Comment

Oh Yeah! A Pop Up Art Show April 15...

Discover and support great Los Angeles art...

As part of the two-week Yeah Furniture popup, our founder Sonja Rasula has curated a one-night art show all within the theme of black, white and gray.  Please join us at the Hudson Lofts in downtown LA to celebrate the talented artists Brian Rea (who illustrates the weekly Modern Love column every Sunday in the Style section of the New York Times), artist Ashkahn, sign-painter Keith Scharwath, and photographer Jonathan Sager. We'll have artisanal cocktails (free of course) by Ventura Spirits, great beats and awesome art from great people.

You must RSVP here. See you soon!

 

 

 

Comment

Comment

Save the Date!

We're so excited for the Unique LA Spring Market held May 9th & 10th at the California Market Center! The first 1000 shoppers each day will receive free tickets to the OC Fair! And to honor all of the rad moms on Mother's Day, we're giving each mom a free flower while supplies last!

Help us spread the word and use our buttons  to let your friends and family know on social media! Download here!

 

Comment

23 Comments

Unique is Evolving!

We have an important and very exciting announcement... We spent most of last year thinking about and analyzing our next steps and the future of UNIQUE, and we are thrilled to announce our big decision: UNIQUE is expanding our mission to include great independent business owners and designs from around the globe! We are extremely proud of the impact we have had on the local American economy and will continue to focus on great American-made products, however we also feel that it is time to evolve to not only grow but to maintain a successful company for years and years to come. Change is good. We open our arms to this new evolution in our story and are excited to move forward with gusto! Some of the main reasons we are moving in this direction include:

  • From Day 1 Sonja Rasula started Unique LA to support independent designers and businesses by giving them a brand-new platform to showcase at, a giant shopping event so they could reach thousands of shoppers/buyers/press. Nothing like it existed at the time, but now six years later we know the model is not only popular but that it works - vendors have been discovered by Urban Outfitters, Pottery Barn and Forever 21 to name a few, they have been written about in O (Oprah's magazine), Monocle and the LA Times, and a few have opened their own brick and mortar stores! We believe that expanding will give us the freedom to support even more artisans and makers both in communities across the US but also around the world! 
  • We have always wanted to support socially-conscious brands that may be based here in the US but have products made abroad. Now we can! 
  • We would like to create a Community Corner section at our markets that feature a few hand-picked non-profit organizations, allowing them to sell their products. We will now be able to include all great groups and not have to exclude anyone based on where their products are made.
  • Opening up the event to more vendors means we can curate the best of the best!
  • We will also be holding markets in Toronto, London and hopefully more global cities.

So, what does this mean for you? We are including more independent designers making products globally and removing limiting restrictions on our market applications. If you're a local maker, designer for our Unique markets, you will no longer be restricted to using materials made within the United States. You can have your brand at our markets and use materials from anywhere in the world. With that said, we are still very serious about the curation of our markets and will be looking for quality products and designs, and will still focus mostly on American-made goods.

If you're a shopper at our Unique markets, you will have the opportunity to buy from and support designers whose business model is based on "giving back" to specific causes around the world. You might find a great blanket woven in Mexico, or a bracelet which donates proceeds to help combat modern-day slavery in Asia, or as always, find an LA-made product. Unique will now be your marketplace to not only find new brands and support local designers but also discover and support artists from around the globe.

8205478824_d978211352_o.jpg

 

 

23 Comments

Comment

Valentine's Day DIY: Letters of Love on a Mug

There is no need to spend a lot of money on useless flowers or chocolate (Well okay, those things are NOT useless but they don't last as long as these mugs!). COFFEE is where it's at. Your lover knows this, you know this. Even though our DIY is cheap and easy, it will score major points with your Valentine and become a treasured keepsake. Sure, using paint pens on mugs has been done before, but we added a unique (cough, pun intended) twist to make it the perfect gift for your special someone on Valentine's Day! 

Instead of drawing typical stuff like hearts, his/her name or doodling on the mug, we want you to personalize it with words so it has a story! Write your own love note or choose special song lyrics, a favorite quote, or a passage from a poem or book - the idea is that when he/she wakes up in the morning or uses the mug at work, it makes them think of you. It's genius, simple and inexpensive - hooray!

What you'll need:
- White ceramic mugs
- Oil-based paint Sharpies

sharpie-002.jpg

Instructions:

Step 1:  Plan what you want to write or draw on your mug - for those who feel they aren't great at "drawing", don't worry because we actually love the idea of simply using text. Write something that's meaningful to you and your sweetie pie. If it's something blush-worthy, you can always just use the inside-facing surface of the mug, so when using the mug at work only he/she can see the words. For our example we chose lyrics from the song "Such Great Heights" by The Postal Service. A classic in our minds. Listen to it here while you get creative. 

Step 2: Practice writing with the paint pen on a piece of paper to get used to it, figure out how you want to form your letters. Hold the mug securly in one hand and write your love note!

Step 3: Place your mug(s) onto an oven safe dish. In order to set the paint properly and avoid cracks in the paint, place your mug in the oven while it is OFF (so there is no heat). Once sitting inside the oven, turn heat to 400 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.  

Step 4: Turn off the oven, open the door and allow the mugs to cool completely before removing them from the oven (approximately 1 hour).

Step 5: Once removed from the oven, let them stand/cool off for 3-4 hours to make sure the paint dries and sets.

Step 6: Viola! A perfect personalized mug just in time for Valentine's Day! 

Tips & Tricks:

  • Always hand wash to prolong the life of the design
  • Don't draw on the rim or inside of the mug (you don't want to ingest this stuff).
  • Show us what you've made using #uniqueDIY!

*photography by Bryan Dale

Comment

Comment

We Love Farmgirl Flowers: This Valentine's Send USA-Grown

The floral business is big business. In 2013, Americans spent over 25.7 billion dollars on flowers! And, did you know when you buy cut flowers from your local shop, they are usually imported from foreign countries? In the US, most of our flowers actually come from Colombia. San Francisco-based Farmgirl Flowers is one of the few flower delivery companies working to change that.

The team at Farmgirl Flowers is bringing American-made, designer-quality flowers to the public with an extremely user-friendly and, dare-we-say, really cool website. No more cheesy plastic planters; their floral arrangements are wrapped in recycled burlap coffee bags from rad coffee roasters in the Bay Area. And not only are they supporting local farmers, they are striving to minimize the environmental impact as well. That's a cause and company we can get behind! So this Valentine’s Day instead of choosing the least-tacky floral arrangement on a generic bouquet-site, get something that is truly unique, beautiful and supports a company that is changing the way we buy flowers. 

 

photo courtesy of @ farmgirlflowers

photo courtesy of @ farmgirlflowers

photo courtesy of @ farmgirlflowers

photo courtesy of @ farmgirlflowers

photo courtesy of @ farmgirlflowers

photo courtesy of @ farmgirlflowers

photo courtesy of @ farmgirlflowers

photo courtesy of @ farmgirlflowers

photo courtesy of @ farmgirlflowers

photo courtesy of @ farmgirlflowers

photo courtesy of @ farmgirlflowers

photo courtesy of @ farmgirlflowers

Comment

3 Comments

Let's Have a Conversation... In person!

*This post is long, stay with me and thank you for reading!

I just woke up to a situation that breaks my heart and is sitting very heavy with me. One of our vendors, Cuero & Mor has been accused of copying an Agnes Baddoo bag design in a very public forum by blogger Summer Browner. First, I want to be clear that I respect absolutely all involved: all designers, Summer and all of those who have made comments on her Instagram feed. However, this also feels very much like a witch hunt, which does not sit well with me... Especially since others have started reposting Summer's photo, very quickly creating a snowball affect. It's quite easy and I can totally understand how one could come across a photo or post about a so-called theft and chime in, "saddened and disgusted", "that's wrong", "so terrible." What is created is a social media storm of hate and high-fives, a sense of comradery stemming from something negative and filled with anger.  I talked with Pepe and Maria, of Cuero & Mor, this morning and they told me that they just last week saw Agnes' bag when Summer commented on their feed. That night (last Friday) they emailed Agnes directly to have a conversation and let her know that they had never seen her bags until that day. They never got a response, and instead woke up to a flurry of hate mail and comments. This is a hard subject for all and I am going to try and help by holding a forum, but want to say this one thing quickly and then will fully respond below: The reason they have deleted comments and blocked people is because they are scared and don't know what to do. They are human after all, not cold robots. Until you have faced this kind of hate and taunting, please don't judge another for not wanting negative people to continue to harass them. Ok? :)

The reason I am hesitant and defensive for not only my vendors but ALL parties involved, and what breaks my heart about the situation, is the feeling of such hate and accusation. As someone who is almost weekly the victim of racism and sexism, the feelings and hurt that come with being a victim of any kind of harassment are absolutely awful and I would wish that on no one. I take accusations and judgment very, very seriously. To call someone the N word without talking with them/getting to know them but just because the color of their skin is racist and cruel; to so openly call people thieves and gang up on them without actually having a conversation with them is similar. It's making a judgement without having a trial. I say this not against those who have left comments because they are coming from a passionate place, but to open eyes as to the fact that human beings are on the other end of all the hurtful comments. Two incredibly genuine, sweet, creative people who I have spoken with (I would never write a post without speaking to them) and absolutely did not steal or be "inspired by" any other bag including Agnes. It deeply disheartens me to think that all those rallying against them, and me, seem to choose to see evil in people by accusing them of theft, instead of seeing people as good and looking for another answer. Does that make sense? In other words, the two bags could absolutely be an awful coincidence, not to mention the handfuls of others that are out there that are similar in shape or use untreated, tan leather. It breaks my heart and I spent the last hour in tears to see my community, any community, doing this. Essentially, Cuero & Mor have not only been judged but are now being threatened and harassed (via email, social media, the phone), and are feeling scared and confused. THAT is fucked up. Theft is also fucked up, but that is not what happened. I don't think judging others can ever help solve anything  -  people need to talk to one another. It's easy to get angry and everyone should absolutely be able to voice their concerns, it's freedom of speech after all! But as a trained journalist I spent years being taught the importance of fairness, taking a step back and looking at evidence, never reporting anything without getting comment from all parties, and most important remembering that every single one of us bleeds the same. At the end of the day everyone involved has a heart and I think that is really important in this conversation.

To show how easily two different, stylish design minds can think so closely, here is a bag that LA-based Marie Turnor makes (and has made for years and years) and one by Agnes. There are things that make them different, but yet they are also the same. I don't think either copied the other and they are both beautiful bags. I understand Summer's wanting to voice her concerns, defend her friend, and let everyone know about authenticity and design. Who wouldn't? However, the ease and instant access to social media to get the word out is tricky - I  have never really seen any resolution take placed from these types of things because they aren't really "conversations", it's one group of people speaking to another. In other words there's a lot of talk but no actual walk. Change happens when we change this; Summer created the post and has started something, and now I would like to make sure that I hold a forum at The Unique Space so that the community can have an honest conversation TOGETHER about this very tough and personal subject. In person! I will send an email to Summer, Agnes, Maria and Pepe, Cathy Callahan to set a date for a forum about this subject. Let's see what happens and when we have a date (hopefully this Sunday), I will let all know (via a post on the @uniqueusa instagram feed) and look forward to the discussion.

I believe in good and good people, and I will ALWAYS investigate all sides before publicly talking about it because these are peoples lives and livelihoods at stake. I know from experience that a person cannot know about everything out in the world, especially if that person is an entrepreneur/independent designer because most likely they have their head in 1000 places (if not in their hands) a lot of the time. Not only have I been accused of knowing about a "copied" product but my vendors have been accused of copying a design. I live in LA and had no idea the Agnes Baddoo bag existed - If I did I obviously would have never used a similar bag on our postcard and ad campaign, and would have talked to them about the similarities when they applied! It really hurts me that I've been accused of supporting design theft. Do you understand why I find this so frustrating and am absolutely defending Cuero & Mor while also understanding Agnes? I don't believe in "sides" and find that way of thinking very scary and damaging - it is CRAZY to think that people would steal a design and then come to us (the largest market in the country, with major buyers and all the media attending) to sell it to a very large, vocal community. Who would do that on purpose?! No one I know. And not Maria and Pepe. The reason we chose their bag to feature in our ad campaign was because it is made with incredible craftsmanship and care, it's modern and exquisite. And because they are wonderful, warm, humble people. I also know Agnes is an amazing person but had quite honestly never seen her bags until now.

Being accused of something so publicly is pretty hurtful. I work incredibly hard, all day, every fucking day, because I am passionate about what I do but more importantly about the community that I serve. The thought that I would know about every single thing being made here in LA is insane. I do probably know more than most but there are literally hundreds of thousands of makers in this city (just one of the numerous cities that we have vendors from and do markets in). Every year I probably look at 1000-1500 applicants and potential vendors across the country, but that is a drop in the bucket of people out there making products! We quite honestly are so swamped looking at applicants throughout the year that we don't have time to spend looking at people who don't apply, and don't have time to go to all the shops in LA to scout, or surf blogs or magazines. Maybe we should but our jobs consist of event production, all of the logistics that go along with that, as well as producing our business conference and running a creative space downtown. It really doesn't leave time for researching what else is out there, and because I am not a stylist and do not come from the fashion world, I'm not in that community. What may be common knowledge to someone in those worlds is not common knowledge to me. I feel like I'm having to apologize and be made to feel bad about not having time to know everything that goes on in every neighborhood in LA! I'm a business person and an entrepreneur which means my head is mostly in new technology, business logistics and human resources, as I try my best to manage a staff the best I can. Plus you'll all now know how uncool I am but I'm old-fashioned so read all of my news in the actual printed newspaper. That's not to say that I don't shop, keep my eyes open for cool designers or network in various communities, I do. And I love going to the Echo Park Craft Fair, where from her blog I can see that Agnes sells at. Simply said, I didn't go to the last holiday event and previously I've somehow never seen or noticed her bags. What else can I say?!

Man, this has taken awhile to write! Let's move forward in a positive way, as a community not a mob. Let's meet and have a discussion about everything, hear the stories of both Agnes and Maria and Pepe, talk about the role of the media, and you know, treat each other with respect and love. I'll also invite a lawyer who can also be there to help us fully understand how designers can protect themselves. I truly believe that all involved create beautiful work, and what is an awful coincidence should be put behind us. We are a community. Let's talk.

3 Comments

Comment

Why Staff Retreats ROCK!

After a very busy and productive 2014, the Unique team went on a much-needed three day staff retreat to Palm Springs! Even though our team is small, six people including full-time and part-time staff, we are mighty and accomplish a lot across three different brands: the Unique USA shopping events, The Unique Space and our creative conference CAMP.  What that means is that, like most small businesses, we all wear many hats and work on different projects. So our founder Sonja Rasula thought it was time we left our normal environment to concentrate on 2015 planning, biz dev and strategy, and to spend time together, bonding away from the workplace... WHAT AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE IT WAS!

Basically what it boils down to is that we invested the time into 'taking time out', which seems like a simple concept yet few small businesses do it. After the experience Sonja is now making it an annual retreat and we accomplished so much in just a few days, both work and play! We brainstormed website redesign, thought of new revenue streams, figured out the new company vision and mission statements; but we also had a great time deepening friendships, doing arts and crafts projects to foster our creative sides, and we had a blast cooking and drinking wine! One night we had planned to go out on the town but every single person opted to stay in to simply play Pictionary, which really shows how much fun we had simply hanging-out and getting to know one another! Whether you're a small business or a big one we think a retreat is crucial, the outcome of our retreat did wonders for us. Here's some of our photos we shared on Instagram using #UniqueStaffRetreat. 

Comment

Unique USA Family

Comment

Unique USA Family

We've been producing Unique USA, the largest Made-in-America market, for 6 years now! We truly feel we've created a community and a family with our vendors, sponsors and attendees. One of our partners-in-crime is Rafael Cruz and his team from Oh! Snap Studioswho have been with us since our very first show! They produce custom built photo booths for special events, and always come up with fun, wacky scenes for our shoppers to get creative together! Taking a free photo booth picture has become part of the tradition of going to Unique USA for a lot of families. Here's one in particular - meet the Remple family. 

They started attending Unique USA when their daughter was a young girl and have attended almost every market since, taking photos at the Oh! Snap Studios photo booth each time. Now, six years later their daughter is a teenager! It's amazing to watch her grow up in the photos from a cute, little girl into a beautiful young person! It's showed us how much we've all grown and how much we value being part of your family and your holiday tradition. 

Thank you for supporting Unique USA since the beginning and thank you for creating memories with us and our partners Oh! Snap Studios! 

Comment

Comment

Thank you LA!

What an amazing weekend of local holiday shopping that was! We love our fans and shoppers so much, together we've created a pretty epic community... And thousands of you shared photos on Instagram using #uniqueusa! Whether pics of cool celebs, beautiful food shots or colorful photos from the event, we thought we would share some of our favorites. Enjoy!

carla.jpg

Comment

Comment

#MoreStuffingLessStuff

Thanksgiving is a time for reflection, love, celebration, laughter... It's about gratitude and community. So we've created #MoreStuffingLessStuff to show our commitment to spending time with loved ones instead of shopping, and we hope you'll spread the above image too! We are so thankful that you have discovered and joined us - you are our community, you are everything! Over the last week, especially with the recent events and mood across America, we'd like to encourage you to spend time with friends, family, loved ones, neighbors throughout the holiday weekend. This Thanksgiving, let's break the ill-suited tradition of being attached to a screen or device of some sort to surf the web for deals or getting up at the break of dawn to wait in line at conglomerate businesses to buy products that are, quite frankly, sh*t. This important holiday is not about shopping at all! We encourage you to revel in the act of cooking and communal eating with people that you love. We hope you will get outdoors and go for a walk or hike in your community and neighborhood. Volunteer or donate money to a local organization that is doing great work.

Do you really need that 85" TV? Or that extra "must-have" trend of the year that will sit in the back of your closet?

Community is important because it's what ties us together despite differences. We may indeed each be unique, but we're all human and the one truth that we share is that we have the same beginning and end. What we do in-between, what we do with our time is the good stuff! Find and engage in community, whether it's through a common interest such as food or mopeds, or within an organization such as volunteering at a seniors home or joining a club at work. Taking part in community and being a strong member of your community is more important than ever! Take the time to get to know your neighbors, your neighborhood and your city. By discovering the people  around you, who live nearby and who share common interests you gain a sense of home and community. Community is about compassion, empathy, understanding. Being part of a community is so important because it brings a sense of purpose, a sense of neighborhood, and you have people that you can talk to and rely on for help.

We hope you will share and spread #MoreStuffingLessStuff on Instagram and Twitter because Thanksgiving is about so much more than saving a few dollars on Black Friday!

Let's put an end to this consumerism madness! It's an endless cycle that does little but produce waste, anxiety and debt. Thanksgiving is about family, friends and spending time with each other. It's about being thankful for the things you have, not wishing for things you don't. So join us, show us what Thanksgiving means to you, how you're celebrating and what you're thankful for this year: share the hashtag #MoreStuffingLessStuff. Let's eat, drink and celebrate what we're thankful for with family, even those awkward cousins and long-winded uncles. But let's not, of all things, waste our hard-earned money and precious time buying cheap, disposable sh*t we don't need. Instead, wait to do your holiday shopping and buy high-quality goods that will last, made here in America with love and care, at our LA Holiday Market Dec 6 & 7, at Renegade Craft Fairs and Northern Grade events around the country, plus visit local stores and "Shop Small".

We are really, really excited to see your posts and pictures. Show us what Thanksgiving means to you. We'll repost our favorites via Instagram. Have a Great Thanksgiving Everyone!

xoxo,

Team Unique USA 

Comment

Comment

The Anatomy of Buying Local

People often ask us what we mean when we say that buying American-made helps the community, so we decided to make this graphic to help show all the amazing ways that spending your dollars on local-made goods helps. Purchasing items that are made here in the USA helps the economy on both a micro and macro level! Aside from the obvious results that shopping local at UNIQUE USA gives us all (getting a quality product and feeling good about buying from someone in your community), when you buy items made abroad you're helping another country's infrastructure but when you buy things made here at home you're putting money right back into local infrastructure. Here are a few ways your dollars help:

  • Business owner tax dollars (city, state AND federal) go toward public services. That's everything from our public schools and police safety patrols to highway improvements and local parks!
  • As a small business grows they have to outsource, hire freelancers and/or begin to hire employees, helping to create jobs in their community.
  • They also use numerous service providers, who are themselves each small business owners in the neighborhood, such as printers, couriers, manufacturers, accountants, etc. The cycle is continuous!  

So while you may spend a few more dollars on things made in the USA, when you're buying American-made your dollar is going toward much more then a beautiful, locally-produced product. Yay!

Comment