Spotlight on Jennifer Harrison of Fleamarket Fab
Jennifer Harrison, also known as Flea Market Fab, has been creatively pursuing her recycled glam style at Flea Markets, Garage Sales and Thrift Stores for over a decade. With a playful personality and an eye for the unusual, Jen has an unrivalled talent for bringing together spaces that are layered, comfortable and truly unique.
"It all started from a young age, thrifting with my Mom" says Jen, "a woman with a really great sense of style and eye for one of a kind pieces, this inherited quality has been a huge part of my direction of style and design and I've carried this out in creating the brand I represent today"
Massively popular on Instagram, Jen opened another account through which she sells items collected from Morocco and the items she custom makes. As a customer, I can categorically say these are beautiful and unique and there is no better testament to Jen's products than the photos of her home which you will see throughout the blog post. But this is also about her journey and the advice she can give to you so go enjoy this spotlight
You can shop through the button below.
Examples of some of the items Jen sells in her shop. I have a black Pouf which is beautiful
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
I had been doing styling shoots and collecting for a few years and over the time my collections had become bigger and bigger and more in depth. With my popularity in design growing on Instagram, as well as the interest in the items I was styling with. This gave me the idea to open another account and not have it interfere with my main account, and call it Shop Fleamarketfab. I was also selling items I had collected from Morocco that no one at the time was selling. Once I saw the popularity of the sales and high demand for more I decided to start bringing in pieces that no one knew of. Then from there I decided to start designing new things from the rugs. I knew they already had floor poufs in square sizes. So, I thought … Why not make them in all custom sizes for different projects. Kids spaces (kid pouf was born), Bench seating (double pouf was born), Bed pillows (bed pillows and lumbars were born) from there I didn’t stop. And from there the copy cats took a light to an entire other world. I can honestly sit today and know I am the Beyoncé to the Moroccan pouf industry… it’s kind of crazy to wrap my head around, especially knowing the extreme over saturation to the market today...but I am proud of what I have started.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
I started by building my own home. My mom used to take me as a little girl to all of the shops and garage sales locally thrifting her heart out. And being that that’s the only way I knew in life it stuck with me. Even today with all the big box stores, I don’t shop at them for home goods, I demand to have the hunt and passion for the vintage. It’s the only way.
3. How did you fund your business?
I didn’t … I had a job and worked pay check by pay check and just played it extremely smart. I made sure not to spend as well as budget properly, I also kept my business running out of my home. After the kids moved out it gave me the ability to use spaces in the house that had now become empty. This was very helpful to keeping my head above water without having debt.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
I guess finding the courage to believe in myself enough to make it all go. Being diligent about showing people how to use the product and make sure my customer service was on point. The key to success is making the experience the easiest and least painful. I feel using Instagram as my selling platform has allowed me to eliminate the finding of the site, scrolling, putting it in a cart and dealing with filling out all the info. This makes me work my tail off to make it all the experience of easy-ness smooth and have your item in two days of paying. I am extremely anal in my work ethic also. I want quality, and I want you to get nothing but quality.
5. What help was missing for you?
I had hired a girlfriend that was going through a fresh divorce to give me a hand and also help her with time and being the friend everyday she needed. She and I ended up making the oil, the engine needed to run smoother. Especially with the direction that the rage was going with the high demand in product. I couldn’t keep it in stock long enough. So, she played her inside part being a business owner herself and making things more official and smoother for me. Then my daughter had gotten my grandson to an old enough age where she then started to come and help. My girlfriend had to move on and so it became my daughter and I. Finding the right amount of help to allow me to still do design work and sales was the most difficult part. For two years I dumped the design clients and just focused on the sales. But now we are back in the design saddle, and I have big projects for 2018 I have been working on. Which feels good.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
Not having the right amount of help. Being just my daughter and I and shipping 75-90 packages a week just beat me down. You can only do and allow so much in a day and I was working non-stop for two years. With doing publications, the sales, and design projects and every and anything else I wore myself thin. I am finally on the path of getting the house finished with its projects and all the others to come. 2018 is going to be an incredible year and I am so excited to get into it. Let’s do this
7. What have you learnt?
To let go… understand everyone isn’t out to get me. I felt so deeply saddened by the fact I was being copied everywhere. It affected me for quite some time, But I have long gotten over this and I have moved on. I see myself as a style influencer which allows me to have a bright outlook on what I want to do next in the game. They can follow but they can’t lead. AND that my friends are my success.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Honestly… fight for what you believe in. Do not allow the clouds to darken your spirit and remember that you are not alone. When people tell you NO use this as fire in your blood to prove them wrong. Give them what they didn’t expect and the universe will be on your side.
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
Again, using Instagram as my platform it has given me the best opportunity to make wonderful relationships and friends. I have met wonderful people along my way. I am beyond grateful for my connections and friendships. The continued love and support is amazing and I could have never done it without everyone and their belief in me.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
Ha!!!! Is it horrible for me to say 10? I think with the ability to see everyone crowding around and another business coming to surface every day, it makes it extremely hard to know you need to think EVERY SINGLE DAY of a new way to stay on top or ahead. This is very hard and can become draining. But it gives you thick skin and makes you more determined to not allow yourself to slip through the cracks. BECAUSE YOU, ARE YOUR ONLY SUCCESS… YOU FALL IT ALL FALLS!!!
Nicola Says "Jen makes some great points about the experience of running a small business, that it is all consuming, that if you are not careful it can wear you out, that you have to stay ahead of the game, and that in itself is challenging. It's no surprise that "CEO burnout" is a thing, given how being in charge of you own business takes everything you have. Because if you Fail It Fails and that's quite a responsibility to have on your shoulders. Finding the right help is also so important, you can't do it all, do what you are best at and leave the other bits to someone else, be it accounts, admin, packaging and posting, that's not what you are about, you are the creative one. be sure to know your finances though, you don't want to run out of money, but otherwise, leave the rest to your accountant.
And Using Instagram and social media as marketing tools is becoming such a good way for small businesses, without a huge marketing budget, to get their products out there. I wrote a piece on this recently which you can find Here"
thanks for sharing your inspiring journey Jen!
The Girl with The Green Sofa