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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.

Brooke Margherone

Upon reflection, my journey has progressed pretty organically. I was born in St. Joseph, but my mother and I always moved around growing up. I had been to 7 different schools before middle school and always enjoyed meeting new people and adapting to new surroundings. Fast forward to my teenage years, I had always been interested in health and wellness. After highschool, I knew I wanted to pursue a degree in Nutrition and somehow tie that in with physical wellness. So, I began working at a gym, and when I was on the verge of beginning a personal trainer, I found Yoga. Read more>>

Nina Arnold

I have always had a strong interest in photography. I remember always being the person with a camera in a hand. Always finding any opportunity to take a photo during an event, outing, or just being in the backyard. I never thought it was something I could make a career out of and had this idea that I really needed to go to college, get a degree, and have a “big girl job.” So, I did just that. I went to college and received my Bachelor in Criminal Justice, then put myself through the police academy. After a few months on the job as a police officer, as much as I loved it, it just wasn’t for me. Read more>>

Olivia Van Goor

When I was a kid, I loved music. I took piano lessons all through childhood and would spend hours by myself singing along. I had no big goals, no pressures, just enjoying what it felt like to explore music. I was very present in my practice, so when people would ask if I would pursue it, I didn’t ever think that I would or what that would entail, so I would wave it off. Thankfully, I had some teachers and mentors growing up that steered me in the right direction. I sang some solos in high school and eventually got pushed to audition for the jazz band my senior year. Read more>>

Sue Birch Carl

I was always a runner and athlete growing up and always felt the most “myself” when being active. I played soccer and ran cross country in high school and went on to run marathons and long-distance races in college and post-college. I even qualified for Boston with a marathon time of about 3 hours and 38 minutes! In 2010, I found myself in the Bay Area (California), working 75+ hour weeks at a startup. I no longer had the time to dedicate 1-2 hours of my day running, and a friend of mine introduced me to the sport of “CrossFit,” which only took 45-60 minutes total per day. I enjoyed being able to build strength and muscle, something I had never even considered before. Read more>>

John & Rachel Stewart

In 2018, John and I were newlyweds, both working 9-5 corporate jobs that we weren’t passionate about. We hoped there was something more, but we didn’t know where to start or what we were even aiming for. All we knew is that we couldn’t continue the way we were going for the next 40 years, and we wanted to have more control over our schedules and ultimately our lives. We started Journey Print Shop on Etsy as a side hustle in January of 2019. We spent all of our spare time – before work, after work, on lunch – working on SEO, product ideas, logo design, and marketing for the business. Read more>>

Nathaniel Labhart

I started taking pictures when my mom got a camera for her birthday, and she didn’t use it that much, so I took it, and I’ve been in love with photography ever since. My personal struggle is being an introvert in an extrovert’s field. The most effective way to grow in the photography world is simply talking and meeting new people. Well, as an introvert, that’s something that I’ve always struggled with. I am a photographer, but I specialize in sports photography, and I feel like that’s what I’m known for, and that’s what I like to do the most. Read more>>

Keila Brintley

The podcast was kind of like a spinoff from a book club that I started. It brought many of my close friends and family together. I would create many thought-provoking questions on my Facebook page that would engage my Facebook friends. Some of the questions would come from what we read in our books, and some came from just everyday life. Many people would tell me that I should start a podcast. I would laugh about it. But, one day, I thought maybe I should. So, me and some of the girls from the book club met for breakfast and discussed some of the things we wanted to do, and that day, All The Way There Podcast was birthed. Read more>>

Rachel Nisch

After working as a math teacher, organic farm harvest manager, sauerkraut maker, community garden facilitator, and then some, I found myself at a greenhouse that I’ve loved for 20+ years, asking if it was for sale. There was a spark when I spoke with Alyce, one of the third-generation owners of Graye’s Greenhouse. She says it happened when I put my hand to my chest and made a little gasp when she said her family was indeed trying to figure out the next steps for the nursery. No, I didn’t have business experience. No, I didn’t know the name of every houseplant in the place. Read more>>

Monique Madison

My name is Monique Madison, and I have been doing drag for 26 years! I am the proud owner of The Kunty Kittens drag group, house cast at Five15 in Royal Oak, owner of a hair salon, husband to local superstar Yolanda Del Fierce, and proud parent to FOUR fur babies! I live in the Kalamazoo area but perform all over Michigan at many different venues! I am a stand-up comic, and most know for my hosting/mc abilities. I just finished filming my first movie this year. It is an LGBTQ Christmas movie called a Holiday I Do, directed by Paul Schnieder and written by Melinda Bryce. Read more>>

Charles Nelson

I started On Base Productions in 2014. I was raised in Niles, and after moving away for a few years, knew that I wanted to raise my family here and run my business here. I went to school for film and have always had a passion for video production. We opened our studio downtown in January of 2018. I’m always suspicious of anyone who has traveled a smooth road. There are gonna be bumps along the way, no matter your path, and those bumps helps us learn. We were able to navigate unexpected life events and the pandemic and are still thriving and growing. Read more>>

Zack Bigelow

I started homebrewing 15 years ago in my garage. Consistently brewing every week and reading on brewing on my time off. My wife encouraged me to keep trying and really opened up the idea of starting a brewery after we had several friends asking when the next batch was ready and that they would buy it off of me. Being that it is considered bootlegging to sell my homebrew, we decided to start looking into starting our own brewery. Since myself and my wife did not have any business background, we started talking to our community about the best ways to open a business in the area. Read more>>

Ebony Murrie

I have always enjoyed children and spent most of my childhood caring for younger family members; this helped introduce me to the techniques of childcare. After having my oldest son and not wanting to return back to work I turned my passion into employment. That was the beginning of owning my first childcare Jump for Joy Daycare. Although I have a huge passion for children it has been a struggle staffing individuals that have the same passion. I currently have an amazing team and feel that they have the same passion for children as I do! Read more>>

Paige Caputo

My uncle Tony is who got me interested in pursuing cosmetology. He was a celebrity hairstylist and would fly out with his clients to the Grammys/ Emmys while also owning his own salons, and I thought it was so cool. He, unfortunately, passed when I was younger, but I always loved hearing stories about him and seeing the impact he had within the community outside of his talent (he was the co-founder of the Aid’s walk in Detroit.) As I got older, I really saw the creativity within the industry and I was intrigued. I’d go to the salon often to get my hair & nails done and just loved being in the environment! Read more>>

Shamus Smith

The League has grown from 6 members and is well on its way to 100 members in less than 5 years. How? It all started over a photo, ice cream, and a notebook full of ideas. When cosplayers become friends and want to make the world a better place by bringing hope and smiles to kids, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. The League’s main focus is to visit kids in hospitals and to brighten their day. At a hospital visit, we bring a toy and a comic book to every child we visit. Not only is this to give them something new to do, but to remind them of their visit with their favorite superhero. Read more>>

Audrey Hoffman

Owner Audrey Hoffman has always been a crafty, creative person. She had been a nurse for thirty years and was looking for a change and opportunity to express her creativity. Now, for nearly ten years, paper & i has been a crafting and gift shop staple in historic downtown Marshall. One of the hardest things in the world to do is believe in yourself and your goals. Everyone has self-doubts, but pushing through those and creating something great is an exciting accomplishment. When the world changed in 2020 and the store had to temporarily close, Audrey brainstormed ways to still connect with customers and the crafty community from their homes. Read more>>

Sister Scents MI

Sister Scents MI is a family-run business comprised of sisters, aunts, nieces, and cousins. In the early days of Spring 2020, we were on the hunt for quality candles. Our search led us to research how candles were made, and we were appalled to discover how many toxic ingredients were included in standard candle making, including chemicals like phthalates, which are known to cause premature birth, infertility in both men and women, worsen allergies, liver and kidney issues. Coming up empty for a product that checked all our boxes, we decided to make our own. Read more>>

Caprisha Curry

Get Fit with Pri started because I decided to take control of my personal physical health, mental health, and overall fitness. I was overweight and unhappy. I decided that in order to see a change, I had to make a change. I’ve tried many diets throughout my life, but in 2015, I finally found a lifestyle that works for me. I now call it my M3 Effect. While on my journey, many people reached out to me, asking me for my assistance, and I turned them down. At the time, I wasn’t a trainer, and I felt I didn’t know what I was doing. Read more>>

Conner Green

I think my story as an artist began in my early formative years when I developed a fascination for all different kinds of imagery, from photographs and paintings to symbology or sculpture. I distinctly remember being entranced by the power of these otherwise static and mute images. It wasn’t until I began to draw from comic books that I began to play with the formal qualities of visual expression. From that point onward, I had an insatiable desire to consume and produce all forms of creative expression. I suppose, in a sense, I dove into the strange, beautiful sea of it all and never came back up. Read more>>

Noah Dakho

My story begins in High School. Going into my sophomore year of high school, I hadn’t really touched my first guitar (which was an entry-level Luna acoustic). At this time, I was a part of the Detroit boat club on the crew team. It was a great learning experience, but overall, I just wasn’t very passionate about rowing. As the year progressed, I started playing the guitar for the first time, and when I became comfortable, I began to compose my own songs. From there on, it was trial and error; I was just learning from whatever music I was listening to. Read more>>

Rachel Rife

I’ve worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) since 2015. Although I love nursing, I wanted to do something that’s a little more creative while still helping others. I considered becoming a tattoo artist; however, a couple of people suggested that I become a Cosmetic Tattoo Artist. I had perfected drawing/applying my own makeup, which requires attention to detail and a steady hand. This led to my interest in Microblading or Permanent Makeup (PMU.) I proceeded to get my Microblading certification in August 2020 and started my Permanent Makeup business in October 2020. Read more>>

Jennifer Davis

Jennifer Marie Davis, 37, my immediate family consist of Alaysia Davis, my daughter, 15, Dalemarie Davis, my mother, Bay City, my brother Justin who lives in Denver, CO and Eunice Wilson, Aunt, Bay City. My mother and father, the late William Davis, we’re childhood, high school sweethearts. They met as children at The Historical Second Baptist Church here in Bay City and reconnected in high school at Bay City Central. My mother went away to college, and they remained a couple. After she returned home from college, they were married in June of 1978 after 8+ years of dating. My father passed unexpectedly at the age of 35 from a brain aneurysm. Read more>>

Tawny Cox

I’ve worked in retail, managing other boutiques and shops my whole life. Always Wanting to branch out on my own but in a unique and different way. I had seen Mobile boutiques out west before and thought what an amazing idea for northern Michigan. I wanted inventory to change often so my hope is when you come in you can find something new and different. Of course, like everyone else Covid was a bit of a setback but we made it through. The weather can be challenging since I do have a shop that has a lot inside and outside. Read more>>

Rich Jackson

I started Skinny Pete’s Gourmet Catnip in 2017 with my wife, Lisa Jackson. We call ourselves a “meow & paws“ company. As our name implies, we make and sell catnip and cat-themed products. I’ve always been an Artist, and I’ve always had the entrepreneurial bug. I never wanted to work for someone else. Because of those traits, most of my life I’ve been a freelance 3D Animator, along with doing other side hustles. I was a pioneer in the world of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery), and that lead to me becoming a Film Producer/Director. Before starting Skinny Pete’s Gourmet Catnip, I had just finished production on my first Human Trafficking documentary with Lisa as the Producer. Read more>>

Jennifer Spoon

I actually bought what I thought was a beautiful bracelet off of Etsy. When it arrived, I could see the knot hanging out between the beads. The string was flimsy, and it just looked awful. I showed some friends and thought I could do better. With encouragement from them, here we are! It’s been a little bumpy. Trying to fit into a jewelry market that is already over full with beautifully crafted beaded bracelets and bracelets for essential oils. I had to find my specialness. I love trees! So, I started searching. I found some amazing wooden beads from the Philippines, Ukraine, and Jerusalem. Just recently, I’ve found some amazing wood in India! Read more>>

Christen Greenwood

The Village Personal Training & Wellness was founded in May 2021. The name “The Village” connected to our founder, Christen Greenwood, in different aspects including mindset, contributions, and who we serve. As a part of her faith, Christen believes that together we can achieve anything we dream up. With that mindset, she committed herself to helping her community to get in the best shape of their lives and be fit to serve their daily purposes. By connecting with her personal village of family and friends, Christen was able to start her personal brand Fit by Chrisy G, LLC. Equipment, funds, and branding services were donated to set up the original studio. Read more>>

Alexis Block

Growing up, I’ve always had an interest in photography – I remember attending my cousin’s wedding when I was around age 10 and being fascinated with the photographer, I followed him around the whole reception, and he let me snap a few photos with his camera and told me I had an eye for “this stuff.” From then on, my obsession grew. I asked for a new camera every year and took one with me everywhere I went. In high school, I was the yearbook photographer and editor and took off-campus classes for film photography and digital design my Sophomore and Senior year. Read more>>

Holly August

My now fiancé (Eric Jaqua) and I started hanging out in 2020, and both being musicians; it wasn’t long until we were playing music together. He would play a solo show, and I’d pop in to see him and end up on stage with him for half the night, and that happened for probably 6 months before we ended up just starting to book shows together. We then realized we needed a band name if we were going to “really do this thing.” We’ve got a podcast together called Rep Your Set, and on it, we had a weekly bit where we’d play around with a band name generator and come up with ridiculous band names. Read more>>

Jace Pennington

I started this company in the basement of my home at the beginning of Covid. I was currently working at the hospital and with my health restrictions, I couldn’t continue. My wife and I discussed the situation and decided to give the T-Shirt Company a real go! By May we were opening a shop in our town because the basement was just too small. Now we have been here a little over a year. The road has been both smooth and bumpy! Securing the building was the easy part! All the little things that come with opening a shop was the bumpy part. Read more>>

Tiannah Banks

In high school, I was NOT the “cool girl.” Yeah, I was on the cheer team, but I honestly had like 2 really good friends. I felt like an outcast in a way. My confidence definitely sprouted after high school when I realized all of the high school stuff didn’t matter. Jump forward a few years. I started my platform on TikTok back in 2019, officially. As everywhere in the app, you start posting as fun or a “joke.” But then one of my videos got 1.1 million views, and I instantly gained 50k followers. It was really quickly too. I didn’t really have time to process what was happening. Read more>>

Lynette Ulman

All Grand Events + Floral was founded in 1992 in East Lansing, Michigan serving the Lansing area in rentals and floral design services. Emily needed a career change and began working for the previous owner. After many years of growth and establishing our name in the community, All Grand Events + Floral was sold to Emily and Tyler Dawson of East Lansing, MI in January of 2013. In the years since we’ve made numerous changes after deciding to focus only on what we do best. We hated the idea of being a jack of all trades, master of none. Read more>>

Heaven Smith

I started my web design business in 2019 during quarantine. Initially, I only did it to make a couple bucks during a hard time but as I began to gain clients and had to actually make the sites, seeing my passion for the creative world grew drastically! I love to boost up people’s businesses. I like to be the one that help others move on to the next level in their career. Seeing the joy people have after seeing my creations keep me going. And how I got to where I am today is just by staying consistent. I’m not the biggest business owner but my business definitely has grown in every aspect. Read more>>

Hassan Chammout

My journey to where I am started when I was 5 years young. Laying my head on my mom’s shoulder, watching television in her room before I went to sleep. I fell in love with the silver screen, and all the action that I saw take place. I was always an animated person and loved releasing bursts of energy, in order to feel like myself. Though I was extensively bullied and picked on for this, it didn’t stop me from chasing my dream. I was able to do a skit in 4th grade about recycling, and it was my mini “a-ha!” moment. I didn’t know much of what it meant, but I knew that for once in my life, I had a sense of relaxation and joy. Read more>>

Allyson Mathis

It’s really interesting because I never would have thought I would be where I am or even this far. I’m a very in-the-box, not really daring to really not stay on course so “SAFE” and well-thought-out person. So Summer of 2021, when COVID was semi-over, but everyone was still iffy, my friend had an idea to start a Luxury Pop-Up Picnic located in Detroit Mi called “P2 Picnics,” and on 7/8/2021, I introduced myself as the “Picnic Coordinator” that allowed me to showcase my talents with an introduction to entrepreneurship in leading, executing brand projects & utilizing my creativity motive/assist others (Special Thank you too, Alina Wallace, for that opportunity)! Read more>>

Ruben Martinez

In 2012, I was introduced to the entertainment life in Grand Rapids, given the opportunity to be the hype man at my partner’s at the time Dj Tony banks, Beezy, and Autumn event in downtown Grand Rapids Michigan, That’s when I knew I found what I love to do and what I was best at! Robert S Womack now known as the commissioner of Kent County walked into one of our events and heard me on the microphone and saw the crowd’s reaction, Rob s instantly ask me if I was ever on the radio before? I said No!!! Not knowing he was the owner of the station at the time. Read more>>

Paige Hundley

I always promised myself that I would pursue a career that I loved & that made me happy. I had several different jobs after college that weren’t all that fulfilling – it wasn’t until I started planning my own wedding that I realized how much I enjoyed it and wanted to make a career out of it! Not everyone has a knack for wedding planning/coordinating, and for once I felt like I had found my calling. I decided to take a leap of faith and start my own wedding coordinating and consulting business. Read more>>

Wil Spencer

My name is Wil, I’m a Detroit-based photographer. My first time picking up a camera was for the love of filming and entertainment. I later sharpened my tools at Midwest Photography Workshop. During my time there, my passion for photography grew. That inspired my to pursue my profession with my camera! Which I’ve began my photography company Supreme Visions LLC. Read more>>

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