SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Pride Month in Santa Monica is in full swing, and Santa Monica Place is hosting a vibrant pop-up of local LGBTQ+ businesses. The Made with Pride Marketplace features more than 20 queer business owners, unique products and inspiring stories.

The marketplace, open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in June, aims to provide a platform for these businesses to thrive and shine.

What You Need To Know

  • Santa Monica's Pride Month features the Made with Pride Marketplace, highlighting 20+ LGBTQ+ businesses

  • Fab Hatters creates prideful hats inspired by drag queens and pop surrealism

  • Over 75% of the pop-up businesses emerged during the pandemic

  • Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis said businesses throughout the community are embracing the Pride theme

One of the participants is Fab Hatters, a company led by the charismatic Fang, who crafts creative and colorful hats. Walking past the store window, it’s impossible to miss Fang’s distinctive designs. Each hat holds a unique and sometimes comical purpose, like a hat fashioned with a trash can where Fang said she often adds a wire stem that allows wearers to clip in a picture of someone they may not like, such as an ex or a boss.

Personal experiences inspire other headpieces such as an unfortunate encounter with a flock of seagulls. Turning that unpleasant memory into a fashion statement, Fang transformed it into a headpiece that radiates positivity.

Fab Hatters embodies the spirit of Pride, drawing inspiration from drag queens and embracing a campy, kitschy and pop surrealist aesthetic.

The Made with Pride Marketplace provides a much-needed platform for LGBTQ+ businesses, many of which were born out of the challenges posed by the pandemic. Over 75% of the businesses featured at the pop-up had to adapt and create their own products.

Fang emphasizes the importance of such opportunities for the community.  

“In the rest of the country, we’ve seen a major attack on the LGBT community, and we’re lucky here in LA, where that isn’t so much an issue,” Fang said. “My hopes are that by coming here and seeing all these happy, queer, successful artists, we will be an inspiration to other queer people in less accepting states.”

Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis attended the pop-up, expressing a warm and inclusive message.

“The thing about Santa Monica is no matter where you’re from, who you love, whatever your lifestyle is, we welcome you. We love you,” she said.

Davis is delighted to see businesses embracing Pride Month and celebrating alongside the community. Throughout the city, businesses are adopting the Pride theme, inviting people to their stores and showcasing merchandise that reflects inclusivity and values everyone.

Among the businesses, A LA BRAVA, a superhero graphic novel company featuring the first Latina superhero team in comic book history, can be found. Other businesses include Dapper Day, an eclectic clothing and accessories brand, unique designs by Very Gay Paint, and Soulfood Candle Co.

Fang said she hopes that their visibility will offer insight into the vibrant LGBTQ+ community.

“It’s very important for queer artists and queer businesses to be out and proud here, so everyone can see us and see that we’re just like regular people and support us,” Fang said.

Located in Center Plaza, the pop-up and associated Pride Month festivities aim to place Santa Monica as a beacon of acceptance and unity, and to encourage other cities and communities to embrace the LGBTQ+ community and celebrate diversity in all its forms.

For more information about the makers, hours and location, visit the Santa Monica Place website.

Pictured here are DeMarkus and Ko of Soulfood Candle Company, a Black, LatinX, queer owned business showcasing at Made with Pride. (Spectrum News/Rae Williams)