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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.

Sydney Ferguson

Since high school, I always knew I wanted to own a business. The main thing I was insecure about growing up was having large breasts and a super skinny body; it made it very difficult to find clothes, especially swimsuits, that would fit me right. I told myself one day I was going to make swimsuits custom to girl’s different body shapes. Fast forward to my junior year of college; I was going through of a lot of changes within myself. I questioned whether I was on the right journey or not. I had just got accepted into nursing school at Georgia Southern, and after many nights of uncertainty, I turned down the offer and change my major. I was not happy where I was nor where I was headed in life. I decided to transfer schools and pursue my dream of becoming a model. I moved back to Atlanta and started attending Georgia State. I toyed with many ideas of different businesses I was interested in. Read more>>

Arnikia Robinson

My brand Bendable but Unbreakable, started out as a book title (my autobiography), which tells of how I was raised in a Christian family and somewhere along the way, I detoured into a life of crime. Realizing that the street life wasn’t getting me anywhere, I then turned back to my upbringing and tried to walk the straight and narrow. Realizing one day that my youngest son started being infatuated with the street life, he then begins facing some of the same situations that I faced while doing my run as a gangster, dope dealer, gang banger, being in Domestic Violence relationships, etc. That’s when I realized that the devil used my son to throw my past back up in my face to cause me great pain. But instead, God used my pain and used it for my purpose and praise. Read more>>

Jordan Allen

In 2018 we knew we wanted to start our own workout clothing line, so we thought of the name Tenacity Fitwear at first. Myself a former football player at Jacksonville State University, and my wife a former basketball player. We both wanted it to be something that represented our mindset, along with other tenacious athletes. So my wife Candace came up with a less aggressive name, “Tenax” in 2019. We also realized a lot of African Americans and minorities are not on the forefront of a lot of fitness brands and we want to change that! We deserve the same exposure as others and we all are very talented and capable individuals in the fitness world. Tenax is for everyone no matter what race or size. Read more>>

Kimberly Speights

Your Past Doesn’t Predict Your Future. Kimberly M. Speights has a deep passion for and love to teach the Word of God. However, life has not always been a walk in the park. With a tumultuous past filled with physical, emotional, sexual abuse, and playing a dangerous game of materialism, Kimberly led a life of destruction filled with heartache and pain. To help cope with her pain and void in her life, she ultimately turned her mind/will/emotions/intellect over to a notorious drug dealer in her local community. After living a life of turmoil, Kimberly received the opportunity to turn her life around by allowing God to order her footsteps. Kimberly has a powerful testimony of going from living a life of dangerous, disastrous dysfunction to a life of purpose and destiny! Read more>>

Rogenia Griffin

Rogenia S. Griffin is a Published Author and the Creator of “Diary of a Madly Inspirational Black Woman,” a Facebook Page dedicated to daily doses of inspiration and motivation to women globally. She is originally from Buffalo, New York, but now calls Atlanta, GA “home” for the past 30 years. In her early years as a child, she was very shy. As she evolved into adulthood, she emerged into the “Go-To-Person” for advice from her family, friends and colleagues. Many gravitate towards her for wisdom, motivation and inspiration. Because of this, she has gained the trust of thousands of women worldwide. Read more>>

Shari Green

I got married July-30, 2019, to Ahmaad Green, the love of my life after five months of courting. We just knew we wanted to take the journey of life with each other. I already had a seven-year-old son, Nicholas. We became this beautiful blended family but were excited to expand and have our own child together. A month after our wedding, I found out I was pregnant! I was working as a special education educator at the time. I loved my kiddos and enjoyed pouring into them each and every day. I however, was extremely sick most of my pregnancy, so working with my kiddos, being a mom, and now wife was very challenging. As a woman of strong faith, I leaned on God through it all. Read more>>

Hassaan Davis Wilkins

After college, it was kinda hard to find a job having no experience. I had some buddies who were really good mechanics at a shop in the area of which we lived at the time. They helped me get a job cleaning up the shop. Soon after, they started to teach me small things about cars. Not too long after that, I started to learn more things about fixing cars. After a few yrs, I got tired of doing all the work and the shop making all the money so one day, I just jumped out there. Started doing it on my own, built me up some honest clientele, got a few manor accounts (Edible Arrangements, FlowerPot) and things really started to take off. Read more>>

Nina Clay

My passion for Real Estate began in 2003, shortly after graduating high school. I was debating on going to college but also wanted to start my RE career. I had a hard time finding Real Estate schools around that time, so I didn’t know where to begin or get guidance. In 2008, I got a position as a leasing agent by referral. All the previous times I applied for leasing jobs, I wouldn’t get the job because I had no experience, so I was so excited for the opportunity. I always had a passion for helping people but I finally realized how I can help people and enjoy doing it. I feel in love with showing apartments, helping current residents and leasing. My original plan was to work my way up the ladder to become Property Manager, then regional manager. Read more>>

Payton Kashdan

When I was in 4th grade at 5th Avenue Upper Elementary, I had a music teacher, Mr. Brooks, who was awarded a grant to purchase guitars for his class. As soon as I picked up the guitar, I immediately fell in love with the instrument and got very curious about music generally. At age nine, I wrote my first original song, “Soar,” on the playground at recess. Later that year, Mr. Brooks told my parents (neither of which have a background in music) that they may want to think about getting me a guitar. Mr. Brooks is still a big supporter of my music. Read more>>

Avery Brown

It all started when I was unable to finish my wrestling season in high school due to the flu. I was so used to being busy every day and night that when I was sidelined, I had nothing to do. The boredom and curiosity lead to me making short videos and skits and uploading them unlisted to YouTube for my eyes only. Eventually, someone got the link and sent it to our close group of friends and the next day of school, people were talking about the video. From there, I started to post them publicly and I couple years later, I have over 8 million lifetime views on my YouTube channel. Read more>>

Desiree

I started doing nails two years ago. I had never done nails and never even thought about doing nails until my daughter went to get her nails done at your local nail shop and didn’t like the shape of them. I reshaped them so well that I said to myself, “I think I want to go to school for this.” I enrolled into school two months later and was a natural. Because of my superb attention to detail and overall maniac personality when it comes to things being precise, I knew that I wanted to bring nothing but the best to every client I had the pleasure to service. Read more>>

BlackBelt

I wish I had some crazy story as to how I began and have gotten to where I am, but in all honesty, it’s been a long road of uncertainty, trial/error, and perseverance. My inspiration for the journey initially began when I was just a child, hearing my father play guitar and listening to all the music I possibly could. I indulged in all the greats like Michael, Stevie Wonder, and Earth Wind and Fire to name a few. Of course, at this age, I did not understand where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do but I knew I loved the way music moved me. Read more>>

Tanesha Lester

I have been making natural skincare products for about five years now in order to help alleviate my family’s eczema. I have tried many brands, but none of them worked for us. Needless to say, I was tired of spending money on products that did not. After researching the different types of oils and butters, I whipped up a batch. One day, as I was making my husband some whipped body butter, I thought to myself, I wonder if other people would be interested in what I have to offer. I doubted myself for awhile because that’s just the introvert in me. So after what seemed like months of contemplating, I finally decided to trust God and turn my hobby and love for natural skincare into a business and let others know that there are natural remedies that can help combat dry, itchy, and irritated skin. Read more>>

Caitlin Davis

Growing up being the youngest of 8, I’ve always had my fair share of what life should consist of. I saw all my siblings grow up to be so successful and take up great careers and be their own bosses! So, I knew I couldn’t settle for anything less. My family is full of individuals with entrepreneurial spirits, musicianship, and people who value art and composure. I was one of the many who took up more talents and had to learn how to juggle them. My parents used to joke around and call me “The Jill of all Trades” because I was so skilled and could do many things; however, to my disadvantage, I never mastered any of them. I thought to myself, “What is something I can do and be really good at it that sets me apart from the others?”. Read more>>

Amber Williamson

My journey to fitness was introduced to me as a child around the age of nine, where I began an interest in sports, basketball in particular. My father had always instilled in me that I had to always be active as a child and that was preached to me to the day I graduated high school. As I entered my freshman year of college, I was no longer being active in sports and was just a full-time student. (I did get offered a few basketball scholarships at a Divison II level schools but did not enjoy playing basketball more.) During my second semester as a freshmen, it was then I knew I was missing something and decided to try out and be a walk-on at Valdosta State but discovered I was pregnant and transferred to Clayton State to be closer to home to have support to raising my daughter. Read more>>

Alyson Adside

My name is Alyson Adside, the founder and CEO of “A Squared Events and Designs, LLC.” Born and raised in lovely Atlanta, Ga. I’m a wife and a new mom of a precious 5-month-old baby boy. When I’m not planning and creating, I’m growing little minds as a Pre-K teacher. Since my early years, I’ve always enjoyed organizing and creating things. I started this journey by planning and decorating events for my family and friends. Despite the availability of professional equipment, I was able to use my gift to make balloons and decor look professional. I spent a few years researching and developing my vision and how I wanted my business to materialize. Then I found out I was expecting and things went on hold. However, during my pregnancy, I was still able to brainstorm. Then boom!!! Read more>>

Ashar Khalid

Where do I start? Born and raised in Kirkwood. I’ve always have a thriving mentality. Growing up, I live with my grandma and a bunch of relatives; it had to be about 14-15 ppl living in a two-bedroom house. No matter the case, my family always instill in me good character and moral fortitude. They always taught me that life is gonna test you, regardless, but how you respond builds the man you will become. So growing up, I’ve never thought I was good enough or have enough talent. Maybe it was the fact that nobody would recognize it and I’ll get in my feelings. I could draw, I could write poetry, I could sing, but it was like I was still invisible. I mean, I would draw my favorite NBA players and NFL players at like 11 years old, freehand. Then I’ll show my folks and it’s like, “cool” or “aight.” I guess I was looking for more. Read more>>

Ilene Rouamvongsor

A passion for food wasn’t instantaneous the moment I picked up a knife and whisk, and I think that’s important to know that that is okay. It was slow-growing and food was merely sustenance given to me to nourish my hunger growing up, and I’m grateful to have always had grub on my plate without thinking twice about whether we would have an empty one the next breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I didn’t learn to appreciate all the elbow grease used to feed a whole family and friends until my later years. Read more>>

Reginald Metts

After the job was shut down and major surgery that left me on disability. Everlasting Real Estate Solutions was established to provide financing for investment residential, commercial, business, and personal needs. As a Financial Representative, I am contracted to work with direct lender’s to help clients get access to funds for Non-Owner Occupied Residential Real Estate and Commercial Loans. Credit restoration service, Business and Personal Loans are also available. We are a highly recommended company and provide excellent customer services by working to help clients get financing for there projects. Read more>>

Daja Jones

Daja Jones is a mental health clinician originally from Newark, NJ. She attended Clark Atlanta University and graduated with a Bachelors’s degree in Psychology. She earned her Master’s in Clinical Counseling from Brenau University. Ms. Jones began her career in the mental health field at Grady Behavioral health – Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR) in Atlanta, GA. Ms. Jones’ experience includes working as an individual and group therapist catering to patients with a diagnosis of Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Depression, ADHD, PTSD, and Anxiety disorders. Ms. Jones has had the pleasure of leading multiple grief and trauma-focused groups. Read more>>

Diamond Rose

I started doing hair when I was around 15 years old. I started by doing my own hair and teaching myself to braid. Then I started to do my sister’s hair and friends as well. It was just a hobby for me. I loved to do it and I did not charge. Something I’d do on my free time. I once I graduated high school, I went to college and majored in psychology. College was my first real break. I still was doing my own hair and my Bestfriend hair as well. I ended up in an abusive relationship, getting kicked out of school, going to jail, and getting pregnant all in three months. After I had my daughter, I tried everything. It wasn’t until my sister Nay encouraged me to start doing frontals and I was nervous but she definitely Convinced me to go further. Read more>>

Danielle Young

I began practicing massage at 16. I always wanted to be a singer. I love love, love Beyonce since I was nine years old. I knew in the 11th grade, I had to find a plan B. I was lost, did not find anything that interested me other than music. My mother was going through menopause, and I came home one day and she had the heater on her feet and fan in her face! She said she had a horrible headache and asked me to massage her head. Me, not knowing what I was doing, as soon as I touched her head, it felt right. I massaged her for a few minutes and she said the headache went away. Never dealt with them again. My mother then told her friends, and I found myself massaging over seven people in our apartment! Read more>>

Sydney Ferguson

Since high school, I always knew I wanted to own a business. The main thing I was insecure about growing up was having large breast and a super skinny body, it made it very difficult to find clothes, especially swimsuits, that would fit me right. I told myself one day I was going to make swimsuits custom to girls different body shapes. Fast forward to my junior year of college, I was going through of a lot of changes within myself. I questioned whether I was on the right journey or not. I had just got accepted into nursing school at Georgia Southern, and after many nights of uncertainty, I turned down the offer and change my major. I was not happy where I was nor where I was headed in life. I decided to transfer schools and pursue my dream of becoming a model. I moved back to Atlanta and started attending Georgia State. Read more>>

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