In the heart of Prangins, there’s a hidden gem that whispers tales of the past through its curated collection of vintage treasures. Meet Sian Sibley, the creative force behind Broccoli Brocante, an antique business that has been weaving its magic in the area for over a decade.
How it all started
Sian’s journey into the world of antiques began 15 years ago in Gex, where she noticed a gap in the market for reasonably priced furniture and also between mainstream retailers and the desire for distinctive pieces. Fueled by a passion for the past, she scoured charity shops and quickly became the maestro behind a series of sales from her farmhouse. Over the years, she’s moved from Gex to Tannay and finally rooted herself in Prangins for the last six years.
“People couldn’t really buy reasonably priced furniture. It was either IKEA or the other. So I started going to charity shops and buying up furniture, and there I was selling a lot because I had lots of space.”
With a keen eye for mid-century (50s to 90s) modern pieces, English Bone China and a soft spot for Scandinavian finds, Sian’s collection transcends eras. Her love for the past began during her childhood when she spent time clearing her great aunt’s cottage attic – bursting with antiques, sparking a lifelong fascination. Armed with a degree in English and History, she even wore the hat of a museum curator in England before family life beckoned her to France where there was no shortage of Flea and Antique Markets to explore.
“I’ve always loved things from the past. When I was little, I had a great aunt in North Wales, and we’d go on holiday there. She had this tiny cottage stuffed full of antiques. I remember loving being in the attic and sorting through finding treasures from WW1, for example.”
The photo above is of Sian standing in front of her Great Aunt’s Welsh dresser which is traditionally passed down through the female line.
The Thrill of the Hunt
For Sian, the thrill lies in the hunt, the search for unique pieces that carry a fragment of history. The buying process, she admits, is the easiest part. However, with a hearty laugh, she confesses that her collection has somewhat “gotten out of control.” The joy she gains from it and the social aspect of the sales side keep her spirits high.
“The easiest thing to me is the buying because I love the search and the hunt, identifying and finding it.”
While Sian revels in the buying process, time becomes her biggest challenge. Balancing the physical presence of items with the online shift, particularly on Instagram post-COVID, demands a delicate juggling act. Despite the challenges, Sian enjoys the outlet for creativity that Instagram provides, allowing her to showcase her pieces through captivating photography and storytelling.
“The challenge is really just having enough time to do it, because actually, I could be doing it on lots of other platforms, but I just haven’t got the time.”
The Organisational Puzzle
“How do you keep track of all your stuff?” I asked, and Sian reveals her secret—a spreadsheet and a system of boxes in the cellar. There is also a well-covered cupboard in the midst of all the treasures where she keeps all the pieces that are just for her and are strictly not for sale!
“Most of it is out on display. Then I’ve got a system of boxes down in the cellar. There’s always more to come up!”
As customers enter Sian’s world, they don’t just buy antiques; they inherit pieces of history. Sian recounts stories of customers remembering her when they use a teacup she sold them. Her collection has become a legacy, decorating homes with sentimental value and nostalgic charm.
“They tell me – I always think of you when I use my teacup. It’s almost my legacy in life – I’m always going to be remembered. Some people’s homes are completely full of things that they’ve bought from me.”
Sustainability as a Driving Force
Living in a time now where sustainability has taken centre stage, Sian’s collection is a testament to conscious consumption. While she acknowledges the environmental aspect, she also encourages people to get interested and explore antique and flea markets for the uniqueness they offer.
“I’ve noticed that now, just in the last couple of years, it’s become acceptable to give gifts second hand. The stigma of Oh somebody’s used that already has gone”
Upcoming Sales and Connecting with the Vintage Community
Sian hosts sales at her home three to four times a year, creating an intimate space for customers to explore and connect with the past. Sian will be at the Brocante de la Gruyère in January 2024 and her participation in events like the Garden Festival at the Château de Coppet and the August 2 day Brocante in Nyon reflects the growing appreciation for vintage finds in Switzerland.
“I think vintage is growing in Switzerland because you can see that online. You can see it on Instagram, even since I’ve started three years ago. I think people are coming back to antiques as well. I think they went out of fashion, and people are appreciating it again.”
So, if you ever catch yourself yearning for that special piece with a unique story, just get in touch with Sian at Broccoli Brocante. You might just stumble upon a treasure worth holding close. Don’t forget to follow her account on Instagram to get a sneak peek of her beautiful collection and stay in the loop for future dates and exciting finds!