It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

This is our final instalment of interviews and suggestions with regards to buying locally available gifts during this festive season.

We were on the look-out for local businesses who offered “different” and “unique” products, and boy were we blessed by what we found! The Hague and its surroundings has an amazing mix of entrepreneurs, do-ers and makers. With your support and encouragement, our local small businesses will thrive!

Some of the companies featured are start-ups and have a fascinating journey ahead of them. Other businesses have been established on the local market for a longer time. As always, we urge you to support your local businesses throughout the whole year, not only during the festive seasons.

This process has been an inspiring and engaging journey, one that we learnt a lot from!

We wish you and yours a fantastic Christmas and an exciting 2017. We will be back with more interviews, and local tips & tricks in the new year.

Alicja Wieczorek is the owner of Artona and this is her story

Alicja is a Polish artist who has settled in The Hague. Are you on the look-out for someone who can create portraits of your loved ones and your family pets? Do not look anywhere else! Alicja is the portrait artist you need! Portraits can be made with a variety of techniques; for example: aquarelle, pencil, ink, and these techniques can also be combines. Alicja is also able to help you become a pro at painting and offers different group classes at her studio in Voorburg. Visit Alicja’s website here to find out more about her services and her precious works of art.

How did The Hague become home to you?

As a student, I completed my last year of studies in The Netherlands in 2002. I was studying architecture and urban planning, which I graduated with a double diploma. After my graduation, I went back to Poland, but it was very difficult to find a job and with an MBA in my pocket! Since I had received my Dutch diploma, I thought I would try and see if I would be able to find a job in The Netherlands during 2004, the rest, as they say, is history!

What do you enjoy most about living in The Netherlands?

In the beginning I would have mentioned the safe cycling routes, the different nationalities, and people being open minded. After a number of years in The Netherlands, I would add the support and stimulation small businesses receive here. I feel very secure in being able to own my own business here. As a person, I also feel very safe in The Netherlands.

Are there any difficulties to living in The Netherlands?

I find that the rules and regulations seem to change here a lot, and are sometimes so detailed that it makes life a bit more difficult. They also, sometimes, seem to work against each other.

If you could take one aspect of each country (that you’ve lived in) to make your ultimate home, what would you take?

From Poland, I would take the characteristic of those that are humble. I would also add the nature and the diverse landscapes. From The Netherlands, I would take the variety of different nationalities and cultures.

How did you business ~ Artona ~ come about?

Creating, painting and art is a true passion of mine. I’ve been painting since I was 2! Following my career in a different field let me to realise that I actually wanted to do something that I was passionate about. Something I would carry out with real authenticity and love for my art. People really do notice when you create something out of love and passion, it touches others! Drawing and painting was always my first love. It is not incorporated in my art and interior/architecture/design businesses. I want people to feel better by offering them beautiful surroundings and art!

Describe to us what it was like ~ setting up a business in The Netherlands

For me personally, I found setting up my first company quite challenging. Keeping myself disciplined and achieving my business goals was quite difficult. I love that there is so much information on offer, tips on how to created and set up your business etc. you will find that government bodies are there to support you when setting up a business. I own 2 companies, once I set up the first one, the start-up of the second one went event better!

What does your company offer? What are your favourite aspects of your business?

Artona offers portraits, and other works of art upon request. I also offer a variety of different painting and drawing courses & workshops. Children can attend fun and interesting workshops with me as well. The favourite part of my business is that I can create something artistically which I am devoted to and passionate about, whilst making my clients happy!

What are you favourite memories and/or traditions that make your Christmas special?

Being able to spend the time with my loved ones, and seeing the rainbow of lights and decorations on a Christmas tree that smell absolutely divine too! I’ve not been able to accomplish it yet, but traditionally there are 12 specific dishes during Christmas in Poland, which I am looking forward to as well!

Some more local, unique and inspiring companies are featured below with great gift ideas!

We can’t even begin to describe the cuteness that is encapsulated in these handmade bookmarks. Yes, there are those amongst us who still read an actual physical paperback! The smell and crack of the spine of a new book is like no other experience! Intrigue, education and imagination all lie ahead! There’s nothing worse that losing your place in a book when you have to answer the door, or someone distracts you. These little bundles of joy and practicality will solve your dilemma and keep you on the right page! Contact WYWA for further information!

So your kids are asking you for something cool, and different, but you have no idea what to get them? Enter Cool8trendy. They have the funkiest of LED products on offer. We are sure that your kids (and the big kids amongst us) will love the LED shoes that are available at cool8trendy. Cool8trendy believe in offering products that make us, of any age happy, and will bring a smile to our faces. You can also check out their Facebook page here.

Lady Africa is a wonderful shop on the Denneweg that offers, amongst other products, the most fabulous necklaces for women. The colours, textures and sights in this shop are gorgeous, and is a must visit. Lady Africa was set up by Irene Hin, who wanted to bridge the gap between her African and Dutch roots. Irene was touched by the beauty and appearances of the women she saw during a trip to Ghana, whether the women had funds or not, their appearance was always stunning. The fabric designs, and one off brands were too gorgeous not to share, and Irene decided to support and feature these products at Lady Africa. You can visit Lady Africa’s website here.

Completely our fault, we weren’t able to contact Lady Africa by the time of going to press – we are crossing our fingers that they do not mind being featured, as we love their products!

 We would once again like to thank the following for allowing us to write about them throughout this series of festive articles, if you’ve not visited their websites or other forms of social media yet, we urge you to do so!

All details were correct at time of going to press. No responsibility can be held for any omissions or errors contained herein. The companies that appear in this article were interviewed or featured by our editor Claudia Adams. They & their adverts appear in this article for free. All art featured supplied by and other companies featured. Our full disclaimer can be found here.

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