This week, Akola Project – a Dallas-based jewelry company that empowers women in disadvantaged communities throughout the globe – published a candid Q&A for their “Designing Her Story” blog series with our founder, Brittany Cobb.
Our relationship with Akola goes way back. They’ve set up shop at a couple of our shows and we’ve been sporting their long beaded necklaces since the minute we laid eyes on them. We love their designs and their cause!
Below is the article with the company, which has a store in Dallas and online in case you need a last minute holiday gift!
FOUNDER OF FLEA STYLE
With an eye for good style and a knack for unique things; driven, hardworking spirit, Brittany Cobb shares our heart that hard work and a positive attitude go a long way. It is evident that Brittany pours passion into everything that she does and desires to leave each thing a little better than the way she found it. Brittany is the founder of Flea Style and our team had the pleasure of spending some time her a few weeks ago! We hope that you are motivated to take a leap of faith and pursue your passion like Brittany does every single day.
Describe your life’s work:
To be a good person that contributes to society first and foremost. To be a loving and cherished mother, wife, daughter, grand-daughter, sister, colleague, boss and friend. After that, to inspire people — makers, collectors, small business owners — to follow their dreams and help provide platforms for their success.
Walk us through a day in your world:
Every day is entirely new and unique for me. I’m in the office 9:30 to 5 p.m. every single day (or on Flea Style stuff if outside of the office). But before and after that, I’m on mom and wife duty whether I’m taking kiddos to school, grabbing groceries or holed up on the sofa with my husband watching Anthony Bourdain. For Flea Style, we have seasons, so my day really depends on what’s on our plate immediately and down the pipeline. When we’re in show season (fall and spring) I’m meeting with the city, our event planners, publicist, doing media interviews, space planning site maps, figuring out parking situations, sourcing vendors, answering vendor questions, brainstorming promotional material, passing out flyers, building event decor, ordering business supplies, shooting video footage, you name it! There is so much hard work that goes into our shows I can’t even begin to spew it all here. When we’re in summit season (winter and summer), I’m touring event spaces, meeting with sponsors, planning flights, courting panelists, working with their handlers on schedules, crafting panel discussions, planning meals, etc. During all of those times and in between I’m sourcing products for our website, modeling those products, helping shoot content, shooting footage for our YouTube channel, hosting workshops at our office, working with our lawyers on updates, contracts, trademarks, etc. There literally isn’t a dull moment at Flea Style and in addition to all of this, we are always dreaming up new platforms and ways to further our mission.
Where do you draw your motivation from?
I’m motivated by growth, the American dream and providing the future I want for my family and community. I love to work, be busy and see results whether it be watching a small brand succeed at one of our events, growing our show venues from 5,000 square foot space to 100,000 or making a little change on our website that shifts the entire mood and style of our site. I’ve never been financially motivated but as Flea Style grows I do find motivation in figuring out the money trail path so I can hire more people, empower more small businesses and make the Flea Style mission work — and more importantly — succeed. I’m motivated by my children and their future. I want them to see a working mom that balances work, personal and mommy time.
How have you surprised yourself?
I’ve never thought of that but now that you ask I think I’m surprised that I really made the leap and left my successful interior design business to make a go of this unusual business and career path. I had a really fun and fulfilling career as an interior designer and decorator but had to make a choice to either follow that dream or the Flea Style dream. I simply couldn’t do them both well. Design was the easy choice: I had a dialed-in client roster, got to travel all over the world and shop for a living. But it didn’t fill my heart like Flea Style did. I’m really proud that I made this decision and fight for this dream every single day. There is no real reward without risk. And I’m taking a huge risk in spending all of my energy on Flea Style. I’m very excited to see what this risk reaps down the line.
What is the most valuable realization you have had in your work?
Shopping small makes a huge difference. Working with so many startup and budding brands I see the impact it has on their lives first hand when they have sales at shows, online or a chunk of press. These things are literally allowing these hard working people to leave their rut jobs, follow their passions, feed their families, buy materials from other local companies, get off anxiety medication, hire your friend or neighbor, you name it. It’s magical to watch the domino effect Flea Style is making in Dallas, Texas and beyond
What personality traits play an essential role in your work and growth? Why?
This is such a great question. I think a lot of people look at others’ success and don’t realize that personality is such a huge piece of the puzzle. It’s not luck. It’s everything that person poured into their passion. For me, it’s hard work first and foremost. I graduated college a semester early because I stacked classes to nab the job of my dreams at the time. I put in the time, sweat, you name it to get stuff done efficiently and well. I think solid hard work and dedication to a craft or job is a little lost today due to social media and short attention spans. I also know that kindness, friendliness and an open mind have been huge in my success since my job works heavily with people and communication skills.
Who do you admire most as a successful woman and why?
Hard work, honesty and a positive attitude are top admirable qualities for me. If you work for me, you must have these qualities and wear them on your sleeve every single day. As a working mom, I really admire other working moms. It’s not easy to balance both worlds and I am all heart eyes for those that do, especially with passion, dignity and grace.
Looking forward, how do you want to spend yourself?
I would like to continue to support the small business community. Every day I’m laying the bricks to get to a point where I can be very involved with the business but also step away for periods of time to live life to the fullest with my friends and family. Down the road, once I feel like I’ve really built up Flea Style and my staff, I want to travel the world with my children and humble them by seeing how big, bad and beautiful this world is. I was fortunate to travel all over the globe in my 20s from Russia and Marrakech to Istanbul and Germany and knowing the realities of the world shaped my personality and passions. I would like to give that lens to my children — and explore more myself!
What advice do you have for those trying to design their own story?
Find something that you’re so passionate about you can hardly sleep at night. It’s that thing that will drive you to succeed, stay motivated (even when times are tough) and love the story you’re writing in this world. Be open-minded. Some opportunities don’t present themselves in a perfect pretty box or obvious ways. Be kind and never burn bridges. You never know who you will work with or need to call upon down the road. Stay humble and work hard.
What outfit do you feel the most confident in and why?
My style changes with my mood. That said, I wear denim nearly every single day. I feel just as confident in distressed jeans as a prim Chanel tweed jacket. One day I might feel like rocking cargos and a blazer and others a prairie skirt and cowboy boots. I really wear whatever I wake up and feel that day. I’m lucky I don’t have a company dress code or serious business meetings that call for boring suit sets.
Favorite Coffee Order
A small iced latte with whole milk with a tiny dash of Sweet’N Low. Forever and always hot or cold outside.
Where do you find the most joy?
My children’s laughs. Family time. Flea markets. The ocean (I’m from Southern California). The perfect lemon drop martini or margarita.
What is your favorite Holiday Tradition?
We’re still forming our holiday traditions with two young toddlers and family all over the country. We used to spend Christmas in California but this will be our second year to hole up in Dallas and have my immediate family at our house since we’re in the middle of the US. No matter where we are, we always have a Christmas Eve feast at home-made by my dad, the best cook I know.
What are you most looking forward to this Holiday Season?
I’m excited to have all of my family together at my house. We only all get together once or twice a year so it’s always a very special time for us. I’m looking forward to seeing Christmas through my son’s eyes. He will be three in January and will definitely get what’s going on this year. My husband and I have a trip planned to Arizona for New Years to relax and enjoy the family help with our kiddos. I’m looking forward to some serious sun and R&R after my busiest year yet!
Photography by Chelsea Q. White