For a lucky few, discovering your passion comes at an early age. Scarlett Scales-Tingas is one of those people. She opened her first antiques booth when she was 11 years old, and she hasn’t looked back since. A veteran of Brimfield, the U.S. antiques and garden circuit and a frequent visitor to auction houses, Scarlett created a must-stop shop for one of a kind finds.
Small world, true story digression: During Blog Tour, we spent time walking the streets, learning to navigate Amsterdam, while dropping in on some of the city’s design hotspots. Our guides for the day were an amazing team of local design enthusiasts, including Desiree of the fabulous design blog Vosges Paris.
As we walked, we passed a shop owner who was preparing to close up for the day. Desiree told me that the former architect’s store, Hudson River, was one of her favorites, but they didn’t include it on our tour because he sold American antiques and they figured we’d seen plenty of those at home.
She went to say hello and then called me over to meet him just as I snapped this shot:
The owner asked me where I was from and told me that he sells zinc tables made by an artisan in my area. He said they are so popular in the Netherlands they sell out as soon as he gets them in and that he was trying to buy more, so I asked him who makes them. His answer? A man named Barry, whose daughter owns a popular antique store. I asked which one and he answered, “Scarlett Scales Antiques. Do you know it?”
Not only did I know it, but Scarlett was in my graduating class at O’More College of Design!
We soldiered through many long semesters together and managed to survive courses like Design Theory, Research and Documentation, and Design Major. Now she owns a “Hip Antique Boutique” that is recognized on the other side of the planet. It was a true small-worlds-collide moment!
We are also working on the O’More Designer Show House together. Scarlett is designing a bedroom and bath suite, and from what I’ve seen so far, it’s going to be gorgeous. Her store has been featured in many media outlets, but I asked her to submit to a special Q and A so you can get to know her too.
Q: My earliest memory of you is seeing a collection of things you had in the back of your truck. There was so much goodness in there, it was apparent that you had a distinctive style long before you started college. By the time we met, your store was already up and running. How did you manage to balance running a business with the rigors of design school?
Scarlett: Well, looking back it seems a little crazy, but at the time I didn’t even notice. I would work on projects at the shop between customers and I had very limited days that I actually had the store open then. My dad was always good to fill in for me if I needed extra time for projects at school. So I guess I just made it work.
Q: Over time, your store has evolved into a beautiful mix of antique and vintage with a little new thrown in. Do you set out to find things with a certain look or do you buy what appeals to you in the moment?
Scarlett: I love pieces that show evidence of their life. They tell a story about who has used them where they have been and how much they have been loved over time. I love pieces with a great patina. I buy what I love because I can sell things I’m passionate about. But I must admit I do buy things that I love in the moment, luckily they still appeal to me much later as well. When you buy antiques you must be prepared to make a quick decision because the competition sure does. There is a good chance you may never see another one or you may wait a long time, depending on the piece.
Q: Sometimes, the history of an antique is more valuable than the piece itself. What find have you come across that had an unforgettable backstory?
Scarlett: I once bought a beautiful monogrammed linen sheet with the initials J. O. it was said to have belonged to Jackie Onassis but I never really knew for sure.
Q: Your work requires you to track down, buy and sell lots of beautiful pieces. I imagine some things are harder to let go of than others. Is there an item you’ve purchased to sell, but haven’t been able to part with yet?
Scarlett: Over time I have gotten better with this one. When I first started buying and selling I wanted to keep everything. Now I have a few select items I collect and try to just stick to keeping those items. Otherwise our house would be overloaded. I collect chip-bevel etched mirrors, vellum bound books, aqua bottles and english edwardian porcelain jars that have been dug out of the ground from old dump sites, just to name a very specific few. On occasion I buy some of those items with the intent to sell them but they end up going home with me.
Q: You recently got married, honeymooned in Greece, and the Show House opening is only a few weeks away. What’s next on your Life List?
Scarlett: I’d have to say I’m somewhere between a free spirit and a procrastinator so making a list and following it can be quite difficult for me. But my husband Louie and I are going to Brimfield, Massachusetts in May to buy a container of antiques for the shop, and I’m proud to say we have reservations. This tiny town sells out of rooms years in advance for the big antiques show there. After that, who knows…
The antiques mecca that is Brimfield is on my To-Do list. Maybe one day, I can get Scarlett to show me the ropes. With over 5000 dealers, I imagine it can be pretty overwhelming for a newbie.
She also carries a great selection of clothing and accessories in the shop, mixing femininity with a little edge and a lot of beautiful color:
The dressing rooms also tell you a lot about Scarlett. They are decorated with both her love of history and sense of whimsy:
(Buy a ticket or donate to our event!)
Hours: Monday – Friday 10:00AM – 4:00PM
Sunday 12:00PM – 4:00PM
It’s presented by Traditional Home, y’all. I have a feeling Scarlett’s work will be gracing the magazine’s pages very soon!
Scarlett Scales Antiques
246 Second Avenue South
Franklin, TN 37064
Photos ©LivetheFineLife 2013, except the shot I cribbed from Scarlett’s Facebook page!