Jen Bailey , Founder of Fashion Art Design Market (FAD)
If you live in the Brooklyn area and have ventured out to Smith Street in Boerum Hill, you cannot miss the Fashion Art Design Market aka FAD Market. The creative mastermind behind this curated pop-up market is Jen Bailey. Jen created a place for local makers and artisan to come together and showcase their goods for the community. Read more about how Jen quit her job and began FAD full-time below:
Jen, can you tell us what you wanted to do when you grow up and how did that inspire you to be in the space you’re in now?
As a child, I wanted to be many things ¬— a chef, a kindergarten teacher, a dentist, an editor at a fashion magazine, a museum curator, and a travel writer. One thing I did know at an early age was that I wanted to live and work in New York City.
I grew up in a creative household. My grandfather was an interior designer; my aunt, a fashion and accessories designer; my brother, an artist; my mother, a Chinese watercolor painter; and my father, a lover of antiques.
I was exposed to and had an interest in art and design from an early age. I won art competitions in school and when I went to college, I decided to take art history as my major. I used to design and sell jewelry at boutiques and markets in New York, London and Hong Kong.
I supposed I’ve always had a passion for markets. Growing up in Hong Kong, I was surrounded by food markets, street fairs and night bazaars. We often traveled to England, my father’s homeland, and as a teenager I loved the flea markets. I was fascinated with exploring Camden Market and Portobello Market in London.
Even today, every time I travel, I make it a point to research the local markets where I am going and take the time to visit them. I believe that markets are the heart and soul of a culture and place.
I think it was an amalgamation of these experiences that inspired me to do what I am doing now.
What about your inspiration behind FAD and why you chose to keep it Brooklyn-based versus expanding it to different boroughs?
The idea of FAD came about when I returned to New York from London in 2010. There were many empty storefronts in the Lower East Side neighborhood where I was living in at the time. I had a bunch of friends who were artists and I also had a side business designing jewelry, so I thought why not rent a storefront, gather my friends and other makers to put together a market? That idea turned into my very first pop-up market.
When I revived FAD in 2016 as a full time endeavor, I chose to situate the market in Brooklyn because it’s where I live now, in the Boerum Hill neighborhood. It is important to me to anchor the market around my neighborhood as a way of contributing to the community.
Perhaps in the future FAD might pop across the river to Manhattan, but Brooklyn will always be its first home.
Why is important to have platform like FAD?
I believe it is important for small businesses and creative entrepreneurs to have opportunities to showcase and sell their work, to come offline and connect directly with an audience. FAD Market serves as a platform for artists, designers and members of the public to meet, interact and together, discover the art and culture within our community.
You said you quit your job and began FAD full-time - how did you feel going through these motions and what is your advice for others who wish to do the same?
After launching my first FAD market in 2010, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I was determined to eventually return to the idea at a time where I could give it my all and see where I could take it.
So I worked and saved up for five years, then I quit my job and dived headfirst into it all. To be honest, I probably didn’t take enough time to deliberate what I was getting myself into or how hard it was going to be. I figured I had done it once and I could do it again.
But five years on, the market landscape in New York had changed drastically. There was a lot more competition in the business and landlords were no longer willing to rent to short-term pop-ups.
So I started researching and educating myself — I attended free sessions by NYC Business Solutions for startups and went to legal open houses to learn about the laws governing businesses like mine. Slowly but surely, things started coming together.
Running FAD Market has been hard work with major highs and lows. As a small business owner, there are so many hats to wear. At times it can be difficult to make decisions that could make or break the business. I work long hours and weekends and there have been mornings I wake up with anxiety, not wanting to fail or let down my community of artists and designers. I want to do the best for my makers and make sure our visitors enjoy their experience at FAD.
Despite everything, I would never change my path. I love working with the maker community and discovering emerging talents within our city. I love the freedom and joy of creating a space where people can interact with art and culture. I am still figuring things out and I think I always will be, but my advice is to just do it. Take a risk. You only live once. If it doesn’t work out, at least you tried.
What do you foresee for FAD and yourself in the coming years?
I would rather FAD be the turtle than the hare. Longevity is important for a business. I want to make sure we continue to grow and keep things fresh, and that we stay true to ourselves by always being independent and unique. We love partnering with new, fun organizations to bring something new to our visitors. Moving forward, I would love to see the market pop up in Manhattan, and perhaps one day, in other states or even other countries.
FAD's Spring Market is coming April 28 + 29 and May 19 + 20 (in conjunction with NYCxDESIGN) from 11am to 6pm at the Brooklyn Historical Society. To keep up with FAD, follow them on instagram @fadmarket
Interviewed by Chary