When Tiffany “Ty” Ortiz became paralyzed from the waist down due to a medical condition, unable to walk, she fell into a pit of boredom. To cheer her up, her father brought her some fabric paint. Instead of taking this fabric paint to shirts or pants, she took it to bows.
Ortiz had been suffering from a rare medical condition called uterus didelphys, meaning she was born with two uteruses. After regaining her strength and being able to walk again, the single mother worked at Amazon as a warehouse worker on graveyard shifts to support her daughter.
But her passion never stopped and she continued to create these one-of-a-kind bows as well as 1950s-style headpieces, earrings, necklaces and discrete self-defense items. In 2014 she began selling her items as a vendor at special events.
Ortiz, who describes her pieces as, “beautiful and safe,” was among approximately a dozen vendors from the 818 Night Market who brought their community vending event to the 661 area code last weekend, setting up shop at the Plaza at Golden Valley. The vendors featured crocheted items, anime collectibles, squishmallows, self-defense items, crystals and more.
Over the years, Ortiz was able to able to leave her job at Amazon and make her small business, Against the Grain, her full-time job.
“I don’t feel like I work,” said Ortiz. “This is my livelihood and passion.”
While she was speaking, she would not stop talking about the man who founded the 818 Night Market in July 2021, Brandon Palmer.
Palmer had been, and still remains, a vendor for the past five years, selling laser-cut items such as wooden pins and leather patches on hats.
Since Palmer is a vendor himself, he knew what these kinds of events meant to vendors. He wanted a place to celebrate these vendors’ works, some of whom he even calls his friends.
“For all of our events, we just want to create as much opportunity for our vendors as possible,” said Palmer.
Palmer said he deeply cares for his community and his passion is evident in those he inspires.
Lulu Curiel, owner of Blinkerlu, met Palmer a few years ago when they were both vending at the same event. The two later became friends and now she is an art vendor at his events.
“It’s very inspiring,” said Curiel. “It just inspires you to just keep going with your stuff.”
Curiel only vends part-time, but she hopes after getting some personal matters in order that she will be able to make her art a full-time gig. After all, Palmer has allowed so many others to do the same.
“For the vendors, I want to have a platform where they’re able to pursue their passions and what they love,” said Palmer. “I want to help the businesses that want to do it full-time, (and make sure they) have the opportunity to do so and get away from their day jobs.”
Palmer said that since the beginning of the 818 Night Market, at least 15 regular vendors have come up to him and told him that because of this event, they were able to leave their day jobs. About seven have stopped vending to move into permanent brick-and-mortar locations.
Multiple vendors said Palmer has produced something truly special for the vendor community. Many said this event is just something different compared to other vendor events.
“The atmosphere,” said Jennifer Mendoza Lopez, owner of Gemini Magick. “My big thing is feeling safe and comfortable […] I just feel so safe.”
It is for these reasons that Lopez has been vending at the 818 Night Market since November.
On social media, the 818 Night Market describes itself as an “in-person Etsy.” In person, the vendors and founder share their appreciation for one another.
“We just want things you can’t find in the stores,” said Stephanie Marks, owner of 62xPins.
The 818 Night Market brought something to the 661, and it’s not just flavored Mexican gummies – a community that supports one another in all their ambitions.
Palmer hopes to make the 818 Night Market a regular visitor to the Santa Clarita Valley.