Featured Interview: Jennifer Harrison

FEATURED INTERVIEW: JENNIFER HARRISON
{FOUNDER of FLEA MARKET FAB}

Interview by Angel Quintana
Photo Credit: Carley Page Interiors
Featuring: Jennifer Harrison
Magazine: Issue #40

Photography by Carley Page Interiors

Photography by Carley Page Interiors

When did you develop your uniquely styled brand? 

I don't see myself as having a "brand," mostly because what I do is truly a reflection of what I love: my passion for design and my addiction to the hunt. But I'd say that when my home was featured two years ago on a popular design blog, things really kicked off for me in a bigger way. It was at a time when I was ready to make some big changes in my home as my kids all left the nest, and I was finally able to dig into my vintage collection that had been steadily growing in my basement for years. I probably could have been recruited to be on that TV show Hoarders, I had so many piles of treasures. But these were all finds that were special to me, and I had never felt safe pulling them out when the kids were around because I was worried that one of them would throw a ball, or drop something, and then ruin them all. When I started transforming my home, I decided to document the whole process on Instagram. At the time, I never could have imagined that I would connect with so many people, or grow my audience to where it is today. 

What’s been your most successful method of getting your brand name out there?

Social media really started to take off at the time I started transforming my house. I have always tried to stay true to myself by sticking to my beliefs and own style, while keeping things focused. I have learned, especially over the past year, that you can start to lose yourself a bit when you immerse yourself in all the different styles being posted every day on Instagram. Even though it has evolved through the years, I have really tried to stay consistent with my own style. This has allowed me to use Instagram to connect with people all over the world, build amazing friendships, and grow an awesome community. Teaming up with these new design friends has given me a major support network that I am beyond grateful for. Instagram has really done amazing things for me and my brand. 

Photography by Carley Page Interiors

Photography by Carley Page Interiors

Since I have started my second account, @shopfleamarketfab, It has grown so fast that it takes up all of my time at this point. I have stayed focused on doing the Instagram sales and being consistent with it. I have such a passion and love for the people of Morocco, I was inspired to design my own line of cushions and pillows made from vintage rugs. I have been lucky enough to forge relationships with the families that make my products for me, and it means so much to me to make something that has never been out there before. Yes, we all have seen pillows but when you create them and set yourself apart from others in the way you do it, it's extra special. 

My goal is to see everyone with an FMF exclusive piece in their home. I want to continue to sell pieces that are one-of-a-kind and can be passed down as heirlooms to other family members. I use all of the pieces I design in my own, and wouldn't have it any other way. I would never sell something I wouldn't use myself. 

Between your flea market sales and your different levels of interior designing, which one requires more time?

We all know my heart skips a beat for textiles and interior details. I am a stylist by trade. I am so passionate about creating rich comfort on a budget, while still making your space completely unique. Each one of my pieces help others to do that, because they are all one-of-a-kind. 

I am always ready to change the game, and create something new that isn't out there. I already have so many plans and tricks up my sleeves for my next ventures, 2017 is going to be even more fun for me! I am beyond excited to share it all--as I say, "stay tuned," wink wink!!!

Photography by Carley Page Interiors

Photography by Carley Page Interiors

When you’re at flea markets, do you typically have a pretty good idea of what you want in mind or do you go in waiting for something to catch your eye and go from there?

I always think when I am going to a flea market I am going to be prepared with a list and behave with my purchases. BUT it just never happens that way, I always find the best things, none of which I actually need, but I still buy them (this is where the basement hoarder pile comes in). Even if I'm not exactly sure what I will do with something, I hang on to it until I am ready to introduce it to the "family"--haha!!! I feel, if you go to a flea market you have to have a open mind as you just never know what is going to be around the corner. If I have a client that is looking for certain pieces, yes, I go with a list...you have to. But when you keep an open mind, you really strike gold! Being a Midwesterner living in Ohio, we only get the fleas for a few months, so I tend to venture out far to get what I want, get my fixes or just to travel. It's always so interesting to go to other states and flea.The best pieces I have in my home are flea found, and I wouldn't have it any other way. My friends always say "teach me your ways," but I have come to learn, it's deep in my veins. I was just born this way. 

When working with clients, do you have a system in place to determine what is it they want? Are they very involved in the process?

I always go for a comfortable budget with my designs, as there's nothing I love more than creating something amazing from items that only cost a few bucks. I think this is something that really sets me apart. It also means that I have the freedom to go back and make changes. And true confessions: I like to change things up. Every year or so, I make changes in my own home....I guess that's a side effect of being creative and having an artistic eye. 

Photography by Carley Page Interiors

Photography by Carley Page Interiors

I love vintage items so much because each piece comes with its own story...and that really speaks to me. Because each piece is so unique, using vintage in my designs also allows me to spread my wings a lot more. I don't follow design rules, and always like to go against the grain...this is what I have become known for. While most people seem to be embracing minimalism with a "no clutter" rule, I do the opposite. I'm a maximalist who believes that the more the better. And the crazier, the better. Each design I create is like a quirky love story for all my finds...and their history is part of the magic that I hope people people take away. This is what really makes me happy. 

I have been fleaing, junking, and thrifting for many years. It's been in my blood since my very young childhood with my mom. She would take me EVERYWHERE--up driveways for yard sales, into homes for estate sales, and down the streets of many Antique rows. Today I smile when I think back to those days, because if not for her and her passion for her own style and love for junk, I wouldn't be who I am today. 

What’s the hardest part of being an interior designer with your style?

Being a interior decorator // interior stylist always comes with its challenges when I am asked to incorporate my own style in someone else's space. I will hunt for days to make sure the vintage pieces I find work together like peanut butter and jelly. I treat every space as if it were my own, so there always has to be plants, texture, warmth, and comfort. I like to keep my brand and style, yet I always make sure the homeowner still feels they are part of the design process, because in the end, it's their home they are coming to. I always want my client to feel when they walk in the door they can drop their bag or purse and sit down with a glass of wine and feel relaxed. 

Photography by Carley Page Interiors

Photography by Carley Page Interiors

What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone looking to build their interior design brand?

I get asked quite a bit about how I got started. I can only say be confident, believe in yourself, and stay true to you. Because you are making long term decisions for people when you help to design their space.When being hired you have to be confident in your choices for them and be true to yourself...this will allow you to create your own style, and separate yourself to from others while staying consistent. 

I have come to realize that what I really love is inspiring others. It makes me so happy to know I have given someone the motivation and drive to create or change their space. When people contact me and share with me the photos of what they have done in their home,  a pillow they have used, or a painting they have created, it gives me life. I believe nothing makes you happier then finding your place in the world. With that comes a feeling of relief, love, and self worth. I want people to know that you can do anything you set your heart to--just stay focused and be true to yourself. Everything happens when it is supposed to, so don't give up on your dreams. Be inspirational to others, and all will fall into place. 

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