In a pandemic-related pivot, Unique Markets founder Sonja Rasula is channeling her close relationships with creatives and artisans into Care Package, a quarterly subscription box service that celebrates handcrafted, locally made goods.
What led you to launch Care Package? When both of my businesses collapsed because of COVID, I realized that my community of small-business owners were struggling to reach new customers and cut through the noise online, and everyone was at home dealing with change, stress and depression. In April, my mom started sending care packages, and it dawned on me that I could utilize my relationships with cool, emerging brands and translate my retail curation into a box!
How does it relate to what you did with Unique Markets? For 12 years I was curating about 250 designers and brands into each of our seasonal pop-up markets, so I know the best people in every category you can think of. I know how and where they make their products, their inspiring stories and what items are the most popular, and I can predict trends a few years out. So now I’m taking all that and curating the best of the best into our seasonal subscription and gift boxes.
What is a typical selection like? Care Package is proudly gender-neutral, inclusive for all. Typically there are home goods, accessories, gift items, food and beverage brands—the best products from emerging small businesses—high-quality and handcrafted. I’m so excited about the upcoming Winter Box! I’ve included a pair of chic enamel mugs, a delicious tea from an L.A.-based female-founded company (Michelle Obama is a fan), a luxurious Turkish towel that was created exclusively for us, a collaboration chocolate bar with Valerie Confections, a charcoal toothpaste and bamboo toothbrush from a great sister-owned company and something from artist Walker Noble.
What keeps you going, and how do you stay motivated? Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?’ I really take that to heart. How can I apply my skills to help others, to bring joy to people, to not just ‘have a job’ but to create a legacy that impacts others? Helping and inspiring other people is the best motivation there is.
What advice would you give those wanting to follow in your footsteps? The dream is there for anyone to take! But if you’re not willing to risk and give it your all—I’m talking working seven days a week, personal relationships suffering, being lonely—entrepreneurship is not for you. But it’s an amazing thing to forge your own path if it’s in you!