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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.

Temple Stewart

I started as a dietitian working with Veterans at the Bay Pines hospital in Bay Pines, Florida.  I had a bit of a health crisis of my own and started finding alternative therapies to treatment as conventional medicine wasn’t helping.  I learned about the ketogenic diet, and as a Registered Dietitian, I went full in researching it and figuring out how to use it in my practice. Long story short, I’ve helped hundreds of women all over the world lose weight long-term and heal their hormones. Read more>>

Danielle Miranda

I’ve always loved taking photos of my food for as long as I could remember. When I left my corporate job in July of 2017 right before my daughter’s first birthday, that’s when I really began to hone in on my ever-growing love for food photography. Just two years in of growing my page and working on my new craft, I landed my first ever social media client, King Of The Coop. I began managing their social media back in September of 2019 and am proud to say that I still work alongside them to this day as they continue to grow into one of the most popular chicken joints in all of Tampa Bay. Read more>>

Savannah Ballard

When I was in college studying at the University of Florida, I found myself unhappy in the major I was pursuing. I had to take a step back and seriously evaluate what I enjoyed and wanted to pursue as a career. After some reflection, I realized how often I was going to concerts as my pastime and my main priority was capturing moments during the show with my phone camera. It clicked that I could pursue concert/music photography and it was then that I changed my major to a related field within communications. After that, I bought my first DSLR, started reaching out to venues, and attending local shows to give it a shot, and the rest is history! Read more>>

Erik Horton

I fell in love with Electronic Dance Music in the mid-’90s when I was living in Hartford Connecticut and a close friend of mine invited me out to a local nightclub. Once I understood the music and felt the energy being created by the DJ I was hooked. After being a fan for about 6 months I decided I would try my hand at learning to DJ so I went out and bought a cheap set of turntables, a mixer, and a few records. Back then YouTube didn’t exist yet and you couldn’t just search the internet for tutorials like you can today so every weekend I would ask the resident DJ if I could come into the DJ booth and watch what he was doing. Read more>>

Joseph Burl

I am a professional wedding, special event, and club DJ with 20 years’ experience in the music industry. I started out in nightclubs and then a professional DJ apprenticeship introduced me to the wedding and corporate events industry. I fell in love with it and have been performing at weddings, birthdays, anniversary parties, corporate and non-profit events ever since. Music has always held a special place in my life, and I love helping people create memories and celebrate. Read more>>

D’Lisa DarLuz

As a child, I leaned on music to get through my toughest times. I’d sneak off with my dad’s latest cassette tapes and newly purchased CDs, lock myself in my room and play them for hours on end. I’d read the accompanying booklets and cd inserts until I knew every producer, writer, and arranger on each track. At church, I’d run up to the stage and bang on the drums until my mother convinced me, it was time to go home. On the school bus, there wasn’t a day you’d find me without my headphones and Sony Walkman. Music has always played a major role in my life. It lifted me up; Read more>>

Josh Galletta

I love to draw, always have since I was 5 and my dad showed me how to draw a truck. August 25, 2010, I was struck by a car while out riding my Bicycle, then the driver proceeded to run over me and back over me. It was a life-changing moment. I almost died at the scene and in the hospital. I had to be life-flighted to a special trauma unit. I had over 25 broken bones, head injuries, and some internal damage. I spent almost a month in the hospital and years of surgeries, physical therapy, and therapy. I was diagnosed with PTSD. My counselor gave me an exercise to help me cope and recover. She said, “Find something you love, put everything into it, and release it.” Read more>>

Dashaun Bryant

I’ve been in the Door-to-Door roofing industry, it will be 7 years in February 2022. My first few years in the industry it was all about sales and making money. Then my second year into the industry I was knocking doors and I met a homeowner who helped change the trajectory of my life. I knocked on his door and sold him and he asked who was some of my mentors or my coaches and I told him nobody this is what I consider GOD-given talent. So, he told me to look up this guy named Grant Cardone so I waited about 2 to 3 days and on the third day I looked up Grant and it went from 30 minutes to 3 hours. As I was studying his information, he said one thing that had a major impact on me and that was “Every industry has a gap if you can fill it, you can make a lot of money”. Read more>>

Laura Irmis

I consider myself an artist and storyteller. I am an abstract painter and ceramicist currently teaching art with Pinellas County Schools. I also am a speaker at national and statewide art conferences. St. Petersburg is my home and has been for over 45 years and I consider myself a native.  I moved here when I was only one from the mountains of West Virginia. With my mother’s passing, I knew death was a part of life. Thinking back this must have been a pivotal moment for me, everything changed. I was going from home-to-home living with my birth father who certainly was incapable of being a father. I was eventually adopted by my grandmother who was a singer, actress, and musician. These moments would become a catalyst and driving force for my creative passion. Read more>>

Peter Kosarko

I had my first contact with a barbell when I was 5 years old. I come from Europe from a small country in Slovakia. I did not have an easy child because I already worked as a teenager. I would never have thought that I would ever compete, but in Slovakia, we had the first men’s physique competition. I participated in it and I took 2nd place. It has kicked and I competed further. I won all the competitions in Slovakia and I also became the champion of Slovakia. America was still my dream and I wanted to compete there. So, I saved money for the trip and the competition and I went to San Francisco and I ended up in 2nd place. Until then, no one in the USA competed yet and I was the first… it was something amazing for me. Since then, I only compete in the USA where I have nice placements. I can say that I met the American about which I kept dreaming. Read more>>

Carly Mack

I started my design journey in a rural college as a public relations major. I took a graphic design elective on accident and ended up loving it. I began making album covers for local musicians and got my name out all over campus. A couple months later, the pandemic started and I spent all day every day in lockdown on Photoshop. In Fall 2020, I graduated college and started focusing more on my career search. Ultimately, things weren’t going how I expected, and I decided to jump back into graphic design. I spent all of 2021 learning all the technical elements of design and expanding my network. I’ve now worked with many artists I love and respect and I’m consistently trying to push the envelope. I’m still learning every day and I’m so excited for what’s to come in 2022. Read more>>

Patrick Cambiasso

I came into this world in the late 1980s and grew up in a small picturesque New England town. My childhood was stable and grounded in love with immigrant parents who were also entrepreneurs. My mother was very ahead of her time interested in holistic health before it became a mainstream thing. I never really went to the doctor growing up because my mom was basically a naturopath family doctor from all the books she read and years of practice she had. In the late 90s, I started doing yoga and receiving reiki from a family healer when I was 12. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I now work as a healer and in the business of holistic health but my purpose and career path were not always so clear. Read more>>

Iulia Curca

Since I was little girl, I loved sweets. I have been watching my mom and grandma always when they’ve been baking, cooking. No matter what, I always was present in the kitchen. I’ve been watching how much effort they’ve been doing, and a lot of LOVE. Is not simply to create a delicious dish. They always say: attention, love, patience, creativity, fantasy, time, need to put all your soul into. Through the years I learned about baking and cooking a lot of recipes, more are coming from my mom and grandma. I lost my mom and Grandma when I was 16 years old, very stressful time for me. But I found myself baking, spending my free time in the kitchen… was my stress relief. Helped me a lot, and always thinking of steps they told me follow. I listened to my heart and decided to share my knowledge with others, and share recipes I know for sure they are delicious. Originally, I’m from Republic of Moldova. Beautiful little country, located in east Europe. Read more>>

Reggie Eva

One day, me and my friends decided to go to the studio, this was my first time going my friend who invited me did music. he was an independent artist trying to make a name for himself in the city. Our session was coming to an end but my friend insisted that I tried to rap, after I heard the sound of my voice on the mic and fell in love with making music ever since. Read more>>

Adriana Robinson

My name is Adriana and I am the CEO of Reina Skincare. Reina Skincare is a brand that I started in order to fulfill my own needs. I have always struggled with acne since the time I got into high school and it only got worse as an adult. I would roam the aisles of retail beauty counters searching for anything to help me with my acne and acne scars. Everything that I used would just make it worse and I got more and more self-conscious. My self-esteem was completely affected. I strayed away from retail products and started going the natural route. It all came to one moment when I decided to try Shea Butter and accidentally bought 10 pounds of Shea butter instead of 10 ounces. Read more>>

Kris and Leigh Nickens

We moved back to Tampa in 2020 from Pennsylvania. While we lived in the Northeast, we traveled a ton for work and found a service to do for us, just what we are offering here and it was a game-changer for us. We no longer had to worry about who would clean up the yard, it was already taken care of several times a week, so we could just enjoy our house, yard, and dogs with no worry. We love our dogs and we consider them part of the family, but we also understand that most people don’t love the poop scooping part of having a dog. Read more>>

Nicole Soto

In 2018 I found out I was pregnant 2 weeks later I found out I had breast cancer (her two positive). Went through a left breast mastectomy (where the tumor was) had 16 lymph nodes removed in my second trimester and did chemo the whole pregnancy was induced in September 2018 at 35 weeks to finish the stronger chemo (herceptin and perjeta). In Dec 2018 I had my right breast mastectomy. In July 2020 I just started making shirts and other personalized items for people and named it after my daughter who survived in my stomach while I went through cancer. Skyla Kaylani, this came the name (S Kaylani Kreations). My goal is to one day be able to contribute every month a special gift basket with essentials for a pregnant woman suffering with cancer. Read more>>

Brenna Foster

My husband and I had worked in the restaurant industry for many years, but in 2019 we decided we needed to make a change for our family. We had a few friends that had recently gotten into the food truck world and it sounded intriguing to us and possibly the change we needed. We started working on a business plan and brainstorming ideas for food. We knew we wanted to do a vegetarian truck, but we also wanted to serve food that everyone knows and loves. When a good friend of mine suggested grilled cheese, we knew that was it. We started working on our menu and kept our eyes open for an opportunity to buy a rig that would work for us. In early 2020, the opportunity presented itself and we decided to officially roll the dice and invest in our first food truck – Big Blue. Two years later and we are happy to say that we are full-time food truckers with no regrets! Read more>>

Anthony & Lisa Overton

Anthony and Lisa Overton along with their son, Tito, founded O-Strong Fitness, LLC an elite fitness training company they started in 2020. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Anthony and Lisa took a leap of faith and decided to move to Clearwater, Florida in March of 2020 right before the nationwide shutdown. They wanted a fresh start. After 26 years, Anthony decided to retire from his profession as a residential appraiser analyst for the government as well as his second job as a football and track coach at Glenville High School. Lisa was the CFO for her family-owned business for over 20 years. Read more>>

Bernetta Knighten

After watching Oprah & Ellen consistently give to others, their actions ignited my philanthropic passion and deep desire to change people’s lives. When I created The Knighten Project in 2015, our original mission was to make dreams come true for everyday people (people who pay their bills and live regular lives like me but still have that one big dream that is out of their reach). After doing that for a couple of years, we wanted to implement a once-a-year “giveback” campaign. Years ago, I was a part of a moms group, called Mocha Moms. We adopted a foster child or family every year. I often wondered what happened to those children after the holidays. When we decided on our yearly giveback campaign, I wanted to give to teens in foster care but I didn’t know how to help. Read more>>

Juliette Cherry

Since I was a teen, I have loved skincare, from the Neutrogena face mask to cucumbers on the eyes. I was always invested in the latest makeup tips and the best mascara. As a teen mother, I worked many odd jobs, but there was always a tugging feeling. I realize now it was my purpose that was calling me. So, after watching a commercial that promoted a fantastic beauty school, I enrolled and never looked back. In 2015 I graduated from Lesprit Academy Royal Oak as an esthetician. Read more>>

Samuel Marcano

My name is Samuel Marcano I was born in Puerto Rico and retired from the U.S. Army, I am married to Rosely Testino and have 2 children Taina and Dino Marcano.  I currently work as a contractor in MacDill, Air Force Base in support of the Special Operations Command Headquarters and teach SCUBA classes during the weekends.  It started in 2011 when I was serving my last tour with the U.S. Army, I was part of the 7th Special Forces Group and was returning from deployment. As part of reintegration the main base “Eglin Airforce Base” provided morale and recreation opportunities and one of them was SCUBA diving. Read more>>

Joseph Engleman

I grew up an avid baseball player in New Jersey and enjoyed pitching the most, but was constantly bothered by elbow pain from throwing so much. My coach and neighbor at the time suggested that I start strength training to possibly help with this issue and invited me to start coming to his house to train with him and his son in their garage. I immediately fell in love with everything about this new world, and later on ended up joining a small local gym next to my high school.  From there, I met one of my best friends/mentors who took me under his wing and taught me even more about exercise, diet, and a healthy lifestyle. It was through his influence that I decided I wanted to study exercise science at Temple University in Philadelphia. Read more>>

Jennifer Lima

It all started when my daughter outgrew my favorite Nirvana onesie, and in an effort to keep it in her wardrobe I bought a second-hand sewing machine off Facebook marketplace, cut out the graphic, and sewed it to the back of her jean jacket. Then one day she was wearing the jacket at a local park and another mom asked me where I got it and when I said I made it, she asked if I had a shop. I think that was the moment that Moon Babe Designs was born.  I was working as a community newspaper editor before I had my daughter, and an event manager before that, so even though this new endeavor was so different than what I had done before I jumped right into creating my brand. Read more>>

Prosper Bradenton

Prosper Bradenton is a black-owned small business operated by Bradenton local, Ray Gardner. Ray was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan but has called Florida home for the past decade. Over the past 8 years, Ray has become a highly sought-after motivational speaker and personal trainer in the Bradenton/AMI area. As a former athlete, being active has always been an important part of Ray’s life. Contrary to most athletes, he hated working out and often found ways to skip it. It wasn’t until after his playing days he started doing group fitness classes where he discovered the mind-body connection. Read more>>

LeJeune Miller

This passion of mine started off as a hobby. A way to express love through craft. The purpose behind TrueMillerCrafts slogan “Journee of love ” is to leave a legacy for my daughter whose name is Journee. Read more>>

Queen Sandii

My name is Sandra but I’m more commonly referred to as Sandii. I grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with a strong Caribbean background, my family hails from both Haiti and The Bahamas. Growing up as the sole female sibling, the baby to my older brothers, personal beautification took a back seat. Considering my mother was a single parent, her priorities laid elsewhere. She was focused on providing a roof over our heads and making sure we ate every day. My mother’s strength and perseverance are two traits I embodied from her. I moved to Tampa, Fl to complete my Bachelor’s in Business Economics from the University of South Florida. Read more>>

Rosette Dupree

My love for kids and helping others is what landed me here. I was refereed to A Brighter Community by a former coworker. I became the executive director in the middle of august 2021. My last job I was there over ten years where I was the School Liaison at St. Peter Claver which a historical school. Know I’m at a historical preschool which is much honor. When I first began, we had only nine kids we know have twenty-nine. I enjoy being a part of their foundation to help prepare them for kindergarten. Read more>>

Crystal Mendoza

I’ve always loved to bake & create delicious treats for my family & friends. For as long as I can remember I’ve dreamt of opening a home-based bakery, and after years of putting it on the back burner I decided TODAY IS THE DAY, and I haven’t looked back since. Read more>>

James Renew

I started washing dishes in a small seafood place in Oviedo Florida when I was 15. I didn’t like the work but when I got a chance to do any kind of prep work I jumped at the chance! Pealing shrimp, cleaning calamari, scaling fish, battering coconut shrimp (yes coconut shrimp this was the 90’S) HAHA. When I turned 16, they “let” me use a knife. I started prepping full-time and working on the line when I got the opportunity. I work there for a few years then moved on the a more corporate restaurant. I opened 60-70 chain steak houses for this: said group over the course of 6 years. I was fried, burnt out, and getting frustrated with not being able to create my own food. Read more>>

Hilda Elizarraraz

Growing up I’d always see my older with books that weighed more than I did at the time (he’s a doctor)! Seeing how much dedication and ambition he had so fulfill his dreams really inspired me as a kid. When I first started college, I thought I wanted to be a PA, to hopefully work alongside my older brother, I was actually getting my bachelor’s in biomedical science however being a full-time student with no financial aid and working 32 hours as a bartender, wasn’t all that fun! I need more time for school but couldn’t afford not work. I started looking around for jobs where you could work from home (this was pre covid so it wasn’t as easy as it is now) or a higher paying part-time, however, I wasn’t having any luck! So, I decided to become my own boss and have full control of my schedule, Read more>>

Dwayne Scheuneman

In 1995 I was living in Buffalo NY when I broke my neck diving into a swimming pool. The winters in Buffalo really limited how much I was able to do while using a wheelchair, so in 2000 I moved to St. Petersburg. Prior to becoming disabled I was an electrician in the Navy and worked for UPS. Soon after moving to St. Pete, I started thinking about what sort of occupational transition I was going to make. That’s when I found myself being led to work in education. I began teaching in preschools, including 5 years teaching at St. Petersburg’s Great Explorations Children’s Museum. Read more>>

Alexus Nolan

I grew up in a very tight-knit family, and I was blessed to have a grandmother with a passion for art, theater, dance, and music as a teacher and tutor throughout school. She taught elementary education for forty years and also homeschooled me and my siblings periodically in our younger years. I recall watching Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker with her, dancing around the living room to Whitney Houston, memorizing Langston Hughes poems, designing mosaics, taking day trips to museums, and rehearsing for plays she had written, as integral parts of my education. I learned my times tables in song, and even taught beginner music theory, as early as 8th grade, to younger students in her school (Catherine Brown Academy). My love of art, and music really began there. So many of my best memories and life experiences are tied up in the beauty of artistic expression. Read more>>

Seve Maestas

I started playing music back when I was 9 years old and over time, I gained inspiration from a loft of genres. Artists like Led Zeppelin, Lord Huron, Mumford and Sons, Eminem, and many others really helped me develop my style up into this point. I also owe a lot to my guitar teacher for helping me perfect my art and my first bar manager for helping me get started playing bar shows. I also owe a lot to my friend Mria who has worked with me over the years and has been an amazing support system and colleague.  For 6 years I’ve done gigs as A Traveling Gentleman. A one-man band with guitar, kick drum, tambourine, and the occasional harmonica on top of singing. I’ve made some amazing friends and memories on this journey and I’m very excited for my future album drop and road trip “tour” to Alaska. Read more>>

Haley Copeland

I started baking when I was young, probably 8 or 9 years old. I baked all things. Then, when the cupcake craze hit the world around 2008, I jumped on that train, totally convinced I was going to end up on Cupcake Wars one day. College took over for a while and put a pause on anything baking-related but, a few years later, after one too many hours watching oddly satisfying videos of cookie decorators doing their thing, I thought, “I could do that.” I combined my love of art and baking and created my first set of decorated cookies for Christmas 2018. Read more>>

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