On Saturday October 22 at 10:30 a.m., Pandora de Balthazár will host “Breakfast in Bed with The Antiques Diva,” an event to officially announce Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva,as Brand Ambassador of Pandora de Balthazár European Luxury Bedding.
Champagne and light bites will be served as Toma unveils The Diva Bed, which she will create from Pandora’s vast store of antique linens underpinned by the company’s ergonomic European Sleep System. Located at Salon / The Suites at Market Square/ M-8037, Pandora de Balthazár will have exceptional Hungarian down bedding, antique and vintage textiles and spa products for sale.
Saturday, October 22 2016
High Point Market
Suites at Market Square
High Point, NC 27260
At The Antiques Diva & Co we offer more than just one on one customized European Antiques Buying Tours. When you don’t have time to come to Europe we also offer Antique Buying Services. Just as our Antiques Buying Tours are custom planned for each client, our antique sourcing services are catered to meet our clients’ individual needs. I recently received an email from a client who took a fantastic tour with Diva Guide Katie of the Paris Flea Market. She writes:
“Hi Toma, I took a fantastic tour last fall with Katie in Paris. Now we are trying to purchase a vintage chandelier for a spectacular bar, but unfortunately the one we wanted was already sold. Have you seen anything like it or do you have a source for chandeliers like this? The measurements are 47.5”Dia (Top) x 32.25”Dia (Bottom) x 18”H Thanks!”
Do I have sources for chandeliers like this? Of course! As Europe’s largest Antiques Touring Company, our sources are extensive across the 8 countries we operate in. I immediately emailed all of my Diva Guides, asking them to send me any similar chandeliers on the market. Within just a short time, I had several responses with photos, measurements, and prices. Below, you can see what I was able to send the client:
Shopping for chandleries, however, can sometimes be like shopping for the perfect little black dress—it has to have the look AND fit just right! And for those times… only haute couture will do. After corresponding with the client, she found that she was really still enamored with the “chandelier that got away.” I could certainly relate, as I’ve had that feeling before too! Not wanting that item to haunt her for the rest of her life, I got my creative juices flowing.
I remembered a beautiful glass factory in Murano that we’d toured with clients. Perhaps they would know of something—OR perhaps they could even recreate the vintage chandelier she wanted in the first place?! Wasting no time, my girls on the ground in Venice Orseola and Chiara contacted them and explained the situation. They were more than happy to oblige, and the client now has a custom-designed replica of her coveted chandelier being produced in Murano as I write this. The value of our little black book couldn’t be more evident than in this situation! Sometimes the solution to a problem isn’t the most obvious… and sometimes our solution means we need to provide more than just antiques.
If you have a need to source a specific piece or an entire container of antiques, email us at email@example.com. Plus, if one of those chandeliers she didn’t buy catches your fancy – let us know– some of them are still for sale. We’d love to help you find exactly what you’re looking for—or have it recreated for you! And stay tuned to this blog, as I’ll be sharing the final product once the chandelier is finished!
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®
As the exclusive antiques tour guide company for the Paris Flea Market Marché Paul Bert Serpette, I want to share a few of my shopping tips if you’re planning an antique buying trip in France! Armed with these tips, shopping the Paris Flea Market will be a breeze!
My Top 10 Tips for Shopping The Paris Flea Market
1. While I swoon for stilettos… the Paris Flea Market is not the place to wear them.
Bring comfortable shoes! A loafer or ballet flat or even a cute sandal with cork soles works… key thing is be prepared to walk a lot! With mile upon mile of French antique stands, it’s important to wear comfortable shoes!
2. Bring cash!
While some vendors accept credit cards, the old adage is still true, “Cash is king!” Having cash on hand also helps when bargaining or asking for a discount. Also remember that you can also have your shipper pay for your purchases on your behalf, doing a bank transfer to the shipper for the cost of your goods.
3. Hire an Antiques Tour Guide!
While the market is open to everyone, an Antiques Diva Tour Guide unlocks the experience, introducing you to the best dealers, those secret sources and areas of the market you simply would never find on your own. Your Guide can also confirm provenance and a fair price. Another important thing your Guide does is gets you to the perfect place for lunch! At The Antiques Diva & Co, our guides all speak French, live locally, and are familiar faces while shopping The Paris Flea Market which means that many dealers know them and understand that when an Antiques Diva Guide brings a client, they mean business. This also works in favor for our clients since it means we have large buying power. We’re not just coming in with your purchase… but the collective purchases of all our clients! Simply put with higher buying power we get better prices than you could ever get on your own.
4. Know about international art and antiques shipping!
Whether you choose to use our in-house shipping division or go with one of our favorite shipping partners such as Edet, not knowing how to get it home is never an excuse to miss out on a purchase! Depending on the size of your purchase, you may even be able to send items through La Poste— the French postal system – our guides can assist you with this.
5. If you’re buying smalls, consider bringing an empty carry-on
with you so you can fill it with purchases that you can take home with you on the plane!
6. Be open!
You may have a shopping list with you—and that’s great—but be open to everything The Paris Flea Market has to offer. You may end up finding that one thing you didn’t know you needed!
7. When shopping The Paris Flea Market don’t just think of yourself!
It’s the perfect place to find truly one of a kind souvenirs in Paris for friends and family. Who needs a t-shirt when they could have a vintage necklace or a perfect hotel silver teapot from Paris?
8. Talk to vendors – ask questions – and express your interest and enthusiasm.
The Parisian Flea Market vendors are lovely people. If you’re open and friendly and interested in their product, they’ll be interested in you! Remember, as grandmother always said, “You can catch more flies with honey.”
9. Don’t expect things to be dirt cheap.
Yes, It’s a flea market. But honey, these items are often several centuries old! You’re paying for 100’s of years of dust on these items -and the older it is the higher the price is going to be.
10. Once you’ve finished shopping the Paris Market… don’t forget about the “Other Paris Flea Markets.”
While I love the Marché aux Puces St-Ouen, I equally adore the Marché aux Puces Porte de Vanves and it’s a ball to head out to shop all the local one-weekend brocantes and vide greniers. Consider going off the beaten path in Paris for more flea market shopping!
11. And yes, at The Antiques Diva & Co we always like to go a little above and beyond so our Top 10 Paris Flea Market Tips has 11 tips.
The fact is the Paris Flea Market is the kind of place you’ll want to return to over and over again. It’s an experience that can be repeated but never feels repetitive due to the constantly changing inventory! As the only approved guide of the Paris Flea Market Marché Paul Bert Serpette, we love creating an experience for our clients whether they are first-time shoppers or rookies.
Book Your Tour
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on planning a custom tour for you. We’d love to help you navigate the vast market and create a lifelong memory!
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®
Malmo Decorative Antiques Fair 2016
Our Swedish Divo Guide recently enjoyed the Helsingborg Antiques Fair in July and is already looking forward to the next big antiques fair in Sweden!
The Malmo Decorative Antiques Fair in Sweden is a highlight of the year for many international antiques buyers. It’s coming up on the 26-28 of August with special trade-only preview days on 24-26 of August. One of our most important countries for Antiques Buying Tours is Sweden. We often encourage clients– trade clients especially— to attend this fair and add on a few days to source a variety of pieces from the Swedish countryside as well. It’s a great way to see what’s hot at the fairs and then go to our secret sources on the arm of our Antiques Divo Guide, Daniel Larsson to hunt for everything from Scandinavian antique furniture, to folk art, to lighting and beyond!
Our Swedish Guide Daniel happens to be on the advisory board for the Malmo Decorative Antiques Fair, which means he is in-the-know when it comes to sourcing Swedish antiques there. While Daniel’s store, D.Larsson Interiör & Antikhandel, is based in Helsingborg, he and many international dealers make their way to the Malmo Decorative Antiques Fair to score exceptional purchases and connect with industry friends. Malmo is conveniently located in southern Sweden near Copenhagen, Denmark. As the third largest antiques fair in Sweden, the Malmo Decorative Antiques Fair hosts more than 80 vendors from all over Sweden and the Copenhagen area.
Why attend the Malmo Decorative Antiques Fair?
There are several advantages of attending the Trade-only preview day. One is that you get first dibs on merchandise, as vendors are just beginning to unpack their inventory and set up their stands. Another advantage of going with our Guide Daniel is that he knows many of the vendors at the fair. Before taking clients on any tour, we always ask what type of pieces they are wanting to source. What style are they looking for? What price-points are they looking for? With this information in hand, Daniel can take you directly to the right vendors and even help you translate and negotiate.
Malmo Decorative Antiques Fair is definitely a must-visit destination for international trade buyers. With a reputation of quality pieces and knowledgeable vendors, this fair won’t disappoint! If you would like more information on booking an Antiques Diva Tour in conjunction with the Malmo Decorative Antiques Fair, email us at email@example.com. We’d love to introduce you to this world renowned fair and also plan a day or two to source antiques in the Swedish countryside!
Dates and Times:
24th of August 2 pm-8 pm – 25th 8 am-8 pm – 26th 8 am-noon
26th of August 3-8 pm – 27th 11 am-5 pm – 28th 11 am-5 pm
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®
I was recently in the Big Easy speaking at Southern Style Now Conference organized by Robert Leleux, former editor of Domino Magazine. Part of my time there included leading a Antiques Tour of Magazine Street, taking the group to my favorite antique dealers in New Orleans! Because I’m all about sharing secret antique sources with you — I had to write and share my Top Antique Shops in New Orleans list! In no particular order –
1) Shaun Smith Home
Shaun Smith is one of those guys that everyone loves. He’s as gorgeous as he is nice. I got to know Shaun when he was a client of The Antiques Diva & Co, shopping with us in Italy. While he certainly is a charming southern gentleman, he’s also got great style which is reflected in his store and interior design business. His inventory is eclectic, which makes his store fun to peruse. We spotted everything from an enormous model of a horse (life size) to antique Italian paintings.
2) Mac Maison
Michael Carvine has been in business for 20 years, and his refined store proves that good taste never goes out of style. Highlights here included fabulous antique lighting. From chandeliers to sconces, everything seemed to shimmer! There were also some gorgeous 18th-century Italian pieces that caught my eye immediately. I love dealers who can bring classic European pieces to the US… after all, that’s what my business is all about!
3) Karla Katz
I think I love Karla Katz’s store as much as I love her story! Years ago, she started off by just renting a stall in a larger store. As she bought more and more inventory, her space got larger and larger. After a while, she decided to take a leap of faith and start her own booming business… today her shop is absolutely stunning and draws some of the design world’s top buyers. In fact, while we were there, Bunny Williams and Suzanne Kasler happened to be shopping!
4) Anne Koerner
Anne Koerner, in my opinion, is one of the best Swedish antiques dealers in the USA. She has an incredible knowledge and can talk to you intelligently about any of her pieces. Going into her shop is like having a “history of furniture” lesson. Another thing I love about her store is that she mixes works from local artists, often juxtaposing modern art with antiques, and that is what we love at The Antiques Diva & Co!
5) Uptowner Antiques
Owners James and Roslyn take an adventurous approach to antique dealing. They not only buy & sell, they also restore pieces. James’ father was a furniture restorer and this has carried on into the business today. The couple travels to Europe to purchase pieces that need restoration. They then bring them back to their workshop in the US and restore everything impeccably. From traditional French pieces to Mid Century Modern (which happens to be James’ personal passion), they’ve got some really lovely pieces. Hint… if you go into the shop ask James about Mid-Century Modern… he was collecting MidC before MidC was cool. Hashtag #Trendsetter!
Speaking of trendsetters, Melissa Rufty and Adrienne Casbarian have found a niche in the design world. They specialize in the last 10% of things you need when decorating your home. I like to call it the jewelry for the home- lamps, small tables, art, accessories, etc. While we were there, Robert LeDeux fell in love with a lacquered parchment coffee table in the store and said it was his favorite piece on Magazine Street! My god, my problem… how to choose just one favorite piece in their store. I want it all.
7) Patricia Thompson
Patricia Thompson has been in business for over 15 years. She travels to France twice a year and shops all the famous trade fairs, bringing back fabulous 18th and 19th-century French inventory. A secret to her success is that she only buys things she personally would live with… and mamma mia, if this is how she lives at home, then next time I’m in town I’m inviting myself to stay chez elle. Perfection.
Speaking of perfection, Sarah, the owner of Balzac, has been in business for 20 years, but she never thought she would be an antique dealer! This is actually her 3rd career. Previously she was a lawyer then a stock broker. She now uses her business acumen when running her store which has fabulous lighting pieces along with a wide variety of mostly European inventory. I could have spent the entire day in shop. She knows her pieces, understands her inventory and her clients needs. First Class.
9) Kevin Stone
Further down Magazine Street than the others is none other than Kevin Stone. It may be a bit of a jaunt, but you will be rewarded as it is the largest store and Kevin’s personality is as fabulous as his inventory. Hmm… I fear there might be a photo of me sitting on his lap at his desk drinking champagne. He’s also an opera singer and if you’re lucky you can catch him singing in the shop…. if I were you and I were making a purchase I’d consider a personal song from him a requirement in lieu of a discount.
Empire has a very elegant atmosphere. From 19th century painted Italian furniture to Mid Century Modern lucite tables, this store has got style! They also have fabulous serving pieces and entertaining accessories.
11) Wirthmore Antiques
Okay really – what we do at The Antiques Diva & Co is EXCEED your expectations. So why stop at only 10 antique dealers in New Orleans. Gay Wirth has been in business for over 25 years, personally selecting each piece of inventory. Wirthmore specializes in 18th and 19th century French, Italian, and Swedish antiques. Gay encourages customers to only buy what they love, as she believes that when you purchase an antique, it should stay with you forever.
12) Gerrie Bremermann
I’ve saved the best for LAST. Gerrie is the Grand Dame of Magazine Street. She is a personal inspiration to me for both her effortless STYLE and her Entrepreneur Skills. And get this… Gerrie who is in her 90’s now actually started her career in interior design at age 42, which happens to be how old I am right now… which tells me… heaven only what will happen in the next 42 years of my life. I recently got hired to be a jewelry model for an upcoming ad campaign (#WatchThisSpace) and I can guarantee I never expected to have this on my CV, er, make that Resume in for the American readers. I find it inspiring to see other women doing what they love and succeeding at it in a Big Way making it look Easy. During Southern Style Now Gerrie received a lifetime achievement award for interior design…. And there’s no doubt why. Her store is certainly a must-see when you’re in New Orleans!
The next time you find yourself in New Orleans, I highly recommend taking some time to peruse Magazine Street, and when you pop into these stores, tell them Toma Clark Haines – aka, The Antiques Diva sent you!
Confession… just a few short weeks after I lead the antiques tour of New Orleans I kid you not Mister Leleux himself proposed marriage claiming that my antiques tour was the hit of his conference! Of course he wasn’t the only one who said that! Interior Designer Connie Seitz wrote me the sweetest note:
“It was so much fun to meet and interact with you on the Antiques Walking Tour Saturday morning. I must confess it was my favorite part of the activities associated with the Platinum VIP Ticket. Everything was perfect… the selection of sites to visit, the size of the group and even the weather! Everything went so smoothly and your hard work preparing for it was evident. I hope that next time we can take the entire day and include lunch.”
Laissez le bon temps rouler!!!
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva
Why Antiques are Essential to Design Today, and How the Industry is Meeting Digital-Age Demand
Think antiques are intimidating? Think again. Access to antiques—and trusted dealers around the world—has never been easier, thanks to a world where connections are made instantly through social media, a testament to the power of visual marketing. In truth, there’s never been a better time to be in (or shop) the antiques industry, with quality items and indispensable knowledge available at the swipe of a smartphone. Antiques (and authenticity) are more desirable than ever.
I was delighted to take part in a panel Why Antiques are Essential to Design Today, and How the Industry is Meeting Digital-Age Demand in Atlanta along with Beth Webb, Atlanta-based interior designer and Ben Cochrane, Caroline Faison Antique which was Moderated by Elizabeth Ralls, Editor in Chief of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine. We discussed how the antique market has changed, why antiques are essential to design projects across a wide range of ages and aesthetics, and how to thoughtfully integrate the quality and history of such time-honed treasures into well-edited, elegant, yet unpretentious interiors. This panel was held at AmericasMart – which opened a fabulous new Antiques floor in Building 1 Floor 2 with 90 dealers .
Antiques Are Essential to Design Today
The design industry seems to be experiencing a pendulum swing, in which many clients are at last moving away from the sameness of big-box retailers, and understanding the value of, even the story behind, independent artisans, and the small businesses who employ them. Antiques are now for everyone! Snobbery is being stripped away from the antiques scene – it’s no longer about pretentiously sticking to one period or echelon, but rather about mixing and matching and finding value in merely that which delights your eye. Antiques as a category is also being redefined. Vintage is as a relevant in today’s market as Period Pieces. And when you think antiques it’s not just about furniture – enter vintage scarves, belts, shoes, handbags, in addition to barware, art de la table, art for the walls, sculpture and statuary, and traditional furniture such as a chest of drawers, settees, tables and chairs.
I believe from a trend perspective antiques are on the upswing – young buyers value one thing more than anything else. They want to be unique – to be perceived as an individual – and one-of-a-kind finds whether for your interior or simply for wearing as vintage fashion are hot right now.
Provenance v Aesthetics
One of the questions moderator Elizabeth Rails had interior designer Beth Webb and I delve into was the question how important is provenance vs. aesthetics to our clients. Much hype has been made about the generational/cultural shift happening in the antiques and collectibles market in which Millennials have little interest in family heirlooms being passed along by their baby boomer parents – but I had say – I disagree!
I think Millennials are interested in antiques – just not interested in the way their parents and grandparents generations were!
What I find with my clients is that they simply want us to Be Real. Be Authentic. Be Honest. Be Fair. Be Generous with information. Young buyers are savvy buyers. They google to compare prices, they know how to look up authenticity, they know when they are being ripped off and they know when they’re being taken advantage of. They’re also NOT afraid to buy. And key point here… in answer to Elizabeth’s question was that I don’t always find that American buyers care about the authenticity of a piece. If the price is right, and the look is what they’re going for age doesn’t matter. Whereas 20 years ago buyers were obsessed with question “is this a period piece or an in the style of” piece” today young buyers are happy with finding something funky and fun that gives the look they’re after and could care less about museum quality pieces. An “in the style” piece from the 1950’s attracts young buyers the same as that period piece it was styled after from 1850!
Antiques Have Never Been More Accessible
1stdibs.com revolutionized the way that antiques were bought and sold, eliminating the pain points of e-commerce for small businesses around the world. Today there are half a dozen other online marketplaces that have allowed collectors to shop inventory and connect with dealers from around the world, Some would argue that antiques have never been more accessible.
All said, we decided the future of antiques is bright… so bright we gotta wear shades!
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®
PS Enjoy a few pics from special PR Tours I lead of AmericasMart during Atlanta Market!
I’m so excited to announce that I will be leading an online course for MyAntiqueSchool! #WatchThisSpace
MyAntiqueSchool is a fabulous resource for antique lovers whether you are new to the antique world or a connoisseur. It is quickly becoming the go-to place to learn from the world’s antiques experts and discuss topics with other antiques enthusiasts from around the globe.
MyAntiqueSchool has filled a need in the antiques world by bringing together experts on almost every niche antiques and collectibles subject. Launched earlier in 2016 through MyOnlineSchool LTD, MyAntiqueSchool has rapidly become the first online antiques school with a broad range of classes which are taught by an array of acclaimed authors, broadcasters, and dealers from around the world.
CEO and Founder Elspeth Briscoe says,
“MyAntiqueSchool solves an important problem for globally disparate enthusiasts in fragmented industries like antiques (ie there are millions of us foraging for information from a relatively few experts – but we are widely scattered!). The antiques and collectibles industry has literally millions of people passionate about niche topics, but who can’t easily get access to experts nor unite with one another in a single sharing community. We are giving enthusiasts a thriving place to connect, wherever they are in the world. A place where not only can they share questions and answers on a peer to peer basis, but also connect with world-class experts who they’d never normally meet. I’ve always been passionate that the internet could be used more effectively to unite people who are driven by a shared interest or cause. MyAntiqueSchool is the perfect place for these niche communities to aggregate, as we have the best experts in the world, a unique classroom, and now an area where everyone can share questions and answers. We even have a virtual antiques shop café so please do pop by and have a chat!”
What’s most exciting is that the students are as diverse as the teachers. Hailing from 55 different countries, students enrolled in the online courses have an opportunity to share with each other on the online forums and discover what’s happening in other parts of the world regarding the antiques industry.
Our friend, acclaimed author Judith Miller says,
“I’m excited about the initiative and believe that MyAntiqueSchool will give enthusiasts from around the world first class education at their fingertips. There is so much rich information and craftsmanship out there within our expert community that risks being lost if we don’t find new and innovative ways of reaching out. MyAntiqueSchool is the logical step to ensure that the world’s true experts can pass on their incredible knowledge to the next generation of enthusiasts worldwide.”
Expert tutors (in addition to moi) include:
Judith Miller – author of more than 100 books on antiques and interiors, including the highly acclaimed Millers Guides. Judith is a regular on the UK Antiques Roadshow, which is one of the BBC’s flagship programmes. Judith teaches ‘An Introduction to Antiques’ and ‘Art Deco’.
Expert dealer, broadcaster and author, Mark Hill shares his wealth of knowledge on Mid-Century Modern Design, with a very popular course.
Leading art and antiques specialist Marc Allum gives a fascinating insight on how to build a varied and interesting arts and antiques portfolio with his course ‘An Insider’s Guide to Building a Well-Balanced Art & Antiques Portfolio’, and with a complimentary course teaches both professional interior designers and enthusiasts how to combine the classic with the modern to create truly original interiors on ‘Buying Art & Antiques’ for Interior Design.
David Rago, one of the leading experts from the US Antiques Roadshow gives a rare insight into the Arts & Crafts Movement in the US, and based on his many years of experience teaches students how to spot good arts and crafts items for collection or for resale.
David Rago, Antiques Roadshow and new expert MyAntiqueSchool tutor says,
“I’m looking forward to being part of this global initiative and meeting my first students from around the world. My first course with MyAntiqueSchool is now bookable and is on Arts and Crafts for the US market, which for me has become a lifetime’s passion as well as work. I’m looking forward to sharing my knowledge with my students and plan to go on and develop more courses with my team of experts.”
Other courses include Fine Jewellery, taught by leading gemologist Joanna Hardy, How to Value Fine Art, Understand Ceramics, Buying at Auction, English Silver.
And last but certainly not least, me, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva! We are currently working on a TOP SECRET TOPIC that Will BE REVEALED SOON!!!!! Hint… It may involve filming the course in South East Asia!
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®
Antique French Furniture – Louis 14th, 15th and 16th
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, will speak at the 2016 NESA virtual conference on Antique French Furniture – Louis 14th, 15th and 16th
On September 19 – 28, NESA will present a Virtual Summit to the Estate Sales Industry. Topics will include Art, Jewelry, Antiques, Collectibles, Insurance, and The Law.
Founded in late 2015, the National Estate Sale Association (NESA) is the first non-profit trade association formed by and for the estate sales industry.
As my niche brand has grown I’m being asked more and more to speak around the world at furniture fairs and interior design centers giving advice to other entrepreneurs on running and operating their niche businesses. One of the most frequent things I am asked to talk about is how I started my business. But perhaps just as frequently as telling my story of how I went from being a 1 woman firm to becoming CEO of Europe’s largest antiques touring company, I’m asked to explain what my job even is! This was perhaps the biggest challenge my business has faced since its inception—a lack of awareness that the service we offer even exists!
People have heard of tours and they’ve heard of antiques… But what are Antiques Buying Tours?
Educate Your Clients
My first job as an entrepreneur is to educate my clients – what I do, how I do it, what benefit my service gives them, and why they would want to use my service rather than attempting to do it themselves!
You’re already reading my blog so perhaps you’ve figured this out:
we take clients shopping on one-on-one customized antique buying tours to help both private clients as well as trade professionals shop for antiques overseas in 8 countries.
Our client tells us what they want and we make a personalized plan for getting them to the most number of potential purchases in the shortest period of time.
- We save our clients time and money.
- We translate.
- We negotiate.
- And most importantly, we have relationships.
I’ve said for years that “Antiquing in Europe” is a secret society and if you’re introduced properly by the right names in the industry you’ll receive better service, better prices and more access to even better inventory. When you walk into a dealer’s store (or their private home or warehouse) on the arm of your Antiques Diva Guide you’re not just walking in with your buying power – but the buying power of all our clients!
Communicate What Makes Your Service Valuable
More to the point… when a new antiques dealer opens shop in Europe we’re usually the first to hear about them… which means while you might be able to use Google to find some of the dealers we visit on our antique buying tours… there’s no way you would find all of them! Our database is always growing and we’re always one step ahead of the game. Because we know the dealers personally we’re not only able to get you better prices – but we’re often able to get after-hours appointments. On more than one occasion I’ve even been given the keys to antiques warehouse whose owner was away on holiday, and go in and poke around without the vendor! And we’re operating a turn key business here – once the buying is done at The Antiques Diva & Co we either liaise our clients with a 3rd party shipper or work with our own in-house shipping firm to help clients get their purchases home sweet home across the pond.
Educating Your Client
Getting the message out about what we do is as important as doing it – because if people don’t know what we do they won’t know to come to us to do it. In this month’s Entrepreneur Blog as part of our continuing series I want to talk about the importance of educating your client. As an entrepreneur in any niche market, educating the public and potential clients on what you do and how you do it not only adds value to your business but it is imperative for the success of your small business.
Ask For Help
Once people understand your services or product, it’s important that they are able to find your website so they can contact you! That’s where SEO (search engine optimization) comes in. For me, SEO feels like a foreign language. I am not a tech person… Heck, I work in antiques… I like old things and I still write my To Do List on sheets of paper! I’m an old fashioned girl living in a technology-driven world. So what’s my first rule of business? Ask for help. Set aside your pride and ask someone who knows more than you to help you with what you need. They can implement an entire SEO strategy for you – or they can simply write a plan that you follow yourself.
From the very beginning my blog has been essential in getting readers aware about our services. My business started as a blog and readers began emailing asking for a service and a business was born. More often that not clients find us not by googling Antique Buying Tours – but rather by googling one of their questions about their upcoming European buying trip they are desperately attempting to coordinate themselves. They stumble upon our website while searching for answers to their questions about shopping abroad and voila, we’ve got a new client!
Be Generous With Information
Whether on my blog or when I speak on where to go antiquing in Europe – I give away ALOT of INFORMATION. I tell people HOW they can do it themselves!! People often ask me why I share so much free information about antiquing abroad – where to go and what to do. The answer is simple. By sharing information, I am able to get more clients. It establishes me as an expert, thus giving potential clients more trust in the benefits of working with my company, and okay…let’s face it, I genuinely like helping people, so it’s my pleasure to share information. That’s why I got into this industry! At The Antiques Diva & Co we are INCLUSIVE. We are having a fabulous time shopping in Europe and we want you to come along with us and enjoy not only the fun but also the unprecedented access to the best antiques Europe has to offer.
PR has been imperative in educating the industry not only on what services we offer, but also what the advantages are of buying overseas. Just one example of those advantages is the fact that antiques purchased in Europe can get a markup of 3 to 5 times cost when sold in the USA. We also take the intimidation out of buying antiques overseas by taking clients by the hand to our vast list of sources.
People are often afraid of buying overseas… what if I get ripped off? What if a vendor tries to sell me a fake. While I can’t guarantee we won’t be fooled… I can guarantee that if we experience a vendor OUTRIGHT LYING to our clients… We don’t return to that vendor and that vendor doesn’t just lose 1 client… but potentially 100’s. All of these things make our services valuable! Being able to communicate that succinctly is so important, especially when your business is just getting off the ground. Think about what core benefits your company offers – write them out – ask clients for their opinion on what benefit you offer them – and then USE that information to craft your company message.
Just Do It
For a niche industry like this, you’ve got to know how to get started. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – The best way to get started is to JUST DO IT! Don’t hesitate, don’t let fear of not knowing enough stop you – jump into the deep end and start swimming. You may need a flotation device at first… but you have to really do your job before you realize how little you actually know about it! You learn by trial and error. For me, the most important thing I do is build my little black book of contacts on both sides of the pond. I have to simultaneously keep building my potential client list as well as my vendor list. At The Antiques Diva & Co we don’t sell antiques – we sell relationships. We introduce buyers to sellers, bridging the international gap. If we were a dating service – we’d be matchmakers, madame’s of the antiques industry.
The most important asset we offer cannot be bought – you need relationships in order to be successful in this industry and many niche industries.
Get out there, make yourself known, go to the places where the people in your industry gather, meet potential vendors, meet potential clients. Network like you mean it. Meanwhile, learn all you can. Be a jack of all trades. In my industry that means I have to dip my manicured hands into antiques, learning the entire process – from how to restore antiques, to appraise antiques, to ship antiques. The more you know about all aspects of your industry the better you’ll be. Keep Learning.
Use All Your Past Experiences
I also recommend using all your past experiences when it comes to starting a business in a niche market. What have you done in a previous life that can benefit you now?? The best training I had for working in antiques was working in advertising and marketing in both Boston and Cleveland before moving overseas. I had big name clients such as Dunkin Donuts, Target, McDonalds and Pearl Vision. Doing their marketing was the best education I could have had before starting my own company. From the beginning I employed the same level of brand management and marketing strategies in my own campaigns as I would have with big brand clients. While today The Antiques Diva & Co is a small but international company – working with a team of 21 locally-based guides in 8 countries – as a brand we have a big brand presence within a niche part of the interior design industry. In fact, one of the leaders in my industry, Dwayne Clark, recently was quoted as saying I have one of the best niche businesses in this industry.
With a very small budget when first starting my company, I invested initially in graphic design. Giving my company a strong recognizable logo was key in building brand awareness. I was then able to employ guerrilla marketing techniques through social media to spread the word about our services, establish our brand presence and personality. When working in promotion marketing and advertising my strength had been in new business development, coming up with multiple ideas for campaigns and solutions to a variety of industry challenges. It trained me to have flexibility in my mind – in my way of thinking – aiding me to react swiftly with clarity of thought to changing dynamics and perhaps most importantly, to see clearly ways in which I can increase and broaden my current business portfolio. It also trained me to recognize when it’s time to change. We recently launched a new website which was desperately needed, and you’ll see we have a new logo. AD&CO is growing up and it’s time for a new look that represents our brand and our audience better. As always you have to be willing to change, to be flexible and roll with the times. As an entrepreneur running a niche brand your job is not to do everything, it’s not to know everything… all you have to do is know the right people.
Whatever business you want to start, as an entrepreneur it is important to be able to define your role in the industry, communicate the service or product you offer and why it adds value, and then get the word out there that your company exists! Most often, entrepreneurs are responding to a need they see—something that’s missing in the market that people can use. Remember, get in front of the right people, and then give them what they want! When your company is serving them and adding value, it won’t be long until others come knocking on your door.
Your CEO in Stilettos,
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®
The role of High Point Market When It Comes to Global Sourcing
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, discusses global sourcing and the role of High Point Market and it’s exhibitors, whether it’s manufacturers and showrooms seeking inspiration or antiques dealers buying around the world to bring to Market, we often hear the motto “High Point to the World” but the World also comes to High Point, with Kim Faison of Kim Faison Antiques, Cecil Adams of Currey & Co and Randal Weeks of Aidan Gray.
Moderator: Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva
Sponsored by Chairish.com
For details visit www.hpadc.com