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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.

Fantasia Forbes

I am 29-year-old Fantasia S. Forbes, a dedicated mom & entrepreneur! I went into business for myself 6 years ago after stepping out on faith and quitting my job. I started out as an entrepreneur originally in the clothing industry! I knew nothing about being business for myself at the time I was selling clothes from my trunk and apartment warehouse while spending everything I was making. Years went by and I found out I was pregnant with my daughter so I eventually went back to working a job for extra income. After my daughter started to grow in age I wanted to be with her more so I knew I would have to start finding a way to have a more flexible schedule. One thought led to another and although I was afraid I knew entrepreneurship was the answer. Read more>>

Savannah Brooks

My husband, Jacob, and I are the humans behind Brooks Cattle Company. Our story has so much excitement and it’s my favorite to tell. BCC was started in 2015 when my husband (then a junior in high school) started his herd with six cows. Over the course of seven years, the herd has grown to about thirty heads. Shortly after getting married in October 2021, we bought the farm that has been in his family for over a century. In the past, cow-calf has been the main operation. This means there is a herd of permanent cows that are bred every year to produce calves that are then sold at eight to ten months of age. Read more>>

Sierra Waters

I’ve always felt particularly drawn to things that dealt with Astrology, spirituality the occult New Age theories, and tarot cards. It wasn’t until about seven years ago when I decided to actually dive deep into astrology and figure out what it was really all about. I always knew that astrology had a way of predicting and describing people, places, events, and even certain energies we experience, but I had no idea how far that rabbit hole would take me. They say that when you’re passionate about your work it never actually feels like “work”. This is been one of the easiest things I’ve gotten into and all of my endeavors I’ve been a part of. Read more>>

Rae Weekes

My whole life, it has been important to me to live for something outside of myself–to make a difference. Cliche, I know, but it’s true. I knew I needed to find a specific focus and stick with it, but I struggled to find that one focus where I felt comfortable and genuinely wanted to give my all. I have always had diverse interests and knew I wanted to be engaged in the creative realm. I went to the College of Charleston for Studio Art and began volunteering at a program for adults with disabilities where my friend worked. Read more>>

Angela Douglas

I grew up in Chester SC. I loved the community but it was limited and I needed to see more. I traveled and went to school along the eastern seaboard – DC, Virginia, Georgia, and Columbia. I worked for state government in various capacities and kept a role in academia. In 2007, I decided to go into academia full-time as a university lecturer and coordinator for the Master of Public Administration program. I remained involved in politics, governance, and community in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Read more>>

Brandon Allshouse

Steel House Mastering started as curiosity and a love for music. I started this journey as a guitarist and like many others that follow the same path, eventually, get curious about getting some recording gear to write music and ideas with. I’d buy a small recording interface, mess around with it for a while, usually get frustrated with the learning curve, and then eventually resell it. I repeated this process several times throughout many years. Eventually, the tech side of recording began to make sense and I started developing some actual skills with it, reading and investing a lot of time and resources into the craft. Read more>>

Toya Stanitzek

Nine years ago, I became aware and more proactive about what food I ate and the products I put on my skin. Our skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs everything we put on it. I had a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old at the time. They both had childhood eczema, and I used a popular brand of children’s skincare for eczema on them. When I read the ingredients, I could not even pronounce most of the ingredients. There were so many unhealthy chemicals I could not believe I was putting on their little bodies. Read more>>

Xiomara Williams

Ever since I was a little girl I always displayed a huge interest in beauty! I began doing hair at a very young age, and my first clients were my baby dolls of course! Then, I went on to practice my skills with my little sister (we’re three years apart). I eventually started getting better and better; it took off from there. I’ve never actually worked a “job”, I always worked for myself essentially because of the career I chose. So, when people ask how long I’ve been doing hair and nails, the proper response is always “my whole life”.I knew making people beautiful is something I enjoy because I never feel burdened by my work !! Read more>>

Sabrina Charles-Moultrie

My name is Sabrina Charles-Moultrie. I am the CEO/Founder of YuNique Stylz, Sugar Baby Cupcakes & Queen Cleaning LLC I’m originally from Maryland and moved here in 2018 with Sugar Baby Cupcakes (est.2013) which is the #2 Bakery in Beaufort on Yelp… Throughout my life, I’ve always been into natural everything. Products for the body, hair, mind spirit. During the beginning of the pandemic, I was working as a cook at The Oaks Living (Summit Place), and caregiving at Synergy Home Care on HHI. Read more>>

Stephanie Machacek

I was an athlete growing up. I played softball, and soccer, and ran high school track. I loved how movement made me feel. I remember being on a solo training run one day and a thought hit me like a lightning bolt. I want to help other people feel this great! For a 17-year-old, I didn’t know what that looked like but that thought carried me through into my college years. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and earned my personal trainer certification. I thought that was it! I started training people right out of college but soon realized it wasn’t for me. I was offered a job as a Health Coach and thought, “what in the world is a health coach?”. Read more>>

D. Pierce Giltner

Having a 30-year of construction experience specializing in carpentry, and being born with creative talent, Giltner established Rustic Installations in 1995. “Utilizing rare materials as the cornerstone for each project” is his mission statement, It began with rustic furniture, tiki bars, then interior build-outs. The present-day is his Tabby Fireplaces. During the mid-late 1800s along the Sea Islands, bricks were very costly to make and transport. Throughout the tidal waterways were mounds of shells. Tabby is a mixture of water, lime, sand, and a ton of broken shells. Read more>>

Ash’ur Washington

My journey with hair started when I was a freshman in college in 2013 when I attended Allen University at that time. My two other siblings and I were all in college at the time, so it was an expense to support each one of us throughout schooling. I decided to help cut costs by doing my and my older sister’s hair while in school, as well as other friends I had during that time. By the time I was a junior in college my skills had enhanced and I knew I wanted to pursue hair full time, but I wanted to complete my undergrad first. Completed college in 2018 and started beauty school at Kenneth Shuler School of Cosmetology in August of 2019. Read more>>

Melinda Aguirre

I’ve always been creative and artistic so when my mother-in-law gifted me my first sewing machine I was thrilled. I knew I wanted to work for myself and I wanted to put my creativity to good use, that’s when I came up with the idea to start a small business. I wasn’t exactly sure yet what I wanted my small business to be but I decided to get started anyway. The pandemic had just started so I taught myself how to sew masks. Before you knew it, I had started Meli J’s Boutique with the help of my husband and family. At that point, I knew I wanted Meli J’s Boutique to be for quality modest clothing in the future. Read more>>

Ivory Scott

I’ve always been infatuated with the beauty industry and the idea of being able to make myself over, so in Highschool, I decided to enroll in the Cosmetology Program. The idea of graduating Highschool with my Cosmetology License and being able to go right into the work field doing what I love to do made perfect sense to me. So, after 2 years and over 2000 hrs of learning the Theory as well as the Practical, we went to State Board and I passed and received my Cosmetology License. I went straight from High School to working in a Barber Shop in Downtown Sumter. Read more>>

A’Kierrah Marshall

I have always been the friend who would be doing everyone’s hair even if it was to straighten it or braid it down for a wig. One day I said let me invest in myself and actually learn how to do knotless and box braids. since I had the basic technique of braiding already down-packed. It only made sense to learn it because I already had the basic technique of braiding down packed. Once the pandemic started, I took a braiding class with a local braider and I knew from then I just needed to actually practice on people. I got my SC Braiders license a month later. I started perfecting my craft and started braiding my family and friends just to practice. Read more>>

Molly Hensley

I have always been creative and have a love for working with children. I begin my career as an elementary school teacher in the Upstate of South Carolina while my husband attended Clemson. After he graduated, we moved to Georgia and after having my first child, I left teaching to be home with him. We purchased a camera so I could document our memories, and that is where my love of photography began. I would share my photos of him online, and pretty soon that lead to families reaching out and asking me to photograph their children and that was when my business was born. Read more>>

Elias Liloy

In 2021 I began working with a commercial landscaping company in Charleston. I enjoyed my new role as a translator & crew member. Soon I worked my way up to account manager. I’ve always enjoyed working with people, and I thoroughly enjoy working outdoors. After many talks with my wife and some encouragement from loved ones, I decided to give it a try. I began working with people in my circle and was quickly recommended to others. The road has had its bumps without a doubt. My biggest struggle has been navigating taxes, insurance, & website development. In order to mitigate these risks, I’ve done things like seeking out mentors, reading, and even YouTube tutorials. Read more>>

Debbie Dotson

I can always remember waking up by the creeks when I was younger with my siblings and enjoying the peace of nature. Everything I could see was singing its own song. The bees buzzing inside the flower petals was music to my ears. I always felt right at home where life began and that’s close to the earth. This is how Debbie’s Got the Tea began Throughout my life, I’ve leaned heavily toward set care awareness. I started my well-being journey over 10 years ago. The goal was to redirect my life to a happier more peaceful place. I was able to do that using a gift God gave me to formulate blends of herbs, flowers, and minerals that have helped to give myself, and others, a better quality of life. I call them well-being alternatives. Read more>>

Noelle Iturbe

I’m originally from NJ. My husband, Iker, is from Spain. We were both Athletes at Clemson, where we met. We moved to Spain after college for my husband’s basketball career, where our three children were born. After his retirement from basketball we lived in NJ and now have been here in the Upstate for our 7th year. I have been teaching fitness since the 1990s. Taught many different modalities. I have been teaching Pilates for the last 15 years full-time. I found Pilates after a long-running injury and rehab with physical therapy. After all my years of training, I was amazed by the results. Read more>>

Kalachia Baker

My love for hair & nails at the time drove me to pursue my dream as a licensed cosmetologist. After graduating high school I became licensed. Shortly after I became employed at a local nail salon with a close friend while attending a Technical College where I received my associate’s in Business. I fell in love with the art of it. Even though I’ve always been into nails I realized this was what I wanted to do after a year of being employed. I made a decision to become self-employed and the rest is history. Growing up in a small town where I’m from small businesses have a 50/50 chance of surviving. Read more>>

TJ McLeod

First, I just want to give thanks to my heavenly father for this opportunity. This is definitely a surprise to me and I am thankful for this moment. My name is Terrance, but everyone calls me TJ. I am a fitness enthusiast, an aspiring entrepreneur, and a competitive powerlifter. I have a sports background, mainly focusing on football with a splash of track and field as well as a little bit of rugby. I can honestly say that I do miss playing rugby but football will always have my heart. I started powerlifting because I was missing the competitive aspect of athletics, and made the transition into taking lifting more seriously around 2018. Read more>>

Danielle Hein

Feminist Magic Market has been a collaborative effort between 3 women-owned small businesses over the past 4 years. In 2018 the women of Itinerant Literate Books in Park Circle (Julia + Christen), reached out to Gabryel of Just a Phase Boutique with an idea for a backyard makers market. Gabryel brought Danielle from Earth Goddess Botanicals onboard, and together they began organizing a small night market in the backyard of the bookstore. In the beginning, the market hosted 12-15 vendors at a monthly night market, falling during the full moon each month, and was called Books and Brouhaha. Read more>>

Diandra Nicholson

In December 2020, my husband, Jamir, became deathly ill. He had surgery and was put on oxygen and a feeding tube. We thought we were going to lose him, all due to unhealthy eating habits. After a twenty-day hospital stay, Jamir and I decided to become plant-based eaters in hopes of reclaiming our health. After 90 days of eating an entirely plant-based diet, Jamir’s doctors took him off his meds. He no longer had to take high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or GERD medicines. This lifestyle awarded Jamir with a clean bill of health. As for me, my struggle with Type 2 diabetes for over ten years ended after only nine months of eating this way. Read more>>

Angela Bennett

I have always loved being creative and after nearly 20 years of working in a fast-paced corporate environment, I had the growing urge to create something all my own that had deep purpose and meaning. I needed a counterbalance to the busy lifestyle and demanding priorities. What I realized is that my soul craved to slow down, appreciate small moments, and cultivate my passions to create new adventures in life. So, I embarked on a passion project that would spread a message of positivity and self-published The Adventures of Big Sil children’s books series. While we may often hear this life lesson about living in the moment, we don’t always do it. Read more>>

Sati Glenn

What started as learning to crochet so I could make cloth diaper covers for my baby daughter, somehow turned into a multi-faceted fiber arts business and retail yarn shop. I taught myself how to crochet back in 2011 using books so that I could make cute baby things for my new baby. After sharing my excitement and a few finished projects on Facebook, family and friends started commissioning me for other things. The yarn became my passion, and I started researching different fibers and their properties. Who knew there were so many! Alpaca, silk, angora, cashmere, linen, bamboo, and wool are from so many different breeds of sheep. Read more>>

Terrence Gallman

I am a Published author of 3 titles. Love’s Journey: The Roads Less Traveled, Finding Me: My Personal Journey to Rediscovery, and Wall Street Bonds: The Urban Renaissance. I started writing as both therapies for release, and reflection and as a deterrent to prevent others from making the same decisions I’d made that landed me in prison and an even longer road to recovery since being released in 2008. I now have the benefit of my book Finding Me adapted for a feature film with Hollywood writers, directors, producers, and actors titled “NO RIGHT WAY!” Read more>>

Patricia & William Suttles

We were inspired to start our own 360 business to capture the beautiful memories of our family and wanted to share the excitement with others. Capturing the moment and keeping the memories alive is our specialty. We want to give you the experience of a lifetime where the memories will last forever. We enjoy the laughter and excitement the 360 photo booth brings to every occasion. Our passion is seeing others enjoying fun times together. We strive to make every occasion memorable. Read more>>

Casey Lee

I started Rooted Hearts Counseling LLC in 2018. My desire to start my own private practice was so I can focus on my passion: co-creating relationships that heal and grow. But how do I communicate my heart and focus to people wanting help? I created my website to express my vision for relationships. The way I wrote my website speaks to the sufferings and desires of those who are stuck but long for something more. I want to communicate that I see you, that what you are going through makes sense, and you are not alone. Read more>>

Maddie Bockstahler

I think I am still amazed that I am a floral designer. I started working as an event planner in 2016 and after a guest florist came in to teach us the basics of floral arrangements, I decided to start selling flowers to my clients as an “upsell” technique. Doing floral arrangements was a stress reliever from being a full-time online college student and a full-time employee. I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to do this as a career. In 2020 I started working for a flower wholesaler in Greenville and had the amazing opportunity of driving around a huge truck for 6 months, selling flowers. Read more>>

Patrick Honeycutt

It all started about 12 years ago when Patrick was living in small-town Alaska and his friend tagged a moose. There was one grocery store and he wasn’t about to put sweet baby rays on moose ribs! He came up with the recipe on his own from scratch and has been improving it and making it better for the last decade! We moved here about two years ago and made the barbecue sauce for some friends who LOVED it. One of our friends said we should sell it and that was the lightbulb moment. Read more>>

Julie Cooke

Dare Gallery on Charleston’s historic Broad Street and for over 20 years sister gallery, Sandpiper Gallery on Sullivan’s Island have become renowned for offering an eclectic collection of fine art in a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. There is a casual funky flair to Sullivan’s Island which is echoed in Sandpiper Gallery. Fine pieces of art are regularly carried away by happy barefooted clients on their bicycles or golf carts. Both galleries feature a large variety of work that will interest both the serious fine art collector as well as the fine craft enthusiast; from stunning paintings to special gifts from the Lowcountry – all presented in the kind of genuine welcoming atmosphere that is uniquely southern and will make you want to visit again. Read more>>

Shanika Thomas

My name is Shanika Thomas, a woman business owner, and proud mother of two amazing children. I am from a small town called Jonesville right outside of Union SC. I graduated from Union High School in 2008. I then proceeded to Greenville Technical College where I received my  Associates Degree in Science. I am a full time employee at DFA Milk in Spartanburg SC as a Front Office Clerk. I love to dance, laugh and shop. I have been in the retail business for about 3 years now. Although I have been into fashion my entire life. Read more>>

JD Ingraham

My journey as a performer and tutor got off to a rocky start with some ill-fated guitar lessons in the second grade. They didn’t stick, but lessons on trumpet and piano beginning in fifth grade had a little more staying power. I think it really began in earnest, however, when I began learning the Great Highland Bagpipes (GHBs) in the aftermath of 9/11, having seen many instances of them performed on television. I moved to Charleston, SC in 2011 to work as an Engineer. I soon became involved with the Charleston Police Pipes and Drums, now known as The Charleston Pipe Band. Read more>>

Brittany Matthews

I was always a go-getter when growing up. I was the child that saw issues and made it my business to find solutions to solve them. A year before graduating from the University of South Carolina, I knew that I should become an entrepreneur. I wanted to build a business from the ground up to be a part of the positive change in my community. I was told that I will have restless nights, how men are more successful in entrepreneurship than women, and how many issues I would face that may be out of my reach, however, my will to find solutions to these sayings motivated me more to accept the challenge of entrepreneurship. Read more>>

Nikiko Eisgruber

I am lucky in that I have always known my passion was videography. For as long as I can remember I was going to move to a mega film city and direct. My parents actually had to force me to go to college – lucky for me they did (HailState!). Right out of college I got my first true start in the industry as a Production Assistant for the Voice in Memphis. That gig led to another gig, which led to another gig in Nashville. In Nashville, I got to work for Garth Brook’s wife, Trisha Yearwood. Her cooking show was featured on the Food Network and for the several seasons I worked, we were Emmy nominated. It was truly some of my favorite times on set. Read more>>

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