Jane Walton - The Hoarde and Decorative Collective

Tell me a bit about your background and how you started in antiques.
I started as a dealer over 20 years ago and can tell anyone how NOT to do it! I had no experience, no knowledge and little money to start such a venture, but I did have a very understanding husband, though I think he changed his mind after a few years of helping me do fairs. I had been working as a legal PA in London for many years and got fed up with sitting behind a desk, which is pretty ironic given I do that a lot now, but at least it’s for myself. I had always loved architecture and I think that is why I was drawn fairly quickly to garden ornament. I was extremely lucky to meet Barbara Israel, one of America’s top garden dealers, fairly early on. She is a genuinely lovely person and we remain friends to this day. She put a lot of trust in me as a young and very green dealer, and I learnt a lot from her and still do.

How did the Decorative Collective come about, and was it a challenge getting it off the ground?
I started doing the Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair at Battersea around 2006 and met Jill Perry from Norfolk Decorative Antiques. It was also around this time that the great recession started, and by

2008 Jill and I had started to talk about how we and a few friends could promote our businesses a bit more. We had been inspired by 1st Dibs and there wasn’t really a decorative site like it in the UK, so Jill and I put our money in together and had a very small website created, which we launched around January 2009.

There was only six of us in all and we hadn’t intended it to be much more, but we kept getting asked if we would allow others to join, so we decided to expand the site and we launched the DC you know now, although a smaller version, in April 2009. I’ve always believed starting a business in a recession is a good thing, because if you survive it to the end, then you hit the ground running when times get better, and we did. I think the original website cost us about £1,000. Jill left the business in 2014, but we remain friends and she’s still a member!

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Woo Gilchrist