Monday, 5 August 2013

Starting your own business


I have been dreaming of my own Ella&Louis shop for a while now, thinking about what I would make, where I would make it, what materials I would need and how I would put the 'how-to-make' on the blog. Thinking being the operative word here, it never really seemed to develop beyond that stage. Inspired by other people who were/ are living dreams, such as Julia Child and Julie Powell (I watched Julie&Julia yet again) Garance Doré, Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman (a beautiful mess) and creativity deity Pharrell Williams, I felt I was a creativity/ living your dream nitwit, miles away from any Pharrellness. 'But Julia Child wasn't always Julia Child'. I simply had to start, just start and work hard and see where it goes. So I did, yesterday I contacted the 'Brouwmeesters', the people who have started a 'company-collective-building for the making industry' in Nijmegen, our lovely city. I am really excited about sharing a building with other creative people starting their own company and really hope this works out. It not working out is just not an option. I will keep you posted and hopefully I will acquire the tiniest bit of Pharrellness, so I can inspire others to take the plunge as well.


Well done, the last post was over a year ago, so there was little 'just doing it' and more 'just postponing it'. However, Ella & Louis (or officially Jacoba Wilhelmina Maria, thanks to the Dutch chamber of commerce) is taking shape! The Smeltkroes is it's new home, a lovely and inspiring place, filled with creativity. I'm setting up house in room 10, the big, empty, sad middle part is mine:

On the first day of these 5 weeks off, I ordered my new Ikea table (yes, I can be proud of myself, ordering an Ikea table while sharing my room with a skilled cabinet maker). The truck driver couldn't find the Honig factory and when he did arrive, brought 4 table-legs and three iron things to attach them to the table, so I can start sewing as long as I mind the balance when placing things on the table (nonchalantly leaning on the table when talking to someone, not an option).

Well, the table is there (almost), my sewing machine is there, the Smeltkroes is a reality now. Even this first part of starting Ella & Louis/ JWM (looks kind of nice, they are my Christian names, the names of my grandmothers (and the virgin Mary, Catholic tradition being what it is), so maybe it will be a good thing, keeping the name) feels like a dream come true. I could feel it cycling back to the old part of the city after my first day in the Smeltkroes, a physical happiness, almost like your skin is tingling.

A dream come true it may be, a lot of work lies ahead. Last week was 4-daagse week, best week of the year in Nijmegen, so this week will be the week to get off to a running start. There are the practical things, such as deciding what to make first (I would really like to start with tote bags, love them, with folk embroidery), designing a logo (would love to have my own logo and embroider it on my tote bags), and investing time in making this visible online. Furthermore, there are more fundamental issues, such as constructing the identity of Ella & Louis/ JWM (maybe starting with deciding on the name), thinking about how to incorporate English literature (what I would really like to do) and creating the foundation for a strong label. It will be a long (and maybe bumpy) process, but I am convinced that it will work. I don't necessarily want to quote Ella Fitzgerald again, but it's intertwined with the start of everything:

Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there's love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong.

Well, doing it, I suppose, trying it, which is exciting and a bit scary as well. 
I will keep you posted.


If you want to know about the delicate (really,it wasn't at all) process behind the design of my logo, click here.

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