Unique LA can be described as an indoor market where more than 350 hand-selected artists and designers showcase their distinctive, hip and locally-made products.
Did you get that?
Well, let me give you more details.
Imagine yourself taking an elevator to the penthouse of a thirteen stories building. Once the elevator doors open, you see hundreds of booths selling all sorts of awesome goods: apparel, jewelry, prints, stationary goods, toys, pet items and more. Plus, there are gourmet edibles too, which means you can nibble on some delicious samples while you walk around oohing and ahhing (are those words?) at the pieces conceived by creative minds.
Sonja Rasula, a former TV personality, had the desire 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.
On December 2008, the first Unique LA market took place. The event was an instant success. It is estimated that each event is attended by more than 20,000 people who spend about $1.5 million over two days.
I attended the market for the first time last weekend. In my opinion, the work of the designers and artists (which were from the area) was reason enough to visit. To me, it is eye opening how certain individuals are able to create something phenomenal from what appears to be ordinary.
In this case, it wasn’t all about the high quality of the vendor goods. Certainly, that was a very strong base. But, Unique LA incorporates other elements that elevated the event even more. There was live music, a food court, sponsor samples, photography spaces and a friendly crowd.
The place was full but it didn’t feel crowded. There was enough space to talk to vendors, meet people, chill on a corner and admire the views from Downtown LA.
This has become one of my favorite events in Los Angeles (right up there with food festivals, yikes!).
Here are some photos:
Donuts from Donut Friend
I really liked the work from Concrete Geometric.
Awesome pies from Sugar Pie, Honey Buns
Tent from Scout Regalia
I was impressed by the pieces sold by Ri-stor. They create lamps from old appliances.
The market was heavy on accessories and jewelry (heaven for women!).
Crazy Go Nuts had a walnut bar. They also had walnut milk samples. The High Choctane flavor was by favorite (cocoa + expresso).
I was surprise by the creativity of the guys from Goat and Kettle. Their jewelry is made mainly from antique keys.
Janie XY had adorable hand-made toys.
The samples from T-WE (tea) and Secret Squirrel (coffee) were really good.
The designs from MKL Studio were very funny (prints). In addition, I enjoyed the jewelry from Indie Republic Design.
I Like Pie specializes in baking miniature pies (sweet and savory).
At first, I was intrigued by Bloomtubes proposal. They attach a small magnet to what can be described as test tubes (like the ones used in chemistry labs). The tubes can be used to store all sorts of goods. You can even grow plants in them.
NO&YO showcased their outdoor adventure clothing. Plus, they were giving away inspiring cards.
The Brazilian sweets from Maya Brigadeiro were outstanding. I was able to try their delicious passion fruit cream.
It was difficult to move away from Artistry Industrial’s booth. Their geometric shapes inspired jewelry caught my attention.
The designs from Robinina (prints) were really cool.
This is just a sample of what I experience at Unique LA. Don’t forget this is a market with 350 vendors. It is something you have to see by yourself.
Note: I have used postcards, business cards and brochures from some businesses in this post. Most of these sell their goods online, thru Etsy shops or in specialty stores. Support independent and small business whenever is possible.
Have you been to Unique La or to a similar market?