Claire Schonhut of Beya Fontenay with her husband Jack.

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1. What is the first sale you remember making?

A fabulous kitchen island I converted with my husband. It was originally a printer’s setting-out bench which we found in a dreadful state in a disused workshop. We were immediately so excited about rescuing it.

It was 6 x 3ft (1.83m x 91cm), with a cast-iron top, and weighed around half a ton and was a real challenge to move, renovate, and install in its final home. But the result was stunning. It sold for a price in the region of £4500.


A printer’s setting-out bench converted into a kitchen island and sold by Beya Fontenay.

2. Fairs vs shops vs online?

Without a doubt, fairs are the best for us; 2016 was our first full year in business, and we had the most amazing feedback, sales and after-sales from attending events such as Salvo. They are the best way to meet a large number of like-minded potential customers.

We can explain the history behind each piece, show how the item has been renovated and clients have the opportunity to touch the products and see the quality of our pieces. Fairs are also extremely enjoyable and have a great atmosphere.

3. Advice for dealers starting out?

Aim to be unique. Find your own mark and try to be different.

4. How do you use social media?

Instagram is good for product photos, Facebook is for giving general updates on items and Twitter is useful for finding and sharing upcoming events.

5. Real ale or espresso martini?

Red wine!

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