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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.

Lindsey Anderson

In 2017, I started Vision Driven. Initially, it was supposed to be a platform for small business but that quickly changed when I realized that my passion and purpose was with children. I created an annual conference called Building Bosses, Youth Empowerment and Leadership Conference. From there my organization has hosted several self- esteem, wellness, and mental health workshops. Read more>>

Orlando Coleman

My name is Marcus “Orlando” Coleman Jr., and I’m a 27-year-old Birmingham, Alabama native. My vision all started in the 8th grade at Homewood Middle School. It was a typical day for 8th-grade basketball tryouts. I woke up excited about the opportunity to make the basketball team like I did the previous year. Little did I know the coaches had other plans for the roster spots available. Read more>>

Mumble Bee

I have always been surrounded by music as child. My dad was an engineer and producer, and my mother was a singer and a songwriter. I use to sit and watch them create all the time. My sister and I, at the time, sung around the house but I always the more shy one when it came to singing and performing. So, I took up dancing instead. Every now and then, our grandma would make sing in front of the church. Overtime, I grew to be more comfortable. Read more>>

Dejavious Sheats

As a producer, most know me as Snoop and I’ve always been drawn to music; it has played a large role in my life. Growing up, I’d constantly hear new music being made, because my bedroom happened to be right above the studio downstairs. Every day and night before school, I’d hear producers and engineers working on new sounds and that inspired me. However, it wasn’t until middle school that I began learning how to use the equipment to make my own beats. Read more>>

Brandon Lewis

I started with an interest in being a better music creator. Music has always come naturally to me, but I never imagined I’d be a signed artist. At some point, my love and interest in music began to take over. I accepted my fate and leaned into my gift. I began researching the local Memphis music business scene and I found The Consortium MMT where I would learn how to become a better singer, songwriter, and record producer through the Soulright Music Mentoring Program. Read more>>

Cootchill Nelson

I’m the founder of Chill Creations. Chill Creations is a photography, filmmaking and music production company I started in order to tell better stories of people, and create experiences through visuals and music for clients, brands, individuals and small businesses. In 2019/2020, I’m responsible for over 100,000 views on social media and have been a part of projects that have been seen or heard by over 300,000 people. Read more>>

Melanie Hutchinson

My story began 25 years ago in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Because of God, the support of family and friends and perseverance, I’ve been able to achieve many of my dreams. My name is Melanie Hutchinson and I’m a publicist, Youtuber, and singer located in the DMV area. My interest in music began when I was a young girl. I would sing in the choir at my church monthly and perform in the Christmas and Easter plays. Read more>>

Dan Drinkard

Seasick Records started in 2013 just a few months after I relocated from Memphis to Birmingham. I’ve been involved in music one way or another since I was 14 and always wanted to open a record store. I saw a need in Birmingham for an independent record store that sold both used AND new music. So, I jumped into it without really knowing what I was doing and figured it out along the way. Read more>>

Mikyle Dixon

At a young age, I decided that film would be my life’s purpose. Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, by way of Canarsie, I was always encouraged by my family to find success in a career that appeals to me. My father, a Jamaican native and former naval officer, constantly instilled in me the importance of family, health, and charity. As a young child, we would always watch movies together (i.e. Harry Potter, Indiana Jones. Read more>>

Melinda Brundidge

Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Melinda has always had a talent for planning events. But, not just planning them, truly taking them to another level. She believes the fabric of our lives tell a unique story and that life is a precious gift that’s worth celebrating. Curating extraordinary celebrations is the place where her passion collides with purpose. It’s her keen sense of capturing someone else’s vision and elevating it into an awe-inspiring reality. Read more>>

Quinton Cook

I was always around music as kid. Playing drums in the church so it was definitely a passion of mines. Fast forward to college, I have a friend who introduced me to this production software named FL Studios and the rest was history. Read more>>

Jaydelise Volquez

Ever since I was a child, my entire life has been motivated by art especially movies and movie making. I grew up in a small city with a big city vibe, in Massachusetts, with bodegas at every corner and remarkable Latin pride. The city was also very underprivileged and artistic outlets were pretty much non-existent. Any thought of a creative career was absolutely ridiculous which led me to become isolated from my peers. Read more>>

Madalyn Sankey and Constance Stinson

We two sister located in Montgomery, Alabama. We started designing luxury dessert buffets in 2016 first but soon people asked us to design their full events because of how detailed we were with the dessert bars. We eventually started investing into our event design & floral company and offering luxury rentals & floral event designs. Read more>>

C. Nicole Jones and Madeline Scales-Taylor

Grandmother and Granddaughter duo Mimi and Nicole (Coco). We wanted a fun way to celebrate the black culture with little future HBCU grads and those of all ages who want a little extra school spirit. I received my bachelor’s degree from Clark Atlanta University in 2017 where I majored in advertising graphic design. I later took a year off to really hone my skills while working on my portfolio to better position myself for graduate school. Read more>>

John Clark and Joshua Gray

After growing up in Thomasville, GA, John Clark moved to Atlanta in 2008 and currently resides in the Collier Heights neighborhood which was established in 1952. Collier Heights is nationally known as the first neighborhood developed, financed, designed, and constructed by and for African Americans. JJ RE Group strives to honor the legacy of these notable residents by keeping neighborhoods like Collier Heights affordable for the residents they were built for. Read more>>

Monique Williams

It was 2010, and I was recently engaged and planning the wedding of my dreams. With everything I wanted and the total price climbing, I decided to start baking to earn extra money. I would bake an average of 200 cupcakes a day to sell to my coworkers every weekend, and I would sell out within an hour! Needless to say, it kept me busy and provided the extra income I needed for my wedding. What a wedding it was, the best time of my life, although it was short lived. Read more>>

Jonathan Carter

Artist/Producer/Engineer turned studio owner. Mudnoc Studios is owned and operated by Mudnoc (Jonathan Carter) and was started in 2002. Mudnoc is a songwriter, producer and engineer from Louisville, KY. He graduated the Art Institute of Atlanta in 1995 with a degree in Music Business Management. In 1994 he started working for CNN and that following year he joined the staff at MC Breed’s label One Puff Music (O.P.M.). Read more>>

Monique Bryan

I’m an executive producer of personal brands. What does that mean? I show you how to create a cohesive message at every touchpoint of your brand. From what you say to how you look; I help you align your authentic self with the opportunities and clients you want to have. What’s my story? I have a BA in fashion design, three start-ups under my belt and I’ve developed programming in partnership with companies throughout Asia and exciting global brands like PayPal, Burberry, and Toms Shoes. Read more>>

Adia Jordan

Back in 2017, I started as an eyelash professional. I never really thought I would go as far as I am today. I graduated school to become an esthetician in August 2019. I took my state board test in November of 2019, passed both sessions first try and became a Licensed Esthetician in November 2019. After school I devoted all my time into my business, I had a lot of catching up to do. Read more>>

Kyle Lamont Jerell Walker (Wolfy)

Native of Birmingham, Alabama, Kyle didn’t have much of a childhood and experienced unfortunate disconnects within the family. In turn he developed a passion for the arts and magic early on in age. Some summers back, while visiting his grandmother in Atlanta around age 12, Kyle found his way into his first dance class with choreographer Sean Bankhead as the instructor. After that one class he realized he liked to dance. Read more>>

Janel Young

As a Pittsburgh native I grew up with a love for all things adventurous: reading, traveling, playing sports and finding creativity in every crevice of life. This became the baseline of my adult interests and career journey. I vividly remember Atlanta was my destination the very first time I took a plane by myself around age 12 or 13. Read more>>

Tyrell Westbury

My first encounter with herbal medicine, and the power of nature and its healing properties was around 2015. I encountered an African medicine man, who showed me the practices of how to use the herbs for the healing of the nations, not knowing completely what it was I was exploring, I’ve always[s had this curious, and opened type of spirit, and so I decided to stay consistent and disciplined to the practice. Read more>>

Tierra London

Silence No More is an organization that’s focused on the betterment of women everywhere. Silence No More was created in May of 2018. I created a safe space for women to come together to share their stories, encourage each other, support each other’s businesses and shine the light on women making a difference all together. Silence No More was create to let women know that they are not alone. Read more>>

Jerica Edwards

My journey with hair really started in my teens after a bad color experience in the salon & losing ten inches of hair that day. I was used to my hair being healthy so at that point I really started to study hair so that I could care for it. I always had my head in hair magazines anyway but now I was doing more than just folding the pages for my next hair appointment. Read more>>

Butch Vega

I was seven when I fell in love with hip-hop — my cousin gave me a copy of The Chronic and Doggy Style on a camping trip. I played them all weekend and every day after until the CD’s scratched. A few years later I got my first microphone and audio software for Christmas. I began recording music in my room on an old dell laptop. Though the equipment’s upgraded, I’ve been making music the same way since. Read more>>

Ashley Paige

I’m the eldest child of my Jamaican parents. My parents came to the United States of America to go to the University of the District of Columbia. They are both the first of their parent’s children to earn degrees, my mother, her Master’s Degree in Business Management. They raised an ambitious Maryland girl but there was a lot of pressure. Growing up, art helped me cope with anxiety and depression. When I graduated from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland with my Bachelor’s Degree in Painting, I needed a way to make art and money every day. Read more>>

Jasmine Edwards

I’ve always wanted to have an impact on someone’s life. It’s why when I was younger, I wanted to be a teacher. As I grew older, I realized there are many ways to impact someone’s life in and outside of the classroom. When I got to college, I started to discover more about myself and the variety of things that interested me. I realized that I didn’t want to be a teacher but I still wanted to make a difference in the world. Read more>>

Dmani Q Williams

I started off as a sports administration major at Georgia State University, I never really had intentions on getting into film until my little sister started acting. After discussing with my friends, I made a decision to fully commit and change my major to film with a minor theatre. If there is no opportunity for me, I’m the type of guy who will create one for myself; so, me and my sister angel created a web-series called “My Guardian Conscience.” Read more>>

Brittany Greathouse

I was born and raised in Bolingbrook, Illinois & I’m an only child. Growing up I was a tomboy who was super competitive, actually I still am! I loved all types of sports, playing games, music, baggy clothes & anything electronic. Looking back, I learned the value of teamwork from being involved in sports. Pretty much all the skillsets I use today came from that. There is no downside to practice & preparation as well as being persistent and disciplined in every area of your life. Read more>>

Quiana Newby

Quiana Newby was born in Northeast Washington DC, which is now the present day “H Street Corridor”. Healthy and organic living has always been an important part of her life. Growing up, her grandparents had acres of land in Virginia filled with rows of vegetables and fruits. Fast Forward to today, that love for showing individuals where their food comes from and how they can take their food from the garden to the table has become her passion and her drive. Read more>>

Gretchen Torbert, Ph.D., CHLC

I started both of these companies over 15 years ago. As an educator, I saw the various diverse needs for unity and consistency as the cornerstone for educators to grow and develop. This became a life-long embedded journey which evolved into helping educators showcase their talent and publish their work. I used both of these companies to support educators across the world. Read more>>

Tacara Wilson

I was born and raised in Cleveland Mississippi. So many people have their theories on, southern and how sometimes we tend to be, what you would call illiterate. I am a living testimony, on how that is so far from the truth. You see, I was a teen mom and like many before me, people swore I would become a product of my environment. For a very long time I battled with every demon streaming from past abuse. When I say ABUSE, that is every form of abuse known to man. Read more>>

Shannon McCollum

Shannon McCollum is a self-taught photographer who has mastered his craft through more than 25 years’ experience capturing the spirit and energy of some of the world’s most legendary performers. His keen ability to translate the moving picture, spoken word and musical masterpiece into singular, monumental images can be traced to the work of his father, a retired photojournalist whose work with Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela and more graced the walls throughout his childhood home. Read more>>

Javier Gomez

We started the business four years ago as three minority men from different parts of New York City who saw a need in the market for natural, male-grooming products. We all had beards but didn’t see ourselves represented in the grooming industry; we also didn’t want to pay the price the market was asking for. Companies were charging so much- for 2 oz they wanted like $20, you could even find it for more. We thought that was crazy, so we started doing our own research on ingredients and what worked best for our skin and hair. Read more>>

Na’Deja Brantley

I started my business at the beginning of this year in January 2020. It all started with me participating in three art shows called the Trap Art. One was in Memphis, TN, Nashville, TN, and Atlanta. I designed my first two t-shirt designs for all three shows for people to purchase them. After those three shows, I got a lot of comments on how people really like my t-shirt designs. So, I decided to continue designing t-shirts, while also doing Graphic design services as well. Read more>>

Chris Miller

My story begins in 2002 when I moved to New York from Jamaica to pursue my passion of playing soccer by means of an athletic scholarship. While I played soccer, I attended Mercy College, and worked in Social Services. I attained my degree in Computer Science, and landed a successful career as an IT Systems Engineer. Although I’ve done well for myself, my journey was far from complete and I didn’t even realize it. Read more>>

Coach Patrick

I was born in a small town just outside of Atlanta called Winder, Georgia. Being the oldest of four kids I have three younger sisters I am no stranger to hard work. Life was not always easy for my family and I ended up living on my own when I was just 16 years old. I had to learn to work, pay rent and how to make ends meet well before I even graduated from high school. After graduating from high school, I enlisted in the United States Navy where I spent the next 11 years working as an Aviation Ordnanceman. Read more>>

Ebony Johnson

I have always wanted to be my own boss. In 2017, I had a dream to open my very own online clothing boutique. At first, I didn’t know what exactly my boutique would be centered around, I just could remember trying to order clothing from online boutiques, my sizes were always sold out or they didn’t carry them! I didn’t like that, lol! After always having the same experience and going back and forth with myself, I decided to take the first step and do my research on starting an online boutique. Read more>>

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