If you live or visit New York often, the chances are that you have visited one of UrbanSpace‘s markets; Mad. Sq. Eats, Broadway Bites, Columbus Circle Holiday Market and Union Square Holiday Market. Here to tell us a bit about her experience with markets and UrbanSpace itself is Julie Feltman, the Market Director at UrbanSpace.
1. How did you get involved with markets and UrbanSpace?
I feel super fortunate that the universe just pushed me towards this job – it’s my dream job. I grew up in the market circuit working with my Mother, jewelry designer Angela Feltman of Heart Of Stone, who would do pop-up markets and street fairs all over New England. Some of my earliest memories are running around those fairs, learning how to make change and putting beads on string. As an adult, I’ve done a lot of production management for theater and events, as well as going to school for Economics. A few years ago, I worked with UrbanSpace as an assistant and slowly moved up the ranks to become the Market Director.
2. What do you want visitors to your markets to walk away with?
The neat thing about our markets is that it’s an immersive, unique experience every single time you step through it, and appeals to every sense you have. I think the most satisfied customer doesn’t walk away with food selfies or instagrammed crowd shots, but with distinct tactile memories of the sound of rice noodles sizzling on a hot grill, how the spices smelt both foreign and familiar, how the salt rub felt against your hands. I want people to put down their phones and ear buds and take in the experience!
3. What is the oddest or funniest or most interesting market story you can remember?
So many! Sometimes vendors send the office samples of their products, and someone last year sent me a fig tree. He wasn’t intending on selling trees, he just though I’d like it. It was pretty cool. Right now there is a gelato vendor at Broadway Bites by UrbanSpace, and his Italian mother works the booth. She doesn’t speak any English, and customers actually enjoy struggling with correspondence, it’s like for that one moment you’re in Italy. Every time I go over she hugs and kisses me and speaks to me in Italian as if I get every word. She then gives me an affagato (a scoop of gelato with espresso poured on top) even when I say no. It’s a work hazard :).
4. If you could visit any market in the world, which one would it be?
Ooooh! I’ve been lucky to travel, and I’ve loved the markets in India and Morocco. In India, there are such an assault of sights smells and sounds, especially as a foreigner, it’s pretty great, and each region specializes in something different. In Morocco, they have snake charmers and fiddle players as entertainment, and all types of animals for sale. It’s pretty great. I think my next stop for markets is the Parisian Bird Market, or some of the market places in the Andulusia region of Spain.
5. Who would you take with you?
Someone with a big pocketbook and a strong back for hauling my knickknacks 🙂
Blog Interview with Hannah:
1. Tell us a bit about The Little Market.
The Little Market works with artisan groups in developing countries around the world who meet our fair trade, fair wages, and fair workplace standards. In this partnership the artisans create one-of-a-kind treasures, we offer design insights and the marketplace site, and customers allow the artisans to reach a global market. Each purchase makes it possible for the women to earn wages to support their families, for the artisan groups to offer health and education services, and for the customer to connect directly to the artisans.
2. How did The Little Market get started?
Lauren and I met in 2006 when were both attending the Fashion Institute of Design + Merchandising in Orange County. We traveled together to Bali, El Salvador, Tanzania, and Uganda. While traveling we met hardworking women who were struggling to support themselves. We wanted to find a sustainable way to help. We decided to set up an online store to support artisans from around the world. We worked with experts in International Development including non-profit Global Goods Partners to launch The Little Market in October 2013.
3. What do you want visitors to walk away with after visiting The Little Market?
We hope visitors have a new appreciation for handmade goods and how the sales of these items can empower the women who make them. When we meet women who continue on with hope despite living with hardships from extreme poverty to unimaginable trauma, it moves us to work as hard as we can on their behalf. We are humbled by the women we work with and grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in their future.
4. If you could visit any market in the world, which one would it be and why?
I have always wanted to visit the floating markets in Thailand. The floating markets are unlike any market I have ever been to. Vendors sell fruits, vegetables, and sweets from their Thai style canoes.
5. If you could take anyone with you to the market–who would it be?
Kristin Ess. She has an incredible eye for beautiful things. She is a great photographer and her photos capture incredible moments, gorgeous scenery and little details that most people miss.
This Little Market is win-win partnership! Started by best friends Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla. Their mandate is to assist artisans worldwide to bring their quality handmade goods to an online marketplace near you. The next time you are looking for something a little different with a bit of fashionable flair, go to thelittlemarket.com and see what Lauren and Hannah’s latest travels have brought home. See co-founder Hannah Skvarla’s blog interview to learn more about The Little Market and what market she would love to check next.