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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.

Ai’Ja McFee

I was always my mother’s child that would wander off somewhere to watch interviews of artists, rap battles of underground artists or listen to my music. I remember one time my mom and my sisters were all in the room with me and of course I had my earphones in, then all of a sudden everybody got up and ran out the room, now whenever you see people run you get up and run as well so thats what I did. I got to the living room, and they were all laughing while I was panicking, asking what happened. Read more>>

Maya Boyd

About three years ago, my mother had a stroke, and I was forced to move her from New Jersey to Baltimore to live with me. At the time, I was a Baltimore City school teacher and was struggling to provide for a four year old at the time in private school. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and it somehow was embedded in my DNA because my mother owned her beauty salon for about 20+ years. Read more>>

Rock Floyd

I was born in Las Vegas, NV. My mom and dad were in a touring cover band together, and there was always music in the house growing up. When I was 6, we moved to the Chattanooga area, and my mother gave me a guitar. I was always begging my mom to let me on stage with her, but I didnt know any songs! So eventually, I asked my uncle to give me a few lessons and learned some of the basics of gospel music, and in a few months. Read more>>

Cornelius Baker

After losing my job my mind went into scramble mode trying to figure it out. I always believed in God but I wasn’t feeling him or the church at the time because I wanted to know why me? I was in church my whole life and thought I was doing everything I was “supposed” to be doing so again why me? I legit stopped going to church because I honestly didn’t have the mental capacity to even deal with nobody. I shut the world out. Read more>>

Daniel Simeon

I started my journey early writing poetry often to reiterate what I was feeling inside, never knowing it was going to develop a strange fascination for audio engineering and space where music became my diary to anyone who would listen. With a core in literature, writing music was only the beginning thread to a completed rap sheet for me. I was inspired by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland and rappers like Jay-Z, 2Pac, Eightball & MJG, TI and lots others. Read more>>

LeRone “Roc” Gray

Growing up, sports were an ever flowing part of my life, much like breathing. From the age of six, I participated in karate, football, basketball, baseball, wrestling, and track & field up until high school. I loved moving around, competing, challenging my athleticism, and taking care of my body even as a little kid. It wasn’t until high school that I fell in love with strength & conditioning, though. In middle school. Read more>>

Sanno Dotcom

Growing up in Atlanta, I got stay on the West/Eastside, so I had the best of both worlds. Influenced by the heavy music scene & all of the cool stuff ATL has to offer, I knew I just had to make my mark & get my hands in the dirt. I’ve always had adventures within the industry, with my love for music and fashion. Started off by just playing around & designing graphic t-shirts to wear back in high school. Read more>>

Vashti Rabelle

Working as a bartender is where she developed the skill and passion for mixology. Before Itz Lemon Made became an LLC, she sold raw pressed lemon based beverages, called LemonMade’s on the streets of downtown Atlanta until her unique lemonade recipe grew in popularity. Through word of mouth, the Itz LemonMade beverage was honored by Atlanta’s Soul Food Museum and received the Top 100 Culinary Arts award from Chef Dr. Kenneth Willhoite. Read more>>

Sulondia “Sue-Ham” Hammond

From the early age of five years old, I longed to entertain via acting, dancing, and humor. Growing up in a rural community, the opportunities were more or less nonexistent outside of the church, school, or family gatherings. I capitalized on every opportunity I could get. I remember my aunt would always buy romance novels from yard sales. After she had read them, she’d pass them onto me. Read more>>

April Tolbert

After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from The University of Memphis, I felt the natural trajectory should be to seek a career in the corporate world. I worked for several companies before I landed my last job in Corporate America as a Branch Manager for a rental car company. In that role, I truly learned how to run an efficient and effective business. I was responsible for the success of that branch. Read more>>

Jasmine Travers

“Jasmine, we think you would be a better fit for our HR Coordinator opening are you interested, if so the job is yours,” was the email from the company I interviewed with for a completely different role. I took it as a sign from God that my impending career change was within reach. Today, I am a HR professional who loves helping others reach their strongest potential. Read more>>

Danisha Parks

My name is Danisha Parks. I stared my skincare line, which is called DANISKINCARE (LLC), because in September, I was Diagnose with psoriasis, which to be an immune system problem that calls dry, scaly skin all over your body. I basically heal my own skin/body by putting my homemade products together, which was natural, and also organic. If you go to my website which is www.daniskincare. Read more>>

Terence Penny

My church at the time wanted to start hosting concerts to attract young people. I began performing my music there and realized how much I loved performing. Fast forward to six years later, my music took me places that I would have never imagined going. I have been able to perform in Europe, perform in different states in America, and perform in front of thousands at music festivals in Toronto. Read more>>

Giovanna Geathers

I always say I was born to do what I do even if I did not know it at the time. I have always been intuitive and have always cared deeply about other people, which has made me a natural healer and helper. At the age of 23, I discovered my love for counseling, and although I planned to attend law school, I knew that was not my destiny. I have been in the human and social services field ever since then. Read more>>

Destiny Payton-Williams

After four years and over 30 million dollars in sales for a fortune 500 company, Destiny felt it was time to take her natural talent and skills to her community and create more opportunities. As the first ever African American woman to rise to the ranks of senior management with said company, it was her dream to be the first African American beauty supply and salon suite owner. Destiny felt a strong desire to be of service to her lifelong passion outside of the real estate industry and into “All Things Beauty”. Read more>>

Tarana Hayes

first and foremost, my parents set an amazing foundation for my siblings and always let it be known that we could do whatever we set our minds too, never chase the money but chase the happiness and fulfillment you get from whatever is you’re doing. Both my parents worked in corporate America, and while I always wanted to wear those cute pants suits, my mom would wear to work it never made sense to me why you had to be on someone else’s schedule. Read more>>

Shani Tinsle

iCater started with a simple question, Lord, what is my gift? The answer I received was not was what I was expecting because his response to me was it’s in your hands! I didn’t understand then, but I would later figure out what that meant. I gotta was in my ability to design gourmet food with a southern flair. I decided to go back to school for culinary arts to sharpen my skills, and the rest is history. Cooking is not just something I do. Read more>>

Kiara “KP” Miles

I am a 28 year old mother of one very active baby girl. I went to sleep with a nightmare and woke up with a dream, LITERALLY! I have been writing since 7th / 8th grade. I always knew I wanted to write, but I also knew I didn’t want to write books, etc. My true passion came when I was about 15 assisting my mother with her college material. I began my business January 2019, at the age of 27. I was a new mom and full time employee. Read more>>

Samantha Jax

My story is one for the books. I’m a mother, mentor, author and mental health advocate. Although I began being entrepreneurship at a very early age by becoming a beautician, through the years there has been much trial and error as well as success. Being an entrepreneur is in my blood as my parents owned multiple properties and were entrepreneurs as well. I guess you can say I followed in their footsteps. I knew at a young age that I was destined to be great. Read more>>

Andrea Mckenzie

I was born and raised in one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world, Trinidad and Tobago. My family legacy and Carnival is my foundation. I come from a lineage of creatives, from visual artists, jewelry makers, costume designers. My late grandmother was a natural born visual artist and pianist. From an early age, I started drawing and learned how to build costumes, but it has always been my personal hobby upon obtaining my marketing Degree and working a series of Traditional Jobs. Read more>>

Yasmine Bianca

It all started when I was a little girl living in Annapolis, Maryland. My mother, Tarnese Chapman, owned a ten chair hair salon located on West Street in Annapolis. I was in the salon all day and night, curling and twirling hair on mannequins, watching and studying my mom. I watched her cut hair, perm hair, do those crazy asymmetric bob hair cuts on people, and those crazy up-dos daily. Read more>>

Chaz ‘Billboard Chaz’ Foreman

I originally started designing when I was in middle school when my mother brought me my first computer. My older brother is an amazing artist that went to full sail, so always looking up to him and following in his shoes, I developed a love and vision for art and design. He was learning about web design in school, and I asked him to teach me, so it threw a ridiculously large book my way and said read this. Read more>>

Mikala Williams

My story has had many obstacles but nothing that I cannot overcome. Starting way back from when I was about 12 or 13 years old, I got into makeup. I was using just some cheap products from Walmart. That lasted until I was 15. When I was 16 years old, I got pregnant with my now almost two year old son. I was excited yet not prepared. My pregnancy was one of the worst yet best times of my life. I went through a really bad breakup and stressed myself out to the max. Read more>>

Stuart McClean

I am Stuart McClean, the proud CEO of Inertia’s Root Premium Hemp. I grew up in Texas and spent time in both Tyler and North Dallas as a youth. Once completing high school, I enrolled at Tennessee State University to pursue a degree in psychology and to play football. As a student, I completed my bachelor’s degree in just 3.5 years, and a Master’s a few years later. Life after football can be tough mentally and physically due to lingering injuries and health challenges. Read more>>

Malik Robinson

Music is something that’s always been a huge part of my life. As a teenager, I would burn CD’s of my favorite songs and play them for hours on my stereo on the CD player. I was introduced to Hip hop music early, but as I got older, I got into so many different genre of music like electronic, indie pop, reggae, and dance. Read more>>

Slim Chvrles

Well, let’s start by saying I’m originally from Detroit, MI but Atlanta adopted me back in 2010. From there I began to move around Atlanta with Mark Jackson (Executive at Grand Hustle). In the beginning of my time here I learned a few basics about building an artist portfolio, such as marketing and production. Read more>>

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