a rough childhood. I learned to become independent at a young age. I got married when I was 19, and that’s also when I started having kids. We. have 3 handsome boys. I got my GED and received my Associate’s Degree in Health Care Administration a few years later. Eventually, I plan to pursue my Bachelors. My passion has always been cooking and writing poems… Over the years, my husband and I started brainstorming and coming up with ideas. Read more>>

TreVor Fields

I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. In high school I decided that I would take music seriously and make my own. During that time, I only created covers and things in the closet of my bedroom because I was shy and didn’t want anyone to hear my voice. Around this time, I also joined high school choir and discovered my voice, and my love for music and singing only grew. Since then and throughout college I’ve been involved in choirs, making YouTube covers, and I most recently graduated with my bachelor’s in classical voice performance. I released my first EP “Apollo” in 2021 and I’ve since released a few singles. Read more>>

Tre’ Von Kimbrough

I’ve dealt with a lot of loss in my life. At 5 I lost my Grandma Bessie. That’s where I learned to show empathy towards others. I was too young to understand but not too young to love the people around me. At age 13, I lost my two closet aunties to me. Aunt Bettyann and Aunt Jean back-to-back days of each other. I remember writing on a Kyrie Irving doll with a marker, and I told my aunt Bettyann how much I would make her proud and whatever I do I’d make her proud. Read more>>

Cas Mastropaolo

When you are born in a place like Haiti, life is a much different experience. I have many brothers and sisters, and we were about as poor as you could ever imagine being. Sick, malnourished, no understanding of the English language, and a problem I didn’t even know I had. I don’t remember exactly how I became a child slave. The restavek system is modern-day slavery. Children are put there to work without pay for random strangers or even for other families while getting mistreated. Read more>>

Katie Lynn Reynolds

As a young 20-something, I found myself planning yearly Disney trips for my then-boyfriend and I. Once I was helping friends plan trips during COVID to have something to look forward to, I was encouraged by friends and family to look into the agency that I had followed frequently on social media. After 2 post-COVID Disney trips and helping plan nearly a dozen, I decided to sign my contract to become an agent on February 12th, 2021. Read more>>

Chris Wells

Back in September of 2021 I was going through some personal things in a relationship and the aftermath lead me to be homeless, sleeping inside of my car outside of work. I was able to stay with a friend, and not too long after; God was able to find me an apartment. It was that moment that I felt that things were falling into place. It was a sign from God to trust him and allow him to do his work. I now have a roof over my head, I model for Sigal Modeling Agency, release music (beats), and I am now implementing photography into my agenda. Read more>>

Anthony Taddeo

Whether it was tap dancing when I was 5 years old or getting my first drum set when I was 13, at the center of all of my passions has always been music and rhythm. When it was time to decide what career path, I wanted to focus on I chose to pursue music because I felt there was a longevity in it that really enticed me. Fast forward many years, I now have an undergraduate degree in performance from the Newschool for Jazz in NYC; I’ve had the opportunity to perform all over the world, spent some time in Italy, graduated with a graduate degree in composition, moved to Cleveland, have two beautiful children and have recently begun leading my ow band! That’s me in a nutshell. Read more>>

Jordyn Peaks

My name is Jordyn Peaks and I’m a journalist, author and CEO of Daily Abiding Media Co. Over the course of my news career, I’ve had the opportunity of working with companies like ABC6, NBC4, WNBS 10TV News, CNN HQ, The New York Times, ABC News in West Perth Australia and more. In December of 2020, I left my career in journalism as a news anchor, reporter and producer, I felt The Lord inviting me into new territory. Read more>>

Mike Martin

Ever since I was young, I have loved sports and entertainment. Growing up with a summer birthday, I had an annual birthday pool party at my parents’ house. This is where I found a passion for planning events. Graduating high school and continuing my education as an Ohio University Bobcat, I knew I wanted to be in the Entertainment Industry. I chose to study Communications and Business Marketing. Knowing that I needed experience to land a job at a record label or concert production company, I started a business called One Mic Entertainment. Read more>>

Shelby Knox

Photography was always something I loved, specifically photojournalism. There is something about the palpable emotions that exist within those photos that honestly move me to tears more times than not. I have always been a creative soul, inspired deeply through photos, films, music, and nature. Honestly, as I approached 30, I never thought I’d be able to build my passion for photography into my reality.  Read more>>

Jakob Michaels

I was a frustrated entrepreneur trying to get traction in a noisy world. I was performing at corporate events and being an entertainer around the city. I knew the video was the way to solidify my message in the hearts in the minds of my audience.  After hiring a few video teams, I found myself very disappointed, and nobody seem to be able to execute my vision. In response, I began to try and learn myself. As time went on, I realize the frustrations of learned operate a camera, create a visually stunning edit, and craft a message in video that is compelling. Read more>>

Kerrie Obert

A little over 25 years ago I began my career at The Ohio State University as a speech-language pathologist specialized in treating singers who had injured their voices. My first degree was in musical theatre performance and so it was a natural pairing of my interests and abilities to work with performers. Years later, I began to organize workshops to try to help singers develop in a way that would prevent an injury from ever occurring. Read more>>

Dave Rich

When I was 12 years old, I asked my parents for a weight bench for Christmas. Then, in early December, 2 of my friends in 8th-grade guitars, so I asked for one of those as well. My parents told me I had to choose one or the other, and I pretty much flipped a coin. The guitar immediately took over my life, and now I’m 40 and still play every single day. I’ve been in bands since I got that first guitar, everything from heavy metal to country to indie rock to hip hop and surf music. My current project is The Beyonderers, a paranormal-themed heavy surf trio. Read more>>

Maria DiMeo & Tiffany Pittman

The CinCity Shakers are a multifaceted, intergenerational dance and parade group that brings people together in the greater Cincinnati area through dance. We are a social parading group, open to all, ready to dance, and here to have fun! We built this organization in 2019 with a small group of core members who spent every movement of their free time buying fabric, making dances, building our social media platforms, and recruiting new members. This is volunteer, and there are always challenges in finding the time to balance life and fun. Read more>>

Toni Tipton

We are two mothers working full-time jobs, we understand the demands that are placed on us during our daily lives. We started Uzima as a place for women like us to be able to come and relax, rejuvenate and reset. Each service was hand selected with women in mind and the focus of each wellness modality that we provide was based on issues that we felt most women struggle with such as stress, fatigue, vaginal health, weight, and body image. Read more>>

Rita Suzanne

I am a single mom of four who is now focused on helping other moms avoid business burnout. My business officially started in 2014 but there were many events that led up to that big leap. In 2007 the real estate market was struggling and my boss asked me to take on marketing to help increase the revenue of the company so I learned Illustrator and Photoshop as well as diving into updating our website. I always loved fixing problems so learning these new skills was exciting. Read more>>

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