Home Culture 10 Hoboken + Jersey City Locals to Watch In August 2023

10 Hoboken + Jersey City Locals to Watch In August 2023

by Hoboken Girl Team
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As we kick off August, The Hoboken Girl is back again with our monthly series highlighting local Hoboken + Jersey City people that HG readers should have their eye on. From content creators to bakers to creative directors and singers, these Hudson County locals are making their mark. Read on for our list of Hoboken + Jersey City locals to watch for August 2023. 

Morgan Gallon | Beauty Content Creator 

morgan gallon hoboken jersey city

Morgan Gallon is a Jersey City + Hoboken resident who is passionate about all things social media. She launched her own skincare account almost two years ago — and never looked back. Morgan tells HG, “It is such a privilege for me to be able to share my passion for skincare with an audience.” When she’s not sharing skincare hacks, Morgan is managing a full-time job at Accenture as a Social Media Manager. If that sounds like a lot, it is — Morgan joked with HG  “Who says you can’t do it all? Me. I say that, because I’m exhausted 99% of the time, but it’s so worth it!”

Club Pilates 2023

With her presence on social media, Morgan says, “Meeting and engaging with like-minded individuals with the same aspirations and goals truly inspires and motivates me to be my best.” Her goals for the future? She shared with HG  “I have always said if I could help just one person, it would be worth all the effort. Social media has given me the opportunity to connect with people who need inspiration the most.”

sojo spa

In addition to her multi-hyphenate job titles, Morgan is also taking on the title of Mrs. this year as she marries her fiancé. 

Hobbs Inc

Morgan’s favorite local spots: Bond Salon, Modern Nails, Mystique Beauty, and Graceful Skin + Body Spa.

Follow Morgan’s skin-care dedicated page via @skin_selfish.

Shehnaaz Jagasia | Founder + Creative Director at Shehnaaz Dance Academy

shehnaaz jagasia jersey city

yoga renew hoboken

Jersey City resident Shehnaaz Jagasia works as a Founder + Creative Director at Shehnaaz Dance Academy, a New Jersey-based performing arts school. With her school, Shehnaaz hopes that “I would like to create a safe space for all our families to take that short break from their routine-driven mundane lives. Be it performance arts or STEM-based activities we want our students to dabble in and learn from them all.” She also shared with HG, “We want them to be proud of their roots and be confident to share these with their community, give the community an insight into the diversity and the beauty it brings to Jersey City.”

What she loves the most about living in Jersey City is that “Jersey City is HOME. It’s a wonderful balance of dynamic nature but still a calming influence on my life — and why I’ve lived here for the past 15 years. You can choose to be whatever you put your mind to in Jersey City.”

Her inspiration stems from “a desire to bring my rich cultural heritage to the forefront while also integrating seamlessly into my community which has provided me new avenues for growth both professionally and personally. The smiles and happiness of my students and families have made me work harder to achieve what I have today,” she tells HG

Shehnaaz’s local favorite spots: Porta, Zepplin Hall, O’Leary’s, Corgi Spirits, Morris Square Park, and Exchange Place Waterfront   

Learn more about Shehnaaz and her school on Instagram via @shehnaazdanceacademy and her website

Daira Castillo | Founder + Baker of Del Castillo Cakes

daira castillo del castillo cakes jersey city

With her background in the fine dining restaurant industry, Daira Castillo took her skills and expertise to build her own business, Del Castillo Cakes, in 2022. She wanted to learn more about cake decoration and creation leading up to the launch of Del Castillo Cakes. Daira shared with HG, “This business had 2 purposes to begin. The first one was to spend more time with my kids and working from home seemed a great idea. The second one was to create something my own that could expose my creativity and the love a have for sweets to the public.”

Daira’s goal for Castillo Cakes is “to bring my customers their cake dreams to life and motivate others to follow their passion as I did with baking.” Her kids continue to inspire her, too:  “My inspiration is that no matter the obstacles you might find in life there will always be a solution. I would love to inspire moms to follow their dreams and to believe that kids are not obstacles, they are blessings and our everyday motor.”

Daira’s favorite local spots: Elizabeth Restaurant, Pompei Pizza, Torico Ice Cream, and South House

Follow Daira and her cake journey via @delcastillocakesllc.

Read More: 10 Hoboken + Jersey City Locals To Watch In July 2023

Jason Sagat | Artist + Creative Director of The Layers Project

jason sagat layers project hoboken

Originally hailing from Rockland County in New York, Jason Sagat currently lives in Hoboken, freelancing as a Graphic Designer + Art Director. His inspiration dates back to his adolescence when he took photography and photoshop classes in high school. Pursuing his curiosity and honing in on his skills, Jason took more classes in college at SUNY Oneonta and SVA in New York City. When asked why photography was so important to him, Jason shared  “Photography always made me feel in the flow of things – present and aware of the subtleties of the everyday elements of life.”

Within his line of work, he says, “I draw inspiration from artists like Kandinsky and Richter to juxtapose the abstract and familiar, almost nostalgically. I’d like to inspire people to ‘look up’, to be present, and to appreciate all the things that make up our world. This is how the process starts for me and my work.”

Jason’s favorite part about living in Hoboken: “I love Hoboken. It has its own energy, it offers me a mix of worlds of New York City and the quieter suburbs. It gives me everything I want in terms of entertainment, food, community, people, and opportunity while being close to home, friends, and family.”

Follow Jason and his journey via @the.layers.project and his website

Caroline Byrne | Artist, Singer, + Songwriter

caroline byrne singer hoboken

Photo Credit: Tori Spadaro Weintraub

Caroline Byrne is an R+B singer and songwriter from New Jersey –  currently based in Hoboken. Her most recent collaborations include two tracks, “Another Life” + “Feels Just Like It” on LP Giobbi’s debut album, “Light Places.” Caroline has also been featured in a dance re-imagination of Angie Stone’s, “Wish I Didn’t Miss You”. Inspired by the works of powerful female artists, including Janet Jackson, Sade, and Mariah Carey, Caroline creates with the intention of “luring the listener” into her soul and “carefully offering up” a piece of herself to take away. When she’s not performing, Caroline works as a certified Pilates instructor at Pump Pilates and Club Pilates. 

Caroline tells HG, “As a singer + songwriter, I find inspiration in the people I meet and the conversations we share. The connections I make with others provide me with the emotions, experiences, and perspectives that fuel my creativity.” As far as future plans, Caroline says she would love to “ participate in community events where music becomes a unifying force, and share my voice with others. 

Business owners Caroline looks up to: “The women I work for at Club Pilates + Pump Pilates. Both business owners are strong women who understand a person’s desire to pursue passions and dreams, as they’re also making their own reality.” 

Follow Caroline and her music journey via her Instagram page @iamcarolinebyrne.

Leilani Chin + Joseph Meyers | Founders + Owners of Moda Studio JC

leilani chin joseph meyers moda studio jersey city

Photo Credit: @liz_kamarul

Leilani Chin and Joseph Meyers are the brains behind Moda Studio JC —  a vintage furniture and homeware shop based out of from Bergen-Lafayette studio. Leilani lives in The Heights and Joseph lives in Journal Square, but the duo are bound by their shared love of Jersey City.  Moda Studio JC was an attempt to fill a gap in the market — the two felt like Jersey City “was lacking a place where you can find a large selection of vintage furniture both online and in-person.” 

On what makes Moda Studio JC special, the duo shared  “There is nothing better than collecting piece by piece to make your house feel like home. It means so much when our customers send us pictures of their purchases (whether it’s an entire bedroom set or just a cute vase) in their homes and tells us how much joy it brings them. 

Leilani and Joseph’s goal is to “keep our selection big and varied from many time periods. We want to keep prices affordable so that everyone can bring a piece from Moda home with them.”

Leilani + Joseph’s favorite part of living in North Jersey: Shopping! Being in North Jersey gives us accessibility to find all of the treasures that end up in our studio. We shop all throughout NJ, but also are close enough to PA and CT to score some more finds. 

Keep up with Leilani + Joseph’s business, Moda Studio JC via @modastudiojc on Instagram.

Cedric Gayon | Chef + Founder of Five Tastes

cedric jersey city five tastes

Photo Credit: @jguerrero.photos

Originally from the West Coast, Jersey City resident Cedric Gayon wanted to develop a new type of culinary experience in his new home. After a stint at Eleven Madison Park in Manhattan, Cedric founded Five Tastes, which is a unique dining experience currently featuring as a pop-up. Five Tastes takes guests on a journey with menus varying from 5 to 7 courses. In terms of inspiration, Cedric tells HG, “I am a passionate creative at my deepest core. If I have the ability to share my love for cooking and express myself to the Jersey City community, it’s all I really need.

As a new resident of Jersey City, Cedric says, “I’ve come to really love it here and know that there’s so much potential and feel the dining scene is rising more every day. I want to be a part of helping bring a high caliber level of cooking so locals don’t feel the need to go into Manhattan for a Michelin Level dining experience.”

Business owners Cedric looks up to: “Absolutely would have to say Anand Patel and Spoorthi Kumar of Hidden Grounds Coffee and Will Kelly of Skinners Loft. Both of them are Jersey locals who have grown their businesses by sharing their stories, staying authentic, and finding their own forms of success with the local community organically.” 

More about Cedric and his journey can be found on Instagram via @fivetastes + @chefcgayon and his website here

Baris Sonmez | Owner of Lifecap Farms

Photo Credit: Amber Breitenberg

LifeCap Farms is a sustainable, urban farm based in Jersey City, NJ founded by Baris Sonmez. Baris shared with HG, “We are passionate about providing local, gourmet mushrooms and mushroom-based products to our community. Our mission is to spread our love of mushrooms based on the endless health benefits they possess and serve as a great addition to any meal or alternative to meat. We believe the food you eat shouldn’t come from thousands of miles away.”

LifeCap Farms is a way for Baris to connect with the community through food.   The farm has “events linking music, art, poetry, food prepared by local chefs, and farming.” Baris told HG “If I could inspire people, I would inspire them to focus on the quality of the food folks consume. We put a heavy emphasis on organic and the free compost we give back to the gardens in Jersey City and Paterson, NJ.”

In terms of LifeCap Farms’ future, Baris wishes to further develop our educational program with schools about mushroom farming, highlight the artists in our community as it relates to mushroom art/furniture, and most of all provide fresh organic mushrooms to local restaurants and CSA (community supported agriculture).”

Baris’ favorite local spots: “Urban Gardens and anywhere that’s green!”

More about Baris and his work with LifeCap Farms can be found via @lifecapfarmsnj and its website here

Gianni + Milly-May McLaughlin | Filmmakers + Founders of Paper Cinema

gianni milly may hoboken

Gianni and Milly-May McLaughlin are local filmmakers who recently released an award-winning movie called Bless Me Father on Prime Video. Their journey as a couple began “backstage on the first day of rehearsal for an off-Broadway play “D.O.A.” (Dead On Arrival).” A short five months later, the couple tied the knot — only for their lavish destination wedding celebration in August 2020 to be canceled. Call it fate or serendipity, Milly-May suggested that the couple  “take the money saved from not having a wedding and make the movie Bless Me Father,” a screenplay Gianni had written three years earlier. Production for the film began in the summer of 2020 and had a duration of six weeks. 

This couple’s goals when it comes to filmmaking are simple:   “to continue to create!” The duo wants to create in Hudson County and bring our productions here. “Hoboken and Hudson County have a rich history of great artists who have shaped the entertainment world. We want to continue that tradition.”

Gianni’s favorite part of living in North Jersey: “It’s kind of hard to put my finger on what is my favorite part of living in North Jersey.  It is where my family lives, and has an amazing view of NYC and great food. My family and I have gone to Italy every summer for the month of July since I was five years old. I grew up eating Italian food in Italy. The only other place in the world that has good Italian food is North Jersey and New York Metropolitan area. The fresh mozzarella in New Jersey is actually better than the “fiore di latte” in Naples.”

Keep up with Gianni + Milly-May’s filmmaking journey via @paper_cinema_llc and its website.

See More: A Conversation With Maison Rainbow Founder Samantha Hahn

Victor Manuel Lopez Jr. | Founder of What Hoboken Sounds Like

victor manuel what hoboken sounds like

Hoboken resident, Victor Manuel Lopez Jr. does it all – from content creation to graphic and fashion designing. Victor is also a former rap artist, a journey that began when he was just 16 years old. He tells HG, “I stumbled upon the captivating world of music and arts, and it was at that moment that a deep love and passion for these creative pursuits took root within me, shaping my path for a lifetime.” He eventually delved into creating What Hoboken Sounds Like, a non-profit organization that shines a light on overlooked creatives in Hoboken. 

Victor shared, “That as his passions developed, he recognized a “notable void within our city. A lack of diverse opportunities for fellow creatives left untapped potential, and I knew I had to take action.”

It was that void he sought (and continues to seek) to fill with his platform. “Since its creation, [What Hoboken Sounds Like] has aimed to provide a welcoming space for creative minds to thrive, collaborating and inspiring each other, and contributing to the cultural tapestry of our city.”

Victor draws on his personal experience for his own inspiration and the inspiration of others like him: “… it would be incredibly meaningful to me if my experiences as a young Latino man growing up in the Hoboken Housing Projects served as a guide for many young men or women.” As a husband and father, Victor is proud to “show my children that I had a goal and worked towards making a positive impact in this city like it’s never seen before.” 

Business owners Victor looks up to: “Margarita Garcia from Little Linguists, Carmelo Garcia from MotivateYou, Chris Corbin from Hive Athletic, and Louis Quinones from Community Lifestyle.”

Follow Victor and What Hoboken Sounds Like via @whathobokensoundslike and its website here as well as @youngemeljay

For potential inclusion in our next round-up, fill out this Google Form here (or send it to someone you want to see featured!).

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