We asked some of the city’s hidden gems to tell us about what they feel is the most important factor behind their success.

Anita Morris | Author, Speaker & Sewing Instructor

The most important factor behind the success of Anita by Design is my decision to show up as myself. When I launched the Blog and YouTube channel in 2016, I prayed and asked God to help me be myself and allow people to see me as the person I was created to be. Social media paints a picture of perfection that many can’t relate to. This sometimes causes insecurity in those who seek to emulate a persona that doesn’t reflect the full story. I knew that if people were to come into my community and feel like I was someone they couldn’t relate to, my ability to reach their hearts would be slim to none. When I show up for my audience, I want them to feel like they’re hanging out with a good friend, literally. I want them to feel safe and appreciated. When they leave, I want them to walk away with a sense of peace, knowing that they’ve been in the presence of someone they can trust. Read more>>

Rena Sapon-White | Founder, Backstory Vintage

The world abounds with vintage treasure, but much of it trades hands with little context other than a piece’s aesthetic value. Backstory Vintage is a unique hybrid of a vintage shop and a museum where everything is for sale. My customers love that we tell a story about each piece, and that contextualization sets us apart. It’s a much more personal way to shop vintage and antiques. I love rummaging as much as the next collector, but it’s a totally different experience to be presented with that object’s mythology, its significance. Immediately that piece resonates with deeper meaning. My bliss is at the crossroads of storytelling and design, so I feel great fulfillment in being a steward for these pieces to tell their stories before they find new homes. Read more>>

Dawn Jordan | Founder of MixieFit.com

From my experience, being customer obsessed has been the secret sauce behind the success. I’ve built relationships with my customers, and view them as close friends. They are busy mothers, young professionals, daughters, grandmothers, sisters and best friends who all value time and efficiency. Their ages range from 16 years old to mid 70’s who value a healthy lifestyle with a personalized approach to their workout experience from home with Mixiefit. They are incredible people who enjoy having a personal trainer who helps them learn and keep proper form so they know they are doing workouts in a safe way from the comfort of their home. They are the ones who want to live better, get fit and feel healthy for years to come. They desire a more personal connection with their instructor and enjoy meeting new people in class in an environment that is loving, supportive and positive. Read more>>

Luz Mayberg | Personal Trainer and Social Justice Attorney

I started MyCoachLuz because I was sick of seeing malnourished, eating disordered, white, straight women telling me how to exercise and eat. I identify as a Queer, Latinx, Jewish woman diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. I love tacos and I proudly have a panza (belly). I wanted to work with like-minded people that don’t feel comfortable in a typical gym. My goal is to provide a healthy exercise alternative that focuses on marginalized bodies such as, women of color, curvy women, queer people, trans people, people with disabilities, people with older bodies. I try to empower my clients to learn to trust their instincts about what movements feel good and safe for them. I work hard to find a type of movement that gives them joy and appreciation for their body, whether it is salsa dancing, lifting weights, pole dancing, hiking, or cycling. Read more>>

The Currency Project | Conceptual Art Collaborative

One of our favorite parts about The Currency Project is that it’s socially engaged; which means that this art piece is most successful with the participation of others. Through that participation the art piece is “live” and constantly evolving. Something we’re really excited about with The Currency Project (TCP) is the ability for the global public to participate in it. Most traditional art pieces require you to go to an Art gallery or museum to engage with them, but since this artwork exists in the digital space it can be experienced right now from anywhere in the world through multiple sites. For example; visitors can scroll through the General Ledger to see a gallery archive of each previously released artwork (www.thecad.org/the-currency-project). Or one could head over to eBay to “watch” a live currency auction or even bid on an artwork. Many new art collectors have met us through this channel and are now quickly becoming art fanatics. Read more>>

Best Actress | Clown/Comedy Group

For us, it’s going in with the objective of “how do we make each other laugh?” In comedy, there really isn’t a right or wrong, just what feels right and what resonates with the audience and the performers. A lot of people are trying to fit into the format, but for us the rubric of what’s good is what would shock and delight another member in the group. We also think that being synced on our monthly red does wonders for mind meld thinking. Read more>>

Kelsey Ledezma | Luxury Floral Designer

The best piece of advice I can offer is to find what your brand represents and lean into it, HARD. When I first started Mobile Vulgaris it was incredibly easy for me to get distracted by all the things that speak to me and then inevitably I’d be further distracted by wanting to find a way to include them in my business. The problem with this is that proverbial “spreading yourself too thin” thing. I was so focused on adding different elements to my brand that I was quickly losing where the vision was meant to go. So, I pulled back. I took a hard look at what was serving my brand and what wasn’t. I made hard decisions to take out things that didn’t quite fit. Now, I know this sounds kind of sad, like I got rid of things that could have been part of the dream but in truth its like Marie Kondo-ing your brand, you’re keeping only what brings you and your business joy. Focus on the vision and add new elements as they fit and as you grow into them. Do not water yourself down. Read more>>

Azi Rasson | A Vegan Designer – Animal Lover.

Trusting the ideas that come to me and executing them. That is what a designer does. I come up with ideas that inspires me and I work on bringing the ideas to. Read more>>

Mike Smith | Fitness / Apparel Industry | Young Entrepreneur

When building my fitness clothing brand from ground 0 in 2016, it was never about the money. It was always about the future opportunity. I had an idea and turned it into a reality with a few months of persistency and hard work. Graduating high school with the chance to play college soccer at the University of Michigan, I always had fitness on my mind. I began to form my “brand”. I started with my own self image, of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to portray to others. I knew my goal was to motivate anyone to always give 110% effort and live a healthy lifestyle. I began to see brands like Gymshark, Alphalete, Live Fit, and many more emerge on social media. I thought to myself, why not try to build a brand that mimics these, yet has more of a personal feel to them. My only two goals were to create legit fitness apparel that fits well, and build a community of amazing people. Read more>>

Lawrence Gjurgevich | Strategic Planning & Marketing Designer – Club Underground Founder

As Club Underground celebrates a milestone anniversary this year, our success has been directly related to staying connected with our community. In order to have a brand go beyond the introductory stage, you need more than an original idea and cool design. So much work goes into making something a success, and with that, the work never ends. Far too often, an organization will launch with the best intentions and a head full of steam, only to overlook what/who they are there for. As we hit the unimaginable 20 year mark, we take nothing for granted or worse, feel entitled to success based on name and longevity. Each week we strive to keep our patrons engaged while offering an (online) escape while under lock down. We look forward to returning in-person and reminding/introducing (for those unfamiliar) what makes Club Underground weekly events, and those we present around LA (and beyond) so special. Read more>>

Kelly Yazdi | CEO Ride Wild, SAG/AFTRA Actress, Model, Polaris Empowersports Council Member, Dog Mom, Dream Walker

When I think about the many factors that have contributed to my success, I think the most important one has been the team of individuals, brands, and businesses who have been a part of my journey. I truly believe that “Teamwork makes the dream work”, and that relationships will take you further than you ever could have imagined. I am incredibly grateful and humbled by those who have joined me on my journey, and I only know success because they have been. Read more>>

Jonathan Burkes | Musician,Producer and Teacher

Well, since my brand is music and I play in bands, the most important factor of my success is live performance. Connecting with people through the live performance keeps our brand active, relevant and generating money. Plus, there is nothing like playing music for a crowd! Its my ultimate high. Read more>>

Matt Rollens | Founder & CEO – Dragon Glassware

I think the most important factor behind the success to Dragon Glassware is our focus on Customer Obsession. One of my business idols is Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon. He attributes Customer Obsession as the #1 reason to Amazon’s success, so when I started Dragon Glassware, I wanted to follow his lead and build the company around this principle. What is Customer Obsession? In a nutshell, it means to always focus on improving the customer experience and making business decisions that will benefit the customer. Compared to being competitor focused, Customer Obsession forces you to be proactive and innovative, rather than reactive and following what others are doing. To achieve this, we are always asking ourselves questions. How will this product improve the lives of our customers? Is our website convenient and easy to use? Are we delivering the best customer service by going above and beyond? What are customers looking for that does not exist yet in our niche?. Read more>>

Charlene Laurent | Model and Actress

I think one of the important factors behind my success is believing in myself. The most important rule in life is being your biggest fan. Practicing gratitude and self-love in order to develop as a person and character. I work on myself every day and make sure to hold myself accountable for my work and actions. I’m never afraid to say that I don’t know something. Rather, I find joy in learning from others and getting inspired by other’s people work and compassion. Hard work is one of the leading facts as well. Not giving up and keep going. Even if things seem stagnant in my career; I practice gratitude for the things I have accomplished but also make sure to keep myself inspired for the future. Things just don’t happen because you want them to happen. Things happen because you work for them and trust God. Just to make sure everyone knows the secret to my success; it is all God’s doing. Read more>>

Cameron Lee | Luxury Lifestyle & Travel Content Creator

I have worked in marketing and PR for over 10 years before becoming a content creator/influencer. I was able to build my brand fairly quickly because I knew how to pitch myself properly and how to work with PR agencies and marketing teams in a professional manner. I am considered a unicorn in the influencer space because of my experience from the brand side as well as the content creator side. I’ve done marketing and PR in beauty, fashion, entertainment and hospitality, basically all the categories that influencers/content creators work in. There are many content creators/influencers out there, but not many can run a marketing or PR campaign from conception to execution and this definitely gives me an edge when working with other brands and creators. I saw myself as a brand/product and I approached it as a business and created assets that speaks to my brand, which is luxury lifestyle and travel. Read more>>

Destiny Henry | Literary Expansion Editor

Heart and determination. I love what I do and I work hard to continue to make that happen. I think my drive and passion for editing novels reaches my cliente. Whether from word of mouth or through my social media, I exuberate warmth and passion for what I do. I’m one of the few lucky that get to do what they love for work and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Read more>>

Thank You Come Again | Band

DANNY LOMELI (guitar): I think a lot of our success comes from how much we get along. Aside from the fact that the we share a similar vision and have chemistry musically, we love to just kick it and hangout too. COLE BAILEY (drums): I find that friends who dig and stand with each other even through the painfully awkward moments is the key ingredient to all successful creative endeavors. If we felt like tearing each other’s hair apart all the time, music would not be as good! IZZIE CLARK (vocals/guitar): We’re successful because of THE HOMIES!!! We would be zilch without the support of our community. JULIAN PAZ (bass): Collaboration certainly plays a part in our songwriting. Someone will bring a new riff to rehearsal, and everyone else will try to expand, shift, and build upon that idea until it becomes something that we all have in our DNA and can be proud of collectively. Read more>>

Dave Mau | Chef, Food Writer/Photographe

That could be a little difficult to be objective about but I’ll take a shot at it. By that I mean my internal process/formula for success might be considerably different than what is perceived by others. But if there is something I truly hope is translated through the execution of my craft it’s a genuine and deep seated love of people. In the restaurant industry the public will drive you crazy, that’s no secret. But, for me at least, I’m able to set that aside and make a tactile effort to meet people where they are whether it’s via the plate or pen. Lately I’ve developed an almost child-like enthusiasm for food, sharing stories about why something is meaningful and where that comes from. The narrative part of my experience as a Chef really kicked into high gear a few years ago when I was looking into some family history. My ancestors emigrated to Sonoma from France in 1849, settling there and helping establish early wine making along with the Vallejo family. Read more>>

Arielle Perez | 562 Local Plant Lady

I’ve had my business for two years now and the key to my business success has been consistency. I’m a disciplined person in general, so this has been somewhat easy for me. I’ve skipped out on social events and family gatherings when I needed to work my business. I’ve always believed in “Plan your work, and work your plan.” My family used to tease when I missed out on things, but I have to be consistent in creating social media content, making arrangements, scheduling deliveries and planning events. With Covid restrictions it has been vital to stay in front of my customers. I truly believe that has built trust and loyalty with my plant peeps/customers. Read more>>

Leah Recania | Fitness Coach / Personal Trainer

The most important factor behind my success is 100% God. Without my relationship with Him, I don’t know where I would be. There have been countless times I have wanted to give up or felt not worthy enough to simply just show up, but God has given me the confidence, endurance, strength, reassurance, wisdom, and more to keep moving forward. The other part is that my brand is not about me. What has kept it going the last couple of years is the community of women who are a part of the brand who resonate with the brand. It’s knowing I am able and purposed to create a place for these women to empower and be empowered that truly adds to the success of the overall brand. Read more>>

Serein Wu | Digital Content Creator

Before I ever started my business, I focused on trust with my audience. That trust I built is my number one priority when it comes to my brand and business and I believe it is why I am successful. Nothing is worth losing the years of trust I have built and I hope my audience knows that. Read more>>

Jeroslyn JoVonn | Writer & Correspondent

The success of my brand comes from two things: consistency in what I do best and showing and sending love to my peers and supporters. Since I’ve embarked on a career in media I’ve constantly pushed myself to keep going no matter what my current circumstances were. There were times when I was working a full-time job at a company or in a role that didn’t align with my passion. But, I allocated my free time to fulfilling my passion. I started my own website or interned with a media outlet until it led to a full-time position. Through that dedication and determination it has led me to a full-time career as a journalist. I weigh the success of my brand on how and who I’m able to connect with. As a journalist and correspondent, the more connected I am to the outside world, the more response I receive on my work. Whether the response is good, bad, or a healthy mix of both, I look at public responses and reactions to my work as success. Read more>>

Teresa Madrigal & Evelia Ayala | CEO & Creative Director

Consistency is key for our success & our growth. In order for our business to continue to grow, we need to remain consistent with our products, our customer service, our product quality & great presentation. Consistency helps us stay strong as leaders, so that we can continue to create effective plans that will help us move forward. Consistency helps our team communicate effectively with each other other to make powerful decisions that will aid us in presenting products that our consumers will love. Showing our customers that consistency is key, it creates a deep level of trust where they continue to return based on a positive & authentic experience with our shop. Ultimately our goal is to achieve long term happy customers that appreciate our loyalty, as we appreciate theirs. Read more>>

Quisha Milton | Chef Q. Milton | Private Chef & Caterer

I feel like the most important factor behind my success, has been being able to stay true to my self. Especially where my brand/ business is concerned. Being a female chef, has had its stereo types & we are in a space & time where can break out of this & truly be ourselves. Social media has added to this by allowing people to see & interact with chefs personalities & lifestyles. There really is something for everyone. Read more>>

Bruno Martinez | Lead Graphic Designer and Art Director

I have built my career and my “success” based on never stopping learning. I always felt that there is no ceiling in any discipline, and I think this kind of mindset allows you to keep pushing the limits and scale your work to the next level, taking more risks and challenging yourself with bigger projects. Knowledge gives you confidence and as an art director or lead graphic designer, it is crucial to keep experimenting and updating yourself to open your mind and be able to create original and impressive visuals that transmit and connect with people. Read more>>

Oak Kristopher | Oak Astrology School

unique program. I’m just really thankful to be aligned on my path and to be in my purpose. I feel that this is what draws in the amazing students that come through my programs. While my astrology school offers a solid experience of learning astrology, it’s also an intimate guide into my personal consulting practice and my ways of working with birth chart analysis. All I know is that when you get that urge to learn astrology, there is a ferocious yearning that ignites within the self. It takes over and then you realize that you are nearly kissing the elegant structure of all things. To be able to place language to the mother tongue of the soul is mind blowing. I cannot believe this is what I get to offer others. 🙏🏾. Read more>>

Ellie Johnson | Freedom Hair Independent Agent

There are many factors behind the success of Freedom Hair, but I would say the main reason is that Freedom Hair as a company does not compromise. Every part of creating a Freedom Hairpiece comes from a desire to create a quality product. Freedom Hair uses medical grade silicone, virgin hair, and has a family style production. This results in a product unlike any on the market today. Because of the attention to detail and unwillingness to compromise, our hairpieces withstand wind, swimming, and an active lifestyle. Read more>>

Gena G Silva | Portrait Photographer

As a portrait photographer, the most important factor in my business is to make a genuine connection with all my clients so I can capture their inner light beautifully on camera. Honestly, I think, success is doing something meaningful everyday, And everyday I do my best to do just that, As silly as it may sound, I’m moved by every portrait I take and every person I’m so fortunate to photograph. Everyday I strive to continue to learn & grow to be a better me. Success to me isn’t based on “likes” & “followers” on social media, it’s more about the interactions I have with the people in my community and my clients valuing what we created together. Read more>>

Tiffany Mangum | Yoga & Meditation Wellness Professional

The most important factor behind my success and the success of my brand is both patience and grace. Patience and grace has played such a major part in the growth of who I am as an individual, to what I love and have a passion for which is yoga and meditation and how its executed by way of creating accessibility and different avenues of people to access their own inner healing‘s with the resources and tools that I share. You can have everything that you want and desire but if you don’t have the patience to wait to see how things unfold and the grace and understanding for yourself and for people then success is very hard to maintain. Success is not all measurable. Read more>>

Stephen Foster Chuck Pelletier | Comedy Writing Team

Chuck Pelletier and Stephen Foster are 2 dynamic comedy writers and our band is “screwball” comedies. Our brand is a modern day version of Christopher Guest meets Mel Brooks. Read more>>

Jessica Hickerson | Owner

I have always believed in the idea that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” A concept that does not naturally fit into a small business trying to make a name for itself, however it has been the key to the success of Esplanade Brand. “Esplanade” started out as a way for me to celebrate my community of the South Bay of Los Angeles. Its a small beach town in the middle of a big city where people still appreciate long walks on the beach, seeing a familiar face every time you’re out, and taking a sick day when the surf is too good to pass us. Back in 2016 the majority of my orders were from friends and family, then it started to grow to friends of friends, and eventually complete strangers were placing orders. It was a fun year of a lot of learning but eventually I decided to take a break and close down my site since I was a new mom that already owned a full time photography business. Read more>>

Joseph Pepe  | Music Producer

Being in the music industry success comes in all different shapes and sizes, there’s no one proven way to becoming successful which is one of the most exciting things about this industry! However no matter which way you achieve success the one through line between everyone (besides a certain level of talent) is being a likable person and easy to get along with and work alongside. I’ve always just loved people and I genuinely enjoy collaborating creatively and having the company of others. I feel like that is one thing that has gotten me further than anything in my career as a music producer. Read more>>

Ronda Fraley | Founder & Sommelier at The Wine Party Co.

My customers, hands down. And I don’t mean having customers, although that’s obviously important, too. I mean the actionable feedback that I get from my customers when we talk and, more importantly, when I listen. I love to see what excites them and resonates with them but I especially appreciate the moments when they share something that I can be doing differently to serve them better. To be honest, you wouldn’t be able to recognize the company that I started with almost three years ago. Thanks to the people who were generous enough to share their honest opinions with me, I changed the name, the product, and pretty much everything else one hundred times over. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the problem I’m trying to solve for my customers—which is that choosing a good bottle of wine means dealing with an overwhelming number of options, whether you’re wandering the aisles of a wine shop or reading an exhaustive wine list at a restaurant. Read more>>

Mia Mimica | Interior Designer & Co-Founder of ‘a Sustainable Studio

By making it an extension of my spiritual practice and working with my fears. So there’s more to it than just trying to succeed and not to fail. I practice Modern Buddhism (Kadampa) and one key teaching is that we don’t know if something is good or bad. It’s very simple but it’s very profound to apply to any situation. For me then even failures have become very meaningful. It’s like no matter what’s the end result, you are creating more causes of peace of mind when you have mental tools to accept things patiently. And you’re basically and gradually getting rid of the basis of feeling fear of failing -or whatever it is- in the first place. We probably all realize that when we feel fearless we naturally become more creative and this overall freedom allows us to connect more with others -I believe this is the biggest part in design. To connect sincerely to know what will work for others. Read more>>

DeAndre Ballard | Founder- Design Director of Shattered Dreams

The most important factor behind my success is learning from my mistakes. Believing in myself and having faith that everything will work out. The challenges of starting your own clothing line/ business is a difficult journey. I learned that embracing your failures and learning from them, makes you stronger and the brand stronger. The success of my brand comes from my growth as a person and experiences in life. I am following my dream of designing high quality clothing. I want to inspire my customers to follow their dreams!. Read more>>

Maury Danielle | Principle Consultant, Author, Speak & Life Coach

The most important factor behind the accomplishments of our brand is the ability to be authentic, transparent, and vulnerable. BF2F is committed to sharing truths, giving voice to the oppressed, and cultivating real hope and healing for lasting change. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been imperative for BF2F to provide helpful resources, tips, and tools to promote self-awareness, self-care, and overall encouragement. As we continue to release products and resources, we are thankful to all of our supporters that help to spread the message of faith, hope, and love. Read more>>

Ludwig MOHR | MASTER CRAFTSMAN

Skill, Printmaking on Copperplate – the Art is in the Wiping of the Plate, I can wipe a Plate in any 3 directions, make the Printed sheet smile, being happy or in a deep depression. Being able to look at a Copperplate and knowing how to wipe it can make or break you as a printer. I didn’t went to college or such for my Education as a Printmaker, I worked with Hartmut Frielingshaus in Hamburg / Germany for years printing for Horst Janssen. All which was required, carrying Packets with paper, run errands, clean Plates, Rollers, what ever it took. But it made me what I am. The BFA and MFA carrying People I see in my shop, paying huge sums of money to fancy colleges and talk a Big Game of Art, but can’t wipe a Plate, don’t know Tools, Technique or Materials to stand on. Read more>>

Elbows | Musical Artist

When I think of my “success” it’s not based on this external marker of, oh I have this many listeners, or am on this playlist, or played this festival. Of course that can be an aspect of success. But for me, I like to create things – music, visual art, film, clothing, items, whatever – so success in its purest form is just about completing the idea, finishing what I set out to make. In that sense, the most important factor is time – taking time, dedicating time, spending time. I don’t think of myself as a slow creator necessarily, but I’m very detailed oriented, and what I like to make is usually pretty expansive – if I’m recording a song, I’m gonna also want to create the cover artwork, and direct a video. So to successfully accomplish those creations, it’s all about devoting time to creating and seeing it through to the end. Read more>>