Why We Started Our Own Marketplace


For as long as we can remember, we have both been drawn to creative fields and careers that allowed us the freedom to explore our inspirations.

For Diana, this path lead her to becoming a fashion designer turned entrepreneur with her own namesake brand. Shortly after graduating from OTIS College of Art and Design, she began her design career at Arden B and then moved on to designing for Lucky Brand. After Lucky Brand, she was approached by Glenn Williams (formerly of Capital Tailors), to partner with him on a new contemporary line he was creating called SNT Workshop.

After establishing herself in the industry, she was given the exciting opportunity to help launch yet another new brand - Patterson J. Kincaid - as head designer. In between projects, Diana filled her time freelancing for Frette, which gave her a peek into the luxury market.

Ahyoung and her children

The creative freedom also encouraged her to take her first entrepreneurial step as she finally felt ready to launch her own namesake line dRA. Today dRA is carried in over 200 stores both nationally and internationally, and has been hailed by Bloomberg as one of the “Top 9 Brands Making Los Angeles The Next Fashion Capital”. The brand counts Beyoncé, Jennifer Lawrence, Elle Fanning, and Jessica Alba as frequent fans. Her first brick and mortar store recently opened at the newly developed ROW DTLA in the Arts District. You can find her working at the store on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The marketplace

For Ahyoung, it first lead to a career as a retail fashion buyer and eventually the opportunity to open her own retail business. After leaving her consulting job as a merchandiser and planner in the women’s apparel space, she sought to find more flexibility while pursuing her creative passions as a new mother. A children’s retail business seemed to be the perfect way to utilize both her professional experience and personal interests at that stage in her life, and she soon opened a brick and mortar store named Lux Tots in Pasadena, CA alongside a branded e-commerce website of the same name. As business grew and she built a following both online and in her local community, her schedule became less flexible and she inevitably became more consumed in the logistical and operational side of retail. Once again, Ahyoung found herself creatively unfulfilled and searching for ways to bring more creative endeavors into her professional life. She realized she was most inspired by the brand development and design aspect of her business. During her time at Lux Tots, she had also built relationships with many fellow creative entrepreneurs involved in children’s fashion and lifestyle, and she was determined to find a way to bring these two things together.

Later in their adult lives, Diana and Ahyoung reconnected as not only entrepreneurs but also as mothers. They shared their story with SWAAY:

We both discovered the challenges of balancing a family and running a business, a point we really appreciated and bonded over. At the same time, we both found a shared love of going to all the flea markets and fairs that were popping up in Los Angeles. It was both exciting and inspiring to see gatherings of local entrepreneurs like ourselves supporting each other and forming a community of likeminded creators and makers.

We immediately knew this movement was something we both wanted to take part in and suddenly the idea of Modern Artisan Marketplace was born.

As mothers, we really enjoy bringing our kids to these events but wished there was more convenience provided to accommodate families. Our goal with MAM was to bridge the gap between artisanal markets and an elevated retail experience by offering convenience and great amenities, something we had not yet experienced. Ample parking and clean bathrooms were key, and it was important to us to keep it boutique-sized so it never became overwhelming.

We also wanted to bring in an element of participation and entertainment for both adults and kids so we introduced a variety of workshops, in hopes that MAM could be a destination for individuals and families to come and spend the day.

We sought to create a community of artisans focusing on fashion, home, accessories, kids and beauty that shared our modern aesthetic, and we found that Platform LA would be the ideal home for this project, as both their aesthetic and amenities fit our vision perfectly. Being avid shoppers, we started reaching out to all of our favorite brands and were thrilled to find that so many of them were already eagerly looking for opportunities to connect with their customers in person, and the rest is history!

As we approach our second event, Modern Artisan Marketplace continues to support the global movement toward shopping small and supporting local businesses. Our weekend long event highlights a carefully curated collection of emerging artisans and inspiring brands. Featuring retail, workshops, and interactive experiences for guests of all ages, MAM is a platform for brands to share their products and services with a likeminded audience. We hope that it is a unique and family-friendly experience that brings together a diverse and engaged community.

One day we hope to expand into a global pop up marketplace and highlight different local creators and makers from all over the world, growing our local community into an international one. In the near future, we are working on bringing MAM to Newport Beach in the beautiful Lido Marina Village. Stay tuned!

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Do 2020 Presidential Candidates Still Have Rules to Play By?

Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.

When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.

2016: What rules?

Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.

Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.

And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.

And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?

Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.

Digital policies for 2020 and beyond

While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.

Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy

Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:

  • If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
  • While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
  • If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
  • Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
  • Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?

Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.

Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply

The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:

  1. Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
  2. Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
  3. Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
  4. Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
  5. Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
  6. Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
  7. Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
  8. Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.

Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles

Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.