Martyn Fowler and Jackie Harris - Puckhaber
Tell me a bit about the 1876 ‘Mrs Puckhaber’ pot that started it all, and how it inspired you to name the business after it.
Well Mum had actually been dealing a long time before she started using the Puckhaber name! She started buying at jumble sales and selling at the old Brighton boot fair. She then moved into the antiques centres in Lewes and sold at Ardingly, Kempton etc. She met my late stepfather Brad Newman who had a shop in New Romney, Kent. They started going regularly to France to source antiques and were getting a good reputation for buying lovely pieces, often selling to the Decorative Fair exhibitors. Approximately 15 years ago they took the plunge and started exhibiting at the Fair themselves. To coincide with this, Mum wanted a new name for the business and her little china chalice ‘Mrs Puckhaber, 1876’ was the inspiration for Puckhaber Decorative Antiques. We’ve since shortened it to Puckhaber!
I have grown up around the antiques trade – all of us were wheeled around boot fairs in Northern France. My first career went in a different direction but I came back to antiques and started buying and selling my own pieces about 10 years ago. Mum and Brad were selling my pieces for me in exchange for me helping them bring the business into the 21st century! Then eight years ago, we started sharing a shop on Lillie Road with another dealer but sadly shortly after this Brad was killed in a car accident. From then on Mum and I became partners and run Puckhaber together.
A Mother and Son partnership is quite unique, how do your roles within the business differ?
We buy stock independently in this country through our individual sources, markets, Instagram etc. But we buy together when we go on our big buying trips abroad. I run the website, the Lillie Road shop, logistics and arrange the restoration and upholstery. Mum does the bookwork and arranges any framing. She also works Saturdays in the Lillie Road shop so I can play football at the weekend! Mum will be running our new Rye as she already lives in Rye!
Do Mothers really know best?
Mum says I boss her around too much! We have our creative differences that sometimes rear their ugly heads but we can’t stay annoyed with each other for long and we inevitably fall into working well together! We can’t always like what the other person buys but generally our tastes complement each other. This has helped us develop a look that our clients are responding to. I’m grateful to Mum for introducing me to this business in the first place but even more so, I am grateful that she never tried to dictate or influence the buying aspect. I was free to develop my taste with her guidance.