For years I dreamt of starting my own business, a store, something that would be entirely mine. A safe space for me to do as I please, where I wouldn’t have to answer to anyone. A place to feel at home and be able to make my own hours. I would sometimes share this dream with my boyfriend but never really made any concrete plans. Until our summer holiday in France in 2015, where he suddenly uttered the words: “If you start something on your own, you should call it ‘Wiezewasjes’.”. Those words stuck with me.
I suffer from severe anxiety, and at the time, I was hardly able to go outside. I could no longer keep working in a store, no matter how much I liked doing so. I also noticed that it was getting more challenging for me to keep working under a boss. This was the moment to make the big step, and this is how Wiezewasjes was founded five years ago. In November that year, I registered with the chamber of commerce with the idea of starting a webshop from home.
I started sourcing products, researched how to build a webshop, and on February 1st of 2016, the website was live! Sustainability is very important to me, so I started selling silver jewellery -with and without gemstones-, bio tea, vintage interior items, and bags and wallets from vegan leather. During the first few weeks, the words “What did I get myself into?!?!” often crossed my mind. My entire dorm room was covered in boxes, and even the shared hallway contained a giant roll of bubble wrap. Shortly after launching the website, I rented my first office. Not only to regain some living space but also because I started to notice that locking myself in my room was not helping my mental health. This new office forced me to get out of my house and out of my head.
We hit the ground running; I needed my first staff member as of May, and by the end of the year, we were a team of six girls in need of a second office! People started asking if we had a physical store where they could admire our products. Somewhat enthusiastically and spontaneously as I am, I signed the lease for our store in the Papestraat. We took some time to remodel and officially opened our doors in April; what a ride!
The last five years have flown by! Today, Wiezewasjes has over 30 employees. We are currently in our 6th office (hopefully our home for some time to come). The last couple of years have taught me so much, about myself, about the world. I am so proud of everything we have accomplished together over the last few years; the people and animals we were able to help and the smiles we were able to put on the faces of our amazing customers!
When I am working above the store, I can hear shoppers passing by, talking and laughing. Every once in a while, I will suddenly hear: ‘THIS IS WHERE THE WIEZEWASJES STORE IS, AAAAAH WE NEED TO GO IN!’. That is so special to me! Or, for example, when I am on holiday on the other side of the Netherlands, I will see someone wearing our jewellery or carrying a Wiezewasjes tote bag! Few things bring me more joy.
It is extraordinary to realise that I went from taking pictures with my phone to employing multiple photographers and shoots in the Hortus in just 5 years. I went from my student dorm to an office and back home again for funny Skype meetings due to Covid-19. We had our first (and definitely not last) stand on a convention. And we are not only registered in the Netherlands but also in Belgium. Meanwhile, our orders travel all over the world.
We had some magical experiences over the last 5 years, and I can not wait to find out what the next 5 will have in store for us!