Monica Dodi is a managing director of the Women’s Venture Capital Fund on the Miracle Mile and co-founder of MTV Europe. She’s also been a business ambassador of sorts, tapped by the State Department to speak at conferences for female entrepreneurs in France and Portugal over the last two years.

She recently got back from another State Department-sponsored event, which happened to be in a place few might have expected at this time: Moscow.

“It was a fascinating experience,” Dodi said. “Certainly the timing was incredible, too, because of everything that’s going on in Ukraine.”

Dodi, who is in her 50s, was able to meet hundreds of Russian women who had started their own businesses and shared with them lessons from her experiences.

The tension between the United States and Russia due to the uncertainty in Ukraine also gave the event a certain gravitas. Attendees, mostly Russian women, used the occasion to stress the need to maintain strong ties between the two countries’ business communities, regardless of what might happen politically.

“They really felt it’s even more important now than ever to continue good relations,” Dodi said. “To keep it business as usual.”

Full Plate After Dark

Jonny Hwang has always loved Taiwan’s night markets, a kind of evening farmers market with plenty to eat and drink, and even a little entertainment and shopping.

“Taiwan night markets have the best variety of food, and every year some vendors experiment with new food concepts,” he said. “It’s amazing how a small island can have such a diverse assortment of food.”

Hwang was born in Taiwan and was brought to the United States at the age of 4. After getting a degree in writing and film at USC, he went back to work there for four years.

He likes night markets so much that after returning to Los Angeles and living in the San Gabriel Valley for a few years, he began to wonder: Why not bring night markets here?

“The San Gabriel Valley, 626 (area code), O.C. and L.A. areas have a lot of Asians, Asian restaurants and businesses,” Hwang said. “The only thing that seemed to be missing was a type of night market.”

He made his idea a reality two years ago by creating the 626 Night Market, first held at Old Town Pasadena.

Last year, the 33-year-old held three events at Santa Anita Park, with each serving 50,000 visitors, making it the largest night market in North America. This year, he is expanding the night market to Orange County and downtown Los Angeles; those events will be less pan-Asian and more connected to local culture.

The OC Night Market was on the grounds of the Orange County Fair last weekend and the DTLA Night Market will be at Staples Center on June 20 and 21. The 626 market will be back at Santa Anita on July 18 and 19, and again in mid-August and mid-September.

Staff reporters Matt Pressberg and Kay Chinn contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at

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