Karena from The Arts by Karena sat down with The HighBoy founders Olga Granda-Scott and Doug Scott. The following is an excerpt from her interview published on February 9, 2015.
When did you have the “aha” moment? What was the impetus, the inspiration, that you wanted to bring your idea of this business to fruition?
Doug: It was a combination of seeing an opportunity to address something missing in the marketplace and to share our successes of selling online for over 10 years. Additionally, it was a desire to take action and do something in this industry that we very much care about. We care about what happens to this industry. I don’t even know if that message has gotten out there enough.
Olga: It was more gradual than an “aha” moment. I grew up in the industry and as all other areas of my life were being improved by technology—my work needed the same innovation and excitement!
Did it surprise you that customers/clients would buy expensive art and antiques online, seeing only images?
Doug: No, not at all. Back in 2001 when we first got started selling online, yes, we were more skeptical, but had little to lose. We had the benefit of growing it more gradually.
Olga: Not when the images are great and the source is a trusted vendor.
Where did the name “HighBoy” come from? (A Queen Anne highboy was my first purchase of fine furniture.)
Doug: The name has been a bit tricky. Some people like it A LOT, and some less so. A highboy is a piece of furniture, as you note. We wanted something that people within the industry would understand, yet have a lively, animated name that people outside the industry could have fun with as well. We considered many names and this one just stuck.
Olga: Clearly, it’s a conversation starter. I love words that have multiple meanings, so we were intentional with selecting something that would allow us fun with double entendres. Who doesn’t want their business to ride “high”?
What are some your own favorite periods in history for arts and antiques?
Doug: I like Louis XVI and then Art Deco the most. Both of them are lighter and less ornamental, which is my taste. I find Art Deco very refined, classic and just cool. It was the perfect lead-up to Modern. In terms of art, I’m a fan of the 20th century all the way. I think art was unleashed in the 20th century and allowed to roam.
Olga: The 18th century witnessed such an escalation in craftsmanship and style across the globe that makes it so influential, I’d have to choose it as my favorite in the decorative arts. But in art I’d have to go with the Italian Renaissance. Personally, I collect objects that are religious and devotional in nature because there is a spiritual element that I find so profound.
The “Meet our Dealers” section on HighBoy is fantastic and so personal. Who are some of your favorite dealers, artists or artisans?
Doug: Well, as much as we try to bring out the dealers personalities, there’s always a percentage that is only unveiled after food and wine. Burt Lange from JBL in Miami is a classic storyteller and an absolute riot to hang out with. I’ve known him for years. Also we’re thrilled to see new, young dealers like Colby and Sarah from Arsenal Designed as well as Julia Santen Gallery and Ara from The Hub Gallery. But, I love them all, frankly. We’ve been lucky to find such great partners.
Olga: I always felt that dealers were the unsung tastemakers of the design world, so it was important to me to establish a platform to tell their stories. I could never pick a favorite!
Doug: We do see more interest among young collectors, and we’ll continue to build relationships with them. Our goal is to move the needle on the industry itself and generate a greater awareness of antiques, vintage, modern—whatever you want to call it. But furniture, art and objects with soul. Maybe that should be our new tagline. Nothing wrong with new items, per se, just not our cup of tea.
Olga: Younger professionals don’t want their homes to look exactly like their neighbor’s—they want to live and create an environment that is personal and meaningful. That requires shopping elsewhere than the big box stores.
Finally, what advice do you have for the budding entrepreneur?
Doug: Whoa. Where to begin. I need to write a book. But I think the adage “just do it” would be a great start. Of course, you have to identify your niche, and detail the opportunity, but just get out there and find something that excites you.
Olga: I believe that like most things in life, it’s all about facing your fears head on—and not being afraid to ask for help when you need it most.
On a personal note: How do you spend the rare time you have to relax?
Doug: Traveling. Nothing is better for the soul or the mind. Even just a weekend in the next town works for me.
Olga: With family and friends—and usually a lot of food and drink!
Doug: New York will never let you down, but I’d really like to get back to Rome, which I have great memories of. I have more cities I’d like to visit as a first-time, than those I’d like to revisit. I have yet to visit London and Barcelona. Domestically, I’d love to spend a week in Northern California on a wine tour somewhere.
Olga: Florence, Italy. Lyon, France. Washington, D.C. Anywhere Doug wants to go!
Five things you cannot live without?
Doug: iPhone, travel, good food, good wine, family.
Olga: Family, friends, music, memories, and souvenirs!
How would you describe your personal aesthetic?
Doug: Classic with a heavy dash of the Rolling Stones. I like to mix periods and styles, a lot, but to do that really well takes skill and artistry. I think designers like Darryl Carter are exceptional at this, and have a great sense of balance, at least per my taste. Plus he’s irreverent, and I like how that comes out in his work. I had dinner at his house in Georgetown and was blown away. I just want to buy it from him and move in.
Olga: Collected. Inspiring—I like to surround myself with things that bring joy to my daily life.
How does a dealer contact you and apply to be a member on HighBoy?
They should go here to apply!