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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.

Black Orchyd

I first heard of burlesque about six years ago. I fell in love with this form of performance art – the history, the diversity, the glitz and glam, the grungy, the family. It helped me in my journey to love my body. But, most of all I loved making costumes and costume accessories, utilizing all the crafting and sewing skills my late mother had taught. Before I knew it, I had an etsy store focusing on pasties – an iconic component of the burlesque costume. I love a good challenge and welcome any ideas my clients present to me! Read more>>

Kyerrah Robinson

At a very young age, I have always questioned what my purpose was and how to find it. I was always involved in the arts in some way .From being on the praise dance team in church, to being on the step team and singing on the choir in grade school, I have always had a passion for all things performing and creative. When I was in my junior year of high school, I decided to audition for the school’s play. I ended up landing one of the lead roles and I was super excited for the opportunity. Read more>>

Leigh Warren

The Social Spool began 5 years ago. We are a decor company whose main focus is to combine innovative designs with our light-hearted southern style to enhance event & interior textiles. After our 30 years of combined event industry experience we decided to create event enhancements {custom ceiling treatments, curtains, cabanas, altars, table linens. chuppahs} custom sew table top decor {napkins, runners, placemats, etc}. We also have dabbled in home goods such as pillows & window treatments, And after 2020- began making face coverings! Read more>>

Michael Smalls

Well I started my business based off of my past situation, I was fighting for visitation for my kids and I got blessed with full custody of my kids. It was an 3 year battle for my children, there was so much information I never knew I needed. so I took it upon myself to educate, encourage, and be leader for father’s all around the world. I wanted them to know that they have rights to their children and what steps they needed to take. Read more>>

Blye Donovan

I wonder how many of us actually end up becoming what we dreamed about as a child . . . When I was young, I wanted to be an artist, but my talents didn’t lie in drawing. As I grew older, I discovered I liked to write. Reading Judy Blume and Hardy Boys mysteries fed my imagination until I was crafting stories of my own. They were rubbish, I’m sure, but I wish I still had them. As a teenager I turned to poetry and in college tried my hand at writing romance. Read more>>

Chris Mohead

Well I always wanted to be a rapper since I was about 5. I started actually recording songs around 15. My dad and I started a music/entertainment company when I was around 25. Right now I release music and perform all throughout South Carolina and my dad and I put on a variety Show about twice a week where we interview local talent and give them an opportunity to perform and network. Read more>>

Keyla McClure

I wanted a career that allowed flexibility and creativity in a variety of areas, so I struck out on my own in 2020 when my regular job wasn’t meeting my creative needs. I’ve been in theatre since high school and have an MFA in acting from the University of Iowa. As an introvert, I naturally gravitate towards voiceover work over other forms of acting. I now work as a full time creative, splitting my time between voiceover for a wide range of clients and design work for a woman-owned startup based out of Atlanta. (obviously, the story is much longer, but that is the short version!) Read more>>

Patricia Violante

I began creating jewelry about 17 years ago when my three children were very young. I would get them to bed and then start beading necklaces and bracelets. It was definitely a creative outlet for me and gave me time to breathe and relax, assuming my children always stayed in the bed asleep! I loved starting with an idea in my mind and seeing it come into existence. I gained satisfaction and joy by creating something that I thought was beautiful and useful. Read more>>

Anna Kinsey

I bought a little modern coffee table second hand from a reseller on Instagram. I loved her mix of vintage coastal and colorful decor. I drove several hours to pick the table up because it had taken me so long to find this particular size table. She she is a darling southern woman and we had a great conversation about loving what I’ve come to know as Palm Beach Chic, or Coastal Regency.  Read more>>

Kristal Provencher

As a child, I grew up in the garden of my Italian grandparent’s home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, harvesting fresh basil, parsley and ripe tomatoes to help my Nonna make her famous Sunday sauce. In her kitchen, my Nonna allowed me to experiment using different herbs and spices to create my own recipes. As an adult, I continued to create and being health conscious, would take some of the recipes I was taught and put my own healthy twist on things. I was always interested in skincare.  Read more>>

Meredith Piper

One of my first memories of creating something was with my dad. When I was a small child he would draw figures for me to color and design on top of. I could get lost making fashion designs with my textured rubbing sheets. There was awe in creating the appearance of texture on a flat piece of paper. My fascination has grown over the decades from paper and pencil, to oil and acrylic paints, as well as weaving, wood working, and ceramics. Read more>>

Monica & Erika Tapia

With over a decade of experience in the luxury handbag resale industry, Season 2 Consign was created by sisters, Monica Tapia-Mularski and Erika Tapia Schrieber. The sisters found a major void in the market for a modernized, efficient model of consignment with an elevated aesthetic and the best customer service out there. They were advised not to launch a business during the summer of 2020 (Covid pandemic lockdown) but knew in their guts it was the time to go for it! Read more>>

Donovan Barlow

I was diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) in 2014 and honestly can say I struggled with dealing with my illness. It seemed as though the resources available to help live with some normalcy were scarce and that’s a major reason why I wanted to include mental health awareness in my business. I created Sacred with one goal in mind and that’s to provide a spa-like experience with homemade skincare products, that allow you to enjoy self-care completely. On top of that, I look to bring more awareness and support to issues that I hold dear to my heart. Read more>>

Bryan Hicks

I’m a Midwest native who has spent most of my life in Racine, WI, I’ve was in the civil engineering field for almost 30 years, where he has honed his skills of organizing and planning. I began his humble beginnings as an event planner first as a hobby, doing small shows with local bands from the area. My love for contemporary jazz music led me to travel to various events where I watched, listened, learned, and eventually organized my own events as a hobby. As I began with organizing local talent, I gradually learned along the way. Read more>>

Kimberly Russo

I grew up in Syracuse, NY loving crafts and creating art, so I took semi-private art classes outside of school to foster and develop my fine art skills as I loved to draw and paint and showcase my artwork at my parents house growing up. My parents were originally from the Bronx and Westchester outside of NYC, I grew up visiting family and my Aunt in New York City and knew very early on I wanted to go to school and move to the big city. Read more>>

Joyce Infante

After long fulfilling careers in the Bay Area of California, Scott and I decided to pack things up, rent our house and travel. Scott’s career spanned decades and millions of dollars for a leading manufacturing corporation in the Western US. My experience was in computer service as a repair technician and later as a Customer Success Manager for a start-up internet rich media marketing company. We and our dog Bella, explored the United States and in 2017 we discovered the picturesque Upstate SC. Read more>>

Vincent Baker

Vincent Baker grew up in a small town with no stop lights. When he was a young boy, his father took him into the city. It wasn’t to see a marching band, but to play in card game tournaments! Vincent was raised with JRPGs and trading card games baked into his D.N.A.! In high school, Vincent was nominated student entrepreneur and won his school business competition. He’s since been asked to represent Entrepreneurship for Anderson SC and to speak at schools across the state.. Read more>>

Chris Wilson

In 2014, I suffered multiple concussions during football that ended my athletic career and led to depression. Still having a passion for sports, I began using my mom’s camera to capture pictures from the sidelines at games. What started as a hobby turned into a paid gig by the school for the next 4 years in videography. During this time, my passion for videography began to grow and I started a YouTube channel with over 100 videos on personal growth. Read more>>

Caroline Christiansen

I was born in beautiful Greenville, SC. My first 14 years of life in Greenville really laid the foundation of where I am today! Fast forward about 22 years I’m now living in Franklin, TN. Where I met and fell in love with my high school sweetheart, Brad. We have two beautiful children and are in such a fun and adventurous time of our lives. In April of 2020, I was laid off of work due to Covid.  Read more>>

Ashley Ruff

After getting my dream job straight out of college, I was gracious enough to be able to work at South Carolina Magazine in Greenville, SC as the art director. There, I was in charge of photographing most of the images for the articles as well as design, layout and article management and overseeing the magazine. Unfortunately the magazine folded as many print publications have, and I began working for a marketing company where I directed a creative development team and managed 15 commercial accounts through art direction, design, and photography. Read more>>

Brandy Moore Taylor

How it all started… I knew at an early age I was destined to start my own business so with the support of family and friends I stepped out on faith. It started off as a challenge that transformed into masterpiece. I came up with a different recipe by adding a few more ingredients and removing a few as well to support my healthier lifestyle at the time. Not knowing it was going to taste better than the dish I was challenged to make!  Read more>>

Beth Bollinger

I started my business in 2018 with the hope of an extra set of income. I knew I’d find some people interested in mobile massage, but to my joy the Charleston area loves my mobile services! My road was relatively smooth until 2020. I had already lived in Charleston for a few years so I had a strong network of friends and acquaintances to start with. Word of mouth, facebook posts, and affordable prices to get my name out there all helped me shape a schedule I was happy with. I was just about to leave my nanny life behind and lean into massage therapy full time when 2020 and the pandemic hit. Since then, I’ve been steadily re-growing my practice with new knowledge, new prices, and a new out look for what it takes to be a healer in the community. Read more>>

Brooke Carman

I began sharing restaurant reviews in a local Facebook group for fun. It was a great creative outlet for me after battling breast cancer because I’ve always enjoyed trying new places. A couple months into that, someone from that group messaged me, suggesting that I start a blog of my own. I was hesitant about it at first, thinking that it would fail after multiple attempts at starting a blog previously. One day, I just went for it, called it The Pickens Foodie, thinking that only my family and friends would follow it. Read more>>

Lanetra King

It’s been a purposeful journey stepping into the spotlight as a a recording artist and songwriter from a national publicist known to create buzz and major exposure for clients. I grew up in Ridgeville, SC running around with a mic in my hand and casually playing organ at my grandparents’ house. This was the beginning stages of exploring my musicality and my love for music. From there, I started writing music in middle school and became a part of the school’s chorus. Read more>>

Elijah Myers

I started playing music a couple of years ago after my grandfather passed. I think that was my biggest inspiration when starting out. I found my new best friend in my guitar and ever since then I’ve been pushing myself to do bigger and better things from playing at A LOT of breweries, bars, and wineries to recording my own original music. I just try to do my own thing and live on with faith that it will work out. Read more>>

Harold Jordan

My start in magic I like to believe started with my parents. My Mother and Father introduced to David Blaine via YouTube. As a ln early teenager in middle school, it inspired me to pursue learning the art form and I immediately started forming my own tricks here and there and trying them out on my parents. During my 10th and 11th grade years of high school was when I began performing openly for friends, family, classmates and teachers. To this day almost 10 years later people I knew back then still tell me the tricks that impressed them the most.  Read more>>

Johnny Cobb

I have been going to work with my father since I was young and learned how to do so many things with my hands as the years went on. We mainly poured concrete driveways and patios, but because of this work, I learned how to apply these principles to other crafts. I am one of the few that actually uses the Geometry they taught you in school everyday. While my father and I still pour patios and pool decks and foundations, I have branched out to a business where I can be more creative and give people something unique and high quality in their homes.  Read more>>

Kelly Lewin

I discovered my love for design, decor, and event organizing while decorating for friends and family events. EventAble was founded after I realized how much I genuinely enjoyed making people happy on their special day. It wasn’t easy for me to make the switch from the healthcare industry to event planning and decoration, but my family, friends, and faith kept me grounded. Read more>>

Brianni Lundy

I’ve always had a passion for nails. (I have a distinct memory of elementary-aged me using flour and water on some plain press-on nails from Walgreens pretending to be in the nail salon. Funny how that worked out, huh?) I got my first professional pedicure in 8th grade and my first full set in 9th grade (shoutout to Dana Cody of Tippie Toes; my original nail-spiration). Later on in high school and college, I frequented nail salons more often, observing the process, asking questions about certain steps, products, skill requirements, et cetera. Read more>>

Lyndsey Holmes

Our balloon art business originally began as The Gathered Mama in the Spring of 2021. I was a mom with champagne taste and a natty light budget for my daughter’s 3rd birthday party. My Pinterest board was full of gorgeous balloon arches and I was determined I’d be able to recreate them without any issues. The night before my daughter’s party I had my entire family inflating over 500 balloons with 1 machine and the rest by mouth! Read more>>

Gwen Richardson

All Exquisite Events, LLC is a home-base baking business in the Northeast and Blythewood area of Columbia, South Carolina. It is owned and operated by Gwen Richardson. ​ ​Gwen love of cooking began as a little girl helping her mother. Her love of creating tasty treats is grounded from the joy she received as a young girl licking the bowl of her mother’s delicious desserts. In 2004, Gwen walked in Michaels and started a cake decorating class. From there Gwen started baking and decorating for family and friends, and it flourished into a business. All Exquisite Events, LLC was established in April 2016. Read more>>

Lourenco and Conshinia Fowler

Vegan House Shack started with an effort to introduce our church community to a healthy lifestyle. We reached out to Kt the Arch Degree in Detroit ( Dr. Sebi step son) and he agreed to attend. He provide the audience with an seven hour plant-based presentation and a live culinary demonstration. The entire community responded to the knowledge he shared, the delicious food demonstration, and Q&A.  Read more>>

Phil Beardslee

The story of Cultivate Sports is really a radical story of how God gave two young college students a heart to serve the next generation. It all started in the summer of 2012, God connected Daniel Herr and Phil through High Point Camp. Phil was a junior at Bob Jones University (BJU) and spent his summers counseling students at the camp. Dan, a high school senior at High Point Academy, was gearing up for the upcoming BJU soccer season by training together with Phil. Little did we know, God was creating a friendship that would later allow both of them to impact lives for Jesus through sports together. Read more>>

Sherry Strickland Martin

This is a long story at my age, with many stepping stones! From my first memories as a child I have always felt in my gut I was intended to be an artist. When taken to the store as a child, I would usually chose some craft or paint project kit instead of a toy. Painting, drawing and creative endeavors have always been a part of me. Honestly I can not separate the two. My parents noticed my interest and allowed me private art lessons on and off throughout my adolescence years. Read more>>

Hetal Acharekar

I am born and raised in Mumbai, India. Growing up I watched my grandfather, an accupressurist helping people who came to see him for different reasons of pain and disability. He always made them better. I wanted to do the same. As a family we couldn’t afford paying a large donation for colleges. I was an average student, my grades didn’t help either. But my parents encouraged me to keep going and achieving my goal. They sold some of their assets for my education and so I could pursue my masters in physiotherapy. Read more>>

E.J. Bridges

MAZE Bartending Service was created in the summer of 2020 during the start of the pandemic. The creation of MAZE Bartending Service came about through several avenues. First, as a Business Professor, I frequently teach courses on Entrepreneurship and stress the importance of business ownership especially in the African-American community. Secondly, while working in the Bar/Restaurant Industry, I developed a passion for the art of bartending and mixology.  Read more>>

Leslie Richardson

The journey for me has definitely been long but rewarding. I’ve always wanted to be a makeup artist ever since I was a little girl looking through my mom’s hair magazines as she is a cosmetologist. I have been in the beauty industry for over 10 years now and I’m just getting started. I began my passion in 2012 practicing on my mother’s clients with makeup I would pick up here and there when I had the money. Read more>>

Christina Roberts

I grew up in the backwoods of Florida, a little south of New Smyrna Beach, surrounded by large oak trees and an abundance of wildlife. It was a much simpler time and I carried that inspiration and love of nature with me as I moved through life. As an adult, I gravitated naturally to the beaches along the coast all the way up to South Carolina. I have now lived in Pawleys Island, SC for twenty one years and cannot imagine leaving anytime soon.  Read more>>

Felicia Rivers

Felicia Rivers started Geechee One Magazine as a senior project while attending Claflin University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations from Claflin as well as 2 associate degrees in Accounting and the other Business Management from Miller Motte College. (Summa Cum Laude). As of three years ago after doing a few YouTube series Felicia started doing film a released her first film project which was a fan film of “Carrie”. Read more>>

Ashley Davis

It all began in quite an odd way to be honest. I used to purchase earrings from an online vendor and I noticed that one pair wasn’t exactly the same. So I started to investigate the earrings comparing them and realized I could make them myself and save a few coins. I showed them off a little bit and got really good feedback. Some people even asked me to make some for them and it really started to take off. It really made me think about considering really putting in effort towards it because it would fill in the gaps of my teaching salary and support my two sons as well. Read more>>

Black Benji

My oldest brother introduced me to music when I was 16. I did not take it serious until the age of 19, when I moved to Atlanta. Even at that point, however, I didn’t take my talent serious. To be quite honest, I didn’t take my talent serious until others told me I should! This road was not easy. In fact, there was times I wanted to quit. However, I always tell myself, this is how I’m going to bring generational wealth to my family and change the world. I do what I do for my family but also my supporters. Without them, there would be no Black Benji. I am thankful for the supporters. My numbers increase because of them! Read more>>

Jenna Pellerito

Growing up, I had been drawn to animals, especially dogs. When I was 18, I landed my first ever “dream job” at a doggie daycare. After my first day on the job, I was convinced that I was exactly where I was meant to be and I couldn’t imagine having a job without dogs ever again. As I continued to work in kennels and daycare, I soon became interested in canine behavior and training.  Read more>>

Kiran Anderson

I started off singing in the church where I’m from in Greenwood but I never really took it serious until I got to college and I met my close friends there. One of my friends actually did music so he just basically put me in the studio we laid down a track that was dope, and at that moment I knew that this is something that I’m destined to do. It has definitely not been a smooth road. Nowhere close to it, but it has been a learning journey where I continue to learn each and every day. Read more>>

James & Natalie Sailing Zephyr

We are an adventurous couple from Australia who bought a sailboat to explore the world. With zero clue on how to sail, we left our jobs, sold everything we had and bolted for a sailboat we bought, sight unseen, in the Caribbean. Our adventure was only ever meant to last a year with our intention to sail back to Australia. 3.5 years and 20,000nm later, we still love the adventure and it feels like we are only getting started. Read more>>

Karla Gray The Eccentric South

Boredom! It sounds silly to say but that’s how everything started. In 2017, with my partner working out of state, I needed some way to entertain our 10 and 11 year old sons. I knew that I wanted to get out of the house but also make sure they were going to be excited about what we were doing. So for our first outing, I planned out a scavenger hunt type day trip around our area looking for giants. Yes – giants! Read more>>

Sharon Fletcher

My name is Sharon Fletcher and I am the owner of Refreshing Moments with Sharon. I help refresh, restore and rejuvenate women through my faith based blog and home fragrance goods. I am the wife of William Fletcher, Jr, and mother to 3 amazing children, Aaron, Kristyn and Andrew. The loss of my brother in 2010, followed by the loss of my dad in 2016 marked an exceptionally long and difficult period of my life. Read more>>

Connie Carrillo

My story begins in Atlanta, Georgia in the great 90s. True 90s baby over here. My father and his family decided there were more opportunity for his work in Charleston, South Carolina. He loved the beachy and chill vibe that Charleston had to offer and continue to offer. This city is evolving to become if it has not already a one stop city. Why leave? Ah thus begins our move to Charleston in the early 2000s. Read more>>

Debra Zumstein

As a creative profession, I have over 20 years experience working in museums, exhibition design, community arts programming, and as a fine art artist. My range of experience has included developing and presenting art programs and events, promoting artists, teaching art classes to under privileged youth, designing and installing gallery exhibitions, developing and presenting art programs and events, and managing multiple programs within budget and under strict time constraints. With all of these organizations, I have used my photography skills in the documentation of events, the creation of advertising and publicity and the development of marketing tools. Read more>>

Keegan Bittner

SourceSociety started as an idea in my freshman year history class at the College of Charleston. I wanted to create a platform that showcased local businesses, and musicians. artists, and athletes. I have always been a creative person, uploading videos to youtube throughout middle school. I knew I wanted to combine my love of video with the local Charleston scene. However, I was able to open doors I would never think were possible.  Read more>>

Allen Smith

When I was growing up my grandma would feed anyone who came to her house, whether visiting or just walking down the street. That stuck with me as I get older. I’ve always enjoyed cooking but bbq was new to me in 2018. I bought an electric masterbuilt smoker from Academy on sale and ruined the first thing I cooked, which was a roast that wasn’t ready for dinner in time. I remember calling my wife the following week saying I wasn’t going to let a roast defeat me.  Read more>>

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