Flea Style: Makers, Shakers (and Shoppers)

Highland Park resident and Flea Style owner Brittany Cobb has a hard time deciding what her latest favorite find is.

Recently she’s narrowed it down to a pair of 1960s amber stained-glass light fixtures from an old church and a royal blue Oriental jacket worn and sold by a bride who purchased it while honeymooning in China.

Cobb said she loves that kind of shopping — finding unique items that often have a story.

Her love for one-of-a-kind items and her desire to support artisans and entrepreneurs have helped shape Flea Style into a unique retail and creative element in Dallas.

“Flea Style is a creative platform for makers and shakers,” said Cobb, whose mission is to support and promote small businesses through shows, summits, workshops, and an online shop.

Founder Brittney Cobb. (Photo courtesy The Y Group)
Founder Brittney Cobb. (Photo courtesy The Y Group)

Flea Style’s tagline, “handmade, vintage, one of a kind,” is Cobb’s guidepost in hand-selecting the products and vendors for her shows and in steering the company’s endeavors. She credits her success to a talented all-female staff, an eclectic background in design and writing, and a keen eye for the company’s success. Cobb said she could share thousands of success stories her company has helped create.

There’s a former school teacher who went from selling wares at a Flea Style Show to having her collection in more than 400 Neiman Marcus stores.

There’s a pair of friends that attended a Flea Style Summit, opened a booth at a show, and now have an online store and teach workshops sharing their craft.

“Just igniting that fire under their bell[ies] to start what they’ve always wanted to do, and then see them up and running. . . it’s really cool to watch,” Cobb said.

An SMU grad with a degree in journalism, Cobb always thought she’d work as a writer. Writing lifestyle pieces for the Dallas Morning News, Forbes, and as a freelancer, she often interviewed jewelry designers, shop owners, and other creative types. She noticed that after she wrote about them, their businesses would often experience a surge in sales and attention. That attention, however, would eventually wane. Cobb decided she wanted to help the artisans create and sustain their businesses.

Drawing from her interior design background and California roots, she created a holiday market in 2009. The Dallas Flea market was modeled after the diverse flea markets and swap meets where she often shopped in California and New York. The event drew 60 vendors and 1,000 shoppers. At the same time, Cobb was laid off from her job as editor of DailyCandy, an e-mail newsletter. She took that as a sign that she needed to continue creating markets.

Cobb changed the name of the company in December 2015 from the Dallas Flea to Flea Style, with an eye on creating a national brand and expanding to Houston.

In 2016, she launched the first Flea Style Summit, “a creative conference for creative thinkers,” where top entrepreneurs share start-up stories, give advice, and offer in-depth information from accounting, trademarking, branding, and monetizing social media. Flea Style held its second summit in February.

In 2016, Flea Style opened an online shop, fleastyle.com, featuring a sampling of vendors’ products, as well a commissioned, unique items made especially for the online store.

Flea Style also offers ongoing workshops teaching macrame, embroidery, and hand calligraphy.

(Photo: Natalie Barrett Shelton)
(Photo: Natalie Barrett Shelton)

Upcoming Flea Style shows in the spring and fall — at Dallas Fair Park and Silver Street Studios in Houston — will feature more than 400 artists and vendors. Shoppers can find vintage and antique items from 1960s peacock chairs, Indian tapestries, and Turkish textiles, to handmade art, baby bloomers, and teepees.

Cobb is scouting locations in Nashville for future shows and plans to expand her online shop, as well as grow the Dallas headquarters to include a retail store.

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