When you start out in the trade, as I did some twelve years ago, I started my business in order to walk away from a really difficult time...Initially opening up a shop, full of what I thought would sell. How wrong was I? Definitely, but it served as a grounding in customer service, and talking to people about what they really wanted. So my first experience was gauging what the market wanted and the big question: Could I supply it?
I then stepped onto the fairs' circuit, with some trepidation, and again I did not take any money. A number of things were examined and more conversations were had. When talking things over with my partner Andy, I questioned what I was doing wrong. He said, "Nothing." I was bamboozled. So I started talking to other traders, and they all intimated it had been a long haul. SO the first lesson was it is not an easy trade to start, but I loved the hustle and bustle of trade fairs, and thought it was definitely worth pursuing.
The next thing that I was made aware of was that I needed to be able to take debit and or credit cards, as this was what was usually offered. So I signed up with Worldpay, now eleven years ago.
I then started to assess what it was that continually drew me to the specialisms I now promote: Ruskin, fine antique silver, Austrian and Scandinavian enamels, Georgian glass, and estate jewellery, as well as the recent addition of bespoke pieces in precious metals and stones by my now husband Andy Elliot. It may be trite to list what drew me to them, (all my friends know I love a good list) but it is to do with the beauty, craftsmanship, and the history. Ruskin was head of the School of Art in Birmingham, worked with William Morris, was inspired by Chinese wood-fired pottery which was high fired. He developed his own glazes, along with his son and the factory closed in 1934. During this time he and his son produced some internationally acclaimed pieces, winning prestigious awards and accolades. So, I would argue that a piece of Ruskin is compelling, of exquisite craftsmanship, glazed deliciously and each item is unique. I am now understanding what drives me. It is not only a love of beautiful things, it is the connection they bring to our social and industrial history, the exemplary craftsmanship, the research to know, where they sit in time and the passion they engender.
This is like no other trade or profession and I confess I am hooked.