Founder of Unique Markets, Sonja Rasula!
If there is one thing we love it is a woman with a BIG IDEA who pursues it and that is just what our latest interview guest did… Meet Sonja Rasula, she is the Founder of Unique Markets! Like Lindsay, she drained her savings to ‘launch Unique LA (the original name), an interactive and innovative form of retail.’ Like the fileist, Unique Markets was created to spotlight unknown, small brands and their products by giving them an IRL selling experience. Sonja knew if she was going to encourage people to shop small and shop local she had to bring it the customers doorstep so that’s just what she did and does with Unique Markets pop-ups. She ‘become one of just 2% of women-owned businesses in the US to hit $1 million a year’ and has managed to make Unique Markets one of the largest curated marketplaces to date! If you know us, you know we’re all about shopping small and we have Sonja to thank for leading that movement since 2008.
But we’re not surprised being the entrepreneur, community leader and former TV design personality she is – yep, Sonja got her career as a journalist then went on to conceptualize and launch the HGTV website and even starred in one of the shows on the network as an Interior Designer! So if you’ve ever thought about changing career paths – just know you can still do it and become a success story like Sonja did. Read on to get her full story and real-talk business advice too…
“If someone doesn’t perform to the expectations and doesn’t feel like a good fit for your company, don’t second-guess yourself and cut them loose immediately.”
Lindsay Albanese: What is one interesting thing that people may not know about your career?
Sonja Rasula: Before I turned to entrepreneurship I was a journalist… I concepted and launched the entire HGTV website, was Deputy Editor at Style Ideas (a home decor magazine), and I starred on HGTV as an interior designer! That past life definitely prepared me for all the twists and turns that come with being a business owner.
Lindsay Albanese: During your professional journey, what is one mistake you made that you learned the most from?
Sonja Rasula: I didn’t trust my gut and I gave someone who should have fired multiple chances. If someone doesn’t perform to the expectations and doesn’t feel like a good fit for your company, don’t second-guess yourself and cut them loose immediately. The damage one bad seed can do within your company and to the culture doesn’t just impact business but all your team members too.
Lindsay Albanese: What are you most proud of at this moment?
Sonja Rasula: Forbes just ran an article where they called me “The Millionaire Maker”… To be recognized for all the work I put into helping unknown, small businesses grow into million dollar brands was a major pinch me moment!
Lindsay Albanese: One thing you wish people would stop doing in business?
Sonja Rasula: Dancing around numbers and not talking about money! If people were transparent and talked honestly about money, so much time and emotional turmoil would be saved. Tell me what rate you want for your work, tell me what your budget is instead of asking us to pitch you, etc.
Lindsay Albanese: Your go-to beverage after a long week (specifics please!)
Sonja Rasula: I’m dry right now, so I’m obsessed with fancy waters, probiotic drinks & mocktails: Sanzo, Wild Wonder, Olipop, Ghia.