Wednesday, September 16, 2009
12 Years Ago I Had a Dream - Yesterday It Came True
12 years ago we bought our cottage as a weekend retreat. We drove down to the South of France to buy furniture etc for our new acquisition. We stayed in Salon de Provence where there was a gorgeous little market each morning. On that market were 2 delightful women with a stall selling amazing linens and lace. I envied those women, how wonderful to be selling something you love to people who also love it.
I wanted to be a woman at a brocante. OK that's Madonna in the picture but it was the most relevant one I could find.
I worked in advertising and only met irrate clients, each one thought they were a designer, sadly they weren't.
I started wheredidyoubuythat.com in 1999. I thought I was sort of living my dream. I would sell things I loved to people who also loved them. The downside was - I never met my buyers. Oh we talked via the database and received nice comments but it just wasn't the same.
In 2006 we shut the ad agency and sold wheredidyoubuythat.com to Bodie and Fou. Then came Ghost Furniture and yet again I decided to sell on the internet. Does this sound familiar to you? I visited the French brocantes and flea markets buying my materials still envying those who stood on their stalls and sold the things they loved to the people who also loved them.
I announced a half price sale on Ghost Furniture and blogged about my intentions to start new more affordable ranges. Even more stuff to sell to people I would never talk to but this was the move that took me to the next level. It started with a charming lady from Herefordshire who bought a Ghost Chair from me. I talked to her over the phone to arrange delivery and she told me it was for the dressing room of her new barn conversion and she wanted to decorate the whole room around that one chair, needless to say I was flattered. Had I not rung her I would never have known.
Suddenly a light came on and something slapped me right in the face. How about taking Ghost Furniture and my Little Leftovers out to the public via antiques fairs? I looked into it and it was affordable and seemed easy enough to do.
Just load up the cars. My lovely friend and neighbour Trish offered to do the shows with me. Prior to that I had to attach price tags to everything but that wasn't a problem. Of course we took Harvey to carry the heavy stuff, I mean you don't have a dog and bark yourself do you?
I chose Hexham as the first venue, a fabulous Market town about half an hour's drive from our home. I visit the fair most months but had never thought to be part of it.
We put Furniture in one car and props and Little Leftovers in the other.
No fool me, I had done a dummy run on our dining room table (extended) so we knew just where to put everything. The Framed Display at the back here is 2 old wine boxes that we keep our vegetables in filled with moss and vintage frame hooked onto the front. Even though I say it myself it looked amazing.
People touched and appreciated the work that goes into the pieces I create. Bums sat on my seats which absolutely thrilled me, people turned things around and even got out magnifying glasses.
Customers came and bought or looked and commented. It was like music to my ears. I listened in on people's conversations about my designs, I laughed at the elderly customers who just didn't get it and delighted at the appreciative people did get it but most importantly I learned so much and I want to learn and of course sell more direct to the public. I know the internet is a wonderful thing, I mean I wouldn't be communicating with you now if it weren't for it but I want both - face to face and cyberspace.
The other sellers were a mixed bunch - some high end stuff, some shabby chic, some root around the boxes and some fabulous vintage clothes (I kept my purse tight shut). The sellers were helpful and informative I came away with some great advice and you are never to old to learn.
So my next move is to be a seller at Durham Antiques Fair on 11th October and who knows where Ghost Furniture will go after that. The main thing is my dream came true - I am now the woman at the brocante selling the things she loves to people who also love them.
BUT - next time I will take a trolley and
not wear high heels.