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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.

Ana Dominguez de Shaw

I am originally from Mexico City. In 2009, while I was running my own business, Liliana, one of my best friends, introduced me with some financial options that New York Life offered in that time. I was not very interested. She decided to give me a policy as a gift. When I read the policy, I was very surprised of what I was reading! It was a great protection and Retirement Savings plan! I could not be more grateful. I became very passionate about it and started talking to people! My friend was very happy because she started getting a lot of clients referred by me! She suggested I should do that for a living. She passed away three years later in a car accident. Besides the friendship, love and so many moments we shared, she impacted my life in so many ways that I could not finish listing in this article. I really enjoyed finances, but I was concentrated on my languages oriented business. I met my husband in 2014 while I was visiting some relatives in Texas, and we got married in 2015 and of course I moved there and stayed there until November 2019 when we decided to move to Tampa, Florida. Read more>>

Rezurrection

Rezurrection is a gifted Gospel Hip Hop artist who spits his real-life tales of struggle, pain, addiction, and love into songs that not only teach, but also move the body and soul. With several releases this year leading up to his 2nd album title “Back 2 Tha Truth”, released in January 2021. Already the single “Preach It Right” has peaked at #23 on the BDS Internet Gospel Charts giving great anticipation for the upcoming album. After his release of “Back 2 Tha Truth” the single “Chainz” ft. Erica Mason has so far peaked at #6 on The BDS Internet Gospel Charts! Rezurrection uses real life as inspiration for his lyrics. A gifted live performer, Rezurrection is truly at his best when he is ministering the Gospel of Christ through his music. Rezurrection writes and performs in hope that people will be able to relate to his past and current struggles, knowing that through the Love of Christ, we can all overcome!. Read more>>

Tony Selvaggio

I was born and raised in Venezuela and started my immigrant journey in 2011, at the age of 24 when I moved to the United States with a work visa. I learned a lot in the scrap metal industry while I was going to college and when I arrived in Tampa, FL I started working in that field. In 2014, I decided I wanted to start my own company, eSmart Recycling, with a special focus on recycling electronic waste. Very early on I realized there was a huge gap in access to technology for kids and families in the entire country. On one hand, there are a lot of people who don’t have a computer at home, and on the other hand, there are companies that upgrade and refresh their computers every three to five years. I figured we could help companies recycle their old equipment, at the highest industry and compliance standards, and at the same time use a portion of the proceeds to make sure kids in the community had access to computers to study and remain competitive for today’s work environment. I had created a win-win-win scenario through a business model, and I have been obsessed with social entrepreneurship ever since. Read more>>

Dana Smith

I am originally from San Diego. While putting myself through college at San Diego State University, I was working as a bartender where I met my husband, Casey, who was in the Navy. After graduation, I started working as a marketing manager, then Casey and I moved to the Central Valley of California to live closer to his family. After several months working in the marketing department at a small car dealership, my husband pushed me to quit my job and pursue my passion for Yoga. I would come home crying having so much dislike for my job at the time. We agreed my happiness and mental health was more important than a job. With Casey’s support, I became a certified yoga instructor. I was hosting practice at my house for a while and eventually started teaching at an MMA studio. Casey’s job then took us to Florida, where I started teaching yoga, boot camp, and cycling at a big box gym. I was ecstatic for the opportunity to lead a cycle class since I had been riding my Peloton at home and I certainly missed my regular cycling classes in California. I couldn’t seem to find a cycle studio close to where we moved in Lutz. Read more>>

Cassaundra Beard

I am a 34 year old single black woman on a mission! My education includes a Bachelor of Science in Fine Arts & Communications from the Florida State University, a Master’s of Science in Human Resource Management from Argosy University, and most recently, a Certified Vaginal Steam Facilitator. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit—having owned and invested in small businesses upon relocating from South Florida to Tampa, FL in 2012. However, in February of 2020, unknowingly at the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I decided to take an activity that personally benefited myself to a whole new level. The Pink Butterfly Bush, LLC was founded and established on February 29, 2020. Vaginal Steaming changed my life! What started out as a ‘Girls Day Out’ to try something new ended up being one of the most unique & enjoyable experiences I ever had. The more research I did on Vaginal Steaming, the more it all came together for me. Read more>>

Jorgie Franks

I always say I started in sales as an eight year old girl with her daddy, knocking on doors. My father is a pastor and he taught me to share my passion with everyone because it could change someone’s life. I saw it first-hand. Some people rejected what we had to say but when we stopped at the right home or business, sometimes someone on the other end wanted to change. Ever since that young age I had a passion for speaking, writing, and connecting people. I have worked in retail sales, territory management, as a motivational speaker with Barbizon and now I have been an entrepreneur for two years. It is not easy being a CEO. It is my gift to be a sales and business development expert. Learning and growing in business is definitely something I had to use my faith for. Every day I decide again to live my life purpose and stretch beyond all the limits, usually I put on myself. Read more>>

Chris Jenkins

I grew up as a military brat who spent the majority of my childhood bouncing around military bases overseas. I was just entering my teen years when we arrived in Florida in 1989, and I had a rough time of it. I moved out of my parents’ home when I was 17, and started getting into drugs and crime. I lived on the street for a while, and I had a series of arrests culminating with a big arrest for trafficking in stolen property, which led to spending a little time locked up and then on probation. I decided that this wasn’t the life I wanted, and committed to becoming a law abiding citizen, but I didn’t really have any skills to speak of, so I bounced between a number of hospitality jobs, including line cook and pizza delivery. My room mate at the time had a PC with internet, which was a new experience to me. I’d always been the kind of kid who liked to tinker with things and take apart small electronics and such to figure out how they worked. Read more>>

Rick Herbert

I really landed in the printing industry quite by accident. While restaurant work and computer networking were my early jobs, I ended up freelancing as a graphic designer at a sign shop on the beach. It was an opportunity I’d picked up through a buddy who knew the owner of the print shop. I had initially met with them, just to hook up their new printers and get their computers situated – but three weeks later I ended up becoming their full time designer. Keep in mind, I had never been a designer, never attended any classes/schooling for it – I was 100% ‘winging it”. I had no idea at the time this was the start of an incredible adventure. When i started working at the print shop. I was also playing in a band. As an musician, I distinctly remember being frustrated that I couldn’t find good merchandise for the band at a reasonable price; stickers and stage banners for instance. Since I was working at the print shop at the time, I decided to make them myself. That’s when the light bulb went off… “If I can do it for myself, how many other bands might need this too?!” Well it rapidly grew from there – and not just for musicians. Read more>>

Karina Ramos

I am a business coach, creator of the Hustle + Flow Planner, and owner of The Voyage Society. I am dedicated to helping passionate female entrepreneurs who have decided success is their only option up level their life and business. After working an unfulfilling 9-5 for way too long, feeling under-appreciated and highly underpaid, I knew it was time to package my brilliance and share my marketing experience with other women looking to build their legacy. I was done with stagnation, done struggling to pay the bills while working according to someone else’s rules. I had let my dependency on consistent income trap me– physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Today, things are different. I built my business from the ground up, never allowing the word “failure” to enter my vocabulary. Long nights and bottomless coffee, I sat right down and got to work. I now provide women with the resources they need to turn their passions into monetizable businesses and design their freedom™ on their own terms. Read more>>

Courtney Aughey

I found Beautycounter almost five years ago while searching for cleaner sunscreen. I learned of the questionable and potentially dangerous chemicals found in sunscreens and was honestly shocked. While we ate mostly organic and clean, I was putting little thought into what we were putting on our family’s skin. I was a consumer with Beauycounter for a couple months before deciding to lend my voice to the mission. At the time, I was fortunate to be a stay at home mom for over two years with a background in medical device sales and pharmaceutical sales. Mom to our 2 1/2 year old son Bryce and 1 year old daughter Ryan, starting a small business was a crazy thought. But what started off as a side business quickly turned into a full time job. Our mission was to get cleaner products into the hands of everyone and also to grow a team of like-minded individuals. In over four years, I’ve grown a team of over 100 consultants and 400+ clients. As an Executive Director with Beautycounter, that title puts me at the top 1% of the company. Read more>>

Dr. Katie Schubert

I’m a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a Board Certified Sex Therapist in the state of Florida, and a Nationally Certified Counselor. I’ve been in private practice since 2015. I specialize in sex and gender therapy, but also work with clients on issues not related to sex and gender therapy. My education includes a doctorate and master’s degree from the University of Florida in sociology and gender studies and a masters in clinical mental health counseling from Adams State University. In 2014, I became a registered yoga teacher and often incorporate yoga philosophy, mindfulness training, and meditation into therapy sessions. In 2020, I opened Cypress Wellness Center., a group practice of mental health therapists. We have two locations in St. Petersburg.​I have been a university instructor for several years and have experience lecturing on the topics of marriage and families, relationships, sexuality and sexual functioning, gender, and health and well-being. I currently teach at the University of Tampa.​I have been on several newscasts discussing topics relating to relationships and mental health. Read more>>

Carole Baskin

From the time I was 8 years old (1969) I wanted to protect domestic cats and kittens from being killed in shelters after I learned that most are killed due to space. When I was 17 (1978) I began rehabbing and releasing native bobcats who had been injured. When I was 31 (1992) I rescued a bobcat from being killed by a taxidermist and that led to rescuing 56 bobcats and lynx the following year from a fur farm. That lead to more fur farm rescues and then people started calling, asking me to take their lions and tigers they had foolishly bought as pets and couldn’t handle any more. By 1996 I had figured out we couldn’t rescue our way out of the hundreds of cubs bred every year to be used as pay to play props and then discarded by the time they were 16 weeks old. I began promoting laws to stop the breeding and private possession of big cats and by 2003 a federal law called the Captive Wildlife Safety Act made it illegal to sell big cats, across state lines as pets. I’ve been working with others of like mind since then to close the loopholes in that law with the Big Cat Public Safety Act which will ban cub handling and phase out private possession. I expect the law will pass in 2021. Read more>>

Jamie Schmidt

Coastland and Creative World Missions has taking shape in some beautiful ways. As a military and pilot’s kid I grew up all over the world, and have always found joy in diverse friendships and cultures. After finishing my undergrad studying music and Entrepreneurship, I felt this stir for something a little less traditional than the immediate opportunities in front of me, and began to utilize standby flights to visit friends engaging in humanitarian and missions work around the world. I’ve worked with a variety of non-profit organizations and bands over the years, and continue to spend a lot my time on the road touring with my band and playing music. I’ve gotten to spend time on every inhabited continent and the more I’ve traveled, the more I’ve learned how we live in comfort zones, and conflict zones. This is certainly true internationally but in our own cities as well. There was this amazing realization, that these artistic avenues of music, media, and design, that already have so much purpose in themselves. Read more>>

Courtney Aughey

I found Beautycounter almost five years ago while searching for cleaner sunscreen. I learned of the questionable and potentially dangerous chemicals found in sunscreens and was honestly shocked. While we ate mostly organic and clean, I was putting little thought into what we were putting on our family’s skin. I was a consumer with Beauycounter for a couple months before deciding to lend my voice to the mission. At the time, I was fortunate to be a stay at home mom for over two years with a background in medical device sales and pharmaceutical sales. Mom to our 2 1/2 year old son Bryce and 1 year old daughter Ryan, starting a small business was a crazy thought. But what started off as a side business quickly turned into a full time job. Our mission was to get cleaner products into the hands of everyone and also to grow a team of like-minded individuals. In over four years, I’ve grown a team of over 100 consultants and 400+ clients. As an Executive Director with Beautycounter, that title puts me at the top 1% of the company. Read more>>

Dr. Katie Schubert

I’m a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a Board Certified Sex Therapist in the state of Florida, and a Nationally Certified Counselor. I’ve been in private practice since 2015. I specialize in sex and gender therapy, but also work with clients on issues not related to sex and gender therapy. My education includes a doctorate and master’s degree from the University of Florida in sociology and gender studies and a masters in clinical mental health counseling from Adams State University. In 2014, I became a registered yoga teacher and often incorporate yoga philosophy, mindfulness training, and meditation into therapy sessions. In 2020, I opened Cypress Wellness Center., a group practice of mental health therapists. We have two locations in St. Petersburg.​I have been a university instructor for several years and have experience lecturing on the topics of marriage and families, relationships, sexuality and sexual functioning, gender, and health and well-being. I currently teach at the University of Tampa.​I have been on several newscasts discussing topics relating to relationships and mental health. Read more>>

Carole Baskin

From the time I was 8 years old (1969) I wanted to protect domestic cats and kittens from being killed in shelters after I learned that most are killed due to space. When I was 17 (1978) I began rehabbing and releasing native bobcats who had been injured. When I was 31 (1992) I rescued a bobcat from being killed by a taxidermist and that led to rescuing 56 bobcats and lynx the following year from a fur farm. That lead to more fur farm rescues and then people started calling, asking me to take their lions and tigers they had foolishly bought as pets and couldn’t handle any more. By 1996 I had figured out we couldn’t rescue our way out of the hundreds of cubs bred every year to be used as pay to play props and then discarded by the time they were 16 weeks old. I began promoting laws to stop the breeding and private possession of big cats and by 2003 a federal law called the Captive Wildlife Safety Act made it illegal to sell big cats, across state lines as pets. I’ve been working with others of like mind since then to close the loopholes in that law with the Big Cat Public Safety Act which will ban cub handling and phase out private possession. I expect the law will pass in 2021. Read more>>

Angel Crosland

I think I kind of fell into the Wedding Industry partly due to my past experiences with helping people number #1, before Southern Streams I ran and operated a Wedding rental business so this inspired me to move out to the country in Thonotosassa, Florida and buy a mini ranch where we breed and sell mini horses, started with goats, nope that was a nightmare in its self but we loved them as much as our minis. Then, I had a dream to have our own venue to design rustic with a twist of elegance to these weddings in our barn but also my continued passion to help our clients have a beautiful dream day! I have always been a sucker at heart ❤️ and a hopeless romantic sort of like the movie, Sleepless in Seattle. I truly love our little piece of paradise here in Thonotosassa, FL it is so peaceful kind of like the eagles tune back in the day, I have met so many amazing client’s here at Southern Streams, awesome photographers, DJ’s, not to mention we truly have a wonderful staff here. Honestly I had no clue how to even start creating Weddings. Read more>>

Jessica Freedman

Jessica Freedman is a graduate of the University of Tampa with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Biology. In 2006 shortly after graduating, she completed her first 200-hour yoga teacher training and prenatal yoga training. In 2011, she finished an additional 200 hour “Prana Flow” yoga training while pregnant with her first child, deepening her love for this quiet yet strong practice. Over the last fifteen years, she has guided hundreds of women through prenatal yoga practices and was blessed to be able to teach during the full duration of both her pregnancies. She feels lucky to have shared all the wonderful aspects of pregnancy and yoga with mother communities all over the country. During both her pregnancies she was under the care of several amazing women with a combined 50+ years in the pregnancy and birthing field. These women included doulas, acupuncture physicians, naturopathic physicians, midwives, and obstetricians. She had the immense honor and pleasure of being taught the knowledge of these wise women on all things relating to natural and holistic pregnancy and birthing. Read more>>

Anthony Mosora

I was born on July 30, 1989 in Bloomington, Indiana. I was the youngest of four children. Early on in life I began reflecting upon and gaining a greater appreciation for God’s love which was demonstrated in so many ways.. I believe these experiences helped to instilled within me a heart to help others. With that being said, as time went on, I remember deriving satisfaction out of those times when I was able to help someone. I felt like I was living with a purpose… and it felt great to help lift someone up. As time went on in my life as I progressed throughout the childhood years, school, free-time, etc. with various people and various experiences, I remember a point in the high school phase of my life when I really began thinking more seriously about what I was going to do for a career. With my background of having appreciation and interest in the body, mind, and spiritual components of life including nutrition and physical activity…. and because I was interested in helping people… I gravitated towards the idea of becoming a nurse. Read more>>

Edna Goldberg

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I am an engineering project manager and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for close to 18 years. I grew tired of the job, its demands, the stress, the inequality. I am not a feminist but I am an empowered woman and missed many opportunities for growth that were not given to me as result of the bro code in a field dominated by men. For the last ten years travel photography was a passion that thankfully I got to do it many times and I even privately sold some of my photography. I did some engagements and some portraits and received great response. Back in 2016, pressure was very high at work. I thought I was dying because I had a constant stomach ache and started to think the worst. I went to get checked and a doctor suggested I was very stressed. My dear husband encouraged me to follow a passion and leave the job since I have never enjoyed it. Call me masochist but with all the stress of the job, I decided to pile on a photography and web design degree and started to save serious money. Read more>>

Harmony Devoe

Harmony Devoe – Lyricism in Motion The West Side of Detroit has never been the same since it produced a talented, beautiful and down to Earth songstress, who goes by the name of Harmony Devoe. Harmony’s sweet, sensuous sound caresses your spirit and makes you fall in love with her Rhythm & Blues, Neo Soul, and Gospel tracks. Harmony calls her style “Lyricism in Motion”; a unique soulful and sultry sound that can only be presented by this skilled Queen. Listening to her story captivated me, and I was impressed by her excitement and passion to sing and help people. This passion shows through in her lyrics as she merges a soulful melodic vibration with metaphoric rhymes that takes the listener to another place. Harmony’s music provides the perfect recipe for soothing the body, mind, and soul. The building blocks that created Harmony started from birth. She didn’t arrive in this world on her own. She has a twin brother. At the young age of 13 she encountered the hard side of life with the unfortunate loss of her father. Her mother was left to raise two children on her own. This event led Harmony to put her feelings down in writing. Read more>>

Jessica Fredericks

I began my photography career in 2009, after I received my first DSLR for Christmas. I took a beginner photography class and was then asked by a friend to do her engagement photos! I fell in love with the entire process and have been growing ever since! I went full-time in 2017, leaving behind a 10+ year career in corporate apparel product merchandising/creation at companies such as adidas, Nike & lucy Activewear! Photography is a lot like merchandising to me because there is an art but it’s also a science and learning how to serve people! My approach today as a wedding & branding photographer is to capture real moments of couples laughing and loving in beautifully composed photographs. I connect with my clients in a way that makes them comfortable in front of my camera and find ways to keep them moving so that every image comes together naturally. Read more>>

Demetri Arnaoutakis

Dr. Demetri Arnaoutakis was raised in Tampa, Florida where he attended the prestigious Berkeley Preparatory School before he was recruited to Columbia University as a Division-I athlete. He was a member of the Varsity soccer team for four years. In addition, he majored in Biological Sciences and volunteered at local New York City hospitals and homeless shelters. Following his Ivy League education from which he graduated Cum Laude, Dr. Demetri then returned home for medical school attending the University of Florida College of Medicine. As a third year medical student, he was awarded a highly competitive Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship. This allowed him to dedicate a year to research in head and neck cancer reconstruction at the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital. Prior to graduating from medical school with Honors in Research, he was also awarded the George T. Singleton Prize for excellence in Head & Neck Surgery. Read more>>

Molly Dakota

I grew up always entertaining locally and at home but never having the support to professionally work. I was so nervous I remember crying and shaking but the second I got on stage everytime it all melted away. I had to learn excitment and nervousness, feel exactly the same, and we just decide what it is we feel. Ditched my waitressing job at 21yrs old to fully dedicate my life to acting. Since my start I’ve been seen on Netflix’s Ozark, BET’s American Soul, CBS’s Macgyver episode featuring the Impractical Jokers, the lead in ReUnion the play(performed live at Tampa Bay Theater Festival and International Fringe Festival), a speaking role in KOKO on Amazon Prime, multiple commercials, short and feature films! I love sharing what I have learned with my students at the acting agency I’ve worked with for five years now. I’ve pushed myself to pursue theater, print and runway modeling to get myself out of my comfort zone. It helped more than anything to learn how to be adaptable and confident.  Read more>>

Daniel and Lauren Fernandez

The story of our nomadic journey started in 2019. We watched a documentary on Netflix called “Minimalism.” Over the last decade, we built a successful communications firm in St. Pete, The Symphony Agency. And like many, as we experienced success, we also amassed a lot of stuff. After watching the documentary, we started getting rid of everything we didn’t use on a regular basis. The more we tossed out, the less stressed we were. And, we had time for the people and things we really loved. It didn’t take long for us to realize that we wanted to have as little “stuff” as possible and more experiences. Before long, we decided to sell our house and the rest of our things and hit the road to travel and experience the world. For a year and a half, we did just that living out of hotels and Airbnb’s around the globe. We simply worked remotely with our communications firm from anywhere. Read more>>

Gabrielle René

I am a travel blogger and social media/marketing consultant for small businesses all over the country. I moved to Tampa after graduating from college and after three blissful years, I have converted to van life to travel the country during 2021. I graduated college with a degree in criminal justice and two minors in Spanish and finance, but the creative world of marketing and social media was just calling my name… so I ditched the law school idea and went full steam ahead into the apparel industry with marketing. After years at the apparel company, I made the switch to a marketing firm locally in Tampa where I worked with a multitude of clients before I decided it was time to go solo. I pride myself on my relationships with different businesses but also am really passionate about social media coaching and teaching young women how to monetize their passions. Read more>>

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