Trojan Marketplace debuts at USC Village

From coffee and pastries to eyebrow services and jewelry, student-run Trojan Marketplace has it all.

Posing are Christian Laird (right) and Burke Bloom (left) pose in front of their cold brew business RANCHO.

It’s not your typical Wednesday at USC — bustling crowds, white canopies crashing with the Wednesday wind, the shining Southern California sun and faint indie music playing in the background.

Usually, the Farmer’s Market sets up in McCarthy Quad on Wednesdays. But today, the student-run Trojan Marketplace, from 11 a.m to 2 p.m., took over the USC Village.

Hosted by the student organization Spark SC, the market featured more than 45 Trojan-owned businesses. The marketplace made its debut in the Great Village Lawn.

“Our biggest goal is to uplift student entrepreneurs in any way we can, build a community of entrepreneursand thereby foster a better entrepreneurship ecosystem at USC,” said Melis Kolat, a Marketplace committee member.

The Marketplace is an extension of Spark SC’s mission to “foster entrepreneurial thoughts and action across communities of all backgrounds and interests within and beyond USC.”

To prepare for the event, committee members started from the bottom up and reached out to businesses they either knew about or had connections with to join the Marketplace, according to Kolat.

Kolat, a freshman business administration major, said the application to be part of Marketplace was open to everyone.

Vendors included food from Cup of Troy, services like eyebrow waxing and other goods like blouses, necklaces and earrings.

Meg Ong, who owns Papaya Time, began their jewelry business during the pandemic. To pass the time, junior fine arts major Ong started to make jewelry. Now, they are extending their reach at the marketplace.

“I mostly just run my business online,” Ong said. “So it’s nice to go to events and see people’s reactions and have them buy it and put it on in real-time.”

Like other vendors, Ong said she hopes to expand her business and get more attention through the market.

Similarly, Viviana Vasquez, a sophomore business administration major and owner of waxing business VIVZBROWS, said she also hoped to gain exposure from the market.

“It helps us get a little more confident and get our businesses out there,” she said.

Vasquez started her business as a hobby to do with her cousins.

“We went to Target, and we got waxing strips,” Vasquez said. “We thought it was a joke and really messed up our brows.”

The event was advertised through a variety of mediums, including Instagram, which drew students in right at 11 a.m. As businesses started to set up in the lawn in a circle, student Reshma Ramesh said she was attracted to the goods and attractions.

“I was curious to see what [the market] was about,’’ said Ramesh, a sophomore public relations major. “I really like it. I’m really big into supporting student-run businesses.”

Overall, the vibes of the marketplace made Wednesday’s Farmers Market-less day that much more special for students and vendors alike.