Lightfoot Market: Sustainable Flea Market, New York, NY
Lightfoot Market: Sustainable Flea Market,
New York, NY
Please tell us what is Lightfoot Market.
We are an early stage startup that organizes sustainability markets, bringing ethical and innovative businesses together in one place. We believe that it should be easy for customers to find products and support the brands that align with their environmental and social values. By helping both ethical businesses and consumers find each other, we’re aiming to make conscious consumerism accessible to all.
Who are the founders of Lightfoot Market? What inspired you to start Lightfoot? How was the company founded?
A year and a half ago, I was on the phone with a longtime childhood friend, Isa Wang. We were ranting about a mutual frustration: there is no marketplace for conscious consumerism.
Isa was coming at this frustration from the perspective of a sustainable business owner. He had founded the The Bower Studio, a design studio, herbal apothecary and gift store located in Pelham, Massachusetts. Isa has always brought his desire to protect our earth to every part of his business, from his product supply chain to packaging materials.
I was frustrated as a shopper who was feeling paralyzed by the difficulty of making purchases to reflect my values. At the time, I was working towards a masters in sustainability management and was surrounded by professionals who had dedicated their lives to reducing their environmental footprint. And yet, I felt like my peers and professors--arguably the people most acutely aware of the importance of these issues--were struggling to make responsible decisions when shopping too.
The truth is, it is too resource intensive to shop by environmental and social values. It involves reading every tag and label. It requires staying on top of the research about environmental sourcing and ingredients. Most people barely have time to find the quality items they need--let alone survey all of the options to find the “greenest” one.
Isa recognized a wealth of small businesses like his, who had invested the time, energy, and funds to meet high ethical standards. And yet these brands were struggling to find their target consumers.
We realized right then and there that conscious businesses and shoppers alike needed a place to come together. That’s how Lightfoot Market was born.
How long has Lightfoot Market been around?
We turned one this month. Our first market was in April, 2017 in DUMBO, Brooklyn.
Please tell us about your sustainability practice for your events.
Our pop-up markets bring together sustainable brands, making it easier for people to find ethically-made products from eco-friendly detergent to handmade surfboards constructed from sustainably harvested wood. Our first market showcased more than 50 companies that met Lightfoot Market’s four gold standards: conflict free, cruelty free, non-toxic, and sweatshop free.
Our goal is to be as transparent as possible. The reality is that sustainability can mean something different to everyone. Some customers may care about supporting a low-carbon supply chain, while others may value bringing jobs to far-away communities in need. Both are valid, both are important -- but shoppers can only act on these values with clear communication from the brands.
We empower people to shop by their values by providing clear signage at the market, letting customers know which companies are vegan, local, fair trade, organic, etc. You can see a full list of our standards on our website here: http://www.lightfootmarket.com/lightfoot-standards/
We strive for our events to be zero-waste and carbon-offset. All of our decorations are made from reclaimed materials and we only buy supplies we can use over and over again.
Do you wear sustainable brands only yourself...if so please list the brands.
Through the process of creating Lightfoot Market, I have learned which brands and values I want to vote for with my money. I consider my values every time I make a purchase. I strive to constantly lighten my footprint, but don’t believe that people should be discouraged by a need to be perfect. I don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good. Someday I do hope I can confidently say that my actions didn’t make a negative imprint on our world. Some of our team’s favorite sustainable brands to wear include Bird + Stone, Allbirds, Catrinka, IMBY, and United by Blue.
What is a new sustainable brand out right now that you are excited about and why?
Our team is really pumped about Rothys, a super versatile flat 3D printed using recycled plastic water bottles. What I love most about them is how successfully they’ve been able to market themselves to a mainstream audience. They talk about how the 3D printing process creates the most comfortable shoe, because there are no seams. But the sustainability cherry on top is that the 3D printing process is also zero-waste, since shoes are made with the exact amount of recycled material needed each and every time!
Where are you based?
The Big Apple, baby.
When is your next event?
So soon. Our next market is smack dab in the middle of the holiday shopping season. It will be in Chelsea, New York City on the weekend of December 9th and 10th. We’re very excited to be extending our market to be two days. We hope it will make it easier for New Yorkers to buy gifts that align with their values for everyone on their holiday shopping lists.
What brands do you host at these events?
These brands are like our children, it’s impossible to pick favorites. You can check out the full list of vendors from our April market here: http://www.lightfootmarket.com/vendors2017/
Here’s a sample of the range of brands that we work with:
Body Stuff, a NO BS skincare line formulated to simplify the beauty routine with fewer, nontoxic, multifunctional products.
Rescue Chocolate, a brand that sells vegan, organic, fairly-traded, kosher, made-in-Brooklyn chocolate bars and truffles, with all profits donated to animal rescues.
Little Miss Workbench, an eco-friendly workshop which creates whimsical and naturally dyed wooden play toys for children.
Dandy Farmer, modern bonsai and other styled plants in handmade stoneware pots.
Global Shokunin, which sells handmade fair-trade artisanal home goods and accessories from around the world, as well as goods made in NYC by artisans using up-cycled materials.
Your section “Do Something” on the website please explain what that is and how are you getting this message out there to people.
Our “Do Something” page was created to give our community some easy and tangible steps to make their lives, food choices, and fashion more sustainable. It’s so empowering to know that there are simple, low-investment steps that everyone can take that make a big difference. Our planet is suffering from waste overload, and we all play a role in that. There ARE easy ways you can help. Check out our suggestions at http://www.lightfootmarket.com/do-something/.
Have you received any press?
Yes! We’ve begun to build some early visibility. News 12 Brooklyn attended our first event and put together a segment showing the event, interviewing me, and a few of the vendors. We’ve also been listed in many calendars spotlighting upcoming events, and have had a few features in local newspapers.
How can we get more involved?
Attend our winter market and help us spread the word to your NYC-based friends! We’re also always looking for great sustainable brands to feature in our next market. If you know a company with strong values and affordable goods, please let us know or encourage them to apply at lightfootmarket.com. We’re still accepting applications for our December event on a rolling basis and are always on the hunt for the next companies to sell at our events for 2018 and beyond.
Our start-up is very young, so we rely on volunteers to make our events a success. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in helping us bring sustainable shopping to more people through our next market on 12/8 and 12/9!
We’d love to stay in touch on social media. You can find us on
Photo: (left to right) Isa Wang (Co-Founder), Sarah Sproviero (Co-Founder) Julia Mellon, Kristin Hanczor
*Photo taken on self-timer by the Lightfoot Market team