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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.

Diamond Marie

Well I started as a very young trouble child in and out of the foster system had to grow very quick started channeling my emotions and my mind to creativity through modeling entertaining and so much more I have been in the industry over 11 years and I’m proud to say I am an internationally published model video vixen exotic entertainer adult actress domestic violence advocate party planner event host and so much more I have come a very long way and I’m proud of everything I’ve done and for the most part I’ve done it all by myself which is the congratulating part changes in the making but progress is definitely proven please follow me to continue to watch me grow and hear the rest of my story Read more>>

Amanda Rodriguez Parekh

I choregraphed my own first dance and had a blast practicing and then surprising everyone with it at our wedding. After that, 2 close friends of mine asked if I could help with their first dance and bridemaids dances. I felt there was somewhat of a gap in the wedding dance space. It was either “wing it” or take 12-15 lessons at a chain dance studio like Fred Astair, where you end up with something a bit too fluffy and more than what couples are looking for.  Read more>>

JJ Curry

I started in the Panhandle part of Florida a year after i got out the military. I spend the first 4 years up there. I moved to Tampa going into my 5th year of comedy. Read more>>

Aramis Booker

I started by randomly purchasing a camera online after procrastinating for years! I was so dedicated to learn that i fully learned how to shoot manual before the camera arrived and learned lighting(to an extent) as well. In the beginning stages It was pretty hard to get better as a lot of peoples work i looked up to never responded when i messaged to ask a question or get help with my process of learning and growing. I know how hard It is to get someone to respond when you’re just starting out so I make sure I respond to EVERYONE that’s asking for help whether just starting out or long tenured, i help as much people out as i can. Read more>>

Madison Massaro

I’ve always had a passion for fashion and design. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a knack for putting colors and patterns together for outfits or room decor. I didn’t always know I wanted to be an interior designer, but after working for 2 designers back-to-back, learning the ins and outs of the business, and immersing myself in classes and programs, I realized interior design was my calling! It just clicked. I started my company, Madison Lea Interiors LLC, back in October of 2020, and I’ve been loving every minute of it! Read more>>

Adnan Dedic

Adnan was born In Germany and moved to America when he was four years old. Adnan and his family escaped war-torn Bosnia to seek a better lifestyle for everyone. His journey has put him in a place where ambition drives him to reach success. Graduating with his bachelors in Health science and a minor in Business from Florida Gulf Coast University, Adnan decided entrepreneurship and real estate was his calling. Adnan has had experience pitching to Buzzprize expo and in front of Kevin Harrington from the popular TV show “Shark Tank” and was titled “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by Buzzprize. He became the Top Agent in Southwest Florida and has sold over $100+ Million worth of Real estate. Read more>>

Chibuzo Umeh

My career really started in the fall of 2015 when I joined JP Morgan Chase as an entry-level collections specialist for their Auto Finance department and after multiple internal promotions, I finished my time with the firm as a Compliance Officer for their Investment Bank. I left in the summer of 2020 to join Citibank and started off as an Assistant Vice President of Compliance Testing and did not get enough of a challenge from it since I had been doing Compliance Testing for over 2 years with JP Morgan. I posted for an internal opportunity and the business was looking for someone with my Compliance skillset and audit background so I was promoted to Vice President of Business Risk to manage that group. Read more>>

Anastashia Gooding

I’m originally from South Carolina, I started out doing medical billing and coding the year of 2012 and continued for about 8 years. While working in the medical field I always felt like I was settling for a job, so I sought out to get my cosmetology license I wanted to be my own boss and make my own schedule also I had a passion for it. Now fast forward to 2020 I felt like the hair industry was over saturated and I no longer felt the drive I once did but I didn’t want to let hair go altogether. I always wanted my own shop but then I said to myself think bigger what about franchise salons. Read more>>

Mike Steel

I fell in love with off-road desert racing as a 17-year-old in Orange County, CA. For 20 years, I dreamt about racing in Baja, but there was a problem – I had never built a car. I had never attended a desert race, let alone participated in one. I had a set of wrenches and YouTube, and that was about it. So, in August of 2020, in the depths of my COVID crazies and with the support of my wife, I took the first step and bought a 1969 VW Beetle with the intent of building a Class 11 racecar and taking on the Baja 500. Read more>>

Josh Theberge Zach Daudert

Vanlife Outfitters launched in 2016, when Zach Daudert, published his blog documenting his own van build and ultimately dedicating the content to helping people interested in vanlife to build their own van. At the time, Zach was one of the only people on the internet that was publishing content on how to build a van…and his content was extremely helpful and full of useful information. Read more>>

Casey Kirk

My name is Casey and I’m a single mom above all else to two amazing teenage girls. Originally from the Indianapolis area, we moved to Florida in 2014. I worked at a very busy, very successful salon in Indy called Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It was certainly bittersweet leaving. I took a year off work to spend time with my daughters, and quickly missed the beauty industry. I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend the time building a clientele, so I decided to join the consulting side of the industry. Read more>>

Kyle / Kaito Brathwaite

Hey everyone. my story actually started here in Florida, I started shooting photography with my two friends @Shotsbydanny & @Londonmadethis back in the high school days. We’d travel up to north beach, Dunedin causeway, downtown Dunedin, all those surrounding areas just shooting on iPhones at the time before we could all afford cameras haha. After graduation eventually I dipped out to Phoenix & started shooting lifestyle out there running into some good people that got me into great places at the time to be able to shoot some current & passed ( rip ) artist in music, businesses & business owners in the area also being able to mesh with many creatives & artist in Phoenix. Read more>>

Victoria Blanco

Before ZenfulChakra , I was a girl from upstate New York who loved to create . Creating was my way of coping with things . Turning nothing into something . When I was younger I always loved art , the colors , movement , the dynamic , really everything . I always wanted to be some sort of creator , a fashion designer , artist , I wasnt quite sure . it wasnt until my senior year in high school I finally took a art class and really saw the talent I had . most of my pieces were chosen to be displayed in galleries at colleges , at the local shop center , & around school . I was proud of myself . Read more>>

Mike Washington and Rita Ivy N/A

We started out as arts enthusiasts going to different events throughout the Tampa Bay Area for date nights. In our travels we found that the Arts community was a bit divided or separated based on location. This in turn sparked in us the passion to help unite the arts community by supporting, sponsoring, and curating events regardless of the location. We want to champion awareness for the arts across The Bay contributing to cross pollination of the Tampa Bay Arts diaspora. Read more>>

Rick Harvey

It all began with making my own jeans. Then Yaslin Rodriguez pushed me to start the brand. I honestly didn’t want to and I definitely had no clue what I was doing. I’m definitely where I’m at because of my family and friends. I have a strong team helping me along the way. A few family members and close friends who all play a big part. It may look like a one man show, but it’s the opposite. Read more>>

Cat Arnaez

Before starting Business to Business Bookkeeping, I had a hand in company finances across many career roles. While I’ve always had a natural knack for analyzing numbers, I’m also an artist and storyteller at heart who sings, writes songs, and creates poetry. As a result, I see the financials of any business as more than profits and losses. The numbers tell stories of a company’s priorities, growth, and movement. Read more>>

Zuri and Zara Blanco

Our story is pretty simple and our love for photography and everything behind a lens begins in the heart of Cuba. We began shooting pictures with a small Kodak that was gifted to us by our parents quickly falling in love with the memories that we look back to till this day. As time went by our skills and technology evolved into what is now Z&Z image, producing some great shots and “jaw-dropping” videos. Coming from a family oriented culture we try to capture natural or genuine moments in life that give a more significant impact than your usual posed picture. Read more>>

Daniece Brady

I was always the one to take some sort of risk. I’m the first out of my Caribbean family to receive a degree in Public Relations at Florida A&M University while also focused in entertainment. I ended up joining a media sales program at Howard University but while I was there I was offered an internship position at a record label in Miami. I immediately fulfilled one of my dreams and took the internship knowing my work ethic would secure me a job there. Every position you can think of at a label, I did it. I wouldn’t recommend this, but I made wearing multiple hats look easy. Read more>>

Erica Holland

My journey with flowers started from a young age when like most young girls I would go outside pick weeds and arrange them in vases around my house. As I grew I always loved to create arts and crafts and to this day love a good diy project. However, when deciding to enter the “real world” I choose to become a graphic designer. I thought this was a great way to express myself creatively and make a living. Read more>>

Sandro Marchesin

A native of Treviso, Italy, I developed a yearning to create custom design pieces nearly 20 years ago, while working with Permasteelisa, a leading Italian design construction company, I gained expertise in identifying the distinct properties of various materials and in designing upscale products. Since then, I have created numerous custom pieces in collaboration with designers, celebrities, and renowned architects (Norman Foster, Frank Gehry and Peter Marino to mention a few). Then I have started Unico Design Lab in 2010. Read more>>

Jose Manzanares

I come from a family that dedicated their professional lives in the food industry, selling Fresh Seafood & Fish and Fresh US Beef in Puerto Rico, to restaurants & hotels, operation that my father started in 1975, before I was born. my father also was the first person to distribute fresh beef into the US Virgin & British Islands in the Caribbean. Our family also experimented with small Super Markets/Restaurants/Gourmet Shop with restaurant &Cash & Carry (Costco Style) business models. My father was a true innovator within the food service segment. Read more>>

Big Vet

I have been in the music industry writing, recording, and performing for over 15 years! From working at a small known studio “Crusha Designs” to working at my own studio “Reality Rap Studios” it’s been a Journey! I just recently started a cleaning business called “A Touch Of Royalty Cleaning”. I am not originally from Tampa but I have been expanding more towards the area and I am thankful to be able to speak with you guys! I’ve been incarcerated in the past and have felonies on my record but haven’t let that dictate my life! Read more>>

Jamie Constantine

I started my online women’s clothing and accessories boutique in September 2018 after years in retail, corporate banking and marketing for a fitness drink company. I had finally found something that I never would have imagined I would be good at. The decision to start my very own business has been a life changing opportunity which led me to becoming a podcast host. The main ingredient in my creative and multi-passionate world is the passion to inspire and encourage women to live their very best lives, wholeheartedly. Read more>>

Aaron Corbitt

As a child I was always fascinated with fantasy and illusion. Encouraged by my parents Tony and Jeannie Corbitt and inspired by my brother Tony Corbitt Jr (who is a professional fine artist as well) I pursued visual arts and filmmaking as a teenager, and eventually music performance and production. After dropping out of high school I worked odd jobs and studied my craft. I fell into alcoholism and depression for nearly 10 years while my craft ebbed and flowed.  Read more>>

Christopher Faircloth

I’m originally from Martinsburg, WV and lived most of my life around that area. I worked as a touring drummer for a number of years before moving to Florida in 2016. I live in Tampa now and work as personal trainer. Read more>>

Hakim Henderson

I began as a DJ while attending FAMU, and my interest for helping Artists grew to the point I was managing with little to no connections while in College. My knowledge grew, to now where I’m helping Artists & Content Creators increase their exposure and chances of getting a major opportunity. My passion is simply to help as many independent creators, get to their fullest potential. Read more>>

Johnny and Joey Sells and Morano

Founded by partners, Johnny & Joey, Puppy Nums LLC had a very humble beginning. Puppy Nums LLC is headquartered in Saint Petersburg, FL. Saint Petersburg is recognized as the #1 pet friendly city in the US. We are so proud to call Saint Petersburg home to our family, which includes our four adopted rescues (Parley, Presley, Pickles, and Perry)​ and many other foster pets. Shortly after welcoming two of our pups into our home, we noticed they began experiencing severe allergies and digestive issues. Read more>>

Isaac Mantilla

As a kid I was unable to get haircuts as often as I wanted. One day my mom gave me a $20 bill and told me to get my haircut and bring back her change. Instead I decided to buy a pair of wahl clippers that came with a vhs tape with instructions on how to cut hair. Throughout the years I practiced on friends ,family and neighbors .. Read more>>

Alina Celi

My interest for skincare began in high school. In my free time, I was googling things like ” home-made skincare masks” to target various skin concerns that I personally had at the time and the must-haves (skincare products) , but it wasn’t until 2019 that I made an Instagram account specifically for the purpose of reviewing skincare products, and within a couple of months I realized I would love to be the one to help people achieve healthy skin (not perfect skin). I started off doing house calls and then strictly being home-based. I love being an esthetician, for me its not a job, its a hobby. Read more>>

Raymiya Thicklin

Curiosity! I have always been curious about people and places. I feel like I have a better quality of life when I can connect with others and hear someone’s story. Videography and photography has been the best avenue for me to express my creativity while learning and serving other individuals creations. The connections I have made through clients have gotten me to where I am today. I have learned from many individuals stories. January of this year I have gained a since of purpose behind my work, so I am very excited to see where I go from here. Read more>>

Alexia Sky Colón

Music and dance has been in my life for as long as I can remember. My mom and grandma encouraging me to sing and dance and share my talents with the world. It all started at centerstage dance academy at age 5. I grew up dreaming of dancing and singing on Broadway and as I grew older and more aware of the different industries dance has to offer, my dreams grew as well. At 18 I booked my first performance job at Busch Gardens Tampa. From holiday shows to the disco to the jungle of Katonga. Read more>>

Wendy Costa

I started my design business in 1987 in upstate New York with a brick of clay and my childhood dream to create an unforgettable design line-showcasing my imagination and talent for hand painted imagery, and handmade gifts. Read more>>

Terri Chaplin

Terri Lynn Chaplin, Certified Master Grief Coach, was born in rural Southern Maryland, in April 1969, and lived in Maryland for the first fifty years of her life, before relocating to Florida in August 2019. In April 1991, she was married to her husband, Troy Mattingly, and together they had a son, Tyler Brett Mattingly, who was born in September 1994. In May 2000, just after purchasing and moving into their first home, Troy became ill and spent the next five years suffering from chronic renal failure. After many unsuccessful surgeries, Troy succumbed to the disease on May 3, 2005. Read more>>

Julia Carr

I was working as an Insurance Adjuster helping people with their long term disability claims, often permanent. I always approached it from a place of helping people, its what made the job rewarding in an otherwise stressful career choice. Unfortunately, after years of the despair, sadness and death I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. I did know I wanted to continue to help people. I wanted to make people feel good about themselves. In a serious of events I found Massage Therapy & Esthetics. I fell in love with Esthetics, the idea of helping people with their skin and self confidence really appealed to me. I went to school and became licensed. Read more>>

Michelle Peters

I’ve worked in fashion for over 20 years. I went to College at Philadelphia Textiles. I soon moved downtown and worked at the iconic Knit Wit Downtown. I followed my dreams to become a buyer for Bela Shehu and up an coming fashion designer now known as Nino. When I moved back to Tampa I worked in many retail stores. I finally decided I needed a more creative outlet. I became intrigued with leather and started designing leather jewelry. Read more>>

Tara Nantais

I am a self-taught visual artist and creative. I have been creatively expressive ever since I was a little girl. I was always drawn to activities like drawing, painting, writing, music and dance, playing dress up, and overall creating new things. I struggled a bit growing up because I was typically categorized as more shy than most, which I identified with for the longest time. As a result, I had close to no self-confidence. Read more>>

Javier Ortiz

Growing up across Florida with a single mother working as an apartment leasing consultant, we got to live where she worked for free, though we actually moved a lot. Due to random changes in management and unfair work practices, we ended up relocating at least once a year, sometimes twice. This led me to not have any childhood friends and have to endure the awkwardness of being in a new school every year. Read more>>

Sean Bakhtiari

I’m a real estate agent, investor and vacation rental expert. I was named by Real Producers Magazine as the region’s “Rising Star”⭐ and “Top Agent in the North Shore. I’m also the Founder and Co-Owner of Seacoast Vacation Rentals (www.seacoastvacationrentals.co), a premier short-term rental provider, and a Realtor with Fruh Realty where I help buyers, sellers and investors get the best possible deals in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Florida and South Carolina. Read more>>

Jason Frilot

I was born and raised in the city of New Orleans. Music has always been a part of my life. I started writing and performing hip-hop at the age of 14. I was given a guitar in my teens and picked it up off and on for years. My passion for music became more serious for me in my early 20s and I eventually started singing. I went searching for my dream and sold my car to travel to California with a good friend of mine, Clif Couture. Unfortunately, I didn’t plan well enough and we ended up coming back after a mere six months. After the long greyhound ride home to New Orleans, I started my band, Sundive. Read more>>

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