One block away from UCLA, one day a week, vendors line up under shaded booths on Broxton Avenue to sell everything from salmon to skin care products.
In many cases, these vendors have spent years – or decades – making their businesses their livelihoods.
Mason Pulliam and his family live in Joshua Tree, California. They began selling their fish at markets in the California High Desert three years ago, but started selling at the Westwood Farmers’ Market just one month ago.
Pulliam, 19, sells salmon caught by his family’s fishing business in Alaska. He keeps samples of smoked salmon in a styrofoam box at the Westwood Farmers’ Market, behind a poster displaying photos of his family holding fresh-caught fish.
After the financial crash in 2008, Pulliam’s mom, who grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, suggested to Pulliam’s dad that he experience commercial fishing there. One week later, Pulliam’s dad bought a boat.
The fish are processed at a plant two hours away from the fishing site. Pulliam’s mother lives in an apartment at the plant during the summer.
“She cooks meals for the people that … process the fish for us,” Pulliam said.
Pulliam originally planned to attend college, but now he said he plans to devote his future to the business.
“I was really looking forward to college, that was the goal, (I) was maybe (going to be) a marine biologist,” Pulliam said. “Now that I’m realizing that this has really good potential for expanding, and making my own spot for myself, I’m sticking with it.”
To Pulliam’s left, at the beginning of Broxton Avenue, stood Jasmine Lang, who started the beauty product label Lend Your Love Body Care.
Lang, 28, sells body lotions, oils and fragrances she makes herself.
Lang quit her job five years ago to move to Humboldt, California, with her boyfriend. Humboldt is a densely forested coastal county in Northern California, about 270 miles north of San Francisco.
“There’s just nothing but greenery and redwood trees,” Lang said.
Distance from Los Angeles gave her the space she needed to think about how she wanted to start her business.
“It made me knowledgeable of the things I wanted to learn more of, and the things that I needed to let go,” Lang said. “So I let go of (my boyfriend), and then I just put everything that I had into building something for myself.”
Lang moved back to Los Angeles and started work at an art education program for four years while growing her new business. She began running LYL full time in 2020.
Lang’s first product was a cocoa butter body lotion made specifically for her mother for a Mother’s Day package. From there, she incorporated it into a “self-care package” for women.
“All my life, (my mother) complained to me about the stretch marks I gave her (when she was pregnant with me), so I was like, ‘I have to find something to fix this, so I don’t have to hear these complaints any more,’” Lang said.
Another body-care product vendor, Nena Walker-Addison, was inspired to start her own company for a very specific purpose.
Walker-Addison sells oils and lotions to treat health problems, particularly eczema.
Walker-Addison has had eczema since she was 3 years old. Six years ago, after steroid treatments proved unsuccessful, she started researching alternative methods of treating flare-ups.
“I found three different things that (they said) might fix it, and then instead of making them separately I combined them,” Walker-Addison said.
After blending the ingredients into shea butter, Walker-Addison found her solution had worked. Her hands are free of eczema now, she said.
Walker-Addison has been selling her products for the last four years. She, like her booth, is decked in shades of green. Her table is lined with products including body lotion and essential oils.
Her favorite product is the CBD oil she makes using marijuana stems sourced from a local farmer. Walker-Addison began making the oil for her husband after he was diagnosed with diabetes.
As part of a 10-year agreement, Walker-Addison takes the stems to extract the oil while the farmer takes the leaves.
“(That) is why mine’s not as expensive as everyone else’s,” Walker-Addison said. “I don’t pay a lab, I’m doing all of the work myself.”
People are used to seeing her at the Westwood market now, Walker-Addison said.
“When I don’t come, they actually email or call me and say ‘Are you going to be at the market today?’” said Walker-Addison. “I have to tell them yes or no, and when I say no, (they say) ‘I need it!’”
But not everyone at the Westwood Market is selling. Performers, including Cori Jacobs, also get a spot.
Jacobs performs on the keyboard at the front of the market, his keyboard tilted away from him so that the audience can see his fingers as he plays.
Jacobs discovered his passion for music through his church when he was 5 years old.
“I was in church, and the guy behind the big old box was controlling everybody in the church, it seemed like,” Jacobs said. “So I walked over there after the service was over, and I saw my first set of piano keys.”
Many years later, Jacobs was working at a company making Fortune Magazine’s list of the 500 biggest companies worldwide, dreaming of being a full-time musician, when his meditation instructor, spoken-word poet Darnella Ford, advised him to take the leap.
“She told me ‘Okay, now jump, and the net will appear,’ and my first inclination was, ‘Are you out of your mind?'” Jacobs said. “I quit my job, I went full time into music … I jumped, and the net did appear.”
Jacobs’ career as a keyboardist and composer since then has spanned several decades.
He received a Grammy nomination for his keyboard work on the Pussycat Dolls’ “Stick with You,” and played for Beyonce’s single “Still in Love.” In 2014, he composed the music for the Netflix documentary about basketball player Allen Iverson.
Currently, Jacobs is working on a secret documentary about a singer who’s worked with musicians including Michael Jackson, Coldplay and Rod Stewart. His band, The Cori Hypothesis, released its latest EP in January.
But casual performances, such as playing at the Westwood Farmers’ Market, are essential for staying in practice, Jacobs said.
“It’s a beautiful life,” Jacobs said. “The money might not be there, but the joy and the love of it is. If you love to swim, you almost don’t care if there’s sharks in the water, you just like swimming. You just look out for the fins.”