Creating Inspiration through Identity


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No matter what kind of small business you have, you are the foundation it’s built upon. It is an extension of who you are — your identity as an individual — including your values, your vision, and even your heritage. 


So share it.


By threading a piece of your personality or culture through your business, you’re taking an extra step towards connecting with your community.  


In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) month, we have advice from an AAPI small business leader and customer, who, by recognizing the power in herself, has been able to reach small business success.


Meet Sonja Rasula, Founder and CEO of Unique Inc. 


Unique Inc. Markets provides large-scale pop-up Unique Markets across the country that elevate independent designers and business owners. Sonja makes sure she’s fueling the fires of small business owners everywhere.


In her panel-style speaking engagements, Sonja realized she was the only person of color in any given setting. By seeing this as an honor and opportunity, she’s remained confident in her role. She’s made sure that diversity and inclusivity are priorities for her team, and Unique Markets successfully elevates minority-owned businesses — a large percentage being women in the AAPI community! 


“Representing people is important. If you’re one of the only people that looks like you, don’t let it discourage you. There’s power in that. They’ve been there, but now It’s your turn.” – Sonja Rasula



Practice open-mindedness

For Sonja, one of the biggest challenges she’s faced was during the pandemic. She needed to find a way to keep Unique Markets, an in-person local business market, growing. She took the challenge of the pandemic as an opportunity. 


Since her business model was completely taken away, she created an online shop with her local sellers for customers to browse and buy. She also created a YouTube channel to share advice. 

Facing challenges is inevitable, and although pitfalls are not pleasant, they can help guide you toward improvement. 


Sonja now hosts a podcast with business advice for small business leaders and her markets are back up and running! 



Help Others Grow

As a woman of color, Sonja is proud to say that Unique Markets lives its values and helps women in the AAPI community grow and obtain their entrepreneurial goals.


A majority of her sellers are women, and a majority of those women are members of the AAPI community. 


Being alone in your identity doesn’t mean you’re an outsider, it makes your perspective and your influence unique. This goes for any demographic, not just those in the AAPI community. 


By showing her unique identity as the person behind her business, she allows others to be inspired to grow around her.


Sonja, a long-time user of Constant Contact, also swears by email marketing because of the large number of contacts she communicates with. 


“Hands down, email marketing is the lifeline of our business.” – Sonja Rasula



Get Socially Engaged

With over 14,000 sellers across the US, Sonja doesn’t know how successful Unique Markets would be without email marketing. Still, email is just one part of her online marketing strategy. 


“Email and Instagram work hand in hand. The community is on our email list, but they can check in with us every day on Instagram. We create hype on social media and then send an email with an action. This can catapult businesses.”


Using social media from a business perspective can get complicated. It requires forward-thinking and strategizing. 


Sonja’s approach? Keep it simple.  “Use what you feel most comfortable with.” 


For example, Sonja mentioned that she doesn’t use TikTok. Figuring out how to use the platform and what to film to put on the platform took too much of her time and energy, and didn’t reach the right audience for her. 


Instead, she sticks with Instagram, where most of her customer base operates. It’s also something she’s very familiar with in a personal sense.


Using a tool that puts all your marketing tactics in one trackable place helps you save time and energy to spend stoking your business fire.



Set yourself (and others) up for success

Using her own experiences both as a member of the AAPI community and being a small business leader herself, Sonja empowers other minority-owned businesses during their marketing journeys. 


She takes time to learn what makes a business run and show how a perceived “difference” can actually be a strength to help them stand out. 


Understanding your own identity as a business and as a business owner will help guide you towards success and then use that knowledge to lift and support others.


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