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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.

LaKeita Carter

Since I was a child, I have always known that listening to others was my gift. It seems like most of my life people have put me in the position to be a sounding board. In fact, my parents have a 7th-grade essay that I wrote that talks about my future career choice. As young as 12 years old, I was articulating that I wanted to be a psychologist.  As I continued my education and took psychology classes in high school, I got more and more interested. Therefore, it only made sense that I would major in psychology at Temple University and minor in English. It was my love of writing that drew me to that minor.  After taking every psychology course I could find, including the Psychology of Food, I decided that the next step for me was to apply to graduate school. I remember reaching out to my mentor at Temple, Dr. Marsha Weinraub, in a state of confusion. There are so many different types of psychologists. Which one do I want to be? . Read more>>

Rod Lopez

I got started in the film industry in 2001 after wrapping up a minor league stint with the Baltimore Orioles. Baseball had always been my passion but I suffered a career-ending injury which set me off into a different path. My love of filmmaking happened almost by accident. I walked into an Intro to Film Class at Towson University and the rest is history as they say. Today, I run my film company New Style Independent Pictures right here in Towson. We specialize in corporate films, music videos, TV Commercials, and Independent films. Read more>>

Shante Hairston

Hello, I’m the owner of Nicole & Co. Beauty Spa LLC established Oct 2020 located in Cockeysville Maryland. I always had an interest in beauty products how they were made, the kind of ingredients, and if the product was good or bad for my skin. After months of research, I started making Handcrafted Organic Body Scrubs, body oils as well as luxury butters. Which all inspired me to open my first business specializing in organic beauty products with the goal of helping you regain healthy skin. Read More>>

Judah Bernard

Originally from Canton, Mississippi, Judah has had many obstacles as well as adversities to overcome. By understanding overcoming adversity, Judah had to change his life and became self-aware. Yes, hard times can be difficult to bear and can leave emotional scars that are difficult to let go of, but he always knew he had choices. You don’t need to possess superhuman strength in order to bounce back from adversity. Judah’s resilience attributed to the podcast ” The Rise Creating Your Voice “. (August 2020)  Judah Bernard is a proficient wisdom dialoguer of the RISE Creating your Voice while discovering new intersections of humankind in overcoming the adversities and stigmas of the ever-changing world while presenting new ideas with the aspect of changing mindsets and lives.  Turning Victim to victor, Judah continues to do podcasting, ministering, motivational speaking, modeling, acting, the practice of mediation and yoga and all-around a creative genius- OH BUT, GOD!. Read more>>

Maria Alcoke

Since 2005, I have been working with small to mid-size and local businesses to tell their stories creatively through logo design, brand identity, website development, packaging, labels and custom graphics. I also provide peace of mind through monthly website maintenance and support, allowing business owners to focus on their growth, rather than stressing over keeping their website secure and up to date.  My background is in graphic design and interactive media. I studied photography as an undergrad and received my Masters of Art from MICA where I continued to refine my design and media skills. I started as a freelance designer right out of college and picked up projects here and there for local clients and friends. I moved to San Diego in 2007 where I worked as a web and graphic designer in the action sports industry for several years before transitioning into a teaching role at a charter high school. Read more>>


I was introduced to acting and the stage in grade school when I was asked to participate in a school play. I really enjoyed it because of the immediate reward that I received from the audience as they gave positive reactions to my performance. This served as positive reinforcement for me and I wanted more.  Towards the end of my grade school days, I got away from acting when I decided to follow in my brother David’s footsteps and play basketball. I really enjoyed playing basketball and so I worked very hard on my game. As I got better and better, basketball became my new passion. I had a very decorated basketball career overall earning MVP in 6th grade, 8th grade, and Player of the Year by the time I was senior at Mastbaum A.V.T. where I played 2 years with my brother. My college basketball career was subpar despite winning 2 conference championships. I still managed to played professionally overseas by way of getting invited to the 76ers camp where I had the privilege to play against the late great Kobe Bryant. Read more>>

Loomis Zayzay

African. The west Africa. At the age of 11, my family fled to United States in search of a better life during my country civil war. We immigrated to Detroit/ inkster MI.  Being a kid from a 3rd world country, leaving back this family and everything he has grew to know, was extremely hard. I was forced to adapt to a new way of living and new culture. Being picked up for being different, being Africa. Made me ashamed and lie about where I was from.  Can you imagine not having running water, power, and other necessities until 11 years ago? I walked 12 miles to and from school every day.  Adopting to my new life was hard and I found myself in trouble a lot. My mother moved me and my little brother to Maryland around the age of 15/16 because of the street violence and decision to give me a new start. I continue my troubles ways and at the age of 18 was convicted and sentenced 20 years for drug trafficking, weapons charges, and a few other crimes. After almost 3.5 years I was released on probation in hope of a new start.  Read more>>

Sierra Craig

I began juicing in 2014 as a way to incorporate a healthy habit in my lifestyle that was easy for me to enjoy on the go. As time continued, I would take my juices with me to work and different places, and my friends and family would ask me if I would take orders for juices. From there The Main Squeeze was born. Since then, it has been truly a pleasure building the brand ‘The Main Squeeze’. The Main Squeeze still takes orders for customers that are delivered on Sundays, we also now at pop-ups and farmers markets.  Read more>>

Mike Jon

When I was a kid, my mom took me to see the “Last Dragon” starring Taimak and Vanity. I loved kung fu movies and this was the first all-black kung fu movie I had ever saw. The film made me feel so many emotions…It was the first time I can remember being emotionally aware of a character’s journey in the film. That was the moment I decided to be a filmmaker.  I want to convey a series of emotions to an audience and start a conversation.  Read more>>

Courtney Ghee

I’m affectionately known as Ghee. I started Simply Ghee Events in 2018. I had been in between jobs and was receiving unemployment, but as we all know that just wasn’t enough to cover my expenses. I’ve always had a love for decorating and planning parties or events for my friends & family. I was trying to figure out what I could do to earn some extra cash. Somebody very close to me expressed that I should do what I know and what I’m already good at. That instantly set a fire under me. It was almost like a light bulb going off. I went back and forth in my head debating with myself if I REALLY wanted to put myself out there like that. I was terrified of rejection or just simply not feeling like I was good enough. There are some really great decorators out here lol. I finally broke down and created an Instagram page and went from there. Surprisingly things took off in people were ordering chocolate-covered strawberries from me consistently. Read more>>

Carlos Alberto Garcia

I have painted my entire life, what started as a hobby became a passion and finally, a career. I had different art lessons and teachers during the years, but when we talk about street art, it’s all about experimentation. I am a former art conservator, I used to work in archaeological restoration the most, but since I started to paint on the streets, I quit my job and incorporate myself every time often until I started to have invitations from so many different places and countries to bring my art as many people as possible. The murals are the last addition to my work, even when I always wanted to do that, I had more opportunities after the pandemic, because it doesn’t require direct contact with the people, so I can paint with freedom and risk nothing.  Read more>>

Brie Burgett

After graduating college when I was 19 years old, I immediately joined the United States Marine Corps for a chance to serve my country, work with exceptional people and explore more of the world. I started social media started on Instagram as a way to stay in touch with my friends from my first duty station in Okinawa, Japan. Gradually, I started connecting with more and more travel lovers and began receiving a lot of questions for recommendations of what to do at a place or where I had taken certain photos. Eventually, I decided to start writing a travel blog to share practical tips and information and hopefully inspire others to discover some new places. I certainly hope to encourage others to break outside of their comfort zone and go on an adventure!.  Read more>>

Elaine Robnett Moore

I was born in Philadelphia, PA, April 7, 1944, raised in St. Louis, MO, and now reside in Maryland. I have always been an artist. It is in my DNA. My mediums of choice are the written word and beaded jewelry. I am a self-taught designer for thirty-plus years and I have been writing for over forty-five years. I find inspiration in using beads, poetry, and conversations while teaching as a means of empowering women globally.  I am a descendant of Alexander Dumas, a writer, and Francis Guyol, a painter, which makes me a 5th generation artist. While I simply dance in their shadows it does explain, in part, ‘the why of me.’ I am eternally grateful to my parents for introducing me to art as a child. It allowed me to be ok with pursuing it as an adult.  The early part of my adult life was taken up with raising my five children. Somewhere along the way I became a single parent supporting my family through a variety of entrepreneurial endeavors, including real estate development, travel planning, and international business consulting. Although my family and work required most of my time, energy, and emotion, I pursued my creative inclinations and am a published poet.  Read more>>

Brittany Lincoln

It all started with me selling hair extensions when I attended Morgan State University. I myself like to look and feel beautiful so I thought to myself why not help some of my fellow queens out. At the time it was a new thing where we were transitioning from Remy hair to virgin hair. I remember working at Texas Road House telling myself you should be spending more time working for yourself instead of others. One day I remember getting fed up with my job and then I quit and the rest was history. I opened my salon Renees Beauty Lounge located at 4449 Belair Road Baltimore MD within one year of me quitting my job and now this December I’m coming up on my four-year anniversary.  Read more>>

Ezell Kent

I started my massage career back in 2010. I attended Baltimore School of Massage and graduated in 2011 and started practicing massage therapy in 2012. Upon graduating from school with little to no field experience the student clinic, I took my first massage job at a major massage chain, which used to take 4 hours traveling one way just to get to work. Over time I perfected my craft and just continue to get better at what I love. I love the fact that I get to help people in everyday life, with mobility, aches and pains, and stress relief. A lot of times over the years many clients would tell me that I good enough to be on my own and that I should think about, and then the covid 19 pandemic shook and closed the world down giving all the time in world to think, so I took a leap of faith and created BearHugZzz by Zeke Massage and open in the Greater Baltimore Area in 2021. With my new practice, I plan to give safe haven for clients from all walks of life and all lines of work.  Read more>>

Aaliyah Reed

At a young age I grew up waking up on a Saturday morning cleaning, while my friends was sleeping, I was in the kitchen with a mop. Growing up I hated cleaning, never understood the purpose behind it. It wasn’t until I moved out on my own and realized how much I enjoyed coming home to a clean house, At the age of 21 I was a college dropout, worked job to job, and was pregnant with my first child, I struggled to keep a job because I hated how people ran their establishment. it wasn’t until 2 years ago when I lost my job working at this ophthalmology office because my car constantly had issues with it. I was at a dead end. My daughter’s grandmother suggested I start a maid service and work alongside the lady who cleans her house weekly. I had nothing to lose so I went to one job with her, and she never called me back to come help her out. So, I started my own business, cleaning and interior designing. After 6 months a signed a contract with this guy who hosed Air BNBs, I took that time to test and trial if I was going to like this as a career and of course to prefect my skills and paying attention to detail.  Read more>>

Geri McCarter

It was the mentorship that someone invested into me that made want to do for others. In 7th grade, step became a huge reason why I showed up to school it became my motivator and my reason why I had to be on my best behavior and have decent grades. Step opened my eyes to the possibilities of college as a teenager no one in my family had went to college my step coach helped me see I too could make it. That dream became a reality when I attended Coppin State University and then pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I was able to see the global impact of mentorship and how I could use step to do so. My first coaching job at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women coaching the World-Famous Lethal Ladies of BLSYW Step Team was a huge success we traveled the world and competed nationally representing the city of Baltimore. Once I mastered how impactful this program was, I knew I had the opportunity to reach more girls so I founded Coach G Academy, Inc. on March 26th 2021. Our mission is to engage youth into education and mentoring using STEP.  Read more>>

Imani Rhodes

I moved to Baltimore from Chicago 3 years ago. In that time, I always knew I wanted to go into business for myself but couldn’t quite figure out what specific thing I wanted to focus on. I tried a cleaning business and it went well for a while but was unfulfilling. I enjoyed the money that came from it, but not the actual work itself. From there I dabbled in interior design. A few of my friends from college let me in their homes to decorate and I enjoyed it. I loved transforming spaces and making their homes beautiful and comfortable. When I was referred to one person in particular to decorate, I realized this space needed to be decluttered and organized before any type of decorating could take place. I spent 13 hours over this person’s house. At the end of the day when it was all said and done, I was tired but I felt a sense of fulfillment I had never before felt. We changed his entire space room by room. The client told me he felt so much better in his home since it was clutter-free and organized. Read more>>

Antonio Hawthorne Jr

I go by Champ The General I’m an up-and-coming artist from the city of Baltimore. Starting at a very young age 10 to be exact, it was just a hobby for me until around about 15 I realized I could take it to the next level. Up to this point, I have 6 projects out currently available online. As of right now, I am working on a new project that will be coming out very soon along with some new videos.  Read more>>

Carter Roach

Where do I begin? My very first canvas was painted around 2003 in my friend who has recently passed on, Alex Bullen’s basement. They were painted with deco color markers and the subject matter was graffiti. I had gotten into just the tagging aspect of graffiti around 2001. Once I had done that first canvas, I had fallen in love with art. About 10 years ago I had a stroke which paralyzed the right side of my body and now because it took me so long to get everything back, I went from right-handed to left-handed. So now all that I paint is dominantly done with my left hand.  Read more>>

Miquel Marrow

I attended and graduated from Baltimore City College High School C/O ’13. My first day there it felt like a culture shock. My friends and I were small and immature compared to the upperclassmen. Now I’ve always been a girly girl and well put together, but these girls looked like grown women, makeup flawless, hair long, nails done. As the years went along, my image matured. I remember watching my mother get up extra early to apply her idea of makeup; eyebrows, a little concealer, powder, mascara, lip liner, and gloss. My lipgloss was always popping LOL, but then I added mascara, eventually started to shape and fill my brows, then a little powder, then the embarrassing very pink blush, and very bright eyeshadows. I became so good at brows I would shape and fill a few friends while in school. My artistry grew into its sophomore stage while in my first year at University of Baltimore. Makeup became my distraction from the stresses of school and the growing pains of being a young woman. I started taking my first paying clients in 2017.  Read more>>

Keshawn Boone

Konfident Kreations and Events was born in January 2018 and it was God-given to me. Since I was a kid, I would only dream of being a part of the design world. Back in high school, I would tell my friends that I am going to become an interior designer and even then, I knew that one day I would own my own company. I was told by my parents that I reminded them of my grandmother Margaret, who was a serial entrepreneur and that I was always a bossy/independent at a young age. I guess it was in my blood to become who I am today!  When I had my daughter at 15 everyone started to doubt my bright future and thought I would become just another statistic. This made me work harder because I felt I had to prove to everyone that I could still achieve every goal I had prior to my circumstances of being a teen mom. I still went to school every day and graduated on time with so many honors. I moved out and got my first apartment at 18 yrs. old, as a single mom to a 3 yr. old, working a full-time job and going to college part-time.  Read more>>

Stephen Appiah

I from Ghana, Accra which is located in West Africa. I moved to the states when I was 2 years old. I am the oldest of three. And as early as I can recall I have always had a love for the arts. The first time I touched a piano, to even playing the clarinet, it was made clear that my road in life was gonna be a musical one. I am an artist that deals with not only the performing arts but I am also a songwriter. Predominantly known throughout the DMV area as Kojo which holds a deep history coming from the Ashanti tribe which my family origins comes from, which means for any male, born on a Monday. I am a digital curator that has infused my love for photography, videography, and storytelling to bridge those skill sets into carving out my blueprint as an R&B artist. My love for music and the foundations into creating a song is profoundly influenced by genres that reside in R&B,Blues, and even in Alternative Pop. Read more>>

Reggie Dunn

As A kid playing video games was always something I enjoyed doing if I wasn’t outside playing with friends. This definitely kept me occupied and out of trouble. The first console I had was a PlayStation. The only games me and my brother Marquise would play were sports. As I got older, I saw that playing video games was something I took a great interest in, with that being said me and a group of my friends would all meet up at one person’s house and have madden and 2K tournaments. These tournaments would get intense and extremely competitive to the point we would start betting our lunch money/ allowances. This would be the start of something that defined my future by creating my own gaming site for gamers all over the world, which also allowed gamers to be able to compete in friendly wager matches and tournaments playing their favorite video games. Read more>>

Brandon Wooldridge

I grew up in a small town that had little to do so I took the free time to learn Trumpet, Guitar, and Piano, but none of those truly excited me. It’s what happens next that really kicks my story off. You see, I was involved in the black market of marijuana for a short time, and I ended up getting caught and catching charges.  This flipped my whole life upside down. It made living life very difficult. I couldn’t get any “real jobs”, I couldn’t get an apartment, I couldn’t get any loans, I couldn’t even vote at the time. This was the worst thing that ever happened to me. BUT it was also the best thing that happened to me! That’s because it forced me to learn how to make money doing other things. This was a catalyst for my music career. I moved to Baltimore after this life-changing event and found myself at the club very often to escape the negative thoughts I was drowning in. I fell in love with the culture of Electronic Dance Music (EDM), and I quickly got an internship with local EDM promoter Steez promo so I could learn more and be closer to the center of this energy. While interning I got to meet DJ’s/Artists, and it made me realize I wanted to be a DJ/Music Producer.  Read more>>

Daniel Ouellette

I would like to say thank you to you and to whomever it was that brought me to your attention. I live in Maryland now, but not Baltimore and I was a bit trepidatious about the interview because I did not want to pretend I am from Baltimore. The city has been very welcoming to me – a friend from the city suggested that it recommend others. I am originally from Massachusetts and that’s where I began writing songs and performing but never really had formal lessons at that time. Music and art was an outlet, like it is for so many of us, to use our imagination, energies, and to express our stories but I had never given much notion that anyone publicly would want to hear or see what I was doing for many years in my adulthood. In the high school years, I did take the avenue of self-expression outwardly and I was in a few bands with my dear friend Scott Harrison and we had a very DIY attitude of experimentation. This collaboration helped me to be more organized because he is so much better than I at that. Read more>>

Camara Hamilton

I graduated from Suitland HS in 2014, I wasn’t very involved in extracurricular activities much in school but I’ve always had a glowing personality. I attended college at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore where my major was sociology however after facing some hardships and family issues I decided to drop out after about 2 1/2 years. From there I just came home to Suitland and started working a full-time job; that was in 2017 and over the years I grew bored of that job and started feeling like I needed to do more and break away from the environment I was in but I never knew what direction I should go in until I started modeling. My first shoot was in August 2020 and I just wanted to do something special for my birthday at first but being in that opposite environment was very refreshing and I loved being in front of the camera and I just found myself wanting to learn more. Read more>>

Jeané Bronté

When I was younger, you couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t going to be the next Naomi Campbell. I got into fashion pretty young and just always loved it. As I got older, I realized that I was short, so my supermodel runway dreams quickly faded but that led me in to helping to produce fashion shows. Most notably, Baltimore Fashion Week. I graduated from Towson University back in 2013 with the plans to start my own boutique PR firm. I was already assisting and helping a lot of small business owners and young entrepreneurs grow, so for me to kind of make it official was a big deal for me. I opened my own PR firm and practiced PR for a few years, mainly assisting small business owners and I loved every bit of it. But it didn’t allow me much space to work on any of my own personal goals or have much of a personal life. My job as a publicist meant that my time wasn’t only mine, but that of my clients, while assisting my clients, I also worked parties for a few different promoters, and one event, I made myself a blazer to wear. Read more>>

Freddie Mccrea

At seven years old I was taught by my grandmother to crochet for stress relief. As the years went on, I took the teachings and developed this newfound craft in which I love… When in high school I found happiness in being a male crocheter because that was unheard of at the time. It held a social stigma that this was a female activity and not a masculine act. Though my friends may not have liked my activity down the line they became my best customers. Crocheting helps my stress relief and my outlet for creativity. During my high school years, I started my crochet business first called crochet couture, selling book bags, hats and scarves. This lasted until college. Once college was done for me, I found my passion again through becoming a certified nursing assistance working with my elderly patients. Seeing a few of my patients crocheting and knitting made me bring out my craft and crochet with them. During this time, I perfected my craft and went running towards a different type of future. Read more>>

Harvey Dent

I am born and raised from East Baltimore. I have been a DJ for about 20 years. I started at Warm Wednesdays, one of the longest-running open mics in the country, and went on to DJing other events in the city and expanded to nationwide. One event I was a part of was an annual tribute in Baltimore to the late J Dilla. As a lover of t-shirts, I wanted a dope shirt to wear on stage. At the time, the “Detroit Vs Everybody” shirt became popular in Detroit. I wanted to represent my city but with a colloquialism that is true Baltimore. I came up with the idea of “Baltimore Vs Y’all Whores” since “whores” is classic, unique Balitmore slang that can be a person, place, or thing. I wore it to the BMore Dilla tribute in Baltimore at Ottobar and people have been asking for the shirt ever since.  Read more>>

Alexzandrea Jaimes

My family and I are from Baltimore, Maryland. My fiancé and I have two boys, and a lab pup! I love going to the beach, playing with my kids, and Chick-Fil-A!!! I grew up in a very tight-knit and artistic family. Growing up, I faced a lot of hardships. My family was very poor and had a shared living space with numerous people in Baltimore. When I was 17, I had enlisted in the United States Army. After serving two and half years, I became severely injured and was no longer fit for duty. The military taught me how to persevere most of all. Being a new business owner, I have found that perseverance is essential. Before opening Busy Bee Boutique, I was a dental assistant at a pediatric dental office. I loved being a dental assistant and bonding with my patients, however, with COVID-19 we, unfortunately, had to shut our office down. Due to schools and daycares being closed, my children were home without their normal structured environment. Read more>>

Leeanne Bell McManus

I grew up in a small steel mill town called Leechburg, PA. My father, grandfathers, and almost everyone I knew worked in the steel mill. I was fortunate enough to have a family that encouraged my love of learning. I knew I wanted to go to college but I did not know what I “really” wanted to do with my life. After my undergraduate education, I decided to continue my education in graduate school. I can honestly say I went to graduate school because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I had no ambition to be a college professor; I loved college and never wanted to leave.  After finishing my Ph.D., I traveled all over the United States looking for the right fit. I ended up at Villa Julie College (now Stevenson University) because it felt like home. The small college, filled with first-generation students, proudly proclaimed that “We meet students where they are” and I knew I could have an impact on many of these students. I have called Maryland home for the last 14 years. I love the city and everything it has to offer to the community.  Read more>>

Craig Mathies Jr.

My interest in photography began when I was attending The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, where I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. I worked at Sam’s Club in their photo lab part-time. The process of developing photographs for people and the images that some people captured inspired me to take pictures as well. After college, I would just take pictures using my cellphone and a friend of mine told me I took some great pictures with my phone but I should invest in a camera. I ended up buying a camera and just taking pictures of whatever caught my eye. During a family trip to Atlanta a few years back, I posted pictures that I took while I was there and when I came back home, a couple of my friends liked the photos that I had posted on social media and they were the 1st people to actually book me to do photoshoots for them. The name of my business may seem self-explanatory but it actually incorporates both of my parents, as we all share the same 1st initial and if it wasn’t for them, there would be no me. Read more>>

Dan Keech

I started out making music in the DIY music circles of Baltimore County and Baltimore City in the ’90s. The old Ottobar on Davis Street was what I thought of as my home base, both as a fan and as a performer. I did my first solo album and solo tour in the summer of 2000, and I kept going with more records and more touring ever since. I began putting Cold Rhymes Records on the back of my own albums in 2012 and starting releasing music by a full roster of artists in 2017.  Read more>>

Kerry Vela

Charm City Trykers, Inc. is a local non-profit that helps children with different abilities receive an adaptive tryke customized specifically to each child’s unique and individual needs. Our local chapter was started when two physical therapists identified the challenges of obtaining adaptive equipment that is fun and inclusive and recognized the need for a local chapter of National Ambucs. Because why shouldn’t every child be able to ride a tryke? And thus, Charm City Trykers, Inc. was established Read more>>

Marcus Alston

Born and raised in Howard County, Maryland. His parents divorced when he was 4 years old. The divorce left him with a lot of psychological trauma, which would later lead to his enrollment in tackle football at the age of 7. Marcus attended Mount Saint Joseph’s High School, where he played basketball and football. He was a member of the 2011 BCL championship team. He also received 1st team All-MIAA and 1st team Private School All-State honors in 2011.  Marcus suffered a lisfranc fracture his senior season in 2012. Despite the severity of his injury, he was still fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to play D1-AA football at Saint Francis University, where he was a member of the 2016 NEC championship team. He graduated from Saint Francis in May of 2018 with a major in Management Information Systems and a minor in Cyber Security Administration. In September 2018, he was diagnosed with several underlying mental illnesses, which he was dealing with for a decade. This put Marcus in a dark phase, but it helped him find his purpose in life.  Read more>>

D’Angela Moore

After graduating college, I realized it was my time to do things as I saw fit. I initially went to college to gain the necessary tools to own a restaurant. Once receiving my degree, I felt a little cheated because I believe the advice I received wasn’t accurate to what I had hoped to achieve (not to discredit my Business Degree). However, this led me to start my very own food blog, BonAppéDee (many call me Dee for short, and from there BonAppéDee was born). I began to immerse myself in the world of culinary; not having any idea where this passion of mine would lead, I was able to meet other culinary individuals and cover food tastings and events throughout the Washington DC Metropolitan area. After taking a break for a few years, I began recreating a new and improved website/ blog of all my food journeys to highlight DC’s small but very diverse food atmosphere. I’m where I am today because I decided to experiment in the kitchen. I later realized, I encouraged many at-home chefs & foodies to try different cooking techniques using spices and items in their pantry. And for those no-so at home chefs, I display local restaurants and food events around the DMV and beyond. I believe food connects people from all ethnicities and cultures. Read more>>

Galanda Brooker

I am an IT professional who is transitioning to wellness work. Many years ago, I was advising a young man that I worked with. I later learned what I was doing was coaching. I moved forward with self-study in coaching. I furthered my study in coaching earning a 200-hour Jiivana (L.I.F.E) yoga teacher certificate which included life lessons for myself as well as tools in life coaching for others. I also earned a Mindfulness meditation certificate under the tutelage of Sean Fargo. I begin doing part-time life coaching as well as some yoga classes. I went on to further my training with 100-hour training with the Mindful Yoga Therapy program that was created to support veterans and their effects from post-traumatic stress. I soon learned that the tools I learned there were good for any population with PTS and begin to teach sessions with Baltimore City students and community members. In addition, I completed training with the ICF and coach students and staff at Anne Arundel Community College.  Read more>>

Sandrine Soman

I began my food photography in Baltimore officially in the summer of 2018. I had lived in the city of Baltimore for 2 years prior to completing a master’s in cancer biology at University of MD, Baltimore. Living downtown and having the opportunity to explore a city with an incredible food scene inspired me to document the great food I tried. This also allowed me to feel more connected to my community and make friends outside of the university. I stayed in Baltimore after graduating until a recent job opportunity brought me to Bethesda, MD. Read more>>

Danielle McCann

In early 2012, my cousin Emmy came to visit and she showed me one of the scarves she was making. I was intrigued so she taught me the very basic stitches. She left me with a ball of yarn and a hook. At the time, I was struggling with a lot of heavy issues in my family and I was so anxious that I rarely slept. I found myself spending lots of time on YouTube listening to tutorials. That’s how I learned most of what I know now. I made gifts for family and friends for several years and as I started being more intentional about posting my work on social media, people began to ask if they could buy it.  In 2020, I started my own YouTube channel. My main goal was to share crochet as a way for others to destress from the pandemic and such. I wanted them to find an outlet as I did. I particularly wanted to focus on creating accessible content because as a blind maker, I experienced lots of content that wasn’t fully accessible to me. I also received certification from the Craft Yarn Counsel to teach beginner-level crochet in 2020. As far as I know, I’m the only blind person who has done that. Today, I’m still at it, mostly selling to my followers on social media but I want to keep growing.  Read more>>

Morgan Jackson

I have always had a passion for food and photography. Naturally, I had been drawn to food blogging for a long time, as it combined two of my most prominent interests, but it was not until I read a Washingtonian profile on blogger Justin Schuble that I became absolutely certain this was a commitment I wanted to dedicate myself to. I was inspired to try to capture the soul of small businesses through my posts and help promote them to whoever I could reach, no matter how small my audience was when I first started. It was motivating to watch my audience grow as well as my skills improve and it really helped me to dedicate some time in my life to doing something positive. My blog also motivated me to return to higher education. I will soon have a degree in digital audiences and my blog has been a great outlet to test out every new strategy my courses have introduced me to.  Read more>>


I’m Sharday also known as Artmomshay. Since I was young I was an artist. As soon as I could walk I would write and draw on the walls. Something that I now get paid to do, but back then my mom was not a fan. While attending school at Glyndon Elementary school, my art teacher , Mrs Scott, took a huge liking to me, She recognized my artistic potential and encouraged me to study art further by applying for visual arts at a magnet middle school. As a result, I was accepted into Deer Park Middle Magnet School for visual arts. That was where I was first exposed to the vast forms of art,from sculpture, drawing,and photography,We learned them all. After being immersed in art at  middle school I knew I wanted to attend the distinguished Carver Center for Arts & Tech for Highschool. After an intense visual arts interview and  still life drawing, I was accepted! The Art education that I received from teachers like Mrs.Terry McDaniel,was incomparable and still follows me to this day.  Read more>>

Shawnice Perry

I started my my company cause I got tired of spending hundreds of dollars on hair care products. After careful evaluations, I started making my own products. I wanted to produce a product that would be adequate for all different types if hair, it took me two years before I branded my products. Once I had the finishing touches. I knew I was it was a go. Read more>>

SYP Foundation

SYP Foundation originated from an idea in a group chat. Originally the plan was to put money together for our own scholarship fund. Then we decided to go all-in, and create an organization that would consistently be dedicated to educating and inspiring the community.  Read more>>

Ali York

I guess I should say that my business, Made By MacLean LLC offers custom charcuterie boxes, boards, and tables. I also offer crudités, fruit boards, and handmade herb & flower bouquets. I also collaborate with local small business owners Michelle & Bill Kupiec of Kupcakes & Co. Who doesn’t love a little sweet treat added to their box? All of their stuff is amazing.  I’ll give you a little. back story first because I’m not exactly sure what you’re looking for 🙂 My story began in March of. 2019. I think the Universe knew before we did that change was coming because that week had a time change, full moon, and Friday the 13th. Shit was bound to hit the fan, right? My last shift was on Friday March 13th. When the service industry flipped upside down, I became a stay-at-home mother of two overnight. It was weird, the whole Covid Pandemic. I remember putting my infant son to bed one night after a few weeks of being laid off and as I stood there squeezing him, I realized that was the first time I’d ever felt him hug me back. Harvey was born in August. As a parent it’s hard to express the emotions I felt in that moment.  Read more>>

Kay Davenport

I’m DC born and raised. Brought up by my fierce-career-driven Mama. I’m HBCU made and I’m a woman of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. I’m an educator and I’m a mother, I’m a natural-born leader. I’m a wife and I’m a girl’s girl. All of these parts of my story and identity are what helped shape and mold the woman I am today and the person I am becoming. The most common theme in my life has been strong, fierce, nurturing black women. Every stage of my life involved a black woman who helped me find my way and helped me position myself in front of the right people. Women who saw something in me I had yet to realize was even there. Women who helped nurture my talents, pray over me and speak life over me. I am forever grateful for the women who pushed me to always show up and be my best self.  I have learned over time to take life’s hardest hits and use them as fuel towards my passions. I have always been highly confident but after giving birth to my twin daughters in 2019, I was starring in the mirror, and for the first time… I did not recognize the person looking back at me. Read more>>

Kemi Ajibare

I started StyledByKemi because when I had my son, I struggled with my identity and my personal style. Growing up I’ve always loved dressing up, going shopping, and putting outfits together that made me happy. However, when I had a baby, my body changed and I didn’t love myself anymore.  After months of being sad and helpless, and my African mom telling me that I look a mess lol, I kind of snapped out of it. I soon began changing my perspective, finding my love for fashion, and teaching myself to love my body regardless.  At the time I was a stay-at-home mom and I wanted to do something I loved outside of being a mom. After thinking hard – it dawned on me that I truly love fashion and helping people. It made sense to get into personal styling!.  Read more>>

Jerlicia Hobson

When I was younger, my aunt was in esthetics. This introduced me to the world of beauty and makeup which I found intriguing. During the time while in school, I often found myself on YouTube, watching and learning about makeup. At that point, I knew I wanted to do more than watch makeup on YouTube. I worked at Sephora for the holiday season then MAC cosmetics for about 2 years and since I was only a freelance artist, my hours were very slim. Let me just be real here, I had bill bills especially when it came to raising my daughter. Although I had a lot of great gigs like working on a tv show, fashion shows, etc., I started a 9-5 job working at a financial consulting firm. That was short-lived because I was truly limiting myself from great opportunities that involved what I was passionate about—makeup. I took the knowledge from working at the financial consulting firm along with the customer service skills from MAC and took a huge leap of faith by quitting my job to become a full-time makeup artist.  Read more>>

Carlos H

“Whether you have chosen a plant-based lifestyle, have an alternate diet, or just want to eat healthy, YOU DESERVE to have the love and comfort of delicious desserts. At Mr. Treats, I will provide those treats for you. As a child, I watched my grandmother and mother cook and bake for their loved ones. When my grandma would start to prepare her Sweet Potato Pie, my cousin and I would stop what we were doing and rush to the kitchen to see Grandma’s magic. Whether to help with handing her ingredients or just to stare; we knew being in the kitchen, we would get first dibs on licking the bowls. Her daughter, my mom, had a banana pudding recipe that was out of this world. Everyone in the house would sit down, pop their top pants button and all you could hear was, “Mmm mmm mmmm”. Sharing these moments with my family brought about happy memories that as I have grown older, I realize are irreplaceable and priceless. The love received from my family sustained me as I served my country in the Marine Corps.  Read more>>

Chef Brandon and Kristal Williams

FishScale is the culmination of our Culinary-trained chef and co-owner to placate his mother who became a pescatarian around her birthday for a 4th of July Family cookout. Henry Brandon decided he wanted to make a burger for his mother made out of fish and throw it on the grill. The carnivores ate it up so fast she almost didn’t get one! Fast forward to Farmers’ Market by the White House in 2011 to Fast-casual restaurant in the heart of D.C for over 3 years. We pride ourselves by specializing in wild-caught sustainable fish and making it into America’s most beloved food-the burger and cheesesteak-for a healthful and great-tasting meal. Our goal is to make domestic, wild-caught, and sustainable fish more easily accessible on the go. This fast-casual restaurant is family-owned and operated with his sister Kristal who took a personal sabbatical from her career to help open FishScale. Kristal serves as the Director of Operations and is often the smiling facing taking your order at the restaurant.  Read more>>

Tai’won Gladden

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a way with words; which I find odd because I don’t really enjoy socializing with others as much as you’d think. But I love to talk. And I do love to text; paragraph after paragraph. I love to write books; both fiction and nonfiction. I love to write poetry; I’ve been in shows and done open mics. I love to listen to and write music. I love that the meaning and understanding of these arts are up to the listener/reader’s interpretation. I’ve loved how others seemed amazed by it, by the talents I felt were ordinary. Other than my gifts, my growth of confidence is how I got here. My mom is my biggest fan, growing up I thought she was just giving me the words of encouragement the world wouldn’t; but I never gave the world a chance, now I hope everyone loves my art. Or at least can relate in a way; in the context of their own lives. Read more>>

Wes Watkins

I am a father of two, musician, author and entrepreneur. I’ve been playing drums for 34 years and got my start by watching my father at home, playing at church, and going to gigs with my dad as a kid. Growing up I started playing at Church, GoGo bands, and with different artist. I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world for music and work with Jazz, Hip Hop, Gospel, Blues and GoGo artist such as Grammy Nominated Carolyn Malachi, Marcus Johnson, Paris Price, Chris Scholar, Sirius Company, Lissen, Koryn Hawthorne, Travis Green, Raheem Devaughn, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and many more. In 2019 I wrote my first book “The Life That Created My Own Sound”, this book was based around Mental Health. I went through depression, suicide, negative thoughts and much more. Read more>>

Akiva McClam

For a person never took any classes in playwrighting or directing I realize now it is a God-given gift. Able to articulate line by line for actors/actresses, making sure the storyline flows from the beginning, middle, and the end, researching the right background music that enhances the scenes, etc. When I think back, I saw the pieces planted in me in an early age, during my adolescents and now adulthood. When I was little, I would spend hours in my room playing with my GI Joe toys, Transformers, etc. In my little room, I lived in a rhombus imagination. I created scenes for my toys to act in. I was the actors and director. Read more>>

Tell’em the Poet

My name is Tell’em the Poet and I am, first, an artist. My journey begins in East Baltimore and has taken me from coast to coast. Born in Baltimore, primarily raised in Atlanta, my introduction to art took place at Arena Players Playhouse during the early years with summers and holidays in the city. Although we learned acting, dancing, and singing, the art of writing captured me most. Being able to capture the unspoken words between individuals that experience the same stories every day, seem to be my biggest inspiration. After leaving Penn State University for Hospitality, I set out on a career path that was meant for success. After more than 7 years of giving my all to the biggest hotel chain in the industry, I wanted to find something more. Find something I could do that would awaken the artist within me again. I set out for something that would express my love for words through poetry, teach me a new skill, feed my creativity and bring in a few dollars. In this, I found candle creating, Read more>>

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