Monday, December 7, 2009

Unique L.A.

Yesterday I journeyed to the 2nd annual Unique Los Angeles Holiday Show at the California Market Center, which is located in the fashion district of downtown L.A., just a mile or two from the Staples Center.

I heard about the show, which is the largest independent design show on the West Coast, on Danni’s blog, oh, hello friend. Danni was there along with more than 300 other designers and artists who were showcasing their goods—almost all of which are made in America. Yay for homegrown, local products!

The two-day event started Saturday, but the boy and I went Sunday. Though we live just about 45 minutes from downtown, we don’t venture into the city that often, so it took one wrong turn and a few circles on the one-way streets around the center before we found the venue and a parking spot.

Once inside the event, it was like sensory overload. There was so much to see! Neither of us had ever been to an event like this, an expo if you will, so when we entered the Green Room—which featured the work of eco designers, of course—on the lobby level, we were still getting our bearings and trying to figure out what to do with ourselves.

We soon ventured up to the penthouse level, the 13th floor, to see the rest of the offerings. Unfortunately for me, the show came at an extremely tight time financially—oh how I wish the show had been next weekend when I’d have a new paycheck to spend! Well, maybe it is a good thing I don’t have much money in the bank, otherwise I probably would have come away with bags and bags of goodies! There were so many wonderful things, it was like Etsy in real life. In other words: heaven.

Since I couldn’t shop till I dropped, I simply window-shopped. Or table shopped. You know what I mean. Booth after booth displayed new eye candy in all forms: clothing and accessories, bath and beauty, stationary, jewelry, house wares, artwork, ceramics, toys, photography, screenprints, edibles. See what I mean with sensory overload?

Walking around the show, I satisfied my urge to shop by picking up business cards and flyers from tables I liked. Kind of like hearting on Etsy, right? That way, I can “revisit” their shops later, aka when I get paid.

It’s hard to pick favorites out of the stellar crop of sellers that were on display, but here’s some who caught my eye:

:: Lori Koop ceramics- website, Etsy shop
Lori creates beautiful pottery that has a sense of whimsy and poetry about them, perfectly imperfect as she calls them, and they are different than a lot of other clay work I’ve seen. Even as we talked she was working a piece in her hands. She had the cutest little birdhouses, too, which I entered a drawing for (fingers crossed!).

:: Rock Scissor Paper- website
This boutique of colorful finds offers journals, mugs, coasters and owl paraphernalia that simply made me smile.

:: Scarlet Glass- website, collection
Sunny Scarlett crafts beautiful pendants out of glass and prettifies the pieces with images from nature. My favorite is the platinum peacock feather pendant that is strung on a sterling silver rope chain.

:: Steppie- website, Etsy shop
This shop is filled with all things adorable, but I was especially taken with the panda-printed tees and totes, as well as an “I Am A Ninja” tank in heather gray that looked super comfy.

:: Sharon Montrose Photography- website, Etsy shop
I think most everyone in the blogosphere has seen her gorgeous animal prints but if not, click over immediately. I love the deer and the owl and the raccoon and the baby chick and … you get the idea.

:: v is for violet- Etsy shop
Too cute plushies. Makes me feel like a kid again. (I had one heck of a stuffed animal collection as a child!)

:: anemone letterpress- website, Etsy shop
I love all things letterpress and there were several letterpress printers at the show. This is just one that I stopped to browse at after seeing a funny Mr. Roboto "thank you" card. Who wouldn't love getting that in the mail?

:: Dewi Designs- website
Light and delicate hand sewn jewelry that is like a work of art for your neck—it is even sold in the Museum of Contemporary Art gift shop! My favorites are the globes necklaces, though I don’t think the photos on the website do them justice. They are even more stunning in person.

:: p.o.p. candy- website
This Santa Monica-based shop sells yummy, all-natural butter crunch candies that come in flavors like almond, pecan, rosemary almond and a multi-nut blend. I tried the pecan and it was pretty much the best brittle ever; not too hard or sticky. Just perfectly crisp and sweet. It is so good, the owner told me they sold out of their confections on Saturday and had to spend all night making more for Sunday.

And finally, a special shout out to ex libris anonymous, which sells journals made from vintage hardcover books, for getting us into the show for free!

Though I showed great restraint at the event, I did walk away with two pretties, thanks to the boy. He bought me an iridescent Lacey Oak leaf necklace charm from London Manori and some happy tape—colorful masking tape—from oh, hello friend.

On a side note, Danni was as sweet and friendly as you would imagine from reading her lovely blog. It was my first time meeting a blogger “in real life” and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but even as shoppers flooded into her booth to check out all her beautiful items, she kept chatting with the boy and I. Before we said goodbye, we took a quick photo.

I probably could have stayed all day at the show but after about two and a half hours the boy was getting tired. And we were both hungry. So we headed out into the crisp scarf-worthy air of historic downtown, battled the typically congested L.A. traffic getting out of the city, and ended our trip with a stop at In-N-Out.

Who could ask for a better Sunday?

I hope your weekend was just as nice! And if you are looking for some fabulous, handmade presents for the holidays, check out the list of vendors who set up shop at Unique Los Angeles this past weekend. I’m trying to give as many handmade gifts as possible this Christmas, but more on that later…

P.S. It's been pouring rain all day here in Simi Valley! I guess winter, or at least El Nino, has finally come to So Cal. But it really makes me not want to do anything except snuggle on the couch and drink hot cocoa.


trishiekoh said...

Sounds like a wonderful weekend...i love your new leaf charm, it's very pretty!

Erin said...

Winter, huh? It's -3 degrees here today. CRAZY cold. I am in need of a comfy couch and hot chocolate by the fire, too!

One of these days I would love to visit California...

Andhari said...

That expo looks amazing!! Etsy in real life? SOLD. I wanna shop, shop, shop until I drop :)

Elizabeth Marie said...

This looked like so much fun I wish I hadn't missed it! I think I would have been so overwhelmed too!!! Etsy come to life. CRAZY!

Dionne said...

Awwww... looks like a blast! And Danni is SUCH a sweet pea, I met her at my Blogger's Event in June. Love that girl! And hey, you two might see each other again at the January brunch!

Mandy said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

That event sounds absolutely heavenly, I'm not sure I would have managed such restraint. I love etsy and will most certainly be checking out the shops that you recommended. =)