DEALER CHATS | MATT DIXON, TRADING AS TALLBOY INTERIORS
Matt Dixon has run his Yorkshire based antique business, TallBoy Interiors, for three years now and last year opened a fantastic showroom in a converted chapel. Young, ambitious and with a great eye, we predict that great things lie ahead for Matt!
Describe your style in no more than 25 words!
I am a huge fan of mixing pieces from all eras - to me good design works well together no matter the age.
How long have you been in the antiques trade for and what other jobs have you had?
I have been in the Antiques trade as TallBoy Interiors for 6 years this month! Before that I was finishing my A level studies at school and taking an online interior design course, which gave me a huge amount of inspiration when starting my business. Other than that I have never had another job. I have loved the hunt for old treasures that I could turn a profit on since the age of 9. I remember my favourite trips out were to car boots and bric-a-brac shops. I always knew I wanted to run my own business, so in the end everything came together and formed what I do now. It's the career I see myself doing for the rest of my life.
What plans do you have for your business in 2021 post Covid?
2021 for me holds a huge amount of opportunities that I wasn’t able to make the most of last year. None more so than the launch of my first physical showroom, which I opened In Malton North Yorkshire 3 weeks prior to the first national lockdown! All the ideas I had, the marketing I missed out on, is something that this year I really want to focus on, so that I can get TallBoy Interiors established locally. In addition to this I am aiming to make the upholstery element of the business more significant by offering the service to decorators and private clients on items they have and not just pieces bought from me. As well as full commercial projects such as hotels and restaurants, which we have done in the past but I haven’t pushed since. I have a great team and we can offer a huge number of services so building that up is a key goal for this year. The other main element for 2021 is making the most of online technologies, which I hope will give clients more confidence to purchase pieces from the comfort of their home.
LARGE VICTORIAN BUTTONED CHESTERFIELD SOFA
What have you learned / what new skills have you picked up? Has it made you look more at how you sell online and have you improved in certain areas?
2020 was a year none of us ever expected and it forced us all to change our approach to business very quickly. It certainly reiterated to everyone just how important online selling platforms are as well as social media. I am grateful that my business started online and although I now have a showroom I know I will always be predominantly an online business, as the exposure that gives you is invaluable when the unexpected happens. Although I have been online throughout my business career, something that I had never used it for was sourcing stock, as I always relied on going to UK fairs and over to France every few months. But by putting out regular stock requests on social media I have been able to find beautiful items right on my doorstep. Without the support from others online sending me stock regularly, I really don't know where I would have been and it is something I will continue to use.
Marketplaces are a vital part of the trade but never more so than in 2020 - how does DC support your business model?
Absolutely! The DC is such a fabulous site that gives you a direct contact with the trade, private clients and Interior decorators. I have only been part of it for 3 years but with the regular marketing and support the site gives its been one of the best business tools I use. What I like most about the DC and the Hoarde is it never rests, Jane and the team behind the scenes are always looking for the next thing to make it easier for buyers to buy and sellers to sell. The video additions which have recently come into action will be a great way of building up client confidence to purchase a piece as it gives them a much better view than just static images.
Virtual fairs are now taking place across all levels of the industry and dealer showroom 360 videos are now offered to dealers on DC – have you been surprised to see how quickly the trade and the buyers have adapted to this new tech?
For sure. 2020, as I mentioned above, made everyone adapt to new ways of working very quickly, both for buying and selling online. Even though it is new tech it is very easy to understand and to use, so I think it will only help the business. It may even become the norm in time. I am very excited to be in this business right now as I think over the next couple of years so many new technologies will come into action that will make buying and selling easier and I hope give more people the confidence to buy online.
19TH CENTURY GREEK OLIVE POT, £295
We have all missed our favourite fairs this year. Are fairs part of your business and do you exhibit at a variety with different stock or prefer to stay with one style of fair to develop brand awareness?
For me, fairs when I first started were invaluable events where I would go with a whole host of items to build up my name, but also to see what sold so I could hone my eye and develop my look. I do enjoy standing at fairs as the social side is great - there are so many amazing people in the trade and it also gives us opportunities to meet our clients face to face, which with online selling can often be a rare thing. But I no longer rely on fairs to help build my business. I am sure I will do more fairs in the future, but with the showroom and regular investment in new online technologies they are no longer my main focus.
How relevant do you think bricks and mortar premises will be in 2021?
Haha, well I maybe biased as I now have a physical space, but I think it puts me in an informed position to share my view on it. The first thing I would say is that it is not a necessity for any business to have a physical shop, whereas I believe an online presence is necessary. However, what a showroom does do is open you up to people direct, which can be a huge bonus when selling higher value items. I have been surprised at the number of people who still don’t feel comfortable buying online over a certain price point, even with all the guarantees and return policies in place. The main thing though that the showroom allows me to do is to put room settings together with pieces from different periods, which show people that furniture and artwork can be mixed together well so you don’t have to only have pieces from one era. The other point I have learnt after speaking to a number of people who have come in to the showroom is they don’t quite know what they want but end up leaving with something they are over the moon with. I think that is one of the main downsides with online. If people don’t have something specific they need, then they won't go online to search through hundreds of items in the hope they spot a piece. With the showroom they are coming in as part of a day out and are happy to browse, so could end up leaving with something that just took their fancy. So in summary I think there will always be a different market that only a physical space can tap into.
Tell us what your fantasy freedom buying trip would look like in 2021..
Oh wow that's a tough question! I have so many places I would love to be given free roam in. But for me - and although It may be sad to admit - I have regularly imagined getting called into an abandoned Parisian artist's studio, where I would be allowed to pull off dust sheets that hadn’t been touched in over 100 years. They would fall to the ground to reveal paint crusted easels, wooden sculpture stands, a long lost Giacometti and a huge amount of various sized artist lay figures, which I have a genuine obsession with! If that was to ever happen though I am not sure that I would be able to part with any of it, so not exactly ideal!
1930S 2 ARM BRASS OPALINE PENDANT LIGHT
Browse the full TallBoy Interiors Collection on DC