Nice to have you here again and reading my weekly blog. No tropical news from sunny Barcelona today, but this week I would like to talk to you about my business coach.
On March 1, 2006 I was at the Chamber of Commerce in Amsterdam. So that was almost 14 years ago now. I had helped my boss set up Friis & Company in the Netherlands quite successfully and after 3 years I thought, I can do this myself. So I opened my own agency in 2006 and focused on the distribution of Danish accessory brands.
I've never really excelled at school. The Athenaeum (the Dutch school system) was very hard for me and I even failed my final exams. When I did 6 VWO exams for the second time and I received a little help, the penny dropped and I went through university with ease. I am anything but self-taught. I need an example, someone to help me. Someone to guide me a little. That is the wisdom of today talking, I did not know that in 2006.
The fact that I now run All-time Favourites quite successfully 14 years later is not thanks to any business talent. I ran my business under the guise of Management by Luck. I just did what I did, knew the market well, didn't really have a vision or a mission. A nose for trends and an overload of passion, energy and perseverance.
In 2014 I wanted to quit. I had set up more than 10 brands (Mimic Copenhagen, Sofie Schnoor, Rubber Duck, Tuc Tuc, Lize Lindvig, Kathy Van Zeeland, Holster Australia, Jouels, the Purz-n-izer, Mos Copenhagen) in the Netherlands, and I had run out of options. I no longer had the strength to set up an 11th brand. I had already invented that nice large python tote bag in 2010 and had it produced under my own label. I had sold 500 and thought it was nice.
Then in April 2014, Net-a-Porter came along and that was my game changer. If they are interested in that one python shopper, then I should be able to do a lot more with it, right? I gave myself one year to turn that one python shopper into a brand and a collection. That was 2015. The rest is history.
But running a business is not something you learn at university or from a book. Management by luck has taught me quite a bit. But I didn't really get far. It was 2016, ATF was going quite well, I was working my butt off but making so little and didn't know what to do.
I only really started to accelerate after 2016 when someone came my way who helped me really build a business and a brand. My wheelbarrow. Without him I would never have made it this far.
I'm talking about Ole van der Straaten. He is my business coach. He teaches me, in an almost military manner, how to build my business. With a basement, kitchen, restaurant and flight deck—those are Ole's terms. And the golden triangle (target group, pain target group and core proposition). Then menu, soldier's manual and milestone plan. Stick to the plan. Nada mas.
It remains a daily challenge for me not to give free rein to my creativity (I see opportunities everywhere), but to continue to focus. He teaches me everything about building a brand, through everything he has experienced in his own career, including at Unilever. I hang on his every word. Always. Even when I get my ass kicked.
Nice weekend! Love Brechje