Some of the best ideas appear unexpectedly – as is the case with artisan Hilary Nagler. After nearly two decades in the design industry, the artisan realized she had an untapped calling. She ventured into the world of product design and soon after, her business Flea Market Rx was born. The shop is exactly what it sounds like, and is filled with gorgeous, unexpected pieces. Every item, whether it’s a bold light fixture or unique piece of hardware, is carefully crafted in a sunny indoor/outdoor studio in downtown Santa Barbara. We took 5 minutes to get to know the designer better and to find out what she’s up to next:
MY LIGHTBULB MOMENT:
I was rummaging through drawers of unloved lamp parts at local salvage shop and stumbled upon a gorgeously patinated vintage brass socket, set out to make a light from it and inadvertently found my calling. I had been in the design business for almost 20 years but had never made anything with my own hands, never crafty, never tinkered. I have no idea where it came from but the process spoke to me. Before I knew it I was making lights out of anything I could drill a hole into and Flea Market Rx was born.
At the same time I was very disgruntled with the “vintage-inspired” fixtures I saw in the market… inexpensive materials, cheap painted or sprayed faux patina finishes. Dull. Boring. Lifeless. The vintage style fixtures I was producing had soul; the patinas were visceral and emotive. I knew there must be a way to recreate the authentic vintage feel in quantity. So I set out to develop styles, techniques and patinas that could be replicated and yet each one still feel like a special one-of-a-kind vintage find.
I CAN’T START MY DAY UNTIL:
That first divine sip of coffee and a stroll though Instagram.
As an entrepreneur, that goalpost keeps moving – it’s just the nature of the mindset. By the time you get around to celebrating, your brain is already onto the next big thing. The key is to stop and celebrate the smaller victories along the way. I think true success is living in the moment – taking the time to appreciate all the amazing things that happen along the way… whether in your personal or professional life. I’m still a work in progress on that front.
YOU’LL NEVER SEE ME WITHOUT:
My iPhone, French market bag, flip flops, and sketchpad.
MY DREAM COLLABORATION:
Roman & Williams are at the top of my design bucket list… their irreverent and eclectic approach to traditional forms constantly inspires me. In the near term, I would love to work with jewelry designer Alexis Bittar: I’ve been dreaming of incorporating his iconic lucite flowers into my Bloom Sconce Collection – the resulting mix of materials would be so elegant, luminous and unexpected! Lighting is after all the jewelry of the home.
THE ONLY PLACE BETTER THAN SANTA BARBARA:
Anyone who asks that hasn’t been to Santa Barbara – it is truly paradise! But if I had to choose, my heart will always be in Quogue, NY, the sleepy beach town in not-quite-the-Hamptons where I grew up.
WHEN I FEEL UNINSPIRED:
[I go to] the beach! I could never live more than 5 minutes from the ocean… even if it’s just a few stolen minutes, standing with my toes in the sandy water looking out to the horizon instantly clears my head.
ADVICE I WISH I HAD 5 YEARS AGO:
Growing and scaling a handcrafted business on a bootstrap budget is very hard. My business happened by accident so I skipped the planning stage, but if I knew what I know now, my advice would be go out and get funding! No matter how successful a business, you need cash flow to implement growth… cash is king!
IN 5 YEARS FIND ME:
In a big airy barn with a view of the ocean overseeing a team of amazing artisans who are still handcrafting Flea Market Rx designs in America. My goal is to grow the business substantially while protecting the authenticity of our products and creating jobs here in the US where skilled craftspeople can make a good living doing what they love.
ABOVE ALL ELSE:
Be gracious. Be compassionate. Be grateful.