• Alexa Dione Francis

Life Working In An Auction House

Alright, welcome back to the blog and get ready to be nosy because this is all about my job!

I spend far too much time waffling on my Instagram stories and a while a go I did an 'Ask Me Anything' which led to quite a few people asking what I actually do as my job. I found this super interesting but I always forget that unless you know the auction world, describing my job to you will make absolutely no sense whatsoever. But I will be giving it a very good go and clear up the common misconception that I am the one banging a gavel and shouting "SOLD" because I am sorry to disappoint that that is not me. How many of you have left this blog post already now? Please stick with me! I want to share because I actually very much enjoy my job!

Being a twenty-one-year-old young woman and working as a porter in an auction house is definitely not a common thing. I fell into this industry, when I first started my knowledge in antiques and auctions was, shall we say, not exactly extensive. However, I was keen to get out of my dead end retail job and into something new that would challenge me. Originally, I applied for a marketing and admin job at the auction house but due to me not having two full years of marketing experience, I didn't get an interview for it! Instead, there was a job as a porter going (we will get onto this bit in a minute, details on what a porter even is and does coming soon!) and I was offered the position after a brief interview with the managing director.

Since embarking on this journey which began a few months ago, I have learned a LOT. Like a lot, a lot. I have also just realised that is an auction pun as the items we sell are a 'Lot' (e.g. Lot 21, we will start the bidding at £40 blah blah) which has mildly amused me. Anyway, I have quite a lot of responsibilities at work; I am in charge of preparing 80% of the monthly general auction (called Mr Bishop Auctions for those wondering) which means I do all of the photography, set up, moving furniture (which has led me to having an extensive list of injuries) and so on. I help set up the specialist auctions, take phone bids during an auction where I am bidding on someone else's behalf which is terrifying but exciting when it's over. I run the company social media too which I am really looking forward to being able to put more time and effort into and grow it.

I'm a true Suffolk girl having lived in Stowmarket all my life and yet, for the longest time I had absolutely no clue that there was an auction house here. I had heard that somewhere nearby, a bunch of Ed Sheeran's old things were being sold but that was all I knew. Excitingly, there is going to be another Ed Sheeran Memorabilia auction this December and I'm so excited to be a part of it. Once I had completed my education having just studied Level 3 Media Production and Creative Technology, I went full time in the retail job I had been working at whilst studying. Safe to say I never expected to wind up working in an auction house.

I will admit that I am guilty of branding auction houses with the stereotype that they are full of old and dusty antiques with the general clientele being a more traditional, older age group rather than young people in their early twenties. While an aspect of that may be true, it is not the whole truth as I am quickly learning.

Since working at the auction house, I have met all kinds of people of different ages, backgrounds and those who have travelled far just to be a part of the action by bidding in the room and collecting their goods at the end of another successful auction. It is so fascinating to me to see things that look highly unimportant or not worth a lot have an entire history behind them as well as go for a lot of money!

I do struggle sometimes. In the beginning, I really found it hard going from a job of random shift work and being with people my own age, my friends really, as well as being in a bigger town with more to do to being back in my small hometown and not being anywhere else really. It can be both physically and emotionally draining too, I let my fear of failure rule me too often at work which heightens my already irritating anxiety and paranoia that I am shit at my job. Because of that, I'm pretty much always at work. Which has a knock-on effect with my blog and keeping up with my instagram. I get home and I am exhausted, often I go in for 7am or stay later when the panic is in full swing and I have a lot to do so the last thing I fancy doing when I get home is sitting down to write. Equally, nor do I have the time or someone to spare a few hours to go out on a shoot with me!

Recently, there was a work team meeting which was so beneficial. Lots of new things being put into place, clarification of job roles and tasks, making sure everyones work can be done in work hours (c'est la vie 6am wake ups) which I'm excited for because I already love my job so much but if there are things I can do to eliminate the fear of failure I get hit me like a tidal wave, I am all for it.

I have never been one of those fortunate people who had a direct career path or knew what they wanted to be, I have written about that before too. I knew I enjoyed writing, photography, interacting on social media...something creative is all I could see myself doing. How funny it is that here I am, writing this piece in a job where I run a monthly auction and take on photography as well as run the company social media. It is still quite a new company in the antiques world which although is limiting in some senses at the moment, it gives me the opportunity to grow in whatever direction is right for me and in an environment where the possibilities for me are wide and varied. In fact, I am actually creating a whole new blog for the company website that is a bit more informal and fun, written by me, probably one of the only female porters to exist (don't look that up) where I can write at work about work!

I'm excited for all the things I get to do and will get to do despite it being bloody hard work. We have a small team of staff (who are all fab) that put a lot of hours in to continue to grow the business together and grow as people as well.

I hope I have given you a little bit of insight into the auction world, I forgot to mention it is not like 'Flog It!' or 'The Antiques Road Show' but fascinating none the less. I think it'll always be a tricky one to explain properly unless you work in that industry because before actually being a porter, I had no clue such a role existed and the hours that go into it! This week alone I've worked three auctions and of course all the things you have to do to get an auction ready!

To clarify, this blog post is definitely not a "poor me, I work so hard" sympathy post. I wanted to shed light on what my job actually is as well as all the good and bad that comes with it. You will always have a handful of shit days at work. That's work! I am lucky to have a job I like and challenges me daily, that is something I didn't think I would find at 21.

See you soon for the next post!

All my love,