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East Atlanta’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 East Atlanta’s gems below.

Julia Deckman

I am a self-taught visual artist and I have been building my art career here in Charleston since 2012. It’s challenging and unpredictable to be a professional creative, and over the years I’ve supplemented my art practice with full-time admin jobs, dog walking, hotel guest services and most recently worked part-time at Artist & Craftsman Supply. While juggling multiple jobs might not seem ideal, my experience of “the real world” after graduating from CofC was that, for me, life is empty if I’m not creating. I don’t really have an option, I must paint to be happy. This is a fact I didn’t learn, or perhaps accept, about myself until adulthood. Now that I have had this epiphany, in hindsight it’s pretty obvious. My earliest memories are of painting in my diaper, my favorite summers were spent in art camps, my happiest high school experiences were in art class. I think I just took this love for painting for granted. I assumed this is how everyone feels. Read more>>

Ayanna Card

I was always the “t-shirt girl” whether I realized it or not. Whether it was put to work for my family reunions, sewing letters on tees in college for the sororities and fraternities or working at the Greek store, t-shirt requests found me. I was an Apparel Technical Designer for about 17 years doing graphic design projects on the side when I had to make the hard decision to leave my job. Suddenly an entrepreneur out of necessity, I migrated towards what I knew best. As an introvert, I could relate to the desire to be expressive without having to be verbal. The right t-shirt allows this to happen. I like to put a “slant” on popular ideas so that the viewer has to figure out the true meaning of the design. This at a minimum makes the design memorable, at maximum an irresistible conversation starter. Needthattee.com was birthed out of making these types of t-shirts available, and as I made sales, I paid attention to what was being bought the most. Read more>>

Jay Styles

I’m originally from Lithonia, GA which is located on the east side of Atlanta. I graduated from Lithonia High School and went off to Middle Georgia College which is now known as Middle Georgia University in Cochran, GA. This small city is in the middle of nowhere sitting between Macon State and Fort Valley University but this is where my journey started and led me to where I am today. While attending MGC, I stumbled upon the start of my journey as a college promoter planning fun parties for college students as my good friend Lamar needed some help in planning his birthday party and this led to my interest in the world of entertainment while also coming out of my shell and finding my gift for knowing how to communicate with people effectively. At the time, my major was in computer science but after attending a seminar at the school and listening to a local radio DJ speak, I knew that I was majoring in the wrong field and switched my major over to journalism because at the time, the college did not have a mass communications major so the closest thing to that was journalism. Read more>>

Tia GunZ

I began my journey as a three years old dreamer in Seattle, Washington. I would be a part of the church choir and all other sorts of Christian activities as a child. My grandparents raised me from an early age to Love the Lord. My parents would teach me the street life as I grew older. I would participate in local talent shows to test my skills. Years of practice would later pull it all together and eventually lead me to Atlanta. Read more>>

Claudia Fitzwater

Body is an independent fitness studio that offers in-person, live-stream virtual, and on-demand fitness classes. We welcome anybody who identifies as a female, but it is no secret that our primary target is women that are often not represented in fitness settings. My signature class, Asspirations Full-Body, was developed with black and brown bodies in mind. I fuse the best of my knowledge from pilates, barre, cardio, and strength training in one power punch class. My busy moms, professionals, veterans, college students, etc., only need 45 minutes to sweat and feel strong. The culture at my studio is completely different from the toxic messages that women get every day on fitness platforms. At Project Body, Everybody workouts at their own pace. Our clients understand that the equipment their use is optional and that when they need to modify an exercise, it is because their bodies need it, not because they are weak or taking the easy way out. You will hear us shout all the time, listen to your body and do what is best for it. Read more>>

Ro Johnson

Initially, I was in school for Psychology and I was also pursuing a career in entertainment business with my own publication. I fell in love with marketing and wanted to explore it more on the education side so I rerouted and began my master’s degree in Marketing. Read more>>

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