Updated: Dec 18, 2018
Designer Trinity Cross started Field Day, a line of women’s clothing made from reclaimed fabrics, in January 2005. Eight years later, she opened up Field Day & Friends, a brick-and-mortar in downtown Oakland that sells her clothing along with an expansive array of jewelry, apothecary items, ceramics, and beauty products sourced from independent makers across the United States. We spoke with Trinity about her community-based approach to gearing up for the holidays and the importance of supporting local artists.
We order a bunch of stock, and we usually have a sale. We stock up on gift items, which are usually things under $40: jewelry and soap, holiday cards, essential oils, herbal products. Easy gift-y things.
Then there’s Plaid Friday, an Oakland event held the day after Thanksgiving that showcases small businesses. Sometimes we’ll do a little sale party on that day and have hot apple cider and cookies. If there’s an event, people will come out, which results in more sales.
We only started celebrating Plaid Friday a couple years ago. It used to be Black Friday, which is also Buy Nothing Day, so we would close the store and let people be at home with their families rather than making them work and buy stuff. But then I realized I was missing out on a lot of money by keeping the shop closed that day, and as a business owner you really have to think about things like that.
We have a spring/summer collection and a fall/winter collection, and I usually release them on the equinoxes — in between the season change. In the spring, it’s brighter, shorter, and breezier stuff. In the fall, it’s more long sleeves and heavier-weight stuff.
Embrace community. Open up your space and welcome new people. You might not get a ton of direct sales from it, but people might come back if they don’t buy right then. I find that if people feel at home in a space, and if they feel like it’s their space too, then they’re way more likely to support it. This is what we try to foster and harbor at Field Day. We want people to feel that they can come in and sample some tinctures to feel a little better about their day. It’s really hard times right now, and I feel like we have to come together and support each other.
“If people feel at home in a space, and if they feel like it’s their space too, then they’re way more likely to support it.”
For me, community-building is bringing humanity back to consumerism a little bit — instead of promoting this message of sell, sell, sell, buy, buy, buy. We’re so inundated and saturated with that, and I feel like people are really looking for something authentic and with spirit — a more handmaid, cottage experience.
Carrying local designers is another great way to increase sales. Since they’re local, they can point out where their stuff is sold, and their friends and family will come in and support you. We also do workshops and classes on occasion. We’ve done broom making class, herbal oiling class, and a self-care in hard times class.
For Oakland Art Murmur on the first Friday of every month, we feature a different local artist. We do drinks and snacks and open the shop up in the evening. We have really great neighbors, such as Vamp, a vintage records store. They do a lot of shows, so we make it sort of a block party vibe. We also have cross-traffic with them. People who come into my shop end up going into theirs, and people who go in to their shop end up coming into ours.
If you’re going to open up a retail shop, it’s really important to think about who your neighbors are. There’s a lot of crime where we are, and it’s really nice to have someone looking out for you and watching your back to make sure you’re ok. If something happens, they’re there — you’re not just on your own.