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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.

Alexandria Hollowell

On April 01, 2020, Chef & Restaurateur Alexandria Hollowell was laid off from her career as a direct result of the unknown financial consequences for businesses in the midst of Covid-19. On that same day, she had several packages arrive in anticipation of LE Meals™ being a weekend gig that she intended to operate on weekends (around her job). After receiving the phone call of bad news, she quickly went into survival mode and set up a table, tent, and marketing tools curbside of her home. She came up with dessert recipes on the spot, jarred them and took them outside to begin selling. Within the first 5 minutes, she was approached by a neighbor that asked to sample her Melanin Goddess. That same neighbor came back a 10 minutes later and completely bought her out of every last dessert she had. From this point forward, Alexandria would sell out on a weekly basis, anywhere from two to three times a week. She used the last of her savings to fund the initial startup of LE Meals™ and took a huge risk by doing so. Read more>>

Katelyn Fletcher

We are KlearCut Media! A full service women owned digital agency headquartered in Dallas, Austin, and Oklahoma City! We started KCM in college. Me and my best friend and cofounder Kat Allen got into film and content creation during our time at Southern Methodist University through our Greek organization. From there, we started supporting our Dallas clients with other marketing solutions including social media strategy, web design, consulting, and more! We would give them back completed content, and they would want further help on how to best utilize it. We were having a blast with it while still in school, and we became determined to work as hard as we could the 2nd half of college to make it a full time career post grad. Now, we are a growing team in multiple cities. Our top offerings are video/photo content creation, social media strategy, marketing plans, and web design. We have clients all over the country, and enjoy being able to travel to assist them throughout the year!. Read more>>

Amanda Lopez-Wilkins

I didn’t know what I was doing or getting into when I started in boudoir photography. I was still tethered to a lot of outdated beliefs about womens bodies and how societies expectations of women were tools continuously used to reinforce sexism, racism, colorism, classism, ableism, ageism, and gender norms. I started running into lessons, I felt were obstacles at the time, that would challenge these beliefs the more women I worked with. I wondered ‘why women didn’t want to jump on the opportunity to look sexy on camera’ and the more I dug, asked, interviewed women, the more my world would crumble around me. By the way, there are plenty of reasons why. I can save you the details for another time, however it exposed an unoccupied space where photographers took time before the photoshoot to deeply connect with who they were working with. People were left unseen, unheard, judged and unsafe. It had me pivot my whole mission to normalizing normal bodies and the human experiences that came with them. Read more>>

Joshua Parkhurst

I got through school doodling everything, from my thoughts to my notes. I didn’t expect to use art as career but when my art instructor in college convinced me there was an opportunity through graphic design I jumped on right away. I worked for a couple of design firms, one designed a Houston Astros logo, another was a new startup and then I worked for a home builder, designed billboards along i35 and various neighborhood logos. Eventually the housing market crashed. It was then I decided to take control of my own destiny and begin launching my own graphic design company full time. It started slow as usual but I noticed everywhere I go and wherever I work I can stop from designing something or looking at how it could be different. The graphic design path has taken me down many marketing roads and I have since included online marketing such as managing Google Ads and Facebook Ads as a service I provide. My passion still lies with small business startups and helping new ventures grow. Read more>>

Hillary Guest

I launched my private practice in North Austin January 2020, just before COVID-19 closures took hold. I initially began due to a strong desire to specialize in pediatric and infant feeding disorders (a service that is greatly needed as many more newborns are NICU-grads or being diagnosed with developmental delays). I also craved having the flexibility that comes with operating my own business. Additionally, I wanted to serve families in their natural environments while providing a quality of care that isn’t always possible when treatment sessions are scheduled back-to-back by some outpatient clinics. I’ve actually had an intense interest in working with this population for years, although I took a winding path to get to where I am. In the past, I’ve worked for renowned children’s hospitals (such as Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center), K-8 charter schools, and used to work throughout the state of Michigan performing transdisciplinary neurodevelopmental child trauma assessments with Easterseals. Read more>>

Stephanie Boone

I thought I was keeping my Luna safe by using common flea-and-tick medication and pest control services. Then she started suffering devastating side effects including hot spots, seizures, and liver and kidney failure. My vet told me she had lived a long life and recommended I put her down, but that was never an option for me. When you love someone, you do everything in your power to protect them, so I started researching ingredients in the products I was using on, in, and around her for pest protection. I was shocked to learn they contained neurotoxic poisons. That means the ingredients go throughout the body and create life-threatening issues. And we weren’t alone in our experience – by a long shot. So many animals and humans suffer from harmful pesticide exposure. We’re all doing the best we can, buying more and more organic produce, being mindful about what’s in our personal care products, but we’re still putting harmful pesticides, directly on and in our dogs and cats, while spraying our homes and yards with solutions that aren’t safe for them or us. Read more>>

Nicholas Hunt

I fell in love with movies way before I started creating. I love the way you can make emotions and feelings change by strategically putting scenes that you create together. As far as CANTSTOPMEDIA it started right after I graduated from the amazing Prairie View A&M University. I started by doing free work for small businesses in my community in Austin. From there everything started to grow from my filmmaking, creating commercials to taking high-end photographs. Read more>>

Gabriella Santos

Home With Hound really is just a combination of my favorite things: photography, knitting, dogs. Both knitting and photography have been a part of my life since I was a young girl, and in 2017 my husband and I brought home our first puppy, a Miniature Australian Shepherd named Lindy. In 2018 while living in California, I connected with a small local dog business called Hundenfolk. I really liked their products so I asked to team up with them to take some of their product photography. Ultimately, the deal was photography practice for me, and free photos for them. The relationship became this really wonderful friendship, and we are still friends today. It was a neat experience to be able to watch someone working to grow their small business. I would attend all of their pop ups for photos and support, and meanwhile, at home, I had been knitting these dog sweaters. Read more>>

Sam Le

Since I first had access to the Food Network during my childhood, I aspired to become a chef. A decade later, split between a dream and more practical aspirations of a professional job, I completed a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at the University of Texas Austin while working as a dishwasher at a downtown sushi restaurant. Eventually, my work as a dishwasher led me to become a sushi chef, while filling my time as a chemistry teaching assistant. After several years in the restaurant industry, I reassessed my goals in life, and ultimately decided to pursue a different career. Crestfallen of giving up a lifelong passion and feeling rather directionless, it was through a friend that I was introduced to photography as a creative outlet. I found that the technical part of photography appealed to the chemistry side of my brain while learning about aesthetics and plating from being a chef, which helped me gain insight about composition and lighting. My experience of talking to patrons at the sushi counter aided me in taking portraits of people, learning about them and their story. It wasn’t until years later that I reconciled that I hadn’t failed as a chef, but instead used it as a stepping stone to becoming a wedding photographer. Read more>>

Sergio Ramos

I am a composer, guitarist, and singer born in Madrid, Spain. My musical preoccupations led me to learn to play the guitar at age 7. Since then, I have found in music the way of unleashing an entire universe of personal lyrics that took me at age 19 to get on the stage for the first time. My influences range from composers like Sabina, Pedro Guerra, Alejandro Sanz, Jason Mraz … to various styles of music such as foreign pop-rock, flamenco, Cuban son, Bossa, Cumbia…. Before arriving at Austin, I had the great pleasure to be invited to play in venues in Spain (the mythical Rincón del Arte Nuevo, Teatro Montacargas, Sala Lemon, Studio 29, CC Alfredo Kraus), Europe (Germany-Berlin, Polonia-Warsaw and France-Bordeaux), Colombia (Bogotá) and the United States. I am now leading the amazing Latin Dukes! We are a 5-member Nuevo Flamenco, Rock, Salsa, Afro-Latin, Brazilian, funk hybrid sound band from Austin, Texas. The Latin Dukes transcend genres and languages. We create a global soundscape; blending influences from Brazil, Latin America, The Caribbean, Spain, the USA, and East Europe. Read more>>

Joi Antoinette

The desire to help others started the entire journey from a stay home mom with interest in preserving youth gracefully to a Beauty Studio. Ultimately building a deeper support for my clients is how the journey into studying Nursing with Holistic Approaches began. Read more>>

Sarah Biggerstaff

Back at the age of twenty three I was working as the assistant to a local entrepreneur, the Rainey Street Queen, Bridget Dunlap. What a unique and profound experience it was working closely with Bridget; I believe it must have been a greater power in the universe that brought us together. Bridget instilled in me not only her entrepreneurial spirit but her never-give-up and don’t-take-no-for-an-answer attitude, which is how she came to achieve what she has today. She always used to say “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock n’ roll” (from the AC/DC song). I can still hear her voice in my head as she frequently said that during her presentations and public speaking engagements. While working for Bridget, I purchased my first home in Austin – a little two-bedroom bungalow that was rough around the edges but had lots of charm and potential. The house was a foreclosure and the process was complicated and stressful (it was a multiple-offer situation even back in 2012). Coming out of that experience. Read more>>

Uncommon People

The true origin of Uncommon People is a much longer story than what we’ll shorten for the sake of this interview. However, the foundation of how the group formed was when Tony Aguilera sat down with co-worker and guitarist, Devin Tovar at lunch. Having both previously been in bands, they shared a common outlook and subsequent musical taste. Tony – “It was a last ditch effort. We were both frustrated with our music careers at the time. I had just sold all of my music equipment.” Devin – “It was time for us to test the metal. To show ourselves what we were capable of.” The immediate connection ignited not only an idea but also a friendship. The duo eventually recruited Tony’s friend Dan, the drummer and another bassist. The jam band began creating songs but Devin felt that something was missing. He searched for local singers feeling that the band needed vocals in order to be complete. Devin remembered meeting Zeke a few years prior and when Zeke became his and Tony’s co-worker in 2019 invited him over for a jam session. Another immediate connection, they all began creating music and starting performing only 2 months later. Read more>>

Cortney Zieky

I’ve been a health and fitness enthusiast my entire life. Long before “wellness” became an industry I was out there researching the latest diet trends, trying new supplements, experimenting with different forms of self-care + recovery, expanding my workouts and trying new recipes in the kitchen. I grew up as a competitive dancer and cheerleader, and have always loved exercise. In college I became a certified Pilates instructor, and now I teach Barre3. Daily movement inspires me to care for myself and simply makes me feel good! Motherhood pushed me to expand my knowledge of nutrition. The notion of nourishing my children in the best way possible, with “real food” was so inspiring. I devoured health blogs, cooked my way through plant based cookbooks, attended health expositions, demonstrations and workshops, I simply fell in love with my health driven lifestyle. Read more>>

Thom Singer

When I was working in a sales and marketing career, I would attend many conferences. While sitting in the meeting room chairs, I would watch the speaker and think “Wow, he or she has a better job than I do”. Thus I began studying the business of speaking. When the great recession in 2009 left me laid off from a marketing job, I decided to go full time into the business of speaking. For eleven years I did well as a keynote speaker and master of ceremonies. Then came the pandemic and the live meetings business was shuttered for nearly 18 months. So I reinvented. While I am still a speaker, I now also do coaching, host podcasts for companies and associations, and I went to work for an executive search firm. My current story is one of doing several things to earn my living, but it is fun and challenging. And in reality, all those areas are in alignment. Read more>>

Jesse Mondragon

Algo Dulce’s story begins with my dad, Jesus “Chuy” Mondragon. He was born in Mexico City, and since ever since he was a kid, he loved to cook. When my parents immigrated to Austin almost 40 years ago, my dad began to work as a cook and my mom as a housekeeper. Although we grew up very poor, my dad always made sure he could cook something good for us. He was always creative with food, and even has a book full of recipes. Our favorite thing he’d always make for us was his flan. He would make it for us a lot, and I fell in love with it the first time I had it when I was young. Fast forward to 2019, I was working at Whole Foods Corporate as a data analyst and finishing up my Master’s in Business from UT-Austin. During this year I decided that I was going to take the leap to entrepreneurship but I just did not know what I was going to do. I had absolutely zero business background and always felt like I couldn’t do it. A lot of my doubt came from the fact that I was a first generation Mexican-American, son of immigrants, with a comfortable job. Read more>>

Rachel Roberts

I opened Flourish almost 4 years ago, with an idea of having a little neighborhood plant shop. I wanted to create a plant shop that was more of a boutique feel with a more modern look. I source planters that are not the typical styles you see in nurseries. I also curate a smaller collection of houseplants that are more unique and also on trend. I pick out all the best available plants each week, so our customers can shop a small and thoughtful collection. The idea of Flourish is to bring plants into your space as interior design + all the added benefits of living with plants. Read more>>

Ariel René Jackson

I was born in Monroe, LA and raised in New Orleans. After getting accepted to The Cooper Union in New York City I moved (2009). I worked and made artwork through various residencies and fellowships in NYC for seven years. I got accepted to several graduate programs and received a competitive scholarship from UT Austin and decided to move here for Graduate School (2017). I’ve been in Austin since then curating The Cage Match Project, working for Deborah Roberts as a studio assistant, collaborating with artists, and flourishing in my practice as I apply for grants, generate commissioned works, and exhibit my films nationally and internationally. Read more>>

Rhea Rose

I have always loved creating art since I was a little girl writing and illustrating stories for school and drawing pictures of musicians for my peers. I always thought and acted differently as well. I assumed I was just peculiar. For 9th and 10th grade I was able to attend a performing arts high school as we were a military family and moved often. This was the first time I felt like I belonged somewhere. Then we moved again and I remained focused on my pursuit in the medical field as I had always envisioned. By the time I graduated high school I had a full scholarship to study veterinary medicine at Tuskegee University. At the same time, I discovered that I was pregnant with a beautiful baby girl. I wanted nothing more than to be a stay at home mom just like my mom was and spend every minute with her. And that I did. After about a year of full time motherhood I started dabbling in fashion design, then found myself right back at art again. Friends started paying me to draw portraits for them. Read more>>

Erica Shamaly

Combining both her management experience and marketing expertise within the music and creative industries, Erica is responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of the City of Austin’s Music & Entertainment Division to develop and implement initiatives that help accelerate the growth of the music and entertainment industry and its infrastructure. She served as the Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director of the Austin School of Film @ Motion Media Arts Center for nearly 10 years before becoming Director of Marketing & Business Development for the Reverberation Appreciation Society / Levitation (formerly Austin Psych Fest). Erica was Director of Marketing at Austin City Limits Live and 3TEN at ACL Live for three years before coming to the City of Austin in 2017. Read more>>

Amy Stanfield

I’ve always had a passion for organization, events and helping people have fun. After graduating from Purdue, I worked in the marketing industry for several years and loved it. I got married and then switched careers managing my husband’s optometry office. After ten years of that, I decided it was time to do something more fun! I found a property about 20 minutes from where we lived that I thought would be perfect for events. It included a horse barn and a beautiful, historical house with an amazing outdoor area. We closed on the property at the end of 2017 and began renovations in early 2018. The horse barn was gutted, interior redone and extra space added to make it an elegant/rustic/romantic venue that we hoped couples would love. Harper Hill Ranch has been open for almost 3 years now and the business has surpassed my original dreams. In that time, we’ve worked hard and been blessed with bookings, met and worked with wonderful people and survived a pandemic!. Read more>>

Miya Lathers

My journey to self-growth and love started when I had my son, not immediately after but around the time he was about 1 1/2 years old. I’ve been raising him by myself with the help of my mom since day 1 of him being on earth. It was struggle now knowing what or how to even be a mom correctly, especially by myself. Around that same time, I ended up meeting someone else, instant connection to where everything was rushed. It ended, and it made me want to go harder in finding out who I am, where I want to be, and where I can go. So, I loc’d my hair 02/2020. Since then, I’ve been learning about self-love, self-worth, crystals, herbs, anything just natural and beautiful in the world. I ended up making my own loc spray and shared it on social media. I got so much feedback that I thought I could turn this into a business. So fast forward to 12/2020, I got my LLC for my business SOUGA. In the mix of it all, I fell back in love with the person who hurt yet showed me my worth in ways I never knew. Read more>>

Ariana Onyemata

I’ve always been a very determined, self-driven, intelligent, confident & straightforward individual. Throughout my life I was grateful to have parents that wanted to see me do better in general. On my artistry journey, I feel like it’s intertwined with how I view & handle things in real life. So, I started doing anything involving makeup my junior senior year of high school. I was on the dance team so I was required to wear some type of makeup. As I progressed to college, I started to do makeup on myself more, for parties/on friends or just because! That’s something people always noticed about me. It actually wasn’t until after I left college that I started working at Ulta Beauty & that pretty much sealed the deal when it came to makeup. My manager there taught me how to properly color match, what’s new, what’s best for the skin, etc. In addition to this, my homegirl “Q” would always be like “you should do makeup” & after some time thinking about it and being completely blind to how to run a legit business. I thought why not! I was sleep! In November, 2018, I started providing services to people via social media. Read more>>

Katie Krieger

We founded Round Rock Health & Wellness Center in 2004 with a dream of offering a wide variety of natural health services to help our community to heal and be well. We offer massage, chiropractic, health coaching and acupuncture. Read more>>

Yenis Monterrey

I’m a bilingual actress (English-Spanish), film producer, influencer, philanthropic, entertainment writer, and blogger on vipdiscoveries.com. I love diversifying my skills and for me diversification matters because the world is changing rapidly and it’s important nowadays like in the financial principle of investment: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” just like Oprah, Kardashians and many celebrities out there. I love learning because it makes my brain happy and keeps me positive and proactive. I’m always improving myself and reinventing myself! I love having my own blog since I have my own space to share my passion with my followers creatively by connecting, and educating. I love sharing with my readers the brands I like and at the same time earning a passive income with the affiliates. One of my biggest passions is acting and I have had the opportunity to be with a film at the Cannes Film Festival the world’s most widely publicized and most important film festival with a worldwide impact! This is something I have done for more than a decade with TV commercials or independent films in Los Angeles and Austin. Read more>>

Chris Trapani

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY and started my hospitality career there. Moved to Austin in 2006 after meeting my wife online (on AOL when that was a thing) and started my company in 2012 after being in corporate dining for many years. And gaining a personal following for my food/style, I wanted a change, my own thing, freedom. I started Urban Cowboy Catering (urbancowboyfood.com) with a food truck and doing small catered events without the truck as well. (Urban Cowboy – because I am from NY/not because of the movie) After years of DIY marketing and pushing for the best, we have grown with two catering kitchen locations, a close knit team of staff and our own wedding / social event venue in Smithville called Ponderosa (ponderosaeventstx.com). To me, Austin and its surrounding areas still feel like a small town. I know so many people, all over, and recognize faces all the time. One of the things I love about being in and around Austin. Read more>>

Harlee Keller

I got started when I was a kid- my dad was a sports editor for my local paper, so I would follow him around at games. He did all of the high school sports photography for that paper, so there was always lots of cameras in my life. When I was in high school, I was in the yearbook class and volunteered to do the sports for that, and then my parents bought me my own camera once I had committed to learning more about photography. I did several classmates’ senior photos when we were graduating tpp. When I moved to Reno (NV) for college, I started my business for real- and started shooting couples as well as weddings. I kept up with sports back home where my dad was a high school football coach. My fiancé joined my photography business in 2016, and we’ve just grown in the business from there. We currently shoot weddings, specializing in western weddings, as well as business branding. I bring out the old sports skills for some rodeos and local football games when I’ve been asked to. Read more>>

Caitlin Warner

I’m a registered nurse turned wedding photographer. I grew up with a camera by my side and was raised by an artist father that taught me photography at a young age. I took documentary photography abroad in Prague while I studied at UT Austin, but for some reason I never considered photography as a future career choice. One day my friends asked me to take their engagement photos since I was always taking photos for fun. Other couples starting asking me to take their engagement photos and eventually their weddings. My business took off quickly in 2015 as I was working full time as a registered nurse on a Telemetry unit at Seton Hays. Eventually I took on less nursing shifts while I grew my photography business. I have studied film photography at numerous photography workshops and learned to use medium format film as a basis for all of my digital editing. Now I’ve photographed hundreds of weddings and have been internationally published. Read more>>

Anneka High Bowers

I’ve always joked that I was born between the paws of a lion- this slick line made it in to my college application essay and won me a ticket to the University of Texas Art History programme in 2016. Now as a twenty-something-year-old drop out my earliest memory of being offered to the great iron beast in London’s Trafalgar Square feels more like prophecy than a recollection. I was born in Austin, Tx, brought home from a hospital which no longer exists by two career artists who adopted me into a life of wanderlust, creative hunger, and veracious hunt for meaning. it’s no surprise that my first love and heart break would be creating works of art I hated once finished- there is nothing quite so pitiful and sincere as an artist’s illusion of grandeur shattering and after a lifetime of what felt like holding my head between lion’s jaws I found myself desperate to find the expressive niche I longed for. Read more>>

Jill Bentley

Stoke Juice was started in the back of my parents grocery store in a small town in Western Canada. With a passion to reduce produce waste I was motivated to find ways to use up a half a case of lemons here a few bunches of kale there. The company organically grew into much more than just a little juicing project. We now have a home base in Western Canada and Austin, Texas. Seems like a long cry from Texas right? Well, my life and business partner Alistair is from Texas so when the opportunity arose to start juicing in Austin, we jumped on it. Read more>>

Amanda Massey

I have always known I would work in the field of healthcare. My original plan was to become a surgeon. After breaking my femur falling off of a horse when I was a child and going through a challenging surgery I was fascinated with doctor’s abilities to “fix” people. This injury in my youth did not stop me from partaking in many equestrian activities including jumping, dressage and polo. With all equestrian sports, come additional injuries to the body, and after injuring my back playing polo at Texas A&M University, I realized chiropractic was my true calling. My chiropractor at Texas A&M inspired me to become a chiropractor for people and animals. I wanted to specialize in taking care of equestrians and their horses, which are true athletes, to be able to run, jump and maneuver their bodies with a rider balanced atop. My first job out of chiropractic school was working for one of the top sports medicine chiropractors in Dallas who specialized in treating Elite Athletes, many of our patients were Olympic figure skaters, professional hockey players, select volleyball players and even the US Womens soccer team when they were visiting for a match. Read more>>

Megan Hutchison-Cates

I’m originally from Southern California — but before you get mad at me for living in Austin, I fell in love and married a Texan who refused to live in LA [and rightfully so] and here I am. My family is from South Africa and I spent a lot of time there as a child [I go back when I can] and I think a lot of my creativity and storytelling comes from that magical place. I’ve been drawing my whole life, ever since I can remember, but I never knew it could be a career. I guess let’s start from the beginning. Hopefully this isn’t too boring. If it is, skip it, I’ll never know [just don’t tell me] Picking what you’re going to do for the rest of your life when you’re 18 and graduating high school is ridiculous — can we all agree on that? Originally I wanted to go into physics, my dad and my brother are both engineers so I have science blood in my veins, but I found out I was dyslexic my junior year of high school and knew that doing long equations would be very difficult. My mom suggested I go into her field, graphic design [she was the first female art director at McCann in South Africa, very impressive]. It seemed to be creative and practical — plus you could get a job when you graduated, right? I attended UCLA and had a great time, learned a lot, explored my creative side [that’s not a euphemism for anything, cheaky]. Read more>>

Anna Tsui

I caught the entrepreneurial bug right after I graduated college in 2008. I was working as the operational manager in a high-tech business incubator and I became friends with many of the entrepreneurs there. They saw how hard I worked: I was the first person in and the last person out. I was also the youngest and least paid employee. I began to see the world through their eyes and soon realized that even my best efforts at my job would offer a minimum reward, but I could go into business for myself and be able to directly benefit from my own efforts. Fast forward over a decade later, I found myself a serial, international entrepreneur, having created businesses in China, Italy and the US. They were some of the most rewarding yet difficult experiences. My favorite part of the entrepreneurial journey has always been helping people grow and actualize their dreams, be it my business partners, colleagues or clients. This is why it was such a blessing for me to create my current leadership coaching practice. Read more>>

ALEXANDRIA ANGEL

We got our start from a couple of brides who found our work on social media and were daring enough to trust our talents before we had experience under our belts. We have catered to the Desi bridal community for 14 years since and serve the globe. Read more>>

Colette Wetzel

I moved to Austin in 2016 after completing my degree at Florida State University, a great first job in the fashion marketing industry and a cross country road trip. I knew that Florida wasn’t my forever home and that I wanted to be surrounded my like-minded creatives making an impact in the world. Upon moving here, I struggled to find my niche. I quickly realized that the fashion industry wasn’t nearly as robust as I had hoped. I was working in a small retail shop in the summer of 2017 when I conceptualized Cultured Grazing Co.Food and joyous celebrations have always been the center of my life. I come from a very large, loud, French Canadian family. Think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” but in Florida and French. My mom was one of ten siblings and I have at least 30 first cousins. We gathered for every reason. We threw massive amounts of food down on the tables, gabbed, played, danced, and relished in the enjoyment of each other’s company. Read more>>

Viraj Desai

I founded Swish Dental in Austin with a desire to do two things: change the way people feel about the dentist and empowerment of women in dentistry. Let’s face it, people are not excited about visiting the dentist and as the industry becomes more corporate, the personal touch of a healthcare professional is lost. ‍ At Swish, the focus is on elevating the patient experience through a comfort-centric approach. My vision focuses on studios that are friendly, welcoming, and familiar places for people to receive care. To reflect that, the offices embody the unique characteristics of the Austin neighborhood they are a part of. At every turn, Swish is innovating! I wanted to found a local dental group that is on the forefront of general and cosmetic dentistry. At Swish, we utilize the highest level of technology and I am always looking for ways to make our services and quality of care to the next level. Read more>>

Betsabe “Bitsy” Esparza

Black Widow MMA was officially founded in January 2019. I had never intended to open a gym. In June 2018, I was an assistant instructor in a very small Muay Thai gym in a shared space with another school. Everything changed June 10th and it paved the way for Black Widow MMA to form into the gym it is today. Have you ever seen that scene in a movie where someone is thrown out of a vehicle and their luggage is tossed out after them? Well, that’s exactly how my relationship ended in 2018. It was Father’s Day weekend and I was tossed 4 hours away from Austin with no way to return. To further complicate things, I was living with this now ex and we were both running the Muay Thai program together. But the breakup was long overdue. He had been physically and mentally abusive for years and facing homelessness with seven doggies and not much else to offer, well it wasn’t as bad as staying trapped in a toxic relationship. Read more>>

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