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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.

Courtney Schroeder

I was in first grade when I decided I was going to do hair. I wasn’t sure in what capacity, but I’ve always loved being creative and working with people. I went to Douglas J Aveda Institute right out of high school and absolutely loved the whole experience of being in the salon, making new connections with clients, and making people feel the most confident. I knew from that point on that I wanted to do this forever. I worked at a couple salons in Mason and found my footing in this industry with the help of some very talented and inspiring women in my community. Read more>>

Hanna Silorey

I feel as if most people who answer this question in regards to their career usually start out with, “I’ve known that this was what I wanted to do for as long as I can remember” however, that actually wasn’t the case for me. I’ve always had an interest in skincare and health – the moment I learned that our skin is our body’s first line of defense against the elements and that it shows the first visual indication of stressors, pollutants, and disease within our bodies, I was absolutely hooked on learning everything I could about it. Read more>>

Greg Howard

I grew up on the east side of Detroit, MI. I attended and lettered in football at M.L. King, Jr Senior High School, class of 2003. After high school, I went on to attended Lane College for 2’1/2 on football scholarship, majoring in Economics and Secondary Education. I later transferred to Bethel University on football scholarship and that is where I earn my bachelor’s degree in Economics. I then went on to earn a master’s degree in Education Administration. I have been in educator for 151/2 years and an entrepreneur for 12 years. In the education profession, I was a teacher, coach, athletic director, and assistant principal. Read more>>

MarKeda Gray

When I had my daughter 12 years ago. She was diagnosed with eczema. For many years I struggled to find a healthier alternative to use on her outside of the steroids that were prescribed to her. I started mixing ingredients and stumbled upon a mixture that actually worked. I shared the cream with friends and family as well. Allure Body Essentials was born. Entrepreneurship has been a rough journey. There are many ups and downs on the way to success. One of my biggest struggles has been staying consistent. Read more>>

Arreon Echols

Hello, I’m 28, almost 29 years old a lot of people know by Sparkle. I was born and raised in Flint, MI, but I currently live in Lansing, MI. I’ve been doing makeup for about 5 years now. It all started by just being on social media seeing all the girl trending wear makeup and look wayyyy better than they did without it. So, I decided to try it on me to see how I would look with it. I started watching YouTube tutorials and watching people go live doing their makeup on Facebook live. I grew to love doing it like I wanted to just play in makeup every day try a lot of different makeup looks etc. Read more>>

Tasneem Joseph

I am a Detroit-native photographer and have been capturing natural light lifestyle and portraiture since 2013. I developed my love for the craft by immersing myself in artistic spaces and communities such as the Artist Village & Motor City Java House, attending events like the African World Festival, Dabl’s Bead Museum, Midtown Detroit at Cass & Willis on weekends to highlight the Detroit experience that not many get to witness. I would often take photo walks with photographer friends in popular places like Belle Isle and the heart of Downtown Detroit. Read more>>

Stephanie Adamson

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial streak and love to be creative. It started with the typical lemonade stand, morphed into designing eye-catching flyers to advertise my babysitting services, and I even went through the flipping furniture stage. Now that I am a mother, I am always thinking of ways to celebrate childhood and making memories with my family. I didn’t grow up taking camping trips like my husband had, but I did ‘campout’ in my backyard as a child. This sparked my entrepreneurial mind, a way to bring together to two important aspects of my life and share it with others. Read more>>

Katelyn Bekken-Simpson

The City of Kalamazoo’s City (or Farmers’) Market’s deep roots were established in the mid-1800s! In 1947 our Bank Street location opened, and we’ve been operating out of that space (mostly) ever since. Fast forward to 2013, when the People’s Food Co-op of Kalamazoo began serving as operator of the Kalamazoo Farmers Market in partnership with the City of Kalamazoo and the community of vendors. A few things PFC introduced in the first couple of years include: The use of new signage designating whether a vendor is a Grower, Retailer, Producer, or Artisan, giving customers a base level of transparency. Read more>>

Zainab Sesay

I was Born in Massachusetts and raised in Rhode Island my mother made sure I had everything I needed to be successful. My father wasn’t very present in my life, so she was all I had. I am so grateful that I had family and friends along the way that impacted parts of my life. As a child, many of my essential needs were met but growing up, I noticed emotionally I needed support. I struggled with managing emotions in healthy ways as well as seeing myself in a positive light. My self-esteem was pretty low, and I showed signs of depression. I was never taught how to manage my thoughts and emotions, so I was always spiraling mentally. Read more>>

Monica Ketchum

My story… has a lot of chapters. I’m a self-made woman and proud of it. A Michigander all my life, I’ve had my own photography business, HumanKnd Co., since 2011, where I’ve documented everything you can imagine. I’ve been a mom blogger and a social media influencer where I’ve encouraged moms and tried to make light of all the heavy lifting we do and also share heartwarming things I’ve learned along the way. I’m also a rock hound, and my goodness am I obsessed with hunting rocks. It’s funny because that hobby is something I’ve done since I was just a little girl on the shores of Lake Superior, and here I am today, still sifting through rocks for hours and hours seeking out agates and enjoying Michigan to its fullest. Read more>>

Tasha White

I’ve never been a stranger in the kitchen. I spent many days watching my late grandmother, Dorothy White, preparing delicious meals and baking her famous cream cheese pound cakes and sweet potato pies. I actually used to look forward to taste testing and licking cake batter from her handheld mixer. Many years later, my grandmother’s health would decline, and she decided to give me the recipe to her famous pound cake and all the secrets to ensure that it would turn out just like hers. Now a mother with my own two boys, it was typically routine to stop by Subway or McDonald’s after school for fresh baked cookies. Read more>>

Nakia Moody

Born & Raised in Muskegon, MI. Nakia Moody was known to the public eye as an Urban Hair Braider known as BraidsByMwahhhh. Battling my own hair problems itchy dry scalp, hair breakage, hair loss, and overly processed hair. One day sitting in my mother’s mirror crying my eyes out because I was bald. She asked me, “what are you going to do about it” from that day forth, I researched all of my own hair problems I was dealing with. I created an oil that started growing my hair “FINALLY” I used every product from expensive products to cheaper products. Read more>>

Joe Byrd

My name is Joe Byrd. I am a professional wrestler, promoter, coach, producer, writer, & director. I own Pure Pro Wrestling (PPW), Michigan’s largest and only touring brand of family-friendly professional wrestling. For over 15 years, PPW has worked in correlation with schools, nonprofits, military orgs, fairs, festivals, and youth groups to produce live pro wrestling events that serve as community-oriented sources of fundraising. I also run a pro wrestling school that has produced some of the top wrestlers in the nation. We even have a training and performing program for kids! Read more>>

Steve Berg

My wife Amy and I opened Work & Play Cafe in March 2022 as an inclusive, family-friendly community cafe and meeting space. We employ individuals with disabilities and host various inclusive events in the cafe for people of all ages and abilities to connect with each other and enjoy. The idea to create Work & Play Cafe came from our other business, Skill & Ability Education. At Skill & Ability, we provide vocational rehabilitation/employment services for individuals with disabilities. From our work with clients through Skill & Ability, we wanted to create a welcoming, fun, and inclusive space for the community, with current and former clients in mind. Read more>>

Joey Carbone

The MP Mini Library Mission started with the idea to spread the love of reading and knowledge and giving more access to literature. My wife is a teacher who loves to read; she asked me to build a small library for our front yard where neighbors could “take a book, share a book.” After this mini library was installed, I saw that not only my kids loved the novelty of it, but the neighbors who visited really enjoyed it as well. Soon, I was receiving requests from so many people on Facebook to build more mini-libraries. Since I knew it was a great way to get kids more interested in reading, I refused to charge people for time, labor, or materials… Read more>>

Brenda Rossetto

Ringette is a sport developed primarily for girls and women, invented in Canada, and now very popular in several countries across the world, most notably Canada and Finland. It appears similar to ice hockey, but it uses some different equipment and different rules to encourage speed and teamwork. For many years, it has been the goal of USA Ringette to grow the sport of ringette in the US, and we’ve had strong momentum in the last few years in Mid-Michigan. For several years while residing in Michigan, Team USA captain Brenda Rossetto and her husband, Tim Rossetto, ran ringette drop-in sessions at the Bay County Civic Arena, where all were welcome to come try the sport. Read more>>

Taylor Dill-Reese

Once I became an adult, I knew I loved to help people, and I knew I wanted to have my own business. I was sitting at my desk preparing my clients’ small business taxes (they were in landscaping) when I asked them how they got started in business and how they got the capital to fund their business. After that conversation, the rest was history. I used my $400 check to purchase basic cleaning supplies, I had a friend create my logo, I used my God mom’s apartment portal to advertise for free and my business has grown since then. Read more>>

Ashley Gibbons

I could easily write a memoir, but I will try to make it short and sweet. This is basically a brain dump. I’ll indulge myself for moment while I talk about myself. My family says I am something special, whatever that means, but I prefer the reference that I am an old soul. If someone were to ask me, I would say I am a restless creative independent one-of-a-kind woman. It’s like that girl trend on social media. I am that girl but prefer to say that woman. Some say I am intimidating, but I promise I have a soft heart. Read more>>

Bryce The Third

The fact that I am writing these words right now, and you are reading them, is nothing short of a miracle. Whether or not you believe in divine intervention, my story- full of trials, tribulations, and eventually redemption- is one that might make you consider the possibility. I’ve been fortunate to share elements of my story on many platforms and within communities that I’ve cultivated. My podcast, “You Feel That?!?”, my music catalog, and my books all offer parts that make up the whole, and the theme throughout is that it is IMPORTANT for us to live LOUD and PROUD in our stories. You have a story worth sharing, too. Read more>>

Hungry Mob

Hungry Mob literally came about with a conversation over dinner in Detroit. Coming from two of the best food capitals in the world, Toronto and NYC, our options for food in Detroit were slim. Options meaning, Caribbean foods from all over the islands and foods that were fresh, with fresh ingredients and packed organic flavor. We also discovered many in Michigan see Caribbean food as just Jamaican food when there are 7000 Caribbean Islands to choose from with different cuisines. Read more>>

Danna Sanderson

I’ve always had an interest in historic architecture and “old buildings,” but for most of my adult life, I was too busy working and raising my children to think much about anything else. In the fall of 2016, our youngest son left home for MSU, and my husband and I suddenly found ourselves with a lot of extra time on our hands. I had attended a Chamber of Commerce dinner earlier that same year, and the speaker (Mayor Rosalyn Bliss of Grand Rapids) made the comment that it was up to each of us to make the changes we wanted to see. Read more>>

Jeffrey Hubers

I’ve been a pastor for nearly ten years. I started in West Michigan (Holland), serving various ministries and congregations while in seminary. After graduating with my M.Div., I followed a call to a congregation in South Dakota, where I served for a couple of years. My wife and I, however, missed our friends and the environment along Lake Michigan, so we found a congregation in St Joseph. It’s been a blessed fit, and we’ve called this place home for the past four years. I don’t think life is ever a smooth road. To be human is to struggle. Despite some bumps along the way, I’ve been grateful for the many gifts I’ve been given and the blessings I’ve experienced. Read more>>

Kalil Zender

Several years ago, my friend Dilaine Noel and I were both living abroad – she in the Philippines and me in Thailand. We both felt passionate about helping other people discover these places that we loved and decided we could find a way to make it happen. Soon, unexpected events brought both Dilaine and I back to our homes in the Midwest, but we continued having those conversations about our mutual love of travel and exploration, and about our passion for helping others discover themselves. Soon, we decided that we could shift our focus away from Southeast Asia and bring it a little closer to home. Read more>>

FINKEL

We (Jane and I – Brian is writing this one…) started writing and performing together at Albion College in 2011. We performed in the collegiate a cappella group, Euphonics, as well as performing some tunes acoustically at our local college bar Cascarelli’s, accompanied by some close friends. During the summers, we traversed to Mackinac Island, MI (where Jane is from) and cut our teeth playing 3-hour bar gigs 4 nights a week from 2011 – 2014 while holding jobs in local bars. We saved up some dough and hit the road in the fall of 2014 for our first nationwide tour. It wasn’t a glamorous tour by any stretch. Read more>>

Laonis Quinn

My story is actually my son’s Anthony (Tony) story. Tony was first diagnosed with asthma when he was about 2 years old. He had severe asthma his entire life. When he was first diagnosed, he had an amazing pulmonologist at Children’s Hospital in Detroit. He remained under her care until she retired, which was about 7 years after he was first diagnosed. I could call her in the middle of the night when Tony was having symptoms, and she would call the 24-hour pharmacy and have some medication ordered, and then she would call the next day to make sure the medication was effective. Read more>>

Shailah Pelto

I fell in love with flowers in my early 20s while I co-owned an organic market farm. We mostly grew vegetables, over time, I included more and more cut flowers. Arranging flowers for weddings, grocery stores, and the Farmers Market. In 2017 one of my wedding florals was featured in Martha Stewart weddings, that really launched my design career. In 2020 I sold my shares in the farm and opened Samara floral in Negaunee. I actually purchased a laundromat called Washtown USA and remodeled the back room into my flower shop. The main part of the building is still a laundromat. Read more>>

Stacy Randall

I grew up a free, wild, and rebellious spirit. I did whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to, and I was not a very pleasant person to be around (unless you were in my circle). At this point in my life, I would have even looked at myself and said, “this person is not going to amount to much.” I was in the party scene a lot as a young teenager; by the age of 14, I was raped at a party, and that is how I lost my Virginity; from that point, I was careless and wound up pregnant at the age of 16. I faced many pressures of abortion, and people thinking it was a bad thing, but I decided to keep my baby, and I’m so glad now that I did; Bradly is such a blessing- I would love to say it was easy, but it was probably the most difficult thing I chose to do at 16, raise another life; I mean I was still a child myself. Read more>>

Markisha Woodard

My name is Markisha Woodard, and I’m the owner of Bodied by MK Fitness. Over the last 12 years, fitness has changed my life. From childhood through young adulthood, I battled with body image, confidence, emotional eating, and being overweight. Gradually, I started practicing better habits and being active. However, I struggled with consistency. In 2009 ,I got engaged and it ignited something on the inside, I was determined to work on my body to look perfect for my wedding day! Deciding to get fit for my wedding ultimately turned into a lifestyle! Read more>>

Chrilz

I felt the call to become an artist professionally at the end of my second year of undergraduate studies. While I drew a lot as a child, it was all very rudimentary, inspired by the video games that fueled my imagination. I actually wanted to make video games during those early years—I created characters, designed levels, and developed stories for the my little worlds. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school when I took an art class that had me draw a realistic self-portrait in graphite, that sparked this journey. At first, I was reluctant to believe it was a skill I had—for a long time, I attributed the success of that portrait to luck. Read more>>

Diamond Reneé

Being a makeup artist was never intentional. I use to model and wanted to learn how to do my own makeup because as a college student it was starting to get expensive getting it done professionally. Any free time I had was spent watching tutorials online for hours while practicing on myself. Whenever I got ready to go out with friends, I’d do whatever I learned on myself, and eventually, my friends started asking me to do theirs (makeup). I was terrified. I hadn’t even mastered it on myself. I started practicing on friends, and eventually, my skills got better, and I started to love the finished look. Read more>>

Mike’l Adams

Since a child, I always dreamed of being an actor/media mogul like Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. I wanted to create content that was relatable, original, and creative. I brought together a group of like-minded people who all want to do something in the entertainment industry. This resulted in the creation of Millennial Vision Entertainment. It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road. I started out great with three short films and consistent content on our YouTube channel. Eventually, it came to a halt due to me finishing my degree at Oakland university and just life happening. But I’m getting back to it with new content and collaborating with other creatives. Read more>>

Euphoria Ahlstrom, Fernanda Camacho, Rachel Dimaguila, Kylie Lee, Carrington Miller, Renee Mitchell, and Ana Sanchez

Impulse started in 2019 and has since changed names 2 times and leadership to get to where we are today. Impulse still maintains 3 founding members now. In 2020 we merged with another K-pop group on campus to become one unit. We now continue to grow and learn as a group and work to get better every day. Impulse went through many shifts in our first years. In 2019 there was a leadership change due to inaccessibility to university resources. With this came our first name change. Then in 2020, a rebirth of the organization took place after some members graduated and others left the organization, which brings us to the era Impulse Dance is in today. Read more>>

Samantha Doyle

My parents raised my siblings and I to have strong faith and work hard for what we want. I remember being in elementary school and dreaming about the life that I’m blessed to have now. When I was a child, I would watch my mom make everything she touched beautiful. She would customize our clothing and accessories by hand. She knew how to pieces different items together to even make our home look amazing. Soon after, she started decorating events for friends and family, which led to her starting her own event planning and decorating company called Chisome Designs. Read more>>

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