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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.

Lakeidra Smith

I was born and raised in a small Mississippi town in a household that was anything but ordinary. With four generations living under the same roof, I quickly learned to thrive in chaos and communicate effectively with people of all ages. For as long as I can remember, I have loved technology. Computers, cellphones, the internet, it all fascinated me. Even though I was only four, I still vividly remember the first time I used a computer. My sister sat me on her lap in front of her desktop computer and let me guide the mouse as we browsed the web. I savored every moment. In a world yet to be flooded with Wi-Fi and smartphones, I was astounded by what this remarkable contraption – this marvel – in front of me was capable of. Read more>>

Vernon Adams

Coming from a small town in Mississippi trying to be a blooming flower in a “weed” minded environment, I have always had the drive to become a better me every day. Being blessed with creativity and drive I always try to encourage those around me. In turn, people like my protégé turned teacher, Lopaz Richardson, that positive push was reciprocated. I landed in Memphis in 2007, bringing with me my photography skills to network and gain an even better creative aspect through influences like fashion and Art models Tianna Gilliam and CanSandra Joyner. Read more>>

Jasmine McCaskill

I was born in Oxford, Mississippi, and raised in Southaven, Mississippi. I like to say that I am Mississippi raised but Memphis made! My fondest childhood memories include the many adventures on my maiden family’s land in the Springfield community of Petal, Mississippi but also the countless trips to the Memphis Zoo, Memphis Children’s Museum, Grizzlies Games, and National Civil Rights Museum. Read more>>

Jerry Herrien

I think there are multiple things that have attributed to my start and where I’m at today. I can humbly say that it was God that has brought me to this point. I’ve always felt like I was very intelligent, but I could never get the job that I wanted. “I have a great work ethic, I’m intelligent, creative, I deserve a great job,” I would think to myself. Submitting hundreds of job applications still didn’t deliver me luck in my search. One day, the thought struck me that maybe that is so because I have another route. That route was ownership. Read more>>

B-Tonix

I am Bryan E. Bernard, Jr. A.K.A. B-Tonix. I’m from Memphis, Tennessee. I was raised by a mom and with the help of my grandparents, I’m an upcoming actor, singer/rapper/film director, and producer also known as a writer (songs and movies) I’m 21 years old. I have two little sisters who graduated from Cordova High School. I always felt God gave me a second chance in life. Read more>>

Alex Victtoria Howland

About seven years ago, I landed my dream job as an event coordinator at a publishing group in Little Rock, Arkansas. I knew from that moment on that I would be planning events in some capacity for the foreseeable future. I loved every moment of that job. I started out as a coordinator, the lowest rung on the ladder. And quickly rose to management. I was dedicated and strategic and developed some amazing negotiating tactics from my male mentors. Read more>>

Allen McClain

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Allen McClain 33-year-old Memphis native, born and raised. I am Christian, a minister, Husband to my gorgeous wife, Janee McClain, Father to my two little boys Micah & Asher, and mentor/basketball skills, trainer. I have always been into sports, but basketball was my focus coming up. So I guess you can say this is where my origin story begins. Read more>>

Terriana Hicks

My vision for my business first started when I lost my little brothers; one from a car accident and the other from gun violence. The “F” stands for Faizon he was my twin, my best friend. Even though I’m the oldest he always thought he was the oldest. My baby brother Malik is the “M”, He literally stepped up when our brother died. He was the baby but handled things as if he was the oldest. When they passed they left plenty of nieces and nephews for my family to remind us of them for the rest of our life. One day, I knew I wanted to do something to keep their name alive. I started looking at Tiktok videos and I decided I wanted to be a Luxurious picnic planner. Read more>>

Lydia Jefferson

While obtaining business management skills at an early age, it was no surprise life would lead me to become a business owner one day. I developed a passion for event planning while taking on the role & responsibilities of events coordinator for several events hosted at school and church. The ability to help others bring their vision to life- whether it was coordinating, decorating, hosting, planning, or just listening to ideas- made a huge difference professionally. Read more>>

Natori Arrindell

Natori Arrindell, better known as MissLegalLuxe®, is the founder of LegalLuxe Law Group and MissLegalLuxe® & Co. Natori graduated from law school in Boston, Massachusetts, but returned to her home state of Tennessee in order to bring her expertise and experience back to her Memphis roots. Natori’s experience as an attorney includes a background in contract drafting and negotiation for Fortune 100 Companies, local and federal litigation, and providing business/brand management for emerging businesses. Natori and her team pride themselves on providing executive-level legal counsel for innovative businesses. Read more>>

Jevon “Jerzey” Goldson

ZAP Xclusive was established in 2022 by the CEO & Founder Jevon “Jerzey” Goldson as a movement aimed at providing a platform for creators, influencers, and artists in Popular Culture. ​ NYC-based, Jevon “Jerzey” Goldson is an award-nominated creative director & choreographer, Guinness World Record holder, and founder of Lotus Creations Academy. In 2018 he won MTV Live propelling him to instant notoriety as a national dancer & choreographer. His credits include MTV, VH1, HBO, Ciara, Lisa Lisa, Cassie and so much more. Today, Jerzey is focused on firing up the culture with ZAP Xclusive leading the way. Read more>>

Dwayne Jones

Dwayne A. Jones has been a general contractor who partners with his brothers Maurice Jones, Sr., Deushawn Jones, Sr., and cousin Shea Lee. Dwayne A. Jones Construction Company LLC is homebuilder with an emphasis on affordable housing. Dwayne has been a community gardener and cycling enthusiast for many years. Read more>>

Amber Dean

My journey started with the birth of my now three-year-old daughter Chrissy. She is the inspiration and CEO of Pretty Chrissy. A children’s clothing boutique that provides fashion for tailored tots at a great price. Read more>>

Donna

After discontinuing my career as a rapper, I decided to take a different route. I wanted to tap into makeup so I discovered Gould’s Academy for Esthetics. I had no idea what exactly I was getting into, but I knew I was lost and needed to find something I was passionate about and could make money! Once I got into Esthetics school, I fell in love! I learned so much more than makeup but how to treat the acne-prone skin that I dealt with pretty much all of my life! Once I graduated, I hit the ground running! Read more>>

Struggle Life Clothing

truggle Life Clothing started in 2012, in Newburgh N.Y., Our Mission is to educate people about TRUE STRUGGLES, through art with clothing. It doesn’t matter your ethnicity, religion, or how much money you have, we all have a STRUGGLE that we overcame. Fashion, Music, & Art, kind of go hand & in hand, from 2014 to 2020 (before COVID) we gave the Hudson Valley, NY, some of the most memorable parties, concerts, & dope events. We’ve had some of the most amazing artists over the last 8 years wear our brand, like Fetty Wap, Danny Green (Phili. 76ers), DMX, Pardison Fontaine plus many more. Read more>>

Taylor Huff

I owned my own cosmetology business for 6 years. I developed a carpal tunnel in both hands and had to have surgery. Which made me lose the business that I had built for so long. While in recovery, I started painting again. One idea led to the next and here I am doing this full time. Selling my art and having so much fun. Sometimes good things come from scary or uncertain situations. Read more>>

Michael Allen

I’ve always loved photography, I picked up a camera as a kid and read as much as I could find about photography. Back in my early days, the only format available was filmed. My first camera was a Brownie, then I got a Polaroid camera, and then a 35 mm Pentax camera. The film was an expensive process, I had to buy film, then pay for processing. In those days, a roll of 36 images was considered a lot of images. Photographers would think carefully about each photo we would shoot, to conserve the cost of shooting. Over the years, I used photography to promote my business. Read more>>

Chasity Snow

I started writing about 5 years ago. I was starting to feel that turning 30 itch, you know where you sort of feel like you’ve never touched your passion. I’d always worked hard and had different jobs but nothing felt like yes this is it, this is the thing that you will do for life and love. So I started praying hard for guidance or a sign if you will of what my passion was. I’d always been an avid reader and the author Nako opened up her blog The Passport for submissions. I had a story to tell about how life, divorce, a new marriage, and raising kids had changed me or grew me up. I enjoyed the blogging and just sharing my thoughts. Read more>>

Amber White

My brand is focused on makeup and everything cosmetics. I’ve loved makeup ever since I was a child. Each Christmas, my list would consist of a makeup kit, and I would just play in it until it was no good. I also played in my Nana’s makeup all the time. Her selections were very much so vintage lol, but of course, I still made it work. I really started pursuing makeup fully during my freshman year in college. I would just sit in my dorm and practice my makeup on myself for hours. Read more>>

Kelly Seagraves

Pastelware was born in early 2019. It started off slow, just as a little passion project to get myself back in the swing of making things & experimenting with new mediums. I’d always wanted to work with epoxy resin, so in Pastelware’s early days, that was my medium of choice. I was living in New Orleans at the time & didn’t have many connections, so I really threw myself into it & gave it my all. Read more>>

Lisa Monger

My fitness journey started after I had two kids. At that time, I was working in banking and finance, as a wife and mother. I hit 199 pounds and knew I had to make a shift in my habits so that I could continue to be my best self in my career and at home. My husband and I started running together. That is one of the great gems about Memphis, it has such a strong running community. While running together, we began to sign up for various 5Ks around the city. Read more>>

Tia Prewitt

My journey to Bountiful Harvest began at the age of 16 with my first job in the hospitality industry. Since then, every single employment opportunity I’ve had – 20+ years worth – has always been during the startup or restructuring of an organization, big or small. This culminated with me finding my purpose in the classroom, teaching necessary skills in mathematics, and sliding in some of the other life lessons I was blessed to pick up along the way. I was able to achieve level 5 status with my students but life was calling me to do more and share outside the four walls of my classroom. Read more>>

Heather Ries

Hi. My name is Heather Ries. I am the owner of Mrs. Hippie Eats in Hernando Mississippi. I was the owner-operator of a ladybug bakery in Hernando for 10 years. We have been voted the best bakery in De Soto County for a decade. Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances (Covid), we closed in March 2020. I opened a grab-and-go style business in April 2021. It has been very successful. It’s a great concept and I believe has been good timing for the way the country has shifted in the past two years. Soups, salads, pasta, casseroles, meal prep items. etc. Made from scratch daily. Read more>>

Koedy Harper

I moved to Memphis nearly six years ago, in 2017. Like many have done, I’ve chosen to make Memphis home because that’s what it feels like. I grew up in rural South Mississippi with faith and family being the center of my community. I learned to love my community through service and through meaningful work. Those same values are what led me to Memphis as an educator and still drive me today as someone still working in education. Read more>>

Enid Blanton

Ancestry Cigars, Inc. was founded in Chicago, IL August 2020 by Enid B. Blanton an African American Woman who is also a veteran of the United States Air Force. Ancestry Cigars currently has three cigars in its lineup Connecticut, Habano, and Maduro. This line can be found in numerous outlets throughout the United States as well as online and in different cigar mail order boxes. Read more>>

Alonda Sims

I developed a passion for photography over ten plus years ago. I made the decision to become a full-time photographer. It was in 2016 that my Bishop at the time appointed me as Chief Photographer of March of Faith International Fellowship, INC. After becoming chief photographer, I knew then I wanted to do this professionally. I started by shooting with various couples and even shooting birthdays. I would shoot various church events for MOF (March of Faith). Read more>>

Alyssa Raymond

Through times of self-isolation, I struggled to find things that kept me entertained. Also through quarantine, my sister and I got more into fashion, taking and posting outfit photos on Instagram. So with the combination of my boredom, creativity, and love for fashion, I started brialityyy! I wanted to sell things unlike everyone else, so it was important for me to make trending and unique designs while also giving people the freedom to create their own. I’ve absolutely loved every second of the journey, the stress, the late nights, and the slow months, all of it shaped me into the businesswoman I am today. Read more>>

Richard Wilson

I grew up in the UK near London – and my earliest memories as a little kid in the 1960s were singing along to all the great songs on the radio at that time – including The Beatles, Peter Paul, and Mary, Donovan and Simon and Garfunkel. In fact at that time – I wanted to be a Beatle! I got my first guitar when I was nine years old and learned old folk songs – as those were the only tuition books at the time. I always loved writing my own tunes – and just vamping off a few chords I had learned and come up with my own melodies. Read more>>

Chasity Jenkins

Hello! My name is Chasity, Owner/CEO of the brand “Black Gal Luxe Bar”. My mom has done hair since I could remember, along with some of my family members. Given that, I’ve been around beauticians my whole life, that ignited a natural gift in me because I was always there working on the side. I decided to officially start taking clients after my son (my biggest blessing) was born. I had recently graduated with my Associate in Business and I couldn’t find employment that works with the schedule of my son and me. Read more>>

Monica Sánchez

I was born and raised in Mexico. I moved to Memphis almost 26 years ago, like many people looking for a better work opportunity. I have always loved acting. I studied theater in Mexico for three years and now I’m a part of the first bilingual theater group called Cazateatro in Memphis, TN. The theater has always been my passion. When my youngest daughter was one, I decide to be a clown for her birthday party. I didn’t think anything about it at that moment in a professional way. Read more>>

Dominic Lawson

In 2012, my wife, Kenda Lawson (Founder and CEO), who was a teacher at the time, had the idea to start a company. She calls and tells me at work ( at this time I am working as a personal banker) the idea and I told her, “If you believe in it then I’m in”. So in 2013, we both quit our jobs and started OWLS, LLC, an education consulting firm that focused on training and writing curricula for school districts and corporations. Kenda handled the consulting days and I would handle invoices. Read more>>

Melody Thompson

I do not have the traditional “I grew up loving photography” story. I knew that I enjoyed it, and I constantly wished to “freeze” moments the way I saw them so I would never forget them. I dabbled a bit with my dad’s camera but I didn’t take much interest until I started doing modeling shoots for local venues. I began to want to have more control of the overall process and the final look until I asked enough questions to get a start. I enjoyed being in front of the camera but I started to enjoy taking the photos and having a say in the creative design more. Read more>>

Special Ashford-Reed

Hair has always been something I’ve enjoyed doing since I was about 12. My friends would come over to my house and pay me to do their hair in my mom’s kitchen. Eventually, it turned into a weekend thing. In college, it helped me keep extra money in my pockets and not go hungry… lol. I wasn’t really sure that it was something that I wanted to do full time, so for many many many years, I kept it as something I just did on the weekend and here and there for family/friends. After teaching middle school during the day and trying to construct units at night, it was becoming extremely exhausting. Read more>>

MissBypola Memphis

Well, married to the music is everything for yours truly Miss Bypola Memphis Standout Married to the music world old school music independent artist. Four years now, putting Memphis on the map. Being in a 20-year relationship music is what heals me from thinking about the long-term verbally abusive guy. I gave my all to the past is the past Time to Do Me Self-Love look at how to build my future. Read more>>

Dj Kvng

I am a 26-year-old native of Memphis, TN. Music has always been a big part of my life since a baby. My mom could and still can sing like no other. Since I was a kid, she always would sing to me and she would always play music in the mornings (mainly the tome Joyner morning show before school). My father was also always listening to something different, anything from Etta James to Linkin Park could be heard when I was around him. Read more>>

Ranequa Bean

350 Baked started at the beginning of a pandemic, scheduled to launch with a Sip and Taste before our big day at the Memphis Farmers Market. That memory is still so vivid and it truly amazes me how supportive our community is of one another, especially in a season of turmoil. 350 Baked pivoted and started off as a home-based business selling slices of cakes, cookies, and brownies, then became a vendor at the Downtown Memphis Farmers in April 2020. We were under strict covid restrictions and once again our community showed out creating our infamous theme of “Sold-out-Saturdays”. Read more>>

Evelyn Reed Burnette

I was born and raised in Memphis. Both of my parents encouraged my interest in art. Growing up, I remember being in awe of my mom’s artistic talent. I would watch her draw and beg her to teach me. She taught me to do realistic art. I ended up following in my mom’s footsteps by attending the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where I received my BFA in painting and my degree in art education. Currently, I am an art teacher and I am creating art in every spare moment I have available. I started painting for myself again when the school shut down in March 2020. Read more>>

Arriell Q. Gipson

I was born and spent the early part of my childhood in Westwood, the eldest of four (well now 5, you’ll have to ask my dad about that story, but I promise our newest addition is God-sent and I can’t imagine life without her). My parents got divorced and my siblings moved with my mother from Hickory Hill to Cordova. Read more>>

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