As part of the annual SaMo Pride festival, the retail space next to the Louis Vuitton store on the first floor of the Santa Monica Place shopping mall will be transformed into a pop-up marketplace, showcasing over 20 LGBTQIA+ business owners, highlighting their stories, unique products, and services.

“This is a little bit different from most vendor markets you might stumble across, because it’s completely free for all the businesses to participate,” says Laura Barnehama, co-founder and CEO of Streetlet, the event organizer. “It’s in a prime retail location, which is really exciting and it’s a fun way to give to this community in a way that isn’t standard for vendor markets.”

This is the second time that the event has taken place and the vendors will be a mix of both exciting, new and returning businesses selling local goods and services made, conceived and curated in Southern California. Over 75 percent of this year’s participating businesses were born out of the pandemic, with over 50 percent of vendors hand-making their own products. Half of this year’s businesses are owned by women, with more than 25 percent being Black-owned, Latinx-owned and AAPI-owned, respectively, together with indigenous- and immigrant-owned businesses.

On offer will be everything from graphic novels featuring the first Latina superhero team in comic book history, to handmade jewelry, clothing and original fine art prints to bath and body products that soothe the mind, body and soul. Plus ceramic ware, flowers, cosmetics and underwear, because why not.

“The space is a gift from the Santa Monica Place team. So basically, no one has to pay the rent for the space … So that’s why this is such a great way to test selling a product and see if it’s viable before having to commit to something more permanent,” Barnehama says.

The month-long citywide celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community begins with a ribbon cutting and grand opening of Santa Monica’s Made with Pride Marketplace on Friday, June 2 at 9:30 a.m. Coffee and pastries will be provided along with the opportunity to meet the participating vendors. The Promenade will then turn into a “Pride Zone” as part of the official festivities at 11 o’clock with live musical performances, free swag, plus games and activities for adults and kids.

In addition to the marketplace being open every weekend in June, a whole host of events are planned for the entire month, including comedy shows, musical performances and even a sunset swim. A full list can be found at the website.

“Santa Monica and Los Angeles have been very supportive of the queer community both at city official level as well as just the surrounding communities. Folks are more supportive in our area than other parts of the country, especially right now,” Barnehama says.

“It takes talent and effort to produce events and manage activations to the scale we have come to expect Downtown. I am incredibly grateful for our DTSM, Inc. team, and for the impact of their work.,” said Andrew Thomas, CEO Downtown Santa Monica, Inc in a statement.

The Made with Pride Marketplace will take place on June 2-4, 9-11, 16-18 and 23-25 and it’s open from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Sundays.

Scott fell in love with Santa Monica when he was much younger and now, after living and working in five different countries, he has returned. He's written for the likes of the FT, NBC, the BBC and CNN.