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Life and Work with Anna Ward

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna Ward.

Anna, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Artists & Fleas is a multi-merchant marketplace that has been disrupting retail for more than a decade by delivering ever-evolving and extraordinary shopping experiences. We believe marketplaces are the heartbeat of every city and we’re dedicated to curating a selection of merchants who best represent the culture and craft unique to each of our neighborhoods.

Founded in an empty Williamsburg warehouse on N. 6th Street by Ronen Glimer and Amy Abrams, Artists & Fleas has hosted thousands of merchants and buyers since opening its doors in December 2003. Ronen and Amy have spent their lives cultivating their love of travel and adventure and appreciation for craft and creativity, culminating in the creation of Artists & Fleas. It’s a place where buyers find unique designs, artists and vintage collectors and discover what is contemporary, original and hip in the tradition of old world marketplaces.

Ronen & Amy now lead a passionate, dynamic and growing team, along with a thriving network of thousands of merchants across New York City and Los Angeles with diverse experiences across retail, art, design and more.

“We love cool stuff. We love to shop. We love the thrill of discovery. And we especially love discovering new things in out-of-the-way places where we can meet the people behind the creations who made it, found it and brought it to market. Artists & Fleas is the way to bring together all the things we love and to celebrate a creative community by creating an unforgettable shopping experience.”

Named by HGTV as one of their “Must Visit Artist Co-ops and Markets” in the US and consistently on Time Out New York’s list of Best Places to Shop in New York City, Artists & Fleas is committed to community, discovery and delight in shopping.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Choosing where and how to expand our offerings is a challenge, as we want to be as supportive to the maker community as possible. We’ve definitely tried locations and events that haven’t worked out, but we try to stay nimble and constantly experiment to figure out what works. Asking for feedback from our community is important as we grow! I can’t stress enough the need for market research and feedback in both the early and growth stage of a business.

Please tell us about Artists & Fleas.
I’ve been at Artists & Fleas for four years. I started as our Brooklyn Market Manager, overseeing all aspects of the Brooklyn market – operations, merchant relations, events and partnerships. I then moved into my current role as Director of External Relations, where I focus on bigger brand-wide partnerships, events, activations and new initiatives.

Artists & Fleas has become a part of my identity. Most of my social life revolves around the events we host because they’re so much fun – from vintage showcases to book launches to free Bollywood dance classes. My entire wardrobe was purchased at the market (shout out to vintage fashion!) and I’m so proud to represent all our incredible makers every day through my look and lifestyle. I love my job because it’s such an authentic part of me and my personality.

There’s a wealth of academic research that suggests that lack of mentors and networking opportunities for women has materially affected the number of women in leadership roles. Smart organizations and industry leaders are working to change this, but in the meantime, do you have any advice for finding a mentor and building a network?
Get yourself out there and attend events! Join groups – for women, women’s only groups are great because the conversations are much more honest and it’s easier to network. I attend as many networking events as I can because you never know where you’ll meet someone important to your work and/or career.

If you meet someone whose career inspires you, don’t be afraid to ask them for coffee. Prepare a few specific questions, so that you don’t waste too much of their time and think of some ways that you might be able to offer value to them and their own work.

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Image Credit:
Artists & Fleas

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