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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.

Dylan Shively

I’m originally from Pennsylvania and moved to San Antonio in July of 2020 with my wife and kids. James Warren Group started back in 2017 and was established shortly after I personally had a financial rough time that affected my credit pretty bad. After hiring a company that promised the world, didn’t deliver and also barely ever communicated with me to let me know what was going on, I decided to learn everything I possibly could to try to get it done myself. After months of learning everything that I could I was able to fix my own credit. Read more>>

Brandon Concepcion

My interest and love for photography started in middle school as an elective class. I remember being handed a Canon film camera and being shown how to properly load film into the camera for the first time. My teacher gave the students different subjects to shoot and mine was, geometric shapes. I distinctly recall working on this assignment and looking at a group of trees in the shape of a triangle in the courtyard of my school. I knew instantly it was a geometrically sound subject to shoot for the project. The snap of the shutter, winding the film to the next frame and feeling the clunk of the steel in my hand. It wasn’t only the feel of the camera that had me, it was the process of developing my own image. Read more>>

Dunwich Heroes

Pablo (Bassist) and Marc (Frontman) had been friends since the age of 6 years-old. Around middle school, they had decided to start a band with anyone they could find. After cycling through a few band members, it was eventually their senior year in high school. It was then they met a freshman drummer, Ricky, setting up his drum set for the jazz band at their high school. They approached him and asked if he was looking to join a rock band. Intrigued, he agreed. After their first practice together, the three of them knew that they were a good fit. The three of them decided to hit the studio to record their first song. Read more>>

Liz Taylor

I basically stumbled into making art during the pandemic. Like a lot of people, a few months into 2020 I was pretty stressed out and thoroughly sick of puzzles and cross-stitch (which I am terrible at by the way). I was cleaning out a drawer and found a small variety pack of oil paints that I used to paint a portrait on a piece of wood. It was such a relaxing process—meditative really. I made about 50 paintings on wood and later on canvas over the course of a year. It was a great emotional outlet during a time that was difficult for my family. Right after I got my vaccine I remember thinking that oil painting was the one thing I wanted to hold on to from this time period. Read more>>

Kiontai Lawson

I am Kiontai Lawson, also known as “TheMaskMusician”, a highly regarded music artist and songwriter. Music has always been my passion, so I began my career in 2014. My music is diverse and encompasses different genres. Throughout the years, my influences have molded my music into the artist I strive to become. A couple of my singles led to an increase in a passionate fan base and monthly listeners on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and other music streaming platforms. My art conveys the deep longing for the soul, the first flashes of romance, heartbreak, loss, devotion, and the deepest regrets that we harbor in our hearts. Words do not escape me when it comes to conveying emotions. Read more>>

Daisy Hernandez

I always new I wanted to be in the cosmetology industry, since I was young my mom was a hairstylist herself and I grew up watching her and I loved it. When I got to high school, I knew the moment I became a junior, I would take the cosmetology classes they offered. As soon as that year came I got in and never looked back, I learned so much my first year and by my second year in I fell in love with doing nails, I would practice on myself my friends from school and it was something I never thought I would learn so quick. I had a job my senior year just so I could buy everything I needed to officially start my own business as a Nail Technician. Read more>>

Rick Staggs

Born and raised in San Antonio,Tx, after graduating high school and having a passion for music and sound. Decided to make the move to Tempe, AZ and attending the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Science, after graduating I was able to pick up an internship in either NY or LA and that didn’t take long to decided. Los Angeles would be my new home. Ended up staying out there for almost a decade pursuing music as an engineer, playing around the city in bands and doing session work as a bass player. While playing music I started to dwindle in photography, having just a point and shoot I wanted to know more about the in’s and out’s of the camera and how to really use it for what it was for. Read more>>

Jen Hardy

Have you ever had that moment where everything changed? Where everything just became clear that the way you were doing life just really was not working?? I have. It was summer of 2013 in my mid 30’s. I’ll spare all the details but let’s just say it involved alcohol, a guy at a bar and west 6th in Austin Texas. I can easily say it was a rock bottom night. Thankfully my best friend, at the time was with me and made sure I made the right decision that night. I say my best friend “at the time” because she is no longer my best friend nor am I friends with many who I spent the majority of my time with then. Read more>>

Madison Williams

Being a native Austinite and child to salon owners had me developing an eye for hair and art early on in life. To say I’m a hair nerd is an understatement and honestly, my station at work feels more like home than my house does some days. I’ve worked as a haircutter for the past 10 years and along the way, I’ve narrowed my specialty into my true passions (curly hair and razor cutting). In fact, I don’t even offer color services. Read more>>

Ada Esquivel

I first started photography and cinematography when I was a junior in high school. I had always had a passion for the arts but realized I loved capturing and recreating moments to be able to hold on to forever. I started photographing school events and my friends and family and started to branch out into connecting with Texas models and musicians. Along the way, I created great friends and mentors who taught me a lot of what I know today. Read more>>

Chris Martin(Bakir)

I started out in the music industry as an artist by the name of Chris Bakir and a sound engineer. I grew to like to tell stories in each song and wanted to create visuals for them so one of my close friend’s grandma bought a camera for me and that was the beginning of my career as a videographer I studied and watched videos and did more studying until I realized that I could learn the stuff I need to know this way, or I could go to school for this so, I did. I attended Full Sail University and attained my Bachelor of Science in Digital Cinematography. I landed in Texas in 2019 and went full force in to this community and what it had to offer. Read more>>

Erin Spear

A friend of mine had always gone to estate sales and auctions and I decided to go with her to one or two. I was hooked! She and her sister-in-law started a business selling antiques and had been having fun and doing well. I noticed as I went to different sales that I always gravitated toward jewelry. I started buying several pieces and pretty soon my collection was overflowing! A few months into the pandemic, I started to look at online auctions, marketplace, or anywhere that might sell costume jewelry as going in person wasn’t happening. Read more>>

Ian Cheadle

After many years working in the machining industry, I was feeling burned out. In 2013 I was given the opportunity to manage a complete residential rehab in Dayton, Ohio. Much of my knowledge from machining easily carried over into carpentry and I realized then, that my career path was in construction. I had a lot of fun doing residential construction but often felt overwhelmed managing subcontractors and I recognized how much I enjoyed working for myself and by myself. Right away, wood floors were a passion of mine. It has such a natural beauty. I became fascinated with different wood grains, colors, textures, and saw cuts. Focusing solely on wood floor construction was a no brainer. Read more>>

Le’Shundia Porter

Since I was a young girl, I always had a passion for writing, I always kept diaries, I loved to write about my day, write poems, and also songs. As I became a young woman in college I began to write about my dreams and goals and things I wanted to accomplish, not knowing at the time I was creating my future narrative. I’ve always been that go to person in my circle for advice. I have always been that positive person to uplift and motivate others to overcome fears and step out on faith. I am a true believer that with faith in God and yourself you will and can accomplish all your heart desires. Read more>>

JoyaVeli Brain

I started doing music with my grandmother Beatrice Henry at two years old. She taught me how to hum hymns. As I grew, I started to sing and me, my siblings, and cousins were a Choir called Cloud of angels back in the late 80s getting radio play every other Sunday. At 9 years old, I started to write my own poetry turning it into music. At 11 years old I heard Tupac Shakur who inspired me to start rapping. I Began to enjoy hip-hop more than singing and chose to rap. I did not discover my unique lyricism until I entered a competition and won. Read more>>

Heidi Myklebust

What’s my story? My first thought was, “how do I explain this,” I have never really thought about it until now.” The answer is really two-fold: making art ‘for real,’ on purpose, with the focus of getting my work out into the world….I would say started in the last 12 years or so. Being creative and feeling the need to make things and express myself that way goes as far back as being a little kid in Detroit drawing with mud on the driveway and trying to learn how to do the same kind of bubble letters I saw my babysitter draw when she would come over. My love for creating had never really gone away but as I entered my career as a coach and a teacher, it did take a back seat for a while until I decided to chase teaching art. Read more>>

Sid Davis

It started back at Roosevelt High School my junior year. I had a friend that was deeply involved with music, and I asked him to mentor me. He gave me the basic guidelines and told me “Just be yourself and rap about what you feel.” From that point on, I took his advice and ran with it until I found my sound. After school, I would go home and look up free beats on YouTube and rap over them to see what kind of songs I would get out of it depending on how I was feeling at the time. Read more>>

Robbin Kelton

I’ve been in the beauty industry for 24 years as a hairstylist and lash artist. Been working independently for the past 4 years. I love what I do and being able to transform people’s lives with changing their hairstyle, haircut or lashes. How I go into podcasting was I met the owner of the podcast platform at a networking event in 2020. She did a drawing to get a free spot on her podcast. I won the drawing, did my first ever podcast appearance in November 2020. She asked me to come on to her platform to do my own podcast in March 2021. The Mamapreneur Podcast premiered its first episode on April 8, 2021. Read more>>

Fredrick Larry

The way I found my passion was a mistake, I discovered photography my sophomore year of college. I originally bought a camera for car vlogs, with the mindset to make YouTube videos. Well, being a broke college student I could only afford the camera. I got introduced to photography when a friend asked me to take photos of a family friend of theirs. I have no idea what I was doing with a camera, this was my first time actually using it. They ended up loving the photos, and recommend I do photography full time. At the time I laughed, I didn’t take making a profit off photos that seriously. But I then spend a year learning how a camera works till I felt more comfortable in situations, that’s where my photography journey began. Read more>>

Gina Jaramillo

My small business actually began after I made festivite cascarones for a Fiesta themed birthday party. The guests were asking for more cascarones, so I began taking orders. I sold cascarones for Fiesta and Easter for the first 3 years. A few months later I met a girlfriend who asked me to design a flower crown for a photo shoot that was to be published in a magazine. I admit, I was nervous about that request, but since I love to be challenged I agreed. My girlfriend liked her flower crown and my designs grew from small single flower accessories into the larger, whimsical pieces that are gaining popularity throughout San Antonio, Texas. I’ve collaborated with several local designers and styled several fashion shows for Fiesta, Dia De Los Muertos and Frida Fest. Read more>>

Fernando Lemus

I got my start in music at the early age of 11, and it has been an endless pursuit and love for all thing music since then. I felt a great connection with drums so dedicated my time and energy to being the best I could be, and over time fell in love with the recording side of music as well. I knew I couldn’t afford to stay at a studio day in and out so I launched my own Recording Studio, FL Recordings in 2010, with the bare minimum. Over the last decade, the studio has grown to what it is today, through passion and dedication. I have been fortunate to have opportunities to make music at a professional level. Such as being signed with my last band, Silence the Messenger, which subsequently released two albums & Toured North America multiple times. working with exceptional musicians both in studio and remotely, having a successful YouTube drumming channel, and my latest personal music endeavor, Lions at the Gate. Read more>>

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