By Carolina Llorca, Creative Director at The Agency

As a recent Los Angeles transplant, I am always on the look out for that cool local event – something that only natives (if there is such a thing in LA) might know about. So this weekend, I plan on heading to Santa Monica for UNIQUE LA‘s Summer show.

The Barker Hangar is usually home to the Barney’s outlet sale and other fabulous events, but this Saturday and Sunday, it’s going to house something far more homegrown, handmade, and unique.

Unique-USA-logo-300x157Launched in December of 2008, the independent design show UNIQUE LA is the brainchild of community leader and designer Sonja Rasula. Her mission is simple but ambitious: “I want to bring modern Made-in-America 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.”

On average, shoppers spend over $1.5 million at each UNIQUE event – because the curated shows feature only Made-in-America products, and the money spent directly benefits the community. Apart from being an economic catalyst for LA, what it really offers is the rare opportunity to meet and shop directly from over 150 hand-selected designers and artists… plus cocktails!


To fuel up, consider starting your day at a popular breakfast spot like Cora’s Coffee Shop. There are multiple, all-day parking lots in the Santa Monica airport for only $10.

Once at Unique, my first stop (not that it will be my last) is at the Oh Snap Studios Photo Booth, where they provide an assortment of quirky accessories and costumes for a fun picture op with a friend or your better half.

Brinkoties_0757_renderMake sure to stop by Brinko Ties, and shop for handmade bowties and lady ties. Then check out Taylor Donsker Design for a one-of-a-kind coffee table. 

If you need a snack, don’t miss the curated Truck Stop Cafe featuring some of LA’s best food trucks. Ludo Truck, specializing in fried chicken, is acclaimed as “one of the 99 things to eat in LA before you die” by food critic Jonathan Gold. Heirloom LA offers a cornucopia of fun, organic fare – try their signature lasagna cupcake. And if you want a pick-me-up, stop by Handsome Coffee Roasters for a delicious cappuccino.

02_shutters-coast-main-dining-room-5020_retouchSince Santa Monica is a far drive from my Hollywood home, I plan on making a day of it. So after I’m shopped out at Unique, I’ll venture to Shutters on the Beach for a glass of rosé, and then take a walk down to the Santa Monica Pier. If you’re feeling adventurous, you might even drive into Malibu, with a stop at Rosenthal for wine tasting.