Unique Markets 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 items in one place - the key would be in the curation and creating an inspirational experience to ensure a quality, interactive retail alternative."
Hailed the fresh face of a growing conscious consumerism 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, to inject money into the local economy, and to teach shoppers the value of conscious consumerism..." Our very first market started in Los Angeles in December of 2008 - during the worst economic crisis of our generation - and instantly became the largest indoor “shop small” shopping event in the country. Since then we have held markets in San Fransisco, NYC, Austin, Seattle, Boston, Washington DC, Denver, Minneapolis, and Phoenix.
Aside from the pop-up marketplaces, we create educational opportunities and provide insight to small businesses. Franchisees will have direct access to mentorship from Sonja and the team; to read more about Sonja click here.
Our mission is to provide opportunities that help entrepreneurs, designers, and emerging brands become more successful while creating innovative retail experiences that push the public to shop small.
We believe that by reimagining the shopping experience, we can help people discover beautifully designed, high quality products they love, while helping small business owners in their community thrive.
Over the last 11 years Unique Markets has had a profound impact in numerous ways:
We’ve featured and helped 10,000 small business owners at the markets
Over $25 million has been spent at our pop-up marketplaces
Close to 300k shoppers have attended our marketplaces and supported small business
We’ve helped business owners grow and subsequently hire - in some cases, our vendors have grown to employ over 100 people
More small business tax dollars have been injected into communities, helping local libraries, public schools, parks, roads, etc.
Currently, 70% of the sellers at our markets are women and most of the sellers describe themselves as “minority-owned businesses”
Inspiring generations to be creative - we are proud to serve as an example of ‘alternative’ career options such as jewelry designer, furniture maker, chocolatier, etc.
THE UNIQUE TEAM
"Unique Markets Turns to Franchising”, Women’s Wear Daily
“Unique Announces Launch of It’s Franchise Program”, USA Today
“How One Woman’s Company is Fostering Community…”, Bustle
MasterCard Announces Women’s Business Advisory Council, Create & Cultivate
“8 Predictions for the State of Women Entrepreneurship…”, Fast Company