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Design Bloggers Conference 2014

Tip Thursday- How I Built The Antiques Diva & Co

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>I am often asked how The Antiques Diva & Co came to be.  The short answer is that serendipity played (and continues to play) a huge role, not only in my business, but also in my life in general.  But there are many things, including my blog and social media, that have helped develop and maintain my brand and business.  Last month I was asked to speak at the Design Bloggers Conference about the role of social media and content building a luxury brand.  For me these were huge aspects in creating and developing my company. Let me share a few tips with you from my journey that will hopefully inspire you as you live out your passions.

Before my blog was born, I lived a life that led me to discovering my niche.  After I gave up an advertising career to move to Europe, I was looking for a career in a suitcase.  A friend recommended I read Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way.  This book helped to narrow my focus and discover my passions.  It helped me discover the red thread that had run throughout my life.

I decided to write a book and promote it on The Antiques Diva blog.  Then the financial crisis of 2008 happened.  My book didn’t get published and I felt like a failure.  But blog readers began to email me, asking if I could take them on a tour.  I said YES and it changed my life.  It wasn’t what I planned…it was even bigger.  Five years later, I own Europe’s largest antique touring company.

Toma Clark Haines

A major lesson here is be open to opportunity.  You may plan one thing, but life may hand you a different plan.  Don’t get so focussed on what you’re doing that you miss an opportunity.  Say yes.  Take a chance.  Do something unexpected.  Be willing to fail.  It’s not how you fall but how you get back up that counts.  Create a niche and then diversify.  Find what makes you unique and explore that opportunity.

My business would not exist today were it not for my blog.  I did not set out to build an antiques touring company.  I recognized a need and I filled it. Once I started a company, I intentionally set about using social media and content building to market my business and connect with potential customers.

By being the expert in the field of antique tours and sourcing, my company has a reliable base to build relationships with customers.  I believe this has been key to building and maintaining a successful business.  At The Antiques Diva & Co we know where to go, how to get there, what to buy, and most importantly, how to get it home.

In sum, The Antiques Diva & Co has been a fun, interesting, and rewarding journey that is constantly evolving to fit the needs of our customers and the ever-changing world.  Many readers have commented that our focus has shifted more towards the trade – and again that was answering the need.  At one point about 2 years ago I looked at my tour bookings and realized 75% of my clients were antique dealers or interior designers… that said, we still service tourists and love nothing more than helping all clients find that special thing they’re looking for.  It’s been a wonderful journey leading antique buying tours and owning a company that has grown by leaps and bounds since it’s inception.  And I hope that you all will continue with me on this journey as you also explore your own paths!

The Antiques Diva®

The Antiques Diva

Designer Spotlight: Timothy Corrigan

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Everyone knows that I love antiques, but even I’ll admit that it can sometimes be difficult to decorate in a functional way using ONLY antiques.  That’s why I’m constantly perusing the latest shelter magazines and decorating books, collecting ideas and inspiration from today’s top interior designers.  One of my favorite books is An Invitation to Chateau du Grand-Luce by Timothy Corrigan.

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Timothy Corrigan certainly has mastered the art of creating an elegant atmosphere that is also fully functional and most importantly, comfortable.  The story of how Timothy acquired and subsequently breathed new life into Chateau du Grand-Luce is not only inspiring (who wouldn’t want to buy a great chateau and turn it back into a private residence?!), but also a lesson in decorating for real life, proving that form and function are not mutually exclusive.  I love pouring over the gorgeous images  in his book, noting his use of color, scale, and style that ultimately create a warm feel that envelops you even from the pages.

Timothy Corrigan

This project was more than just renovating a shell.  Many of the original fixtures are still in tact and Timothy took great care to preserve these relics from an age gone by.  However, he wasn’t limited by the chateau’s history.  He even says in the book, “This can be especially challenging in historically significant residences, as so often people believe they must be unreasonably faithful to the past and live in their homes the way the original residents did.” 

The ultimate purpose of the house, however, is to be a home, a place to entertain friends and the furniture arrangements needed to be accommodating for conversations and actual everyday living.

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I can just imagine attending a country weekend in this beautiful home.  Arriving in the early evening on a Friday, just in time to change and enjoy a cocktail on the gravel allee in the formal garden, followed by a casual dinner in the orangery.  Perhaps after dinner retiring with a book in one of the many well-appointed guest rooms only to awake the following morning to a gorgeous view of the gardens.  A leisurely Saturday spent admiring the many works of art in the home would turn into an evening to remember with dinner served in the formal dining room.  And who wouldn’t want to stay up to the wee hours of the morning, enjoying lively conversations in the Salon Chinois?

In my mind, what Timothy Corrigan has done with Chateau du Grand Luce is create a world within a world.  A place that doesn’t shut out the modern era, but embraces the way we live today, while still remaining true to the roots of our past.  I was fortunate enough to meet Timothy recently in Atlanta at the Design Bloggers Conference and now I am not only smitten with Chateau du Grand Luce, but also with the man of the manor himself.  When I met him, I told him I was his doppelganger–he was an English major, I was an English major.  He worked in advertising, I worked in advertising.  He moved to Paris which changed his career to design, I moved to Paris which changed my career to antiques!  He bought a chateau….I….well, still waiting on that one!

Timothy Corrigan and The Antiques Diva

Regardless of whether I’ll ever own a grand chateau, I am inspired to take lessons from what Timothy’s done in his home and apply them to any space I find myself inhabiting.  Honor the past, but live fully in your home now.  After all, there is no greater luxury than comfort, and I’d prefer to have my comfort in a gorgeous room filled with antiques and pieces that mean something to me.

Au Revoir,
The Antiques Diva®

Stage Design at Design Bloggers Conference

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 50px; line-height: 40px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>While speaking at the Design Bloggers Conference last week in Atlanta I had the pleasure of sitting on this gorgeous stage set designed by Currey & Co.  I participated in a panel with 1stdibs founder Michael Bruno and Kyle Hoepner, Editor of New England Home, speaking on the topic of Content Building for Luxury Brands.

Design Bloggers Conference 2014

Design Bloggers Conference 2014

Currey & Co is well known in the design industry for their lighting, but they also offer a wide variety of products like garden accessories, furniture, rugs, and upholstery.  Curry & Co takes pride in their original design work, meticulous craftsmanship, and careful attention to detail.  You can see the touch of the human hand in their products as a result of their multi step hand-finishing process. For Design Bloggers Conference 2014, Curry & Co provided beautiful furniture, textiles, and flowers in bright vibrant hues for the main stage of the three day conference.  They really set the stage for chic design!

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Even more an honor than sharing the stage with Currey and Co’s gorgeous designs was the opportunity to meet Bethanne Matari and Cecil Adams – two of the most connected innovators  in the design scene. I am very much looking forward to visiting their showroom in person this April when I speak at the Antiques Center at Highpoint on Tuesday 8 April at 5pm.  Hint hint – rumor has it they have the best wine of all the showrooms at Highpoint.  Can’t wait to spend time with this crew!

Until next time,
The Antiques Diva®

Design Bloggers Conference 2014 Toma Clark Haines

PS:  To book an Antiques Diva Tour or inquire about our Buying Services so you can source antiques abroad virtually, email to:info@antiquesdiva.com”>info@antiquesdiva.com

Book a Tour

The Antiques Diva & Co offers custom planned Antiques Buying Tours for tourists and trade professionals. Whether you’re looking to buy one specific piece or wanting to fill an entire container, our personal shopping antique buying guides share their vast knowledge of secret sources to take you to all the right places.

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