It’s quite extraordinary to think that Minnie, the owner of Decorative Antiques, has only been running her business full-time for two years. With a very healthy 6,000 followers on Instagram, she has clearly developed a trusty following who delight in her ability to unearth those truly special finds.
She has a natural eye for beautiful, unique pieces and showcases them in her gorgeous Georgian shop in the pretty village of Etchingham in East Sussex. The shop is adorned with unique 19th century chateau pieces – many of them with their original faded patina – as well as stunning Swedish Gustavian pieces. When we walked through the door to meet Minnie it felt like we were stepping onto a wonderful period film set.
Minnie explained how she has become a full time dealer and her story is a lesson to all of us that sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and see where it takes you!
When did you start trading?
Decorative Antiques UK as it is, started trading in November 2014. Prior to that, we had a Vintage Home Shop business within my ladies and children’s’ boutique shops in Reigate, Surrey.
How did you get into the trade?
I have always had a great passion and interest in interiors with a particular love for antique furniture.
When I opened up my clothing and lifestyle shops in Reigate in 2007, people always loved the furnishings and decorations that I used for Visual Merchandising so I started to slowly sell my vintage and antiques from there. I eventually closed my shops in Reigate two years ago and decided to focus solely on the antiques side, hence the creation of Decorative Antiques UK.
What did you do before this?
Prior to having my family, I was a primary school teacher and taught in schools in Surrey. I then became a full time Mum and housewife to our four wonderful children until 2007.
What designers or periods are you particularly interested and inspired by?
I have always loved and admired Scandinavian design and style and my ladies fashion and children’s lifestyle store were stocked full of Scandinavian brands. My furnishings and interiors style have always been greatly inspired by 18th and 19th Century Swedish and French designs.
From which countries do you source your antique pieces?
France, Sweden, Belgium and Holland.
Have you ever come across a really spectacular find that blew you away?
I genuinely only buy pieces that I love, so have been blown away by so many of my finds. I am particularly in awe of the 19th century Swedish secretaire that has just sold and I could have wept when the customers decided they wanted to buy it. It is a piece that my husband really loved as well so was extremely painful to let go of.
What is your favourite piece right now?
As the Swedish secretaire has sold, I think my favourite piece in the shop is the 19th century Swedish vitrine that has just arrived.
What do you do when you are not working?
As this is my own business and I love it so much, I never really stop working. To relax though, I like to walk my dogs in the countryside, go to the cinema or out to dinner with my family. My favourite pastime on any days off is visiting new towns in the local area for a spot of antique shopping and discovering new eateries.
What was the first piece you ever sold?
I think it was a Swedish corner cupboard that I had in the shop window of my children’s boutique Lotti & Ted.
Who is your typical customer?
I don’t really have a ‘typical’ customer as I sell to a broad spectrum of people. However, I do sell to interior designers in London on behalf of their clients and I have a lot of customers who follow me on Instagram. I think all of my customers are equally passionate about interiors and interior design, regardless of who they are.
Why did you choose to open your premises in Etchingham?
When I closed my shops in Reigate, I started my antiques business online. However, customers wanted to come and visit my home in Tunbridge Wells to view the antiques and get inspiration on how to style their rooms. We did this by private appointments and this worked well for a while but the demand grew greater so I felt the need to open up a physical shop again.
The idea was that we would rent our Victorian villa out and rent a shop in Tunbridge Wells which had accommodation above. However, the lady who was going to rent our house decided she would rather buy it so our plans had to change quickly. My husband found this beautiful shop with a Georgian cottage attached in the village of Hurst Green, Etchingham, East Sussex so that is why we are here. It’s not too far from Tunbridge Wells and our two youngest children still attend the Grammar schools in Tunbridge Wells.
What do you find most rewarding about running your own business?
Being your own boss and loving what I do!
Do you have any big plans coming up that we should mention?
Our house and shop are featured in the February issue of 25 Beautiful Homes which is out already and we are planning to open up our Courtyard Garden in the Summer, to showcase our antique and vintage garden items.
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