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Hidden Gems: Local Businesses & Creatives You Should Know

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 our latest local gem features below.

Viviana Jackson

I started off doing makeup as a hobby. In my living room. I never expected myself to own a business in the beauty community. But God had other plans for me. I fell more in love with makeup and enjoyed it so much I wanted more than just working on just myself. I then decided it was time to promote myself as a makeup artist. I wanted new faces, I wanted to learn more about myself and what I can do. It’s not as easy as I thought it would be. I work hard everyday to try and put my name out there as much as I can. I am still learning as I go. I have bigger dreams and more things to accomplish in my career. I am working so hard to build my name for myself, for my kids! Read more>>

Kate Godfrey

I started my career in the pet industry with dog walking and pet sitting while I was in college at UNF. Upon graduation, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, a friend suggested I do dog walking and pet sitting full time until I figured out. I’ve always loved animals, especially dogs, so it was a natural fit. As fortune would have it I met two dog trainers who encouraged me to go through Animal Behavior College. I’ve had the good fortune of meeting, working with, and learning from all sorts of dog trainers. Training is a journey, not a destination (I cannot take credit for this quote as another trainer said to it me). I’ve evolved as a trainer and realize I’ve got lots more to learn, which is incredibly exciting. Read more>>

Agelvys Enrique Fernandez Rangel

I was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Since 17 years old I had work with the insurance industry, I graduated at Urbe University as a profesional in business marketing. I came to the United States with my wife and my 12 years old daughter! So yes, I became a dad really young, She changed my life and made me realice that children really can make you transform you into the best version of yourselve! By today I’m working in the area insurance in association with some Venezuelan colleagues. Read more>>

Breaunna H. Daniels-Turner

Question #1 – Your Story • Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today. Back in 2009, I was only 17 years old and a high school senior at North Miami Beach Senior High School. I always knew I was beyond my years and very mature for my age. I discovered that when I was in middle school actually. So because of my young maturity and faith, I was always on Facebook posting encouraging quotes on my page every single day for the most part. Read more>>

Tammy Badida

For as long as I can remember I have always been blessed to have courageous and strong women in my life. Growing up watching my Mother and Grandmother overcome so much adversity in their own lives taught me how to survive when it was my turn to face my own challenges. I spent 18 years growing up in a home witnessing my step-father emotionally, mentally and physically abuse my Mother. Read more>>

Lativia Davis

Well, I had a strong interest in esthetics since 2017 and I was planning to go to school for it that same year. However, life happened and I got pregnant with my beautiful daughter so I had to postpone my esthetician journey. Eventually in Feb 2021 I saved up enough money to quit my full time job and solely go to school for esthetics. Unfortunately, I did get kicked out of my program 2 weeks before graduating for essentially standing up for another student, I still don’t think it was right til this day but karma is a thing and it didn’t deter me from my dreams. Read more>>

Dianna Berley

It all started with a love of food. Growing up, food was how my parents showed they cared; it was always, “Have you eaten yet? Here, eat more!” In college, I was always photographing food and sharing my latest favorite restaurants with friends. When I moved back to Jacksonville and saw how much the food scene had grown, it was an idea in the back of my head – to start a food blog. It wasn’t until years later in 2019 that DuvalFoodies was born. The purpose was to create a platform where I could help support local businesses, highlight cuisines from different cultures, and meet people who were also passionate about food.  Read more>>

Miranda Kieffer

I always enjoyed making floral arrangements for holidays & really enjoyed receiving flowers! I always dreamed of owning a flower shop & said I would when my kids “grew up” & “when the time was right”…One day I just asked myself why not now? And decided to take a leap of Faith & create the dream that is now Vintage Floral Co. I started in the busiest season of FLORALS, but I honestly couldn’t have asked for a smoother road. It definitely has had some hurdles with two toddlers in tow, but with the help of family we’ve managed to work it out & always try to make it fun! Read more>>

Jazlyn Gallego

I started working in the nonprofit field and realized that so many of the causes that I was working on were connected and began to become aware of the importance of public policy. After briefly leaving the nonprofit arena to work on political campaigns, I continued to see a huge overlap. VoteRiders provided a perfect opportunity to provide a service to the community like in my previous nonprofit work while also being able to reach a wide audience and discuss the importance of civic participation. Read more>>

Michael Armanno

For nearly a decade, I have lived and breathed suits, working as a living model in my 21st century suits of armor. I am the owner of Kalypso Couture, and I design Bespoke Handcrafted Custom Tailored Suits. I grew up in a low income household. My first suit was a black pinstripe peak lapel, about four sizes to big. It would be the only suit I would get for awhile. It was one of those purchases a family saves for very special occasions. For me, my brother’s wedding, the oldest of five siblings, and I was the youngest. It was the most extravagant experience I had ever had, at the time. Read more>>

Tonya Love

My name is Tonya Love on one hand I am a Self published Author, Song Writer, Poet,Certified Grief Coach , Certified Professional Speaker Activist, Actress, Executive Producer,Film writer and Play wright On the other hand I am the survivor of Molestation, rape, domestic violence, homelessness, Foster homes, suicide attempts, depression, alcoholism, teenage pregnancy,and improverished thinking, but Nothing hurt or devastated me more than when I became the survivor of the gun violence that ended my son Prosper’s life on Oct. 5th 2014 just 5 days before his 18th birthday. Read more>>

John Pritchard

My name is John Pritchard but I go by “ayeprimo”, and I am a music producer/DJ from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I first fell in love with music production when I was 15 on a family road trip messing around with garage band on my phone, and ever since then that passion to create music has never left. I come from a musical family so I’ve been around it pretty much my whole life which makes music almost like a sixth sense to me. I continued making beats on my phone and sending them to local rappers/artists all throughout high school. I even downloaded FL Studio ( a popular music production program) on the school computers and I would make beats in class and send them to my classmates.  Read more>>

Keisha Jennings

I self taught myself to braid at 9 years old. I braided my dolls hair because that’s all I had at the time. As time went on, my brothers grew their hair out and I would braid their hair. It wasn’t the best looking braids but at that young age, I did pretty well. Lol. In middle and high school I would braid and do my own hair. I would also do the neighborhood kids hair. I would go to my friends house or they would come to mine and I would do their hair. From there it progressed and at a young age , I had a side hustle from doing hair. I never thought my path would be hair. Read more>>

Mobarick Abdullah III

I have been creating with color as long I can remember. When I was a child in Pittsburgh I remember wanting to put color where there was gray. One day I put crayons to my mother‘s wall. I was surprised when I didn’t get in trouble. I knew right then I could create something different. I’ve always been drawn to color. I moved to Jacksonville in 2004, and briefly stepped away from art. A few years later my girlfriend asked me to make her a painting. Read more>>

Tanisha McMillan

I was working at a local hospital here in Jacksonville, Florida as a referral coordinator. One of the patients I was assisting with paperwork was having a hard time finding a notary public to sign a form. A lightbulb went off and that’s how I became a notary public for the state of Florida. I would say, so far the road has been smooth. I’ve met a ton of people in this industry whose given me great advise and tips. Read more>>

Lew Reaves

I had my first Smoked Old Fashioned at The Ritz Carlton Amelia Island in 2018 and was hooked! My engineering background had me immediately thinking of how to make a cocktail smoker for personal use. My first design was the glass cloche style. I played around with a few designs of it, making it “Extra” by adding the light show. Soon after perfecting the glass cloche smoker I designed other styles including the cigar box style. Read more>>

Cohco Harris

I am originally from the Bronx NY, but I was raised in Queens NY. I, since a kid loved sports, and I loved when my sisters would teach me how to braid there dolls hair. I was around 8 years of age. as a young adult, around 17 years of age, I stopped thinking about hair do to my life situation, not having money, no heat in the house, having to use a mini garbage can to scoop up the crap from the toilet, because we didnt have water. I moved out on my own just to be avicted from my apartment, due to me losing my job about six months after signing the lease. Read more>>

Jee

My name is Jee. Short for Najee. Raised in Jacksonville Florida Duval County but created in Montgomery Alabama. I jumped off the porch at the age of 12. 2003. By 2006 I was T.T.G, trained to go. Fast forward to now, im a fresh 30. Spent most of my 20’s in county Jail. Did my last bid 2017. Since my release, everyday has been dedicated to becoming an elite Artist & Entrepreneur! My foundation is being and staying independent. I don’t desire to sign a deal or be owned by ANY industry. Read more>>

Lequita Brooks

In 2008, I was at a point in my life where I was tired of having the “10 side hustles” to provide financially and be a present parent for my three-year-old daughter. At that moment, I decided that I desired to live a life of purpose and passion while making a profit so I went back to school full-time with my daughter to pursue a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree at Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. Filed for bankruptcy and let my home go into foreclosure and cars repossessed to get a do-over at life. Pursuing Social Work was the best decision I’ve ever made! Read more>>

Matt Velez

I’m originally from New Jersey and moved here two years ago. As a car nut since the age of 3 living in Florida is quite nice. The year round nice weather and lack of snow is great for all types of vehicles – especially for longevity. I’ve also found the people of Florida to be very nice. The best part is many people here are car crazy too! . I also own a building services company and a TV production company. The TV production company works with big names in TV. Read more>>

Future Joy

Zaxophone started the project in Denver, Colorado in 2018. Emily joined in the end of 2019 and that’s when it started to gain momentum. In August 2020 we hit the road in our RV/mobile stage and traveled coast to coast to coast playing festivals, venues, and pop up shows along the way. We had to adjust to living in the RV and touring full time. As we acclimated to the road and found a good pace we began to grow steadily and progress. Read more>>

Henry Montgomery

Born and raised in Gainesville, FL were I attended Gainesville High School. After high school I joined the Navy. During my time in the Navy I served on two submarines, the USS Silversides and the USS Hampton. Even though I was in the Navy, traveling the world, I knew that this was not what I wanted to do. When I got out I went to work for Sears. This was the beginning of learning how to run my own business. Thanks to Sears, I was able to attend the regional management training that was available in my area. This training gave me the tools that I would later to start my own business. Read more>>

Dan Woods

I have always been active in sports and I am a very competitive person. In high school, I participated on a number of teams including: football, baseball, and track. But I excelled in swimming and wrestling. I served in the US Navy as a Rescue Swimmer. After the Navy I remained active in road races and triathlon. In 2015 I completed my first Obstacle Course Race (OCR) and I loved the experience of training and racing on obstacles. Most Obstacle Course Races are either in the mountains or in the mud, but living and training on the beach inspired me to start my own races on the beaches of Florida in 2019. Read more>>

Lena Christine

I did not pick up a camera at an early age. In fact, I picked one up in college studying for my graphic design degree. I was so bad at taking photos, that my teacher made me cry one day in class after telling me to never pick it up again. I sure am happy that I didn’t listen to him. Two years out of college, I was working as a social media content designer and a web designer and was faced with the task of taking photos at small Jacksonville businesses for their social media feeds. Read more>>

Aly Gray

My business came to life in the thick of quarantine when gyms closed and workouts from home were in huge demand. I had been a group fitness instructor at Equinox in Boston, MA has been a bodybuilding competitor and personal trainer on the side too, but covid changed that. I knew I had to pivot to pay the bills and turn my fitness passion into a career so I moved to Destin, FL, and built an incredible website behind the scenes of Instagram live classes. Before long, Aly Gray Fitness was born! I built an online platform initially to make it easy for my clientele in New England to take the same style classes from Equinox studios from the comfort of their own home. I never expected it to expand worldwide! Now subscribers in the US and internationally sign into Aly Gray Fitness for fun and fitness. Read more>>

Esteban Azofeifa

I worked in a kitchen at a young age and fell in love with cooking. In 2012, I moved to Jacksonville and decided to pursue my passion as a chef. Fast forward to 2020 a year of many challenges, I got furloughed from my job the moment and figured with all the time I had I’d start a business. In April 2020, El Cubano Jax emerged selling Cuban sandwiches off a hotdog cart at different bars/breweries. The name started to get out there people were now hooked on what’s been said is “The best Cuban sandwich in Jacksonville FL!” With many setbacks and challenges, I kept pushing and now have opened Brick and Mortar inside of Lemonstreet Brewing Company in the Railroad District on the riverside (2100 Dennis, St.) Read more>>

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