Paris, France is commonly referred to as the fashion capital of the world, being home to the first fashion designer and leader of all things couture-related. Since its creation in 1826 fashion has evolved into an art form, a form of self-expression, and has taken over the world. It has even spread to Bakersfield, California, where Ash from FleaMarketShawty can be found.
At just 23 years old, Ash can sustain herself through her love for fashion. She is a vintage curator that goes by the name “FleaMarketShawty” on Instagram and has turned her passion for fashion into a career by attending flea markets where she sells her thrifted vintage finds, reworks, and occasional original pieces. She also offers styling services on the side for anyone looking to get dressed up for an event.
“Clothes is everything to me,” says Ash.
Her current fashion sense is heavily inspired by the Y2K movement and Latina pop stars, like Thalia. According to her father, Ash has always been interested in fashion since she could dress herself.
“She never wanted to wear what other kids were wearing. She always wanted to be different, ”says Ash’s father, Efrain Bobadilla.
Ash’s parents are also responsible for her confidence in starting her own business as they are both entrepreneurs. Her mother owns the cleaning service Angelica’s Housekeeping while her father runs the real estate company My World Realty. Growing up around her parents being their own bosses and not sticking to the typical 9-5agenda allowed Ash to realize that her dream of turning what she loves into a career could become a reality. One of Ash’s closest friends, Jackie Serrano, says that Ash has always been a go-getter and determined to manifest her own reality.
“Ash is one of those people that when she gets an idea, it’s not just a brainstorm. It’s strategic, ”says Serrano.
Her first flea market was on March 14, 2021, in Bakersfield at the sidewalk sale held by local vintage consignment shop Bakersfield Vintage. She travels back between the LA region and Bakersfield to set up at different flea markets and even sets up low-priced racks, typically $ 5 to $ 15, at ReRun Thrift Store when she has the time.
To keep her set up stocked, Ash spends hours driving around from thrift store to thrift store, trying to find the perfect statement pieces. Since her first market, she has gained enough experience and knowledge about vintage clothing that she can now identify high-quality pieces just by things like the stitching, fabric, and brand names.
According to Ash, one of the hardest parts of being in the flea market community and the fashion community, in general, is the lack of inclusivity and sustainability, which are both important aspects that Ash holds herself accountable for. When she first started, she began with wholesale products but realized it did not align with her morals as she tries to be as sustainable as possible with her own consumption.
The lack of inclusivity is rampant within the fashion community as it typically excludes plus-size people. Within the flea market community, it is a double-edged sword. Since fashion typically does not include plus-size people, it is harder to find quality vintage pieces for them. On the other hand, because these pieces are harder to find it makes the target audience of any clothes reselling business adhere to thinner people, so those vintage pieces that do not exist do not seem worth taking.
“LA is the least inclusive… it’s like a gentrified warzone,” claims Ash.
Ash does her best to bring inclusivity back to fashion and upcycling. She wants everyone to feel good through their style and be able to feel welcomed within the vintage clothing community. She brings in quality pieces regardless of size allowing for a more inclusive audience to find her.
While Ash does not want to expose too much of her manifestations towards her future in this business, she does want to own an actual store someday in the downtown area with lots of windows to display her best pieces. For now, she wants to continue spreading the message of the importance of shopping local. Her biggest tip for anyone interested in this type of work is to trust the process.
“The process is the best part,” says Ash.
You can stay updated on Ash’s thrift finds and future flea market events on her [email protected]