What’s the best thing about holiday shopping? The crowds? The dirge of noise and from every corner of a cookie-cutter shopping mall? No, you can leave all that in the past because DTLA has the cherished good fortune to be home to Unique Market LA – a trailblazing integrative experience that brings consumers and local artists, designers and entrepreneurs face to face for one amazing weekend of sustainable shopping, community building and creative energy.
Since 2008 Unique LA has transformed the California Market Center, DTLA’s garment district hub, into the nation’s largest pop up event showcasing a carefully curated selection of locally produced items. What began as mostly jewelry in its early years, Unique LA now encompasses a vast selection of home décor, leather goods, apothecary and beauty, handcrafted furniture, clothing, art and more. What even more, Unique LA is an immersive experience that includes complimentary cocktails, art installations with photo ops, a kids play area, artisanal food court and a DIY Den (one for adults and one for the kiddies) where your inner creative spirit can blossom and be unleashed in a number of projects, For VIP ticket holders there is a private lounge with drinks and snacks sans the lines and a free tarot reading.
Naturally, this ingenious undertaking didn’t happen with a magic wand and fairy dust. It needed a visionary mind and indomitable spirit with the talent, background, and perseverance to bring this idea to life. And that person is founder and CEO is Sonja Rasula. Growing up in Echo Park as the daughter of bohemian parents, Rasula was surrounded by art, activism, and diversity. A former creative director and TV design personality, she built a career making others’ dreams come to fruition. Experiencing an epiphany while driving in traffic, Rasula risked her entire savings on a concept that would not only help springboard the revitalization of DTLA, but of an entire movement of conscious consumerism. “It dawned on me that there needed to be a large-scale community shopping event where you could buy loads of cool, curated items in one place.” Indeed, Rasula strived to reinvigorate, reimagine and energize what we commonly refer to as shopping. Her impact on the local economy for both artists and consumers has earned her some not-too-shabby honors such as one of Los Angeles Magazine’s Top 10 Inspiring Women and named one of the Women Entrepreneurs Changing the World’ by fashion mogul Eileen Fisher.
So to what can we attribute the success and longevity of Unique LA and increased interest in the sustainable marketplace? It’s a multi-faceted answer in which Rasula has tremendous insight. On the one hand, she points to the prevalence of our technology-driven society and the desire for consumers “wanting to meet people face to face and wanting to meet the people whose products you are buying.” Part two of the “deep answer “as Rasula coins it, is the consumer desire for ethically produced products that do not compromise the environment in addition to being American made, which stimulates the economy. Independent entrepreneurs and artists not only make and sell their wares, they utilize local businesses for distribution, handling, supplies and employ others as their business prospers. Plus they pay taxes which is dispersed into local and community works and services. The more immediate, or “less deep” answer she muses, is the antiquated and often stifling environment of the shopping mall. Windowless and dormant, many feel these arcane edifices are the polar opposite of the Unique LA experience. Today’s consumer seeks an organic involvement in the production and purchase of goods and services.
Come and see for yourself what Unique LA is all about on December 2nd & 3rd at the California Market Center from 11am-6pm both days.
Visit https://www.uniquemarkets.com/ for more information.