It’s not often that we hear words like “community” and “support” in the same breath as big name brands and retail stores. But we’re proud to have discovered that tons of our friends and former Miami Flea veterans have been recruited and spotlighted in the halls of bigger companies. Recently, Lincoln Road’s Urban Outfitters store featured several local makers, and West Elm has followed suit and embarked on a “local” path too. Big brands like these are proving that large companies can still make strides to support the efforts of local makers.
West Elm’s LOCAL initiative started as a small experiment back in 2013, but has since grown into a nation-wide force of over 500 artists and makers spread throughout 70+ stores. The goals of the initiative are simple: connecting people to the maker community right in their own backyards, and celebrating the work and practices of talented people.
Take the powerhouse behind Sakura Soaps, Jaclyn Rosell, who sells her soapy confections year-round in all 8 of Florida’s West Elm locations. Others like Poetic Nomad, Nic & Luc, Javier Corrales Art, Carla Merino Jewlery, Dar Terrariums and Hello Chiqui have all participated in monthly West Elm pop-up shops where they’re given the opportunity to sell their goods in-house for a day.
Nicole Ulloa, the Operations Manager at West Elm in Downtown Dadeland, took some time to speak to me and break down the importance of an initiative like this in Miami. “[These] pop-ups just add that little touch. The vendors…love talking to our customers and staff and our own staff members love interacting with them. They really become like family.”
The store also makes it a point to let vendors keep 100% of their proceeds, Miami Flea-style. “We just want to build a relationship with that person in the store. It just really works out. It’s been years in the making.”
And local vendors like Nicole of Poetic Nomad, only echo that sentiment. “I really think an initiative like this helps the community because I think that they’re a role model. They’re showing that even though they’re super successful, we can all still connect on another level, and we can all be there for each other and support each other. It’s an opportunity for [makers] to grow, to meet other people.”
Truthfully, it’s refreshing to see that West Elm is cultivating an experience grounded in authentic communal support and we couldn’t be more proud of all of our vendors and their success. This is the reason why, just about a year ago, the Arts + Entertainment District created The Miami Flea: to give local creators a platform that was way overdue.
Make sure to stop by and say hi to these Miami Flea veterans on August 21st! Find out more here.