This is the first installment of our Mompreneur series. We are featuring momma entrepreneurs who balance running their businesses, kids, marriage and everything in between.
Two kids, married life and self-care is a lot to juggle already, and Brittany Cobb does it all while managing a beloved vintage and lifestyle market. The founder of Flea Style has found the medium between doing what she loves and spending time with the people she loves—her kids, Landry, 6, Barrett, 4, and husband Michael. We last spoke to Brittany when she was expecting her second child, so there was plenty to catch up on with this inspiring mama! Read on for our conversation about Flea Style (including details for her upcoming trunk show on April 7th), thrifting tips and the real deal on balancing babies and business.
How did you get your start with Flea Style?
I started a business that was called the Dallas Flea in 2009. After having my two children, I decided that I wanted to go back to the flea market and grow it. When the time was right, I decided to put the energy back in—that was back in 2015.
It started out really naturally. I was a journalist and was meeting cool people that I would interview, and thought, Man, I want to support them beyond this story. A lot of those vendors have been with us since those early days. We’ve grown to the point where we have all sorts of new people join us. I love shopping for unique things, vintage and handmade things—they are really important to me personally. That’s what we’ve always been about from day one.
How do you decide which vendors will go in your market?
We have to make sure the vendors that apply hit our tagline: handmade, vintage and one-of-a-kind. They have to have one of those things to even be considered—all three is kind of like gravy. From there it just depends. If we have a lot of jewelry vendors, we may have to decline some just due to keeping it balanced and curated.
Other things we look for are items that we think our shopper would like. Our shopper tends to be a little bit bohemian, layered and colorful. We want to find vendors that she’s going to like and want to shop so she not only leaves with a lot of stuff, but our vendors have a successful day—we tend to keep that in mind with every decision we make.
And, we tend to have a little bit of everything. We have shoppers that are in all different stages in life, all different tastes. We are fortunate that we don’t have to have too narrow of a look.
What makes Flea Style pieces so unique?
Because [the vendors’ items] are handmade, collected or curated while they’re out shopping, whether it’s a global market that they’re at or working with different artisans around the world, everything has a story. The story can be they made it, or how they found it—and that’s what makes it so cool and why shopping our show is so cool because you can actually talk to that person about their story. A lot of the times when you shop small, it’s great … but you still don’t really know a lot about the product. At a show like Flea Style, the vendor is there and you meet the maker and that’s what’s so neat. It’s so cool for them to hear about how they made or found that, who is that cool person that you got this from or where you traveled.
What are you most excited about in regards to your upcoming shows this weekend?
They are all so different, you never really know how it’s going to go until it happens. I’m excited about this one because we’ve really pulled together a theme that I love. I would say it’s one of the first shows that has been as carefully thought out from the activities as much as the vendors and layout. Not only can shoppers shop all these really cool booths, but they also will have all these opportunities to have fun once they are in our doors. From henna tattoos, photo ops with friends and family, a lounge around our bar where people can relax, an author who will sign books to give away—it’s really somewhere people can be for hours and make it a day event.
We also have a kids’ area where they can color. We have Hula Hoops, cornhole and Dippin’ Dots—kids can really have a blast. Not to mention, mom’s finding goods for them at our kid vendors.
How do you balance your career and being a mom?
When I’m working I’m working—I don’t have my kids around me, I don’t work from home, I don’t check in with my nanny. On the flip side of that, when I’m home, I try the best I can to be that way as a mom—having hours when it’s just me and the kids. From there, I do try to wrap them into what I do. We’re opening a store on June 1—on the weekends I’m constantly down on the job site and the kids are with me. … At the end of the day, being a mom is my first job, it’s my most important job. But this job, Flea Style, is providing a life for them one day, that I also really believe in. They are learning so much through watching me work. I think today it’s important for kids to see that, now more than ever.
What will your new Dallas store include?
We are under construction on a 5,000-square-foot building in Deep Ellum. It will have a 3,000-square-foot retail store that will showcase things we find at flea markets and from our vendors. We’re doing some custom creations with vendors, from match strikers to go with candles, fabrics, crowns for kids—it runs the gamut. We really have anything lifestyle for anyone.
We also have a 1,000-square-foot studio where we’re going to do kids’ art camps in the summers. Kids can come while moms and dads work. We’re going to have workshops with our artists so they can teach their various skills and crafts, from calligraphy, to macramé and candle making. We’ll have flex hours and space where people can some throw their child’s birthday parties with themes we’ve precreated—you can also host a bridal shower, anything in there. It’s really a neat space attached to the store where hopefully people will create and connect.
What tips do you have for moms who would also like to start their own business?
I would say, the first thing you have to ask yourself is what you want out of it—are you looking to build a brand? Do you want to make some side money, or learn a craft? If it’s something you really want to go all in on and make it your full-time job, I would say find the pieces in place for yourself that allow you to do that with child care and financially. If you’re looking to have a side hustle or something that fulfills you as a mom, I would say start small, get your feet wet and grow it slowly. Don’t stress yourself out over it.
Something to think about as well is how you can do something that wraps your children into it. I went back to [Flea Style] because I really did see them folding into it long term, whether it was working at a show or helping take down a booth. That’s part of why I get excited because I know I’m leaving them with something that hopefully one day that they can do, or in the now, that they can actually be part of it.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in April 2018. The Flea Style storefront is now open on Commerce St. in Deep Ellum.