Unique LA

 

I just can't quit with this wave of design events. Unique LA was a large gathering at the California Market Center that featured high quality local designers as well as a great crowd. In every corner there was something different. Anything from handmade clothes to handcrafted teas or even recycled glass for jewelry, the halls were flooded with creativity at it's best.

I go for the interaction between the artist and myself. I love the exchanging that takes place where I get to learn about the artists' life, their passions and their products. I love knowing who makes the objects that I buy and to learn about how/where they are made. For me, this deepens the satisfaction as a consumer.  

Now artists can showcase their work and get out there with tools like social media or events like Unique USA. Instead of buying your next gift at another established store, why not purchase something to someone who is up and coming and will have something totally unique and special?

Many of my latest purchases were inspired from some of my instagram finds. I am doing my best to move in this direction because I feel like I am really supporting someone who I admire, believe in and want to see succeed out in the marketplace.

Another inspiration I want to add is the UNIQUE mission and about page, so I decided to include it below. May it have a positive influence on your next purchase.

Happy, Healthy and Conscious Shopping!

"WE BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF PEOPLE. It's our mission statement and it guides everything we do here at Unique.

UNIQUE was created by community leader, creative director and former TV design personality Sonja Rasula as a way to bring local-made design and art to the masses while helping to grow and support the US economy and small businesses. The idea of a giant trade show-sized shopping event came to her as she sat in traffic, frustrated with having to drive across the city to numerous shops to buy gifts for a friend. '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.' Hailed the fresh face of a growing Made in the USA movement, Sonja’s mission is simple: 'I want to bring modern, independent design to the masses. My goals are to help designers and small businesses grow and become sustainable, to support the local economy, and to teach shoppers the value of conscious consumerism.' 

Our very first market, Unique LA, started in December of 2008 and instantly became the largest 'buy local' shopping event in the country. Currently 20,000+ attendees come to discover independent designers/artists and buy local (an estimated $1.5 million is spent at each two-day show). Attendees get the rare chance to meet and shop directly from 350 hand-selected designers and artists in one space. UNIQUE makes it easy for shoppers to support the local economy, discover great design and deals, join in community, and have a blast with DJs/free drinks/free craft projects and workshops and more. We hold three shopping events in LA per year, and once a year in San Francisco and New York City.

 

Q+A with Sonja Rasula, founder and creator of Unique LA

 

Q: How do you go about curating vendors? What do you look for? 

A: We look for a modern aesthetic with great branding and design. Products that are less "crafty" and more high-quality, independent design. We serve as a launching pad for brands that are 2 - 7 years old, products that are a bit more established.

Q: Which companies vended at Unique and then took their business to the next level? 

A: We have a lot of companies that vended at Unique and then took the business to the next level, Gray Malin sold his photographs at Unique and is now a photography powerhouse, Ellen Bennett from Hedley & Bennett was a vendor, we also have had a lot of vendors gain massive exposure and wholesale accounts from buyers who walk the show - we had avenuedee who makes fanny packs gain a wholesale account with Forever 21 after participating in our Holiday Market. Those are a few examples we can think of off the top of our head! 

Q: Do most people who vend have a day job and then create on the side or is it a mix? 

A: I think it's a mix. Many vendors have day jobs, many do it full-time. It's a difficult jump to be a full-time entrepreneur. I think those that have part-time jobs are working towards being able to work on their business full-time. It's really inspiring to talk and meet with the vendors. They are hustlers. They are insanely creative and hardworking. We're constantly inspired by what they do. 

Q: What do you think makes for a good event? 

A: We are meticulous about paying attention to the details - we strive to make sure customers are inspired throughout the event with great branding, complimentary food & drinks, beautiful lounges for people to relax etc. We want every corner of the venue to be filled with something to engage the customer and make them smile or take a photo for instagram etc. We want to make it very engaging, where they have real experiences and create memories - that's what makes a good event in our opinion! 

Q: Why do you think artisans and unique hand-crafted products are sweeping the nation at this time? 

A: I think people want authenticity and quality. People appreciate a beautiful, functional and practical product that is unique. Something that stands out and makes everyday life stand out a bit more. I think there's a resurgence of appreciating quality over quantity and things that are well-made. We are more aware as a society of being less wasteful. Buying something that is well-made might be more expensive initially but means you buy less of that product in the long run creating less waste.