Midnight in Berlin – End of Year Review With The Antiques Diva

Midnight in Berlin - End of Year Review With The Antiques Diva

Two weeks ago I packed up my Berlin apartment and shipped everything to Venice, where I move into my new apartment officially in January. I’m spending the holidays in Asia finalizing my new jewelry collection (TCH Collection – Lush Decadence) I’m feeling a bit of end of year nostalgia… 

One of my closest friends in Berlin is a German movie director and when we first met he told me, “You remind me of Gertrude Stein. Only living in 21st century Berlin instead of 1930’s Midnight in Paris.Your apartment has a revolving door to all the stylish people from around the world.” Months later a Venetian friend compared me to Peggy Guggenheim and I felt I could have died a happy lady at that moment… today I’m a bit reminiscent looking back at my midnight in Berlin… 

In preparation for an interview I was recently asked a few questions about what I do when I’m not working. Not working – what’s that? I’m on holiday in Asia – working on my jewelry launch. I’m moving to Venice – a good location to manage The Antiques Diva & Co. I’ve created a lifestyle that’s a perfect blend of work and pleasure. I love what I do, so depending which day you ask:

  • I’m always working.
  • I’m never working.

As I look back at my responses, I realize they are a good end of year review of my last year living in Berlin…

Out of the Office with Million Dollar Decorating | The Antiques Diva
A recent gathering Chez Diva in Berlin with Bobby Berk and friends – photo credit Susanne Ollmann

Your company leads Antique Buying Tours in Europe, Asia and America. In what city is your office located?
Have laptop will travel. Nothing was scarier than when I left my laptop in the pocket of the seat in front of me on a recent flight from Washington DC to London. For 4 long days I didn’t have my laptop – and wasn’t sure when or if I’d get it back!

Out of the Office with Million Dollar Decorating | The Antiques Diva
Auf Wiedersehen to Antiques Berlin Diva Headquarters – photo credit Susanne Ollmann 

I’ve just departed The Antiques Diva showroom and headquarters in Berlin at Die Alte Maelzerei  – a 3-level loft in a fabulous converted brewery – and will be setting up my offices in Venice, Italy.

We’re curious how you feel the world views you? In one word tell us.
#WhereInTheWorldIsTheAntiquesDiva – the # makes it one word!

How do you believe your staff views you?
I’m going to give you two words: Rainmaker and Egalitarian. I own the company and I’m the face of the company and my job is to make things happen… But my staff are all my team members. I couldn’t do my job without them. I truly am nothing without them.

They don’t work for me, but rather we work together. We are a mutually beneficial team.

How do your client’s view you?
I hope my clients see me as an Inspirational. I often say that my brand The Antiques Diva is Aspirational. At heart I’m a girl from Oklahoma – and the one thing I always say to new clients who want to start sourcing globally: If I can do this, you can do this.

How does your family view you? 
A significant other calls me a “whirlwind” and I think that fits! I am always going a million places and doing a million things at once! But also those closest to me more than anyone understands how overwhelmed I can be at times. I often joke, “It ain’t easy being a Diva!” It’s hard work. And they know that at times I think, “I can’t do this.” They also know that after a good night’s sleep I’ll wake up feeling ready to conquer the world.

Share with us your thoughts on the work/life balancing act we hear so much about? 
When you have your own company it sometimes feels like you never have a day off work. On the other hand –  as I took these questions I was in London on vacation with my niece for 3 weeks – and my laptop!

Out of the Office with Million Dollar Decorating | The Antiques Diva
With my niece Lizzy on top of the Eiffel Tower 

How does your time away from the office break down along the “social” vs. “private” lines? 
Those lines are blurred. One of the biggest advantages to owning my own company is freedom – on one hand, anyone who knows me says I work all the time. On the other – I rarely feel like I’m working when I’m not behind the desk. Some of my best friends are in this industry.

Out of the Office with Million Dollar Decorating | The Antiques Diva
Technically this moment in Bali with bestie Derrick Ricketts of Dallas Market Center was work – photo credit Alessandro Lupi 

What does a well-balanced life look like to you? 
I know that I am balanced when I am taking time for self-care. Eating right. Exercising. Having a hobby. Sleeping well. Spending quality time with family and friends.

Last year I was asked to be the brand ambassador for Pandora de Balthazár – a luxury linen company specializing in the European Sleep System. The biggest challenge I face is jet lag – I travel around the globe and am in 2 or 3 countries each month if not 2 continents. I’ve learned that I can’t do my job if I don’t get proper sleep. As my company has grown it’s been one of my biggest priorities to get more and better sleep. Better sleep looks like a well-balanced life.

I love cooking so my spare hours are spent cooking for close friends. I love throwing a dinner party. My dream project is to someday write a cookbook. I studied cooking in Paris taking lessons at both Le Ritz Escoffier and Le Cordon Bleu. One of my fun recent dinner parties was in honor of Bobby Berk. (Now that it’s finally released that Bobby’s been filming Queer Eye for Netflix, I’m delighted to share a few congratulatory pictures!)

Out of the Office with Million Dollar Decorating | The Antiques Diva
Dinner Chez Diva toasting Bobby Berk – So excited to watch Bobby on Season 1 of the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy! – photo credit Susanne Ollmann 

Do you crave the quiet of a near empty house to feel nurtured? Does a balance between the two better suit you? 
My house has an open door – champagne is always on ice. I have a pantry ready for an impromptu dinner party with all the accoutrements. I love the sound of laughter and glasses clinking. My guests always stay late into the night and I’ve been known to curl up on my couch and go to sleep listening to my friends’ chatter on. The best sound in the world is a full house.

What hobby or personal pursuit of yours is most surprising? 
Everyone I know does Pilates or Yoga and I’ve tried both and find them boring… I take boxing lessons and love the intensity!

Out of the Office with Million Dollar Decorating | The Antiques Diva
Completely smitten with Elon Musk 

One guest from the past, one from the present and one from the future are invited to join you for the weekend. Who would be your fantasy guests be and why?
First and foremost I would invite Elon Musk to join me. I love innovative thinkers. He’s co-founder of PayPal, CEO of Telsa – the electric automaker – and the thing I’m most excited about –  CEO of Space X which designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. And then naturally Leonardo da Vinci would need to come. Elon would need someone on even par with him to spar. Hmm… we need some of the beautiful people. Princess Diana? Do you think she would bring Elton John as her date? He’d get a little drunk and play my piano (Note to self: buy a piano asap). And while it would be fun to do this at my house I kind of fantasize we all go away together and rent a house. Maybe we’d go to Oscar de la Renta’s home in the Dominican Republic or if he said no, maybe Timothy Corrigan would say yes. As a last minute invitation, I’d invite Newell Turner of Hearst to join as I’ve been dying to get him on an Antiques Diva Trip and I’ve had a bit of a design crush on him since he was editor of House Beautiful the first time around. Speaking of design crushes, we’ll have Robert Passal join us. He’s my favorite NYC designer and the perfect arm candy for a weekend away. I’d have Bobby Berk back as my dinner party guest quote because he is one of the most inspirational people I know – funniest – and most down to earth. Naturally, I’d be in charge of cooking but we’d have a caravan of Divas on hand to do all the desserts (I only do stovetop not baking) and to do the cleanup.

On the Road with Toma Clark Haines photo credit Susanne Ollmann 
On the road with Toma Clark Haines – photo credit Susanne Ollmann 

What destination, adventure or experience have you not yet had that you’d like to make a reality? 
I have a weird goal. Note I use the word goal not dream, as a goal implies I actually intend to do this someday. I’ve flown around the world. I want to drive around it. I want to hop in a Mercedes Van with plenty of storage space for my purchases and drive from my home up through Russia, across the Bering Strait (surely someone would take pity on me and ferry me over) down to see my family in Oklahoma then keep on driving to South America.    

Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams for 2018! 

Toma Clark Haines – The Antiques Diva 





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Author: Toma Clark Haines

Toma Clark Haines is a Global Tastemaker, Speaker, Writer & Entrepreneur; and founder and CEO The Antiques Diva® & Co, Europe, Asia and America's largest Antiques Sourcing & Touring Company.