Louise Phillips of Elaine Phillips Antiques on BADAs Inspiring Women Initiative

Posted: 2016-03-10 11:21:31 - Last updated: 2016-03-10 11:27:47

BADA is backing IWD 2016’s #PledgeForParity campaign and Women’s History Month by celebrating inspiring women who have successfully challenged gender stereo types in the traditionally male dominated environment of fine art and antiques.

We continue our initiative today with the story of Louise Phillips, specialist in 17th and 18th century oak furniture, owner of Harrogate based Elaine Phillips Antiques and BADA representative for the Northern region.

Louise is the daughter of pioneering antiques dealer Elaine Phillips, who founded Elaine Phillips Antiques in the 1960’s and opened the companies’ Harrogate shop in 1975, premises which they have now occupied for 40 years.

As the child of collectors, Louise inevitably developed an early interest in the antiques trade, she explained: “As a baby I was taken to sales, at the weekend, in my carry cot and it went from there. I bought my first lot, aged about six, at the old Tennants Saleroom, which was in a tin shed in Middleham, sticking up my hand when my parents weren't looking - I bought a gas mask!

“When I left school in 1990 I was desperate to join the business but my mother felt that I should work for someone else first, so I went into the fashion business, firstly fashion PR and then working as a sales executive in the London Office of Pringle of Scotland.”

Having returned to the antiques community Louise found that establishing her reputation in a male-dominated environment could be a frustrating experience at times, she continued, “When I started and, definitely when my mother started the business, there were very few women furniture dealers, particularly in Oak furniture.

“At the beginning of my time in the business, I was in my early twenties and - yes - there were a few dealers who gave me a hard time. Once I had 'served my apprenticeship' and they realised I was serious about what I was doing and I spent a lot of time on the road buying - it changed - it was a bit of a trial by fire. It sounds trite, but I have always remembered the dealers who helped me when I was starting out.”

20 years on from ‘serving her apprenticeship’ Louise explained that continuing her mother’s legacy in the industry has been the highlight of her career to date, she said: “To be a second generation dealer, and yes, female - but to still have a shop on a 'high' street and to be now selling to the next generation of my mother's customers would be my biggest personal achievement.”

Louise’s passion for the trade is equally clear in her advice to anyone thinking of coming into the fine art and antique industry, she added: “What matters is having dealers who are passionate about what they deal in and can use their enthusiasm to encourage people to either start collecting or buy art and antiques to furnish their homes, whatever their budget.

“I can only speak for myself but I would say, don't do it for the money! Love what you do. Do your homework. Get out there and chase the goods. It is a fantastic business when it is good and sometimes even when it is bad - you still have great friends in other dealers to chew the fat with and moan. And you make good friends along the way with some of your customers.”

Elaine Phillips Antiques will be exhibiting at Harrogate Art & Antique Fair April 14-17

For more information, on #PledgeForParity visit www.internationalwomensday.com

For more information on Louise Phillips and Elaine Phillips Antiques, visit www.elainephillipsantiques.co.uk

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