Remember the Future

As I write from Venice, Carnevale is taking place outside my window. The calles are filled with men and ladies dressed in carnival gear strolling alongside canals. The most popular place to finish one’s stroll is of course Caffè Florian on the Piazza San Marco. The theme of this year’s Carnevale is “Remember the Future” – taken from Salvador Dali’s quote “I prefer to remember the future.”  As we come out of this pandemic, and life starts to have a semblance of familiarity, I think about how much closer we are to these memories. In the last quarter of this newsletter, I share a list of upcoming antique fairs in Europe where we’ll be taking clients on real life antique buying tours (and continuing our virtual services). I think this new world – in which we will be living post-pandemic will be like this – with a foot in each world, virtual and reality intertwined. To quote an old Arby’s commercial from my childhood…“Different is better.” 

Hey Diva Readers,

As I write from Venice, Carnevale is taking place outside my window. The calles are filled with men and ladies dressed in carnival gear strolling alongside canals. The most popular place to finish one’s stroll is of course Caffè Florian on the Piazza San Marco. The theme of this year’s Carnevale is “Remember the Future” – taken from Salvador Dali’s quote “I prefer to remember the future.”  As we come out of this pandemic, and life starts to have a semblance of familiarity, I think about how much closer we are to these memories. In the last quarter of this newsletter, I share a list of upcoming antique fairs in Europe where we’ll be taking clients on real life antique buying tours (and continuing our virtual services). I think this new world – in which we will be living post-pandemic will be like this – with a foot in each world, virtual and reality intertwined. To quote an old Arby’s commercial from my childhood…“Different is better.”  The opportunity we have now is to choose the best from the last two years to take with us as we return to the future lives we all long to live.  A lot of what we’ve shared virtually and digitally as a company has changed the way we do business at The Antiques Diva & Co – and our Instagram lives, virtual buying tours and podcasts will continue. 

I’ve been talking…have you been listening? Listening to my podcast – that is! Each week on The Business of Antiques Podcast, I interview guests who share a wealth of information on how to become an antiques dealer and how to run an antiques store.

Eve Oliver – PR & Marketing Manager for IACF organizers of premium antiques fairs in the UK including Newark, Ardingly and Shepton Mallet – writes “I’ve been listening to your podcast and it’s incredible! I can’t get enough of it! I’m low-key obsessed at the moment!!!!

Carson Kressley – of Rupal’s Drag Race and ORIGINAL Queer Eye for the Straight Guy kicked off the New Year on the Business of Antiques podcast by talking about his love for antiquing while traveling abroad.

Meanwhile, James Gooch joins us from England’s own Doe & Hope, as we explain how antique dealers can be cool hunters, Rich Shell talks about his new concept store in Colorado Springs – Evan Guy, and I personally share my END OF YEAR REVIEW. Here’s a pro hint…this end of year review works anytime you want to re-evaluate when you are in building a life and business you love. Your New Year – New Business – New You – can start today. My favorite episode is EPISODE 10 of Season 2 – You and Me – Me and You – where I debut my singing career (spoiler alert: I sing off key), as I tell you all about HOW we at The Antiques Diva help Antique Dealers increase their profit margin through sourcing, business coaching & development, antique dealer training, marketing services and website development. 

As a Business Coach for Antique Dealers, I’ve learned that one of the most important things I do is help antique dealers determine, define, and execute their strategy to achieve the goal of building an antiques business that supports the way they want to live their lives.

As we kick off 2022, I repeat this question – you’ve heard me ask you 1 million times already in the last decade – What are your dreams? How do you want to be living your life? 

Answering this question can be as simple as asking yourself “How do I want to start each day?

My morning routine is sacred. And confession? I’m pretty pissy when that routine gets disturbed. I wake early. But that doesn’t mean I rise early. I stay under the covers two or three hours after my eyes open spending time thinking, reading, snuggling with the cats but mostly writing in that hour between wake and sleep when I can hear myself so clearly. My dream is to write a NY Times best-selling memoir – and I’m the girl who turns dreams to reality – so I’m pursuing my writing the same way I pursued my building my career in antiques. One step at a time. For me having a work schedule that allows me to take that time daily to write in the morning is an essential part of HOW I want to live. (You can read some of my musings at

One of the things these last two years of the pandemic have shown me is I need to travel. Not the manic way I did before. I like my life now. Going to the gym. Regularly seeing friends. Connecting with them on an intimate level. Taking Italian lessons. Sleeping 8 hours a night.  But Diane Vreeland said it best – “The eye has to travel.

I’ll never forget the day I was sitting at Ombre del Leon overlooking Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and the Venetian lagoon with my friend and director #watchthisspace Radek Wegrzyn and he asked the question – “What is your core need? 
I responded quickly, “Security.” I was having a horrible time making decisions about my divorce because I was afraid of financially taking care of myself. He laughed. “Toma, I can assure you if Security was your core need you wouldn’t be sitting here today.” 

I sat for a moment. He was right. I answered again.

My core needs are Adventure and Beauty. Independence. Flexibility.

Security was a reaction against those words. A reaction to try and attach my parachute to the airplane when I jumped.

This winter I felt the need to travel.  So, in December and January, I took an extended trip traveling across France. I drove from Venice with my 2 cats to Paris, Normandy, Biarritz, and beyond…. I ended the trip at Relais Mont Blanc. (Visit to read all about these adventures). During these days I took time to think about my priorities for 2022. I chose my words of the year… Yes. I said Words. Normally I choose just one. I chose Receive. But another word came to me… FLEXIBILITY. 

This year I chose to Receive rather than make things happen – I’m really good at making things happen, but this year my mantra is “not by force but by grace.” Rather than demanding things go exactly as I want them to… I’m open and ready to receive the right opportunities that come my way.

Successful Antiques Businesses Have Successful Habits.

Here are a few tips from me – Toma Clark Haines CEO of The Antiques Diva & Co – on some questions for you to ask yourself – and answer – about your antiques business EVERY MONTH. Copy & Paste these questions into your calendar so they pop up on the first of each month!

  • Review monthly sales. Where did the sales come from?
  • What was the most profitable thing you sold last month?  
  • What was your most profitable sales day? And why? 
  • How can you repeat this?
  • Have you noticed that you always sell a particular vendor/supplier’s inventory first? How much of your current inventory comes from that vendor?
  • Any idea where the leads were generated?
  • Have you checked your website numbers?
  • What about your newsletter? What was your open rate? Did you send one last month? Will you send one this month?
  • How is your social media performing? 
  • Did your followers grow? How did they grow? 
  • What singular effort brought in new followers?
  • What’s one new thing you can do for marketing this month?  
  • What outstanding bills do you have?
  • What outstanding inventory are you waiting to receive?
  • Is there anyone who owes you money? Have you chased them down to receive those funds??
  • Did you pay all your bills on time? (It’s good karma, what you put out gets returned to you)

Here at The Antiques Diva our mission is to EDUCATE and EMPOWER our clients. But here’s the question… What do YOU want to know!? Write me and let me know what questions you’d like us to answer.


One of the coolest things to cross my desk recently were these fabulous Mid Century Holophane Parisian Street Lights.

We helped a client source these recently through our virtual antique tours and buying servicesThese street lights were made in France in the 1960s, and they have been converted into pendant lights.

We found these from 600€ per piece to 1000€ trade export price, plus our 10% buying service commission. A key element of these antique Parisian street lights is the borosilicate glass – which filters the light good enough for instagram – evenly illuminating the area surrounding it casting no shadows. Most of the pieces we found were 40 cm diameter (or 15.75 inches).

While they are not in perfect condition and have wear according to their age (as one dealer wrote, imagine all the French school kids who threw rocks at the lights after school!”) – they have been restored and are ready to go – Adapted for the USA! Lighting is a great way to add impact and flair and glamour in your antique shop.

Did you know we even work in Murano and mainland Italy and can have handmade chandeliers made for you?



Oh la la…It’s Paris Shopping Chic this March 2022.

As you know Maison Objet and Deco Off changed their dates from January 2022 to March 2022 – which means for the first time ever it coincides with Chatou – La Foire Nationale a la Brocante e Jambon, which is hands down one of my favorite flea markets in France. And to make matters even more interesting – this occurs in conjunction with the Chartres Deballage – wholesale only trade fair.   

10-20 March Shop Chatou Flea Market 

23 March Shop Chartres Deballage

24-27 March Shop Maison Objet 

23-27 March Shop Deco Off

We are offering a SPECIAL PACKAGE:
WHEN YOU BOOK 4 DAYS this March 2022 GET 1 FREE

Inquire for details.


Would you like to join us for an intimate breakfast in Paris on March 27, 2022? While our big Paris Flea Market Champagne Brunch was canceled in January 2022 due to the pandemic – we are still happy to meet you for champagne at the Puce de Paris on Sunday 27 March during the new M&O and Deco Off dates. 


Our speciality at The Antiques Diva & Co is sourcing for and with “the trade”. Join us to shop the TRADE ONLY Antique Fairs in the South of France by shopping the deballages in conjunction with antique warehouses, flea markets, and one of a kind boutiques.

Feb 20, 21 & 22

March 20 & 21

April 24, 25, & 26

May 22 & 23

June 26, 27 & 28


One of the biggest advantages we are offering antique dealers is the opportunity to be everywhere at once. Even when you can’t travel abroad, you can join us for some virtual Antique Tours in England and France. In England, let Gail McLeod, VP of The Antiques Diva & Co, give you the inside source on decorative antiques. We’ll take care of all the details – custom plan your shopping experience, liaise with international shippers, negotiate, translate, and be your “back office” support team in Europe as we help you buy antiques abroad and ship them home sweet home.

Email me,, to book your appointment to schedule your virtual antique tours which allow you to shop in Europe from your armchair. Availability is first come, first serve and booked in 1 hour increments so make sure to reserve your time-slot today.

31 March – 3 April – Bath Decorative Fair

23-27 March – Chelsea Antiques Show
(make sure to listen to the podcast interview with Sophie Woods about this show

4-8 May Battersea Decorative Fair

13-15 May Petworth Park Antiques Fair

26-29 May Henley Decor Fair

And Last But Not Least – book either a virtual or REAL LIFE Antiques Tour right here at home with me in Italy – at Mercanteinfiera. We can do virtual appointments or real life shopping tours 

March 10 & 11 TRADE DAYS Mercanteinfiera

Mamma Mia, this newsletter has been a whirlwind. As I write it – it feels like we’ve settled into a new normal. No – the world won’t be what it was before. And we wouldn’t want it to. We don’t want to lookback – but to go forward – better than ever before. 

As I close, I’m using an OLD photo of me from a photoshoot with Susanna Ollmann just before the pandemic. With our Carnevale theme, I couldn’t resist but to use this photo I never got to share! 🙂 I’m in many ways softer. More serious. Less polished. More me. I’ve handled hard things and I think as a result I am more open to going with the flow handling what life throws at me. I suspect we all are changed in a million little ways. What I know is I’m ready to step into the future with all the knowledge of the past evolving the way I live my life and do business. And I want to help you do the same. Book your free consultation to find out about Business Coaching for Antiques Dealers

I encourage you to email me your questions and concerns and tell me what topics you’d like me to cover in this newsletter and on our podcast The Business of Antiques. And I ask one great big favor? Would you go to wherever you listen to podcasts – iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts – and subscribe and leave us a 5-star review. This helps us get sponsors, achieve higher ratings, and reach more listeners. Lastly, if you’re not following me on Instagram, make sure to follow today @RepublicofToma and @TheAntiquesDiva

Warmest regards and Bonne Shopping!


Toma Clark Haines – CEO of The Antiques Diva & Co

A Different World

When I last wrote a blog post we lived in a different world.  I simply stopped blogging here on Antiques Diva last year for a variety of reasons – both personal and professional.

But Baby I’m Back!

When I last wrote a blog post we lived in a different world.  I simply stopped blogging here on Antiques Diva last year for a variety of reasons – both personal and professional.

But Baby –and just in time for the holidays – I’m Back!

Whatever your view on the pandemic – we can all agree on one thing – the world is now a different place. The last two years of NOT traveling – of being in one place – of finalizing what felt like a neverending divorce – of spending a lot of time alone – at home here in Venice – has changed me too. I am in a different place.

I’ve spent the last two years reconsidering not only my travel-based business but also my entire way of life. Finalmente I learned Italian (Non parlo bene italiano ma sto facendo progressi.), and somehow I think in learning a new language – new words and new ways of saying things – I was also teaching myself a new way of thinking. 

With time in one location I was finally able to be consistent in going to the gym. I am incredibly proud of myself because I went to the gym every week for a year. #IHaveBunsofSteel. Perhaps my favorite thing I’ve done during the pandemic is learn to drive a boat in the Venetian lagoon. It’s a metaphor in a way – learning to navigate new waters with a variety of opposing forces – currents, winds and man-made waves from passing vaporettos.

I loved my pre-covid jetset way of life – but being grounded has grounded me. It has balanced me. I have different priorities. From a business perspective – taking the time to re-evaluate my company has made me a better business person with a higher profit margin and diverse revenue streams. 

When the pandemic hit, I thought I would lose my company. We lost 90% of our antique tour business for the year within a single week. When times are tough – I always do 3 things: 

  1. First I cry like a little girl. Crawl under the covers and hide. Take a really long nap. And probably drink too much wine.
  2. Then I get smart. I call it the Hunting and Gathering phase. I process. Evaluate. I ask both myself and others a lot of questions. I read. I listen to podcasts. (Check out mine wherever you listen to podcasts, click the hashtag for direct link) #BusinessofAntiques. I learn. I spend a lot of time thinking about things. Sometimes people see that thinking as non-action… but thinking is the most important part of my process. It’s sort of like learning to drive that boat…  when you learn to drive a boat you have to take time to feel the water around you.
  3. And then I get even smarter by refining…Refine. Refine. Refine. This is my pattern. As my mom (and Nietche) always said, #WhatDoesntKillYouMakesYouStronger

If you don’t polish antique silver – the silver darkens. For silver to truly shine, you need to keep polishing it.  

Refine. Refine. Refine. 

Who you are today is not who you were yesterday or who you will be tomorrow. This is true for you as a person, but it’s also true for you as a small business owner. Your business will change over time as your needs –and those of your clients – and change. You have to keep polishing – refining – your business the way you would do silver.



As a company The Antiques Diva & Co is known as being the world’s largest company offering antique buying tours in 16 countries. Tourism came to a stop in 2020. As soon as the stores and flea markets were reopened post lockdown, I began offering VIRTUAL ANTIQUING TOURS  (You can WATCH a slew of the promotional tours of the Paris Flea Market, Antiquing in England, and the South of France on Instagram @republicoftoma to get a feel for the experience)  

During a time when our client base couldn´t travel abroad – we brought the experience of being abroad VIRTUALLY to you through video. Now, even though the borders have opened again post-covid – and Americans are allowed to travel to Europe – we continue to offer both in person/real life antique buying tours as well as virtual tours depending on the clients needs.

The reality is – even when it’s not a pandemic – clients can’t always travel abroad. Sometimes it’s faster to fill a container via Facetime video calls and Photos than to take a trip. Plus, it saves you a bundle of money on traveling expenses! We have spent the last 9 months refining the process of sourcing via video so we can now offer you the best experience based upon months of trial and error in what works…and what doesn’t.



Join me – or a member of my team – to do a #ToTheTrade Virtual Tour of an Antique Fair by booking a private tour slot. (email me

Shop with us at the Wholesale Deballages in the South of France, Brocantes, The Decorative Fair at Battersea Park in London or in Bath, Mercanteinfiera in Parma as well as the Paris Flea Market, Ile sur la Sorgue and more. 

The Virtual Tour takes place on Facetime or Whats App Video. 
You Have to Wake Up Really Early.  But – video phone – by waking at 3am or 4am – you can literally shop with us LIVE as we shop the wholesale antiques fair on your behalf! That means you get to interact directly with our vendors. We inspect objects together. You are even involved directly in negotiations. You get to ask all your questions LIVE!

These video tours are supplemented by sending a slew of targeted PHOTOS of inventory. 
Most of our vendors give us first dibs when they have new inventor. With global sourcing being a competitive market – having first dibs gives our clients an advantage over their competitors.

My team then sends you targeted customized photos each week – until your container is filled –  based upon what we are receiving from vendors and what we are discovering in our travels.



WIth global supply chain issues and a world wide shipping crisis – there will be delays for receiving inventory in 2022. The only way to beat it is to have good connections, realistic expectations on delivery times, and inside information on which shippers are successfully navigating the crisis. But here’s the deal…if you would like to receive your inventory in the first half of 2022, NOW is the TIME to BE Proactive. You need to start buying NOW if you’re going to want to have a container by end of SPRING/EARLY SUMMER. Once we have confirmed clients who have started sourcing – we are able to work with our shipping contacts to BOOK your container or GET YOU on a WAITLIST for and EARLIER delivery of goods.

Our unique advantage in this industry is our BUYING POWER. At any given moment we have up to 7 containers at sea. Your advantage in working with us is that you have not just your buying power as a dealer who sources in Europe once or twice a year – but rather the buying power collectively of all our clients. 

If you can’t wait for a container – consider restocking your store temporarily with smalls and accessories.  We have an entire album of frequently available accessories we can help you with to give your antiques store a refresher while waiting for a container. 





I started my business The Antiques Diva & Co in 2008 at the height of the global recession. It was the worst possible time to start a business. And yet… troubled times are when there is the most opportunity. My business became a huge success because of that recession. While a lot of dealers were getting out of the business – and a lot of stores were closing – others were making the decision to take the plunge into sourcing globally. And I was there to help them buy antiques overseas. My company was their solution for learning the ropes quickly on how to buy antiques in Europe. Providing solutions for antique dealers is our Sweet Spot as a company. Along with my team, I work to identify the problems and come up with a variety of solutions to help antique dealers run successful antiques businesses while living the life of their dreams.

Well-positioned antique dealers have thrived in this pandemic as sales of furnishings and interior design products have reached an all time high. 

Over the last two years, I have spent the majority of my time working with clients in our Antique Dealer Training and Mentoring Program 

In our Business Coaching for Antiques Dealers, my colleague and I have helped our clients refine their entire antique businesses – helping clients develop multi-prong approaches for online sales as well as for in person shopping experiences.  

Additionally, at The Antiques Diva & Co we started offering Marketing Services for Antique Dealers – helping clients to rebrand and market their business. We started a service building websites for antique dealers and offered monthly content management services for our clients newsletters, and we have even done social media for clients. Confession: I may or may not have pretended to be my client more than once on social media commenting on interior designers Instagram posts to help my client build relationships with the right designers. I know what to say to each designer to help my dealer client make the connection faster and smoother. Once there is a rapport, I step out of the social media scene and let my client take over from there!


The Republic of Toma 

While you were not hearing from me often here on The Antiques Diva blog these past two years – I WAS blogging. I was just not blogging where you usually find me. Or on the topic you normally expected. I started a new blog, The Republic of Toma. 

The website is still underway, and the identity is not fully developed as I have a million new ideas brewing that I will corral heere eventually. But for now, if you want to read my personal musings – about life, love, and other mysteries – follow me at the Republic of Toma. I will keep you informed when additional product launches are on the way!


The Business of Antiques: 

In the spirit of keeping you informed, it’s with great pleasure – I announce THE BUSINESS OF ANTIQUES podcast IS BACK with Season 2. 

For the 1st episode of Season 2, we sit down for a conversation with Erin Gilbert, VP of Sales, for Chairish comparing various sales strategies for selling antiques and telling you Why You Should Be Selling on ChairishNext up is LAPADA CEO – When Freya SimmsTalks People Listen. Followed by a fabulous conversation with Rich Schell on The Advent of the Concept Store.  I personally think the concept store is the future of antiques. We even talk auctions with KC AUCTION HOUSE.

I have a slew of subjects scheduled from talking about the shipping crisis, to discussing why concept stores are the future of antiques, and how to do an end of year review for your company then preparing a marketing plan. Stay tuned.  

 Make sure to subscribe wherever you normally listen to podcasts – Itunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Spotify, or TuneIn Radio.

Announcing Our New Sponsor: The British Shop! 

The British Shop transports fine art, furniture and antiques by air, land and sea around the world. David Hockney once said “Art has to move you” and The British Shop offers a service which moves ART AND ANTIQUES with personal care delivering care. Whether you’re shipping an entire container or a few items via consolidation – The British Shop is your solution for shipping antiques from Europe to the USA. Schedule a CALL with Malcom Disson of The British Shop by visiting their website Tell them you heard about them on the Business of Antiques Podcast to receive a special offer on your Insurance for your delivery!

My Mission:
Net Net over the last Two Years at The Antiques Diva & Co we have updated our business so we are a full service consultancy for Antiques Dealers – helping clients with everything from sourcing antiques to providing shipping solutions to educating dealers and offering business coaching and marketing services. Mamma Mia, my goal for 2022 is to get a new website that really shows who we are and what we are doing.

In Simon Sinek’s book, The Infinite Game, he tells the story of the difference between presenting at Microsoft and Apple conferences ( Microsoft spent their conference talking about how to beat Apple, while Apple talked about helping teachers teach and students learn.  This story made me smile. I realized as CEO of The Antiques Diva & Co, I’m playing The Infinite Game. My objective is to stay in the game and to continue to serve the antiques industry overall listening to your problems and continuing to provide solutions to help you as an antiques dealer be more successful, have a more profitable business, provide structure and confidence, and most importantly help you to live the life of your dreams while pursuing your dream of being an antiques dealer. After all, Dreams Do Come True.

Call Me.

Or rather, let me call you.  I’m offering a free 1 hour business consultation to help you change the way you do your antiques business.

Happy Holidays. I promise I won’t wait so long until my next post.

My warmest wishes, 

Toma Clark Haines – CEO The Antiques Diva & Co 

Founder Republic of Toma



Diva 2020

In this month’s header photo taken last week in Cambodia I am sunburnt. I am sweaty and just after this photo was taken I found a mosquito stuck still alive in the sweaty goo of sunblock at my hairline. In spite of all that I still I took to my standard diva pose even though my butt seriously hurt from hiking.  


This January before going to Cambodia I was in Las Vegas speaking at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. (The flight from Vegas to Siem Reap was h-e-double-hockey-sticks… 10,135 miles and 4 layovers but I digress…) In one of my presentations at KBIS I gave a presentation in the DMM Design Milk / Modenus Talks Lounge called Strike A Pose where I taught attendees how to take a good photo. Everyone has to have a profile photo for their social media – so you might as well look good!  

The thing I noticed about this photo is I look tired, but I look happy. More than that, I look content. And I’ve determined content is a better feeling than happy. I had just come out of hiking in the jungle to the top of Kulen Mountain and I had overestimated my ability to go those last 3 kilometers.  But here’s the thing: Hiking in a jungle to the top of the most sacred mountain in Asia is like jumping out of an airplane and deciding at the halfway point you want to go back. That description of me on the mountain is how I feel about who and where I am today. 

A Few of My Cambodia Photos – click to enlarge


The Business of Antiques 

It’s 2020. And this is my first blog post of the new year. I suspect my content manager is about to have a heart attack that I missed blogging in December, January and February. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without blogging.  The problem? I want to be intentional about content. And intentional isn’t easy. Several years ago I was on a hamster wheel – trying to blog X times per week for SEO and I reached a point where creating content had sucked all joy out of blogging. I hired someone to help – but I found the blog not representing my vision so last year I made the decision to write once-a-month longer personal blog posts which I’ve loved doing. All was fine and dandy until… I launched my podcast The Business of Antiques and all my energy went into getting it up and running and I dropped the ball on blogging. (I’m sorry readers 🙂 ) And by the way, speaking of the podcast – if you haven’t listened to my episode on Marketing For Antique Dealers you must – its my favorite podcast to date! 

The Business of Antiques Podcast with Toma Clark Haines The Antiques Diva

One of the hardest things for me is juggling all I do. Business traveling, speaking around the world, mentoring clients and taking them on Antique Buying Tours, managing my Antiques Diva Team of Buying Guides in 16 countries, designing jewelry and furniture, marketing those as well as my main business, dealing with taxes and business administration and finances, and writing my book, as well as the content for my blog and other social media in addition to podcast… it’s a lot. And I don’t do it alone. I couldn’t. I have a fabulous team who helps. But I’m trying to manage it and sometimes I fail. 

And like the juggler who keeps adding balls in the air until one ball – if not all of them – drops, I’m also juggling Life. In my personal life I am dealing with trifecta of problems from finalizing The Divorce, to dealing with visa issues and facing a tax audit. Nietzsche says “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” I think that’s what I liked about my photo. I am tired. But I looked strong. Maybe I’ll never be a size 6, that’s not in my linguine all’astice and 3rd glass of prosecco lifestyle, but I like who I am becoming even if dealing with life issues sucks more energy than I care to admit.  

Keep Calm and Diva On

What I’ve learned during these times is I Must Keep Calm and Diva On. I’ve also been using this time to clear my mind and reflect. With one decade closing and another one beginning it’s important as Marie Forleo explains, “to look back, celebrate your wins, acknowledge your growth, extract the lessons and set the right goals for the upcoming year.” 

Diva2020 Resolutions 

It’s a new year. A new decade. And a new Toma. Yes, I’m still your Diva. But maybe I’m Diva2.0, or rather… make that Diva2020. As I look back at 2019 and forward to 2020, I think about what my resolutions are both personally and professionally. 


Resolution #1 Be Intentional in Expressing My Authentic Voice 
You might have noticed as I change, the tone of this blog is changing. Yes, I’ll always have stilettos and pearls. I’m your Diva afterall. But when I look back at my life journey, I went from being a daughter to a bride to a diva… and from a diva to me. 

Self care

Resolution #2 Make Time for Wellness  
Wellness is not a luxury, but a necessity. I love a good luxury spa hotel, but I’ve learned wellness is not about going to a great resort but about self care every day. My sister and I were talking this weekend and she said “I’m not sure I even know how to do self care.” For me, that means getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, but also imbibing ginger tea and lemon water, going to the gym at least twice a week (my goal is 3 but it doesn’t always happen), cooking healthy dinners when I’m at home. It means learning to Say No To Others and Yes To Me. Going for a walk everyday. Spending time snuggling with my cats. Reading books. Taking time to journal and meditate. In 2019 I formed a lot of healthy habits that have changed my life. 

While staying in Cambodia at the 5-star hotel Anantara Angkor Resort in February for my writers’ retreat to work on my book, I went to the spa everyday to sit in the steam room. It was part of my process. If you’re going to write, you need to clear your mind so you can hear your voice. It occured to me, “What if I could do this every day at home? What if I incorporated steaming into my daily schedule?” Mr Steam makes that possible! They manufacture state-of-the-art steam shower systems and steam shower accessories that transform residential steam bathing.  Mr Steam

Returning home from KBIS Vegas and Cambodia, I’m in research mode to determine how I can convert my master bath into a Mr Steam steamroom.  It’s easier than you would ever think possible – and actually affordable! I’m super excited by this concept that I can steam at home!!! Steaming improves circulation, skin health, loosens stiff joints and helps restore your body after a workout. Plus it reduces stress, opens up the sinuses, and burns calories. Control 4Resolution #3 Embrace Technology
At the resort, I would call the Spa and tell them to turn on the steam and I would be there in 30 minutes. But at home, if you have a smart home, you can simply tell your Smart Home to turn on the Steam. One of my sponsors with Design Hounds at KBIS in Las Vegas was Control 4, a provider of automation and networking systems for homes and business offering a personalized and unified smarthome system to automate and control connected devices including lighting, audio, video, climate control, intercom, and security. I am not a technology girl. When I was married, that was my husband’s job. As a single woman it occurred to me, “Who needs a husband when you can have Control 4?” I’m getting wired and stepping into the 21st Century! In the 2020s, I’m making my home a smarthome.

Toma Clark Haines living room in Venice

Resolution #4 Finish Decorating My Home in Venice 
Getting an apartment in Venice 2 years ago was hands-down the best decision I’ve made in my life. It’s my happy place. But maintaining my business in Berlin, Germany, whilst spending the majority of my time in Venice has meant that over the last 2 years I haven’t gotten everything done that I wanted to in Venice. I felt like my feet were straddling two nations as I hadn’t fully left Germany mentally as much as I wanted to nor fully settled into Venetian life.   

In December I finally fully closed up life in Germany. I will go to the States to Martha’s Vineyard for 3 – 4 months this Spring and Summer while I switch my visa status so I can fully start my new life. But for my Venice  apartment this means it’s time to get serious. I still need living room lights and art for my living room wall, as well as to finish my kitchen design so that it fully functions the way I want it to.  

In Italy, we say “Piano, piano” slowly, slowly, step by step, but I’m ready to put a bit more kick in my step. I’ve been “making do” in my kitchen without if fully finished the way I wanted it.  

Define Your Modern Kitchen StyleHaving just been to the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show “making do” is no longer an option. In French the expression for window shopping is lécher les vitrines… literally licking the windows. I was licking all the windows at KBIS fantasizing about making my home more my home. Two of the brands that sponsored my KBIS Design Hounds trip caught my attention: Thermador and Nobilia. 

Thermador and NobiliaAfter “making do” Thermador’s tagline “Beyond Luxury Appliances” had me at Hello. You can get your design inspiration on here: They offer seamlessly integrated sleek design perfect for a contemporary lifestyle. And while I may work in antiques, I like contrast. A sleek modern kitchen contrasted with Rococo and Gustavian decor. Afterall, it’s all about the mix.  Meanwhile Nobilia’s nod to history impressed me. Nobilia kitchens are known for their modern design, exceptional quality and their extremely good price to value ratio but their origins employ many of the ideals of the Bauhaus movement harmonize the distinction between the fine and applied arts while reuniting creativity and industrial design.


Resolution #5  FOCUS; Where Focus Goes Energy Flows 
I’m becoming more intentional about how I spend my time. Every year I set a word of the year. Last year I chose Ready. This year my word is Intentional. I want to be more intentional about living a balanced life, increasing revenue for my business, and organizing my time. If I get more organized, I can focus more on what brings me revenue and when setting my priorities I’ll be able to know exactly where to best spend my time so I have more balance! I don’t see 2020 as a year for going forward, but rather a year for putting the 2010’s to bed.  

Resolution #6 Give Myself Permission to Quit
One of the things I’m thinking as I’m in a difficult period personally is “What do I need to eliminate from my life?” I have a lot of goals. What I’ve learned is if you find you’re not progressing on a goal… maybe that goal is not as important as you thought it was. Sometimes we put goals on our list that are not our goals – they could be our husband’s, a friend’s or an employee’s. If you’re not making progress there’s a reason. Time available is certainly one of those reasons, but sometimes it’s that the goal doesn’t matter enough. I want to learn Italian. I also want to go to the gym. I don’t have time for both classes at this moment in my life. I chose the gym because I felt it was better for my mental health. My objective is to be CONTINUALLY reevaluating my business and personal goals and deciding if I want to Quit a Goal, Delay a Goal or Progress on the Goal.  

Resolution #7:  Consider Compromises and Ask for Help 
For me, the last few months as work and life became too much and my blog took the hit. But… did it have to? When I ask myself that question “Is a monthly personal blog really my goal?” My answer is yes. But… why then did I let it slip through the crack? Because of time. One of the best exercises you can do for your business is to make a list of every single task you do. Then highlight those things that REALLY only you can do! You’ll be surprised how much you can ask for help on. 

As owner of the company, I set the vision for the brand, and I am the voice of the company. There is no Diva without I in Antiques Diva. I want to write personal blog posts, but… if my goal really is providing consistent content I could have taken my manicured hands off the wheel and asked one of my Diva Guides for help writing a blog while I was working on starting the podcast. By being so focused on what I had to do (that’s ego talking) I missed an opportunity to provide content for you and missed an opportunity to let a member of my team shine. Lesson Learned. Sometimes when focusing on a goal you have to make compromises – and ask for help – to meet your objective.  

Antique Dealer Training and Mentoring Program | The Business of Antiques

One of the most important services we offer at The Antiques Diva & Co is our Antique Dealer Training and Mentoring Program where we work with you to help you not only evaluate where your business is currently but help you to get where you want to go. In the program we meet you where you are. It’s customized according to your store and your inventory – but more importantly, according to your strengths and weaknesses. One of the exercises I’d encourage you to do is make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. When you look at the strengths use that list to evaluate where to best spend your time. What are you naturally good at? What are your weaknesses? These are areas of your business where you may need additional training or additional help. 

Crystals | The Repubulic of Toma

Resolution #8 Look for Help in Alternative Ways  
I’ve always had an interest in esoteric subjects but in 2020 I’m taking more of an interest in learning about these topics that interest me. I first began dabbling in crystals by accident. I was designing my jewelry collection The Republic of Toma and met one of the editors from Thai Tatler magazine who commented that my choice of stones was interesting. That my stones told the story of my soul.  

I found it a curious comment and inquired what she meant:

“Rubies and Citrines: Power, Success, Passion and Money. You’re starting a new venture designing jewelry and you’ve chosen stones that will guarantee your success. But Rose Quartz means love. You’re looking for love. Either externally or inside yourself. Aquamarine is a stone of courage. Its calming energies reduce stress and quiet the mind. Your mind is very noisy I think.”  

Her comment left me frozen. In designing jewelry had I literally put my heart on my sleeve? When I looked at the motifs I designed, snakes, frogs, etc… they were all symbols of transformation. This started me on a journey researching stones and their meanings. 


Compac: The Surfaces Company

As humans we have intuition. Intuitively we are drawn to things we like.  But our intuition leads us to what we like or don’t like, what we need or sometimes what we’re afraid of. I remember once going to the stone quarry in Italy and talking with one of the geologists about stones. I asked if he believed that stones had special powers assuming as a scientist he’d laugh at the notion. Instead he responded, “If your body needs potassium, it craves a banana. Why not Rose Quartz for love?” 

While at KBIS, visiting our sponsor Compac: The Surfaces Company – the leading company in high quality decorative surfaces – I thought for the first time about the materials I’m using in my home. I’ve always wanted only real materials – granite, real wood etc, but it occured to me that just as the stones I choose to wear in my jewelry give me additional help with the problems I’m facing so then would the stones I choose in your house have the same effect. This is Holistic living.  

Their stall at KBIS was filled with various marbles and quartzes. Looking up their properties, I learned that Marble is a grounding stone. It is the idea of security, strength and stability. It provides for the strength of self control and mastery of our thoughts. It enhances the powers of serenity, which is why it makes for a soothing meditation stone. Meanwhile Quartz is the most powerful healing stone of the mineral kingdom with various quartzes bringing different healing properties.  

When you think of seeking help from alternative means, it impacts the entire way you live. I bring fresh flowers and plants into my house because they bring life. I use aromatherapy to enhance my mood. I often use various scents in my diffuser, but only recently did I consider what those scents meant. Here lately as I’ve been choosing Geranium Oil in the diffuser and out of curiosity I looked it up. Guess what? It reduces feelings of stress, anxiety, sadness, fatigue, and tension! Definitely what I need during this difficult life period. And intuitively I knew it. In my bedroom I spritz my bed each more with lavender spray. Not only does it transport me to Provence, but it also has a calming, sedative quality and is known to promote rest and relaxation, helping it to treat anxiety, depression, and insomnia. 

Antiques Diva Provence Tours 

Speaking of Provence, that reminds me, before I close I want to let you in on a special offer on our Antiques Diva Provence Tours.

The Antiques Diva & Co Provence ToursLIMITED AVAILABILITY! SO ACT QUICKLY! 

Book our 3 day Wholesale Trade Antiques Fair Tour
in the South of France April 6-9, 2020
and we will give you 1 extra day free!
4 days for the price of 3

We will introduce you to one of our favorite antique fairs
La Foire Aux Antiquités et à la Brocante de Barjac.
This is a 750€ savings

Antiques Diva Buying Tours to Provence

Learn more about The Antiques Diva & Co Provence Tours here. 

Have a question about our Provence tour? Ask Toma!

Thanks so much for reading, and see you next time. I promise I won’t make you wait 3 months! In the meantime, make sure to catch up on on my podcast, The Business of Antiques

Toma – The Antiques Diva 

Special thanks to my sponsors of the Design Hounds trip to Las Vegas with Modenus and KBIS: Mr Steam, Control 4, Thermador, Nobilia and Compac Surfaces. 


Be Intentional: Moving Forward While Embracing the Past

On the first day of the Scorpion calendar, I celebrated my birthday.  It wasn’t a significant birthday. In fact, it was the type of birthday you don’t typically have a party for. The year didn’t end in a 5 or a Zero. But with the turn of a page on the calendar, I found myself suddenly – as if by surprise – looking at 50 on the horizon. And the sun was low in the sky. In 4 short years, I will celebrate living half a century. I’m actually already planning a bucket list voyage for my 50th across Africa, chartering a small plane in Tanzania with my friend Dee as she turns 60 one month prior to my half centennial; visiting the foothills of Kilimanjaro’s sister mountain, Mount Meru, marveling at the magical tree houses in Tarangire and observing rare wildlife in the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti Plains. But first – 46. And Castle Brando – a medieval castle situated on a dolomite lime 1200 foot mountain 1,210 ft overlooking the village of Cison di Valmarino in Northern Italy.

Castle Brando overlooking the village of Cison di Valmarino in Northern Italy

Castle Brando overlooking the village of Cison di Valmarino in Northern Italy

While growing older has never bothered me – this birthday I found myself contemplative. Whenever I need to think, I retreat from the world. These last few years I’ve needed this more than years previous. I go silent on social media. Friends text saying, “Where are you?” In this case, I had checked into the Brandolino family castle in the Treviso Hills to take time at the spa. There is no cure for aging like a variety of anti-aging treatments and a daily elixir of massage, facials and taking the waters. But I did something unique on this trip. I took a trip alone. Just me, myself and I. My room was in a wing of the castle dating to the 5th century. As I checked into my room I looked at the family crest hanging over the bed.  


Scorpion crest

Scorpion crest

The family crest was riddled on one side – 50% scorpions. And while perhaps not necessarily an ideal image for a peaceful night’s sleep, it made me smile. Serendipity. I had been discussing my horoscope and what the future holds with a new friend the day before at Quadri on the Piazza San Marco in Venice. I had to laugh at the coincidence. I had come here to think about what I want out of life – and how to get it – and my zodiac sign was hanging overhead. As I lay down on the bed with a watchful eye on the Scorpions, hoping one didn’t plop from the painting onto the coverlet beside me, I opened O Magazine.  

On the page was an article by Oprah’s resident astrologer Chani Nicholas explaining that Scorpio Season is an invitation to honor the life lived thus far, to reflect and review, to better understand how we got where we are, to determine what to edit, and what to bring into the future.  

This past year I’ve taken a more active interest in blogging than I have in recent years – it’s been my mission – to encourage you, my readers and clients, to make sure you are living a life that is satisfying, soulful, and on purpose.   

spa birthday getaway at Castle Brando in Northern Italy

Spa birthday getaway at Castle Brando

For a couple of years following my separation from my husband, I lost my voice. In fact, during that period I didn’t write my blog at all. A member of my team stepped in to help during this period. I couldn’t do it. The blog – and potentially even the business – would have died if I didn’t ask for help.

Weekly as I struggle with this life/work balance I ask myself 3 questions I learned from money expert Kate Northup: 

  1. Does it need to be done?
  2. Does it need to be done now?
  3. Does it need to be done by me?

What I learned is that when running a business – it takes a village. 

You can’t do everything yourself. And even if you want to – you shouldn’t.   

My company has grown from a one-woman firm to a global empire operating in 16 countries and on 3 continents offering one-on-one customized antique buying tours because I’ve learned to ask for help. Not only would my business not have survived the emotional aftermath of my divorce had I not asked for help – but it also would not have grown had I tried to do it all myself.  

I realized early on in running The Antiques Diva & Co that the best way I could serve our clients was by assembling a team of the most connected people in the antique industries. We work with local antique experts in France, Belgium, England, Sweden, Italy, Thailand, Indonesia, America and more to lead our tours as Diva Guides. 

And while I’ve been working with local antique tour guides practically since the beginning, I thought I couldn’t afford employees to help at headquarters. For years I thought I had to do everything myself. And that limiting belief meant that I couldn’t grow at a corporate level the way I needed to. And then I realized I could outsource certain things. 

My Team Is Your Team

Recent Antiques Diva team meeting

Recent Antiques Diva team meeting

And I’m here to tell you – so can you. Just like the saying goes, Mi Casa es Tu Casa, I’m also offering that my team is your team.   

Our Antiques Dealer Training Program doesn’t just offer 1-on-1 coaching on learning to How To Be an Antiques Dealer – we also offer a variety of outsourced marketing services to help you manage and market your antique business. From setting up templates on MailChimp to teaching you how to become an Instagram sensation to offering copywriting services and training in branding or working with you to build your personalized Marketing & PR Plan – we are here with The Business of Antiques to make Antiques Modern, Sexy, Fun and – most importantly – Profitable.

One thing I’ve learned over the last several years is that I have to Be Intentional – both personally as well as professionally. I found myself chatting with a Greek Byzantine History Professor last week after seeing his tattoo – Omnia Causa Fuint. I asked the meaning of those words. 

Omnia Causa Fuint

Everything happens for a reason.  

What reason do you have today for reading this blog?  

Maybe you’ve been dreaming about expanding your business and buying antiques abroad…

Or maybe, you think you’re an old dog and you can’t learn new tricks.  

The Business of Antiques

Our Antique Dealer Training Program isn’t just for new dealers. We also mentor established dealers in new approaches to sales and marketing.   Every day on our new Instagram page I’m giving TIPS and advise on how to do so.  

Yesterday morning I received a phonecall from a well-known established dealer who said, “Okay. Your client set up a booth opposite me at…” (In order to keep his identity secret let’s just say – at a well known antiques market where all the designers shop). He went on to say… “I think I have better inventory than her. I have better prices. But she outsold me. Every interior designer who walked through the hall knew who she was. Let’s talk.” 

He was right. 

He was being passed by.  

And he knew it.

And while this particular client who passed him by is a star pupil – she is bright and is quickly working her way up the foodchain of the antique industry –  this antique dealer had 26 years experience on her. And he was aware she would pass him by if he didn’t belly up to the bar and change the way he had been doing things.   

Two years ago in a surreal moment, I was asked to speak at the House of Parliament at the LAPADA conference on selling to the American buyer. I started the talk by saying, If you want to compete in today’s market – you have to be willing to change.

tory” class=”wp-image-26495″/>

Steven Favreau’s Favrealous Factory

These aren’t your Grandmother’s Antiques – or perhaps rather I should say,  Successful Antique Dealers are NOT selling antiques the way your Grandmother would have. Perhaps no other person I know lives as intentionally as my client, and dear friend, Steven Favreau of the Favrealous Factory (and his partner Dennis Wyrzkowski – aka Dennis the Monk). Steven is a trailblazer. The is a Design Destination in the USA, mixing modern and antiques with pop culture and a flourish that only one man could have created – Steven Favreau. Graffitied walls and disco balls dancing beside a 17th C Flemish Armoire, anyone? Why yes, I think I will! Book your trip to Boston, to experience the place where Magic happens every day. 

While the Favreaulous Factory makes antiques modern – it also is worth a mention that if you think Millennials are not buying antiques – it’s time to think again!!! House Beautiful broke the myth on what Millennials really think about buying antiques

In fact, mixing antiques with modern is in the Zeitgeist. I was thrilled to be quoted extensively in this article in I+D Magazine by Cara Gibbs on Modern Antiquity. The thing I’ve learned both in designing my own furniture collection – and in sourcing antiques – is that true style is timeless. This vein of thought is why I don’t mind aging. While yes, I want to do what I can to prevent more of those tiny crow’s feet from clawing at the corners of my eyes – I do treat my skin well. My #1 Beauty Secret is light-reflecting Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Foundation. And just like I use a trip to the spa and frequent applications of SkinCeuticals (not to mention a stash of the French pharmaceutical phenomenon A313 as my personal pommade), on antiques you can also use lotions and potions. That’s why I created my line of Antiques Care and Restoration Products.

I always joke with clients who expect an antique to be perfect that just as we get wrinkles as we get older, you can’t expect an 18th C chest of drawers to be perfect. Patina on antiques is like the laugh lines I have in the corner of my eyes. In my own home, I have a gorgeous 17th C Spanish Secretaire which I slather with my lavender-scented Antiques Diva Wood Wax. I must confess… the only greater feeling I’ve had than polishing a piece of furniture in my home with my very own line of Antiques Diva Furniture Wax and Serum has been deciding where to place my Antiques Diva Collection Neo-Classical Console I designed for Aidan Gray or wearing my Republic of Toma jewelry. 

Antiques Diva Wood Wax

Special orders for wholesale are available

The Republic of Toma 

By the way – Did you know I changed the name of my jewelry line? When we launched the collection, we named it after me – The TCH Collection (The Toma Clark Haines Collection) – but I realized I made a mistake when the first press mentions began rolling in and we were referred to with transposed initials – the THC collection – the component in marijuana! A name change was essential. But what name? My team of content managers said Keep It Simple. Just Toma. You might say Toma Only (for those of you who read my recent blog of this title), but somehow that felt too personal to use only my first name. I wanted my other company to represent me. To be a glimpse into my world. Welcome to The Republic of Toma. 


The Business of Antiques Podcast 

I was interviewed recently on the Style Matters Podcast by Zandra Zuraw of The Little Yellow Couch. In this interview, I talk more openly perhaps than ever before about my personal journey and my mission in life and business. Speaking of podcasts – perhaps this is the most important thing for today’s blog post…


I just launched MY OWN PODCAST – The Business of Antiques! 

The Business of Antiques Podcast


October was #NationalWomensSmallBusinessMonth and to celebrate and encourage other women and men to become successful entrepreneurs we launched my new podcast, The Business of Antiques Podcast. Episode 1 How to Start an Antique Business is now LIVE! 

On my podcast…

  • I’ll tell you secrets learned in the field over the last decade – sharing my own personal experiences as well as interviewing some of the top names in the industry.
  • We’ll talk to antique dealers and interior designers as well as antique fair coordinators, antique aggregator sites, international shippers and insurance agents.
  • If it relates to running an antique business we’ll talk about it.

Is there anything you’d like me to discuss on The Business of Antiques Podcast? Just #AskToma and I’ll try to answer your questions and discuss your interests in a future episode.

But I need your help to get my podcast found:

As we close I want to say Happy Thanksgiving. I’ll be celebrating with friends in Berlin and doing some online shopping for my Christmas list!  Speaking of online shopping – I wanted to offer you a SPECIAL CYBER MONDAY sale!

Cyber Monday Sale

Antiques Diva Cyber Monday sale


I am offering you a €1000 DISCOUNT ($1,100 USD)
on our €5000 ($5,500 USD)
10-week Antique Dealer Training  Program

This is the BIGGEST DISCOUNT we have offered all year and gets you into the program before the new January 2020 €6500 price goes into effect –

If you book our Antique Dealer Training Program by Monday, December 2, 2019, you can save €2500 off 2020 pricing!!! (That’s $2,758 USD) For more information about, .

Speaking of things to book early… why don’t you plan to join me in Miami for the 2020 Original Miami Beach Antique Show January 4-8, 2020.  Email me and #AskToma for details

Any other questions? Just

Happy Thanksgiving,

Toma, The Antiques Diva

PS. Save the Date: January 19, 2020, is our Annual Antiques Diva Paris Flea Market Brunch.