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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.

Tinika Sumlin

I loved to write ever since I was a child in elementary school. My grandmother and My aunt raised me until I was 12 years old. I had a normal childhood enjoy birthday parties, family cookouts and family vacation trips until I was 12 years old then my life took a traumatic change for the worst. My grandmother and my aunt ask me to move home with my mother to help her take care of my six siblings then once I moved in with my mother,  Read more>>

Christopher Green

I am the founder and Executive Director of Open-Mind Mentoring. A mentoring program that focus on the mind and behavior for young males ages 11-18. I got started about 10 years ago working with young men to help with personal growth and development, educational needs, and mental health. I continue to make a sacrifice to help our youth to become successful. By working with our youth and seeing their challenges in life, has caused me to increase my compass to help them be the better man they are today.  Read more>>

Jay Bizzle

Ever since I was a toddler I was in love with comedy. The first thing I remember watching on tv was a stand up comic. My mom always tell me stories about me as a baby and how I would never cry, but I would laugh hysterically at myself. I’ve always been told I was a silly kid. Some teachers even hated that about me. They would say “He is a very bright kid. He just….talks….a lot. And he jokes….a lot”. Parent-teacher conferences were always the same.  Read more>>

Chase Masters

My partner and I have always had a strong obsession with all things scent. From candles to plug in air fresheners we had it all. After experiencing headaches and allergies we decided to do some research. We discovered that our favorite store-bought products primarily contained paraffin based wax and toxic fragrance oils. Our desire to develop an all natural product combined with our love for the beautiful Carolina coastline was the start of our small business.  Read more>>

Mary Whiteman

I’m originally from Metro Atlanta, and I’ve been here for about three years. I started in the arts when I was a kid and was a bit too excited to draw on anything I came into contact with. I loved to draw, and I then ventured into painting and 2D Design when I got into High School, When I got to college, I majored in Studio Art, although I took a bit of a nontraditional path. I was in and out of school due to a lack of motivation and undiagnosed mental health issues, so it took me a few years to get back on my feet and get accepted back into school. Read more>>

PIPER STROMATT

It all began when I was 10 years old. My mom let my sister and I fully pick every single item for our shared bedroom at the time. We of course picked very opposite things and very wild things. We simply split the rooms down the middle and were able to express our tastes through colors. My side was lime green wallpaper with pink and orange accents, and my sister’s colors were purple wallpaper, blues, and green accents. Read more>>

Christine England

Oh man! My story is like navigating through a game of Candyland! I was a Director of Experiential Marketing for brands + did events before moving to Charleston. I thought I wanted to be one of those normal Monday – Friday people only to find out I am TERRIBLE at it. I love organized chaos, creativity, madness, + travel. I became a real estate agent + I am pretty freaking good, trained some pretty amazing agents that are killing it but like most people COVID changed my life. Read more>>

Erin Thomas

I started Oba Essentials due to my own struggles with finding effective products for my hair when I went natural around 2007. I knew I wasn’t alone in my frustrations, and there was a need that I could fill in the natural hair community. I really wanted people with coily hair to have hair care options that weren’t filled with chemicals, unnecessary ingredients, and, more importantly, products that actually soften and moisturize hair. Read more>>

Vincent Dalessio

After attending Coastal Carolina University and working for Wyndham Resorts, I found a big need in the community. Lots of retirees were moving to the area, and a lot of my friends who were active service members or military veterans were looking for work. I knew there was an opportunity to provide value to the both communities, as well as provide work and moving services to many others who needed it as well. Read more>>

Ashley Davis

I got into the field of esthetics through the love of makeup. In high school I would dabble here and there and would do mine as well as my friends. Looking back on those days it wasn’t the best, but we didn’t know that at the time! This trickled over into my collegiate years at the College of Charleston where I was an Accounting major. My junior year I decided that accounting wasn’t my passion and that I wanted to be a makeup artist.  Read more>>

Amanda Richardson

As a child, I always loved cooking. My Christmas gifts including cooking utensils, aprons, and a Kitchen Aid Mixer that I still have to this day. In high school I walked over to the Applied Technology Center several times a week to study Culinary Arts which led to working in a Country Club’s kitchen during the summer of my Junior year. My first job was in a restaurant putting together salads and desserts, and I planned to attend Johnson and Wales University until it moved from in-state to out of state. Needless to say, food has always been one of my passions. Read more>>

Alli Elmunzer

Upon graduating law school, I moved to Michigan where I began my career in law. I interned at the Prosecuting Attorney’s office and finally settled working in commercial real estate. Although I enjoyed the practice of law itself, I was feeling completely creatively uninspired. It was then that I took the leap into entrepreneurship and started my own lifestyle photography studio. Read more>>

Ashley Barton

My journey with photography kind of has two beginnings, one which started when I was child. I’d love to take photos of plants or animals or any family member that would listen to my poses. I’d run to Walmart and get them developed and place them in photos albums to make my poor mom look at over and over again. I believe the second begging I had with photography was in April of 2021.  Read more>>

Lisa Duffy

As an author, speaker, and divorce recovery coach for 20 years, my passion has always been helping people heal from personal suffering and find new life. As I transitioned to a new career in formulating natural skin care products in 2017, I discovered a new and exciting way to continue helping people heal; through toxin-free products that are as luxurious and exciting to use as they are good for your skin. Read more>>

Jennifer Mair

Honestly, I don’t remember what caused my body image issues, I just remember around 8 years old wearing a t-shirt over my swimsuit because I thought I was too skinny. Then high school came and I struggled with anorexia. During this time I was very active in sports, then I went to college and the sports ended causing me to gain the famous “freshman 15” plus more. I remember sitting in one of my college classes hearing a teacher say “if you don’t care of yourself, don’t be surprised if your husband looks elsewhere.” Read more>>

Logan and Tyler Lane

Late winter of 2021 Tyler, my youngest, wanted to help me, Nicole, with our garden. We started everything from seed and put them under lights. He though it was the coolest thing and asked to plant a few extra. I wasn’t sure where we were going to put them but we did it anyway. Throughout the entire process of germinating, watering, hardening off, and planting, he asked questions and seemed genuinely interested. When it came time to plant, we had so many extra we didn’t know what to do with them. I took a video of Tyler with all his seedlings and posted it to my Facebook wall and asked if anyone wanted to purchase some.  Read more>>

Demitria Johnson

I am a native of Hollywood, SC. My passion for baking was ignited at an early age, with my Grandmother, Sadie Johnson. Working very closely with my grandmother, where she taught me the art of baking from scratch. Which is very rare these days. I sold my first batch of butter pecan cupcakes with cream cheese icing in ninth grade to attend a field trip to Canada. Needless to my cupcakes were a hit and I made enough money to enjoy my trip to Montreal, Canada. After many years of baking for friends and family, I decided it was time to pursue mu dreams and “Live a Sweet Life” with the founding of Sadie’s Sweet Treats and More in 2017. Read more>>

Brent Lundy

I grew up in Aiken with a family who was always singing. My Dad had been in rock’n’roll bands, which totally romanticized that notion for me, my Mother sang folk standards when it was time to settle her restless child down and my close relationship with my Grandparents had us all harmonizing to their Gospel heritage of Appalachia. Our local church choir gave me great lessons in vocalization and some music theory when I could pay attention. Read more>>

Anna Ledebuhr

I am a teacher by trade. It was during my 6th year teaching and after the birth of my second child that I started feeling the pull to do something different. I was getting tired of being tied to my school’s schedule and, though teaching is a great family career, I didn’t feel it provided me with the flexibility and family time I truly desired. I explored alternative jobs but, ultimately, settled back into my teaching career for another four years. Read more>>

LaQuisha Chester

I was never a person who knew since they were little that I wanted to be a teacher. I just remembered growing up I loved pens, journals, notebooks, markers, being creative, making things, always thinking outside the box and etc. I was always babysitting for others and I enjoyed that as well, but it still didn’t click that I wanted to be a teacher. When I went to the University of South Carolina, I majored in Accounting because I loved math and was great at it.  Read more>>

Robyn Baker

How it started? It started the day everything I had created for myself, ended. I left southern California for the south. To say I was terrified was an understatement of the decade, but my husband had orders, and we were moving. Turns out, I LOVE where we live, and it was the low country sunsets that really got their hooks in me. I enjoyed the change of pace. San Diego was beautiful, but my quality of life was seriously lacking. Read more>>

Bob Cook

As a chef in Charleston, I developed a bit of a cult like following for his unique flavors and combinations. Cris was gone for a year deployment (Navy Reserve) and when she got home I asked her if she wanted to start a company. She said sure! Then the real work began: scaling recipes, learning the FDA process, developing labels, etc. We sold our first bottle of Korean Mustard on Thangiving 2015. Since then, a lot has happened! Currently, our line of gourmet condiments includes 5 sauces that we still make ourselves right here in the Lowcountry. Read more>>

Jasmine Lipscomb

In the midst of getting a reminder of your mortality, this can force you to actually do the things you say that you are going to do. After getting diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2018, I decided to move forward with bringing my dream to fruition and create my business in January 2019. I decided to join my love of gemstones and their metaphysical properties, my ability to create beautiful jewelry pieces and my gift of intuition and foresight to create Wi-her Jewelry & Readings LLC.  Read more>>

Sonya Carr

All the women in my family bake. My grandmother taught her daughters and my mommy taught me. Growing up some of my greatest memories are in the kitchen baking with my mom. We continue to make new memories today exploring new recipes. Mommy and Me Bakery LLC was officially launched in 2019. Being an entrepreneur has been a fun journey. I’ve learned so much along the way. I’m so grateful for the support and knowledge shared from other entrepreneurs. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but I continuously learn from every mistake and new challenge. Read more>>

Rachael Rosenstein

I suppose I’ll start at the beginning! I was born in Connecticut to a family which consists of my mom, dad, and sister who is one year older than me. We lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with a few apple trees and a hill in the backyard with a small forest perfect for sledding and playing in the fall leaves. When I was in fourth grade, my dad’s job as a nuclear engineer took us to a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA where I spent the remainder of my childhood. Read more>>

Vaughn Postema

n 2007, my high school teacher introduced me to podcasts and audio editing. From that point, audio engineering became a constant in my life. Fast forward to my senior year of college: the College of Charleston radio station, CisternYard, approached me and asked if I would do a radio show. I agreed and my first radio show was created: Transcend and Transform. This show was about race relations in current events and every day interactions. Read more>>

Curtis Caesar John

The Luminal Theater began in Brooklyn, NY in 2015, with its founders wanting to provide a space for Black filmmakers, centered in the arts-rich neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, to show their works on a consistent basis. Equally important was bridging the divide between filmmakers and potential audiences, Black and otherwise, in a cool, laid-back atmosphere. We quickly became a staple in Bed-Stuy with film and film-related programs like our local filmmaker interview series Beyond The Cut, our outdoor cinema series the Cinema Garden Party, teen-centered film literacy workshops Midday Ramble, and our experimental & quirky outdoor/public-access film series The Porch. Read more>>

Ciera Thomas

As a little girl growing up, I can remember my mom teaching and showing me the importance of learning and education. I can remember when she decided to start her own business and all of the information she had to acquire in order for it to be a success. By the way, she too worked with children. She had her own child care and learning center for 20 years. She was eager and excited to be the best that she could be in her own way. In this, I observed her and the drive she had to accomplish what she set in her mind to do. Read more>>

Jasmyne Phillips

It started back in 2019, when my sister (Melissa) was making corn hole boards and needed decals. That’s when the silhouette machine was purchased and FYH Creations was built. It started off as just a hobby turned business. I was doing vinyl tumblers, cups, shirts etc. for the first 2 years. After research I discovered sublimation, and of course with research comes growth. And let’s just say that sublimation took my business to the next level. I am now able to offer more variety within my handmade business. From door hangers, terrible towels, home decor signs, tumblers, and shirts we offer it all. Read more>>

Cierra Snell

I started pretty much by myself. Of course I asked questions and got advice from fellow business owners, peers, friends, and family members, but I always did a ton of research on my own for a better understanding of things. I am where I am today is because of me. I put in the work, ask questions and applied the drive to get to where I am today. I don’t make excuses. Those are to easy to make. I also have to give credit to God, my spirit guides, and ancestral tides as well because they lead me in this journey because, man life can be hella tough. Read more>>

Madelyn Altman

When I was young I had a hard time finding the right words to express my feelings. I used art as my language. I have always been drawn to the beauty of the human face, so I focused my efforts on graphite portraits. When I was in high school I started having pain in both of my hands which ultimately caused me to choose not to attend art school to further my career in fine arts. As the years went on I completely stopped drawing and rarely painted due to the pains that had now creeped up into my elbows.  Read more>>

Nia Bailey

Dr. Nia Imani Bailey, DPA, M.A.Ed, RT(T), is a 29-year-old, West Philadelphia native. Dr. Bailey has been employed as a radiation therapist for the last 7 years. She is the President and Founder of Agape–Finding Your Purpose, Incorporating Your Faith Non-Profit Organization. Their mission is to feed, clothe and fellowship with the homeless men and women of the Logan Square section of Philadelphia. Ultimately, their goal is to eradicate homelessness. Read more>>

Corey Stone

I started this journey back in the 6th grade, when i first got into a band class. I always wanted to play percussion and follow up my brother but when i walked in to class that day and seen the saxophone, i knew that that was the instrument for me! Since then I’ve been playing the saxophone, and around 2014 is where i started playing professionally with bands. Now it’s 2022, I’m apart of my own band with amazing musicians, i have an EP out (Musicismyvoice), a radio show (MusicallyStoned Radio Show), and I’ve performed and are still performing for weddings, proms, parties, festivals, etc… Read more>>

Robbie Hackney

I was born in Cheverly, MD, but after a custody battle between my parents when I was 5, I was raised and grew up in a small town called Rentz, Ga. Although my family was very poor, it turned out to be a blessing. I’m so thankful to have grown up and went to school in that area. It made me who I am today. I would fly up to MD for the summer time and every other Christmas break to spend with my dad.  Read more>>

Desiree Johnson-Williams

I worked in Corporate America and loved it. Everyone always complimented me on my skin, hair, and overall aura. I always exceeded expectations in corporate America and wanted to learn something that really challenged me. I watched Youtube and followed a few popular lash brands and decided that I wanted to be a lash artist. I took a certification class and lashed my sisters, mom, and extended family. I fell in love and enrolled into Esthetics school at Southeastern Esthetics Institute right here in Columbia, SC. Read more>>

Camille Toliver

I’ve always had a love for living a healthy lifestyle. I got started training in 2020. Like most people during quarantine I had to adjust my workout plan to one I could do at home. Soon after I wanted to ensure that my girls stayed active and accountable to their health also, so I created a group chat and started sending workouts several times a week. Within a few weeks they started seeing & feeling results. So I began doing what I had been for my athletes and students for years, for others, and that’s showing them how they can be healthy & strong in their own right. Read more>>

Elisa Marai

My name is Elisa Marai and I m italian Creative Art director. I create artistic concept for different events like: – Corporate – Convention – Gala / Private Party – Wedding – Dinner show – Fashion Show. My company EM Events is a branded show and entertainment. I offer integrated consultancy to the clients for end-to-end production: from creative conception to the actual production including management of artistic strategy for international brands. Experimentation with innovative techniques and approaches is a reference on the show market. I’m structured to offer an ad hoc service for creating shows and can also provide performances from my portfolio complete with set design, costumes, music and choreography. Read more>>

Deak J. Smalls

Film actor from Charleston by the way of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. I began my professional career in 2013, but my keen passion started as early as the second grade. From then until high school, I worked on several church and school productions to later attend Spartanburg Methodist College and major in Theater and Film production. After obtaining college credits, I began to receive professional training from Mrs. Chris Weatherhead, Michael Givens, Terry Serpico, and Tom Logan that spearheaded a very extensive acting resume. Currently I have landed roles in over twenty plus films and a theatrical role in Clarence Felder’s Shakespeare’s Macbeth (2019) with the Actor’s Theatre of South Carolina. As an actor, I have had limitless opportunities in film, television, and digital media. Read more>>

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