The Unique Empire of Sonja Rasula

Chelsea Sonksen

Brandi Welles

Sonja Rasula is building a unique empire—literally. She is the mastermind behind Unique Markets, Unique Camp, and the Unique Space—some of the most trendy experiences and spaces in the city. But let’s back up for a minute and talk about how it all began. After spending her 20s climbing the corporate ladder at media companies in Toronto, Sonja burnt out and moved back to California. She was cast on Trading Spaces and thought it would be her dream job, but she was let go before the show even aired. It was 2008, and the most exciting election year on record had just begun, so Sonja decided she’d spend a year volunteering in the political sphere. During this year, Sonja had several ideas that would spur everything to come. “I’m a Pisces,” she told us. “So I’m always dreaming things up.” In December of 2008, Sonja hosted the first Unique Market, a pop-up shopping experience populated by independent designers. A few years later, she began planning Unique Camp, a four-day business conference in the mountains of Big Bear. Around this time, her team got kicked out of their office, and she couldn’t find anything else in the Arts District. Her realtor told her that she’d either have to move to another neighborhood or get a building for 18,000 sq. ft. “I took a crazy jump and decided I’d build a parachute while I was in the air,” Sonja said. Today, the space is home to 18 businesses and hosts more than 50 weddings and events each year.