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Toma Clark Haines

Chateau de Deulin

Dear Diva Readers,

Once upon a time there was a very lucky client… who had a fabulous shopping list, seeking some Swedish painted pieces in addition to a bevy of Belgian delights luxuriously covered in linens.  She didn’t just want any tour – she wanted to go to sources beyond the borders, delving deeper into the magical countryside seeking far away lands.  What’s The Diva to do when faced with such a client? Take them to Wallonia of course – that French speaking region of Belgium – to an area on back roads straight out of a fairy tale.

Chateaux of Europe, Buying antiques in a Chateau, The Antiques Diva Tours, Chateau de Deulin, Buying tours of Belgium,  Belgian Antiques Dealers, Toma Clark Haines

Part of what makes The Antiques Diva Tours so special – if I do say so myself –  is that we custom plan tours for each client whether they’re requesting a fairy tale or a hard core buying experience that has them sourcing from dawn til dusk (which during the long days of summer can run from 5am to 10pm).   Each tour is as individual as our clients are!  Once we know what type of pieces and what type of experience a particular client is looking for we delve into our little black book of sources – some public, some private residence – and map out a route specific to that person’s shopping list, planning each and every detail along the way. A comment that we consistently hear from clients post-tour is “Wow! I never would have found those places without you!” That’s our specialty: Taking you to hidden gems and introducing you to our sources so you can find the perfect pieces and have the best European experience – an experience fit for a Diva!

Chateau de Deulin

Chateau de Deulin, Antiques Diva Tour, Buying Antiques in Belgium

On a recent buying tour in Belgium, we took a client to perhaps one of the most sensational sources in all of Belgium… the Chateau de Deulin.  The Chateau was built in 1758 and remains a private residence to this day – for 300 years it’s been in the same family and the family has opened up their home only on appointment to sell antiques!

Chateau de Deulin, Antiques Diva Tour, Buying Antiques in Belgium

Chateau de Deulin, Antiques Diva Tour, Buying Antiques in Belgium

Chateau de Deulin, Antiques Diva Tour, Buying Antiques in Belgium

First arriving the Chateau we take a long walk up the driveway appreciating the proportions of the Chateau and sighing over the fact we’ve stepped into a real life fairy tale.  Entering through the center courtyard we pass through a pair of large gates – a walled garden can be glimpsed just to the north of the house. We later learn that this garden, which dates back to the 18th century, was restyled into a French garden at the beginning of the 20th century and remains as such today.  The U shaped main house is comprised of whitewashed bricks and blue stone and welcomes guests with an inner courtyard surrounded by outbuildings including its own chapel. There’s even a tower that has me convinced I’m hearing “Rapunzel, Rapunzel… Let Down your Hair” echoing in the wind.

Chateau de Deulin, Antiques Diva Tour, Buying Antiques in Belgium

Chateau de Deulin, Antiques Diva Tour, Buying Antiques in Belgium

We are greeted by the gorgeous young Monsieur Simon de Harlez and his even more beautiful girlfriend, Ivy, who graciously welcome us into their home. Oh la la… both my client (and myself) feel like we’re in heaven.  I’m certain God is the ultimate interior designer – and these rooms are fit for a diety.  We sigh over the sumptuously decorated rooms, mostly in the rococo style with a mix of European furnishings and decorative accessories, and my client’s cries of ecstasy get louder when she realizes many of the pieces are for sale! On this particular trip we were just shopping at the Chateau but my client immediately begins making plans to return with The Antiques Diva & Co when she discovers that Chateau will open up its private guest rooms for accommodation and special meals in the dining room for clients of The Antiques Diva & Co! Incidentally I failed to mention that the gorgeous dining room… one of my favorite rooms of the “house”…  is decorated with original paintings depicting hunting scenes – a reminder of the days when the Chateau de Deulin was used as a “little” hunting lodge.

Chateau de Deulin, Antiques Diva Tour, Buying Antiques in Belgium

Today the stable has been converted and now houses antiques that are for sale. Simon’s father, Stéphane de Harlez, is a renowned Belgian antiques dealer and takes us through each “room,” excitedly chatting in French about each piece.  When he compliments me on my French, I laugh and say “Je parle comme une vache”  (I speak like a cow) to which he responds… “Moi?  I speak like a BULL!” 

Chateau de Deulin, Antiques Diva Tour, Buying Antiques in Belgium

Purchases made, we’re invited to join the family in sharing some wine and nibbles al fresco  While sipping our wine, we discuss Chateau de Deulin’s upcoming antiques fair it hosts every year on the 2nd and 3rd weekend of October.  We’re already planning a special trip for this event in 2015!

Our lovely visit complete and purchase orders written, we are ready to depart. After many cheek kisses, we hop in the car and pull away from this lovely estate, but I can’t help wishing that we were staying here for a couple more days so we could explore this enchanting home and its grounds…. perhaps if you join me in October we can stay a while longer? 

Sometimes I have to stop and pinch myself and wonder what more could I ask for. Oh, and speaking of asking for more, the family also owns and operates an antiques warehouse not far from the Chateau. Of course, we went there as well! A Diva’s job is never done!

The Antiques Diva®   

Antiques and Flea Markets in Belgium

Dear Diva Readers,

When most people think of antiquing in Europe, they envision strolling through the Paris Flea Market or shopping the French countryside.  Some fantasize about unearthing treasures in Italy, ambling down antique filled lanes in England or finding the perfect painted piece in Sweden. We help clients antique in all of these scenarios, however there is one teeny tiny country in Europe that those not “in the know” tend to forget.   Belgium is Europe’s best kept secret.  I’ve said it for years… Belgium is a girl’s best friend! For a country barely the size of Maryland, it’s positively chock full of treasures that delight from chocolate to fashion and a diamonds… and antiques.  Per capita there are more antique dealers in Belgium than practically any other country in Europe, making it an ideal country to take an Antiques Buying Tour!

Buying Antiques in Belgium, Belgium Antiques Buying Tour, Flea Markets of Belgium, Tongeren Flea Market, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Best places for buying antiques in Europe

Buying Antiques in Belgium, Belgium Antiques Buying Tour, Flea Markets of Belgium, Tongeren Flea Market, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Best places for buying antiques in Europe

When taking clients on buying tours in Belgium, we typically stay somewhere central – often basing ourselves in Antwerp – and from there proceed to cover the entire country in about 3 or 4 days. If you drive an hour in any direction from Antwerp you find yourself crisscrossing the country from north to south, dipping into both Holland and France and working your way towards the German border. Each day on tour we shop a variety of places – from small antique shops to large over-the-top warehouses.  The next day we’ll take clients to specific dealers hand-picked for them, often meeting the dealers at their own homes, in private residences and shops that aren’t really shops, but storage units opened only on appointment.  Our third day on tour in Belgium tends to be ALL about the flea markets.  For those really motivated we wake early and pillage Waterloo…  but my favorite Belgium Flea Market after all these years is still the Tongeren Flea Market, which literally takes over the entire town center each Sunday of the year snow, rain or shine.   On a Belgium Buying Tour our clients have usually spent the first two days of their tour buying furniture and special art pieces so the flea market day is typically all about the smalls, which when shipped are essentially shipped for FREE as they are packed inside the drawers and cupboards they’ve already purchased – this maximizes client’s shipping costs!

Buying Antiques in Belgium, Belgium Antiques Buying Tour, Flea Markets of Belgium, Tongeren Flea Market, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Best places for buying antiques in Europe

Flea markets of belgium

Tongeren Flea Market has several sections.  As I always I have a plan of attack, I  always begin at the stalls which line the Leopoldwal – the street opposite the old Roman wall.   Here we have a few favorite dealers who consistently have excellent inventory – one of my favorite is the gorgeous blond couple with antique ironstone at incredible prices.   From porcelain to chandeliers and French manequins – some of my favorite vendors set up here.  Next up you have a choice  – you can wrap back around towards the town square – the Veemarkt.  The market weaves it’s way around several streets – from the Maastrichterstraat, de Schiervelstraat, Clarissenstraat, and Eburonenhal.  But after the Leopoldwal shopping along the Roman Wall my second and third favorite spots to shop are the two indoor sections – in the Sports Hall and inside the Parking Garage.  Here you’ll find everything from linens to crystal to furniture. Clients find all sorts of things such as wooden cheese boards, antique coffee grinders, mirrors, iron stone pieces, sculpture, and much more.  I think the better quality inventory tends to be found inside these 2 halls.

Buying Antiques in Belgium, Belgium Antiques Buying Tour, Flea Markets of Belgium, Tongeren Flea Market, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Best places for buying antiques in Europe

Buying Antiques in Belgium, Belgium Antiques Buying Tour, Flea Markets of Belgium, Tongeren Flea Market, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Best places for buying antiques in Europe

Buying Antiques in Belgium, Belgium Antiques Buying Tour, Flea Markets of Belgium, Tongeren Flea Market, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Best places for buying antiques in Europe

It’s always such fun to see favorite dealers that we’ve been buying from for years.  A shopping tour at Tongeren involves running into old friends – from vendors to other dealers we know.  The great thing for our clients is that we have good relationships with these dealers, which means they not only give our clients the best prices they can but they also give a fun shopping experience for our clients – inviting our clients into their stalls as long-term friends rather than another tourist passing through for a day.  In town – and in the area nearby –  we have a slew of dealers we adore who have permanent shops where we stop of a glass of champagne or a coffee and cookies!

Buying Antiques in Belgium, Belgium Antiques Buying Tour, Flea Markets of Belgium, Tongeren Flea Market, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Best places for buying antiques in Europe

For anyone who loves flea marketing, Tongeren should definitely be on your list! if you’d like more information on taking an Antiques Diva Buying Tour in Belgium, email us at info@antiquesdiva.com. We’d love to show you our version of this small-but-amazing country!

The Antiques Diva®   

Salvo Fair

Dear Diva Readers,

To close out a recent week-long VIP Antiques Diva UK tour with Olga Granda-Scott, co-founder of The HighBoy, we hopped in the car and headed from London to Henley for Salvo Fair for opening trade day. Antiques Diva UK Agent Gail McLeod met us at Fawley Hill, Henley on Thames, the estate of Sir William and Lady McAlpine which was the venue for this year’s fair. Salvo is the largest architectural salvage fair in the UK.

Salvo Fair, English Antiques, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Gail McLeod, Sir William and Lady McAlpine, Architectural Salvage Fairs, Repurposed items

The Antiques Diva cooling off at the Salvo Fair!

Dealers at Salvo offer a wide variety of architectural salvage, ranging from very affordable tiles and hardware to reclaimed building materials such as a huge bridge which held court at the center of the fair. As we perused the grounds, we spotted a nice mix of garden antiques including sculpture, fountains, and repurposed items which are in high demand right now. There were also plenty of retro signs, decorative antiques, and vintage pieces. I especially liked the variety of industrial items which could be used in new construction. A pleasant surprise was the affordable prices at Salvo. Our Creative Consultant Andrew Skipper even picked up a fun antique door knocker shaped like a fox for less than half the price he would pay in the USA.

Salvo Fair, English Antiques, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Gail McLeod, Sir William and Lady McAlpine, Architectural Salvage Fairs, Repurposed items

Salvo Fair, English Antiques, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Gail McLeod, Sir William and Lady McAlpine, Architectural Salvage Fairs, Repurposed items

 

Aside from the inventory, the set up of the fair was everything you would imagine when you picture a country antiques fair in England. Old fashioned tents with bunting (strings of colorful flags) strewn from side to side set the stage for a picturesque day. There was even a charming tea tent where we attended a private party with the local Lord and Lady and the “county set” after the fair closed. Complete with champagne, roast lamb, quail eggs, smoked salmon, and scones, the evening was a quintessential English one—and the ideal way to complete a Diva tour of some of the UK’s top antiques fairs.

Salvo Fair, English Antiques, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Gail McLeod, Sir William and Lady McAlpine, Architectural Salvage Fairs, Repurposed items

 

If you would like information on our UK Antiques Diva tours, please email us at info@antiquesdiva.com. We’d love to help you find the antiques you’re looking for while also giving you a truly unique experience of culture, travel, and the Diva lifestyle!

The Antiques Diva®   

Diva Does Masterpiece Fair

Dear Diva Readers,

While taking Olga Granda-Scott of The HighBoy on a whirlwind Antiques Diva UK experience to introduce her to a few of our favorite fairs and dealers, we attended opening day of the renowned English antiques fair Masterpiece in London. Offering museum quality pieces, this fair is one of the best in Europe, comparing often as a smaller TEFAF.

Masterpiece Fair, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, English Antiques, TEFAF, Antiques News & Fairs, Siegelson, Apter-Fredericks LTD, George Hepplewhite gentleman’s social table, Robert Young, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, Salvo Fair, Art & Antiques Fairs of Europe

Masterpiece Fair, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, English Antiques, TEFAF, Antiques News & Fairs, Siegelson, Apter-Fredericks LTD, George Hepplewhite gentleman’s social table, Robert Young, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, Salvo Fair, Art & Antiques Fairs of Europe

Masterpiece Fair, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, English Antiques, TEFAF, Antiques News & Fairs, Siegelson, Apter-Fredericks LTD, George Hepplewhite gentleman’s social table, Robert Young, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, Salvo Fair, Art & Antiques Fairs of Europe

Before heading to the fair we checked out Antiques News & Fairs to find out what the must-see booths were. Discovering that the Empress Eugenie’s pearl earrings would be on display, we headed straight to Siegelson’s booth upon arrival at the fair.  This pair of natural grey pearl earrings appear on Empress Eugenie’s ears in a portrait of her which hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York so being able to see them first hand was quite a treat! The only disappointment? They wouldn’t let me try them on! And darling… I would have worn them well! 🙂

Masterpiece Fair, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, English Antiques, TEFAF, Antiques News & Fairs, Siegelson, Apter-Fredericks LTD, George Hepplewhite gentleman’s social table, Robert Young, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, Salvo Fair, Art & Antiques Fairs of Europe

Masterpiece Fair, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, English Antiques, TEFAF, Antiques News & Fairs, Siegelson, Apter-Fredericks LTD, George Hepplewhite gentleman’s social table, Robert Young, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, Salvo Fair, Art & Antiques Fairs of Europe

After meandering the antique filled aisles and stopping by the bar for a glass of champagne to sip while we shopped, we spotted one of our favorite pieces at the fair. It was a George Hepplewhite gentleman’s social table from Apter-Fredericks LTD. This rare table, one of only two known to exist, was made for social drinking. Drinking in the 18th century was prevalent at all levels of society and was so socially acceptable that by the end of the century specialized furniture was being made especially for drinking. With space for multiple champagne bottles and glasses, it’s perfect for a Diva!

Masterpiece Fair, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, English Antiques, TEFAF, Antiques News & Fairs, Siegelson, Apter-Fredericks LTD, George Hepplewhite gentleman’s social table, Robert Young, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, Salvo Fair, Art & Antiques Fairs of Europe

Speaking of tables, we also came upon a stunning center table with a specimen marble top from Tomasso Brothers Fine Art. The overall booth was stunning and really drew us in, but this special table – complete with its original documents – is a stand out piece.

Masterpiece Fair, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, English Antiques, TEFAF, Antiques News & Fairs, Siegelson, Apter-Fredericks LTD, George Hepplewhite gentleman’s social table, Robert Young, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, Salvo Fair, Art & Antiques Fairs of Europe

Masterpiece Fair, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, English Antiques, TEFAF, Antiques News & Fairs, Siegelson, Apter-Fredericks LTD, George Hepplewhite gentleman’s social table, Robert Young, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, Salvo Fair, Art & Antiques Fairs of Europe

It was also fantastic to have a quick chat with Robert Young in his booth. Robert is one of the founders of Masterpiece – and is a leading folk art dealer in the UK.  What I loved about his booth – and inventory in general – is that it was entirely different from anyone else’s at the fair. Surrounded by dealers offering polished furniture and glitzy jewels, Robert’s inventory celebrated the unpretentious creations of artisans, adding a creative depth to the overall feel of the fair.   Because the fair is not segregated, it makes for an exciting experience to shop the fair – Russian jewels are in stalls next to English Folk Art opposite a stall filled with Neo-Classical busts.  Each turn of the neck gives an experience to another land, another time.

Masterpiece Fair, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, English Antiques, TEFAF, Antiques News & Fairs, Siegelson, Apter-Fredericks LTD, George Hepplewhite gentleman’s social table, Robert Young, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, Salvo Fair, Art & Antiques Fairs of Europe

All in all, the fair was a glamorous experience with museum quality pieces at every corner—net, net, Masterpiece is Diva-Worthy and if it’s not already on your social calendar consider it a Must Go on the London Antiques Scene!  My only regret (beyond not getting to try on those darn pearls from Eugenie) was that I wish we could have stayed longer, but a Diva’s work is never done. We had to jet off to the hotel to get some sleep as the following day we traveled to the country to attend Salvo Fair, but more on that later! Stay tuned to the blog to hear about the rest of our week-long journey through antiques fairs of the UK!

The Antiques Diva®   

Entrepreneur Blog – An American Setting Up a Business in Europe

Dear Diva Readers,

As an American who owns a business overseas, I am always asked how I did it. As with any business venture, setting up a company – whether at home domestically or abroad in a foreign country – is a process. It can seem overwhelming. I always knew I wanted to live in Europe, and I think a lot of people have the dream of living an international life, but where do you start? I’ve heard so many women say they want to move to Paris and open a business, but with legal details, visas, and currency exchange rates, it can be tricky to navigate the international waters.

One thing I’ve been able to do since I first moved to Europe is find the right people. In fact, the concept of my business is actually based upon the fact that I have best little black book of antiques addresses in the whole of Europe.  My best piece of advice for anyone wanting to start a global business is to hire experts to help!   Recognize what you know and what you don’t know. I had plenty of creative ideas, but I had no clue how to create a legitimate company in a foreign country.  For legal matters, find an attorney who operates in the country you want to do business in to help you register the business. Have that attorney help with your insurances and confirm that you have all the appropriate licenses, etc.  Find a good accountant in the country you want to move to and set up business in as well. They’ll walk you through the process and explain VAT (value added tax) as well as how to hire employees.  You don’t just need an accountant in the country you’re moving to…. you also need an accountant in the country you’re moving from – the two of them will work together to make sure they’ve got your back when it comes to global taxes.  Taxes are handled differently in various parts of the world and knowing what you’re getting into from the beginning is extremely important. When starting a business, start on the right foot by hiring the right people who can support you.

Tips on being an Entrepreneur, Setting up a business in Europe, Women in Business, Women Entrepreneurs, Expatica, Crave Guide, WIN, Women in International Networking, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva

Getting involved in the local community has also been a key component for my success. A lot of cities have international organizations like the IWC (International Womens Clubs), AWC (American Women Clubs) and Internations (an organization for both men & women).  Even if your goal is to make friends with locals while living abroad, joining these organizations when first moving to a country is key.  Here you can network to find the right people to help with your business.  Websites such as Expatica are also great resources. In making both business contacts as well as in making personal relationships, I want to connect with other like-minded people to bounce ideas off of and stay connected. These groups are an ideal place to do just that. See if the city you’re starting a business in has a Crave Guide which lists the top 100 Women Entrepreneurs locally – it’s a brilliant place to start networking! They hold quarterly meetings to get together and if you can attend these types of events, you’ll be placing yourself in front of the right people. I’ve also sought out the WIN (Women in International Networking) organizations. Finding and meeting these people means you have people to whom you can ask questions. When you have stumbling blocks, this network of people has already been in your shoes and can help navigate though the sometimes murky waters of starting a global company.

The reality is that most of my learning has been step by step. However gathering as much information as you can and then surrounding yourself with the right people to help guide you are two very important elements of succeeding when it comes to operating a business in a foreign country.

Don’t let fear hold you back! Just do it!

The Antiques Diva®   

Quintessence and Stylish Shopping By Susanna Salk Take an Antiques Diva Tour

Dear Diva Readers,

As an antiques & design blogger myself I’m often asked what design blogs I read… and one of my favorite is Stacey Bewkes’ Quintessence Blog.  From art and architecture, interiors and design, fashion and jewelry to books and movies, food and wine, travel and more, Quintessence has become a trusted source for well-researched, original content in the online world.  I love that she takes us behind the scenes to some of the world’s most gorgeous properties and gives us a peek into some of the very best shops all over the globe.  We get to tag along as she attends exclusive events, meets design icons and tastemakers and connects the dots to bring you the story behind the style.  In addition to blogging, Stacey was revolutionary in the blogosphere when she teamed up with Susanna Salk to produce and edit one of the best design video series.

Stacey Bewkes, Quintessence, Susanna Salk, Stylish Shopping, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Antiques Fair, Sourcing Antiques in Italy, Toma Clark Haines,

Imagine my excitement when these two dynamic women confirmed that they wanted to take an Antiques Diva Tour of Mercanteinfiera with me! I couldn’t wait to get these ladies to Italy and show them the ropes of navigating Italy’s largest antiques fair which takes place twice a year in Parma. With over one thousand vendors and several buildings, it can be tricky to weave your way through the thousands of international shoppers – but don’t worry, we know the fair and its vendors like the back of our hand!

Stacey Bewkes, Quintessence, Susanna Salk, Stylish Shopping, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Antiques Fair, Sourcing Antiques in Italy, Toma Clark Haines,

Stacey Bewkes, Quintessence, Susanna Salk, Stylish Shopping, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Antiques Fair, Sourcing Antiques in Italy, Toma Clark Haines,

Stacey Bewkes, Quintessence, Susanna Salk, Stylish Shopping, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Antiques Fair, Sourcing Antiques in Italy, Toma Clark Haines,

Once we started shopping, I could see why these two women are known as international tastemakers. Their eyes are trained and I watched as they gravitated toward piece after gorgeous piece! Some of their favorite finds were a large mirror, a stately lion statue, a rustic armoire, architectural ornaments, and a pair of oversized urns. They also pointed out that attending fairs like Mercanteinfiera is a great way to get styling ideas as the exhibitors create interesting displays. I couldn’t agree more!

Stacey Bewkes, Quintessence, Susanna Salk, Stylish Shopping, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Antiques Fair, Sourcing Antiques in Italy, Toma Clark Haines,

Stacey Bewkes, Quintessence, Susanna Salk, Stylish Shopping, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Antiques Fair, Sourcing Antiques in Italy, Toma Clark Haines,

In a blog they wrote about their Antiques Diva experience, they write, “In our two days at the Parma antiques fair, we effortlessly wove through the multiple massive buildings, following Toma and Susan (our charming and knowledgeable Italian Diva) to meet special friends and dealers, from Toma’s favorite purveyor of Murano glass to the creative couple from Florence who fashion chic new treasures by blending antiques with modern artistry,to her dealer friend Maurizio from Sicily (now located in Florence).”

Stacey Bewkes, Quintessence, Susanna Salk, Stylish Shopping, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Antiques Fair, Sourcing Antiques in Italy, Toma Clark Haines,

Read the entire blog and watch the fun video they shot in the video series Stylish Shopping with Susanna Salk.

Thanks ladies for coming over and living La Dolce Diva for a few days! We certainly had a blast giving you just a glimpse of what we do on a daily basis all across Europe. When you’re ready for round two, why don’t we hit Les Puces in Paris… or The Decorative Fair at Battersea in London… or hop in the car and let us introduce you to our secret sources in the Belgian countryside… So many options, so little time!

Stacey Bewkes, Quintessence, Susanna Salk, Stylish Shopping, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Antiques Fair, Sourcing Antiques in Italy, Toma Clark Haines,

Ciao,

The Antiques Diva® 

My Top 10 Advice on Becoming a Woman Entrepreneur

Dear Diva Readers,

No matter where I am in the world, I constantly have people coming up to me asking the same question… “How do you do it?!”  They wonder not only how I juggle my slightly insane international travel schedule which has me traveling each month in multiple countries (if not multiple continents); but also how I have rapidly grown my company from being a one-woman brand into a full-on business with nearly 20 employees scattered over 10 countries.

Over the last several years my role within in my company has shifted. In addition to leading antique buying tours and offering personal shopping services, I now manage a team of locally-based “ Diva Guides” who lead tours for me across Europe.  I’m managing a global company that has HR and Accounting demands as well as Marketing needs with a full-on PR machine behind it.   These last several years my role has also shifted to encompass speaking at conferences and design markets – I love sharing my knowledge of European antiques, teaching clients – whether on tour or in one of my seminars – how to source antiques, explaining what to buy and where to buy it and then answering the all important question…. how to get it home.  But here lately the biggest question my clients and attendees of my lectures have asked is for my advice as a woman entrepreneur….  “How do I start my own company? develop my brand? take my business to the next level?  What words of advice – or encouragement – do you have for me  in growing my business/brand?”  They also want to know about that about that all important question of maintaining a work/life balance.  How I organize my time, my to do lists, my company and my life.  I’m passionate about the subject and thus this genre of questions have taken on a life of their own and I’ve decided to announce a new blog series I’ll be posting the first week of each month “On Being a Woman Entrepreneur”.

Advice #1
My first bit of advice I give anyone who asks me about growing their business is to Be Adaptable.  Be Open to Change. Look at what the market is demanding and think outside the box regarding what you and your unique service can be to meet those needs.  Many of my loyal blog readers know my story. I started my blog on antiquing in Europe with an intent to write a couple of books.  What I got in return – an international company operating in 10 countries with 20 employees –  was a million times bigger than my original dream.

Top 10 Lists, Women Entrepreneurs, Career advice for starting a business, Building your Brand, From Blog to Business, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Secret to Success

Advice #2
Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.  Don’t be so focused on your own goals that you miss an opportunity when serendipity slaps you over the head.   When the recession hit in 2008 and the publishing industry dried up, telling me my luxury-based travel books wouldn’t sell, I didn’t give up my dream of being “The Antiques Diva”.

Top 10 Lists, Women Entrepreneurs, Career advice for starting a business, Building your Brand, From Blog to Business, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Secret to Success

Advice #3
Never Give Up.  I continued working on my blog to establish a platform that would establish me as an expert in my industry.  As they say when one door closes, another one opens. Readers of my blog started emailing me asking if I would take them on tour. I said Yes.

Top 10 Lists, Women Entrepreneurs, Career advice for starting a business, Building your Brand, From Blog to Business, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Secret to Success

Advice #4
When opportunity strikes – Say Yes.  For me, one “Yes” turned into another and then another and the rest is history – but I have a confession… I was tempted to let self-doubt stand in the way.

Top 10 Lists, Women Entrepreneurs, Career advice for starting a business, Building your Brand, From Blog to Business, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Secret to Success

Advice #5
No matter how much you know – you will never know enough.    There will always be reasons to doubt yourself.  When readers first started emailing me asking to take tours – I could have said “I’m not an expert yet”, “I don’t know enough” or “I need more time.”  And in fact – I said all these things to myself. And then I threw myself off a cliff.  Okay, not literally. Figuratively. I said Yes in spite of my self-doubt and that first Yes changed my life. It can be so easy to get caught up in the small details, but remember:  your objective is to grow steadily, not start out perfectly.

Advice # 6
When opportunity strikes do not be afraid to take a chance.  Don’t over-think your decision.  If you wait to start your business until you know everything there is to know about your industry, you are never going to start your business

Advice #7
Screw the business plan.  Yep. This is one piece of business advice no one will tell you.  Do not wait until you’ve got the perfect business plan in place to start your business.  Yes, you DO need a business plan. But it doesn’t have to be perfect.  A good business plan will evolve over time. My business changes, grows and adapts nearly every month – and if you want to know the secret to our success as a company – go back and see Advice #1 – Be Adaptable.  But before you can adapt… you’ve got to get started first.  And from my experience the biggest obstacle people have in starting their own business is they actually never start it! They spend too much time thinking about starting a business and not actually doing it.

Top 10 Lists, Women Entrepreneurs, Career advice for starting a business, Building your Brand, From Blog to Business, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Secret to Success

Advice #8
Just Do It.  The best piece of advice I can offer comes from the popular Nike slogan – Just Do It!  The biggest thing that holds people back from achieving their goals the fact that they just don’t do what they say they want to do.  It seems simple, but so often we think we have to be perfect or we have to have a fail-proof plan before we can even begin to take steps toward our dreams.  That simply isn’t the case. You have to start somewhere and even if you don’t have all the knowledge at the beginning, you will learn by experience along the way.

Advice #9
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  You will make mistakes.  Accept them. Learn from them. Apologize if you screw up along the way and move on.  The only person who never makes mistakes is someone who never takes chances.

Advice #10
Most goals are reached by taking one step at a time. When people ask “What’s the secret to my success…” the answer is simple… for the last 7 years since starting my company I have continued to put one foot in front of the other.  Every single day I have walked steadfastly in the direction of my goal.  I’ve taken detours along the way,  I’ve even fallen down a few times.  And I changed the destination, making my goal bigger – and my destination further away – than I ever intended when I started out.  But I have never once taken my eyes off my goal – my destination. Between you and me,  I’m still a long way from reaching my destination – but I can see the destination on the horizon… and in the meantime, life’s a journey….

As I close I leave you with one last bonus bit of advice – consider this the extra donut in the baker’s dozen – Start now, Right Where You Are, And Do One Thing To Achieve Your Goal.  And then Do It Again. And Do It Again.  And Just Keep Doing It.

Until next time, may all your dreams come true.

Top 10 Lists, Women Entrepreneurs, Career advice for starting a business, Building your Brand, From Blog to Business, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Secret to Success

The Antiques Diva®   

Making Antiques Modern with Windsor Smith

Dear Diva Readers,

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Antiques make a modern setting even better! My own home in Berlin is a very modern loft space, clean and contemporary with a minimalist edge, and yet almost everything in it is antique or vintage!  Bring on the Rococo Baby! The outcome is (if I do say so myself!) super stylish and highly functional for the way we live. When I came across interior designer Windsor Smith’s book “Homefront: Design for Modern Living,” I knew she was a soul sister, a kindred spirit! Reading in her intro about her travels overseas, shopping the same paths I shop from Provence down to Spain and back up to Paris, I knew we’d been educated by the same École Française. 

Decorating Tips, Mixing Modern with Antiques, Windsor Smith, Homefront: Design for Modern Living, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva

Decorating Tips, Mixing Modern with Antiques, Windsor Smith, Homefront: Design for Modern Living, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva

One only has to flip through a few pages of this book to see that Windsor (by the way, doesn’t she have a great name?) knows how to create a comfortable room that’s also hip, relevant and achingly stylish. And if you dissect the details—which is something I think all of us design-lovers do—you will see that in almost every room she’s decorated, she’s used vintage or antique pieces. Imagine that—design for modern living—using antiques! She even says, “It’s important for every space to have a piece with a provenance, even a breakfast room needs to have some history in it.” Every home I’ve ever had has had an antique in the loo for this exact reason – this lady is speaking my language!

Decorating Tips, Mixing Modern with Antiques, Windsor Smith, Homefront: Design for Modern Living, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva

What I love about Windsor’s style is that she’s not afraid to be playful.  She takes serious pieces and makes them approachable, friendly.   In fact, one of the rooms in her book is painted a moody black along with black flooring and a crisp white fireplace—and a vibrant blue ping-pong table in the center of the room! How fun is that?! But perhaps what really strikes me is her ability to combine modern style with antique pieces. For instance she’s paired antique dining chairs with a country table in a beautiful modern kitchen. This juxtaposition works beautifully as it really does reflect the way we live today—mixing pieces from all time periods.

Decorating Tips, Mixing Modern with Antiques, Windsor Smith, Homefront: Design for Modern Living, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva

Sometimes antiques conjure up feelings of formality and rigidness. You think of your mother saying, “Don’t touch that! Use a coaster! Take your shoes off!” But the reality is that antique pieces have been built with quality materials and were made to be durable. They’ve stood the test of time this long, which means they are ideal for people who actually want to LIVE in their homes! Windsor’s interiors illustrate this point perfectly. Whether it’s an 18th century commode she’s used in an entryway or a pair of mid century chairs in a living room, none of her spaces feel stuffy, overly formal or unapproachable.

Decorating Tips, Mixing Modern with Antiques, Windsor Smith, Homefront: Design for Modern Living, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva

Decorating Tips, Mixing Modern with Antiques, Windsor Smith, Homefront: Design for Modern Living, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva

She breaks down her process into five chapters, one of which is all about mixing the past and present. She says. “Giving the old a new perspective is critical to good design, but so is imparting a sense of history to the new. If I’m in a room where everything is raw, featureless, and brand new, I feel either uncomfortable or disappointed, as if I’ve arrived too late to the party. I want a story, to be surrounded by things that hold a vibration and note of history.” I couldn’t agree more! If you haven’t already bought your copy of “Homefront” honey don’t delay.  Order that book right now.  It’s getting premier placement front and center on my coffee table!   With 250 pages of inspiring photos and informative text, you certainly won’t be disappointed!

Decorating Tips, Mixing Modern with Antiques, Windsor Smith, Homefront: Design for Modern Living, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva

Bravo Windsor! And please tell me our paths will cross in Paris and we can become best friends…. would love to know you darling.

The Antiques Diva®  

AD&Co Favorite Finds at Antique & Design Center of High Point – Part 1

Dear Diva Readers,

Twice a year I cross the pond and head to High Point Furniture Market where each season Spring & Fall I offer a slew of events Stateside (No Passport Required) at the Antique & Design Center of High Point.  This year – in addition to speaking on a panel on The Secret Life of Antiques – I was delighted to lead a special tour of the market, pointing out new dealers, old favorites and highlighting some of my Favorite Finds at the fair!  With a crew of 40+ shoppers in tow we had an enthusiastic  group eager to learn how to shop – Antiques Diva Style!

Without further ado, here are my top finds at this Spring 2015 High Point Market … Alas there were so many goodies to be found this blog post can only fit Part 1…stay tuned for Part 2 on Friday!

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Perhaps my favorite piece in the whole of the fair was this repurposed 18th C Italian Alter from B. Kelley Antiques – who displayed for the first time ever at this fair.  Sharing a booth space with Old & The Proud (who has some great ironstone) this piece is originally from a church in Italy. In excellent condition – the piece is married from 2 pieces – the top entirely original patina while the bottom had been made from old wood with additional 18th C Italian fragments added to complete the piece.  I can picture this in an entry way, a living room, even a dining room – regardless of which room of the house it ends up in it would be an ideal statement piece in any home.

High Point Furniture Market, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Design Trends, Antique & Design Center, Antiques Tours, High Point Market,

Next up we’re doing a total flip flop on style – flashing forward a couple of hundred years!  This Walter Von Nessen swing-arm lamp from the 1930’s – available at Metropolitan Interiors – caught my eye because it was the very first prototype of this type of lamp.  While today swing arm lamps are incredibly well known it was innovation at its finest back in the day!

High Point Furniture Market, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Design Trends, Antique & Design Center, Antiques Tours, High Point Market,

A step into Anne’s booth Antiques on Holiday was just that… a vacation for the eye, filled with gorgeous one-of-a-kind pieces.  I was downright smitten with this French globe from the late 1800’s. I loved the scale – oversized with a gorgeous color scheme – I felt like the whole world, er, make that Le Monde (all the writing was in French) was at my finger tips!

High Point Furniture Market, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Design Trends, Antique & Design Center, Antiques Tours, High Point Market,

There was definitely a trend towards religious pieces at The Antiques & Design Center of High Point – most of which have a Catholic origin. Perhaps one of the most unusual finds at #ADCHP was a 17th century cabinet from Arcanum Antiques & Interiors.  Of Jewish origin, probably from Eastern Europe, it is believed to be a Torah Cabinet— used for transporting the Torah and all of its accoutrement. It’s got handles and comes apart in various pieces for easy transport.

High Point Furniture Market, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Design Trends, Antique & Design Center, Antiques Tours, High Point Market,

Another of my long-term favorite vendors at the fair is Tuesday on the Boulevard.  This vendor sells exclusively at High Point – so if you want to shop their quirky finds – which almost ALWAYS SELL OUT – you need to buy from them the Antique & Design Center of High Point.  One of my favorite items in their stall this year is a fun and happy mid-century painting in the style of Miro.  The vendor found this painting while cleaning out the contents of a chi-chi Manhattan apartment.  Now… this painting is a great example of mixing modern with antique. It would be the perfect foil for a serious antique chest of drawers in a dark wood!  I’m imagining it against an Empire commode.

High Point Furniture Market, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Design Trends, Antique & Design Center, Antiques Tours, High Point Market,

I can not mention my favorite vendors at the Antique and Design Center of  High Point Market with out giving a great big Shout Out to Nancy PriceI love her and her entire team…. they are as beautiful as their inventory!   Choosing only 1 piece to highlight in her stall was next to impossible… but I finally settled on this Italian Altar Piece with candle holders dated circa 1750 (shown at the bottom of this photo).   Now… this piece is particularly special… most of our trade clients have us sign a confidentiality agreement when we do sourcing for them but Nancy was happy to tell her clients that she’d sourced this piece (as well as several others) with us in Europe though our Buying Services!  It’s so fun to see pieces from one of our favorite vendors across the pond make their way to America with one of our favorite vendors stateside!

High Point Furniture Market, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Design Trends, Antique & Design Center, Antiques Tours, High Point Market,

Speaking of fun… the guys at BoxRoad.net are so much fun—and so is their inventory. The team comprised of Michel, Stacey and Donny has a great eye with an electric mix of inventory.  These aren’t the people who follow the trends… they set them.  While numerous pieces in their stall caught my attention from paper mache molds, to the “instant collections” of mirrors to Lucite barstools and industrial tables perhaps the most quirky of the inventory in their stall was this horn chair from Texas.

High Point Furniture Market, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Design Trends, Antique & Design Center, Antiques Tours, High Point Market,

Now last but not least, before I bid you adieu in PART 1 OF MY HIGH POINT ROUND UP,  let’s talk about one more stunning piece…this vintage 1920’s Italian backdrop.  Vendor Antoinette of A. Vincent Antiques and Interiors bought this from a dealer’s personal collection and she was only allowed to buy the piece if she promised to make sure it ended up in a good home.  Hmmm…..  I give my antiques the best attention, love and care… I would have bought this one myself but alas….  I was too late! It sold to one of the other vendors at High Point Market within seconds of market opening!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our High Point Favorite Finds!

The Antiques Diva®

First Impressions Matter – Decorating the Foyer

Dear Diva Readers,

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

We’ve all heard that saying and it’s been around for a reason—it’s true! We all make snap judgements—good or bad— based on first impressions. We see with our eyes, feel with our touch, smell with our noses, hear with our ears—basically we use our 5 senses to make a judgment whenever we encounter something for the first time. And the reality is that first impressions DO MATTER-especially when it comes to the home. Each time you open your door to a friend, neighbor, colleague, even yourself, the first impression should be one of comfort and it should reflect your tastes and personality.

Antiques Diva Decorating Tips, Decorating the Foyer, Toma Clark Haines, Berlin Apartments,

The foyer is the ideal place to create a vignette and atmosphere that shows off your style. This is where you can BE DRAMATIC!!! BE BOLD! SPLASH IT WITH COLOR and SET THE TONE TO YOUR HOME!  In my own home, my entry way is small leading towards a stairwell… but a small space doesn’t mean you can’t be big on style. I put in a Spanish secretaire that’s older than America (with original paint) and painted the space (even the ceiling) a moody black – hung some dramatic art and accessories… et voila, when people enter my home they know they are entering an experience.

Antiques Diva Decorating Tips, Decorating the Foyer, Toma Clark Haines, Berlin Apartments,

Whether your entry way is big or small, once anyone crosses your threshold, they should be welcomed into your world.

First things first— get a nice table to set things upon like keys, purses, gloves, etc. This can be a gorgeous antique console table or if your space allows, a statement center table which can also hold a beautiful bouquet of flowers that smell delightful—see we’re already involving the senses!

Speaking of the senses, don’t forget about “touch.” There should be at least a chair or bench at the ready for guests who want to remove their shoes. This doesn’t necessarily have to be something plush or super comfortable, as it isn’t an area of the house where anyone spends much time. Rather, this piece should be a place to perch for a moment, which means it can be more decorative.

Antiques Diva Decorating Tips, Decorating the Foyer, Toma Clark Haines, Berlin Apartments,

Anything that resembles clutter should be hidden in the foyer. If you have a closet, outfit it with shelves or baskets to hide things like hats, gloves, coats, shoes, umbrellas, and other necessities. If you don’t have a closet, consider using hooks on the wall or a coat rack, along with beautiful baskets (perhaps antique) to store things in.

Lighting is also important – if ceiling height allows – go for a chandelier baby!  Or add a couple of buffet lamps to your console table or even a few candle holders for ambiance.

A mirror is the ideal piece for an entryway as it allows you to “check yourself out” before leaving the house and also gives guests an opportunity to tidy their hair when arriving on a windy day. Not to mention, mirrors reflect light and add sparkle to any space.

Antiques Diva Home Netherlands, Toma Clark Haines Apartment

Of course, a rug is necessary especially in the winter months when snow and dirt are dragged into the house. Opt for something that’s durable and easy to clean. Antique rugs are perfect for foyers as they were made to withstand lots of use and often incorporate beautiful colors and classic patterns.

However you choose to decorate your foyer, keep in mind that it must be functional and beautiful. A place to wipe feet, a spot to sit down and remove shoes, an area to store coats and other accessories, a mirror to check your appearance, and a table to sit things down are all necessary pieces to the puzzle that will create a perfect entrance to your home—your world!

Happy decorating,

The Antiques Diva® 

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