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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.

Danico

Well Danico officially began in January of 2018 by myself, Kevin Bendtsen and my partner/now significant other Ana Gonzalez. Before then our interest in design stemmed from a background in Architecture and Art. I myself was introduced to furniture design through a college shop course given by Professor Johnny Webb back in 2013. Ana’s background comes from a long time passion for art and a digital fabrication design/build studio in college given by professor Armando Araiza.  Read more>>

Desiree Garza

My journey began with a trip to a pawn shop with my mom. I saw a camera behind a glass case, and although I knew nothing about cameras at the time, something told me just buy it. At first, it was just a snapshot here and there, but then, I had my son, and he was really what ignited my love for photos. I started setting up spaces in my home for little photoshoots, buying props, and costumes; I fell in love with it. All my life, I was in art, I graduated with honors in art, but I never saw a future in it. I was asked “Why not? You’re great at it.” Read more>>

Jenn Bailey

I started this journey investigating mortgage fraud alongside the FBI for over 5 years. It was a very exciting career and gave me an incredible wealth of knowledge in mortgage, all the ways to not get a loan and all of the workarounds to help more people buy homes legitimately…without anyone going to jail lol. Then I took 4 years “off” to raise two little ones (Ryder and Autumn) and meanwhile, my husband, Blake and I founded a successful motorcycle boot company that took off like wildfire internationally (Motobailey.com).  Read more>>

Ashley Griggs

It all started in the heat of the pandemic. Everyone was rightfully scared to leave home. I love baking and cooking so I turned my hobby and what I did for my family into a business. I offered no contact delivery for safety. I continued to be consistent in my journey and now I am making food for my city and surrounding areas. No, it has been challenging along the way. I went from a 2 income household to taking it on myself as a single mom. That just pushed me harder towards my goal of getting better. Read more>>

Stephanie Aguilar

I’ve always loved drawing and painting, and I enjoy having something to do. My story in creating a small business actually started when someone suggested I start an Etsy shop. My journey has not been smooth at all. I have an education in art, but not marketing. Creating artwork is the easy part- getting sales is the hard part. Starting out, I didn’t have a great business name, no brand image, no focus. Although I still have no focus, because I want to do all the things that pop into my head, I can now say I at least have found my perfect business name. Read more>>

Vikky Jones

I was fortunate to have a multicultural upbringing. I’m half Hispanic, half white, and grew up with dad in the Navy– through which I got to experience places like Florida, Maryland, Japan, Hawaii, and Germany until I landed in San Antonio 23 years ago. I’ve always drawn, for as far back as I can remember. I took all the art & music classes that I could throughout grade school, and knowing I wanted to be an artist, I continued on to earn my Bachelor’s & Master’s degrees in drawing & painting from UTSA. Read more>>

Amanda Ball

Over a decade ago I was a mid-twenties mama with 3 small kids. Our family needed extra income so I decided I should get a job. After doing the math I realized I’d be working for 40 hours a week plus commuting just to make a few hundred dollars extra a month after daycare and other expenses. That just wasn’t worth it to be away from my children for that many hours each day. I decided to start a business. Cake pops were just getting started and I’ve always loved art and making things so I started to learn about them. Read more>>

Anthony Salazar

I was introduced to traditional folklorico dance when I was 7 years old. I had no knowledge on dancing folklorico. My mom enrolled me to take folklorico dance classes as a child because it was her dream to see me perform and grow up to be a dancer wearing the authentic mexican outfits especially with the famous Jalisco suit with the designed galas on my pants and a festive sombrero. I am currently a professional folklorico dancer with over 30 years experience and I am a dance director for a folklorico group known as Grupo Folklorico de Bendiciones established and registered in 2015 in San Antonio, Read more>>

Alma Aminta

I’ve always had an interest in photography as a hobby. It’s something I enjoy doing in my free time. I always had that creative outlet but no way to use it. One day I started thinking about my community, how beautiful San Antonio is. You’ll usually find a lot of great social media accounts that’s showcase our city but I had the idea to do it in a different way. That’s how SA Black & White came about! Read more>>

Nathaniel Garza

I was born in 2005 in San Antonio, TX and I was raised in a disanfanchised area in the city. At a very tender age around 2 and 3, I started scribbling and drawing which made it a hobby, I was then diagnosed with autism at the age of 4, and it was hard for me to talk, express myself, and it was also hard for me to learn in general. I used to stem alot and had sensory issues. I’ve been to a lot of countless elementary schools, and 3 middle different schools, we moved alot to find a better approach for learning as it was difficult for me to adjust to a regular learning environment.  Read more>>

Sharmon Lebby

A friend introduced me to the term and concept of Ethical Fashion and I was immediately intrigued. I started watching documentaries like The Minimalist and The True Cost. In all honesty, they left me with a lot more questions. I started doing my own research and realized all of this was really just a fancy name for the way I’d always been living my life. The only difference is that I was just drawn to natural products and handmade goods. I would choose those over other products but I still shopped in other stores. Read more>>

Morgan Rogue

My journey into preparedness started well over a decade ago when the lights suddenly went out. My cell phone was about to die and I had no idea how to keep it charged when the power was out. That led me down the path of being prepared for various events. It has now led me to help others be prepared for emergencies, everyday life and natural disasters. I feel strongly that everyone should have at least a little bit of preps and ideas on what to do in case of certain events. Read more>>

Ingrid Cleveland

In 2016 after having my baby girl India, I ventured off to Houston where I came across a flyer online about tryouts for full contact women’s football! I was a little puzzled at first because I only had flag and powderpuff experience growing up, but never knew about full tackle. I hadn’t played sports in almost 2-3 years since I stopped running track in college after I left TAMUCC to come back home to be with family. Read more>>

Erik Fontaney

I got started in the remodeling industry in the year 2000 at 20yrs old. A high school freshman dropout, with no social skills, no discipline, no guidance to direct me on the right path and no clue what to do with my life. This is when I met my mentor Joe Henry Ruiz who is no longer with us today, He is actually my wife’s cousin. He had just moved to San Antonio from Corpus Christi, TX an needed a tile helper. He hired me at his job making $9.00 an hour. I became his tile helper and now I had a steady job, I would not be a helper for long.   Read more>>

Diego Castillo

I recorded my first official song in August 2020 titled In search of. It came about after living 2 years of homelessness in Wisconsin. Still till this day I’m not sure how I survived 2 Wisconsin winters. I lost everything from having my expenses cost more than my living costs. Those 2 years I held a job at Johnsonville sausage I. Sheboygan falls, WI yet it covered only just gas and basic bills such as a breathalyzer for my car cuz I done messed up years prior and also insurance and child support.  Read more>>

Chris Carzoli

I picked up a camera in 2007. Some Nikon point and shoot. It was like $100 from BestBuy and I started there. Mainly for the band I was drumming for. I wanted cool pics for our MySpace and Warped Tour Profiles. I did not care what camera I bought I just wanted something to shoot pictures on. Fast forward to now and I shoot and absolutely love my Fujifilm Cameras. It has been a long road to get here, going from Nikon, to Sony, back to Nikon, back to Sony, and landing on Fujifilm finally after all these years. Read more>>

Good Hope Studios

Good Hope Studios was created in 2019 by Kimberly Rumfelt and Blake Kennedy. It is the result of our two studio practices coming together. We do each work on our own individual projects as well as together on collaborative series. The name, Good Hope Studios, has its roots in North Carolina, Blake’s home state and where Kimberly attended graduate school. Good Hope Drive is the name of the road where Blake’s grandparents built their home, and where his parents now live. The land there gives us feelings of joy, calm, and optimism. Read more>>

Monique Garza

When voyage asked me to be apart of their magazine and featured as an independent business owner, I was very excited. I thought to myself, wow this is the probably the first time I’ve been asked for a story behind the business scenes, how awesome.My name is Monique Garza and I was born in San Antonio and grew up in the strong roots of the south side. I was raised by my grandparents who originally imagrated from Tamaulipas, Mexico.  Read more>>

mandi barakat

I am Mandi Barakat, I was born and raised in Iran. I got married at the age of twenty and became a mother at the age of twenty-two. We arrived in the United States in 2015 and I did not know any English until then. Two months later, I found out I was pregnant and gave birth to my daughter,I’m mother of tow kids and I became a full-time mom. I have loved diy since I was a child and I always tried to create a new Shiite with disposable items and I always made handicrafts for my children and they were completely happy.  Read more>>

Gavin Booth

We’re Gavin & Karen from Couple in the Kitchen! We’re lovebirds, home cooks and restaurant connoisseurs living in Austin, TX. Avid travelers, we enjoy taking trips to discover the best food this world has to offer. We are both small business owners who run Couple in the Kitchen where we work with food and travel brands, a marketing consulting firm focused on social and in-person promotional events, and a growing Texas kombucha company called Greenbelt Kombucha. Read more>>

Derek Sisson

Merica Bourbon was founded in 2017 after five years as a spirits distributor in the Houston market. We have been blessed within the first few years with only hard work and self investment to reach 40 States and Walmart nationally. There were quite a few struggles along the way being an independent brands without a large marketing budget. We relayed heavily on word of mouth, relationships within the industry and the use of technology in the spirits space. Read more>>

Cuzin Berto

This coming July will be seven years that I have been doing stand-up comedy. I began my comedy career in Austin, TX. and within six months moved to San Antonio. A few years before I started doing comedy, I was terrified of being in front of people. I suffered from severe panic attacks. I can remember when I was eight years old getting one of these panic attacks but I didn’t know what it was at the time. As I got older, the panic attacks got worse and developed into agoraphobia.  Read more>>

Outlook Grim

We started the idea for this band in 2018 when bassist Skylar Palmer and Guitarist Andrew Dacus lived together in Canyon Lake. There they learned to play and sculpt the initial sound of the band, Struggling to find a Drummer they reached out to brother of Skylar, Justice Palmer. Together we chose the Name Outlook Grim. We worked on instrumental after instrumental until they felt ready to put vocals to. We found that in Vocalist Cj Havoc. We then worked on the Release of our first EP. We released it in early 2020 just before the global shut down.  Read more>>

Cynthia Ponce Cortney Villarreal

Looking back to day one, Rockin’ P Customs started as a Christmas present my husband, Agustus, said I would never use. On Christmas day, I unwrapped the Cricut machine I had asked for! I immediately started watching videos on how to use the machine and what I was able to customize to make money. I was about to start nursing school and I knew that I would need some sort of income to help with the small things, I knew the machine would be able to help me make money, all I had to do was create a plan and start.  Read more>>

Oscar McAnally

I’m an international award winner photographer based in San Antonio Texas. I started my career as a full time professional boudoir photographer a little more tan 16 years ago, I’m one of the original boudoir photographers in South Texas. I believe that every woman should have their own boudoir experience to feel empower, rediscover her true beauty and fall in love with herself allover again. Read more>>

Drea Ortiz

Hey, my name is Drea Ortiz. My family has lived in San Antonio since November of 2019. Our story begins when the pandemic hit; we leaped into the world of homeschooling our two boys. We were no longer anchored to our home location; we purchased an Rv, setting off on new adventures and enriching experiences. We envisioned a different way of learning. Our boys would grow and thrive in the fresh air, play in the dirt, hike in the most amazing scenes, and learn about ancient people by seeing their pictographs and hieroglyphs up close; they would see dinosaur bones and marvel at the beauty of ancient cave dwellings.  Read more>>

Tina Worcester

It’s a long story so I will be as quick as possible and you can edit as you’d like: I grew up in a trailer park in Laredo, TX. Life was not easy, in fact we grew up so poor we had roaches everywhere. I vowed that I never wanted to live like this for the rest of my life. So I worked hard in school, as long as I can remember. I also started working at McDonalds at 16 years old. By the time I graduated high school, I graduated with so many honors and achievements that I qualified for a couple of college grants. Read more>>

Richard Giron

We’re a company based on friendship. Rick Polendo and I (Richard Giron) have been best friends since high school. We attended college together and while there decided to turn our passion for nerdy pursuits into a business. We started by becoming vendors at Anime conventions. After building a name for ourselves in Texas convention scene, we moved on to a physical brick and mortar store. Our years of convention vending inspired us to make give our store the feel of a convention. We separated our location into a store, arcade, and hangout.  Read more>>

Rebecca White

I came from a broken family with mental illness being one of the issues inside our home. This led me to become a very insecure, broken teen, which led me to pregnancy at 20. I was completely unprepared to be a mom as it was a full time job unlike anything I could have ever imagined. I married the man who got me pregnant and spent 20 years in a horrific marriage. I decided I would sacrifice my own hapiness until my three daughters were grown, and out of the house so they would not go through what I went through as a child. Read more>>

Mat Cortez

I retained my overactive imagination from childhood, and also a sense of disconnect from the serious nature of the common-place workplace. Feeling my inner child throwing a tantrum at my last “real” job, roughly 3 years ago, I knew I needed to stop chasing a larger paycheck and start pursuing something of more meaning. I used the opportunities I earned while working as a room service agent, concierge, HR training specialist, and finally a content design specialist (marketing) at The La Cantera Resort & Spa, to build a repertoire of skills that I could see myself doing for years and years into my story.  Read more>>

Joey Kash

-Born in Philadelphia, PA, October 1982 -Started playing the guitar in 5th grade (10 years old – 1993) -Started writing music immediately and cofounded my 1st band “Aftershock” -1st time in the studio – 1997 (14 years old) with 2nd band “Innocence” at C&C Music, where Fuel recorded their EP “Porcelain”. 1996 just months before our self titled EP. -Played in many local cover bands touring the East coast playing from as far north as New York City, NY and as far south as Panama City Beach, FL. Read more>>

Patricia and Carlos Magallanes

Mayanshul starts from the need to offer authentically Mexican products with the challenge of being delicious and nutritious. It all starts as a result of our trips to the southeast of Mexico, realizing the variety of mexican gastronomy . Mexican cuisine is an important element when we want to understand the traditions of Mexico and its culture. In 2010, Mexican cuisine was proclaimed by UNESCO an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Read more>>

Amanda Day Braaten

My name is Amanda Day Braaten, otherwise known as A Day’s Journey. I am currently on a year long backpacking trip around the world- planning on visiting 50+ countries across four continents. By profession, I am a physical therapist and health coach from the United States. This year, I am on a quest to uncover what “Global Health,” means. How do communities across the world stay healthy, and what can we learn and apply about global health to our own lives. Read more>>

Hannah Marbach

I opened my customs shop when COVID first it. I had a passion for creating custom creations for my friends and family and decided to turn it into a small business! I recently expanded my shop into a full boutique because I love the unique pieces that I can offer to my customers. I truly love fashion, but I believe that you should not have to chose between fashion and breaking the bank! Read more>>

Amanda Bernal

I wanted to use my God-given gifts to serve our community after leaving Corporate America to raise our four children. It was an epiphany to learn that I could start a lucrative Professional Organizing company encouraging and genuinely helping people in a practical way. I enjoy offering a fresh perspective on how to approach my clients’ “puzzles” (every organizing project is a puzzle) and I absolutely love dramatic transformations (who doesn’t?). However, the priceless element of what we do at Peace By Piece Home Services is that we quite literally transform lives. Read more>>

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