We wanted to love what we do, support cool people, & be motivated entirely in supporting our local, L.A. economy.
It was November 2014, & we knew we were onto something…
For months we (siblings Jen & Rick Kanter) had been planning our escape from our cushy corporate jobs, & knew whatever we did would have to be something we could be proud of at the end of the day. We were going “all-in” & it meant that this couldn’t be a side-gig, or passion-project… it was time to take our enthusiasm & appreciation of Los Angeles to a whole ‘nother level.
Our parents grew up in Mexico (Ensenada, BC & Culiacan, Sinaloa) & as kids, we definitely picked up a lot from them on supporting your community/ your neighborhood/… your barrio. They talked about what they bought & where they bought things based on people. It was an essential part of their culture, & just the way they did things.
We always knew the names of the owners of restaurants we went to, & there was always this special connection between what we bought & why we bought it. We could probably count on our hands how many times we went to a department store – as we found ourselves typically in someone’s garage looking at sample sales or buying handmade goods at a local craft fair or flea market.
Remember – this was the 80’s, too – when commercialism was exploding & big companies were getting even bigger. The eventual growth of the Walmarts, Targets, & Amazons of the world was really kicked off then & through the ‘90’s. Buy more. Buy cheap. And buy from impersonal brands, not people. Although not explicitly saying it, we could see how much our parents appreciated buying from local, small business owners. As small biz owners themselves, they appreciated the work that went into building something on your own.
“… there was always this special connection between what we bought & why we bought it”
Before bedroom community bloggers were singing the praises of farmer’s markets, food trucks, & buying local, we had weekly rituals like dim-sum in the International District of Seattle, visits to local outdoor markets for fresh produce & food, & our parents took simple efforts to get us comfortable with eating mariscos & street tacos early – mostly when travelling. Out of our friends, we knew we were the only ones whose parents were taking them to taco trucks in gas station parking lots. End of the day, the food was ALWAYS better. We saw how that connection made them feel – our dad would chat up the vendor, & both always had stories to share. It was a totally different experience. We rarely ate at franchises, our school lunches usually had something unique, & our parents never let us buy-in to this idea of buying cheaply made goods every year. You find something good, made with the care for it to last, & you keep it for a long time. At some point in the last 20 years, this idea has been lost…
Whatever business we created, it HAD to be about supporting local people & locally-owned businesses.
It had to be about to making true connections with local people.
Our first idea was to create a monthly box subscription of goods made by people in the Greater L.A. Metro (Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, & San Bernardino Counties). We then thought of developing a cooperative of local makers, artists, & companies – where they could combine their efforts, similar to how big corporations do across brands – to get more marketing exposure & negotiate better deals for themselves.
We also knew that we wanted to find these small businesses the same way we had in the past – exploring on foot or on Metro Los Angeles, taking in the city & neighborhoods while we kept an eye out for cool, small businesses carrying products other’s would appreciate.
Then came the idea of barrio.la…
A company dedicated to supporting all things Los Angeles, & showing Angelenos that buying from local, L.A. people – & supporting your local farmer’s markets, independent retailers, locally-produced events, & indy coffee shops – was an easy way to support (L.A.) local. It was early 2015 – & although we had already been doing it – it was time to document our adventures on Instagram & start exploring L.A. neighborhoods.
For every 20 companies we met, or 100 products we tried – we sorted through & found the best – & can still remember our first meetings with great, local companies we will always work with like; No Tox Life, Ujjayi Boutique, Objects With Purpose, Ink+Smog Editions, HollyWood & Twine, Sisters of Los Angeles, & Spread The Love Peanut Butter.
Our goal from the get-go was to appreciate & promote local companies with no exchange, just because “it was the right thing to do”.
barrio.la’s first tag line was ‘appreciating all things (L.A.) local’
what does supporting (L.A.) local mean?
No matter if you pick up trash in your ‘hood, sign up for the neighborhood watch, or help with local, community organizations – the greatest impact you can have is being thoughtful about how you spend your money, & spending it locally.
Are you a small business owner? When you support another, the likelihood that the SAME $ you spend comes right back to you is amplified by 10 times. It’s the perfect cycle to create a sustainable, local economy that benefits people, not shareholders & CEO’s.
Supporting (L.A.) local:
Means trying to buy stuff made in & around Los Angeles, buying as much as you can from businesses owned by locals; brick & mortar shops, boutiques, re-sale & thrift shops… we could go on & on.
Supporting (L.A.) local:
Means shopping at farmer’s markets, independent markets & fruit/veggie stands. It’s buying from California farmers, & supporting community gardens & urban farming.
Supporting (L.A.) local:
Means eating at local restaurants owned by local people, food stands, food trucks & food vendors, like; paleta, elote, or taco carts.
image credit: @indiepas
The Economic benefits of buying local are widely documented, & it’s no surprise that with our reliance on buying cheaply-made goods from HUGE, multi-national corporations – that the middle class is slowly depleting.
Sometimes it’s a little nudge or referral that gets you comfortable with buying & living in a different way – & we at barrio.la are always striving to be that friend you can trust, by always adhering to a few rules:
1) We personally use, wear, or eat everything we sell on our site or feature on social media.
2) If we are talking about an event or independent business, it usually means we visited it, met with the owners, & learned how they were supporting our local communities.
3) We NEVER do pay-to-play. We promote a lot of things that we don’t carry, & it doesn’t matter. If we can help an L.A.-area company succeed, we’ve done our job.
Why does buying local matter?
Harry from the Adams/Vermont Farmers Market simplified the beauty of supporting community farmer’s markets for us:
“Nothing tastes better than something picked the same morning or feels as good as a product made the day before you buy it”
Our adventure started 2 years ago, but continues on.
We promise to keep sharing what we find, finding the best in the Greater L.A, & always staying true to the values we built this business upon.
we remind Angelenos of what “living locally” has to offer.
barrio.la finds local companies making high quality, eco-friendly goods right here in Southern California.
Los Angeles has so much going on & is alive with eclectic neighborhoods, places to see & things to do – so while we’re at it – we keep you in the know about cool things going on in your own ‘hood & the cool people making it all happen.
feel like wandering with us?
cool… ’cause that’s what we do here.