Home LifestyleCareer 10 Hoboken + Jersey City Locals to Watch in May 2024

10 Hoboken + Jersey City Locals to Watch in May 2024

by Hoboken Girl Team
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A new month means we’re highlighting another batch of inspiring Hoboken and Jersey City locals here at The Hoboken Girl. From songwriters and artists to app designers and more, these people are making a difference in the Hudson County community and beyond every day. Read on for a list of 10 Hoboken and Jersey City locals to watch this May.

Michael Santos (a.k.a. Pootie) | Songwriter, Rapper, Producer, + Artist

michael santos

By day, Michael Santos is an I.T. consultant, but on his off hours, he’s “Pootie,” a songwriter, rapper, producer, and artist. Michael says that music has saved his life and his new album, Rinse + Repeat, is a testament to that.

Rinse + Repeat was released earlier this year, and the physical copies mark the first vinyl records from a Hoboken-based artist in 30 years. Music and art are life savers for Michael, and he hopes his work will inspire the same self-love that these mediums have brought to him. Hoboken specifically is a point of inspiration: “I love how diverse and eccentric it’s become. And while it’s far from perfect it’s given me everything I’ve ever needed to get where I am and for that, I’m forever thankful,” he shared with HG.

Michael hopes to continue representing his culture through music and continue using his songs as a means to express the genuine love and respect he feels for friends, family, and community. You can stream Rinse + Repeat here.

Michael’s favorite Hoboken + Jersey City businesses:Seven Valleys, Vintage On First, Turning Point, Ibby’s Falafel, Koro Koro, Morgan’s Egyptian Seafood, and Ani Ramen.”

Club Pilates 2023

Learn more about Michael and his musical journey here and here.

Read More: This Former Hoboken Resident Created a Hand-Drawn Map of the Mile Square

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Monique Wilson | CEO of Styles House, Inc.

monique wilson

It’s a lot of work to be the oldest sibling in any family, but for Monique Wilson, that pressure was tenfold. As the oldest of ten children, Monique helped her mom raise her nine younger siblings, through which she realized that she loved guiding people.

Fast forward to 2018, and after a corporate career Monique — alongside Leslie C. Wilson — launched Styles House, a Jersey City-based organization dedicated to supporting youth transitioning out of the foster care system. Drawing on her experience as a foster mother, Monique understands “the challenges these young individuals face” and is “dedicated to providing them with the necessary support and resources.”

Monique’s favorite part about the work is the resilience and potential of the young individuals in the program. “Every success story, and every milestone reached by the youth we serve, serves as a powerful reminder of the impact our organization can have on their lives,” she shared with HG.

Monique’s favorite spots in Jersey City + Hoboken: “The waterfront area at Exchange Place offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, providing the perfect backdrop for strolls or relaxed picnics by the water. Meanwhile, Grove Street’s vibrant neighborhood boasts an array of charming cafes, trendy boutiques, and cozy eateries, creating a lively and inviting atmosphere.”

Keep up with Monique and her work with Styles House here and here.

Lily Cossio | Founder of Dream Dress

lily cossio

For a teenage milestone, prom certainly comes at a pretty penny — between dresses, hair, makeup, and nails, an eventful evening can quickly turn into an expensive one. Lily Cossio, former Hoboken resident and student, knows this first-hand and wanted to give her peers an affordable option that doesn’t sacrifice the glamor.

This year, Lily put on a local dress drive called Dream Dress, where she collected gently used prom dresses for fellow students to shop. Honoring her Cuban heritage, she partnered with N.A.C.A.W. (National Association for Cuban American Women) and Union City High School to empower young girls to look and feel their best.

With the success of her first event, Lily hopes to “inspire another student either at my school or another high school to pick up the mantle and continue with this initiative after I graduate next year,” she shared with HG. Dream Dress collected over 200 dresses, which she said far exceeded her expectations.

Lily’s favorite local spots: “Growing up in Hoboken, Alfalfa was and remains hands down my favorite lunch spot. Their salads are hearty and delicious and I have yet to find a salad as good, anywhere else!”

Brian Davis | Founder of Greenlight App

brian davis

Brian Davis is busy. He works as a pharmaceutical sales rep in Jersey City, is a head coach for an 8th-grade basketball team, is a DJ, hosts an annual spelling bee charity event, and has been creating an online dating app. Phew.

The Weedle Bee event happened this past April at House of ‘Que and raised money to support gym fees for his basketball team. Following the spelling bee’s success, Brian is turning his attention towards Greenlight, a Hoboken-based dating app without matching or messaging.

A no-contact dating app might raise some eyebrows, but Brian says that’s the point: “to create genuine connections among the world around us. By launching a dating app with no messaging and no matching, my goal is to bring people together via real-life communication, vibes, and instant attraction.” Hoboken was an obvious choice for Brian and his team, who believe that “Hoboken holds so much meaning to so many people.”

Greenlight is set to launch sometime this month. To add to Brian’s busy schedule, he also appeared on Wheel of Fortune‘s “Fan Favorites of the Week” episode, which airs May 28th.

Local business owners Brian looks up to: “Sponsors of the Weedle Bee! But the guys I respect the most are Gino’s Pizza on Central Ave in Jersey City where Frankie and Andy sponsored our basketball team so we could get jerseys and free entry for both boys and girls teams! We practiced at a gym where we shared sides of the court and the girl’s team made it to the championship losing in a heartbreaker! Our boys got their first win in 9 years so those guys up at Gino’s did a lot for us! Good people.”

Keep up with Brian here.

Christine Rubenstein | Founder of DoKnotDisturb

doknot disturb

It’s no secret to us here at Team HG that working out is more fun when you look cute. Hoboken resident Christine Rubenstein knows this too — and launched a wellness apparel brand with her best friend Lauren.

DoKnot Disturb sells adorable pilates socks and scrunchies, to make a trip to a workout seamless. Christine and Lauren drew from their fitness journies: Christine fell in love with the mental health benefits of working out, and Lauren relied on fitness to get through wedding planning and pregnancies.

“Through both of our journeys, we discovered our need for go-to accessories designed with movement in mind,” the duo shares on their website. “With our busy lifestyles, we like to grab our daily essentials, throw them on, and look and feel our best.” A mantra we can get behind.

DoKnot Disturb is an online retailer and you can shop it here

Local business owners Christine looks up to: “Elevate Pilates owner, Amanda.”

Keep up with Christine here and here.



Dario Pizzano | Director of Fundraising of Mission Stadiums for Multiple Sclerosis (MS4MS)


Dario Pizzano has been a Hoboken resident since 2014, and appreciates how there is truly something for everyone here. While enjoying everything the Mile Square has to offer, Dario also spends a lot of his time giving back to a cause that hits home for his family: multiple sclerosis.

His mother, Tracie, has been suffering from the disease for over 20 years, and Dario makes it his mission to help find a cure and provide resources and support as the Director of Fundraising for Mission Stadiums for Multiple Sclerosis (MS4MS). MS4MS is a sports and entertainment-focused non-profit organization whose mission is to raise awareness of MS at stadiums, as well as raise funds directly for families with MS warriors and for the advancement of research at the Johns Hopkins Project Restore MS Research Center in hopes of finding a cure.

“My mom has been my inspiration in every aspect of my life, but especially with the personal connection to multiple sclerosis. She has given me every opportunity to be successful my entire life, putting me and my siblings’ needs before her own. I always wanted to use my platform to give back in any way I could, raising funds and spreading awareness of this horrible disease,” Dario told HG.

This cause means the world to Dario, and he encourages people to “get out there and get involved in something meaningful to them”. He praised the sense of community MS4MS provides for both those struggling with the disease every day and their families.

Dario’s favorite Hoboken spots: “10th and Willow, The Madison, Orale, Otto Strada, Tenth Street Pizza, Carpe Diem, Ayame, Sorellina, Tosti, Plaka Soulvaki, and Turning Point.”

Learn more about Dario’s work here and here.

Monica + TJ Dalton | Founders of Dalton Black Sail

Monica and TJ Dalton live in the heart of Hoboken, and recently launched a new small business that looks to change the way people view athletic apparel with Dalton Black Sail. The apparel company is a nautically-inspired + American-built performance apparel brand that uses eco-friendly fabrics and focuses on combining luxury fashion with patented utility function for both men and women.

“We are proud to launch in Hoboken and hope that we can inspire a change in the way people shop for performance wear with eco-friendly fabrics that aren’t just for working out but are refined enough to enjoy the day,” Monica and TJ told HG.

The pair combined TJ’s experience in luxury fashion with Monica’s experience in competitive sailing to create the brand, and their goal is to “change the way you view your athletic apparel and provide slow-fashion clothing that lasts for years to come.”

Monica’s and TJ’s favorite Hoboken businesses:Elysian Cafe, Bin 14, Lisa’s Deli, and Otto Strada.”

Learn more about Monica and TJ’s company, Dalton Black Sail here and here.

Begum Arda | Founder of Anarkia LLC, Pastry Chef, + Cake Decorator

Begum Arda

Begum Arda is a pastry chef, cake decorator, and Hoboken resident who will also be the future host of a new YouTube channel — Sweet NYC Adventures — which will take viewers on a journey through the diverse dessert scene of Hudson County + NYC.

Her passion for all things sweet goes way back, as she has over a decade of professional experience in the dessert world and graduated from a professional pastry school in her early 20s before traveling the world as a “flying chef” for some time. Through her love for cake decorating, Begum has been able to create masterpiece cakes for special events and more over the years — and most recently, was recently commissioned to design a cake for former New York Mets pitcher, Dwight “Doc” Gooden.

On being a pastry chef, Begum told HG that she’s “inspired by the fusion of art and delicious desserts. Creating edible masterpieces that delight both visually and gastronomically is my passion and driving force. It would inspire me if I can make someone learn something from me and use it to create goodness.”

Begum’s favorite Hoboken businesses: “Halifax, O’Bagel, Sweet Hoboken, and Sri Thai Restaurant.” 

Keep up with Begum and her journey as a chef here and here.

Sinmi Ajao Malaspina | NYU Student + Artist

Sinmi Ajao Malaspina

Sinmi Ajao Malaspina is a freshman student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts who has a passion for art. She arrived in New Jersey from Lagos, Nigeria in 2013, and immediately fell in love with the Mile Square after meeting Hoboken’s mayor at that time while checking out Dom’s Bakery — who then invited Sinmi and her mother to a concert at Sinatra Park. She appreciates how the area is a melting pot of diverse culture, and felt right at home when the pair made the move to Hudson County.

At the young age of 16, Sinmi had her first solo art exhibition (which sold out!), and donated all of the proceeds to the Hoboken Shelter. She had her second art exhibition in April of this year in the Monroe Center, also benefitting the shelter.

“What inspires me is the ability to create. I plan to use my creativity to making the world a better place. Through art I am bringing my community together and using the proceeds from my art to eliminate poverty and homelessness!” Sinmi told HG.

Local business owners Sinmi looks up to: “Tresorie Suit E419 on 720 Monroe Street – Heba, the owner believed in my craft when I did not and partnered with me for my first solo when I was only 16 years old. Dom of Dom’s Bakery (may his soul rest in peace) Aside from his wonderful bread and lobster tail he was kind and always open (even on holiday). He was dedicated to the community until the end!”

Keep up with Sinmi and her journey here.

See More: A List of Women-Owned Restaurants in Montclair + Bloomfield

Abby Studnicka | Founder of Archie + Alfred

abby studnicka

Who says our furry friends can’t be as fashionable as we are? Not Abby Studnicka, a Hoboken resident and “dog influencer” who launched a fashion-forward dog accessories brand. 

In 2020, Abby designed a harness, leash, and collar for her pup at home. After two years of testing products, she launched Alfred + Archie, which has since made its way to shelves in major retailers and received praise from multiple news outlets. The online shop sells leashes, biodegradable waste bags, harnesses, and collars, all designed in a chic mint green. 

Abby is a third-generation entrepreneur and wants to inspire women to chase their dreams, no matter how other people might perceive them. It’s a bonus she gets to combine her entrepreneurial endeavors with her passion for animals: “I am a huge dog lover so I love that I get to work in the pet industry,” she shared with HG. “Looking at adorable pups all day long and supporting local animal shelters fills my heart.”

Abby’s favorite local spots:Elevate Pilates – my favorite workout, Mojo for my coffee and tea, The Brick, best vegan Philly cheesesteak pizza, Annie + Em’s bake shop for any sweets.”

Keep up with Abby and her journey with Archie + Alfred here and here.

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