Lucky Stars Market: A community built on diversity and a love for vintage fashion

Founder Kimberly Lee began Lucky Stars Market with the goal to empower small businesses and prioritize women, queer and people of color
The entrance of Lucky Stars Market at Westfield Mission Valley Mall on July 1, 2023.
The entrance of Lucky Stars Market at Westfield Mission Valley Mall on July 1, 2023.
Photo by Serena Neumeyer

Over 30 small businesses took over Westfield Mission Valley Mall on July 1 and 2 to celebrate a weekend full of fashion, art and music at Lucky Stars Market.

From vintage clothes and handmade jewelry to ceramics and crochet art, each vendor brought a personal collection of upcycled clothing and original artwork to sell during the two-day event. 

Mall shoppers diverted from their regular Saturday morning shopping to follow the sound of live acoustic music while enjoying complimentary gelato and face painting. The next day drew in new crowds with a live DJ performance, free button-making and refreshments.

Kimberly Lee, 24, initially founded Lucky Stars Market in December 2021 to create a space that promotes positivity and prioritizes vendors who identify as women, queer and people of color. As a vendor, selling clothes at other San Diego markets felt largely competitive and male-dominated, prompting her to become an advocate for others in the vintage world.

By starting her own market event centered on community and diversity, Lucky Stars Market has created a name for itself in San Diego. The event has continued to grow in size for its vendors and shoppers who not only share a love for vintage fashion but now feel seen and supported by one another.

Kimberly Lee and vendors holding up pride flags to celebrate diversity and the beginning of the two-day market event on July 1, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Kimberly Lee)

“I started selling in late 2020 and I didn’t like how people were talking to each other. I don’t want to go into the drama because it’s so far out of it but I just wanted to start something different,” Lee said. “I wanted to try and make a communal space where the vendors could talk to each other, hang out, share and do potlucks. I feel that we’ve grown so much in the year and a half I’ve been doing this. It’s very different from when I started Lucky Stars.” 

But the community Lee has built doesn’t end in the marketplace — Lucky Stars Market has extended its presence online as well with 11.3k followers on Instagram and over 3,500 followers on TikTok.

On both social media platforms, Lee’s presence online has grown significantly to award her the status of a “micro-influencer.” She uses her personal accounts to give her followers an inside look into her business as well as an introduction to vintage fashion through her styling videos. With over 9,800 followers on Instagram and 12.4k followers on TikTok, Lee is encouraging users to dump fast fashion and go vintage.

Thrift shopping on its own has become a trend on TikTok where content creators are posting themselves styling their latest thrift hauls and encouraging viewers to visit local thrift stores. Lucky Stars Market is gaining more and more recognition online for its unique collection of styles that are curated mostly from local flea markets and thrift stores.

“I want people to see the value in small business. Especially having (Lucky Stars Market) in a place like a mall, you can walk into any one of these stores and say that these prices are very similar,” Lee said. “There’s a stigma that a lot of small businesses are too expensive but you wouldn’t bat an eye coming into a department store paying that price — if not double the price — when the quality of clothes that are in stores today aren’t the quality that vintage stores carry.”

Customers looking at handmade pins, stickers, prints and keychains made by
Ivette Licerio (owner of Artg0th), Tracy Yang (owner of Wimpy Adult) & Danny Soto and Eiram Torres (owners of Compitas Collective). (Photo by Serena Neumeyer)

Lee receives 200 to 300 vendor applicants on average before every market event despite having only 60 slots at most to fill and even fewer for their two-day market event in Mission Valley. 

According to Senior Jo Dirilo, another vendor, the excitement behind every Lucky Stars Market comes from people with a passion for art and fashion who have found comfort in coming to the event. 

Being a vendor made Dirilo realize her calling to sell clothes, whether they are her own design or curated sustainable pieces. As she continues her studies in costume design through San Diego State University’s theater program, she also manages her store “Seventh Heaven Thrift” with the hope that her clothing will bring new customers a feeling of euphoria.  

“I have sold at a couple (of) other markets but I remember Lucky Stars being one of the most social and welcoming markets in San Diego,” Dirilo said. “As a vendor, Lucky Stars Market has treated me and the other sellers with amazing respect and kindness… meeting all the people that attend the event is an amazing experience in itself.” 

“I see so many different people with different personalities and different aesthetics. As a shopper, it has been amazing to see what other vendors bring in and their creativity.”

Lucky Stars Market has given Dirilo a great sense of community from being on both ends, as a vendor and a shopper. 

Dirilo believes SDSU students have a lot to gain from visiting Lucky Stars Market — whether you are beginning to build your closet or learning to own your own brand, Lucky Stars Market creates opportunities to learn something new about yourself and the people around you.

About the Contributor
Serena Neumeyer
Serena Neumeyer, '23-24 Social Media Editor
Serena Neumeyer (she/her/hers) is a fourth-year honors student studying journalism with a minor in interdisciplinary studies. Her passion for storytelling has driven her as a writer across different media platforms including newspaper, magazine and broadcast. She led the first multimedia team to cover the Rolling Loud music festival in Los Angeles where she made her social media debut and later joined the 2023-2024 editorial board as social media editor. Her social media management skills even extend beyond the Daily Aztec newsroom and to her role as social media coordinator for SDSU’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. This year, she worked collaboratively with talented writers and graphic designers to develop the first Journalism and Media Studies magazine, AMOR magazine, which explored the contemporary art scene on campus. For Neumeyer’s contributions as a student journalist, she was recognized by the San Diego Press Club Foundation and awarded with the Frank Saldana Memorial Scholarship.