Narissa Mather
Narissa Mather.

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1. How did you get your start?

When I was a design student, I was looking for a way to make enough to pay my rent over the summer holidays.

At the time I was too unconventional in appearance to get a run-of-the-mill job so my father encouraged me to start buying in a small way, trawling car boots and selling at local antiques markets.

That was 26 years ago and since then things have moved on significantly! The first sale of note was a very large jugendstil amber and silver brooch in the form of a spider that I had bought particularly well.

2. Online vs fairs and shops?

In some ways the internet is a big threat to the industry, particularly eBay which I think is killing the middle to lower-end of the market. It’s used as a pricecomparison site but it’s possible to compare totally different quality pieces and have unrealistic expectations on the part of both buyers and sellers.

On the other hand, I really think a considered combined approach is needed. Fairs can still be excellent if organised correctly and have a good footfall. I am a believer in researching the market and finding the right venue for my stock. My shop in Leek is great but I rely on quality fairs and the internet to sell.

3. Do you use social media?

I have two Facebook pages: antiquesbydesign for my stock and Bespoke by Narissa Mather for my own handmade silver pieces. I love Instagram as you can reach a wider audience. You can gauge how saleable an item may be and see where your market lies.

4. One rule to live by as a dealer?

Buy quality and what you can live with. If you like it, chances are someone else will and if they don’t you can take it home.

5. Real Ale or espresso martini?

Gin. It was my favourite before it became trendy – no hangovers! 

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