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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.

Kristina Brown

My name is Kristina and I am 40 years young! I am a mother, business owner, full-time employee, and athlete. I have been running for 30 years and really picked up speed with that passion in 2021. My career field is Regenerative Agriculture and my goal is to design beautiful landscapes that serve a purpose. The premise is to get people to grow their own food as that is the most important step for one’s health. Or that’s my theory! Our food becomes our cells and eating nutrient-dense food from your yard is the best way to reduce our carbon footprint while nourishing the body. Read more>>

Kiko Kawai

Pursuing a passion in any field is scary. There’s no guarantee that things will work out, and for many people—unless you’re incredibly lucky—there are substantial risks that you have to take in order to even try. I’ve always been called toward creativity though, so I knew I wouldn’t ever be satisfied resigning to the opportunities that I had without really going for a plunge into a new world, away from mundane, corporate, or typical work and into an environment where I could be myself, explore my imaginative side, and feel like I had more of an impact in the people around me. Read more>>

Stacy Risenmay

I started my blog in September of 2010 as a way to share our journey of fixing up our 1938 home. I had a family blog but wanted a separate space where I could just share projects. I had recently discovered that DIY and home decor-type blogs existed and were very excited to join that community. At that point, I was not aware that it could become a source of income. In fact, at that point, no bloggers were really making significant money. At first, blogging was purely a creative outlet. I was a young mother with 4 little boys. My youngest was just 6 months old. Read more>>

Eda Boss

I’ve always been a lover of candles. In early 2019, I began learning to make them and discovered a way to turn the melted wax into skin-safe massage oil. I began giving them as gifts to family and friends. Everyone loved the fragrances and was blown away by the fact the melted wax was skin safe and could be used as a moisturizer. I decided to take my passion for candles a step further and made it a business, November 11, 2019, MCXI (Roman numerals for 1111) Candles was born. During the process of developing MCXI Candles, the pandemic struck, and COVID began running ramp. Read more>>

Jordan Caswell

I fell in love with music and entertainment when I was a little kid. I would dance on the stairs in my family’s garage with a CD player, singing along, pretending I was a famous pop star on my stadium stage. As a kid, I would also build small haunted houses in our basements. My love for entertaining kept growing as I got older and started researching, planning, and building haunted houses. This has helped me in my music career with planning, programming lights, stage design, sound engineering, rehearsals, and most importantly the work ethic to not just start, but finish big projects. This didn’t come easy though. Read more>>

Ashley Sandmire

I (Ashley) own this boutique with my 2 sisters, Camilla and Heather. We started this boutique after our 14-year-old brother, Ammon took his life. After he died we realized the stigma surrounding mental health and wanted to help other people know they’re not alone. Our boutique has cute clothes, along with mental health and positive tees to remind people they are enough. We bring mental health awareness, along with suicide prevention. We have also done several fundraisers for families that have lost a loved one to suicide. It fills our hearts to be able to do this. Read more>>

Nick Sokoloff

I discovered my passion for photography during college at The University of Massachusetts – Amherst, while working for the school newspaper. Post graduation and a few jobs in the social work sector, I returned to graduate school to pursue a degree in photojournalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. It’s been a winding road since then, including stints at various newspapers, as well as having been involved with Internet start-up work. While my photography work generally revolves around the world of corporate communications, I still return to and rely on my training and passion for editorial image. Read more>>

Corrie Scully

MiddleBar began in the middle room of our shotgun-style apartment. We wanted to build the world’s best library bar in the comfort of our own home. So, we built a long narrow pub height table from beautiful redwood, which invited people to stand up, lean in, and engage. Back then, cooking and cocktailing were just a hobby. We’d go to the farmer’s markets, see what looked gorgeous, and take it home for all to enjoy! MiddleBar was our space to gather with our loved ones, relax, and enjoy some precious moments on earth. It did not become a business for years. Read more>>

Brandon Lei

I began my journey into photography as a college kid studying abroad in Copenhagen. Growing up, photography had always been a cheesy way to make scrapbooks for every family reunion. It wasn’t until I discovered several photographers on Instagram that I began viewing photography as a form of art, along with a glimpse of the full potential that a camera can have. What was stopping me from creating beautiful images of my own? The day before leaving for the airport, I dusted off my dad’s old Nikon D80 from the attic; ever since then, my camera has been with me wherever I traveled to. Read more>>

Eddie Juarez

Hi, I’m Eddie Juárez, I was born in the city of Puebla, Mexico, and I arrived in the state of Utah in 2007. In my first years in Salt Lake City, I worked helping my father Eloy Juárez in gardening and construction. I was always very passionate about music and photography. In 2014 I took a photography course at the Utah School of the Arts, and that same year I started taking photos at music concerts in the city. And in 2015 one of the best promoters of events in Salt Lake City (Eduardo Fernández) invited me to take pictures at all his events. Read more>>

Maren Butler

Ever since I was a little girl, I remember sitting in the bathtub and watching my mom get ready for the day. Watching her do her makeup was my favorite part of the process and I couldn’t wait for the day when I would be old enough to do my own makeup. Eventually, that time came, and much to my horror, during the middle school eyeliner era of 2007-2012. In my college years, I did makeup for my friends and family for special events. Wanting to turn it into so much more, I finally faced the “embarrassment” of making my own Instagram page for makeup and have been able to turn it into something really special to me. Read more>>

Corah Moody

As a kid, I was always determined to be the first person in my family who went to all four years of university and got a degree. I essentially gave myself no other option. I made sure to take as many concurrent enrollment classes as possible, while in high school. I worked hard for scholarships by maintaining good grades, prioritizing ACT tests, and being a Sterling Scholar. I even advocated for myself when I declined a scholarship that I knew I was highly qualified for and was successful. As I was getting ready to start my college life, with my scholarships in hand, I had an overwhelming feeling that it wasn’t the right path for me anymore. Read more>>

Jen Cope

My story regarding my road to becoming a therapist involved a lot of tears, self-doubt, and simultaneously feeling more empowered than I had up to that point in my life. I personally have been diagnosed with OCD, as well as depression and anxiety, which came on when I was about 11 years old. I grew up in a strict religious household, so when my symptoms started to become more intrusive in my day-to-day life, I attempted to increase in faith in God, hoping that He would relieve what I was experiencing. It wasn’t until I was 19 or 20 years old that I finally started seeing a therapist and taking medication to help manage what I was feeling. It was during this period in my life that my interest in being a therapist a career started to take more shape. Read more>>

Antonio Sousa

We are a small company that produces apparel for people and organizations in the Bear Lake area. We have a shop located on North Beach road in St. Charles, Idaho. We love to enrich vacationers’ experience by producing customizable clothing and gift items on the spot. We started by helping different local organizations produce clothing, and we are even assisting a couple of brands in producing their stock. We offer a variety of garments, gifts, and ways to customize. We can even bring ideas to life by creating designs upon request. Read more>>

Sorsire Arguinzzones

A few years ago I felt my life needed a change, I started reading about personal growth, and I found it with it….. I knew this kind of change could be possible if I started to do it differently…. how different? doing it !! I stopped looking outside for what I could only find inside myself, recognizing myself, valuing myself, respecting myself, and identifying my potential. I studied different areas of coaching, such as female leadership coaching, ontological coaching, neuro-linguistic programming, family coaching, and couple coaching. Read more>>

Aaron Jensen

The shorter version is this. Near the end of 2013, I was weighing nearly 300 lbs, having various health issues that were affecting my day-to-day life. On a routine checkup is was diagnosed with high blood pressure and given a prescription to help with this. Walking out of the doctor’s office I made the decision at that point that I was going to be healthy and lose the excessive weight. I was only 36 and was too young to be put on medication. I started eating better foods and also portion control to prevent overeating. Read more>>

Carrington Haley

Art class was my favorite time of day growing up. I think it was an escape from some harsh realities and honestly, I was just a creative little kiddo. Let’s just say I got a lot of oohs and ahhhs at my art projects from a really young age. Throughout school, I always made sure to include an art class in my schedule, but when it came time to pick a major in college I didn’t think I could make it in the world as an artist. So I started as a general study and then a kinesiology major. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I took the leap, (with a great amount of encouragement from my family), to a major I knew nothing about graphic design. Read more>>

Emilia Buza

I have always dreamed of starting my own business. There are probably a dozen of them that I have started and failed. In spite of this, I have never felt so strongly connected to what I am doing at the moment. It may have something to do with the fact that I became a mother haha. Being with your family all the time, seeing your child grow, and fulfilling your dream is a blessings. That is something I should thank my husband for. Throughout my beginnings, he has been extremely supportive. I came up with the idea of creating cute baby boxes after attending a baby shower. I realized there wasn’t much you could give as a gift when I was looking for a present. Read more>>

Maxwell Christen

Absolutely! Born and raised in Salt Lake City and now I live downtown with my husband and two dogs! I also own my own business called Big Mouth Marketing which is a small digital marketing agency supporting restaurants & bars in Utah! I love what I do and I enjoy bragging about all of my clients haha. When I’m not working or with family, I’m trying a new restaurant, going out with friends, or playing in the Stonewall Sports kickball/dodgeball/bowling or whatever sport they’re doing events haha. Read more>>

Sara B. Larson

I’ve always been a storyteller. My grandma told me I was telling stories as soon as I could talk. I started writing them down the minute I learned how. I have a Little Mermaid notebook from second and third grade full of “books”–many of which were quite precocious for someone that young. Such as the one I wrote while my mom was pregnant, about a woman who gave birth prematurely and eventually baby died. (Apparently, I was also willing to kill off favorite characters from a young age, as well.) Read more>>

Cassandra Taylor

I started making little movies in the fifth grade. I saved up for my first camcorder that year and made silly things like music videos and films with my friends. I continued pursuing photography, art & film throughout high school, and I found a real love for camera work in college. In 2011 I created Cassette Productions where I have made quite a few different projects and connections throughout my community. Being in this industry it’s helpful to wear many hats. I’ve been able to work in the costume department, editing, and sound mixing while still doing photography on the side. Read more>>

Kimberly Christenson

In 2nd grade, my teacher, Miss Lewis, told me I was a gifted writer. Even after I moved out of her class and on to 3rd grade, she gave me a notebook and pen and encouraged me to keep writing, to bring my stories back to her. She read them and made encouraging notes on them. She instilled in me a confidence that has never left me, and it paved the way for a fulfilling career in writing. It began with writing for school newspapers, entering short story contests, and pursuing print and broadcast journalism in college. Read more>>

Stacie Ward

I was born and raised in Minnesota and for as long as I can remember, I was always bringing home stray animals that needed a place to rehabilitate or call home. When I turned 19, I bought my first house so I could help even more. Eventually, I made the move out to Utah where my passion continued. Not too long after I moved, I met my husband who is very supportive, he encouraged me to go to school for veterinary medicine. As I was finishing my degree we would foster a few animals here and there and then as time went on, it started to increase. Read more>>

Han Yang

I started off working on the tourism board back in 2015 as a tour guide. In my senior year of college, I got the opportunity to work as a manager in their newly developed helicopter branch. I had to make a commercial for them that kickstarted my travel videographer career. Being Bilingual helped bridge the gap between the Chinese & English market. When Covid happened all travel stopped and I thought I would go back to my original planned career of game design. However, a new market was trending within covid which was online courses and they needed videographers to film/edit their course. Read more>>

Mohammad khan

I started traveling in 2015.. mostly traveling inside USA or Canada. In 2018 I have traveled solo to Switzerland and Italy.. since then I have visited about 34 countries. Traveling and getting to know about different cultures is something that I have always wanted to do since I was a kid. I have always wanted to see what’s on the other side of the wall.. how those people talk eat dress or look alike. My goal is to visit every country in the world. Traveling solo is kind of really hard and my family always opposed that… it’s been hard to find friends to go with me on trips because traveling is not easy and no one has time to travel in this day and age. Read more>>

Nico Miller

Well, creativity has always been in and around my life ever since I was a little kid. My grandfather gifted me my first 35mm camera when I was 8 or 9, and I did arts and crafts in schools like drawing and building. The technical theatre was an art form I thought would be my life from middle school through college, and I drove into culinary chef work for almost 2 decades. I still might open a restaurant one day, who knows? Fire dancing, and the healing arts through massage therapy saved my life. So, basically, anything my hands can get ahold of, I have enjoyed creating and doing. Read more>>

Meaghan House

I started my bakery when I was on maternity leave with my first daughter. I had been working and traveling full time up until that point, and was looking for something to fill that void. So I dove head first into YouTube videos and taught myself how to decorate cookies. I went back to my corporate job after maternity leave, but decided to take my bakery full time about a year after that. I now travel all around the US teaching Cookie Decorating for Beginners, and Cocoa bombs for Beginners. I teach with companies like Pinners and Pinterest, and have found my niche In bulk production and often do very large orders for several Utah companies (Hydrojug, Lendio, University of Utah, Weber state, etc). Read more>>

Zion Kolibas

From day one, I’ve always been unsettled with the idea of sitting behind a desk wishing the world was different. I want to be one that goes out there and CHANGES the world, the one to MAKE a difference, versus just wishing for that change. Since childhood, I have always had a deep love and connection to both Mother Earth, and the arts that live throughout! One genre of art that I have connected with is the art of fashion, and this bond introduced me to the industry of modeling, which soon turned into a fiery passion that would stick forever. Read more>>

Destinee and Jake Rugar

Five years ago, we were lucky to be offered a piece of land to rent, in this beautiful town that we love. This land was a blank slate and we were allowed to do with it what we please. Both of us have always had an interest in growing food, and after our first winter, we realized how hard it was to keep ourselves well fed out in Boulder where the nearest grocery store is 45 minutes away, so we decided to grow a large garden. From there, we started building our farm and we slowly expanded over the last five years. Over the years, we have taught ourselves most of what we know through trial and error and have had many successes and lots of failures as well. Read more>>

Kika Vila Nova

This is hard for me to summarize, as my story has taken many, many turns. I was born in Recife, a big city in Northeast Brazil. My dad was a soccer coach and, due to his travels taking on teams all over the country and sometimes internationally, the entire family lived in Portugal from the time I was 11 until 16 when we all returned to Brazil. Since I was little I wanted to be an actress – I always found it fascinating to become someone else and portray that on stage. I think it helped me learn about empathy. Read more>>

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