Woman-Owned Businesses Are Making ROW DTLA a Destination—Even During a Pandemic

Forced to adapt to a COVID-19 world, these entrepreneurs are making it work

From outside, it’s hard to tell exactly what to expect from ROW DTLA. Once known as L.A. Terminal Market, the second largest wholesale produce market in the world, the 100-year-old Beaux Arts space is made all the more special by the tenant businesses that currently call it home.

Offices sit atop restaurants and retail stores that are helmed by a stunningly diverse set of women entrepreneurs with a mission to improve the way we live. Amid a laundry list of setbacks—including a pandemic that’s devastated brick-and-mortar retail stores, big and small—these impresarios are making it work.

Pikunico | Kuniko Yagi 

Kuniko Yagi calls her restaurant Pikunico’s culinary niche “picnic food with a Japanese twist.” Her delicious fried chicken is not only full of flavor and encased inside an enticingly crunchy coating, it’s also gluten free. Whether or not customers have a wheat allergy, they’ll find that everything on the menu tastes positively vibrant, and is available for take out and delivery too (Yagi insists the fried chicken sandwich is perfect, even at room temperature). After all, a picnic by Kuniko could be called by no other name than “Pikunico.”

OMAMImini | Ola Omami

For families who like to live in style without much fuss, OMAMImini is the perfect store to suit up the kids. Ola Omami launched her sophisticated-yet-understated brand in L.A., and established her store within three miles of her first sample maker and factory. Omami, a mom herself, understands the struggle in balancing motherhood with entrepreneurship, which can beeven more difficult during the pandemic. Omami is optimistic, though. Besides offering adjustable, comfortable masks for kids and adults, sales have pivoted completely to online ordering. Pick-ups can be arranged from Monday through Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ola Omami

Courtesy ROW DTLA

Maker’s Mess | Brandy Lewis 

L.A. native Brandy Lewis employs an army of skilled crafters to teach workshops in everything from calligraphy to candle making to embroidery. During the pandemic, the classes have gone virtual by preparing kits in advance for pick-up so participants can craft in the comfort of their own homes. Crafting might seem superfluous to some, but Lewis says setting aside time to get creative is integral to mental health during these tumultuous times.

Flask & Field | Miriam Yoo

Former entertainment lawyer Miriam Yoo jumped from one male-dominated field to another when she opened her wine and spirits store, after feeling overworked and underpaid in her previous career. During the pandemic, her business has shifted to conducting virtual tastings, and is offering walk-up, pick-up, and online orders, and awine club and gifting services for corporate and private clients. The shop is open from Tuesday throughSaturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Still Life Ceramics | Ana Henton and Mel Keedle 

Ana Henton and Mel Keedle opened Still Life Ceramics to fill the gap they saw in the ceramics community in downtown L.A. In the store they sell both their own line of housewares and showcase the work of local ceramicists. They’ve been teaching classes and hosting workshops instructed by visiting artists, creating a haven for people to slow down and “touch the earth” through pottery— until the safer-at-home order was handed down back in March. Though, like many others, they struggled at first, the pair began to rent out their equipment to potters in tandem with their pivot to online classes. Beginners can now learn pottery with their Clay at Home kits and follow along to videos. Still Life Ceramics is open daily for pick-up only from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

row dtla
Mel Keedle and Ana Henton

tokyobike | Juliana Di Simone

Juliana Di Simone runs the U.S. headquarters of this Japan-based bicycle brand. Hers is perhaps the only shop at ROW DTLA that’s seen demand skyrocket since the pandemic began; according to Di Simone, the shop surpassed its 2019 sales in just 12 weeks this year. As outdoors are deemed the safest place to be and the benefits of exercise on pandemic mental health become ever more apparent, bicycling needs no further advertisement. However, the tokyobike brand champions the exploration of one’s own hometown. Di Simone brings her background in fashion and marketing to envision a fresh approach to how Angelenos consider cycling—a well-timed conversation to be had as more bike lanes are being demarcated throughout the city. Visits to the shop are available by appointment only from Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Galerie.LA | Dechel McKillian

L.A. native Dechel McKillian’s clothing store highlights sustainable brands and products, including eco-friendly, vegan, and recycled items made locally and from around the world. The former celebrity stylist self-funded the venture with the help of family and friends, because, as a Black woman, it was still too hard to find investment elsewhere. Each month, McKillian offers a goodie bag that features a Black-owned brand in the sustainable beauty, clean beauty, wellness, or lifestyle spaces. Galerie.LA is open for business online and ready for in-person shoppers by appointment only (daily, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

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