Paris, France is commonly referred to as the fashion capital of the world, home to the premier fashion designer and leader in all things couture. Since its inception in 1826, fashion has evolved into an art form, a form of self-expression, and has conquered the world. It has even spread to Bakersfield, California, where Ash of FleaMarketShawty is located.
At just 23 years old, Ash can support herself through her love of fashion. She’s a vintage curator who goes by the name “FleaMarketShawty” on Instagram and has turned her passion for fashion into a career by frequenting flea markets where she sells her vintage finds, alterations and occasional original pieces. She also offers styling services on the side for anyone looking to dress up for an event.
“Clothes are everything to me,” Ash says.
Her current fashion sense is heavily inspired by the Y2K movement and Latin pop stars, like Thalia. According to her father, Ash has always been interested in fashion since she knew how to dress herself.
“She never wanted to wear what the other kids wore. She always wanted to be different,” says Ash’s father, Efrain Bobadilla.
Ash’s parents are also responsible for his confidence in starting his 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 9-5 schedule made Ash realize that her dream of turning what she loves into a career could come true. One of Ash’s closest friends, Jackie Serrano, says Ash has always been a go-getter and determined to manifest her own reality.
“Ash is one of those people who, when they have an idea, don’t just brainstorm. It’s strategic,” says Serrano.
Its first flea market was held on March 14, 2021 in Bakersfield during the sidewalk sale hosted by local vintage consignment store Bakersfield Vintage. She travels between the Los Angeles area and Bakersfield to set up shop at various flea markets and even sets up shelves for low prices, usually $5-$15, at the ReRun Thrift Store when she has the time.
To keep his gear stocked, Ash spends hours driving from thrift store to thrift store, trying to find the perfect pieces. Since her first market, she has gained enough experience and knowledge about vintage clothing that she can now identify high-quality pieces solely by things like stitching, fabric and brand names.
According to Ash, one of the most difficult aspects of the flea market community and the fashion community in general is the lack of inclusiveness and sustainability, which are two important aspects that Ash holds himself accountable for. When she started, she started with wholesale products, but realized that this did not fit her morals, as she tries to be as sustainable as possible with her own consumption.
Lack of inclusivity is endemic within the fashion community, as it typically excludes tall people. Within the flea market community, it’s a double-edged sword. Since fashion usually doesn’t include tall people, it’s harder to find quality vintage pieces for them. On the other hand, because these pieces are harder to come by, the target audience of any clothing resale business adheres to thinner people, so the vintage pieces that do exist don’t seem worth picking up.
“LA is the least inclusive…it’s like a gentrified war zone,” Ash says.
Ash is doing her best to bring inclusivity back to fashion and upcycling. She wants everyone to feel good about her style and to feel welcome within the vintage clothing community. She brings quality pieces of any size, allowing a more inclusive audience to find her.
Although Ash doesn’t want to show off too many of her manifestations regarding her future in this business, she does want to one day own a proper store in the city center with plenty of windows to display her best pieces. For now, she wants to continue spreading the message of the importance of buying local. His biggest advice for anyone interested in this type of work is to trust the process.
“The process is the best part,” Ash says.
You can stay up to date on Ash’s finds and future flea market happenings on her [email protected]