Meet the Owner Series presents…
Emily Sexton, The Flourish Market
A North Carolina native, Emily Sexton is from Smithfield, NC and attended Elon University. She graduated with a degree in Business Administration and a focus in marketing and sales. During her time at Elon, she was a recipient of a scholarship program that analyzed “big world issues,” and small ways to get involved and make an impact and sustainable difference. After college, she headed to the corporate world and became the Vice President of Communications and Change Management for an investment bank. She was still influenced by the scholarship program during her time in her corporate position, and spent her free time volunteering in the developing world. “I was using the skill set I had learned from corporate to help nonprofits and social enterprises,” said Sexton. “I began to realize how impactful my skill set was in that arena.”
In 2013, the Rana Plaza Factory, which made clothing for various popular brands, collapsed in Bangladesh, killing more than 1,000 garment workers. The incident opened her eyes to her own closet, realizing that she was guilty of shopping at stores that used sweatshops like the Rana Plaza Factory. Sexton decided that she could paint a positive picture of what people could do, in place of shopping at large retailers. She had always loved fashion, so she turned her idea into a blog. Ethical brands would send her merchandise and Sexton would write about the quality of the pieces and how to style them. The blog became the precursor to her now business.
In October of 2015, Sexton opened The Flourish Market, which began as a fashion truck. “We wanted to test the hypothesis that women wanted to shop with purpose by buying from our friends from all over the developing world,” said Sexton. She filled the truck with clothing, jewelry, shoes, and bags all with a bigger purpose, and after a few months, she realized that she could launch a brick and mortar store. In November of 2016, Sexton opened up The Flourish Market at 713 Tucker Street, in downtown Raleigh.
The name The Flourish Market came from Sexton’s emphasis on how she wants people to feel when shopping in her store. Flourish embodies the desire she has for the lives of her customers, as well as the women on the other end of the purchase. The Market exemplifies the international flavor that would be inside the store.
“One of the biggest struggles of opening up a business is hoping that people will be half as passionate about something as you are,” said Sexton. During the journey of creating The Flourish Market, Sexton has gained confidence and hopes to share the confidence with her customers as well. In her opinion, when you shop local, you’re not just a small fish in a big sea. Sexton wants all of her customers to see that they are an integral part of The Flourish Market and feel the welcoming atmosphere that the store holds. “We get to share with our customers the artisans that they are actually impacting,” said Sexton “When you buy a necklace, it represents 6 hours of real work by a woman.”
Sexton loves the Raleigh community and plans to stay here with her husband for the rest of their lives. “Raleigh is unique because it is deep in tradition, yet it is so entrepreneurial,” said Sexton. She says Raleigh holds itself on the international map because it is a place of creativity and innovative ideas. “The tradition coexists with the startups and new businesses and we all cheer each other on.”
The Flourish Market reaches a variety of customers but speaks specifically to 3 different people. The first customer is in her younger 20s and is looking for statement pieces to build her wardrobe. The second customer is the largest customer base, and is a mom of littles who “does not have time to care for herself because she is giving all she’s got to raising her children,” said Sexton. “Those are some of our favorite customers because we help her feel confident as a mom.” The third customer is someone who loves the mission of The Flourish Market and wants to tell all her friends how they, too, can shop for the causes they care about.
To decide what to have in store, Sexton focuses on accessible, trendy, and unique items. At The Flourish Market, there are items from all over the world and the US. “Our mission is to elevate the worth of every woman who we partner with across the globe, but also for the women that walk through our doors,” said Sexton. “It is a universal need, no matter where you live, or what your day to day consists of.”
During the summer months, The Flourish Market hosts in-store parties where customers invite friends to shop with meaning while sipping complimentary Raspberry Mimosas. The summer months are the slowest months for retail, so by hosting a party at The Flourish Market, you fund additional orders to be sent to the artisans and makers of the clothing and jewelry that have their creations in the store during their slow season. This summer The Flourish Market is hosting over 50 parties! Want to get in on the do-good fun? You can book your free party here.
To describe The Flourish Market as a song, Sexton said, “I’ll be there for you by Jess Glynn.” She says that it is peppy on the surface which describes the employees, store, and Instagram, but the lyrics dig deeper and embody the mission of the store.
Stop by The Flourish Market to check out their unique pieces!
Written by Megan Brown
Shop Local Raleigh Intern