#1. What happened?

Posted by Bonne van der Ree on

Instead of throwing off the shackles and breaking free from the 9-5 grind to live the oh so coveted free and traveling lifestyle so many desire, I think I accidentally did the opposite. Oops.

In straight terms, I traded my globetrotter lifestyle as a model for the life of a jewelry maker, owning my own boutique and jewelry studio in Amsterdam, plus a bonus men’s gift shop next door, employing about ten people. I now work from one place, and incidentally live at that place too. I don’t do much traveling, but hey freedom exists in your head, so I still have an endless supply. And it did a hell of a lot of good in my emotional life. I get to see my friends and family whenever I feel like it and all this stability turned out perfect to make space for a little human being I call ‘my baby’. Oops not so much, I say! 

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From model (2000, ph. Marc Lagrange)....

...to creative business mommy (May 2017), in front of the BonBon Boutique store


It sounds all very glamorous and easy written down like that. It wasn’t. Not glamorous and not easy. But there’s beauty in finding your own way and letting life unfold by following your gut feeling and creative inspirations. I know it sounds très cheezy, but it’s about the path, not the end goal blahblahblah. And besides, I’m a big advocate of slow growth. There’s just more flavor in things that get time to develop.

So, my path…I guess jewelry making started in my youth. I remember going to the bead shop when I was about ten years old around the corner of the street I grew up on in The Hague. With my saved-up guilders. This shop was heaven to me. Walls filled with tubes and tubes and tubes of beads and beads and beads. Beads in bags, beads in jars, beads on strings. Sigh. I’d buy my most favorite colors, all shades of pink, and used plain metal wire to bend ear hooks. Of course the earring ‘collection’ looked terrible. My mum bought 3 pairs. She hates pink.

And then the business took off, I sold earrings by the tons and became a millionaire at age 11. Just kidding. It took another 15 years before I picked up my hobby again and another 10 before officially registering BonBon Boutique. And then another 5 years before I could make a somewhat decent living out of it. Yes, I’m quite old.

But what happened in those 15 years? During adolescence I found many creative outlets, taking my appearance to the max. It was the time of Nirvana and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I was a mix of goth, punk and ‘alto’ as we called it. Blue hair, piercings and torn clothes, you know the look. I used to take my pet rat to school. What can I say, I liked the company. Jewelry took part in this look, but not of my own hands. I preferred bunches of necklaces, crosses, ankhs, skulls. Loads of big rings and bandanas as bracelets.


Me around 1996 at 21 looking troubled, or was it looking for trouble... In my favorite bookshop in Bondi around 2005, aged 30 (Sydney, Australia)


And then, aged 21, I entered the modeling life. Fish out of water. End of the 90’s, the time of big supermodels like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. The latter one I had the pleasure to meet. Well, not really, she walked past at a show with about five bough looking security dudes around her. I did meet Claudia Shiffer however. Well, also not really, she had her own separate dressing room at a Swarovski show, so I only actually saw her go in as plain old regular Claudia and come out as miss-not-of-this-world-super-pretty-jaw-dropping-gorgeous. Truly a real-life barbie doll.

Anyway. It took a lot of adjusting to this ‘picture perfect’ world. I had felt so comfortable as an ‘alto’ all the years before, but so awkward now amongst all these perfect models. I lost my style. I lost my creativity. Tried so hard to fit in. And was pretty miserable half the time. The other half I enjoyed getting lost on the streets of Paris, the art books, making analogue photo’s. The overwhelming business of Tokyo. The heat of Miami. The fleeting friendships with people that I’m long out of contact with but whom I’ll never forget. Gosh, the overwhelming loneliness. Right, getting a bit dramatic here. In the end it's just another facet of life. You don't have to fear what you know well, so that's one strike for me!

>>>Read on next month!



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