Most days, Jeremy Pearson is busy preparing burgers for his pop-up restaurant Slides ‘N Fries around Los Angeles. However, once a month, he packs his cooking supplies and sets up shop at Black Market Flea, an event where Black-owned businesses and artists gather every third Sunday of the month around Los Angeles to share their passion products with the community; to cultivate vivid Black pride, culture and support. There is a live DJ, dancing and a full bar.
“It’s electric, it’s kinetic, it’s eccentric, it’s Black excellence,” Pearson said. “No matter if it’s cloudy, all the radiant people make it sunny…a very magical atmosphere. Just magic, man. You can manifest whatever you want.”
The outdoor market includes more than 80 vendors whose products range from candles to clothing to food.
Nailah Howze, founder of Cloudnai who participated in this past market said, “it was a beautiful display of afros, body glitter, crotched outfits and much more.” Howze said she kept running into people she knew and was, “warmly greeted by every single vendor there.”
The space gives market comers the validation to feel included and welcomed in a celebration of culture traditionally not given a large platform to express, according to event coordinators.
Pearson and his brother started their vegan and vegetarian burger business back in June 2021. The two soon became connected with the Black Market Flea founder Mayah Hatcher who coincidentally lived in their neighborhood. Ever since then, Pearson and his brother have been participating in the monthly gathering.
One of Pearson’s favorite parts about working the event are the moments of “all bliss” leading up to its morning opening.
“Mayah gathers all the vendors and gives us a pep talk,” he said. “This is why we’re doing it, this is the energy… people put their love and time into it.” said Pearson.
According to an interview with the LA Times, Hatcher created the market as a “starting point” for people and their businesses, to avoid the feeling of remaining “stagnant” in life.
“Life is constantly changing. It’s all about flow. It’s all about growth. I honestly believe in all these people; they are here for a reason,” Hatcher stated to the LA Times.
When Todd Covington discovered the Black Market Flea, it was completely by chance after his other plans had been canceled that day. When he walked into the first booth, the vendor noticed his handmade hat and asked him where he was selling them. When he said he was just visiting, the vendor suggested that he set up a booth of his own.
“I was there maybe about 10 more minutes and it kept happening,” Covington said. “At that time [the market] was right around the corner from the studio that I work at. I was like, ‘I’m going to go back to my studio, grab the hats I do have right now, and come back.’”
When Covington began selling the hats that day, he said he made nearly $500. Two months later, he went back to the market as a vendor. January’s market marked his third.
His favorite part about the event is connecting with locals.
“I always sold well, but that wasn’t the important part,” he said. “The important part was being able to network, being able to connect with people that might hit me up on Instagram, I don’t get to see their face.”
For Covington, the Black Market Flea offers him an open space to put his creative mind on display. The market is set up in such a way that every vendor gets the opportunity for business.
“It is strategically placed so everybody gets a shot at being seen,” he said.
Tickets for the Black Market Flea are $10 and can be purchased either at the door or through Eventbrite.
For Howze, “the impact here shows that it’s space for us everywhere, we just have to create it. I hope Mayah continues to bring this everywhere and inspire others to create spaces like this as well, the more the merrier!”
The Black Market Flea is set to return to South LA at The Beehive on February 20th, 2022 from 10 a.m. to 6p.m.
Gavin Murillo, Jenna Lara Prakash, and Nandini Mony contributed to this report.