Charlotte Pearson talks to a Winchester pair who believe it is best to be out with the new and in with the old.
Pictures taken by Tina Griffith tinagriffiths.zenfolio.com
Shopping with a friend is not uncommon, but for Tanya Knight and Mia Shukla they enjoyed it so much they made it a business.
“It is great to get that second opinion on things,” says Tanya, from Bowden Knight.
“We have gone out on shopping trips on our own before but it just means we text each other pictures saying ‘what do you think’,” Mia adds. “It is just easier when we are together.”
However when they head out it is not for shoes or clothes but antiques.
“We love the diversity,” Tanya enthuses. “One day we might be at a fair in our wellies shopping, eating bacon rolls and the next day styling our beautiful finds for a client’s photo shoot.”
Bowden Knight offers three services to its customers – selling decorative antiques; sourcing items; or loaning items, or space in their showroom, for designer shoots.
“We’d really like to be known locally as being able to provide a personal and professional service for individuals,” Tanya explains, “as well as being a great source for interior designers and stylists to help achieve their ultimate vision.”
Friends for seven years, the pair admit they had been buying items together long before they officially launched the business in October.
“We always went out with each other,” Mia says. “It is a hobby which has become our business.”
But this has meant the pair have been able to refine their buying technique.
“Auctions and fairs can be quite daunting, but we know what we are doing now,” Tanya reveals.
“We are also more confident at auctions and know our limits.”
“We have quite a good eye we can see something and know exactly where it would go,” Mia adds.
“You see a lot of different stuff, not all of it good, but then something will catch your eye and you know you have to have it.”
Which begs the question has anything ever slipped through their fingers?
“A Chesterfield,” Tanya answers instantly. “It was a plummy pink and we just loved it.
“It was when we just started out, it would have taken up so much space and would have blown the budget but even now when we spot a Chesterfield we say ‘you remember that one we didn’t buy’.”
It seems, when dealing with antiques, this is a bit of an occupational hazard.
“Once something is gone it’s gone,” Mia agrees.
“What we sell is unique and not mass produced like an item you buy on the high street.”
Being an alternative to the mainstream is something the pair are keen to promote.
“You can spot an Ikea coffee table from 50 yards, but what you will buy from us has a story and a history,” Tanya enthuses.
“People think antiques are expensive, but decorative antiques are available for all budgets.
“An item can add real depth and spirit to an interior. Older pieces are well made and don’t date which is why they work so well in today’s interiors.”
The showroom’s collection is full of wonders from trunks to tables, chairs and lamps with shades provided by Winchester-based Bon Maison.
“Jody used our space for a photo shoot recently,” Tanya says. “This is something we would love to do more or take items to people for shoots.”
Admitting they have agreed on each purchase, the pair’s backgrounds not only complement the business but each other’s strengths.
“My dad was an antiques dealer so when I was younger I used to go to fairs with him,” Tanya reveals. “I also did an antique restoration course. It taught me a lot and means when we are out buying I can look at something and judge if we could do something with it or if it was beyond repair.”
Whereas Mia’s background is in interior design.
“I used to work in advertising and marketing in London,” she says. “Then one day I decided I wanted to do something more creative and did an interior design course. One of my first jobs was a holiday cottage in the New Forest and I said to Tanya ‘I need to buy stuff’. So we went out and I took my tape measure and bought items for the home, which was just beautiful in the end.”
The showroom perfectly highlights what they are about.
“We would love to be in here with people every day having a cup of tea and talking about what they want,” Tanya confesses.
“We also have plans to hold more events throughout the year,” Mia adds.
It certainly makes you want to chuck out the new and get in the old.
Visits to the showroom in Edington Road, Winchester, are by appointment only. For more information, visit www.bowdenknight.com or call 07900 682002, 07973 828365 or email firstname.lastname@example.org