I've been chatting to some more industry professionals about the antiques trade. I have been finding out how they got into the trade, their favourite finds and their biggest regrets, and there are also a few words of advice for anyone thinking of getting into the trade.
These little interviews will come out over the course of the next couple of months, so remember to follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter (or even better, all three!), to be notified of my new posts.
This week I spoke with super talented Natasha Francis of London based 'The Urban Vintage Affair'. Some of you may also recognise her from new BBC1 antiques show, 'The Bidding Room'.
Natasha has approached the trade in a fresh new way. She's on a mission to inspire a younger generation to shop old over new and to prove that antiques can still work within an urban modern lifestyle.
So, without further ado, here's Natasha...
Q. How did you get into the antiques and vintage trade?
At a young age I was already interested in the vintage delights in my nana's house and found second hand stores and car boot sales fascinating. I began collecting random items from the age of 6 or 7. At the start of my brand's journey in 2015, I studied hard on business, marketing and antiques courses. I attended many eye opening and life changing seminars and networking groups. And I spent far too much time boring my friends whilst I rummaged through auction houses and antique fairs.
Even with a full time job in Fashion, I managed to research my market and product mix, and attended national and international trade fairs, markets and events. I also found it useful to join lots of groups and speak to more professionals in the field of antiques. Determined to not just be an e-tail store, but a brand to give in-depth information and creative inspiration into the world of antiques.
Q. What is your current genre or speciality?
My brand offers a large mix of products with specially unique product categories. It’s for anyone who is creative and open minded, from modern creatives, serious collectors, coffee shop owners or designers and especially, first-time buyers / newbies to the world of vintage and antiques. I am on a mission to inspire a younger generation into the world of handmade and craftsmanship because I want to bring more awareness to the accessibility of antiques for everyday use. I spent many years feeling intimidated by posh antique fairs and thinking that this world was not for me. I want to eliminate that fear and invite all walks of life, and show that antiques are not for posh, rich, middle class people. Anybody can own, use and invest in them. Buying an antique doesn't mean it has to sit on a mantelpiece gathering dust. They can be integrated into your home and your urban modern lifestyle. Thus, reinforcing my tag line, ‘Look At Antiques Differently’.
Q. Who or what has been the main influence on your style?
Contemporary fashion stores with antique fixtures, contesting modern design and tradition. Antique inspiration still comes from the contrast of high-end luxury fairs, like Lapada and Bada, to the outdoor countryside markets in the UK and Europe. The adaptability between both worlds keeps my brand grounded.
Since lockdown I have been part of integral group, VVF (Virtual Vintage Fair), and my style has been influenced more into vintage and vintage decor trends. This has allowed me to experiment with more rustic unpolished styles, from 1920 to 1940s. Mixing trends and materials within the collection, without old fashion prejudice values. A solid silver salt cellar works just as well as a silver plate one.
Q. What has been your favourite find?
Definitely a piece bought in The Bidding Room. An Original Vintage Archimedes Apple Fraction Set. A unique and novel vintage maths tool, which is an alternative to the blackboard and apparatus. Hugo Jung developed an innovative way that teachers could illustrate fractions in schools. A remarkable set which dates from the 1920’s and which don’t easily come on the buyers market.
Q. Has there been a particular item that you missed out on and wish you had won in 'The Bidding Room'?
Nothing I can think of, I tend to get the things I 'really' want. There was one item that James and I were bidding against and we both knew we had gone well over the trade value, but kept going just because we liked it. He won that but I’m ok with it as he had a customer in mind at the time which is a huge motivation when bidding.
Q. Do you have any advice for someone looking to get into the antiques and vintage trade?
I have a few pieces of advice I can offer someone new getting into the trade.
1. Buy good quality pieces, don't let price take over your decisions, quality will always sell.
2. Help your audience with inspiring images or copy what they do with the item. People need a reason to purchase antiques as we now live in times where useless consumerism is frowned upon as being unsustainable. We have enough stuff. Inspire!
3. Speak to dealers of all levels when researching and shopping. Most have a story to tell and we all love to speak about our products, so take the opportunity to have a conversation and learn more.
Well, that's it for this week folks! I hope you enjoyed my catch up with Natasha. Remember to check out her very cool brand - www.theurbanvintageaffair.com - and give her a follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for news and updates on all that's Natasha! And tune into the new series of The Bidding Room on BBC1 to see what she buys!
Remember to leave us a comment below to let us know about your own antique stories, finds, loves and advice!
So, until next week, stay safe, keep buying those antiques and keep spreading that Source Vintage Love!
Owner Source Vintage