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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.

Victoria Koelkebeck

I’m Victoria, the development director for Nuzzles and Co. I’ve been working with this organization since last August. My background is working with non-profits, like Ballet West and Delmarva Public Radio on the east coast. I’ve always loved animals and became a foster for elderly small dogs which lead to me wanting to be more involved in animal welfare. I found a job opening at Nuzzles last summer and jumped on the opportunity to get involved by utilizing my skills to aid our mission to save animals. Read more>>

Alexandra Rouzier

Hey y’all! Your friendly backyard Herbalist here! Navire Apothecary hasn’t always been about herbalism and using natural products. At first, I started making jewelry as a hobby in college. I would travel frequently and gather inspiration through the places I would visit like Egypt, India, and Morocco. While making jewelry is still an aspect of what we do, our main goal is to create all natural & sustainable products that are good for the earth and good for you! Being diagnosed with Epilepsy at age 11, I had to cut things out that were not healthy at a young age. At that age, I had no idea what “living a healthy life-style” meant! Now that I’m older, I realize how important using all natural soaps, skincare, and even candles with little to no scent is. Read more>>

Angela Hays

My first trip to Moab was actually when I was like 5 years old. Our family camped at Arches and I ran around the rocks with mom and dad trying to keep the kids from falling off cliffs. I guess I was smitten way back then so I came back to Moab after college in 2007 to work as a river guide and park ranger at Arches and Canyonlands Nat’l parks. I came face-to-face with a mountain lion, had a coyote join me on a jog (literally), and would watch bobcats stalk rabbits from my living room window. I loved wandering the canyons, finding lesser known arches and paddling the rivers. These experiences left me in awe of this place and capturing it became a passion. Read more>>

Heidi Maloy

I was first looking for a natural alternative to popping Ibuprofen like candy for chronic migraines when I tumbled down the Essential Oil rabbit hole. In researching and ordering ingredients, I realized I could overlap some fun items with my new ingredients like shea butter and beeswax. I made my first batch of lip balms for my cute young girls and made enough to share with friends too, after trying them though, my friends wanted more. I quickly learned of the benefits of natural products for our skin and discovered how wonderful they really can be. I found that there is a need for these products for me and anyone else looking for them, and accidentally stumbled from having a hobby to building a Business. Read more>>

Victoria Mincer

I am Victoria, affectionately known as Mommy Sabi to friends and family. We are a full time traveling homeschool family of 5 (single mom with four kids) living in a self converted school bus. In honor of my Japanese heritage we named our bus Wabi Sabi after the Japanese concept meaning acceptance of imperfection, or finding beauty in something less than perfect . We bought our bus (@wabisabibus) in July 2020, sold our home in ny, moved in full time in November 2020 and have been traveling since. We have since traveled to 32 states, 28,000 miles and 13 national parks. We have visited countless other state and county parks and made hundreds of new friends. The nomadic community is a large diverse, open minded one that loves and supports with open arms and encourages all to succeed and chase their dreams. Read more>>

Matt Gonzalez

For as long as I can remember, I have loved technology. Back in 2008, the world looked completely different from today, but it was an exciting time for personal technology. The iPhone was just released, social media gained popularity, and sites like YouTube started to take off. I was in high school at the time, but my love for this new technological development had me searching for as much information as possible. I quickly landed on YouTube as the best place to see the changes happening in the space. After watching it for a few months, I decided to try it myself. I made a YouTube channel, recorded a video, and posted it. I’m still not sure why I did it. It wasn’t for fame or money; that wasn’t a thing online back then, but it put me on a track that completely changed my life. Read more>>

Brian Nichols

I was very interested in metal fabrication pretty young from watching my grandpa build race cars and dirt bikes and things like that. As soon as I was old enough to really start working, I got a grunt job at Big Bear Choppers and spent all my work hours grinding parts and doing the dirty work there. I spent all my lunches and breaks teaching myself how to TIG weld and asking everyone questions on what I was doing wrong. That lead to me learning how to also machine parts, bend tube and a lot of general fabrication. Once I left there I started building desert race cars and that stepped up all of what I was doing until I started working for a company building air planes. Read more>>

Jan Williams

I am a 4 time cancer survivor, I have battled stage 3 Melanoma, stage 3 Ovarian, and stage 3 Colon cancer.. During my chemo treatments with Ovarian cancer I was having a really hard time and felt pretty low. when I had a very special experience that changed my life.I got a knock at the door and when I opened the door there stood a large group of my students and they started singing to me! I had to stop teaching musical theatre since I started treatments so I missed them terribly. Their voices filled my soul. And I felt so much hope and joy for the future! I didn’t feel sick and all I could do was cry and smile from ear to ear. This experience inspired me to want to give this hope to others as I had been given to me. Read more>>

Roxanne Gray

801 Salon was co-founded by myself and Stephen Lunqduist of Vis.—an optical shop with a focus on niche, independent designers. As a choreographer and dance artist, myself, I know that one of the biggest barriers for artists is space. At 801 Salon our mission is to create that space for artists to showcase their work and connect with the Salt Lake arts community. I knew that I wanted to create a platform for artists that would be sustainable and affordable, while still giving them the visibility and professionalism that they deserved. I also wanted to prove that art does not always need to exist in a professional gallery or on a polished stage. I was interested in making art more accessible, approachable, and attainable for artists and patrons. Read more>>

Ryan Brown

I grew up in West Valley City, Utah. Since grade school I had an interest in drawing and painting, but had no real guidance. I studied at BYU, graduating in 2002 with a BFA in Illustration. This course of study, although enlightening in many ways, did not provide me with the skill development I needed to create the level and quality of work I wished to emulate. After taking time to work closely with the portrait artist William Whitaker, I then moved to Florence, Italy to study at the Florence Academy of Art in 2003. Within six months I had run out of money, and my second child was on his way so I was forced to return to Utah. At that point, I had the option of either finding a job to feed my family, or going all in to try and make a living as an artist. Read more>>

Eugene Kim

To be honest, starting the coffee shop was kind of an opportunity manufactured in luck. We had initially spoken about starting a shop almost 10 years ago, but we did not have the expertise or know-how to create a shop that would meet the quality we would want to pursue. Fast forward to 4 years ago, and we were lucky to have made a relationship with Rock, a founding member of the shop, who allowed us to leverage his 10 years in specialty coffee experience. Through his guidance and coaching we were able to develop a meaningful culture that fueled our mission of supporting coffee farmers through education. Although I am there every day, I am ever thankful for all the people who have helped the shop and me grow. Read more>>

Danielle Peralta

I started Stitch With Bliss Co. in late 2020 out of a desire for more fulfillment. At the time I was working full time managing a lash salon in Las Vegas, and I found myself needing to do something to fulfill my time after work. I wanted to start working on something for me, something that I could enjoy and look forward to after a long day of work. I remembered watching embroidery videos on Tiktok during quarantine and finding it so fascinating! I started doing research and threw myself into this new venture, not knowing what to expect. It was definitely a learning curve figuring out my machine and the best ways to produce high quality work. I was so fortunate to have a lot of support from family and their businesses but also Las Vegas is filled with so many local businesses that it didn’t take long to find clients. Read more>>

Aria Bucko

I’ve always been very interested in the arts. Growing up I took dance, theater, singing and piano classes. I loved being there and really threw myself into them. I thought that when I grew up I would be a teacher, civil engineer or an architect and never even thought about doing a career in the arts. In elementary school, I would do a lemonade stand at my local park selling cupcakes and lemonade. I loved it and thought it was so much fun! When I was 12 years old, I moved from Beaverton, Oregon to Poughkeepsie, New York. This was a very big change for me. My family and I stayed in a hotel for 3 months while my parents tried closing on a house. I stopped baking for a while even after moving into a house. Read more>>

Malory Ruesch

Growing up, my childhood was difficult. My father didn’t want me, and my mother was an alcoholic. We moved around often, mostly hotels, or friends’ homes. As I got into high school, my home life was still a struggle, but I found peace through school activities. I joined the cheer team, yearbook committee, honor society, and student council. I was a straight A student that no one knew was broken completely on the inside. A young girl who never had a place to call home or believed she was loved. How could anyone love a girl that not even her own father wanted? I was scheduled to graduate early but easily fell into the need to fit in, be a part of, be accepted by my new college friends. Read more>>

Tyson Cole

Like a lot of people, I liked to draw as a kid. I loved Calvin and Hobbes, the Far Side, and comics in the newspaper. I would always say that wanted to be a cartoonist when I grew up, but the skill and consistency required, as well as the declining newspaper market, always made it seem out of reach. I remember making cartoons and comic books with a friend or with my brother, but as I got older, I did it less and less. In high school and my early college days, it was mainly just something I did in the margins of my school notes. I started taking it more seriously in January of 2011. It was the same month that I had gotten married, and I received a lot of encouragement from my new wife. Read more>>

Mark Christensen

I grew up working with my dad in his small carpet business that he ran on the side while teaching school in Lehi, Utah. I was always drawn to making things with my hands and enjoyed creating. In 1998 at 21 years old I was looking for a new adventure. I quit my job at a disaster recovery company and decided to take a break from College at UVSC and packed my camping gear in my truck and hit the road. I was on my way to Mexico and stopped to visit a friend in Wickenburg, Arizona. I needed some gas money and he was working for a tile contractor and asked if I wanted to work for a few days. Read more>>

Vanessa Barboza

I’ve always loved photos. As a child I loved taking pictures even if it was of little things in my room. Whenever we went to festivals or farmers markets, I loved looking at the photography booths, we didn’t have a lot financially, but I would buy their greeting cards and frame them. After I got married, I purchased a used DSLR camera and just started experimenting. I’m a visual learner so I forced myself to shoot everything on manual mode, that way I would learn the settings and how to get certain looks. I read articles, books and practiced, practiced, practiced! I traveled a lot to see my family so that was a perfect way to find things my eye found interesting. Read more>>

Maisie Lay

Urban Honey first started out on Instagram as what you would call a “Closet Account”. This is where I listed all my clothing to sell what I no longer wanted in my closet anymore. While browsing around in Instagram I realized that there was an entire community on this platform as well as others reselling clothing. I thought it was crazy! I began researching and learning more about it for almost an entire year and how eco friendly it is! Over consumption is a HUGE issue all over the world and especially in the US. There will always be enough clothing to go around as Textile pollution is the world’s second largest pollution behind oil. On March 2, 2019 I finally started my Instagram Thrift Shop and began taking it seriously when slow fashion was on the rise. Read more>>

Ruby Straaten

I had my first event experience 6 years ago in my junior year of college when I helped a friend with their annual karate tournament. I was responsible for organizing and hosting the entire tournament. From there, my love of the event industry blossomed and I got an internship shortly after that. During this internship, I was the event planner for a small local business in Utah. I organized and planned events such as game nights, 50-mile walks, and formal dinners. My mentor and boss at the time coached me on how to plan the perfect event and I learned what details were important in planning a variety of events. When I graduated college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management, I left my internship and got a job working at an Event Venue. Read more>>

Shaylee Kay Hilsmann

I’m Shaylee Kay Hilsmann. I am a military wife and mother to 3 handsome rambunctious little boys. We have moved around in the military for the last 6 years and have loved getting to experience new places at every turn including living in Hawaii for a time. I got into photography during a rough deployment at the start of Covid while my husband was away. I needed a creative outlet during that time I was at home with my two little boys and I had always loved taking pictures. I worked for the next two years learning all about different cameras, lens, and editing styles. Read more>>

Nikhil Bagewadi

I would like to start from the day I first landed in the United States in Aug 2016. I came here to pursue my dream of studying data analytics. Leaving your family and country behind was a big step for a Indian guy who had stayed with his family for most of his life. I was always fascinated with data and wanted to solve the problems in data as it’s the biggest asset in today’s date. I started studying my Master’s in Data Analytics from The University of Texas at Dallas. This phase was challenging and rewarding at the same time. Challenging in terms of getting outside of my comfort zone, financial situation and rewarding in terms of learning new culture, meeting new people, experiencing the real life, making new friends. Read more>>

Tawna Campbell

My first job was at the Utah College of Massage Therapy at 14. At the time, it was THE school to go to. People came from all over the country to get training there. I met and connected with humans from all walks of life, backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures that I would not have being a young lady from Magna, Utah. I was fascinated by the experiences that were shared with me. I learned very young that “there is no way you wouldn’t feel love if you take the time to get to know someone’s story.” A core value I have a great appreciation for! Our building was located near the Avenues, and I would spend most of my breaks and lunches walking and eventually driving up and down the streets to look at the unique and beautiful houses. Read more>>

Leila Ciancaglini

Leila Ciancaglini was born in Argentina. Now she host Leila Live tv show ,and A Radio show At Dash Radio -Kaliente Girls. Coming new tv series. Leila’s Adventures, For the past years Leila has been the TV host for Hollywood Life. She is also an actress and producer, known for El pelado de la noche (2012), Confessions of a Womanizer (2014), Cage Fight (2012) and most recently Maul Dogs(2015), Opus of an Angel(2015) and EuroClub(2016). Crave(2016), Sinverguenzas (2016), Sangre Negra (2017), and Ghost (2017) Sangre Negra 2017. Trained To Go 2018 howtobehitman 2022, She is also the owner of REGAZA LC Models a talent, and modeling agency based in Hollywood, CA. Read more>>

Josh Albrecht

I feel like my story is still very much unfolding. Professionally, I lead a software product management team. This is definitely not what I thought I would be doing with my life, but I am having so much fun with it. I studied accounting in college and then went on to earn an MBA, thinking I would have a career as a CPA. Through some unexpected opportunities at work, I found myself working directly with software engineers and automating processes for the company I worked for. I used that experience to pivot my career and land where I am today. Last year, I bought a new Toyota Tacoma and, on a whim, decided to start posting pictures of my truck on Instagram. Read more>>

Kelsey Campbell

I was born to be a hairstylist. I remember being very young, probably 3 or 4, my grandma kept a box of hair things (clips, combs, etc) in a cupboard at her house. The moment I would arrived I would go straight to the cupboard and grab the box. She would sit down and let me play with her hair for what felt like hours. Growing up I was always doing my sisters hair (she hated it), my friends hair, and my own. I enrolled in the DATC cosmetology program my senior year in high school. I spent a year there and then finished out my hours at Stacey’s Hands of Champions Beauty school. I graduated in 2009 and have been behind the chair since. Read more>>

Kate Foley

The three of us who started this business (Marla, Kate and Devin) discovered throughout our teens and twenties a passion for the outdoors. Each of us found community, challenge, growth, friendship and fulfillment in our outdoor pursuits, whether that was through jobs or personal passions. Our paths merged serendipitously three and a half years ago when we all found ourselves working at Park City Mountain Resort as Ski Patrollers. We bonded over our love of skiing, the challenge of backcountry objectives, and a zeal for sharing our experiences with other like-minded people. The outdoor community had given each of us so much, we wanted to start giving back. Read more>>

Sarah Wells

I had my last baby in 2018 and I was looking for something to call mine again. I have two older children and then had another 10 years later, I was working part time remotely and loved it. Then when the next one came I stopped working but felt like I had lost part of myself. I started a little blog and took lots of classes. I realized my posts about holidays, traditions and parties were popular so I started to look in to event planning. I took more classes and fell in love with it all. I officially called myself an event planner in May 2019. I have been moving forward with that purpose and have truly found joy and fulfillment in it. I morphed more in to weddings since 2020. Read more>>

Kiki Sharma

I am Kiki Sharma, born and raised in Nepal in a refugee camp. I came to America with my family in 2010. Our family started a catering business partnering with Spice Kitchen Incubator in 2014 when I was still a teenager. That experience helped us to open Bhutan House Restaurant in 2017 with the hope of providing delicious cuisine from our homeland. We serve Indian, Nepalese, & Bhutanese cuisine providing the Utah community with authentic, healthy, quality food and sharing our cultural values. We give locals job opportunities and sponsor local events and charities, sustaining the economy of our community. I am currently attending college working towards my bachelors in Business Adm/Finance. Read more>>

Sarah Whiting

Becoming a florist has been a dream of mine for many years. I started out by doing flowers for my family and friends weddings. It took me a while, but I eventually posted my work online and have been booking with brides ever since. Read more>>

Amber Duffin

I was raised by a builder and always believed people in the building industry worked harder than anyone I know. I learned a lot about running a business and working with others from watching my dad growing up. I was an Executive Assistant for a list brokerage. The owners had several subsidiary businesses that kept me involved in the building industry, including a trash hauling business, property management, and storage units. I started a windows and doors business in 2003 and ran the back-end of the business while working full-time at my other job. Read more>>

Avery Blanco

I have always had an interest in photography. When I was younger I would take my dad’s camera and my friends and I would have our own photoshoots. We would make makeshift back drops out of pieces of paper taped together hanging from my bunk bed! My love really grew when I was in high school on yearbook staff. That’s when I started to think “Hey I actually love doing this” that was almost 8 years ago now! So as they say the rest is history! Read more>>

Astraea Chaumette

I recently got back into writing after taking quite a hiatus. I was in a fifteen-year-long marriage that was very difficult. I hadn’t realized how much of a toll that relationship had taken on my creativity and really my whole being until I had a moment to live outside those confines. It was like a bird was released out of a cage and I remembered how much I loved expressing myself through the written word. I grew up in Colorado and had written a poem when I was ten that was included in a book put together by a Denver bookstore. It was such an important and happy memory in my life. I started writing a lot of poetry after my divorce that helped me process a wide variety of emotions. I love being able to spill every feeling I have across the page and turn it into something that I can share with someone else. To be able to transmute something difficult into a beautiful expression of art feels magical, and meaningful. I can go back and read what I have written and remember exactly how I felt in that moment and feel profound gratitude in the entire artistic process. Read more>>

Peri Kinder

I’ve been writing my award-winning Life & Laughter column for almost 20 years. I’ve built a connection with readers who often tell me my articles have made them laugh, or think, or get mad, whatever. I’ve been teaching yoga since 2007 and love studying yoga philosophy. Through Life & Laughter Coaching, I’ve combined the two worlds: Teaching life lessons through coaching and my Life & Laughter podcast and offering yoga classes and workshops. I’ve learned people really want to take it easier on themselves. My classes, workshops, and podcasts help them do that, by giving them permission to slow down and find what brings them joy. Read more>>

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