“I want to show people that you can act with something that seems small, like your purchases.”
–Emily Sexton, founder, The Flourish Market fashion truck
by Jessie Ammons
photograph by Christer Berg
Emily Sexton isn’t idealistic; she’s practical. “My motto is: Everything is figure-out-able,” she says. It’s a motto that led her to a unique role in corporate America as an investment bank’s vice president of communications and change management. In that role she traveled extensively, and realized that “in the developing world, it always takes a village. In the U.S., I think we forget that. It takes a village to be successful. Everything is all about the village.”
The villages she saw working around the world motivated her to spend her vacation time volunteering abroad. Then she had “kind of a quarter-life crisis” just before her 30th birthday in the summer of 2015. Sexton left her 9-to-5 and turned to a notion she’d seen on Pinterest: a fashion truck. But hers would be a fashion truck with a mission, she says, one inspired by her own far-flung village of friends. “On my trips, I’d been meeting these awesome artisans that make really cool things and I’d bring them home. My friends started placing orders with me – requesting a necklace or shoes. … I thought a fashion truck would be a good way to test if people would be interested in buying goods from all around the world.”
By last October, she was ready to roll with a truck she’d bought on Craigslist and converted, with the help of architect and interior designer friends, into a fully stocked mini-boutique. The Flourish Market now appears at events throughout Raleigh almost weekly, as well as at private parties hosted at the homes of “women who … can and want to rally a group of women around a cause.” Sexton is hopeful that a brick-and-mortar market will open by the end of the year, too.
At Flourish, you’ll find spunky jewelry and clothing, as well as stationary, bags, and home accessories. Rather than the popular one-for-one business model, the fashion truck operates “just like any other boutique: We purchase everything up-front and hope that it sells.” The difference is that all of the products are made by artisans in vulnerable communities, both in America and across the world. Sexton hopes it helps women feel like they’re adding meaning to even their retail therapy. “I love the word ‘flourish,’ because it indicates something beautiful that can come out of hard situations. Every necklace I sell is another four hours of work for somebody that I’ve met and I’ve seen flourishing because of your purchase.”