Why We Started Our Own Marketplace

Why We Started

Our Own Marketplace

For as long as we can remember, we have both been drawn to creative fields and careers that allowed us the freedom to explore our inspirations.

For Diana, this path lead her to becoming a fashion designer turned entrepreneur with her own namesake brand. Shortly after graduating from OTIS College of Art and Design, she began her design career at Arden B and then moved on to designing for Lucky Brand. After Lucky Brand, she was approached by Glenn Williams (formerly of Capital Tailors), to partner with him on a new contemporary line he was creating called SNT Workshop.

After establishing herself in the industry, she was given the exciting opportunity to help launch yet another new brand – Patterson J. Kincaid – as head designer. In between projects, Diana filled her time freelancing for Frette, which gave her a peek into the luxury market.

Ahyoung and her children

The creative freedom also encouraged her to take her first entrepreneurial step as she finally felt ready to launch her own namesake line dRA. Today dRA is carried in over 200 stores both nationally and internationally, and has been hailed by Bloomberg as one of the “Top 9 Brands Making Los Angeles The Next Fashion Capital”. The brand counts Beyoncé, Jennifer Lawrence, Elle Fanning, and Jessica Alba as frequent fans. Her first brick and mortar store recently opened at the newly developed ROW DTLA in the Arts District. You can find her working at the store on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The marketplace

For Ahyoung, it first lead to a career as a retail fashion buyer and eventually the opportunity to open her own retail business. After leaving her consulting job as a merchandiser and planner in the women’s apparel space, she sought to find more flexibility while pursuing her creative passions as a new mother. A children’s retail business seemed to be the perfect way to utilize both her professional experience and personal interests at that stage in her life, and she soon opened a brick and mortar store named Lux Tots in Pasadena, CA alongside a branded e-commerce website of the same name. As business grew and she built a following both online and in her local community, her schedule became less flexible and she inevitably became more consumed in the logistical and operational side of retail. Once again, Ahyoung found herself creatively unfulfilled and searching for ways to bring more creative endeavors into her professional life. She realized she was most inspired by the brand development and design aspect of her business. During her time at Lux Tots, she had also built relationships with many fellow creative entrepreneurs involved in children’s fashion and lifestyle, and she was determined to find a way to bring these two things together.

Later in their adult lives, Diana and Ahyoung reconnected as not only entrepreneurs but also as mothers. They shared their story with SWAAY:

We both discovered the challenges of balancing a family and running a business, a point we really appreciated and bonded over. At the same time, we both found a shared love of going to all the flea markets and fairs that were popping up in Los Angeles. It was both exciting and inspiring to see gatherings of local entrepreneurs like ourselves supporting each other and forming a community of likeminded creators and makers.

We immediately knew this movement was something we both wanted to take part in and suddenly the idea of Modern Artisan Marketplace was born.

As mothers, we really enjoy bringing our kids to these events but wished there was more convenience provided to accommodate families. Our goal with MAM was to bridge the gap between artisanal markets and an elevated retail experience by offering convenience and great amenities, something we had not yet experienced. Ample parking and clean bathrooms were key, and it was important to us to keep it boutique-sized so it never became overwhelming.

We also wanted to bring in an element of participation and entertainment for both adults and kids so we introduced a variety of workshops, in hopes that MAM could be a destination for individuals and families to come and spend the day.

We sought to create a community of artisans focusing on fashion, home, accessories, kids and beauty that shared our modern aesthetic, and we found that Platform LA would be the ideal home for this project, as both their aesthetic and amenities fit our vision perfectly. Being avid shoppers, we started reaching out to all of our favorite brands and were thrilled to find that so many of them were already eagerly looking for opportunities to connect with their customers in person, and the rest is history!

As we approach our second event, Modern Artisan Marketplace continues to support the global movement toward shopping small and supporting local businesses. Our weekend long event highlights a carefully curated collection of emerging artisans and inspiring brands. Featuring retail, workshops, and interactive experiences for guests of all ages, MAM is a platform for brands to share their products and services with a likeminded audience. We hope that it is a unique and family-friendly experience that brings together a diverse and engaged community.

One day we hope to expand into a global pop up marketplace and highlight different local creators and makers from all over the world, growing our local community into an international one. In the near future, we are working on bringing MAM to Newport Beach in the beautiful Lido Marina Village. Stay tuned!

Diana Ra and Ahyoung Kim

Diana and Ahyoung are the founders of Modern Artisan Marketplace

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