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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.

Kelsey Mahlandt

I’ve always been fascinated with photography. I love the design involved in the posing, the beautiful landscapes behind the subjects, and the artistic creativity that goes into the post-processing work. But it all seemed so complex, so I was always hesitant to take on the investment of a hobby in photography. That all changed after the birth of my sweet baby girl which sparked my absolute obsession with photography. I needed to capture every moment of her life, so I could relive each joyous day. From our walks to the park, outings to the pumpkin patch, and just playing around with a water bottle; I wanted to document it all. Those little moments pass by in such a blur, so I finally invested in a professional camera that I just love! I was able to take high-quality, professional photos that looked beautiful and perfect blown up on my wall! Read more>>

Danielle Reno

We started Say It to be able to make shirts for our other business, Unleashed Pet Rescue because we have our own retail there, and it took off really well in our area because a lot of our connections were in need of well-made shirts with fast production for a good price. It is also a huge benefit to those business because a portion of our proceeds are donated back to Unleashed. Read more>>

Elliot & Leah Lahn

Like a lot of woodworkers, our story started in a garage building furniture for our own family! Elliot built his first piece for his oldest daughter’s nursery about ten years ago and never looked back! In fact, that first dresser just went to live with a new family this year so it is pretty cool to think that, ten years later, there is still plenty of life and value in it! Woodworking stayed a hobby for Elliot for years while he worked his day job on the executive team of a local non-profit. During those years, demand for products started to outpace his ability to keep up and he and Leah started to discuss what the future might look like if they took the risk and dove headfirst into this full time. That conversation became a little more urgent when they welcomed their youngest daughter, Blaire, into the world in November 2017. Read more>>

Kenneth McIntosh

I grew up in a small town in northwest Missouri with my parents and two younger brothers. There wasn’t much to do in a place where everyone knew everybody and their grandmother. Once I got tired of cow tipping and driving the same streets over and over, the only thing left to do was write. It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed. I wrote and presented a children’s book with my best friend in school, I wrote fantasy, horror, and anything else my mind could work into a piece of art. I moved to California to get a taste of life in my early 20’s, had my two handsome boys, and after trials and tribulations ended up back in Missouri. I went through a challenging divorce, dealt with anxiety, and my hardships gave me the push I needed to pursue my goals as a writer. I now own a home I share with my wife and kids in the Kansas City area where I write daily, ever working toward those goals. Read more>>

Krista Snyder

Oh man, there are so many different experiences in my life that have led me to where I am today! Growing up, I was an active kid. From second grade until the end of high school, I stayed busy with competitive cheerleading. I was at my cheer gym practicing five times a week and then spent many weekends traveling for competitions or camps. At the time, I never really considered my sport to be “exercise” and I spent no time outside of cheer doing any sort of exercising. Once I went to college, I realized that there was a life outside of competitive cheerleading (crazy, right?!). I spent my four years at the University of Kansas studying for my education major and being very social… possibly a little too social. In the moment, I never realized just how much my exercise took a back burner. I didn’t know how to properly eat or keep active. My senior year of college, I started to take more notice in the things that I ate and also started going to Crossfit to stay moving. Read more>>

Buffalo Roam Therapy Group (Valerie Guile, Aubree Ridley, and Katherine Brethower)

Dreaming of opening our own mental health private practice, we decided there was no better time to make our dreams a reality than when the world was already upside down during a worldwide pandemic. Having worked together as therapists at a non-profit agency in Johnson County, Kansas, we (Katherine Brethower, Valerie Guile, and Aubree Ridley) knew our commitment to ethical and high-quality client care aligned and we wanted to continue to serve our community together. As COVID-19 continued to worsen, we could clearly see the overwhelming need for mental health support. We began to pour our hearts into creating Buffalo Roam Therapy Group, our dream come true with a name inspired by the story of resiliency and bravery of the American buffalo. Read more>>

Tristan Gunn

Well growing up in Kansas City’s east side neighborhoods we had little no opportunities to succeed. Just a lot of liquor stores surrounding our favorite parks. And in between, there were a few small business owners who I admired and took a lot of advice from. So I always wanted to create and own something, just figuring out what was the obstacle. I always knew music and fashion is my true passion, maybe it’s from how I was raised and my culture. It’s just something that’s in me. One day in college, I believe it was “Into to sports management” a guest speaker told us that our degrees alone didn’t matter and that we should focus on self-branding. “Turn yourself into a brand!” So from that, I hit the drawing board and many ideas, drafts, drawing, and names were created. I wanted to combine my love for music with a fashion brand. I eventually found one that stuck, Trap Stan and Missouri Loves Company Clothing LLC. Read more>>

Erin Drennon

I have always been interested in taking care of myself and leading a healthy lifestyle the best way I could. My husband and I are entrepreneurs and we came across HOTWORX one evening. After some research and learning about all the benefits of working out in an infrared sauna, we were hooked! Shortly after visiting New Orleans where their world headquarters are located, we decided to be the first HOTWORX location to open in Johnson County. We decided Western Shawnee was the perfect location because of all the growth that was happening and it fit our client base the best. Read more>>

Brooke Happe

The journey of b.e.happe is one that started from a personal challenge. I was stepping away from my career as a Doctor of Physical Therapy to stay home with my two boys and soon to be newborn daughter in 2015. I wanted keep my hands strong as I used manual therapy for most of my rehabilitation techniques and challenged myself to learn something new for this new season of life. After countless yards of yarn and many hours of teaching myself to crochet via the internet, I made a hat! I continued to practice the art of crochet, donating hats to Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa where we lived at that time. As I transitioned from a medical profession to stay at home mom, I was searching for a hat that I could wear when running errands, dropping off at school and to simply feel put together as a mom of three kiddos under four years. I decided to design my own hat after not being able to find what I wanted and crocheted what is now the b.e.happe Simple Slouch. Read more>>

Daphne Gafford

I’ve been passionate about skin since my early 20’s when I was at a world-renown spa in Vegas. I was always interested in skincare since my teens. It ignited me to go to JCCC school of cosmetology and receive my esthetics degree at 24. I’ve been practicing esthetics for 16 years now and went solo six years ago. It has been a learning experience in a positive way with growing a business and all the different irons in the fire. I’ve continued to learn in the field and help people improve their skin for the better. I offer face and body waxing, facial, derma planning and chemical peel services along with lash tinting and lifting. I currently have two locations, Shawnee, KS and Overland Park, KS. I have recently added a website assistant and social media assistant to my business to keep up the demand. My motto is to help men and women achieve amazing skin through an individualized approach and treatment plan with in-office treatments and at-home products. Read more>>

Tara VanderValk

For me, leaving high school was a little intimidating, as I didn’t have a passionate calling for a particular career path. I eventually settled on Hospitality Management and was off to KSU to pursue my ‘dream’ of owning a restaurant. Later, I would study Culinary Arts at JCCC and eventually landed in Nashville to begin my career in the world of restaurant management. Any brave soul that has endeavored down that path can relate to the exhausting toll the industry takes on you. Before long, I was back in KC trying to sort my future out. I remained in the hospitality world for a number of years, where I would meet my best friend. We eventually became roommates and she introduced me to the world of skincare. I would come home depleted from the restaurant, pour a glass of wine, and chat with her about the things she was learning in Aesthetics School. My interest was piqued and I had nothing to lose. Off to school, I went again. Read more>>

Marisa MacKay

Local professional dancer/actress. Produced a burlesque show in KC Fringe 2007 and built the company into an entertainment business, employing local and national performance artists while exposing Kansas City to the art of sexy. Read more>>

Tommy Thomas

I’ve always been a t-shirt junkie but I got bored with the traditional licensed sports apparel and I think there are a lot of people like me in that regard. With that in mind, I began to dabble in design. It wasn’t long after that I developed my first few KC sports-themed tees in the fall/winter 0f 2014. I was strictly doing it for a creative outlet. I wanted to wear the shirts. But it wasn’t that much more work to print a few extra and make a website in case a few others wanted in on the fun. Soon after the local KC market blew up and a high demand for locally made apparel was born. Perfect timing. I began to market my ideas to local shops and before long, I had actual wholesale orders. Honestly, how was that even possible? I had no idea what I was doing but I knew the designs were good so I kept at it. Over time Instagram grew, new ideas were developed, processes were ironed out, relationships with buyers were cultivated and WonderBoy became what it is today. Read more>>

Brenda Watts

At the age of 24 & a single mom of a toddler and a baby on the way, I felt college was not a viable option at that time and I needed a shorter road to a career. I enrolled in cosmetology school immediately after my second daughter was born. She was three months old and my oldest three years old when I began school 40 hours a week with a 45 min commute each way. We lived in government housing & received government support so I could manage going to school full time while not having an income, but I finally graduated and was able to begin working. I’ve had a lot of twists and turns throughout my career and a lot of years of strict budgeting & financial strain, but I was determined to make a breakthrough. I am the first in my immediate family lineage to graduate high school, the first to go to college, the first to have a tertiary education, and the first business owner. Now I own the successful business of Vixen Salon and I couldn’t be more proud of the brand & space I’ve created. Read more>>

Lisa Forbes

Years ago, when I was planning my own wedding, I had the misfortune of working with a venue manager who had no idea what he was doing. I knew that I could do a better job than he did and thus started my journey of venue management and event planning. I worked at various venues in the Overland Park area, but as my family grew, so did my desire to have more flexibility. I began working for Simple Elegance and knew almost immediately that my true calling is in wedding planning. After many wonderful years with Simple Elegance, I once again had the desire for more flexibility, especially during the devastating blow to the wedding industry that was Covid-19. After a trip to Colorado and several long conversations with my closest friends and family, I decided to create my own brand and company and that’s how White Aspen Weddings got started. Read more>>

Jenna Potts

It all started back in Florida, where I was born and raised. I was in my early 20s and had just graduated from community college as a paraeducator. I wanted to become a teacher. Over summer, my aunt extended a job offer to me at a local bridal shop. I ended up falling in love with the wedding industry! I stayed at that store for six years and gained many great friendships with my coworkers and with my brides. One day, one of my associates and I were comparing photos on our phones and she said I would make a great photographer. I already had a burning desire to own my own business within the wedding industry, and her observation ignited a new flame within me: to combine my two passions and become a wedding photographer! For the first couple of years, I did free shoots while I self-educated on how to be a pro. I gradually started charging for my work as I became more skilled. Read more>>

Madeleine Nicklaus and Emma Sullivan

Our story begins three days before the start of our freshman year of college at the University of Kansas. Emma is from a town in Wisconsin and Madeleine is from Wichita, KS; we had never heard of one another before. It was the last day of sorority recruitment when we met at a mandatory meeting of all incoming freshmen at Allen Fieldhouse. We sat in the same section with the rest of the people who were in the School of Journalism. After a few moments of meeting, we discovered that we were both going into the same major and minor, that we lived in the same dorm building, had the same two chapters left for the last day of sorority recruitment, and we’re both planning on graduating within three years instead of four. Crazy right? We ended up in different sororities and did not have each other’s contact information. Read more>>

Kenya Hollins

I began art when I was about eight, as far as I remember. My parents owned a daycare and I used to write and literally illustrate my own books and they would read and show it to the kids and the kids would love the pictures. I would say that was my first time sharing my art and loving the interaction and the way people responded to it, even though we were all just kids. I then began to illustrate fashion designs and create characters. That lead me to attend art school eventually, and from there I expanded to canvas art. Fell in love with acrylic and oil paint immediately and explored what else I could do with paint. I now have a passion for hand painting custom sneakers. It works out great because I can combine my love for sneakers/fashion and my passion for painting and creating. Read more>>

Jared Taylor

Growing up, I was into making home movies with my family and friends. Even in High School, I took a broadcasting class and made videos for my church. About ten years later, I found myself with years of experience with videography and editing and even helping with movies and short films from other local filmmakers. This definitely grew my love for this art and in December 2018, I moved to West Africa for one year as an international teacher of Cinematography and covered some stories for missionaries. When my family and I returned back to the United States, I knew I had to stick with Film in order to turn my passion into a career. So I made a few more connections in the local film community, listened to Gary Vee’s podcasts, and decided to start JT VSUALS. Read more>>

Denise Wood

The Dream ….for this retreat happened in two phases. First, on our honeymoon in Colorado in 1988, Stan talked about wanting to own a retreat place for people to rest, renew and return to their daily lives better people. Phase 2, in Shawnee, Kansas, our backyard had a 3-story treehouse built by Stan for our children. It had all the bells and whistles kids and their friends wanted! Graham, our youngest son, was passionate about the treehouse! He added a “boy’s bathroom” on the 3rd story and signage keeping girls out! Our kids, Briana, Reagan and Graham, all enjoyed the treehouse with their friends. When we suddenly moved into an early “retirement” in 2015, we began looking for an established retreat to purchase. A realtor friend, Dee Rolig, overheard me (Denise) talking of this search. When she was at her Chiropractor’s office, the receptionist said, “We have a patient who has a priest’s retreat house and wants to sell it to remain as a retreat. Do you happen to know of anyone interested?” In February 2016, we fell love with this land! The dream and plan began rolling!! Read more>>

Kim Hehir and Sue Delegan

Our story began on Thanksgiving Day 2016 when a family member asked to what we attribute my sister and co-founder Sue’s senior rescue dog Brutus’ longevity. The answer: “Love and Grandma’s Bone Broth.” As a pup that led a very active life, he had a number of health issues most aging dogs face. We found that adding Bone Broth to his diet not only provided him with a tastier meal but gave him added nutritional benefits. Not only that, he loved the taste and adding the broth to his dry food made it more easily digestible. The challenge was finding a way to share these benefits with other dogs. We spent thousands of hours researching the pet market, speaking to experts in the industry, testing and tweaking recipes, designing packaging prototypes, working with ingredient suppliers and manufacturers, amongst other things, to assemble the best possible team to help bring Brutus’ Bone Broth to the market. Read more>>

Irving Pereyra

Well, I’ve always been into art since I was a kid there’s just something about creating something from scratch that always fascinates me and art it’s a big part of that creative process so since I was a kid, I have been drawing designs or designing clothes I wanted to wear and my mom would always help me make them come to life But once I started to get older I started to learn how to design in the computer and started printing my own designs into shirts and people started showing interest in them that’s when my mom pushed me to start Imperial Mcmxci witch it’s an online store where I sell my T-shirt designs. Read more>>

Marcos Lutyens

The Rose River Memorial is a grassroots community art movement that honors and grieves the many lives lost during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. We aspire to create a felt rose as a symbol of grief for every life lost. This has been a time in which so many have been devastated by the loss of a close relative, compounded by the inability to say final goodbyes and to freely grieve for loved ones. Rose River Memorial helps with the grieving process by encouraging these families to create roses for their loved ones while at the same time inspiring the rest of the community to show their support by also contributing with hand-crafted roses. We chose the rose as a symbol of mourning as it is used in the context of funerals throughout the US. The red rose symbolizes courage and valor and is the national flower of the US. The roses are hand-crafted by the community out of red eco-felt. Read more>>

Kaiulani Prado

Ever since I was little, I absolutely adored every aspect of fashion, from playing dress-up to drawing outfits in stencil books, all the way to making outfits for my dolls and myself. I always knew I wanted to work in fashion, and one of my biggest inspirations was my aunt who was in fashion school and had the most amazing style. Eventually, I went to fashion school myself at Kent State University, which has the #3 best fashion design program in the country. After a semester at Kent, struggling with mental illness and a lot of reflecting, I decided that I would come back home and start pursuing my career without going to school. Since then, I’ve found an amazing community here in KC and built a following of nearly 80k people on TikTok, and I am in the process of building my own jewelry and clothing line. Read more>>

Jaden Anderson

Tricking is a blend of a few different disciplines of martial arts, gymnastics, breakdancing, and acrobatics. And it can be seen in many forms of pop culture media like movies and music videos. Dubsurd Tricking started in the early 2010s as a group of friends in the KC area who shared a passion for tricking. Our local community started growing in size as a result of us introducing our other friends to tricking, as well as teaching classes at a handful of gymnastics gyms around the city. The term “dubsurd” is a combination of the words; ‘dub’, which is term used in tricking to describe any trick with a double twist, and ‘absurd’, which was a good adjective to describe our group early on. Co-founder of Dubsurd Michael Guthrie coined this term sometime in 2012, and in 2014 we started an Instagram account (@dubsurd) to highlight some of the local athletes in our community. In the years since, we have become a well-known name in the world of tricking. Read more>>

Kirk Johnson

I grew up here in Stilwell, Kansas and was very active in team sports. I, unfortunately, had a pretty bad injury my junior year of high school and that is where my chiropractic journey began. I was treated by a local chiropractor and had amazing results! I pursued my athletic career and played football for Kansas State University. After K-State, I went to chiropractic college in Chesterfield, MO at Logan College of Chiropractic. I have always been into natural health, and this was a perfect fit. I came back home after graduating and started practice here in Overland Park in 2005. Over the years, my clinical knowledge has grown after treating thousands of patients from infants to professional athletes. I really focus on overall health for my patients, treating musculo-skeletal injuries but also helping patients with many different auto-immune, stress, hormone, and gut health-related problems. Read more>>

Courtney Wilson

I grew up knowing I wanted to find a career that let me be creative but also make me money. So in high school, I decided I wanted to become a nail technician and esthetician. My goal was to make people look and feel their best. My nails are my art and I take pride in them! I also found I have a love for skin and maintaining skin health. In esthetician school, I decided I also wanted to become a massage therapist. I am currently working in a salon with an amazing mentor. She has been so helpful and has made an amazing work environment! We are working on getting a room for me to grow and start offering facials and massage. I go to massage school in the evenings, I still have about ten months remaining in the program. I’m excited for this journey! Read more>>

Amber (Millie) Gates

From a very young age, I always knew I wanted to do great things and make a positive impact in not only my life but others as well. At the age of 12, I was involved with my first outreach event. This event not only gave me a more hands-on approach of what I wanted to do but it also put an urge to do more in me. When I was 19, I finally decided to create my own Non For Profit where I take money out of my own pocket and help anyone I see around the community that is in need. I supply those that are in need with food, clothes, toiletries and other donated materials. We all start somewhere and I plan on expanding my outreach on a broad scale. My main goal is to indeed impact those that are in need in anyway. Be it physically mentally or emotionally. I’ve experienced life on both scales and I would like to be that motivational force for those that feel like giving up or like they don’t have a voice. To totally switch gears. Read more>>

Blake Miller

Filmmaking was always something I wanted to do since I was a kid, but growing up in Kansas City, it felt like a pipe dream. We’re just starting to have a bit of an industry here, but back in the mid-2000s people really weren’t making films. So as a kid and then as a teenager, instead played competitive baseball, got into journalism for a bit, tried my hand at broadcasting, I photographed bands in high school – but making movies was always in the back of my head, an itch I couldn’t scratch. By the time I hit my junior year of high school, I decided to give it a shot and made my first (legit) short film. That film wasn’t anything special (and looking back now I see all those mistakes I made) but my life took a seismic shift during that time. Personally and professionally, I really came into my own and discovered who I was, and ever since then I knew this is what I wanted to do. Read more>>

Becci Binkley

Nine years ago on a Sunday morning, I was handed a 3 pound pig in a McDonalds parking lot that changed our world. After hiding him the bathroom for 3 hours (afraid of what my husband would say), he was finally introduced to the family. Not having any idea how to care for a pig, I immediately visited my vet first thing Monday morning, who, without my knowledge, was an expert in Pot Belly Pigs. She explained what I needed to do and stated if I followed her advise, the pig would be one of the best pets I would ever have. She was right. He is smart, affectionate and very funny. He has taught us compassion and patience while opening our eyes to the neglect of so many animals. I have always had a love of animals and rescued many. I love candles and spent over a year researching alternatives using natural ingredients. Once the right formula was found, I began making candles for friends and family. Read more>>

Maggie Boone

Spice Bandit was formed in the summer of 2019, right before the pandemic. We are a three-generation, women-owned company comprising of my Grandmother Nancy, my Mom Patty, my sister Emily and myself (Maggie). My mom, Patty, is a former restauranteur and grand champion BBQ competitor in and around KC. After she retired from the restaurant business, she was continuously asked by her former patrons to bottle her sauces and rubs, and after a considerable amount of debate and pondering, decided to launch Spice Bandit. Patty also desired the company to be woman-owned so she reached out to her mother as well as Maggie and Emily Boone, her daughters, and together the group worked to create a fun and unique BBQ brand for our sauces and rubs! With a modest investment, Spice Bandit began selling our award-winning sauces and BBQ rubs in area farmers markets in the summer of COVID, 2020, which proved to be a challenge but also brought with it much growth. Read more>>

Stephen Levine

The beauty of our seasons and weather events has touched my spirit since my very early childhood. As a toddler, my spirit went up and energetically joined the majestic castles of thunderheads, which my grandma later told me I called “funderclouds”. By age five, I was chanting to the wind and savoring sparkling dewdrops, the essence of snowstorms and amazing lightning displays interacting with dark skies. Around age six, I became my own “weather therapist”. It was a challenging childhood, and once when severely scolded for something I did or didn’t do, shame-filled my heart. Then it came to me to choose a weather condition which matched my feelings. What showed up was a bitter cold day with icy rain and sleet. Somehow, matching a weather event to my feelings completely validated how I felt, and the shame went away. Read more>>

Mary Klimes

My love language is giving gifts. But don’t get me wrong, I still love receiving gifts, too! I enjoy reading people in order to give them what brings them joy and make them smile. Right out of college, I had the idea to start a gift box business. My idea was to create boxes with curated, local goods from the Kansas City area. That worked tor a while, but the box orders became too specific to gather only local goods; I still like to include as many KC items as I can. However, this gave me more opportunity to cater to the customer. One thing I wanted to feature in each box was a small floral arrangement – something to set my boxes apart from the others. This floral aspect provided another outlet for me to express my creativity. So much so that I left my corporate job to become a florist before becoming a mother. Read more>>

Rushine Raymond

I’m from Jamaica. Originally but have lived in KCMO since 2007. I grew up seeing a lot of my mom’s paints being hanged around and it was just mind-blowing that she made them. I started trying to draw her paintings in the 2nd grade, as I became more familiar with art. Growing up in Jamaica, it was deemed that being an artist was not a way to be successful or a way to make money for a living, so I turned from it. I regained my passion for the arts after My work-study boss At park University told me that I have a really creative eye and that I should change my major from criminal justice to Graphic design. Thought Graphic design, I realized that I truly love The Fine Arts aspect and then switched again to a Fine Arts degree. Ever since then, I’ve been in love. Read more>>

Leah Zarich

I started LZ Photography in 2018. It was something I had thought about for a long time before finally pulling the trigger. Although I am a pediatric nurse at Children’s Mercy, I have always loved expressing myself through different artistic modalities. I love having photography as an outlet that I can do outside of work. I enjoy working with people and families and get so much joy creating lifelong memories for them. I have grown so much since starting LZ Photography and learn something new with every shoot. Read more>>

Deepal Patel

I was born in India, grew up in the UK just outside of London for a few years and then Wales. I finished my Sr year of high school in Canada then college in Indiana. My father moved us a lot for business. When I was a Jr in College my family moved back to Wales and I stayed to finish school. Eventually, I stayed for grad school, where I focused on Population Genetics and Molecular Ecology. I started baking after Graduate school when I returned to Wales. I was going through a really tough time after my failed arranged marriage so I started baking and watching a lot of Food TV to distract myself. I had a cousin who was also interested in baking so she, myself and a friend of ours took some baking classes at a community college. It started off simple – cake decorating, cookies, cupcakes. Eventually, I realized I was baking more and more elaborate cakes and spending hundreds of pounds on baking tools. I was also baking so much I running out of people to feed! Read more>>

Nikita Haynie

Even as a young child, I would get lost in books and conjure up stories with my imagination, sharing them with anyone who would listen. I’ve developed my storytelling and writing quite a bit, the thrill of language and creation I discovered as a child has never gone away. The big shift in my journey specifically with my passion for writing was when I transitioned from the South to the Midwest for a career opportunity in 2016, leaving behind everything you’ve ever known is no easy feat; however, the move provided me with the time and space to write my first book and hone my voice and gift as a Black woman writer. I wrote my first book Phases, a four-part book series chronicling the journey of four college students from freshman to senior year. My professional work inspired the series with young adults. I enjoyed book series growing up, and it’s always been a dream to write a book series. Read more>>

Chris Adams

I guess you can say six years ago I didn’t choose music. It chose me. I don’t know if I am meant to do whatever I choose to do in life but whatever I choose to do, I’ll strive to be great at it. I’m just a normal person on a mission to break the generational curse in my family. Read more>>

Chelsea Teater

My dad actually taught me how to fix jewelry when I was about eight or nine years old. He is an artist and also believed in fixing what you had instead of just buying something new every time. For ten years, I worked in social services, doing everything from disability services to running a breast cancer outreach program and I was also the person who was always fixing my coworkers Jewelry when their’s broke. Jewelry breaks a lot in that field, lol. In 2019, I had some issues with my heart which made me have to take a step back and reevaluate what I wanted to do with my life. Having four kids at home with myself and my husband, I needed to figure out what I could do while also trying to heal and make some lifestyle changes. I’ve always loved working with my hands and this is something that comes naturally to me; almost like creating wearable art. Read more>>

KiKi Tatum

Where do I begin, I started my spiritual journey appropriately four years ago. I can honestly say I see life differently than I did before now. During the beginning of my spiritual journey, I started collecting different types of Crystals based off their energy and healing properties… I then started doing more research on natural healing remedies and holistic healing techniques. That’s when picked up my candle-making hobby as well… I was always fascinated with candles and the aromatherapy scent it would give off and how magical one flame could light up a whole room. I’ve learned the meaning of different candle colors and how different scents could really change your mood on things. During the pandemic, like most people I lost my job and gained a lot of free time on my hands. So my hobbies started to really pick up and I decided to create a business out of creating the things I love and passionate about. I came up with the name Serenity Treasures1111 because I wanted something to relate to me and my spirituality. Read more>>

Jeremy Hawthorne

Music always been a big part of my life ever since I was a young kid playing the drum set in church. Music is good for the soul it’s a great art to express yourself and bring people together. Read more>>

JaRaza Dawn

I was born and raised in Kansas City, KS which I currently still reside. From the time I was able to walk/ talk I’ve always had a love for photography, I knew one day I would be a photographer. As a kid when you have dream jobs, photographer was always in my top five. As I grew up, I began taking photography classes at an early age, getting to know my way around the camera, from that point on, I knew for sure this was my passion. ​I love to take images of just about anything, but my favorite type of photography is portraiture as well as lifestyle photography. It gives me the opportunity to let people express themselves through their images and to see the reaction they have when they see the final images bring me so much joy. In the year of 2016, I created Passion Photography which has now become J. Lene’ Photography to help individuals acquire memories of moments that will last forever. Read more>>

Amy Vance

I, like most college graduates never thought I would start my career in the one place I never wanted to work. Yet the universe had other plans and I had two young children to support. I began my career in community health helping those who needed help the most. I worked hard and learned so much from the people I interacted with on a daily basis but soon became burnt out. Perfect timing as it would be. I needed to do an internship to finish my Master’s degree and left my job to take a minimum wage job interning under the Director of a gym. One day an opportunity to teach an older adult class came about and I jumped on the opportunity, I was teaching several high-impact classes a day and needed a change. I fell in love with older adults and wanted to improve my teaching of this age group. Read more>>

Monica Martinez

I started almost six years ago. After graduation from Cosmetology school, I worked in Hays for about a year. After that, I moved to Kansas City hoping I could learn a little in the fashion industry. I got my first shot here helping with the very first MODA shoot. That’s probably where I would say I got my chance to do what I love. From there things just kind of took off I guess. I’ve still got lots of work to do and after having to suddenly stop everything for a while, I’m more aware than ever on what I need to improve on and what I need to do to get where I want to be. The break did allow me the opportunity to dabble in an area more, which is the making of products. I’ve started small with a goat milk soap and a hemp soap line but I’m definitely hoping to eventually use all my own products. Read more>>

Jason Wilson

I grew up re arraigning my grandparent’s living area randomly and moving / staging things probably when I was around 12. Something about setting things in the right spot and the way the light/table next to it sat and what was on it intrigued me. As I grew older, my passion for food and the restaurant industry got me out of my “shy mode” and opens me up to being a social person so I went in the direction of the more upscale restaurant management last working for iron chef morimotto in Chicago. When I was 29, I kinda got back into that interior design vibe with spaces and decided I wanted to freshen up what I was doing with my life so I looked into the welding program in Iowa. For some reason, I wanted to work with metal. Upon completion with school, I bought my welder, chop saw, gloves and started working out of the garage picking up tiny projects. I figured it was best to start small and let my talents show themselves and not run myself into the ground to pay back a loan. Read more>>

Carmen Mosqueda and Alfinio Ponce

Carmen and Alfinio have known each other for over 10+ years. Carmen had been toying with the idea of making a podcast for close to seven years. It was Alfinio that finally pushed her to follow her lifelong dream of having her own podcast. Alfinio went as far to propose the name of Man and The Milf a spinoff of a very popular Spanish gossip show called “El Gordo y La Flaca. After several months of brainstorming with the concept of what they wanted the show to be; they decided to be Loud, Unapologetic, and unfiltered. No topic was off limits including personal encounters with friends, family and lovers. Creating a platform for small businesses to share their stories also played a huge role on starting our podcast. Since our first episode aired in May 2021, we have grown to have over 1000 listeners worldwide. We are excited to roll out for the podcast including merchandise and stickers. Read more>>

Toni Kirk

I have always loved creating! Taking something that alone demonstrates very little but with imagination and a few supplies comes together as a one-of-a-kind masterpiece! In my professional career as an RN since 1991, I found great reward in the field of Oncology for over 25 years. The last eight years of my career, I worked as a case manager in hospice. Although the love and blessing outweighed the hurt and stress, I knew my heart needed a break. In 2017 I painted my first chair and the rest, as they say, is history! I fell in love with taking a worn out, discarded, outdated piece of furniture and bringing it new life! Since that time, I have never looked back! I have upcycled many types and styles of furniture. If you can imagine it, I can make it happen! I currently have a space at Serendipity in the historic KC West Bottoms. I love what I am so blessed to be able to do now! I also have a great love of music and saving precious pianos and organs that carry decades of generational memories by repurposing them into wall art, desks, bars, coffee tables, etc. Read more>>

Brittany Shelton

I come from a background of ongoing childhood trauma that included severe neglect, drug abuse, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. My formative developmental years were taken from me in ways I couldn’t control, and I grew into an angry, lost child. I carried my open wounds into adolescence and young adulthood-and I broke. Lost, addicted to drugs and alcohol, unable to connect with others, or form healthy relationships, I set out to self-destruct. I wanted to disappear, and I almost succeeded. My story is not unlike thousands of others. Growing up without supervision, deep inside of a dysfunctional system, not knowing where to turn, and having no one to turn to, I thought that was the end of the road for me. I couldn’t differentiate between who I was supposed to have been, why I was here at all, and the generational patterns I fell into and thought I was tied to forever. Read more>>

Mauricio Zuniga

I came to Kansas City in 1998 from Chicago. I have always been interested in art but I did not begin painting until I arrived in Kansas City. At the time, there wasn’t an active art scene. However, as the art community grew I became more involved in the arts. Not only did I begin painting more frequently, I volunteered with the Kansas City Art Council helping them identify local artists to showcase in their Now Showing program. I also served as curator of the art exhibitions during the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Fiesta Kansas City. My volunteer work introduced me to many different people and I was able to make connections through my work. Along the way, I found places to display my own art including venues which were part of the Now Showing program, The Late Show, Brandon Jacob and the Grand Gallery. In 2015 I was awarded the ArtsKC Virtuoso Award. Read more>>

Charles Henderson

Since I can remember, I always enjoyed art. A lot of my earliest memories is me creating things such as; bow and arrows made out of duct tape and sticks, playing card, even board games and much more. Playing with my brothers and sister. I always knew I wanted to be an artist so I never stopped. Always trying to challenge myself to be better than I was before. That’s how I got to the point I am now. Being a successful artist is always been a part of the plan. Which is provide for my family and show them that if you follow in your dreams, you can make it happen. Read more>>

Jamez Hunter

When it came to music, I grew wanting to be a singer. I used music as an escape from my problems at home and at school. I would listen to music all day and all night, singing until my voice was shot and even pass that point. In college, I caught a severe case of bronchitis and it destroyed my voice completely, making me unable to sing a single note for about 10 to 11 months. I was barely able to talk for the first few months. Because my voice was no longer capable of singing, I started rapping and writing music for fun. Read more>>

Tracy Twombly

In 2013, my husband, Aaron, and I fulfilled a life dream of Aaron’s when we purchased 92 acres along the Little Blackwater Creek in Johnson County Missouri as a conservation project. We call this place Harmony Farms. Aaron wanted to “give back” the resources he used as a hobby woodworker by taking land that was not being managed well and replanting it to forest. Since we’ve purchased the property, we have reforested 25 acres and planted another 25 acres into prairie species. Harmony is a beautiful, diverse piece of land with habitats ranging from glade to wetland. Recently, we have made Harmony available to the public to enjoy through the Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program. Through our experiences at Harmony Farms, I fell in love with native plants. I began learning about the various plant species native to Missouri. I really enjoyed researching different seed mixes and selecting which mix of species to plant in our prairie reconstruction area. Read more>>

Lydia Lierz

I’ve always been very creative and have sought out any opportunity to use the right side of my brain. Honestly, I have my mom to thank! My earliest memories of crafting were stitching hoops or sewing fabrics together, painting canvases or rocks, and throwing clay on a wheel. My mom is a craft junkie, which sparked the craft junkie in me as well.  I’ve always been crafting something — whether that was mixed media projects in high school, writing poetry or stories in college… but after college, all of those projects were left without a purpose. I was used to creating for a grade and needed to rejuvenate my creative side again. That’s when I started hand-embroidering.  About 10 months into the real world after college, I picked up embroidery relatively on my own. Like I said, I dabbled in stitching and sewing when I was young, but I hadn’t really touched it since. So, I started messing around with it, creating my own designs just on a scrap piece of paper. I was creating just for me, and for fun, and that gave me the happy I was looking for!. Read more>>

Matt and Sarah Vanderpool

Matt Vanderpool has golfed since childhood. Playing courses throughout the East Coast and Midwest, golf has always been his “therapy”. Kansas weather is notoriously unpredictable, and a regular golf season typically only spans 6 to 7 months. In his office on a cloudy October day, pining for the course, Matt had the idea for an indoor golf facility. His career in technology, as well as advanced education (BIS and MIS, plus the decade of military training), provided him the background and experience to open 8 Iron Therapy. He’s the face you’ll see most evenings and weekends at the shop, usually with a kid or two in tow.  Sarah Vanderpool does NOT love golf, but she loves Matt. Her MBA and Project Management Professional certification help her cover down the “operations” side of the house while Matt lives out his passion with golf. A retired Major with the Army Reserves, she’s also an Executive Director with Color Street. Read more>>

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