Wednesday, September 16, 2009

12 Years Ago I Had a Dream - Yesterday It Came True

salon de provence antiques
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 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.
ghost furniture
In 2006 we shut the ad agency and sold 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.
ghost furniture sale
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.
hitting me in the face
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.
merci loaded car
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?
hexham abbey
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.
ghost furniture at antiques fair
We put Furniture in one car and props and Little Leftovers in the other.
ghost furniture at antiques fair
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.
ghost furniture at antiques fair
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.
durham cathedral
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.
stacked vintage chairs
BUT - next time I will take a trolley and
high heels
not wear high heels.


Marion Pannekoek said...

What a lovely story, full of humor too!

Elise said...

Hello - loved this post. In fact, I love your whole blog. Thanks so much for sharing it & best wishes to you ....

Top Bird @ Wee Birdy said...

Thank you for taking me on that little journey - look forward to reading at your future adventures! xx

rochambeau said...

Congrats Bella!!
You did it!
SO happy for you!
It is exhausting, yet exciting and put you with the people.
Yes!! to comfy shoes at a show!
Can't wait for the story to unfold!
Have you seen Tara yet??


Jan said...

That's great Di.
Even if you don't sell everything, customer interaction is a major part of whether you have a good day or not.
Most people are pleasant and interesting/interested aren't they ?
Look forward to hearing some of your stories from future events. x

Janet Spiegel said...

Hi! Thankyou so much for the lovely comment on my blog! I have been a fan of your blog forever, so I am thrilled to be added to it.
Best of luck with the dream . looks fun!

corine said...

Di, I adore you and your spirit. You're an inspirations to dreamers everywhere.

Sylvie said...

Congratulations on living a dream Di.
You may not have your finger on the pulse of the music scene(!)but your sales and people skills should serve you well. Best wishes!

Catherine said...

very uplifting, thank you!

Mélanie said...

Congratulations !!! I do the same as you almost all my week end and now sometimes I want to be that woman who is talking about my things and not the one who is selling ...

ParisBreakfasts said...

Happy 12th Anniversaire!



Late as always..

- Suzie - said...

Hi Di,
congratulations ! And good luck with no. 2 !!!
Amazing that you have not come up with this idea earlier.
After all your flea market visits...
It seems so logical.
Selling at the market and online is mutually beneficial !
so logical !
This is the right way !
Looking forward to follow your "new phase"!

Splendid Willow said...

Di, I root for you all the way to the bank! You go girl!!!

Mary Jo from TrustYourStyle said...

I am so happy for you Di! This just seems perfect. You know I just read on Rachel Ashwell's blog that she opened her Santa Monica store back up, she couldn't bear to be without a store. I'm sure there's a learning curve, but you'll be a pro in no time. It's so wonderful and you live in exactly the perfect place to do this. Bravo!


helen morris said...

Had I read this earlier I would have been at Hexham to give moral support. I'm off there now to pick up a charity shop tea set. great and she bought things from you.

Anzu said...

So interesting to read your story, and great that you really what work out what makes you happy and go for it. Good luck with the next one!

paris parfait said...

So thrilled this worked out well for you, Di. After all, you're good at dealing w/ the public, so why wouldn't it? I agree that a combination of the two is a good thing, business-wise (and fun for you). We shall try to sort the travel schedule around your next fair. xo

babelfish said...

Such a wonderful post, this is such a great idea (and you're such a peoples' person anyway). I'm sure you had a great time learning and expanding your mind to fresh avenues (these are such beautiful venues too).