When Laguna newbie and artist Heidi Luerra aspired to launch what she thought was a promising "tween" fashion line in Los Angeles at age 19, she didn't expect that finding her big break would be such a bust.
"I was trying to promote myself and having a really hard time," recalls the 25-year-old entrepreneur, who now runs her own marketing and events business, Heidi Luerra Productions. "I realized there were other artists and designers out there who were facing the same 'indie' struggle, and felt inspired to help them in some way."
Her solution was Project Ethos, a collaborative fashion, art and music event in Hollywood that aimed to launch emerging designers, artists and musicians like country singer-songwriter Colie Calliat and the "genreless" band, One Republic.
The project would soon become a springboard for RAW: Natural Born Artists, a nonprofit she established in 2009 with Matt Khlahorst, a fellow entrepreneur and web developer, that hosts showcases "for artists, by artists" in seven areas in California including Orange County, Los Angeles and San Francisco.