Would you like to know how to purchase antiques in Europe? Read on…..While traipsing through Milan during our Blog Tour with Modenus, we caught up with Toma Clark Haines, founder of The Antiques Diva & Co.
Kandrac & Kole: What is The Antiques Diva® & Co?
Toma: The Antiques Diva® & Co http://antiquesdiva.com/ is Europe’s largest antiques touring and buying services company. We offer customized private buying tours in France, England, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Italy. By the end of 2014 we’ll be Portugal, Switzerland and Scotland as well!
For times when clients don’t have time to come overseas to source antiques in person, we also offer buying services to shop on your behalf!
Our antique buying service custom plans tours according to our clients style, budget and time frame – we translate, negotiate and liaise with a shipper to help send antiques from the source in Europe to our clients home.
Kandrac & Kole: How did The Antiques Diva® & Co get started?
Toma: It began as a blog http://antiquesdiva.com/blog! In 2008 I began writing a blog about antiquing in Europe and readers began emailing me asking if I would take them on tour. Et voila! A business was born! However what started as just me taking clients on tour has grown by leaps and bounds. We now have 18 employees across Europe!
Kandrac & Kole: What kind of people hire you to “take them shopping”?
Toma: We work with both tourists and the trade – antique dealers and interior designers. 75% of our business is trade driven – in fact we stock a lot of antique stores in America so it’s possible you’ve bought antiques that have passed through our hands and never even known it!
Designers on a recent Special VIP Tour of Mercanteinfiera in Parma Italy – From left to right: Jon Call , Tobi Fairley, Denise McGaha, Toma Clark Haines and Mark Cutler – Stay tuned, you’ll be reading about these designer’s tour in an upcoming magazine article!
Kandrac & Kole: Can you tell us some trade client names?
Toma: In fact, our clients usually ask us to sign a confidentiality agreement! Our job is to be the designer and dealers little secret. We help behind the scenes sourcing antiques in Europe on our clients behalf so they can be the rock star! We’re the backup singers! Our job is to keep their secret sources safe with us! We are however always happy to give references upon request for serious trade inquires.
Kandrac & Kole: What is the most unique purchase you’ve made and where was it?
Toma: One of the things I love about my job is there is no average client. All my clients have special needs and special requests. One day we’re sourcing French fauteuil’s in Provence another it’s vintage Chanel in Paris, the next we’re doing architectural salvage or garden antiques in Italy and Belgium. And would you believe that you can often find French antiques at better prices in England than in France?!? My most unique client purchase was an entire Neo Gothic 19th C painted cathedral ceiling from Maastricht (The Netherlands). People are often surprised by the variety we offer on tour – we offer antique furniture, but also vintage clothes and jewelry, as well as architectural salvage. Clients buy everything from 16th C pieces to second hand styles from the 1970’s and 80s. We’re as varied as our clients wishes!Here are some photos of unique items found on The Antiques Diva tours:
Kandrac & Kole: You’re American. But yet you live in Europe? How did you come to live in Europe?
Toma: In 2000 my husband was transferred overseas with his company. For the 1st 5 years living oversea as an expat I was denied my work visa – I side stepped this by starting my own company and creating my own job and then creating jobs for others to boot! While I’ve lived in Europe nearly 14 years I am originally from Oklahoma. My life path has taken me from Oklahoma, to Pennsylvania to Boston Mass to Cleveland Ohio (all in my first 3 years of marriage) onwards to Paris for 5 years, Amsterdam for 4 and I currently reside in Berlin since nearly 5 years. My husband job moves us around so I created a career in my suitcase that I travels with me! In the USA I worked in advertising and retrained once moving overseas – living in Paris gave me the opportunity to reinvent myself!
Photo credit Laila McCubbin Jones
Kandrac & Kole: How many countries have you visited?
Toma: I’ve antiqued in over 40 countries! But would believe that up until last month I had never been to California? When I spoke in Los Angeles and San Francisco last month it was my first visit – I considered it as getting “another country under my belt!”
Kandrac & Kole: Where is your all-time favorite place in the world and why?
Toma: Such a difficult question to answer – can I say Paris and Tuscany are tied in my mind? I’m hardwired to need both the city and the country. Paris I love for its sense of style and elegance, gracious living. Tuscany I love for its laid back joie de vivre, easy going, casual, yet effortlessly chic.
Kandrac & Kole: What trips do you have planned for the rest of the year?
Toma: For work I’m in 5 or 6 European countries every month – and I tend to speak at various events in the USA about once a quarter. As I type I’m on a short holiday in Tuscany for Easter week with my darling (and incredibly patient) husband – but my big vacation this year will be going back to Asia – to Thailand and Cambodia. I find because I travel extensively in the USA and Europe for work that Asia allows me to escape – it’s a new frontier for me.
Kandrac & Kole: Important question: Which is your favorite – Grappa, Prosecco or Campari?
Toma: Champagne. Always champagne – served in antique glasses bien sur! After all, I am The Antiques Diva®.
Thank you Toma for an enlightening interview!!
If you are interested in a tour with The Antiques Diva, click HERE!