Rebecca Aronow grew up in Philadelphia suburbs going to Punk Rock Flea Market. She always knew she wanted to start her own one day.
“I wanted to do a feminist twist on one of my childhood experiences,” she said.
Aronow hosted the fourth edition of a Feminist Flea Market and Craft Fair at the Bok Building on Mifflin near 8th streets on Dec. 7. It featured vendors who identified as women, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming and showcased various forms of art like clothing, paintings and vegan baked goods.
The flea market was hosted by House Cat, Aronow’s event promotion and artist management company. Since its inception, the event has grown to become a more extravagant affair with over 120 vendors, Aronow said.
“The first time we did this, there were 700 people, which was already more than I could’ve expected,” she said. “The second time we got more than double that and it’s so beautiful watching a community grow out of this event.”
The proceeds of the event’s admission, which was $5 per person, were donated to Women Organized Against Rape, Philadelphia’s only rape crisis center.
“I’ve had personal experiences that have made me really passionate about raising money for sexual assault and sexual violence causes,” Aronow said.
Aronow’s volunteer experience for WOAR’s crisis hotline gave her an understanding of the realities of sexual violence, she said. As a result, she wanted to continue organizing the flea market and helping in whatever way she can, she added
Bev Beaulieu, a 2009 jewelry alumna and founder of Bevy of Objects, an ethical custom fine jewelry company, became a vendor at the event because she wanted to grow together with other like-minded women.
“We’re building a really big network of creative design businesses in Philadelphia that are women-owned,” Beaulieu said. “To be a part of this craft show, and to be amongst women-owned businesses and artists is really an honor for me.”
“It took a lot of hard work but for me to be able to show my work at an event like this is really important,” Beaulieu added.
Heather Thomas, a 2008 Africology and African American studies alumna, made her third appearance at the flea market, selling vintage garments.
Thomas is a manager at Rocker’s Closet, a women’s clothing store that sells vintage, thrift and original apparel. Being at this event was important to her because of the support it offers to independent designers, Thomas said.
“We love that this event supports local designers and crafters and it’s really inspiring seeing all these people who showcase their work,” she said.
Thomas said that as a survivor of sexual violence, supporting organizations that help women is important.
“It’s really important that we’re a part of something that’s giving back to the community,” she added.
Audrey Goldstein, 23, an emergency medical technician and Sam Palmer, 22, a biological manufacturer, were at the event to shop for the holidays.
“Coming here is a really great way to get holiday gifts for people, especially since it’s not from a big corporation,” Goldstein said. “It allows me to support local businesses and get good gifts for my friends that are unique.”
Palmer also values the fact that proceeds are being used to support WOAR, they said.
“They do a lot of great things and we definitely supporting them is also why we’re here on a Saturday morning,” Palmer said.
Aronow said she hopes the Feminist Flea Market continues for a long time.
“I hope we do it forever,” she said. “I love it so much and don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.”