#2. And then...

Posted by Bonne van der Ree on

Okay, it took a wee bit longer than a month to write this follow-up. I’ve been extremely busy watching my daughter grow. Beats working by a distance from here to the moon and back. I now refer to her as ‘Little Human’, since she’s about to start walking and hardly a baby any more. Sweet pea…well, the kind of sweet pea who tears up all my magazines just cause she likes the sound of it. And tearing carton for that matter. Her book with fold-over flaps is now flap-less, the animals who used to be hiding behind ‘doors’ now naked and exposed. Her favorite word is ‘kak’, which I’ll leave up to google translate. And I’m so very excited she’s pulling herself up to standing on her own…by my nose/earring/skin of my throat!? Ouch.

 Ella  Sandcastle
The Little Human doing some digging Laid back life in Australia


But let’s get back onto the road we started on: the making of jewelry and the becoming of BonBon Boutique. Back to the years of modeling. Jobs came and went and some traveling was involved. And then, at age 26 I came to Sydney for the first time. And didn’t leave for about 4 years. Life has never been so relaxed. The heat, the sun, the laid-back lifestyle, it suited me. I needed it to find my roots again. What was I about? What makes me happy? What makes me feel good? I’ve made some lifelong friendships with the most inspiring people. Getting away from life in Amsterdam gave me the opportunity to reinvent myself. To let go of how other people perceived me and me acting accordingly. I could totally and utterly ‘act’ myself now.

And so I found my creativity again. I got hold of some materials, mostly plastic back then. Ugh! And surprise surprise, I created some awful things with that. But it didn’t stop me. Even when I was forced to leave the sunny lifestyle behind and trade it for the rainy canals of Amsterdam again…beautiful in it’s own way, I have to admit. While re-building a life here, the hobby slowly turned into something more serious. My choice of materials changed from cheap plastic to beautiful vintage beads and parts. What was still missing was an affordable alternative to gold. Vintage materials are often brass, with that warm golden sheen. Silver, however affordable, just wouldn’t do. And then I stumbled upon the Material of Materials…gold fill.

Gold fill changed everything. It gave me the opportunity to experiment with my creations without spending a ton. It gave me the freedom to slowly start an independent label and keep everything in my own hands. It wasn’t a widely known material back then (about 10 years ago). I can still drum up it’s explanation…gold fill is a material with a brass core and an extremely thick layer of gold fused onto it…etc. Today a lot more great little labels use gold fill, hurray!


 Work situation from the very first little store in 2009

Like mother like daughter...Australia 2007


Around this time another important opportunity came my way. I’d been trying to build a living again in Amsterdam, with hardly any income: I was over 30 now and it was hard to get back into the modeling game at this side of the planet. I choose to live anti-squat (a cheap way of living, in all sorts of empty buildings as a sort of security to prevent squatting) to be able to make ends meet. It was through this anti-squatting agency that I got my first little store on the Prinsengracht, one of the lovely canals of Amsterdam. I registered BonBon Boutique and jumped in. I was a proper label now!

On a little side note: in case you are wondering where the name BonBon Boutique came from. Funny that. When I lived in Sydney, I’ve been called the weirdest names, because nobody could pronounce Bonne the right way. I’ve been called anything from Bonnie (all the time) to Boner (no kidding). My friends and their kids started calling me Bonbon, much easier to pronounce. And that was the starting point. Boutique was a natural addition to BonBon, three B’s. Which can now be found in the logo if you look closely.

The Little Human just woke up and she will need cuddles. I will see you next month…or somewhere thereabouts…

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