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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.

Shamere Young

When I was approaching high school graduation, I realized I wanted to work with others daily, but I didn’t know in what capacity. Even with multiple college offers, I didn’t go because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I joined the Army and got a viewpoint on nutrition, as I was a nutrition specialist for the Army. Working in this field showed me a lot, and upon my honorable discharge from the Army, I decided to continue to work in the nutrition field and find the area I liked. Read more>>

Katelyn Grizzle

Where should I begin? I’m an Upstate SC Native who fell in love with the area at a very young age. My passion for the Upstate is a big part of what led me to this point. So I guess it isn’t surprising I made a career out of it! A few years ago, I was 21 years old with a newborn and unsure where to go. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so I knew a 9-5 wasn’t the best fit for me. I started researching and stumbled across someone sharing their experience being a Realtor. I was hooked instantly. Read more>>

Kesha Rainey

When I launched my business in 2018 as Simply Unapologetik LLC, I focused on empowering women to stand unapologetically in their truth through bold and unique fashion accessories. I had just transitioned from a season where I thought conforming to someone else’s expectations and withholding my truth was the best way to gain acceptance. And as I settled into my role as an entrepreneur, I recognized that as I stood in my truth unapologetically, I was evolving into a different version of myself, and how I showed up for my target customer base also shifted. Read more>>

Claire Hodge

I am a Life Coach. I help clients redesign their lives and teach them to think and live purposefully. I came to this role due to my interest in self-development, which started when I was 16. I found myself in the “self-development” section of a Barnes & Nobel bookstore in high school, browsing the books as I pulled random ones off the shelves. As I read, much of what was shared resonated with me. Ideas like “perception is a reality,” “what we experience is highly influenced by, and largely a result of what we believe,” and “beliefs are just thoughts we think over and over again.” Read more>>

Stacey Willett George

I settled down in Myrtle Beach about 10 years ago from Maryland, where I had owned a dance studio! After years of working with children and teaching award-winning dances, I decided I was ready for a change but not ready to give up creating magic with children. After reflecting, I thought, what’s more, magical than princesses and superheroes? Confetti Princess Parties was born! It’s been a pretty smooth road! I’ve had some guidance from other princess company owners around the world that has made a big difference in the transition from dance studios to princesses! Read more>>

Martinez Finney

Getting into this industry was hard, and I would ask people who were already in the industry how to get in, but they would only tell me if they believed I could do it. So I decided to research and found some local talent agencies. I reached out, and they got back to me and invited my mom and me to the agency. I had no idea what to expect. The woman there was very nice, and she liked me and, to my surprise, told me I was handsome and that I should take one of their classes. Read more>>

Tracy Williams

My Journey with ‘Stories to be tolled’ began in 2014. After many years as a school leader in the UK delivering Black History workshops in primary schools, I felt it was time to initiate change in how history is delivered in our school’s curriculum. The British Empire and Britain’s Colonial past is a key topics through which children and young people can connect with the past and today’s world situations by exploring history through its many perspectives and global contexts. Read more>>

Krysten Loaiza

I have always had a special place in my heart for Greenville. It’s where I met my husband and felt like my life began. I started visiting different places in Greenville and sharing my experiences with people via social media. What started as fun became a place of community and knowledge for people to learn about this city. I’ve since turned my page into a personal page where I still share many things I love about our beautiful city and tips to help people thrive. Read more>>

Angel Rogers

My name is Angel Rogers, and I’m happily married to my wife and business partner, Jackie. I am a United States Marine Corps veteran who has started multiple businesses; as we all know, that doesn’t always go to plan, but A&J Auto Detailing has blown up so far! We own and operate a mobile detail company; we started this business to become independent and make our schedule for our daughter coming soon. It has always been our dream to be our bosses. Since our founding, we’ve worked with numerous clients throughout the area. Read more>>

Christina Richardson

I was born in Northern Sweden and always knew I wanted to be an Architect. I have been immensely interested in building and design since I was 5 years old. I used to sit and draw floor plans of my friend’s houses when the other children played with Barbie. I went to a construction engineering high school and added an extra year to get a bachelor’s in construction engineering to prepare the way of getting into architecture school. Becoming a designer was more complex than one might think. Read more>>

Reid Ferguson

I started playing music at roughly age seven. My mother “forced” me to take piano lessons to understand how to read music. I’ve never hated how the piano sounds, but I didn’t enjoy playing it. I quit those lessons about three years later and almost begged for a guitar until I was about 13. My mom didn’t want to buy me a musical instrument for fear that I wouldn’t stick with it (the piano incident). She didn’t know I would take to the guitar as flies on and loved it. Read more>>

Mia Hamilton

My name is Mia, and I am the current president of the University of South Carolina Chapter of the American Marketing Association. I am a sophomore marketing major/business analytics minor at the Darla Moore School of Business. After going to a friend’s birthday, I ended up here where a tarot card reader told me South Carolina was meant to be. At that point, I knew my college adventure would be anything but boring. Marketing has always sparked my curiosity. As a kid, I remember making brackets every super bowl to rate the commercials. Read more>>

Connor Sullivan

My name is Connor Sullivan, and I am the face of Tee It Up – Charleston. I moved to Charleston this year and could not be happier to call this beautiful city my home! Tee It Up Charleston is an extension of Tee It Up LLC – Screen Printing and Embroidery. My father, Dan Sullivan, founded Tee It Up LLC in Connecticut in 1995, and we have been experts in screen printing and embroidery ever since. I have been a part of the business since I was 14 years old, and I know this industry like the back of my hand. Read more>>

Amber Tucker

Im a Baltimore native, born and raised. I come from a healthy co-parenting situation. I’ve always been artistic, as it runs in my family. We all use art (both sides of my family) as an outlet in many different forms. Doing makeup was a hobby in high school that I wanted to take seriously. They had a cosmetology program at my high school, but my dad (Derek) wanted me to pursue something more promising, so I took on the nursing program instead. By this time, it was 2011, and I was 15, so I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted yet, but my mom (Angel) was rooting for me to follow my passion for beauty. Read more>>

Brandi Carter

I started baking at fifteen to cope with my anxiety and depression. After high school, I enrolled in culinary school at Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead, New York. I studied there for two years and earned my baking and pastry arts associate’s degree. SCCC also allowed me to study abroad in Florence, Italy. After graduating from SCCC, I embarked on my journey to Clemson University, where I majored in English. Baking has always been my true passion. I sat in class googling cupcake pictures, recipes, and “how to open a bakery.” Read more>>

Marissa Stanley and Victoria Barros-Silva

Aphrodite Cleaning all started with two friends and an idea. In the summer of 2021, we decided to take the leap and start our own cleaning business. We started small, with just a few clients we serviced on our off days, and we also worked for a bigger cleaning company on the weekends while still working our day jobs. When deciding on a name for our business, we decided on “Aphrodite Cleaning,” as Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and beauty, and our motto is that we will bring the “beauty” back into your home with love! Read more>>

Wendy Reed

I’ve always been a writer. Publishing, on the other hand, took some time. I remember writing stories as a child. A 7th-grade teacher encouraged my poetry writing and affirmed my identity as a writer, which motivated me well into my teenage years. Later, as an elementary school teacher, I led my students in writing their stories while I continued to write my own. For over a decade now, I’ve had the honor of teaching teachers, training literacy coaches, and leading professional learning with educators as a trainer with Literacy Collaborative at The Ohio State University and as a consultant with schools around the country. Read more>>

Danniell Gillette

Photography has always been a way for me to find peace of mind or a stress reliever since high school. In 2020 I had an opportunity to use photography for good truly. I never thought about doing photography as a profession, but when a cousin approached me about doing a special project for her, I fell in love with the creativity I could do with it. More so, I was able to help the youth in our community. In 2020 several reports of teens had tried to commit suicide or had accomplished suicide. Read more>>

Khori Mitchell

DesignZ by KDG was started in 2019 but was legally established in May 2020. I’ve always been the person to plan and organizes events, whether they were for family or friends. I took my creative abilities to the next level when I started my small business. Initially, it was just for fun, and it still is. But now, I’ve turned my passion into a second career. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without God first and foremost and the love and support from my dad, Corey, my grandmother, Diane, my life partner Kendall and a few other family members and close friends. Read more>>

Alex Rendon

The story of Rise and Shine Pressure Wash originates from a young man with an entrepreneurial mindset wanting to escape the rat race. I have worked in the food and beverage industry since high school, and the hostile environment affected my mental health. It was exhausting working 9 to 12 hours a day and caring for my mother and her health conditions. One day after a long day of work and being overworked by my bosses, I decided it was enough. I wanted to be my boss and provide a safe environment for myself and any employees to come. Read more>>

Donna Recupido

The majority of my life has been in the field of veterinary medicine. At about age 40, something happened. First, I felt burnout and no longer filled my professional cup in my job. Two, I was hitting the age where pre-menopause was hitting me, and my body was changing in a way I did not like. I was putting on weight. I was fatigued. I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes and high blood pressure. I was working out 7 days a week, and nothing was happening. I was frustrated now, personally and professionally. Read more>>

Keianna Rucker and Raivaysha Dukes

Founded in 2022, South Carolina Scholar Academy was just a dream on paper, a vision board and a PowerPoint slide. That dream grew so big the paper holding it could hold no more. It was a fear that wanted to be set free and finally gains the wings of freedom. Finally, on April 6, 2022, Keianna Rucker (Founder, Head of Upper Schools) brought it to life. In August of 2022, she worked at a private school where she met another teacher who shared the same dream. Read more>>

Sugar Rose

This is long, but my compressed version is the only way I can summarize it to show you all. I was adopted as a baby. I was in foster homes for the first 6 months of my life, where I was overfed. This led to my lifelong struggle with weight loss. Once given to my adopted parents, my father was in the military, and my mom was in nursing school. At three, my father decided that having a child was not for him and wanted a boy instead of a girl. Read more>>

Shembra Carter

After working as a Registered Nurse for over 20 years in the Lowcountry, I was disappointed with many aspects of our current “health” care options. We have a broken, dysfunctional system. Pharmaceuticals are overprescribed and often the only option. With this model, it is difficult for anyone to find wellness. I had always had the idea in the back of my mind that I wanted to start my own business, but I was not sure what direction to take. One night after a 12-hour nursing shift, I was watching Gaia TV, and a video was recommended to me. Read more>>

Riyo Jordan

Growing up, I was always behind a camera, capturing the off-guard happy moments at family events to the posed memories of the last day of school. Memories have always been a great part of me because love and family are a great part. I bought my first professional camera in 2016 as an investment into my passion. In addition, being a veterinary technician, I began taking pictures of pets. After creating a Facebook page, logo, and business name, I realized my heart was not into taking pictures of pets thus, putting my photography dream on hold. In February of 2018, one of the most painful and traumatic experiences happened to me. Read more>>

Zachary Thomas

For a long time, I felt stuck. I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and I wanted to get out my entire life. 2 years ago now, I finally did, and that started me on a journey. Today by all definitions, I am homeless. I live in my car and travel the world. Living this way is my choice, and I have no regrets. From a musical background, I always dreamed of touring the world with a band and playing concerts every night; now, I can do that if I want to. I spent many days figuring out where I wanted to go; yesterday, I took a trip to Asheville, NC, Read more>>

Morgan Darden

Hi, I’m Morgan 🙂 I began photography almost a decade ago. I took a film class in high school and fell in love with photography! I continued to play around with photography on a cheap Nikon for years and years. After getting married to my high school sweetheart at 18, having a surprise baby at 19, and then having another baby 18 months later, I would either have to return to work or start a successful business. My pregnancies were complicated. Read more>>

Deb Foreman

My husband and I are the parents of a transgender person. Our son’s story and experiences led me to co-found a non-profit named the Uplift Outreach Center, a safe space for lgbtq+ youth. Uplift offers programs to educate our youth regarding suicide prevention; programming is designed to be fun, build self-esteem, self-confidence, etc. Uplift opened in August of 2019, and closed six months later due to Covid19, so we provided virtual support and programming for 2 years until we began meeting in person again in March of 2022. Read more>>

David and Angie McDuffie

As new residents to Belton, we were excited to be here in this quaint small town. We looked around the area and wanted to start a business, as Belton has little to do. We asked the mayor at the time what she thought Belton would love, and her response was “ a coffee shop.” Being in the middle of Covid was difficult, and everyone around us was leaving the business. We thought, “are we crazy starting a business now?” But we wanted to bring a new and exciting concept to Belton. We began looking at places and met the nicest people. Read more>>

Catherine (Cat) Sidwell

I grew up in South Carolina. I moved to Santa Cruz, California 10 years and that’s where I met my wife. We moved back to Charleston in 2019 to settle down and start a family. I’ve always loved the water. I grew up surfing, fishing, and being on the beach all day. I would say that the ocean was where my brother and I would go daily for peace. We were lucky to live close enough to walk down almost every day in the summer or, more accurately, all year. If I had to say who raised us, I’d have to give much credit to the ocean. Read more>>

Cam Hill

My wife and I moved into the Nicholtown Community in September 2013. After living in the community for 3 years, serving in the community garden, and playing lots and lots of pick-up basketball in the neighborhood, we decided to start a ministry for middle and high school students. Many of the neighborhood elders and community leaders voiced concerns that there weren’t enough opportunities for the youth in the Nicholtown neighborhood. We partnered with the Phillis Wheatley Community Center to launch a weekly Open Gym in response to the concerns. Read more>>

Marquita Nesbitt

My story began as a victim of domestic violence. It started in college as a typical love story. Girl meets boy. He plays football. Seemingly, it would have continued with falling in love and living happily ever after. For me, not so much. Life was good. I overlooked red flags because I was in love. I miscarried during my first pregnancy. Then, I got pregnant again. I felt like a caged bird. I suffered through multiple stressful events, altercations, fights, and levels of abuse. Read more>>

Claudia Unzueta

I started studying makeup and hair styling eight years ago and taking classes in person and online. Not at all! It isn’t easy, especially at the beginning, when you are trying to start your own business and get your clientele to grow. Learning new skills is easy if you love what you’re doing. When I first started learning, I had two jobs as a waitress and housekeeper. This last job included being a pet sitter. I also like to draw and paint, so I did that and an extra income (When I was around 23 and 27, I was part of the art academy in Hilton Head, where I learned to draw and paint.). Read more>>

Marclee McDaniel

Sash Clothes was born in 2019 out of casual conversations between two friends who decided to leap in faith and begin! We are friends, wives, mamas, and former teachers who love shopping, fashion, and good deals! Sash Clothes was formed out of a need for fun, fashionable clothing, and accessories that women could browse at their convenience and fit within their budget. In 2022, we experienced personal color analysis with House of Colour Greenville. Read more>>

Miladys Rapalo

I made my first cake six years ago, I made one for my brother, and since then, I realized that it was something I wanted to do more often. I found a passion in baking, and since then, I have started this path in the pastry industry. It has not been an easy path, but with goals and dreams, nothing is difficult; having these fundamental factors encourages you to continue. We make cakes and artisanal bread from our country Honduras. We are known for having a variety of desserts, and we make any cake (even if it is a challenge). Read more>>

Michelle Black

Hi! My name is Michelle Black, owner/artist of ConFusion Jewelry. I grew up in Westminster, Maryland, and received my BS in Marketing from Towson State University. In 1997 I came to Charleston, SC, for vacation and stayed put! I fell in love with the scenery and the warmer weather. I enjoyed several jobs, including the Sales Manager at a local clam farm, and started working at the Charleston City Market on the weekends, selling other artists’ work. I have always had an affinity for glass. Read more>>

Destiny Brees

I grew up in Rural Alaska, but my Grandmother was a hairdresser, and I was always interested in everything she did from a very young age. I am also an artist and attended art summer camps every year as a teenager, and I found hair styling and makeup an excellent creative outlet. I was very involved in theatre, and my first long-term job was in a salon doing reception and management. Life happened, and years later, I found myself a single mother living in Las Vegas, and there was no other option for me to pursue my dreams. Read more>>

Sybil Godwin

I was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. I attended North Carolina State University for college, and after graduating, I moved to Atlanta to work in galleries for 10 years. In 2013, I moved back to Charlotte and, in 2017, became the owner of Shain Gallery. Contemporary art gallery in Charlotte, NC, Shain Gallery represents over forty nationally and regionally acclaimed artists. It welcomes clients just beginning to collect art and those who have been collecting for years. The gallery offers consultation and acquisition assistance and an annual schedule of exhibitions. Read more>>

Blaque Diamond

Her father left the family when she was six years old, so her mother raised her. Her dog died when she was 10 years old. She was tampered with as a child. She grew up with seven older siblings. Her dream of becoming an International Judge shifted gears when she was in high school. She contemplated suicide when she was 20. She was on the run after a hit was put on her and her family. Her husband’s body lay in the morgue for three weeks without being identified, although he had identification in his wallet, which was in his pocket, and on his body before she found him. Read more>>

Sarah Glenn Boman

After graduating from the College of Charleston in 2009, amid the recession, I did not know what I wanted to do for work. My goal at that time was to be employed. From then on, my career path was mostly exploratory. I was all over the map working in retail, HR, hospitality, and admin roles until I finally was able to see what was right in front of me and had been all along – a passion for interiors. Read more>>

Tamika Sherman

I started my social media management company, Artistically Graced, in 2019 after discovering small business owners wanted to keep up with social media. Still, they needed more time to manage social media because they were focused on client services. After developing content and covering events as the social media manager for a local DJ in Columbia, SC, the agency was launched. Read more>>

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