#3. Our roots

Posted by Bonne van der Ree on

Who needs a monthly blog when you can have a quarterly one…*grinning*
Picking up where I left it a few months ago: The opening of the first store on the Prinsengracht! I shared it with a friend who had her own label as well and the idea was to mainly use this tiny shop as a studio space. But it was just too silly to not use the space as an actual store. So we crammed two small work tables into the back, put a big counter in and a few white blocks with some cute tables on them and slowly started filling the shop with our creations.

 studiobonbon_out together
Studio BonBon barely visible, in the narrowest building on the Prinsengracht...behind a plant Monique van Bruggen (Studio MHL) and I sqeezing into the doorway


It's worthwhile to give you a more detailed picture of this ‘super glamorous’ first store. It was a tiny little stamp of a space with a narrow front window, a narrow little hallway towards the front door and barely 15m2 of floor space inside. Our work tables took up about 5m2 of it, the rest was for display. There was no kitchen and we had to go up a few steps into what almost felt like a caravan to go to the toilet. Oh and that didn’t flush, we had to use a bucket. Which was actually no hassle at all since the sink had no plumbing connected so we had to put a bucket underneath. Very practical. The kettle for tea and thawing our hands in winter, was balancing on the edge of the sink.

But we weren’t complaining. We had a chance to build our business from scratch, without needing any financial backing. We were there most days, but closed shop if the weather was just too nice to stay in and went to the park. It was a pretty great lifestyle.
We managed to build a small but loyal client base in the 2.5 years we were there. This place gave birth to a lot of new designs, some of them we still carry in our classics collection. Like the Wrist Ribbon, definitely still my all-time favorite.

Inside Studio BonBon Our classic Wrist Ribbon


I learned a lot during the years in this little place. Where to source my materials from (we use about ten different suppliers nowadays), how to make connections with the gold fill material (it’s pretty much impossible to solder by hand), how to make items that are durable, but fine and of course how to run a shop. Something I never thought I’d ever do! I’m an introvert. When I was younger I used to be painfully shy. It just took pointing a finger at me to get a tomato head. I hated getting any type of attention. Of course the next logical step was to become a model…But that did help me a lot to grow from a very introverted, shy person in just a very introverted one. Nothing wrong with that. I enjoy being an introvert. I have this whole inner world that I can exist in.

Anyway, opening a shop wouldn’t have been my first choice of a career, that’s all I wanted to say. Dealing with lots of people on a daily basis. But I loved it! It was great to sell my jewelry face to face and see people’s reactions, receive their compliments…and a complaint every once in a while…not so great, but inevitable. You can never satisfy 100% of your customers. Something I found really hard and unacceptable at that time. It took many years to learn not to take a complaint or a difficult customer as a personal attack. It can still wind me up sometimes. But some people are just rude or expect the impossible, nothing you can do about it, but smile and curse them under your breath. No! I’m kidding, we don’t curse people. We do voodoo.

And then, after 2,5 years, we received notice and had to move out of this cute little place that we’d grown to love. Incidentally, I’d just quit modeling as well…uh oh; no income! My plan was to approach as many stores as possible and wholesale. Did I succeed? You’ll read about it next time…

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