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Downtown’s Hidden Gems

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 downtown’s gems below.

Elliot Holden

Elliot Holden is an American Rock, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Pop, Blues, Classical Fusion artist. Currently based in Atlanta GA, Holden was born in Germany and lived all over the world is from a military family. His family eventually settled in Augusta, GA where he took up the guitar a few months before his 14th birthday after seeing the movie “Crossroads”. Read more>>

Dianna Palmer

I jumped right into my first internship at Lincoln Center I became more determined to perfect my passion and put everything I learned to the test. Now, 10+ yrs in the game, I have no regrets. My new baby is called * It’s Baked Baby,* a baked potato concept tying all of the cuisines that I love together on a simple potato. Read more>>

Rodney Allen Jr.

Through observing professional jazz musicians, I became fascinated by their freedom and ability to improvise music on the spot and play whatever they heard. I then knew I wanted to pursue jazz music as my purpose. I recognized saxophone as a popular jazz instrument so I switched from percussion to saxophone in Butler High School’s band and I have been playing it ever since. Read more>>

Mr. Fred Pritchett Jr.

I promote local artists and businesses in Atlanta, Georgia. This has allowed me to work with various organizations, disc jockeys, models, promoters, comedians, actors, designers, and local sports teams. Prior, I worked with the college street team Star-Studded Empire (SSE) to promote DJ Carolina X. He performed as a disc jockey in different night clubs and bars in Columbia, SC. Read more>>

Christian Fedison

I’m choosing to highlight my life in performance- theatre. My mother when I was in elementary school went back to college and graduated from Dillard University. She studied Theatre. Because my mother was a single parent, I’d often find myself visiting her classes, sitting in rehearsals and being invited to productions. Read more>>

Darryl Moore a.k.a. RonThaDJ

I go by RonThaDJ a.k.a. DJ Ron. I am from the Deep South of Mississippi, Born in Jackson, MS (City) raised in the (Country) Bolton MS. I am a Nationally known DJ (Tour DJ, Mobile DJ). A lot of my peers say ‘If you can make it out of Mississippi, that is a great accomplishment. But I believe that if you can leave a legacy for your family and generations, then you have justified your time on the earth. Started DJing back in 2009. Read more>>

Tyler Reid

My story may sound like “just another ordinary story”, but for the record; This is MY story… all of the lessons that life has taught me, all of the tough decisions that I’ve had to make, as well as all of the hard work that I’ve had to put in for this… this is what makes my story unique! Read more>>

India Marea

I’ve been obsessed with bringing people together for a good time my whole life. I would have parties or functions for no reason, just to celebrate life. I also helped out a lot for various events we had at school. I paid attention to every detail to ensure it felt like more of an experience than just a party. Read more>>

Dani B

About five years ago, I decided I wanted to take a leap of faith and become a freelance makeup artist. No savings, no just in case this doesn’t work fund, anything. Just the desire to be my own boss and make women pretty in the process. As exciting as being your own boss sounds, it’s a long and hard journey. Read more>>

Aretha Wright

I do not own a business. I am an ordinary citizen making an honest living. I am a person that put my all in anything I do and often people are inspired around me. My daughter submitted my name because even at the age of 29, she thinks there is nothing I can’t do. She is my Biggest Cheerleader for life period. Read more>>

Toya Williams

I can track as early as April 2016 when I started writing about what is now The #FREE Foundation. At the time, I did not have a name and no clear idea of the specifics. All I had was a vision of what I wanted to do and provide for my community. “Be the key that unlocked the needs of my community”, specifically the black, the brown, and underserved communities. Read more>>

Jai Kayee

When it comes to cosplay, I started back in 2011. I’ve always had some pretty nerdy friends, and one year, my best friend asked me to tag along with him to Dragon Con. I had never heard of conventions, but after looking into it, I really didn’t want to go without a costume. Read more>>

Steven Starks

I began my film career in my sophomore year in college. I had no idea what I wanted to do or which direction to go in. But I did know that I’ve always been a people person and I had a way with words that would help grant me access to a lot of opportunities. Read more>>

Ngozi Ikeakanam

On stage, I just go by ‘Ngozi’. I feel like my first name is hard enough for people to pronounce, so why put them through hell with the last. I started doing stand up comedy in January 2013, which was my junior year of college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Read more>>

Ashley Johnson

I started acting at a young age- around eight or nine due to my brother hounding me to star in all of his homemade movies on a camcorder our father bought him for Christmas one year. I was a chronically shy child, but ironically, acting helped me break out of my shell! I began attending drama classes at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, and knew that I was born to be a storyteller! Read more>>

Erica Muckle

Growing up, I always watched my mother take pictures of our family using film. Once the digital camera was released, I then saw her invest in a NIKON camera. While in college after watching the camera sit for so long once, I and my brothers got older and were no longer in her household, I decided to pick it upend use it. Read more>>

Trenton Lumpkin

I became interested in film at a young age, after seeing “The Wonderful World of Disney presents: Polly.” I was captivated by the high energy musical numbers and Director Debbie Allen’s attention to the little details of the scenes that pulled the viewer into the story world. Enhanced by the passionate performances of Kiesha Knight Pullman and Phylicia Rashad, I knew I wanted to be a Director. Read more>>

Massiel Nunez

Growing up; I always loved writing and I always loved being in front of a camera. I would always write short stories and make homemade videos and movies. I knew that whatever I did growing up would have to include one of the two. I was fortunate enough to always be very clear on what my passions were. Read more>>

Keara Jones

I began my theatre training in high school when I attended the Mississippi School of the Arts (MSA) – a residential high school that is located 4 hours from my hometown. I stayed on campus during my junior and senior year as I studied. This was my foundation and one I credit a lot. I also credit the teacher that told me about the school and the after-school program that allowed me to find my purpose. Read more>>

Synetta Hawkins

I’ve always had a passion for fashion, retail & modeling. My dad and Uncle gave me my first job at the age of 13 working at our families store, Hawk’s, but I got my first retail job at the age of 16 working at Hollister. For over ten years, I worked for retail companies Belk, Saks, and Hollister in customer service, sales, merchandising and management. Read more>>

Deian Brooks

Art, graphics, and creative visuals have always seemed to be in my cards or calling. As a young kid, I was always a huge anime nerd, while I loved waking up to Saturday cartoons as early as 6 A.M. to watch Transformers or stay up to watch reruns of Dragon Ball Z on Toonami at 10 P.M. I fell in love with not only the cool graphics and visuals but the imaginations aired out through these shows. Read more>>

Dokk Savage

Well, I’ve always had an interest in photography since elementary school. However, I did not take it seriously until 2009 while assisting my friend, Javan Cornelius of Shoeshine Media on his film projects. He actually encouraged me to take photography serious because he liked the stills I shot behind the scenes on his project. I brushed it off for awhile until I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Read more>>

Brittany Hardy

I am a Georgia native. I attended Georgia Southern University, where I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Child and Family Development. I earned a Master of Family Therapy degree at Mercer University’s School of Medicine. I currently attend the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Read more>>

Vincent Vandiegriff

Learn To Grow, Inc. was founded in 1997 with a strong commitment to empowering the disadvantaged, low income, high-risk population. This organization embarked on profound norms of mutual trust, respect, honesty, effective and healthy communication, professionalism and integrity, continued unity, and mindful representation of the organization. Read more>>

Ami Worthen

The written word and social justice both compelled me from an early age. A tenacious reader and writer, my journal helped carry me to adulthood. Friendships with my classmates whose lives differed from mine informed a budding analysis of oppression as early as adolescence. I became best friends with an artist and began speaking out about injustice. Read more>>

Maria Baratta

I pursued my acting studies in Musical Theatre at NYU. I knew I had to be in New York City, the great mecca of the Theatre Gods. It’s there I knew I would learn, grow, and hopefully find my place in the world of theatre performance. Immediately after college, I was cast in my first regional production of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding in Boston. Read more>>

Miguel “Mas Appeal” Almeida

Hip Hop has always been a part of my life, and DJing was the first form of artistic expression I explored within the culture. I started DJing on vinyl in the 90’s but would get caught up freestyling on the instrumental sides of the records. Emceeing came naturally to me, and I eventually followed that path, releasing for my first album titled World Unification in 2003. Read more>>

Logan Thomas

The more I photographed, the more I learned about what I enjoyed shooting. I have a photojournalistic style and absolutely love taking portraits. I continued photographing throughout my high school years and eventually pursued a degree in art in college. While pursuing my degree, I started a small business in Milledgeville, and it has grown so much since I have moved back to Macon. Read more>>

Avery McRae

I’m a producer/audio engineer. I make beats on FL Studio. I record and mix vocals for artists in Pro Tools. My inspiration to produce comes from my love for music. Grew up listening to late 90s and early 2000s RnB — some hiphop. I just want my beats heard everywhere. I got something everybody likes. Read more>>

Nikki Bass

I’m very well known for my resumes as I take time to perfect them. I don’t have a 24-48 hour turnaround, because I don’t use resume templates. I create new resumes for all of my clients. I make sure that their accomplishments are showcased and that they can get past the automated tracking system that often prevents people from getting their resumes to a recruiter in the first. Read more>>

Ahmady in Atlanta

I started making music in 2015, my freshmen year of high school. All my friends were part of a collective called “Society.” They inspired me to start dropping music and slowly, but surely, I grew my audience globally online and in the city. Read more>>

Jeremiah Laureano

The freedom of creating was such a key part in my life and gave me great joy just being able to follow through with ideas and making them as your own. I started in 2018 June of last year, I was going into my senior year of high school and just down and tired of doing the same thing every day. Read more>>

Kendal Foster

I want to be in a real studio.” Once I moved back, I was blessed with an internship opportunity at Icon Studios Atl. I worked as an engineer intern for three years before I was promoted to Studio Manager – Head Engineer, which is my current job. Cashjunky Baby, really came about in 2018 when I started rapping again. Read more>>

Raymond Sharp

I cater to up and coming artists the same as a known artist. I value art and what every artist has to say. It makes me proud when people from other countries reach out to me to work. I listen to all genres of music from hip hop to country. My sound is unique and very distinctive. I’ve been using hardware ever since the day I started producing music. Read more>>

Donovan Whitaker

Capturing the spirit of my generation, an energy of boldness and originality, I’ve learned to take control of my twenty-somethings. Therefore, my next step as a professional was maximizing my creative gifts. I have always boasted a passion for creativity dynamically living both a striking and innovative lifestyle. Read more>>

Sydni Allyse

What I’m most proud of is being an inspiration and a help to others not just professionally but those less fortunate within the community. Every Wednesday, I promote small black-owned businesses and artist on my social media. We should all embrace and help each other. Also, I host a Let’s Bag Hunger every year were myself, and volunteers make bag sandwiches and pass them out throughout the community to homeless people. Read more>>

Courtney Overcash and Sara Bresee

We’ve been performing together at comedy shows and theaters across the metro for the last five years. Most of our work has been in improv, and improv is an awesomely collaborative art. This has allowed us to play with many talented comedians – but we were particularly drawn to each other and found we loved creating together. Read more>>

Isaac M. Hamm III

I created a marketing and brand management company that specializes in building brands from the ground up and providing people and their businesses with a strong plan to be successful. “The Brand Is You” is our mantra, which simply means: The way you present yourself to the world is how the world will receive you. Read more>>

Mario Umana

The biggest concern I see in most individuals working in the same field is panicking over not having anything lined up next. To me, I view it as the perfect moment go do some homework on developing and honing in on my skillset so I can create better original content for myself. That then leads to others viewing my skillset increasing, which then leads to someone somewhere being impressed and wanting me to create something for them. Read more>>

Terrell Olagbegi aka 2.0

The dream is to present a culture (via a type of renaissance) from the perspective of a Christ-believer. There are hundreds of interpretations and attempts to quantify, typify, and monopolize what lifestyle of faith looks like… we believe that the only difference between “Red Slash” culture and “contemporary” culture is the belief in the grace of God (epitomized by the biblical accounts of Jesus Christ). Read more>>


As a creative director, I work with a brilliant team of strategists to develop ad campaigns for our clients. We specialize in reputation management, crisis communications, media relations, and creative execution. I manage a team of creatives that bring ideas to life. I write all of the messaging for our clients, and work with my design team on visuals. Read more>>

Tiyra Rogers

I am so grateful to both her and my good friend Kathy. I would never have believed I had a talent for makeup artistry if it weren’t for them. I now study the art frequently. I attend classes, makeup shows, and networking events to better my craft, and I love it. The feeling of enhancing beauty has brought me so much happiness. It’s like working on life-size Barbie dolls. Read more>>

Sharon Ford

For six months, I felt lost, bitter, angry, and frustrated because I had no direction from God. The surgery gave me that quiet time I needed to hear from God. I was on the go non-stop so, this was a wake-up call. God said, go back to making things with your hands, to the days you were in your mother’s kitchen. He was very specific on exactly what it was that I was to do. This wasn’t an easy journey. Read more>>

Rashad Harrington

I dabble into creative directing from time to time to help other creatives with their work. My long term goal is to become a supermodel and to help usher in a new set of black and queer creatives for the new decade and beyond. What I want others to know about my work is that individuality will take you far. Read more>>

Laurence Laufer

I make art most frequently that makes me laugh. I hope that it will bring other people a smile as well. I try not to be too profound or philosophical about it, just things that look cool and are fun. I the medium I make the most with is ink on paper; however, I also work in Animations, large murals, airbrush, and acrylic paint. Read more>>

Courtney Shilo

Hailing from Beaumont, Texas, Courtney Shilo is anything but a typical R&B singer. Inspired by 90’s R&B artists such as Brandy, Destiny’s Child, and Monica, since the age of four, Shilo has effortlessly captivated audiences through her distinct talent for music. She discovered her love for performing after singing her first solo in the choir at six years old. Read more>>

Karimah Arnea

I get a lot of inspiration for my work through my dreams, which I why I keep a “dream book.” It allows me to appreciate my dreams more about whether they’re good or bad. It also allows me to appreciate the process of creating more. I always tell myself that only I can be me, so I’m going to try to be that person to the fullest. Read more>>

Alicia Washington

I don’t like having my time wasted because it is valuable to me. I’m a wife and a mother of two and the times that I have made sure is available for them is taking away from my husband and children when wasted. But it is getting better. Read more>>

Christopher Johnson

The bumps are apart of the process of becoming better and more knowledgeable of what you’re doing. It took time for Jacksonville to understand our purpose and start trusting us to implement events and initiatives that are not only enjoyable but also help the culture and pulls us together. Some events were great and some weren’t. Some initiatives worked, and some didn’t. Read more>>

Ariel Jones

As a medical assistant and clinical coordinator, I have held many conversations with patients – educating them about their diagnosis and treatment, encouraging them to heal, and providing resources for their success. I realized that the business of healthcare would not allow physicians the time to provide the in-depth, empathetic conversations necessary for people to begin to truly heal, so I decided to create space for that. Read more>>

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