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ANF Blog

PEOPLE BEHIND THE PORTALS - JANE WALTON

Continuing our series People behind the Portals, Jane Walton, the powerhouse of a woman behind Decorative Collective and The Hoarde, tells us how a fairly low key start-up grew to such a big brace of brands in the industry today.


Jane on the stand at the September 2015 Decorative Antiques & Textiles 30 Year Anniversary Fair

ANF: When did you and your then business partner Jill Perry start the DC and what was your inspiration?

JW: We launched the Decorative Collective - DC,  in early 2009.  The first site had just 1 page and there were 6 of us in all, me, Jill, On-Reflection, Kiki Design, Phil Varma and Seventeen-Twentyone as the founder members.  After being asked by other dealers if we would be expanding it, 3 months later a much larger site was borne and then we developed The Hoarde as well.  The inspiration was 1st Dibs, a great site created by a great visionary, but a very different animal from the DC.

ANF: How long were you a dealer before you started DC?  What brought you into the business? 

JW:  I’ve been a dealer, though much less so now because of the time I spent running the sites, since 1999 which is a frightening 16 years ago!  Don’t ask what brought me into it, let’s just say, I can tell everyone how NOT to become an antiques dealer!!  My husband still laments the losss of my London pay packet.

ANF: What were the key challenges in setting up the business?      

JW:  The biggest challenge, which remains to this day, was getting the website working as well as we wanted it to.  This is in part because the nature of websites are that they are always developing and adapting to the needs and demands of members and clients. They are hungry beasts that constantly need feeding with time, money, tenacity and patience and just when you think you’ve cracked it, something else comes along on it that needs your attention.  Portal sites are effectively shops that are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and you have to make sure that they look and operate their best all the time. 

The Hoare antiques & collectibles, industrial chic

Home page of The Hoarde

ANF: What was your strategy in setting up The Hoarde alongside DC?

JW:  The Hoarde was really a natural progression from the DC.  We had from the beginning agreed on what sort of profile we wanted the DC to have and this by its nature would exclude some dealers.  Not because they were any less great at what they did, or their items were any less worthy, quite the contrary, but some dealers simply didn’t fit into he aesthetic of the DC.  Eventually we thought this is daft, turning away dealers who wanted to be part of the DC Ltd, so we created The Hoarde as our vintage site.  It was also an opportunity for us to provide a platform for those who didn’t have so much experience under their belt, or were just starting out, so that we could in our own way, help to encourage new and young dealers coming into the business.  This is a tricky situation for a portal site, as your reputation can be enhanced or otherwise by how dealers converse with clients, but you just have to be careful, encouraging and find out as much about them as you can and then trust your judgement.

ANFYou recently bought your partner Jill out and now have sole ownership of the DC and The Hoarde – how have you approached this new challenge and who helps you with the never ending work involved in running a high profile portal website?  Are you able to delegate to your team easily?

JW:  Jill tended to look after all the financial side of the company and did it very well, we shared decisions, and I mainly looked after the day to day running of the sites, so when we parted I needed to make sure I had good back up in that department and I was very lucky to find Paula, my accountant who looks after all the financial paperwork and with her help, the company is still in good financial health today.  Becky helps me with marketing and is taking on responsibility of the Ad-words campaign we are starting shortly, following on from our magazine advertising in high profile mags and the SEO is really starting to pay off now, though as with all SEO it’s a long term spend and commitment, especially for a large site like the DC because of the varied amount of stock on it.  I also have Jo who is my 3rd Angel, she keeps all my computers running smoothly and sorts out any problems.  When you run an on-line company, it’s incredibly important to have this sort of back up as if you're off-line, you don’t have a business, and I am very lucky to have such a good and reliable team; it may be a small team, but it’s all I need and they are very loyal.


Decorative Collective Antiques

Home page of Decorative Collective

ANF:  How do you think your audience and your dealers have changed in profile since you set up the business?  Has it been a natural progression to a wider field or was this your strategy?

JW:  When we started the company we had no idea where it would really go, it wasn’t as if we started out thinking we want to be the biggest, we just wanted to be as good as we could be, and that is still the case today. There are some other great portal sites out there and we felt we could offer something just as good, but different and I think the DC and Hoarde have achieved that.  There is always room for improvement and both sites have a very long way to go before I’ll feel I’ve accomplished what I hope to.  Both sites have been incredibly fortunate to have attracted some wonderful dealers over the last several years, many of whom are still with us and I continue to be grateful for their support as without them there is no DC or Hoarde. I think many of the dealers have learnt from the DC and Hoarde too in terms of understanding the importance of good photography etc and so I hope we have also given back in this way.  I think our audience continues to expand and the diversity of it and reach of it grows every single day. The sites have gained enviable reputations for being reliable, trustworthy and honest, this is a reflection on the company but also on the dealers themselves and they should be rightly proud of that and I hope they are pleased to be associated with a company that has solid standing and reputation as we do.

ANF:  What plans to you have develop the DC and The Hoarde brand?

JW:  There have never really been any plans, as I’m sure Jill would confirm.  The sites are always developing and we are currently in the middle of quite a complicated upgrade, but apart from that I will just continue to try and make the sites the best they can be and to reach as many people as they possibly can.  There may be some new additions to the sites over the next year, but that’s for next year.

ANF:  You recently exhibited at the Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair at Battersea with a DC stand which is a perfect fit for your brand – do you plan to attend more fairs?

JW:   I really enjoyed being at the Decorative Fair this year as it’s very much our target audience and the DC dealers who joined the stand did me proud.  It’s always such fun and such a friendly place to exhibit, but I don’t see the DC exhibiting anywhere else for now, but never say never. Promoting any business is one of the hardest things to do, and often the most expensive, but you have to do it and build it into your budget as on-line promotion can’t be the be all and end all where PR and marketing is concerned.

ANF:  You have a number of Antiques Young Guns - AYG, subscribers on both The Hoarde and DC, what do you think the AYG initiative has brought to the trade?

JW:   I’m a big fan of AYG as like The Hoarde, it’s one of the few places where newbie dealers can go to look for advice and help and find like minded people who are prepared to listen and hopefully set them on the right course as when you start out, it can be quite daunting.  I thought the Antiques Heavy Artillery - mentor initiative was brilliant and I know Robert Young and Spencer Swaffer certainly got into it and provided some much welcome advice and support that must have been invaluable.  I read recently that the AYG has been handed over to a committee of those currently involved in it, to run on a day to day basis, which I think will be a challenge for them, and look forward to seeing where they take their new found responsibility.

Jane Walton Decorative Collective

Jane Walton on her Kawasaki Ninja 300

ANF:  How do you manage to unwind and relax away from work – or do you find it hard to let go?

JW:   I used to find it very hard to turn off, literally, often working late into the night and sometime still do, just like many other self-employed people.  Just after we launched the DC in earnest, I lost my Mum and on reflection, that actually made me throw myself even more into work.  Nearly 7 years later, and now running the business on my own, I still work very hard, and people would never believe me if they knew how much was actually involved.  However, I have come to realise that work and life balance is very very important, as is your health and those closest to you, so I now walk nearly every morning, I read and something that most people don’t know about me is that I have a full motorbike licence and have recently purchased my first bike, a Kawasaki Ninja 300, after a gap of nearly 19 years and I’m absolutely loving it, so don’t be surprised if you see me turn up somewhere on my motorbike in future, though likely not when it’s raining! 



Antiques News Blog

PEOPLE BEHIND THE PORTALS - JANE WALTON

Continuing our series People behind the Portals, Jane Walton, the powerhouse of a woman behind Decorative Collective and The Hoarde, tells us how a fairly low key start-up grew to such a big brace of brands in the industry today.


Jane on the stand at the September 2015 Decorative Antiques & Textiles 30 Year Anniversary Fair

ANF: When did you and your then business partner Jill Perry start the DC and what was your inspiration?

JW: We launched the Decorative Collective - DC,  in early 2009.  The first site had just 1 page and there were 6 of us in all, me, Jill, On-Reflection, Kiki Design, Phil Varma and Seventeen-Twentyone as the founder members.  After being asked by other dealers if we would be expanding it, 3 months later a much larger site was borne and then we developed The Hoarde as well.  The inspiration was 1st Dibs, a great site created by a great visionary, but a very different animal from the DC.

ANF: How long were you a dealer before you started DC?  What brought you into the business? 

JW:  I’ve been a dealer, though much less so now because of the time I spent running the sites, since 1999 which is a frightening 16 years ago!  Don’t ask what brought me into it, let’s just say, I can tell everyone how NOT to become an antiques dealer!!  My husband still laments the losss of my London pay packet.

ANF: What were the key challenges in setting up the business?      

JW:  The biggest challenge, which remains to this day, was getting the website working as well as we wanted it to.  This is in part because the nature of websites are that they are always developing and adapting to the needs and demands of members and clients. They are hungry beasts that constantly need feeding with time, money, tenacity and patience and just when you think you’ve cracked it, something else comes along on it that needs your attention.  Portal sites are effectively shops that are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and you have to make sure that they look and operate their best all the time. 

The Hoare antiques & collectibles, industrial chic

Home page of The Hoarde

ANF: What was your strategy in setting up The Hoarde alongside DC?

JW:  The Hoarde was really a natural progression from the DC.  We had from the beginning agreed on what sort of profile we wanted the DC to have and this by its nature would exclude some dealers.  Not because they were any less great at what they did, or their items were any less worthy, quite the contrary, but some dealers simply didn’t fit into he aesthetic of the DC.  Eventually we thought this is daft, turning away dealers who wanted to be part of the DC Ltd, so we created The Hoarde as our vintage site.  It was also an opportunity for us to provide a platform for those who didn’t have so much experience under their belt, or were just starting out, so that we could in our own way, help to encourage new and young dealers coming into the business.  This is a tricky situation for a portal site, as your reputation can be enhanced or otherwise by how dealers converse with clients, but you just have to be careful, encouraging and find out as much about them as you can and then trust your judgement.

ANFYou recently bought your partner Jill out and now have sole ownership of the DC and The Hoarde – how have you approached this new challenge and who helps you with the never ending work involved in running a high profile portal website?  Are you able to delegate to your team easily?

JW:  Jill tended to look after all the financial side of the company and did it very well, we shared decisions, and I mainly looked after the day to day running of the sites, so when we parted I needed to make sure I had good back up in that department and I was very lucky to find Paula, my accountant who looks after all the financial paperwork and with her help, the company is still in good financial health today.  Becky helps me with marketing and is taking on responsibility of the Ad-words campaign we are starting shortly, following on from our magazine advertising in high profile mags and the SEO is really starting to pay off now, though as with all SEO it’s a long term spend and commitment, especially for a large site like the DC because of the varied amount of stock on it.  I also have Jo who is my 3rd Angel, she keeps all my computers running smoothly and sorts out any problems.  When you run an on-line company, it’s incredibly important to have this sort of back up as if you're off-line, you don’t have a business, and I am very lucky to have such a good and reliable team; it may be a small team, but it’s all I need and they are very loyal.


Decorative Collective Antiques

Home page of Decorative Collective

ANF:  How do you think your audience and your dealers have changed in profile since you set up the business?  Has it been a natural progression to a wider field or was this your strategy?

JW:  When we started the company we had no idea where it would really go, it wasn’t as if we started out thinking we want to be the biggest, we just wanted to be as good as we could be, and that is still the case today. There are some other great portal sites out there and we felt we could offer something just as good, but different and I think the DC and Hoarde have achieved that.  There is always room for improvement and both sites have a very long way to go before I’ll feel I’ve accomplished what I hope to.  Both sites have been incredibly fortunate to have attracted some wonderful dealers over the last several years, many of whom are still with us and I continue to be grateful for their support as without them there is no DC or Hoarde. I think many of the dealers have learnt from the DC and Hoarde too in terms of understanding the importance of good photography etc and so I hope we have also given back in this way.  I think our audience continues to expand and the diversity of it and reach of it grows every single day. The sites have gained enviable reputations for being reliable, trustworthy and honest, this is a reflection on the company but also on the dealers themselves and they should be rightly proud of that and I hope they are pleased to be associated with a company that has solid standing and reputation as we do.

ANF:  What plans to you have develop the DC and The Hoarde brand?

JW:  There have never really been any plans, as I’m sure Jill would confirm.  The sites are always developing and we are currently in the middle of quite a complicated upgrade, but apart from that I will just continue to try and make the sites the best they can be and to reach as many people as they possibly can.  There may be some new additions to the sites over the next year, but that’s for next year.

ANF:  You recently exhibited at the Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair at Battersea with a DC stand which is a perfect fit for your brand – do you plan to attend more fairs?

JW:   I really enjoyed being at the Decorative Fair this year as it’s very much our target audience and the DC dealers who joined the stand did me proud.  It’s always such fun and such a friendly place to exhibit, but I don’t see the DC exhibiting anywhere else for now, but never say never. Promoting any business is one of the hardest things to do, and often the most expensive, but you have to do it and build it into your budget as on-line promotion can’t be the be all and end all where PR and marketing is concerned.

ANF:  You have a number of Antiques Young Guns - AYG, subscribers on both The Hoarde and DC, what do you think the AYG initiative has brought to the trade?

JW:   I’m a big fan of AYG as like The Hoarde, it’s one of the few places where newbie dealers can go to look for advice and help and find like minded people who are prepared to listen and hopefully set them on the right course as when you start out, it can be quite daunting.  I thought the Antiques Heavy Artillery - mentor initiative was brilliant and I know Robert Young and Spencer Swaffer certainly got into it and provided some much welcome advice and support that must have been invaluable.  I read recently that the AYG has been handed over to a committee of those currently involved in it, to run on a day to day basis, which I think will be a challenge for them, and look forward to seeing where they take their new found responsibility.

Jane Walton Decorative Collective

Jane Walton on her Kawasaki Ninja 300

ANF:  How do you manage to unwind and relax away from work – or do you find it hard to let go?

JW:   I used to find it very hard to turn off, literally, often working late into the night and sometime still do, just like many other self-employed people.  Just after we launched the DC in earnest, I lost my Mum and on reflection, that actually made me throw myself even more into work.  Nearly 7 years later, and now running the business on my own, I still work very hard, and people would never believe me if they knew how much was actually involved.  However, I have come to realise that work and life balance is very very important, as is your health and those closest to you, so I now walk nearly every morning, I read and something that most people don’t know about me is that I have a full motorbike licence and have recently purchased my first bike, a Kawasaki Ninja 300, after a gap of nearly 19 years and I’m absolutely loving it, so don’t be surprised if you see me turn up somewhere on my motorbike in future, though likely not when it’s raining!