Recently named by Los Angeles Magazine one of LA's Top 10 Most Inspiring Women, Sonja Rasula is a curator of culture. A community leader and entrepreneur, Sonja is passionate about helping empower independent business owners, growing and activating community, and cultivating great design and art. She truly believes in "quality over quantity" and the power of creativity. Sonja is best known for Unique LA, the world's largest made-in-America shopping event that she started in 2008. Last year she started CAMP, a business conference for creatives who hate business conferences - and yes, it takes place at a summer camp. After witnessing the amazing success and positive results of CAMP, Sonja decided to create a permanent place for entrepreneurs and creative thinkers... And so her third venture, The Unique Space, was born! Sonja’s diverse media background before starting Unique LA/CAMP/The Unique Space includes being a online content specialist (AT&T, Reebok, HGTV, Harlequin), being featured on television (ABC, CBS, HGTV, Food Network, MuchMusic), and being a writer and editor for a variety of print publications including Azure, Style Ideas, Canadian Living and The Toronto Star.
What makes UNIQUE…unique?
I think Unique USA is "unique" because we are indeed different from the other shopping pop-ups out there: We are the only ones to focus on made-in-America and bringing awareness to American manufacturing, I believe in showing people the importance of "quality over quantity", and I truly am passionate about diversity and my role in showing examples of diversity at the events and in my work.
What was your first job?
If you can believe it, my first paying job was at the age of 15 as a waitress in a motel diner! I had to do everything from wash the dishes to make the coffee to be a waitress to mop the floors, so it taught me a lot about discipline and hard work. And that I did not want to do that for long! :)
Who was/is your mentor?
Always strong women! My grandmothers were both role models for me, as they both worked outside of the home and then also raised great families. But my true mentors have always been my bosses, who each in their own way helped shape my work ethic, ideas, skills, work/life balance... I've been very lucky to work for and with great women all my life. Specifically some of the women I worked with at Harlequin (one of my first 'real' jobs) like Pam Laycock.
Describe your personal style in 3 words.
Eclectic. Classic. Bold.
What's the best meal you've ever made?
I pride myself on making really delicious spaghetti sauce, filled with grilled vegetables.
What's the best craft you've ever crafted?
Too many to count! I used to be on HGTV as a designer, so i craft a lot...
Favorite LUNA Bar flavor?
What's your favorite spot in Los Angeles?
A hiking trail in Elysian Park, that looks out onto the city.
If you could have lunch with any female, past or present, who would it be?
I love the idea of talking with Gloria Steinem.
Looking back, what life/love/career advice would you tell your 16-year-old self?
Be confident in yourself and never look back. Trust your gut. Having braces isn't that bad, you'll survive. :)