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Sandy Springs’ 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 Sansy Springs’ gems below.

Rachel Simon

I never pictured myself as an entrepreneur. In fact. for the first 15 years of my career, I worked in nonprofits, specifically program planning and community outreach. But there are many aspects of nonprofit work prepared me to being a business owner, specifically the value of relationships, the need to sometimes just “figure stuff out” and the power of an engaged network. In early 2015, my husband planted the idea of me leaving my job and transitioning into marketing consulting. The idea seemed crazy to me initially but in July of that year, I took the leap and quit my job. Over the next few years, I developed a passion and affinity for LinkedIn and established my company, Connect the Dots Digital in January 2018. I’ve helped nearly 100 professionals to better leverage LinkedIn to tell their story, showcase their value & expertise and grow their business. Read more>>

Brittany and Nicole

Nicole – BlastHouse was birthed on March 5th, 2011. I was a 17 years old and Brittany was 15. One of our favorite bands (Sing It Loud) had just broken up when their bassist announced that he was doing a solo house tour. We signed up to host the Atlanta show and that’s when we really fell in love with event planning, hosting and live music shows. After the band break up, we didn’t think we’d ever see Nate Flynn live again, let alone have him in our house and singing our favorite songs on our couch. It was only like ten people there but we had so much fun. haha After Nate, we decided that we wanted to host more shows… so we did. We labeled ourselves as house venue and with the permission of our parents, we hosted crowds of strangers and local/touring pop punk bands in our living room for the next year. We had great nights, made lots of memories and learned even more. The shows that we hosted were acoustic… usually just the lead singer, guitarist and hand percussion, etc. Read more>>

Venus Reed

My story begins with my parents, my father played basketball while he was in the airforce and my mother was a cheerleader then played softball when I was a child. In my youth, I was encouraged to go for what I wanted so that mentality followed me into high school. I played volleyball, softball and basketball through the three high schools I attended. As I entered college and my early twenties, I swam and played coed sports. During my late 20’s life was lifein’. I bought a house, got married, divorced and became a mother. 2017 was the worst year of my life and this was when Sable Athletics LLC was birthed mentally. During this time, I lost Venus. I suffered with depression and knew I would be my daughter’s reason to NOT be or her inspiration TO be! I went to therapy, dealt with and continue to heal from childhood trauma. Most children do what they see and not what parents say. It is my mission to show my daughter that self-love and self-care beings within. In 2018 I completed the Peachtree Road race and made the Rocky Run in Philadelphia, PA my goal race for 2019. Sable Athletics is here to motivate and inspire men and women to love themselves through self-care and exercise. Order gear that feels good and challenges you to be a kick-ass mom, dope dad, rich auntie and bomb uncle. Read more>>

Ashley Nollenberger

My story started with a decision in undergrad at North Georgia College and State University to follow my heart and change my major from biology (pre-pharmacy) to psychology. Several personal life events (i.e., a family member’s suicide attempt and unexpected losses) affirmed this choice, which had been sparked as a 14-year-old girl navigating her parents’ divorce. Fast forward through graduate school (MS from University of North Georgia in Clinical Mental Health Counseling), completing the required three years of supervision at a treatment center for opiate dependency and working at a group practice, I made another big directional decision and stepped out in faith and courage to begin my own practice at the onset of a global pandemic in June 2020. Here, one and a half years later, I couldn’t feel more humbled and grateful for the practice I have been blessed to cultivate. Read more>>

Leah Scott

I actually always dreamed of being a doctor, a surgeon to be exact. But as I grew into who I am today, I realized the beauty industry was my calling. As a child, I was fascinated with styling hair, hair products, etc. I even begin doing friends and families hair at 12 years old. I went to cosmetology school at 16 and haven’t looked back since. Although I did go to college for Business and Human Resources and worked off end jobs, I hadn’t given up on my love for the industry. After working behind the chair as a stylist over ten years, I wanted more from the industry and something I could call my own and create generational wealth. I got laid off at the top of the pandemic, I was working as a salon manager for a high-end salon in Los Angeles, California at that moment a fire started burning to build my own empire! Diamond in the Rough Beauty Ltd. was created in 2020. We are on the way to being in business two years. We expect to grow worldwide and even reach retail markets. Read more>>

Maggie Karanja

My story begins when I joined an art class in high school. I quickly realized I wasn’t very talented at drawing (that gene skipped me) so I took up photography. In college, I decided to study visual communications, and during my freshman year a friend gave me a camera which I took everywhere I went. The passion flamed and I would document the life around me. I had many opportunities to work in a studio with videographers and photograph several events including football games (I almost got hit by a 6’5” 250lb football player when another photographer pulled me out of the way). While in college, I also started offering sessions on the side to people. Family sessions, graduation sessions, you name it, I did it all. After graduation, I moved to Atlanta to start my career as a photographer and graphic designer. Read more>>

Jay Conn

Heeeeeeyyyyy Y’aaaaallll!!! *Crowd would respond “Heeeyyyy Jaaaayyyy!!” My name is Jay Conn and I am the founder of EnerJAY Choreography LLC. Believe it or not, I have been in the industry for ten years and I am only 29. I am a Nashville naïve most known for my dance fitness program, C•O•D•E JAY (Cardio Outreach Dance Entertainment) Fitness and my high “enerJAY” choreograph which combines hip hop, bucking, stage performance and a little “twerk werk.” I have a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University in Dance & Health. My career first hit national exposure in 2014 when I was a feature cover story and national headliner in local newspapers and in USA Today, with the headline, “Twerk Master Jay Shakes Up Twerk World! Step back, Miley Cyrus!” I moved to Atlanta two and half years ago with no family, friends, resources, or connections but with a dream and walking out on faith. Read more>>

Stephanie Lailine

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had an affinity towards the creative arts. Growing up, I was constantly doodling, crafting, and surrounding myself with beauty in its many forms. I have always thought that the process of piecing together the right shapes & colors to make a cohesive work is so incredibly rewarding, especially as a means of utilizing my imagination to express myself. Art had mainly been a hobby for most of my life, but during my senior year of high school in 2015, I decided to take a leap of faith and enroll in my first art class: Advanced Placement Drawing & Painting. That experience completely changed my viewpoints towards a career in fine arts and was easily one of the best years of my life. Although it was difficult to complete so many projects, I was challenged, learned about so many different media, and grew immensely as an artist. I am forever thankful for my teacher, Matthew Phillips, for helping me along the way. Read more>>

Daniel Park

We first created the idea of Big Sister’s about a year ago, but we had a completely different vision. At the time, we had invested in a restaurant and a food truck, and we wanted the restaurant to strictly serve to-go platters of our meal-kits (meals that are pre-prepared and packaged at the restaurant but must be heated up at home), and we wanted the food truck to serve the fully cooked Korean BBQ meals. However, we got sick of waiting for the food truck’s inspection, so we decided to completely change the Big Sister’s concept. We wanted Big Sister’s to have a cafe-style vibe while serving plates of wood-fired Korean BBQ with a whole bunch of side options. We spent hours decorating our restaurant to make our guests feel like they are at home. Right now, we are still trying out new concepts to make our menu better. We just incorporated a soup of the day + protein combo. We also are now open for catering for large parties! Read more>>

Parisa Hervani and Jenny Holding

Though our story is rooted from our deep love of yoga, we also believe the body needs resistance training and functional movement. Parisa and Jenny both owned separate studios before the pandemic that didn’t survive the shut down leaving us both devastated but hopeful for another opportunity to bring our love for yoga and fitness to the Atlanta community. Parisa and Jenny met at a coffee shop in December 2020 to create a vision of what kind of studio we wanted to own. We came up with the name, Element Yoga, reflecting our core elements sweat, flow, and chill. Before they met in person, Parisa had previously looked at the market for a space that we could eventually open as Element Yoga in March of 2021. As Atlanta was beginning to re-open businesses, we were so grateful to have come into a community that supported our vision and became a part of the Element Yoga family. Read more>>

Nicole West

I am a very creative person in my core and after becoming a momma I took many years away from work to focus on my children… after many years, I started to dabble in Interior Design again by answering an ad on Nextdoor. That client’s project started small but ended with a complete kitchen remodel as well as other things throughout her home…my business grew organically all based on referrals from that one project and here I am today still a mom first but now a mom with an interior design company. Read more>>

Parisa Khan

I never had a background in baking. Prior to 2017, I never baked a single cake, dessert or any other baked goods. I always loved having cake though, loved trying out new flavors wherever I went. Cake has always been my weakness. I was born in Iran and their cardamom cakes are huge. So are rose, saffron and pistachio flavors. I loved trying those delicate flavors as a child. When I moved to Bangladesh (this is where I come from) at the age of ten, I discovered a whole new world of desserts and sweets. So I have always been fascinated by this amazing world of flavors, food, texture, colors and desserts. For once, I never thought I would become a part of this world. I started with cakes by accident. My husband was looking for fun things to do and he came across recreational classes in the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in NYC. We both did this Spanish Paella class and I really loved the whole feel so I just randomly chose a buttercream piping class. Believe me or not that got me hooked. Read more>>

Shannon Coen

I honestly can’t remember how I got started in photography, because it has always been a part of me. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in it – or doing it. If you look back at photographs of me over the years you can pretty much always find me with a camera in hand (or more than one, which still isn’t uncommon today). I got my start towards my journey as a “professional” in high school. That is where I took my first photography class and also got my first photography job. This is the point at which I really started photographing models, building a website and learning how to handle clients and do full shoots. I carried on pursuing photography through college. I was a Fashion Merchandising and Apparel Design major, where I spent lots of time doing shoots for others for their various fashion projects. From that I learned that I love bringing other peoples’ visions to life and creating with others. I also moved to exclusively shooting people as I was now well aware that was my passion. Read more>>

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