Artists & Fleas

Established in 2003, Artists & Fleas Artist, Designer & Vintage Market is a weekly Williamsburg Brooklyn indoor market (Located in a large early 1930s manufacturing warehouse in the heart of Williamsburg’s North Side) where emerging and independent artists, designers, vintage collectors and DIYers can showcase their wares, set up shop and meet their market. It’s a unique destination where consumers can interact and buy directly from the source.

The shadows of midday pass over the entrance to the flea market as a passerby has a smoke break.

Aren’t shadows sneaky? Isn’t the sun strange? Here I am snapping photos in nearly the same spot, at a different time of day. 

Delicate, vintage wedding dresses and prom delights hang in neutral shades.

Part designer showcase, part maker’s market, this pop-up will host over 30 independent creators and sellers of jewelry, art, design, home accessories, vintage clothing, and all things indie, funky, Brooklyn and bespoke from both Artists & Fleas’ 9 years in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and the larger creative community. In addition, the market will play host to an eclectic mix of weekly programming led by independent designers and artists open to the public.

Now in its seventh year, the flea market has done so successfully that it has expanded its offerings to Chelsea Market for a pop-up event! I adore flea markets for both their visual appeal and their ability to foster true customer bonding. It is always wonderful to see goods and wares displayed exactly how store owners want; the browsing experience is greatly enhanced by knowing that items were personally curated for the market event.

Punk, hardcore, wicked, whatever adjective or descriptor one uses, the jewelry still has edge from FSMNYC

 The ever changing array of customers, clients, and vendors is updated biweekly. Sometimes the space even offers live music and a DJ. Even if your latest paycheck has not arrived (and you can’t shop QUITE yet) the meandering is supremely gratifying.
Some shops include Brooklyn Charm (a perennial favorite that makes one-of-a-kind charms on the spot), The Blue Hound, Cynthia Rybakoff (modern vintage jewelry with a pop culture twist), GoLLY (one of a kind screen prints), QP & Monty (a veritable, vintage treasure trove), Paste (limited edition lithographs), however the pièce de résistance (in my humble opinion) was Rifle + Radford.
Although Radford is Melanie’s maiden name, her business’ title is a phenomenal way to stay attached to one’s familial roots AND to use alliteration. Who doesn’t need a little R&R?
Cowhide, agate, coral, glass, books, and a fish print. What more do you need, really?
Rifle + Radford is Brooklyn-based, Southwest-inspired design studio specializing in eclectic collections of handcrafted heritage jewelry, clothing and salvaged antiques, vintage housewares and home decor accents. The first thing that struck me about Melanie’s display area was how beautifully and exactly placed each item was. The taupe colors of old maps mingled seamlessly with the intense purples of minerals and gems. Feathers and antlers looked natural sitting on mechanical bar stools. The whole display was a study in editing.
I’ll take personalized stationery and an antler wrapped in yarn, please! 
Southwestern Flair! 
The second thing that struck me was the owner’s killer style. I have never seen such a perfect choice of rings (and on the proper finger! ring placement is a science…).  I spoke with Melanie a bit and asked her exactly HOW she found her items, we discussed my family’s history in the antiques industry, but also her knowledge of RIFLING (not the usual “gun barrel” definition, this is what she calls searching for her inventory).  Some of her items were antique or vintage, some were handcrafted and new, and yet others were a combination of the two, a re-purposing of worlds.
Whatever this case used to be; a display for jewelry, a cufflinks holder, the bottom of a cash register, or an organizer, doesn’t matter. What does matter is that now it is a makeshift holder for some of the most neatly packaged earrings, ever. Can we TALK about those TURQUOISE AVENTURINE TEARDROPS?
Are you as touched by the charming packaging as I am? Oh an ombre amethyst slice on my ear or neck! Click HERE for more. 
No shortage of gemstones, birthstones, and gold plating. 
My sneaky, voyeuristic photo features the creative director helping customers. Look at those old filing cabinet drawers topped with shadow boxes (secret: I knew these boxes were from West Elm, so she and I got to talking about our mutual design loves…)
If you were to become a designer, antique collector, or creative director, what would you call your business? How would your products be themed? Rifle + Radford has her vibe and brand down pat.

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Keren Veisblatt Toledano is a User Experience Designer at Berya LLC. In her spare time she can be found soaking in Epsom salts, admiring copper pots, reading dystopian science fiction or sneaking a slice of lemon into her drinks. Her motto is, “A morning without coffee is sleep.” She lives in Philly with her cat, Cagney, partner, Michael, and son, Josiah.