Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vendor Spotlight: Uber Chic Home

This month, we’re kicking off a special blog series where we sit down with several of our favorite Three Speckled Hens dealers and ask them a series of questions. Up first is the beloved Uber Chic Home. We hope you enjoy!

About Uber Chic Home:
With antique goods coming directly from Europe, a main warehouse located in downtown Los Angeles, and booth space at antique shows across the United States, Uber Chic Home is a fabulous Three Speckled Hens vendor who deals exclusively in the reclamation and recycling of antique, vintage and industrial artifacts. The company began in 2005 as the shared dream of co-owners Christian and Dustin, who travel the world each month gathering unique and interesting finds. Uber Chic Home can be found in booth #116 at the Three Speckled Hens show on October 4-5, 2014.

Hello Dustin, thanks for chatting with us today! We know that Uber Chic began as a side-job of Chris’s in the 1990s, when he visited Europe with his family and brought back some amazing antiques to sell. Today, how often do you travel in search for your items?
Christian has been doing this for over 20 years now, it’s kind of nuts! These days we travel both for work and for fun—it’s always a little a bit of both. We go shopping for antiques and we also try to have fun while we’re doing it. We go to Europe every single month. Usually Chris does the overseas traveling because he’s got a lot of connections over there because he’s been doing this for so long. Chris knows people in Europe and he speaks German. Meanwhile, I stay here and keep everything going. We used to just import antiques from Europe, but now we’re also building a lot of our own furniture using vintage items. So I keep all that going, I do all of our deliveries and we do a sale at some type of market every weekend. We just got finished working on a project with Joe’s Jeans, they’re using a bunch of our stuff as their décor in their stores. It’s all really fun!

When did you make the switch from collecting antiques to also building some of your own items? 
We’ve always done a little bit of building our own stuff – we had a store in Salt Lake City, because we actually lived in Utah for a long time while our business was here in Los Angeles. So we would commute back in forth from the store up in Utah. The crate-based antique furniture we are doing now we had been doing up in Utah since 2005, just different versions of it. It’s definitely evolved. We really started producing it big in the last two years. 
You mentioned traveling to Europe once a month. Do you usually go to the same countries?
We go to a lot of the same countries, but each container of goods we ship back is a little different. With the container coming over now for example, Chris spent an extra week in France so it has more French stuff in it, and the one before that he spent more time in Germany. It’s usually a mix of French, German, Austrian, Hungarian, and the Czech Republic.

Can you describe the container process for us? How do you get a large amount of antiques from Europe to the United States? Is that difficult?

Yes it can be really crazy—customs is not nice! They are not nice people! So basically, we have a barn over in Germany and we have some people who find things for us and bring them to us. They tend to know what we’re after because they’ve been in this business for a long time. And then we rent the European version of a big truck, and Chris drives it around to markets all over the countryside collecting items. Then we get everything back to the central location, we have a container sent out, and we have to load it all up. It takes about a month for the container to get to America. Then, you have to go through customs which can take anywhere from two days to about a month and a half. Any you only get three days at the port, so if customs decides to keep the container longer, you pay $150 a day after that. It’s like getting selected at the airport for extra security screening. Sometimes they unload your container and go through it all, which you have to pay for and can cost up to six or seven thousand dollars. It’s luck of the draw every time!

What are some of your most popular items?
We are always looking for unique items. Once people see you selling a lot of something, they try to find it and sell it also. So we try to keep on top of it and switch it up a lot. Something that we sell and almost always carry are really cool old wine bottles. They are not like wine bottles here in America, some of them are up to three feet tall and really amazing – hand blown, 150 years old. We’re also always on the lookout for interesting textiles that we can make pillows or upholster with. We do furniture too. We’ve found French harvest tables, and in our last container we had a really cool set consisting of all the cabinetry and counters from an old candy store in Budapest. We’re always looking for unique stuff like that. 

Amazing! So are those they types of items that attendees expect to find at October 2014 Three Speckled Hens show?
Yes, definitely. We still have one of the pieces from the candy store that will be there, we’ve got the wine bottles coming, and we’ll have a lot of the repurposed crate furniture that we build. That’s a really big seller for us right now too so we’ll be bringing a lot of that.

We see you have a fan base of over 50,000 on Facebook  – when did that following really start to take off?
It’s kind of crazy! We’d had an Uber Chic page for about 5 years but we had set it up as a personal page, just because when I set it up I don’t even know if there was such a thing as a business page! So we started the business page about a year and a half ago, and just from the get-go it’s gone crazy. We do shows all over the United States in places like Washington, Portland, Phoenix, North Caroline, New York, and Texas. We’re basically gypsies! And we promoted the Facebook page as much as we could and it just kind of snowballed. There are weeks where we’ll get 1,000 likes in a week. It’s good for selling too, we actually sell a lot of items on Facebook.

What would you say is the best part about working in the antiques business?

The thing that I like the most is that you meet so many über cool people and people fall in love with what you’re doing—they’re like oh my gosh this is amazing, I can’t wait to put it in my house! Stuff like that is really rewarding because you can tell they actually love something we came up or found for them. We sell to a lot of big stores, but I prefer selling to just people, because I like that they have that connection with it.

Thanks so much for chatting with us Dustin! Let us know if you ever need an antiques team based in Europe, and we’ll be right over! 

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