Our Role Model: Cari Costa

Since our first photoshoot, we’ve made a conscious effort to have real women volunteer as our models. We celebrate the diversity of each woman’s heritage and background and can’t wait to introduce them to you! Here on Cultural Exchange, we’ll be sharing the stories of these wonderful women and why they are our role models.

Today we’re introducing Cari Costa, a retail strategist, mother, and supporter of The Little Market. Read below to learn more about how her background has fueled her passion for travel and using her talents to support others.

What is your heritage and what do you love about it?

I am Korean, born in Kwangju, South Korea.  I think our culture is so beautiful and yummy!  Everything is very thoughtful. From gift-giving to saving face, it’s important to think of others.  

Tell us a bit about your background and upbringing.

When I was about 7 years old, I was adopted. And so I left South Korea to move to a small farm in Northern California with my adoptive parents. I spent most of my childhood playing basketball and reading books. Growing up on a small farm, we had fresh eggs from our chickens, rode horses, and even sometimes sewed our clothes. It’s funny, I was embarrassed that we didn’t buy eggs from the market like everyone else. Now I have so much appreciation for how I grew up and all the luxuries that come with it.  I enjoy taking my boys up to my parents’ house to ride horses and get a taste of how I grew up.

What are you passionate about?

Since moving to LA from NYC 3 years ago, I’ve stopped working full-time to become a stay-at-home mom. It’s been very challenging for me and my ego to not go into an office every day and make decisions and make my own money. I used to travel all over the world and open and operate retail stores for American Eagle, Kate Spade, and Kate Spade Saturday.   

How did you find your passion?

I moved to NY to go to NYU for my masters and worked for American Eagle Outfitters at that time. They sent me to Kuwait as my first international store opening, and I was hooked! I quickly realized how much I loved operating a business where I got to travel and learn different cultures around the world.

The Little Market x Cari Costa

What causes are you most passionate about and why?  

Vector90. It’s an inner city co-working space that my husband built in 2018.  

What upcoming project are you looking forward to?

I’m helping to create merchandise for Vector90 and Our Opportunity. Both of these projects are important to me and my family as they help underrepresented people and communities.   

Who is your role model?

My grandmother and my husband David. My grandmother was one of the first females to attend Stanford University. She always told me that I never needed anyone to be successful and that it was okay to be strong. She instilled into me the value of hard work and the appreciation of art. My husband, David, is the smartest and most generous human being I know. He can’t pick up clothes off the floor, but he’s a genius.

Why do you support The Little Market?

I am in awe of this incredible brand. It’s pure and simple. I love that the reach is global. I love that they didn’t just fund or give money but TLM created a brand that gave respect and dignity to these women while helping them. It’s one thing to help those who are in need but a whole other thing to help those who are in need and allowing them to feel respected.  

Favorite TLM product in your home?

I love all the PURPOSEfull TOTES. I use them daily and have about 10 of them.


Morning person or night owl?

Night!! I never go to bed before 12 a.m. and regret it every morning.

How do you start your day?

Hugging and kissing my 16-month-old, Hendrix. He wakes me up every morning with his jibber jabber and laughs.

What is your “happy place?”

Being with my family. Traveling and laughing with my friends. Eating fresh bagels and watching Netflix. Going to basketball games. Getting my daily iced coffee.

What podcasts do you listen to?

I love to listen to “How I Built This” on NPR. My husband, David, put me on it. It’s about how these amazing brands came to be. It really humanizes these brands and the struggles faced as the founders describe their journey on building a household brand. I also like “Trumpcast” with Leon Krauze.

What are you currently reading?

Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole and Becoming by Michelle Obama.

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Cari, and for being one of our role models!

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