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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.

Jon Michael Simpson

As a kid, I remember finding family’s home video collection for the first time and being completely mesmerized. I watched them over and over memorizing all the details I could, telling my brothers and sisters about hilarious moments they had to see, and marking my favorites. We started viewing these as a family over the holidays and it was magic sharing experiences that made us laugh, cry and rediscover things like the incredible mustache my dad used to have. Read more>>

Mary Beth Wesley

I’m Mary Beth Wesley, owner and lead designer. I graduated from Texas A&M University in 2018 (WHOOP) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Horticulture – Floral Design and Event Planning, a minor in Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences – Tourism Management, a certificate in Professional Event Management and a certificate in Hospitality Management. Fifty Seven Bloom Co. was established in 2021 after working for Urban Rubbish Floristry for five years. Read more>>

Taylor Harrell

I started Lively Company with $500 in the bank and rent was due in less than two weeks. I couldn’t fail, and so I went for it. Lively Company was founded in Austin, Texas in October 2019. Lively has since grown to be an award-winning company and expanded to six businesses. Lively is woman-owned and women-led. My sister and I started Lively during Covid-19 by selling handmade vegan bath-bombs and soaps. It was something fun and educational to do with my baby sister ( we are 21 years apart). Along with Lively, I created five other companies in the digital space. It was a wild and humbling experience to come from making bath-bombs to now working with multiple billion-dollar brands. Read more>>

Whitney McElwain

Daybird was created by two female founders of color and local Austinites, Whitney and Veena. Daybird stemmed from their desire to dissociate from traditional standards of what “beauty” and “perfection” mean. More steps and more products to cover and cure their faces didn’t resonate with founders Whitney and Veena. They were looking for a product that did more for their skin without adding unnecessary stress to their mornings. Read more>>

Tori Murphy

Growing up, I’ve always had an interest in photography. My dad used to have a dark room in his house when he was younger, and my grandpa always had a camera on him to capture all of the special moments. I was super fascinated with the idea that a moment could be captured and seen physically or digitally, a moment that couldn’t ever be relived, but a moment you could remember how you felt by seeing an image that reminds you of a birthday or when you rode a bicycle for the first time. Cameras have always been expensive to me. My grandpa gave me this polaroid camera and that’s basically how I started.. I also had a camera on my Nintendo ds that I used..hehe. Read more>>

Amy Silva

I grew up in Austin and have always loved arts/crafts/creating with my hands in a variety of scales. From seed bead jewelry to friendship bracelets to oil painting, I’ve always loved design and art. Art as a career was not something my Asian parents were very supportive of so I decided to major in Architecture – what I thought would be an acceptable design focused career. I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor’s of Architecture. I was hired at a firm in downtown Austin from the UT Career Fair and learned a lot those first years while enjoying the downtown Austin life as a young single working adult – hiking in the green belt, running Town Lake loops and paddle boarding after work. Read more>>

Misty Smith

I started my adventure into self-employment full-time when I turned 30. At that time, I had the hoop business for 8 years and knew I did not want to do anything to take away from performing and teaching hoop dance. I took up real estate but kept hoop dance front of mind. I worked for bars down in Central Austin on Rainey. I also worked for the University of Texas, teaching hoop dance as an informal class. Also, for 8 years, I taught summer camps at the Georgetown Rec Center. I opened my own hoop studio in North Austin, which was very successful. Read more>>

Corina Corbeille, RN, CANS

Corina Corbeille, RN, CANS is a Registered Nurse and Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist by the International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Nurses. She has been in medical aesthetics in Beverly Hills and Austin for 20+ years. With numerous certifications, TV/radio airtime, magazine publications, and in 2017, recognized as a “RealSelf Most Loved Injector”, she is a true artist creating natural-looking results! Corina has a passion for educating her clients, customizing full face care plans, and enhancing one’s own natural beauty in a safe and professional environment. She believes the experience is just as important as creating the results. Read more>>

Rachel Lately

Originally from San Antonio, I moved to Austin in 2009 to attend school at UT Austin and then started my blog in 2010 while a student because I needed a creative outlet. My blog was an excuse to get out and explore the city of Austin! In 2016 I created my side project, 512Bites, where the focus was more on the local food scene here in Austin. I’m grateful I’ve kept up with this venture for over a decade because it brings me so much joy when people tell me they tried a recommendation because of my account. I want other people to get the most out of the city and see why I love it so much! Read more>>

Griselda Melendez

Hello, my name is Griselda Melendez. I am the owner of La Catrina & Co, Fine Western Boutique. My business journey began in Odessa, TX. A small oilfield town in West Texas back in 2021. I am so passionate about fashion and culture, I wanted to pursue my career as a fashion designer and that’s why I decided to relocate near Austin, TX. La Catrina & Co. is currently located at the Tanger Outlets in San Marcos Texas. We are expecting our brand line to be launched in new year, the collection will be full of embroidered and bedded details inspired by my Mexican and Texan roots. Read more>>

Savannah Knippa

I’ll never forget my first concert. I was 15 years old and didn’t even have my driver’s license yet, so I dragged both of my parents and my younger brother to Sabrina Carpenter’s EVOLution tour in 2016. I didn’t know the first thing about attending a concert, and I was enamored with everything: the lights, the crowds, the anticipation in the waiting period between the opener and the headliner. I also didn’t know what an encore was and ended up sitting on the sidewalk outside the venue, forced to listen to one of my favorite songs from a distance.  Read more>>

Brett Quigley

As a kid, I wanted to create a streetwear brand. I had a journal where I drew designs in that included denim, hats, tees and bags. I was a very creative kid and I loved casual, street clothing with a bit of an edge. I always felt different growing up, so I appreciated styles and imagery that spoke to creatives and the “misfits” of their time. When I got older, I faced addiction issues that left me almost dead a handful of times. Much of my late teens and early 20s were spent in an out of hospitals, rehab, and sober living.  Read more>>

Erika Ristovski

Erika experienced a big awakening at the beginning of 2019. She was working as a teaching artist, both in Philadelphia and the Bay Area for several years, and was also an exhibiting artist, focusing heavily on political art. It came to a point where she felt drained, exhausted, and completely out of alignment. After a lot of soul searching, Erika started to remember and recognize her other gifts: her passion for energy work and spiritual growth. Read more>>

Jordyn Pollack

My name is Jordyn, and I am one of the Co-founders of Ziggy’s Naturals, a CBD Company. I am a chef by trade and have been working in the Cannabis industry for the past 5 years now. My father and I started Ziggy’s Naturals several years ago because we strongly believed in all the benefits CBD can have for people. My brother Jake joined the company, and we are now building our family business together. This is a dream come true for all of us. Our focus has been helping the LGBTQ+ community as I am a transgender male, and I am keenly aware of how much our products help people that identify as LGBTQ+. On a personal level, I love working out, hiking, snowboarding and hanging with my wife, Ziggy and our furry children, Pika, Ozzy, and Harlow. Read more>>

Jeramie Chittick

I have been tattooing since 2003. I began and spent the majority of my career in Indianapolis, Indiana. I focused early on as a new school color artist and have evolved into being that as well as realism, both black and grey as well as a color artist. Traditional American, neo-traditional and Americanized Japanese style tattooer. I can do almost any style asked of me. I do tend to stick to mostly large-scale works but I really enjoy tattooing anything. I moved to the Austin area during the pandemic and have just recently begun working at Flying Tiger Tattoo off of Parmer. Read more>>

Courtney Polson

I knew I was never going to fit the mold society wanted me to. In high school, I transferred to a self-paced program by senior year, where I not only graduated early, but split my time giving full-time care to a family with a child fighting brain cancer, as well as an evening restaurant gig. It’s not that school was hard for me, but rather, the opposite. I found school under-stimulating and desperately needed other ways to keep myself busy. Through this discovery process, I learned how important accountability is, testing my strengths and weaknesses, and maintaining happiness to share with others. Fast forward to 2022, where I now own and operate my own naturally derived hair salon in Wimberley, Texas. Read more>>

Kristian Best

I moved from St. Louis, MO to Texas all alone at the beginning peak of Covid to pursue my dream. At the time, I had no idea what my dream really was. I just wanted a better life and I found much more. Without taking that first risk, I would have never found my purpose or career. I’ve always loved art and creating is my calling. I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today without it. Now I travel the entire country doing what I love, and it feels like my dream came true. I’ll Be featured on HGTVS Renovation Impossible this Nov. Tune in! Read more>>

Yana Tait

I have been passionate about photography, art, and fashion my whole life. I enjoyed capturing the beauty around, family and friends. It was my hobby and so many people told me that I should start to do photography professionally. But it took several years for me to realize that I really could turn my hobby into a real profession. I was a sale manager in the past and about three years ago, I focused only on my photography education and practicing. It was not so easy path at all, but I so deeply loved what I do! Read more>>

Tamika Sturgis

The beauty industry has always been my dream since the age of 7 years old. I went to Texas Southern University and got my degree in Business Administration from the JHJ school of business. Received my Cosmetology license from Paul Mitchell, The School. Opening my first salon, The Look Salon Houston in 2015, now expanded to 3 locations in Texas including Houston, Katy & Austin. Read more>>

Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda

Like many traditional Indian families, mine is a very conservative one that places importance on education over everything else. My parents wanted me to be well-qualified academically to secure a career. So I had to join engineering for my undergraduate degree. But cinema has been part of my life ever since I was a child. Just the experience of consuming images with sound had a profound effect on me. I was a cinephile before I became a filmmaker. Read more>>

Jack Kaulfus

Brand New Key began in 2012 when Amy Moreland and I decided to get together to learn some bluegrass tunes. We’d met a few times at shows and community events, and I knew she was a fantastic musician. She was coming off a decade-long stint with Darling New Neighbors, and I wanted out of a seven-year musical slump. We both had plenty of original songs and no one to sing them with, and it was like meeting my musical soulmate. Read more>>

Andrew Olateru

I started my DJ Journey back in Fayetteville, Arkansas. But before I started DJ’n, I have a company called concept entertainment which I started in 2012-2013. I used to bring artists to the city back then, artists like Twista, Tony Romiti, Kap G, etc. For every event I had back then, I needed a Dj so I would hire Djs and whenever they do their thing, I just watch them and found it fascinating. So I decided to get my own starting DJ equipment. I remember back then, I practice at least 4-5 hours a day and 7 days a week.  Read more>>

Mario Angel

I’m an artist in every way. From music, to fashion, to imagery/ art. I can do it all. I have been like this since I was a little kid growing up in my mom and dad’s tattoo shops and going to my dad’s show. He even used to put me up on the stage, all that really stuck with me and made me crave greatness. Now I will just be making whatever I feel like, limitless for real. Definitely not been smooth, from managing relations, money, customers, marketing, etc. Read more>>

Amanda Wong

I started Austin Food Adventures when I was a sophomore in college at UT Austin. At the time I was studying to get into nursing school and I was in a long-distance relationship with my high school sweetheart. Growing up in Austin, I’ve always been a fan of eating out and I found Instagram to be the perfect spot to post my finds and favorite spots. My food account started initially with the idea of posting the food spots I ate on the weekends with my long-distance boyfriend, who is now my fiancé. Over time I was blown away from the growth and level of support I received through Instagram. Read more>>

K dot LA

I grew up in a big family, raised in and around love and support. For so long, I knew many things that I found interesting, but I didn’t know where I would fit in. After many summer camps, passing phases, and many prayers, I fell in love with the art of Music! I am now, in 2022, professionally and independently living out my dream! My great-grandmother always said, “all you have to do is believe! That’s half the battle.” Read more>>

Gabe and Matt Ellis

[Gabe] We knew nothing about wine 15 years ago. It was intimidating at first because so many industry terms sounded unfamiliar: tannins, fruit-forward, varietals, etc. I got interested in wine during my tenure in the tech industry as a Learning & Development professional. The first time I visited a winery was during a work trip to San Jose where I met our good friend, Holly. She offered to get me out of the hotel room and drive up to Napa Valley for the weekend. To this day, we still reminisce about my first wine-tasting experience over that weekend many years ago. That first trip made a huge impression on me. Read more>>

Taylor Gorman

My name is Taylor, and I am a touring musician, podcaster, and content creator in Austin, Texas. I started my first business in the cannabis industry in Portland, Oregon in 2016 and since then have pivoted to the creative field. At the cannabis business, I was in charge of sales, distribution & marketing, driving products around the state and selling to shops as well as creating the brand and running the social media accounts. This is where my passion for content creation and photography began to “bloom.” Read more>>

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