My name is Thaisa Macriani and this is my first blog post published for ExpatsTimes. For this first article, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amal Ledrhem. Amal is a local entrepreneur and mother of two with Moroccan roots and is based in The Hague, in 2014 she founded her company specialized in authentic handcrafted handbags. Amal besides a businesswoman is also Malik and Elissa’s mother. Read more about her compelling story below.
How did you take the leap towards entrepreneurship?
Well, I went through a divorce 4 years ago and it got me thinking about what I wanted to do. Questions like “What is my passion? and What do I want to achieve?” ran through my mind.
And then it came to me, during a holiday in
Marrakesh. As my friend and I were admiring all the handcrafted leather goods which surrounded us and I started a chat with the shop owner where he told me, he could make any design I wanted. At that moment, I knew I wanted to start my own company – Amal Design.
You founded your company 4 years ago, do you have a background in fashion?
Yes, I have a fashion degree – MTS Mode & Kleding however, at the time of graduation, I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet and therefore, I started working for the Dutch government.
Are there any entrepreneurs in your family?
No, there are no other entrepreneurs in my family. I am the one who chose to follow this path but my parents have always encouraged me. Especially because they did not have the same opportunities. My parents came to the Netherlands as immigrants, with the idea of returning to their homeland.
How is the process of creating the bags? Where does the inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from everywhere and everything. It can be a color that I see and love or a shape in architecture (which I used in the Elissa line). That’s also a reason why I love to travel. Traveling gives me a lot of new perspectives and influences, but you need also an open mindset. When I get an inspiration I immediately write it down or start a sketch. First I started to sell bags that I designed and were handcrafted by the man I met in Marrakesh. Because I wanted to be a brand that would also mean something for society. Unfortunately, our cooperation did not work well and I had to find another supplier. I ended up in China and Portugal, which are still the countries where my designs are being manufactured.
What are the biggest challenges you face in business?
There are several great challenges in my business. First of all, it is to guess the needs and taste of my possible customers. Because as a designer, you design something you love, but your intention is also to sell it. So the crowd you are aiming at has to love it as well. Secondly, to know how to reach your target group. Another great challenge is maintaining the quality of my products, something that I really care about it. And finally, the last challenge for me as a designer is maintaining my creativity and renewing all the time because fashion is very dynamic. So you have to keep up with all the fashion developments.
What would your advice be for someone who is thinking about starting their own business?
My advice to someone who wants to start their own business is to “do it out of passion first” because it costs a lot of time. When you have your own business, then you are working on it 24/7. You can not sustain if your passion is not big enough. You have to know what you are aiming for and what the purpose of your company is. So I would say “yes, go for it” if that is what your passion is, then follow your heart. Just be aware of the steps you are making.
Amal Design store is located at De Herenstraat 136 in Voorburg and you can also buy online.
All details were correct at time of going to press. No responsibility can be held for any omissions or errors contained herein. The company that appeared in this article were interviewed or featured by our editor Thaisa Macriani. They & their adverts appear in this article for free. All art featured supplied by Amal-Design and other companies featured.
Our full disclaimer can be found here.