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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.

Ashley Bales

Uinta Tags (UT) was started in June of 2020. So, we are still fresh into the game of small businesses. Our friend, Bri over at Midwest Unleashed, a small business in Nebraska, who now makes dog collars had talked about a potential collab. Bri, at the time, made bandanas that had a small spot for dog tags. After hours of talking about creating together, as we used to in college, UT became a thing. I, myself, wanted to start a second small income that would allow me to do more in the community, so this was a perfect fit. Little did I know that my vision to give back to the community would take off and the places and people this small business would encounter. Read more>>

Marcus Sorensen

My career started in marketing while in college at Brigham Young University getting a degree in Business-Finance. Following that, I went to law school at Arizona State University. I graduated in 2007 and took a job in real estate/finance law in Denver, Colorado. Shortly thereafter, the great recession set in, and business at our firm slowed down substantially. During this time, I made the hard decision that the practice of law was not for me. I left to start a pest control business and since then have been involved in several early-phase small businesses. I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of creating and growing a business and the opportunity it gives me every day to put my fingerprint on that business and its growth. I currently am co-owner of two separate small businesses and enjoy all the ups and downs that come along with that. Read more>>

Savannah Davis

When I was a kid, a family friend made us homemade caramels every year for Christmas. I was always so excited to see that little cellophane bag in my mom’s hands after she answered the door. They were the perfect creamy treat for the holidays. When I moved to Utah, I lost that perfect little tradition. So I decided to pick it up here! I couldn’t afford to front the cost to make all that caramel, learn, and practice on my own. I had a friend order 3 lbs, and that gave me the capital I needed to get started. I bought a candy thermometer, filled my fridge with butter and cream, and cut up the parchment paper into little squares. Read more>>

Brianne Fanning

Growing up, I planned to go to college, get a degree, and then find a job and work there… well, if not forever, then at least a long time! You know, the more “traditional” life path. I’ve always relied on structure and organization, so this route didn’t bother me one bit. At first, this is exactly how everything went. I graduated from BYU with a degree in Geography and got a job in my hometown in New Mexico, doing issues management and technical writing. Writing is something I’ve loved to do my whole life, so I really enjoyed that aspect of my job. Read more>>

Brynn and Jed Jensen

My wife and I met in high school 5 years ago. We were married last year during covid and decided quickly after, that we both wanted to open up a business. With my wife already working in the industry, we felt like a hair salon was the right fit. We then proceeded to find the perfect space and after approximately a month of renovations, supply orders, and construction, we were able to open up our dream business. Read more>>

Tammy Rickett

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved looking at people’s faces. I enjoyed drawing people and would spend hours doing so. I also used to love looking at the Avon magazines and I especially loved the photos where the eyes sparkled with the catchlights. I had never seriously thought of becoming a photographer. Although in Jr High, I had a point-and-shoot camera, and I had some fun taking pictures with it. One time, I had a friend act as a model for me. I did her hair and makeup and put her in a fancy dress. I thought my lovely floral curtains would make a great backdrop! I got the pictures back, and it was completely off-center. I was so discouraged. Any thoughts of being a professional photographer went out the window. Read more>>

Ashley Thomas

I first entered the world of tattooing in 2005. Back then, I was still living in Connecticut, where I am from. I apprenticed here at Kustom Kulture under Chris Rinaldini, and I owe my career to him and my time at that shop. I have spent the past 16 years tattooing in Connecticut, New York, Texas, and now call Utah home. After managing a shop in Austin Texas for years, I moved out here with my husband Billy (who is from Utah) in 2017 with the idea that I would finally open my own shop. We opened our doors in 2017 and it has been amazing being able to watch our vision come to life and thrive here in Utah. Read more>>

Danielle Dubrasky

From the time I was six years old, I have loved reading and writing poetry. I was drawn to the sounds of words and the images I could create with language. I grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I loved wandering through the used book stores for books of poetry, even as a kid. When I was in high school, I would go to poetry readings sponsored by the University of Virginia. As a senior, I won the state award in the forensics competition by reading my own poetry—which I think no one had done before. Read more>>

Norma Carver

My name is Norma Carver, I am originally from Oaxaca Mexico. I am proud that I developed this talent as a photographer when I was young. I started taking pictures at 12 years old. I bought my first camera with money my sisters sent to me from the United States. My camera broke within days of buying it. This was because I decided to not read the instructions on how to set it up and as a result, I broke the camera. Read more>>

Erica Tingey

In 2016, I was still racing my mountain bike professionally and coaching mountain bike skills on the side. I created Women in the Mountains, expecting it to be a single 3-day event held in June of 2016. I decided that weekend needed a website, logo, and Instagram account. I didn’t realize I was actually laying the groundwork for a  business that would grow and expand to include so many women in so many beautiful ways! The first event was so successful that each of the women that attended asked if I would hold a clinic for their friends. The clinics expanded from there and in 2018 I hired 2 coaches to help me. Fast forward to 2021 and we are a team of 11 women (coaches and support staff) and have now coached over 2,000 women. Read more>>

Scott Whitaker

I started creating jewelry over 20 years ago while still in high school. Inspired by an amazing teacher who had a love for jewelry and creating things by hand. While in college, I worked at a small custom jewelry store and spent the next 6 years there while going to college for a degree in business and technology management. After college, my wife and I purchased a small jewelry store in the town we grew up in and ran it for the next 12 years. In 2018, we sold the store to strictly online sales and manage a few other wholesale accounts. Read more>>

Sadie Lawrence

I have always been interested in photography, you know the Tumblr type of photography, or “photoshoots” with your friends at a nearby park. What really got me interested in professional photography was one of my college roommates had a DSLR camera and we took roomie photos together and I FELL in love. I decided I would buy a camera the next semester (Aug. 2017) and take a class to learn how to use it. Somehow, the word got out that I started perusing photography and someone asked me to take their newborn photos! I was shocked because those are very important life moments and I was seriously SO new. But I did it, and then it snowballed from there! Read more>>

Claudia Reyes

Hi, I’m Claudia, Owner & Principal Photographer of Divine Worth Photography. Born in Peru. Raised in Orem, UT. I’ve always been a creative person since I was young, long before I stumbled upon photography. Photography came into my life when my parents gifted me a cheap digital camera, and discovered another medium to express myself. Forward to ten years later, I am the go-to photographer for family and friends. My goal is to show the beauty within in every shot. Capturing emotions is one of the most important parts of my work. Read more>>

Maddison Diaz

My mom was a photographer when my siblings and I were younger. I always admired that artistic part of my mom. In the summer of my going into eighth grade. I was invited to be on the yearbook staff. I didn’t even apply, but I was invited and that was exciting for me. Quickly, I realized how much I loved taking pictures, getting to know more people, and covering their stories. My advisor realized really quickly that I was pretty good at taking photos, and the next year, I was made the head editor and chief of the yearbook staff. That started a big path of leadership and knowledge for me because for the next 4 years I would be the head editor and chief all the way until I graduated. Read more>>

Emmalou Hale

My story starts back in high school I would say. I had always dreamed of going to college but was really struggling to figure out what I wanted to do with my life once I graduated. I had always wanted to be an artist, but throughout my adolescence was told many times by people in my life that I would not be able to make a career and support myself as an artist (not in those words). Read more>>

Hayden Bryant

When we purchased the main commercial mall property with the undeveloped land next door, we wanted to create something unique and special that Brian Head visitors would love and enjoy. Given that Brian Head is the sixth-highest elevation town in the country, we began researching the weather and maintenance requirements for an ice skating rink. We knew that although it would have its challenges we thought, “we think we can pull that off!” We acquired the Zamboni and equipment and hired an experienced operator. We worked extensively on the design and decided to build around the existing trees to maintain the natural beauty of the area. This makes for more complicated ice creation and maintenance, but it creates such a unique atmosphere that it is well worth the effort. It turned out even more beautiful than we imagined! Read more>>

Samantha Pohl

I’ve been playing the piano since I was eight, and have been self-taught since age eleven. Two years ago, I realized that I wanted work to be something I loved. I started advertising piano lessons on Facebook, not knowing if it would work out. Within a few days, I had enough students to quit my job at a grocery store and start teaching as my main job. In September of 2021, I held my first piano recital, where 12 students performed. Now, I have 27 students, and absolutely love teaching all of them! Teaching piano has supported me through college- I will graduate from UVU with a Bachelor’s in Psychology this spring. My piano business has become a huge passion for me, and I have plans to continue teaching for as long as I can. I also plan to become a certified music therapist. I have seen how much joy music brings to my students and myself, and I want as many people to feel that as possible! Read more>>

Isaac Hale

Isaac currently works as a part-time marketing photographer for Utah Valley University (Monday-Wednesday) and fills in the rest of his schedule with freelance assignments. Previously, Isaac worked as a photojournalist at the Daily Herald in Provo, Utah, for four and a half years. He was a staff photographer from 2016-2017, a chief photographer from 2017-2018, and collaborated with reporters, designers, editors, and freelance photographers as well as managed all of the newspaper’s visual demands as the photo editor and chief photographer from 2018-2020. Read more>>

Amanda Valenti

My connection to acupuncture began in 2010 when I sprained my neck. I started working regularly with a physical therapist and she referred me to an acupuncturist in their office. I began treatments on my neck and during that time someone very important to me passed away. Without knowing exactly what was happening I fell into a deep depression. I was certain that something was physiologically wrong with me, thyroid issues, vitamin deficiencies, something labs could confirm I wasn’t “just” grieving. Multiple doctors informed me that I had been suffering from depression and needed to be medicated. Read more>>

Tosha Sargent

I became a licensed Master Esthetician in 2005. After graduating, I worked at a couple of different Spas in Utah County. I was so fresh out of school and young with little experience, but I made the best of the situations I was given. After a couple of years of working in the Spa industry, I was married in 2007 and started traveling with my husband for his job. We started our family and going back to work was just not in my cards at that time. After my 2nd child was born, I was really missing my passion for helping others and their skincare desires. I absolutely LOVE giving facials and believe in the power of the human touch. I started slowly working with friends and neighbors out of my home. As time went on my small little home business grew and word of mouth spread about my ability to help women obtain a moment of their day feeling and experiencing a drop of heaven on earth. It’s now been 8 years since I first started my dream in my home doing what I love and helping others feel more confident in their skin. Read more>>

chandler williams

I started shooting in the late 90’s developing film in kitchen sinks, using digital negative feeds and and any dark room i could find. Right after high school I started traveling and at the same time I always found myself behind the lens. In 2006 my wife and I found out we were having identical twin boys. This was taking place right after we just bought a new home in a collapsing economy. Then I started Modus Photography as a hopeful additional income source. As a second job I would deliver pizza and slap flyers on all the pizza boxes that were being delivered in hopes of getting phone calls. Read more>>

Edlin Mendivil

I’ve always been artisitc, as a kid I loved drawing and painting. My mom and my sister are beauticians, when they were in beauty school I was around 8 years old and I read all their books and practiced everything they were doing so I basically grew up in a beauty enviroment but it was until around 23 when I started taking makeup more seriously, I started practicing on myself, then my family and then my friends, they would all tell me to do it professionally but I was scared, I knew I was good at it but I just needed to be validated by someone professional, thats when I decided to go to makeup school and get certified as a makeup artist. Read more>>

Elise & Derrick Vu

Our journey began in 1980. Derrick was 2 years old and our mom was 8 months pregnant with me when our parents decided to flee the communist reign in Vietnam. I guess our story is like most child refugees… along for the ride for a chance at a better life. If you asked our parents, they’d say a “better life” wasn’t enough, we needed to find the American Dream. It really is a bit of a cliché when we look back on it! LOL, it was my Mom & Dad, of course Grandma, our eldest brother & sister, Derrick, and me… and we had one car *facepalm* Read more>>

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