We Are Grateful
It’s hard to believe that our Houston show is less than two weeks away! We’re giddy about the event. It’s a huge milestone for Flea Style as we scale the company into new markets and platforms to further support the talent in Texas and beyond.
Last week we learned a valuable lesson: New growth equals new challenges. I’ve grappled with discussing this publicly but it felt phony to blog about anything else.
Over the past several days we’ve been in talks with our lawyers about a brand new event strikingly similar to Flea Style.
We only learned about the market because our vendors contacted us about it (some even asked if it was associated with us). Their venue, booth sizes, booth fees, booth back material, rental costs (tables, chairs) and ticket fees are identical to ours. Their terms and conditions agreement was a clear copy of our legally-drafted seven-page terms and conditions contract (thankfully, they’ve since removed it from their application). They followed hundreds of our vendors on social media down to those in Houston and my California hometown.
I had to take a stance to protect our vendors and the brand that I’ve painstakingly built since 2009. I politely emailed our vendors about the situation and they responded in droves. Their comments were funny, reassuring, encouraging and enlightening. We had no clue that so many of them have dealt with copy cat scenarios. Hence, the market hit a sore spot with some of them, too.
We learned that the creative community supports those that it respects. It took years of hard work and dedication to get Flea Style where it is today and to earn the trust of makers. While this market loves calling us a bully (laughable to anybody that knows us), our vendors have praised us for speaking up for ourselves and the creative community. So many of our vendors were offended by these operators’ tactics and fees and often said their communication felt “off,” “fishy” and “disingenuous.”
Like I said in my vendor letter last week: “There are lots of markets out there and there’s room for many more.” Host an original maker event and we’ll show up with bells on. We constantly support and shop other events in our backyard and beyond. That’s when we have a moment to connect with our vendors and purchase from them as our shows leave us little time to even take a bathroom break.
We are our vendors’ biggest cheerleaders. Weekly our vendors visit the office to bounce off ideas, talk shop and product, do a blog interview and even just hang out. We constantly answer emails about other shows in the area that are a good fit for their brand. If the vendors are successful they keep producing and keep applying for Flea Style. It’s pretty simple.
In the end, this situation has turned out to be a valuable lesson and a unique opportunity to connect with our vendors. And for that, we are grateful.