Not long ago, “making it in LA” referred to little but celluloid dreams come true: landing a coveted role, selling a script, getting a movie made… you get the idea. If asked what business you were in, the answer, inevitably, was “The Business.” And even though Hollywood is not the only business in town, Los Angeles, like the people who live here, knows a thing or two about selling itself. You could say promotion is in L.A.’s DNA.
Case in point: Mayor Eric Garcetti’s assertion that “the creativity in Los Angeles is unrivaled anywhere else.”
Indeed, Greater Los Angeles is home to a vast network of creative designers, technologists and makers as well as some 12,000 manufacturers and suppliers in industries that range from space and special effects to food and fashion. But they are largely disconnected. “Sometimes, the next big idea is just one nudge away from entering the marketplace, redefining an industry, and changing millions of lives,” says Mayor Garcetti.
With that in mind, MAKE IT IN LA was born in 2016. The initiative, a non-profit spun out of Garcetti’s office after a study discovered that 57% of all factories in Los Angeles County had excess capacity and were eager to connect with new customers. Also bolstering the initiative is the local claim that L.A. is the largest manufacturing center in the country.
MAKE IT IN LA connects some of the most accomplished entrepreneurs and manufacturers across the city with the resources they need to turn creative ideas into thriving businesses that power L.A.’s economy and create jobs. Search #madeinLA and you’ll turn up hundreds of thousands of posts of makers, big and small, showing off their products and ideas. Dive deep into the results and you’re likely to come across photos of locals and tourists alike posing in front of the Made in LA wall at 8025 Melrose—one of the most Instagrammed sights in the city.
In late 2017, Mayor Garcetti followed MAKE IT IN LA by launching a pilot program that further celebrates the creative capital of the world. The program, called LA Original, includes a distinctive logo—the letters L and A separated by a long, blank line—that gives the creatively inclined the space to use it as their canvas. Check out the pop-up shop at the recently redesigned Westfield Century City mall, the store at the Central Public Library, or the LA Original website and you’ll find a collection of T-shirts, phone cases, skateboards, bags and other wares branded with the logo. Of course, every product is designed, produced, assembled—made!—in L.A.
One of the program’s featured creators is the cupcake mini empire called Sprinkles. The name might not be instantly recognizable, but if you’ve ever indulged your sweet tooth at a cupcake shop (and really, who hasn’t?), these guys are to thank.
“Los Angeles is filled with creativity and is often a trendsetter for other parts of the country,” says Candace Nelson who, along with her husband Charles, opened the world’s first cupcake bakery in 2005. In doing so, they—and L.A.—inspired hundreds of copycats around the globe to do the same. “What makes L.A. so unique is how accepting it is of new ideas,” she says.
For its promotional campaign, LA Original rounded up a gaggle of local celebs to spread the buzz. But this being L.A., “local” also usually means “creatively iconic.” During the one-minute promo video, the city’s new logo frames musician Kendrick Lamar, artists Shepard Fairey and Tristan Eaton, Chef Roy Choi, architect Frank Gehry, LA Phil conductor Gustavo Dudamel, jewelry designer Maya Brenner and others—all the while Lamar’s “Humble” plays in the background.
A humble brag? Nah, just made in L.A.