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Southern 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 Southern Atlanta’s gems below.

Dwyland Johnson

I would say my story began as a child watching my mother’s entrepreneurial journey as a barber and stylist. I watched her turn what was initially just a thought into something that was actually able to provide for me and my sister and she did it with very little support. We didn’t have a lot and we absolutely struggled at times but as a single mother, she always found a way to make away and she did it HER WAY. I feel like vicariously, I developed that sense of hustle, grind and entrepreneurial spirit from her. So as a child, I found myself constantly looking for ways to make my own way. So whether it was me trying to find ways to hustle and make money or me working a 9-5 I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t trying to get it. With that being said, I’ve always been ambitious! Fast forward MANY years later, after many failed ventures, King of Kaps LLC was born… July of 2018, to be exact. King of Kaps was an idea for a headwear business I had been wanting to explore a few years before I decided to actually take the leap. During this time, I was really investing into my mind, body and soul, listening to the likes of Les Brown, E.T., Dr. Myles Munroe, Jim Rohn, Napolean Hill and many more. Read more>>

Jarvis Ford

I was already making music but I just didn’t take it seriously. It was just a hobby to do when I was bored. At the end of my 10-grade year, I eventually started taking being a producer seriously. So with that being said, I just started making so many beats, like 7-10 beats a day because, I was in love with the music and my craft. My homeboys at my school were rapping and I appreciate them because they was the first people to record to my beats and give me a chance. With me releasing music with them, this began to bring a buzz around my name and everybody started coming up to me saying, “Jayy, you hard with the beats”, “You need to take beats seriously you gone go far.” Now that I’m seeing everybody messing with me and liking the sounds I create. This lead on to me grinding even harder and getting bigger placements such as Madmarcc, Darealshanti, Grimm Reaper, just to name a few and many more as well. It’s crazy because I plan out my music with the placements I want to accomplish and every-time I say it, it always happens. Now you just meet JAYYINTHACUTT and the journey it took to get where I’m at today. Am I satisfied with where I am? Yes, because I got here in less than a year but no at the same time because I still have some more goals to accomplish before I can say this is where I want to be in life. Read more>>

Fahamu Pecou

I came to Atlanta in 1993 to attend the Atlanta College of Art. In the ensuing years, I became deeply engrained in Atlanta’s thriving, young, Black arts community through venues like Yin Yang Cafe, Club Mecca, Club Kaya, and more. The late 90s became formative years for me as a creative. The energy was palpable and felt very much like a renaissance of Black culture. My friends and colleagues were painters, musicians, writers, poets, dancers, actors… all aspiring, but all deeply passionate about their craft and abundantly gifted. Despite leaving Atlanta in 1998 to return to New York and pursue my dreams of being an artist, I was compelled to return to Atlanta. I returned in late 1999 with the express goal of being a part of what I felt was a powerful creative scene… one destined to alter the course of history. Since then, I have been blessed to call Atlanta home while traveling the world. As they say, ‘I’m hardly home, but always repping.’ Atlanta has not only been my home base, but it is also my muse. The ability to live, work, and be in a city where Black people excel in every facet of society can not be overstated. Read more>>

Kaylan Nurse

As a kid, I watched my mother (who is a cosmetologist) do hair. I started in high school doing friend’s hair for fun, starting the fire to my passion. When I got to college, I did more and more until I began to get paid for my work. I work in a cozy suite on the south side of Atlanta for now, doing what I love. Also, I now balance being a hairstylist, an educator (5th Grade teacher) a full-time student receiving my Specialists Degree and above all a bomb mom to an almost two-year-old! Lastly, I am also super close to relaunching a clothing brand by the name of Aesthetic that I started but lost the motivation to continue. That fire has returned and I am excited about it. Read more>>

Candace Willis

I purchased my home at 23 and the experience with my real estate agent did not go well. As a first-time homebuyer, I expected a lot more from her. This is when I first started to consider becoming a real estate agent. I was very certain that I could provide my clients with a completely different experience – a better experience. And I wanted to really educate them on the home buying process. Also, I am employed by the General Services Administration (GSA), a federal government agency, as a Lease Contracting Officer. In this position, I lease commercial buildings to other federal agencies. Working in commercial real estate for the past nine years also fueled my desire to get into residential real estate. My business has grown by referrals and word of mouth. I am fortunate to have a great network that constantly promotes me and my business. My clients trust me. They know that I genuinely have their best interest at heart and I am not just trying to sell them a house. My business is successful because my clients know that I understand the importance of homeownership. Read more>>

Kye Wilson

My story is definitely not the traditional story, but it is not completely uncommon. As a young person, I always had a passion for all things related to money. I wasn’t focused on making money or being rich as much as I was questioning, “but how does it work?” I wanted to know all about the underlying principles of money and financial markets. I wondered why some people were affluent in some places but not in others. I questioned why certain people had so much money, yet people in other places had so little. While the adults drank their morning coffee before school, my sister and cousins would usually make it their habit to read the newspaper comic sections discarded by the adults. I, on the other hand, chose to search for the real estate and money sections. In those early years, I could hardly understand the content, but I would study the words and pictures carefully. My interest only continued to grow. As I matured, I read several financial education and self-help books, and I watched hours of money shows such as Suzie Orman and infomercials. My first big adult win came after I left Paine College. I had amassed some debt from having college credit cards that I allowed to go into default. Read more>>

LaCarla Brockington

I’ve always loved cooking and had the dream of becoming a chef. I come from a family full of caterers and cooks so that’s pretty much all I know is good cooking. My mom passed away the first semester of my high school senior year in 2016 and after that, I felt lost and didn’t know what I wanted to do after I walked across that stage, but what I did know is that I had a passion for cooking. We would always watch the cooking shows and she would always question me about what I would’ve done with the ingredients that they were given on the show. I was given a chance to compete in a peanut recipe competition right before my passed away and I came in 3rd place of all the other schools in GA boy, was she proud! Ever since then, I discovered that becoming a chef was what I wanted to do so I went to Culinary school but due to financial aid reasons and COVID, I decided to take a break from school and step out on faith to start my business. I’ve done a few gigs for close friends before but this time I knew that I was ready, I got booked for my very first brunch in August of 2020 and every since then I’ve been BOOKED & BUSY. I took that crazy leap of faith and trusted the process , who would’ve thought at the age of 21 my dreams would come to reality. Read more>>

Lexus Woods

I have been in business for almost a year now but have been bartending for three years. I started bartending back in 2018. I was introduced to bartending by my sister. She wanted me to bartend her boyfriend’s 40th birthday bash! I never bartended in my life but I saw an opportunity and thought why not. This party was not an ordinary party! It was a house party with over 200 guest and myself and two other bartenders. After that party, I found my passion. I knew this was something I wanted to pursue. The bartenders I was working with that night, Mrs. Dottie and Ravin Bailey has their own mobile bartending business called Baileys Bartending. Mrs. Dottie, the owner/my mentor, contacted me and my bartending career took off from their. I went to get my certification at Atlanta Professional Bartending School and graduated in May of 2019. I didn’t think about starting my own business until the pandemic happened. At this time, I didn’t have a job, and I just had my baby girl. Starting a business was far from my mind until my dad brought it to my attention. I thought about it and called my mentor Mrs. Dottie to see what she thought. Read more>>

Ayana Cummings

My musical journey began at six when my parents bought my first drum set for Christmas. I joined the band in fourth grade and have been in love with performing and creating music ever since. When I was able to drive myself to and from rehearsals, I started playing drums for my church full time. During my senior year, my high school introduced an AP Music Theory course. Taking that class helped me realize I wanted to major in music when I got to college. It was in school at Alabama State University when I discovered my love for composition. I had arranged sparingly for my high school band, but I wasn’t sure about it being my career path. Being surrounded by so many amazing musicians who were supporting themselves while doing what they love assured me that I wanted a career in film scoring and composition. After graduating Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Music Performance, I moved to New York City for an internship with the NY Arts Program. I was able to get more experience in the music industry and make connections with internationally acclaimed and Grammy-winning artists. I was able to perform and compose more than I ever had before. Read more>>

Christine Taylor

Certified Nurse Midwife and Chicago native. At a young age, I knew my career would involve caring for expectant mothers and babies. I have always had an innate passion for caring for expectant mothers and babies! In 2005, I obtained my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and after five years of labor and delivery nursing, I became motivated to pursue a Master’s in Science and Midwifery degree. I began my career as a midwife serving South Side communities in Chicago. In 2014, I relocated to Atlanta to join a natural, hospital based midwifery service. I have worked in a variety of settings including inner-city and rural hospital facilities and out of hospital settings, all of which have equipped me with the necessary knowledge and skills required to provide safe, supportive and intuitive midwifery care and home birth services. In 2015, I started my own home birth practice-Birth by Grace Midwifery Services, LLC, undoubtedly, the best decision I could have ever made as it pertains to my career. Read more>>

Victoria Smith

I recently revisited my love for art and would paint often in my apartment. It was towards the beginning of the nationwide pandemic and I had already ran out of things to do. I grew to dislike anything dealing with social media and technology hastily. Aware of the fact that no one from government officials to authorities at my university, knew how long this epidemic would go on. The lingering question that resounded across the globe was now what to we do? I decide to combine my love for art and fashion. Placing custom designs on slides was more conventional simply because slides are a trendy style shoe that, for the most part everyone could get there hands on. Also it’s getting warm outside and summer is approaching, all the more reason to have your toes out! “The first initial slogan was ” Re-purpose your old slides so you’ll be ready when out open back up right? Cheesy lol, but it worked. Things were off to a great start! I didn’t really expect to receive so much love and support from the very beginning. That sounds crazy to say but my cup over flowed to say the least. Read more>>

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