The Oakland Indie Awards are here, a city tradition since 2007 that honors the businesses and people that make Oakland… Oakland. Nominees are competing in seven categories, each representing something different for our city.  Check out a few of the notable nominees in the categories below:

Oakland Soul: Represents the soul, essence and spirit of Oakland. This business or artist appreciates diversity and creativity, is confident in their individuality and humbly supports their brothers and sisters.

1. Los Rakas

Two hip-hop-obsessed cousins Raka Dun and Raka Rich, otherwise known as Los Rakas, have been bringing you those locally grown, reggae-infused beats you love so much since 2006. Originally meeting in East Oakland when they were teenagers, Los Rakas has been producing music with the likes of Blondie, Snoop Dogg and Diplo, all while staying true to the city they know and love. I know you’ve heard their music, especially if you hang out at The Layover on the weekends.

2. The Perfect Sidekick

Are you a queer individual looking for a space to work out that’s safe, encouraging and embraces your identity? Looking for a place to lift weights where you won’t have to wait in line behind endless amounts of gym rats comparing the size of their biceps all day? The Perfect Sidekick might be just the thing for you. Get this: it’s the only queer gym in the nation, and it’s right here in Oakland. I could go on and on, but I’ll let gym founder Natalie rope you in…

3. Era Art Bar and Lounge

Fancy some art with that cocktail? Head over to Era Art Bar and Lounge on Grand Avenue. They feature curated collections of art from Oakland’s best local artists along with handcrafted cocktails made by some of the most skilled bartenders in the Bay. Era Art Bar is unlike any other bars you’ve probably heard of, and that’s why it’s an Oakland favorite.

One of Era's bartenders expertly making drinks for customers (Courtesy of Era Art Bar and Lounge)

One of Era’s bartenders expertly making drinks for customers. (Courtesy of Era Art Bar and Lounge)

Ripple Effect: A business that supports the local economy by buying supplies and services from other local vendors, creating a “ripple effect” as money circulates within the community.

1. Awaken Cafe

Oakland is notorious for how much love it shows to small businesses. Awaken Cafe is one of Oakland’s most unique, offering locally roasted Four Barrel coffee, art exhibitions and a host of community-oriented events like live music and spoken-word poetry.

Awaken Cafe features entertainment from poets to comics -- all in downtown Oakland! (Courtesy of Awaken Cafe)

Awaken Cafe features entertainment from poets to comics — all in downtown Oakland. (Courtesy of Awaken Cafe)

2. Oaklandish

Focused on bringing “quality goods” to “neighborhoods” with hella local love, Oaklandish seeks to capture the city’s sense of community through its customized apparel. Next time you see that tree logo with extending roots, you’re probably looking at something from Oaklandish; founder Jeff Hull designed that tree back in 2000.

One of the many items Oaklandish features in their downtown Oakland store (Courtesy of Oaklandish)

One of the many items Oaklandish features in their downtown Oakland store. (Courtesy of Oaklandish)

Social Changemaker: This socially responsible business or individual incorporates positive social change into their mission, operations and/or measures of success. They use creative approaches to give back to the community and address economic and environmental issues. 

1. House Kombucha

Bringing you the finest locally sourced fermented teas and cold-brew coffee, House Kombucha can be purchased in just about any store in the Bay Area. 100 percent raw and probiotic, these drinks will give you just the refresher you need in the upcoming summer months. They also give back to the city that loves them by donating 5 percent of their kombucha to local organizations like Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project, Bay Localize, Green Festival, Inner City Advisors, Ferment Change, Planting Justice, and the Sustainable Economies Law Center.

2. The Town Kitchen

This local business provides Oakland’s underserved youth with the opportunity to learn to cook using locally sourced food and making positions available within the company that span beyond just delivering to customers. The Town Kitchen’s youth are also introduced to Oakland’s talented chefs and creative entrepreneurs, giving them the tools they need to network, demonstrate their skills and succeed.

One of the lunches made by The Town Kitchen's youth (Courtesy of The Town Kitchen)

One of the lunches made by The Town Kitchen’s youth. (Courtesy of The Town Kitchen)

Innovative Newcomer: A business or artist who started in the last three years that excites and inspires with a creative new idea, perspective, model or solution. 

1. Cat Town Cafe

Oakland, coffee… and cats?! Honestly, what more could you ask for? Cat Town Cafe is what it sounds like — a cafe where cats roam about to the delight of customers. What’s revolutionary about this cafe, other than its feline friends, you may ask? The cats aren’t just there to entertain customers; the cafe doubles as adoption center for these little guys!

Tiny is one of Cat Town Cafe's residents...if he hasn't already been adopted, that is! (Courtesy of Cat Town Cafe)

Tiny is one of Cat Town Cafe’s residents…if he hasn’t already been adopted, that is. (Courtesy of Cat Town Cafe)

2. OakStop

Oakland’s innovation scene is growing faster than you can blink, and OakStop is one of many coworking spaces providing a creative space for Oakland’s entrepreneurs and artists to display their creations, host events, hold conferences or workshops, and put in work on their socially responsible startups. Who knows — maybe the next Pandora will be born here.

Welcome to your new office! (Courtesy of OakStop)

Welcome to your new office. (Courtesy of OakStop)

Greenie: An environmental champion who works to improve our community through sustainable practices, products or services. This local business or individual reduces waste or consumption, creates green products or provides green services. 


1. Back to the Roots

If you’re at all into being green or looking for a way to be more environmentally responsible when it comes to your food, consider checking out this company. Back to the Roots gives you the tools to grow your own mushroom farm — completely organically — and features a host of other straight-from-the-ground products that are ready for you to eat. They’re on a mission to make food personal again.

Back to the Roots co-founders with their products in store (Courtesy of Back to the Roots)

Back to the Roots co-founders with their products in store (Courtesy of Back to the Roots)

2. The East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse

Instead of trashing those old video tapes you don’t watch anymore or getting rid of that ancient set of cutlery you don’t use, why not consider donating them to Oakland’s reuse depot? “Every teacher’s first stop and every artist’s second home.”

Pillar: A long-established Oakland business or artist with deep roots in the community and long-standing ties to the people, culture and history of The Town. This person or business mentors newbies and is renowned for their contributions to Oakland’s living history.

1. Cafe Van Kleef

There’s a reason this place has the best Greyhounds in the Bay. Enough said.

2. Fenton’s Creamery

Best. Ice cream. In. Oakland. Hands down. This old-fashioned parlor has been in business for 121 years, and while Fenton’s is known to people far and wide as a destination spot, locals love it for staying true to its roots — and its sundaes — after all this time.

Fenton's has just what your sweet tooth needs and the years in business to prove it (Courtesy of Fenton's Creamery)

Fenton’s has just what your sweet tooth needs and the years in business to prove it (Courtesy of Fenton’s Creamery)

Job Creator: An independent business that has a positive effect on the region by consistently providing good jobs for residents of the Bay Area, employs 50 people or more, is socially responsible and/or environmentally sustainable.

1. Grand Lake Theater

A staple in Oakland’s Lakeshore district, the Grand Lake Theater is a historic landmark housed in a restored theater from 1926. Beautiful inside and out, local residents will frequently choose this theater over trekking all the way to AMC in Emeryville or another chain theater just to support a business that’s provided them with entertainment for nearly 100 years.

A view of the front of Grand Lake Theater (Courtesy of Grand Lake Theater)

A view of the front of Grand Lake Theater. (Courtesy of Grand Lake Theater)


I bet you didn’t know that the photo editing app you’re using right now to brighten your selfie for Instagram is based right here in Oakland. VSCO Cam, or Visual Supply Co., is one of the App Store’s top-rated photography apps around right now and provides daily image grids on its website from photography around the world.

A snapshot from a VSCO user's recent visit to Cambodia, featured on VSCO's website (Courtesy of VSCO)

A snapshot from a VSCO user’s recent visit to Cambodia, featured on VSCO’s website. (Courtesy of VSCO)

To see a complete list of all 2015 nominees and buy tickets for the ceremony, click here. Winners will be announced at the 9th annual Oakland Indie Awards tonight.


One Response

  1. Greg

    Oaklandish does very little for this community. They do things that are visible when the reporters or cameras are looking. What about good pay for their staff? What about helping other start-up local shirt companies? They are in it for the $ and that’s it. The claim art, and history… but its all a lie.


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