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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.

Dylan Smith

If I’m being completely honest, my design career started when I was a child. When folks asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer always involved art and design in some form or fashion. While I went down a few different paths along the way, I ended up doing exactly what I always wanted to do. It really was inevitable. My dad, who is a huge influence on me, was also an extremely talented artist. While he took a different career path, he never stopped drawing, painting, and letting his creativity out in general. He taught me many techniques and I still think about his teachings to this day. While he’s not around anymore to see all that I’m making, I know he’s proud of me and all that I’ve accomplished. My dad is a large part of why I’m doing what I’m doing today. Read more>>

Neha Singhania Goel

After graduating in interiors I started my own interior design firm in India. I did all kinds of commercial and residential projects and also specialized in building custom furniture for my clients, where I set up a workshop for the same. I was very lucky to find an amazing team of people to work with. And as life happens I moved to Nashville in 2011 and started doing the same here. Initially, it was a challenge to find clients and get accustomed to buying furniture instead of creating your own. Gradually through word of mouth, it started to take place and I met new people and was able to continue to design spaces and do something I love. Read more>>

Brielle Cotterman

I have been in the PR world for more than a decade. Prior to that my background was in sales & marketing and before that, I spent years speaking on stage and competing in the Miss America system. When I first started in publicity, I worked with the top marketing & PR firm in Boston. I worked primarily with authors and professional athletes and did everything from pitching the media to ghost-authoring subject matter books and crafting corporate communication strategies. Read more>>

Joseph Fryman

When our brother & “now” sister-in-law decided to get married they asked us to be at their wedding to which we were immensely excited. Throughout the wedding day, there were so many details to prepare & execute. Then our job somehow became keeping everyone on the dance floor & towards the end, there was still a lot of work to be done to close out the night. The wedding coordinator kept asking how we could possibly have so much energy going from party mode to management mode within minutes. We just said this is how our family helps each other; we have fun together but when things need to get done it’s time to work. Read more>>

Miriam Benjamin

I have been singing since I could talk and have been doing music and art in some way from a very young age. I started off playing the violin at 6 years old and it was not for me but I am so thankful for it because it lead me to the cello-my first love. I remember watching so many musicals growing up-old musicals and the music would make me feel like I could fly. I started writing songs very young as well and have always been a free spirit so to speak, so I wasn’t thinking anything of my songwriting really at that time but I so enjoyed it. My family would always go to nursing homes to sing and play instruments but I didn’t start performing as a singer until I was around 15 years old. Read more>>

Shelby Oliveira and Alex Cooper

Think back 17 years. We met our freshman year in High school. We were best friends right from the beginning and spent every major holiday, event, and hardship together. Early on in high school, Alex found her passion for photography, and naturally, Shelby wanted to join in and assist with whatever was needed. We would turn everything into a photo shoot. We used everyone we knew as a model. 16 years later we decided to make it official and created what is now Nashville Candid. Our passion is to capture the messy wild moments, the type of photos you can really feel. Read more>>

Gavin McCormack

I studied music from the age of 6. I got my first acoustic guitar from Santa and it all started from there. My father was a musician too, playing trumpet with some of the biggest Irish Showbands and touring Ireland, Europe & America throughout the ’60s & 70s. I started learning classical guitar & piano working my way up through the grades at The College of Music in Dublin. By 16 I was gigging professionally, playing with various bands, and touring around Ireland. From there I began writing my own material and released my first EP. Far away so close, when I was 19. Read more>>

Davida Stocking

I’ve been drawing since I could remember but I didn’t decide to actually start selling my art until 2020 when Covid was taking over. I started it with my closest friend Callie Jones. At first, I was just drawing whatever wanted to draw but eventually, that felt creatively draining. So I began to sell only what I decided to draw and paint. And I gained a lot of attention through raffles I would have for some of my art. Read more>>

PJ Olsen

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved physical activity, especially anything that requires a lot of movement.  I played softball, volleyball, and tennis while in junior high and high school. I was even the high school mascot for two years! I fell in love with running when I was in college trying to manage stress and keep off the “freshman 15”, regularly attended aerobics classes in my 20s, and finally added strength training to the mix when I was 31 due to a diagnosis of osteopenia. My diagnosis of osteopenia came following a year of a daily low dosage of Prednisone (a type of corticosteroid) to combat inflammation caused by Crohn’s Disease. Read more>>

Matthew Robinson

Choosing to pursue dance and live performance as a career came somewhat out of nowhere around when I was sixteen years old. I was always an active child – growing up in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains had me galivanting outdoors with my friends, building forest forts, climbing mountains, and catching crawdads in the creek, and I played soccer recreationally while also dedicating a considerable amount of time to Sil Lum Kung-Fu. I loved moving. I tried a dance class on a whim. Read more>>

Connie Pearson

I am actually in my 4th career. I have college degrees in piano performance and music education and used those degrees to teach private piano lessons and public school music to grades K-8. In 2002, my husband and I sold our home, his veterinary practice, our furniture, and almost all of our worldly belongings and moved to Ecuador to be missionaries in the Andes Mountains. We left behind our 3 married children and 1 grandchild. Read more>>

Kyle Harris

Oh my gosh, where to start? My story is a pretty wild ride, so I hope you’re ready. My name is Kyle Harris and I’m an actor based in Nashville, TN. I was born in Fort Worth, TX, and raised in Russellville, AR. I moved to Nashville in 2019 after spending 6 years in Las Vegas, NV. We’ll get to that. Growing up, I was a very shy kid so it shocked my parents when I told them I wanted to be an actor. I was probably 11 or 12 years old when I saw Shia Labeouf on TV as Louis Stevens in the Disney Channel shows Even Stevens. Read more>>

Erika Roberts

Hi, my name is Erika Roberts. I am the owner and sole photographer with Erika Roberts Photo + Co. I was born and raised in a small town in Connecticut and moved to Tennessee in 2013 because I craved a fresh start! So I packed my car with my clothes, valuables, and only $500 and drove south! I moved around a bit when I first got here + met some amazing people- including my husband. We started our family in Smyrna but ultimately moved to Murfreesboro in 2021. Read more>>

Maddie French

In August 2021 I launched the digital content for BNA Best Bites. My main focus when I started was connecting with local businesses and foodies on Instagram but I’ve slowly grown the TikTok page as well. My best friend in Nashville urged me to start sharing my experiences on social media when she noticed my passion for finding places to go all over the city. When I moved to Nashville in 2016 I explored the city by visiting cafes, bars, and restaurants all over and learning about those neighborhoods. In the past year, I’ve worked on building my knowledge of the city into the content to showcase local businesses I want to highlight and give more recognition to. Read more>>

Amber Epperson

I’m originally from Pine Bluff, AR. I grew up in a single-parent household and became the sole breadwinner and responsible party at the age of 16 when my mother became ill and unable to work. I grew up pretty fast, but it actually worked out in my favor now that I’m an adult with a child of my own. My mother is a big inspiration for me and the path that I’ve taken in life. She was a naturally talented woman. She was the neighborhood seamstress, craftswoman, cook, and babysitter. All of those things brought her so much joy. My love of creating, children, and all things home definitely came from her. Read more>>

Matt Burnett

I was raised in Cleburne, TX by my mom and dad, a k-4 educator and a custodian. We never had any money, so my favorite thing to do became spending time on “Mama Ruby’s” farm, where strays would often find their way onto the property. I think my mom finally realized that there was no telling me “no” when I brought a dog home. There was always a random pup in my room or the bathroom that had wandered into our yard. Reuniting these animals with their parents was rewarding, but there was something that made my heart sink about giving dogs back to people who didn’t care for them in the first place. Read more>>

Gedalya Folk Rock Rabbi

When I was eighteen, I was living in South Florida. I barely graduated from High School and didn’t have any desire to go to college. I was really into bodybuilding and decided to get my massage therapy license and become a personal trainer/massage therapist. I finished a massage therapy course, got my license, and began working in a health club. I was always interested in writing poetry and one day I decided to begin trying to put my words to music. My mom bought me this old piano, it was one of the remains of a building that had burnt down. I began banging away at the keys and taught myself how to play chords and sing along. Read more>>

Michael Gomez

Michael Gomez was born and raised in the Dominican Republic where he was a professional musician and graduate of the Hotel Administration and Tourism School of the U.N.P.H.U. He came to the United States pursuing a music career that eventually landed him in Nashville with a Contemporary Christian Band that he a co- founded named “Unspoken” Currently, he is the Broker and Owner of Hive Nashville, as well as a partner of RAM Property Management and Nashville Renovators. Read more>>

Starr Frierson

Well, our family has always come together as a whole to cook. It’s like our family tradition. We like to bake you know during the holidays, on Sundays. We all get together and meet at my mom’s house on Sundays for dinner. We’re a very small close family, I’m the only child, I have 5 children, and so our circle pretty much gets together, myself and my children, and my mom. We’ve been doing this for years and years since I was a child, my moms always cooked for Christmas, and the entire family comes to my mom’s home for Christmas. So this idea came about, with me not having much to do here for my birthday, when we celebrate an occasion in Nashville Tennessee we normally go eat, have a birthday dinner and you know we’ll go to like a sip and paint, bowling, etc… Read more>>

Melissa Grace

I always wanted to be a writer, but it felt like a pie-in-the-sky dream, not something I could ever actually achieve. Growing up, I was always writing and reading. Words were my passion, but making a living from that never felt attainable, so I never pursued it. Instead, I started what would become a laundry list of jobs–things I would do while dreaming of doing something else. I was a dog bather, a medical receptionist, a social media content creator, a photographer, and a nail artist. Read more>>

Benjamin Rutherford

Ever since a kid and my mom made us go to church every Sunday I’ve been in love with music. Drums were the first type of instrument to fall in love with. I was naturally good from the start getting better and better as I kept going when I got to an age I was hanging out with friends and cousins they were playing their music that’s when I fell in love with hip-hop and started listening to it every day remembering every word. Around my last year of middle school, the start of my freshmen year I started to record music in my closet and post it to Soundcloud it wasn’t the best but had some potential for sure.  Read more>>

Erin Fligel

I never thought I would end up where I am today. I’m not even sure where to start, but I guess I’ll start by graduating with a degree in Childhood Education. Growing up all I ever wanted to do was teach preschool and I absolutely loved working with children, but there is so much more that goes into to teaching. After coming to that realization and having a student suddenly pass away, I decided it was time to move on. I really had to think about what I wanted to do for a career since all I ever knew was teaching. Read more>>

Laura Huston

I grew up in Kansas and knew I wanted to move away from home to attend school. As I was looking for colleges I fell in love with Vanderbilt University and once at school in Nashville. With a love of math and the environment, I was encouraged to apply for engineering. My first job was more on the technical side but quickly turned to corporate sales and marketing with lots of travel. After I had my first son, I decided to stay home to be with him and quit corporate life. I knew I needed something for myself during these years so I began a photography business out of my home. Read more>>

Elizabeth & Jeffrey Turner

The creamery is owned by Jeffrey and Elizabeth Turner. Jeffrey was raised on the Turner farm in the Shop Springs community and grew up milking cows with his dad, Tommy Turner. Before his father milked, his grandfather also milk cows on the same farm where we milk today. Elizabeth was also raised on a dairy farm in Corunna, Michigan where she was the fourth generation to raise dairy cattle. Both of the owners grew up with a love and passion for agriculture and dairy cows. Read more>>

Troy Donohue

I started up my first band, known as Rockstar Racecar when I was 10. It was a family band, only meant to play one show. But after that, we started to get more shows in the area and started to write original songs. Eventually, I did the cool thing and kicked my parents out. To replace them, I started a de facto music school out of my living room for new bassists, eventually getting a multitude of friends and classmates to fill the roles. After 4 albums and a quarantine side project, the ceiling for a New Jersey music career was seemingly reached. Therefore, I took my chances and moved to Music City, where I am looking to chase the dreams that many others come to seek. Read more>>

Brandon Sharp

Growing up in the automotive world it was only natural that I developed a passion for cars at a young age. Growing up my family owned a garage and later a small, used car dealership in small-town Alabama. This exposed me to a wide spectrum of car culture from muscle cars and classics to commercial trucks and off-roaders. From the time I could hold a wrench, I started to learn the trade. Growing my passion and insight into the automotive world. Read more>>

Hunter Jergens

Twin Flame Creative Agency was sparked by twin sisters, Hunter and Morgan Jergens. Originally from Dayton, OH, they parted ways for three years while studying business and marketing practices across various industries from entertainment and theater to marketing and design. They reunited in Nashville, TN to combine their skill sets and passion for elevating creative entrepreneurs through the use of digital media. Read more>>

Leeann Koppel

Seven years ago my husband and brother started a roofing company and I really wanted to help them out any way I could. At the time I was a stay-at-home mom, with a cosmetology license I wasn’t really using. Facebook and Instagram were becoming a thing for businesses and I was seeing so many of my hair colleagues grow successful businesses by utilizing social media so I approached the guys and told them I wanted to take over our marketing and gear it all to social media. Even though roofing isn’t technically a “sexy” product, I felt I could still grow a following using similar techniques I saw my friends doing. Read more>>

Deanna Meador

Couture’s founders, Deanna Meador and Marcelino Rodríguez-Cancio met while working on an innovation project for Accenture and one of their large fast fashion clients alongside a team of students and faculty members from Vanderbilt University’s Innovation Center, the Wond’ry. This project took them on a journey of discovery to learn everything they could about the biggest challenges facing the apparel industry and areas that were calling out for innovation. After completing this project, which involved a predictive analytics solution, the challenges they discovered along the way stuck with them. Read more>>

Curt Ryle

Curt Ryle’s career as a musician began at age 7. Curt Was born in Duncan Oklahoma and by the time he was 21 years old, he had already toured with the biggest stars of that era including, Ray Price, Fiddling Frenchie Burke, Darrell McAll, Vern Gosdin, and many others. Curt’s songwriting career however began in Dallas Texas in 1982. As the lead guitarist and lead singer at Dewey Groom’s World Famous Long Horn Ballroom, Curt was challenged by Dewey to write 10 songs for a 25th-anniversary Longhorn Ballroom album. Read more>>

Mary Voelker

I’m always texting my brothers to run my “new million-dollar business idea” by them. I love brainstorming and coming up with solutions to problems I see but have never felt passionate enough (or brave enough) to pursue something until I had the idea for my dog walking kit. I had been searching for a cute, hands-free leash with a bag attachment so I didn’t have to juggle my phone, treats, doggy bags, etc. when I took my dog for a walk. I couldn’t find it, so I decided to make it. Read more>>

Michael Ray

We owned Doin Hair Underground, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. We felt led by God to get a mobile barbershop, so that we could go to the unhoused and underprivileged, to give free haircuts. Our intention was to help boost self-confidence, therefore hoping to get them motivated to get their lives straightened around to be able to be successful, contributing factors of society. We collected clothes and other items that might be needed. Pastor Greg Locke and Global Vision Bible Church, helped make that happen. We got the bus and turned it into the mobile barbershop. Read more>>

Kimberly Williams

I have been enamored with pregnancy since I was a little girl. One of my earliest childhood memories was stuffing my gown with a baby doll and pushing her out. My Barbies were always pregnant too. At the age of ten mom became pregnant with my little brother, and this sparked my passion for birth even further. I was hired at a busy Ob/Gyn’s office at the age of eighteen. I worked there until went to college and obtained my nursing degree. I remember distinctly my preceptor asking me where I wanted to work after graduation, when I said, “labor and delivery” she sneered and said, ” no one is hired in labor and delivery right out of nursing school.” Read more>>

Sofia Lynch

I’ve been writing songs since I was seven years old, running around my childhood home in South Carolina with a small purple notebook and a cheap ballpoint pen. Music has always been a huge influence on my life; both of my parents took me to concerts as a kid, but I don’t know if they expected me to fall in love with it the way that I did. When I was nine, I had finally worn my parents down enough to buy me my first guitar, and from then on, it was like I couldn’t put it down. I was either writing, practicing, or performing somewhere. Read more>>

Maria Cestaro

In my early teens, I was diagnosed with seizures. I still lived a full life as I was a College Volleyball and Softball player. I went to college as a paralegal, studied court reporting, and then In 1991, I had a car accident where I was told I would never walk again nor have children. In the year 2000, I had my miracle baby girl, Mackenzie. In the year 2002, I found myself in a place of being broken emotionally, going through a divorce, broke financially with $11.00 in my bank account, and a single mom. I was in a sink-or-swim situation to overcome but I didn’t know where to begin. I had no money for daycare, I had no support from family or friends as they lived too far away or had to work themselves. Read more>>

Tiyanna “Ty” Cannon-Carter

I have a background in the medical field as a medical assistant. My whole career I have worked with cancer patients and I absolutely love it! My patients have taught me to love hard and live life to the fullest. They challenged me to look within myself and find my own happiness and fulfillment outside of my job. I love people and helping to motivate others. So with that being said, I dove into one of my passions; lip gloss. Growing up my mom always bought different lip glosses for my sisters and me, lip gloss was a purse necessity. I’ve always had full lips so making sure they were smooth and shiny was a must. Unfortunately, that did not keep the bullies away. I was teased as a child for my full lips and for a period of time I resented them. Read more>>

Jeremy Sheppard

I’m a YouTuber, I am on a mission to help music makers discover themselves through the right guitars and gear. I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley and fell in love with guitars in middle school. I worked at a vintage guitar store after high school while putting myself through school. In the mid-2000, I began making youtube videos vlogging the guitar buying process in South Louisiana and it’s taken off. I now travel the world chasing down guitars and bringing my camera along to document the process. Read more>>

Ryan Jay

I grew up listening to country music as a kid. I grew up hearing my dad listen to George Strait, Johnny Cash, Waylon, George Jones, etc. So it’s in my blood but at the age of 16 I started playing heavy metal and by the time I was 18 I started touring in a metal/hardcore band called Strength N Honor all through Canada, the midwest, and the east coast. I did that for about 4 years and it wasn’t until I was 22 yrs old that my country roots came back and I started playing country music. But in 2012 I was recording my country music and starting to play shows. Read more>>

Ashlyn Jarman

I’ve been baking since 2013, self-taught from simply watching the food network. I started making cakes for birthdays and events and before I knew it I became the cake lady of my family. In December 2020, I turned my passion for baking into a business! It has but it also hasn’t! Baking is a passion of mine so it comes easy, but finding time to bake while also working full-time can be quite difficult. I am only a year into doing craft shows and I find myself learning a new way to be more efficient, I still have plenty of learning to go! Read more>>

Bri Schillings

To all of you inspiring viewers, taking the time to read, listen and connect, I appreciate you. I am Bri Schillings, Singer-songwriter and adventure enthusiast. Creative expression is something that I found at a young age. I grew up on a small farm in Oregon where connection to the earth was our education and freedom of self-expression was encouraged and celebrated. I thank my brave parents for choosing to homeschool us for those years allowed me to really listen, connect and explore what was seeking me and nurture what I was seeking. Read more>>

Dave Mitchell

I started in audio as a result of helping a man that was doing sound for a small church. He was responsible to provide the microphones and equipment for the minister’s weekly services. I began my career in music as a drummer at my previous church, and this situation was all new to me. I quickly noticed that what he did was very important, and creatively worked with music and which was intriguing to me. My mother introduced me to him and shared with him my love for the drums, informing him of the God-given gift. He quickly took a liking to me and told me to sit with him at the audio station. Little did I know that by sitting with him I was being recruited into the world of live audio. Read more>>

Thomas and Janet Tracy

Our family started riding at Peachtree Farms when our now 16 years daughter was three, and we have ridden there since. As the owner of Peachtree Farms began her plans for retirement last year, Thomas and I wanted other families to have the same barn community that we had been a part of for over 13 years. We made the decision to purchase land, build a new equestrian facility, and keep the dream alive. Read more>>

Allison Leah

I’m a folk-pop artist based in Nashville, Tennessee. I was raised in the suburbs of NYC and that’s where I fell in love with music, creativity, and songwriting. I grew up in an extremely musical family – my dad is a music engineer so he had a studio in NYC and I can recall singing there from as young as four years old. When I was eight, an agent heard me singing at a holiday party and asked if I would be interested in singing in jingles. So, I began working as a jingle-singer at eight years old and recorded familiar jingles like the “Hess Truck” Commercial, GE spots, and radio tags for Z-100, among others. Read more>>

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