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Highlighting women-owned businesses, The Female Maker Market comes to Westwood

Broxton Avenue and Westwood Boulevard are pictured. On Saturday morning, The Female Maker Market held an Earth Day-themed market on Broxton Avenue. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Chiara Grasso and Lilah Mansky

April 25, 2023 10:19 p.m.

This post was updated April 26 at 9:10 a.m.

Dozens of women creators and vendors set up booths along Broxton Avenue on Saturday to sell artisanal products in an Earth Day-themed market.

The market was curated by The Female Maker Market in collaboration with the Westwood Village Improvement Association. The event, featuring live music and outdoor games, started at 11 a.m. and collected donations for One Tree Planted, a charity that plants one tree for every dollar donated.

Booths featured handmade products ranging from candles, perfumes and soaps to jewelry and clothing.

The Female Maker Market was founded in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ronnie M, founder of The Female Maker Market, said that after her brick-and-mortar store was shut down during the pandemic, she had to find innovative ways to allow people to shop. She found that open-air markets were the answer.

“When I launched the market, it was like a breath of fresh air for people who felt discouraged to get out and shop,” M said. “It was an opportunity for them to safely do it outside.”

M said her goal has always been to support other women in business, leading her to decide to host her maker market in Westwood for the first time. The Female Maker Market has been held in many different areas of Southern California, but because of the permits that were required to host the event in Westwood, M was not able to host the market in Westwood until this Earth Day.

“We had to go through a lot of permitting to have the event, and it was a lot of hoops we had to jump through,” she said.

Holding markets for female-owned businesses was a way to build a sense of community during a difficult time, M said.

M said she recruited female-led businesses by building rapport with them through her previous experience hosting women-empowerment events.

“I had already established a community,” M said. “So, it was easy to curate.”

After that, she said her business grew out of word-of-mouth.

“It’s buzz, it’s social media,” M said. “But it was easy because we did something that no one else was doing.”

Navigating a small business can be made easier for women through the support of other women-owned businesses, which is what the Female Maker Market aims to promote, M said.

Running a small business can be challenging, said Toya Ballinger, the owner of the House of Jupiter – a crystal jewelry line – which had a booth at Saturday’s market. She added that it is easy to be overwhelmed because of the various areas of expertise that go into creating a business. Joining The Female Maker Market allowed her to not only sell her products to a larger audience but also to join a community of women that supported her.

“I love what she (M) stands for … I love that she focuses on women-owned, and she has really good energy,” Ballinger said.

Attendees of The Female Maker Market said the market helped them feel more connected to the Westwood community. Nikki Parikh, a doctoral dental student, said she found notice of The Female Maker Market event through the Westwood Village Instagram page.

“There are little things that go on in Westwood that give you something to look forward to after a class,” she said. “I think it’s really cool that this one is women-focused because there are not a lot of things … like that.”

Rana Salem, a second-year communication and psychology student, said she was walking through Westwood with a friend when they decided to check out the market.

“I feel like it would be better if they promoted it – the people on the Hill,” Salem said. “I never knew about these markets until I started living (in Westwood).”

While this has been the only Female Maker Market in Westwood so far, M said she hopes to return to host another market in the fall after the street is shut down more regularly on Broxton and Westwood.

Ultimately, M said she hopes to keep growing the market and providing more opportunities for women to grow their businesses.

“As a woman in business, I feel like we’re still not at the top, and I think there’s so much opportunity for stay-at-home moms, for young women in school to hustle,” M said. “There’s enough for everyone to go around … and it’s a nice way to support them.”

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