Today is international women’s day. We are lucky to have so many amazing women working with us on staff. To celebrate we interviewed our president and auctioneer Heather Kohler about her role and the future of women in the auction and antiques business.
International women’s day celebrates women’s achievements in science, mathematics and the arts as well in the social and economic sphere. What does this mean to you?
International women’s day is a fantastic opportunity for young girls/young women to see examples of women who have achieved great things. It also serves as a reminder to take a moment and celebrate our own successes. There is beauty in acknowledging all the positives we as women are achieving. As a mother I’ve become more attuned to the messages conveyed to women and girls; we are bombarded with images of what being a female is supposed to be; how we are expected to act live, dress, look; expectations are grilled into us. I want to give my daughter the freedom to see these representations for what they are …. Unrealistic. I want her and other young girls/women to recognize their unique gifts and strive to achieve their goals.
Who is your biggest influence or icon?
While I don’t have a specific influencer or icon – I do find Missy Elliott inspiring. If I could job shadow a business leader it would be Barbara Corcoran.
Describe your main job functions.
My schedule looks different each day. I enjoy a varied and unique profession. A typical week consists of meeting with potential consignors, evaluating and appraising personal property items and antiques. I spend time answering questions from both buyers and sellers. I catalog items for upcoming auctions and coordinate upcoming schedules. And of course, I let Kinder (my black lab) in and out and in and out.
What made you want to pursue being an auctioneer?
I had been working here for several years and one day decided I can do this. True story I was clerking beside dad and he was having an off night and I kept thinking of pushing him to the side and taking over to get it done….how foolish! He made it look so easy
Did you face any struggles as a woman in the field and how did you overcome them?
The short answer is yes. I choose to focus on doing my job, learning from others and staying positive.
Based on your experience, what advice would you offer women who are interested in pursuing a career in the auction sphere?
Be yourself. Never stop learning. Network with other professionals, business leaders. Find a mentor. Go to as many auctions as you can. Watch and learn. This is an extremely competitive industry – be open to working from the ground up.
Why do we need more women in the auction world?
This is a male dominated industry, but in the past few years you are seeing more women behind the gavel at top auction houses. This is an exciting trend and I think we owe it to women’s ability to multi-task and wear many hats. We can be tough and firm auctioneers, but also savvy businesswomen, planners and advisers.
What do you believe the biggest challenge will be for the generation of women behind you?
Discovering new markets and buyers. As the industry shifts, the next generation needs to be adaptable to find the next growing market for personal property and antiques. As our lives are increasingly made easier by technology, we will need women leaders to educate future buyers and consignors on the importance of relying on a skilled professional to properly list, market and sell items versus taking it on yourself.