Off The Shoulder and On Line...

  • September 23, 2011 22:07

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The truck packed for May Brimfield. And to think, this was all in our apartment!
A video still from an appearance on local NY TV. I was 'discovered' thanks to my website. The Keno Brothers were the appraisers!
My tiny NY apartment that also served as a showroom. The cat was not for sale!

It's been a pretty interesting transition so far.  The days when I would pile frames on my shoulders and hoof it to the nearest subway station to travel to the Upper East Side art galleries are now only fond memories.  Or when I would bring home piles of frames, paintings, even a six foot tall metal easel on either the Metro North or LIRR train (and then, of course, on the subway to my tiny apartment in the West Village) are also now just funny stories.  Family life has brought me into the 21st Century and all that the internet has to offer.  Websites, social networking, blogs... you name, I'm interested.  There was a distinct point in my life that it all changed.  For a moment, I wondered how I could continue to be in business.  How to make the transition from off the shoulder to on line...

I started my business by jumping in with both eyes closed.  And open.  Sort of.  I'm the kind of person who likes to plan, but not too much.  Life has shown me that there is no perfect time to do something, other than right now.  Now is the time.  I had to trust in myself that I was ready for New York City.  In the City That Never Sleeps, I took that motto to heart.  Working three and four jobs at a time to pay for my 'education' in the antiques business.  A typical day started at nine.  Off to whatever day job I had at the time (Frame Gallery, Antiques Shop, Mid Century Specialist...). Around seven or so I would get ready for my next job.  This one would see me through to the early morning hours.  I would then head to the NYC flea market.  This was the best way to learn the ropes and survive in NYC.  I spent my days off reaching out to customers and bringing items directly to them.  You know, I was a picker.  This was a perfect job for me.  Freedom, connections and growth all at the same time.  I could walk around Manhattan, stop in to stores along the way and look at more great items.  If I picked up something, I could shoot off a few pics and even try to sell it then and there.

It was not unusual to see me hailing a taxi and hoping that the driver wouldn't mind having a table in the back seat as well.  'Can I roll both windows down? Yes, I know that it is 30 degrees out.' Sure, I got passed by a few times by taxis and even kicked off the subway, but I wouldn't change a thing.  Especially when my Upper East Side clients would ask me how I got there with twenty frames, I would relish the opportunity to smile and show them my MetroCard.  And as my  business grew, so did my inventory.  Tables, chairs, heavy metal items — it seemed like my taste was for whatever was the most cumbersome to carry.  I remember a certain deal in particular that saw me buying one hundred and twenty-five frames from an Upper East Side gallery.  The owner gave me exactly one hour to remove everything or the deal was off.  Frantic, I reserved a box truck and picked it up immediately.  Getting the frames into the truck was easier than I thought.  It was getting them into my 341 square foot apartment that proved to be a bit of a challenge.  Leaving only a narrow pathway, I was totally in shock when I digested what I had actually done.  Had I lost my mind?  So, I did what any logical person would do.  I went out for dinner.  Coming back to my apartment with a full stomach gave me plenty of energy to come up with a plan.  The next morning I contacted my best clients and I had every frame sold within three days.

But those situations are not possible now.  Two little ones and my 'big kid' are my priority and I do my best not to take over our home with my inventory.  There was of course the week before May Brimfield when I had our place packed.  And I do mean packed.  But aside from that, I have been much better about bringing my work home.  Now, I have learned to make the most of an on line presence.  My inventory is all easily viewable in my boutique at Center44 and more importantly is available 24 hours a day on line.  Whether my own site, 1stdibs or any of the social networking sites that I am part of, my business now works 24/7.  I still feel part of the 'old school' antiques business that I love.  The picking.  And at the same time I am really enjoying what the internet has to offer.  Selling all across the country and reaching out across the globe is very exciting to me.  With a few keystrokes, from anywhere in the world, at anytime, Heather Karlie Fine Art is open for business!

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20th Century by HKFA - To the Trade

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