Interview with a Local: Anna Ward, Artists & Fleas Market Manager

If you’re a Brooklynite, you have likely been to Artists and Fleas. If not, according to Founders Amy and Ronen, Artists & Fleas is, “Part community gathering spot, part hipster haven, Artists & Fleas has hosted thousands of artists and vendors since opening its doors. It's a place where buyers find unique designs, artists and vintage collectors in an atmosphere that’s in the tradition of old world marketplaces with a firm foot in what is contemporary, original and hip.” 

They first opened their doors in an empty warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and have since expanded to Chelsea Market in NYC, downtown Los Angeles as well as Venice. 

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According to their website, “In a city full of creative, enterprising individuals, there was no place that gave talented individuals the opportunity to set up and sell for a day in friendly, fun and welcoming space exposed to the rich and diverse pedestrian traffic of Williamsburg. Part community gathering spot, part hipster haven, Artists & Fleas has hosted thousands of artists and vendors since opening its doors. It's a place where buyers find unique designs, artists and vintage collectors in an atmosphere that’s in the tradition of old world marketplaces with a firm foot in what is contemporary, original and hip.”

Artists & Fleas has a been a friend to Like A Local Tours for several years. They have some exciting special events coming up, so we took a few minutes to talk with Anna Ward, Market Manager for Artists & Fleas. 

How did you come to end up as the Market Manager for Artists & Fleas?

People always ask me that, thinking that I'll tell a tale of being a maker myself and moving into managing the market - but I actually come from a web/comm/social media background, and I happened to see the job listing and applied for it! The rest is history.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your background? 

I was always into the performing arts, competed in many state-wide drama festivals, and was a ballerina throughout high school and into college. My mother is a painter, and I think growing up with her inspired me to want to work with artists and makers. From an early age I was modeling for art classes that she taught, helping to work booths at local art events, reorganizing her gallery space, and contributing to her business in a variety of ways. I love that now my job is to help artists with the business side of things - which is usually the part that they find most challenging.

Anna Ward pictured above.

Anna Ward pictured above.

What do you love about Artists & Fleas?

So many things! I love the ever-changing, ever-growing vendor community and the fact that no matter how many makers I see come and sell at the market (thousands by now!) I can still be completely floored by a new product, concept or art piece. I love that our business model allows for constant innovation, and that when we see something that doesn't work we can change it and improve upon it immediately. We're a small, agile company so if we try out an activation that doesn't result in what we were hoping, we learn from it and move forward. And in general, I love the incredible flow of creativity that surrounds me every single day.

I know you frequently work on special programming and events. Can you tell us about anything coming up?

We have an incredible food series going on right now called "Artists & Eats". It's a series of 7 themed weekends featuring innovative food brands selling everything from hot sauces to handmade kimchi to vegan rueben sandwiches. There's two weekends left in the series - "Taste of Home" on February 25th & 26th will feature traditional foods from around the globe, and "It Takes Two" will feature collaborations between brands (think: chili pepper extract and cookie dough!)

See below for details!

As you know, we are all about local … can you share your favorite bar and restaurant in NYC?

My favorite bar is George & Jack's, just a few blocks from the market in Williamsburg. It's an uber-local spot with a diverse crowd, free popcorn and a juke box. What more could you ask for?

My favorite restaurant is Lucali, a tiny, old-world pizza place in Carroll Gardens whose clientele ranges from local grandmas to celebrities (Jay Z & Beyonce are regulars!) and everyone in between. It's usually on a 3+ hour wait but I promise it's worth it - I'm not kidding when I say it's the best pizza I've ever had!

Can you share a favorite NYC moment?

I remember one day that I started out with breakfast in Carroll Gardens, went to have my makeup done for a friend's GlamSquad audition in midtown, headed up to Harlem for a salon at a family friends' brownstone on NYC women's sentiments on the current political climate, and finished off the day with dinner in the East Village. Every part of the day was so incredibly different from the rest, and that's what I love about New York City... every experience here is so unique, but the ease of transportation makes it so that you can pack a ton of different experiences into just one day.

UPCOMING EVENTS AT ARTISTS & FLEAS:

February 25 and 26:  Taste of Home: Family traditions from around the Globe. Some of us can’t jet home for the weekend, so we find other ways to capture what it feels like to be with our families. Taste of Home takes you on a culinary journey around the country and the world to taste the traditions of entrepreneurs from all over. This event includes any food item that’s not easy to find in NYC, old family recipes, cultural favorites and more.

On March 4 and 5:  It Takes Two: Better together. It Takes Two to tango – especially when it comes to the latest and greatest food trends. Because chocolate wouldn’t be the same without peanut butter, or bacon without eggs, or cheese without crackers... you get the picture. This category brings the best of the best together for some all-star collabs that are sure to delight. This event brings two or more entrepreneurs together to create something truly extraordinary!

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