Claudia Adams

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I’m Claudia, Dutch by birth, British by nationality and Emirati by adolescence. I’m a natural born information gatherer. I love all things research. It’s what lights me up! Having been an expat most of my life allows me to have the understanding of what expats go through when moving to a new country. As an editor at ExpatsTimes, I’m looking forward to working with an outstanding team of creative and passionate individuals.

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 www.artona.eu and other companies featured. Our full disclaimer can be found here.

May your days be merry and bright!

We are back with our second instalment of interviews and further suggestions of where to buy different and unique gifts during this festive season. As in the previous post, we strived to find local businesses who have either just launched onto the market, or have been around for a while.

As previously mentioned, we were not supposed to feature interviews, this came about organically when our editor was speaking to various local companies and became inspired by their stories and how their businesses came about.

This is Angie Hickson’s story

Angie is a British artist and expat based in The Hague. Using The Hague as her muse, Angie creates gorgeous and ever lasting memories of The Hague and its surroundings. Angie also offers a “bespoke” service, incorporating your own wishes and ideas, making a blank canvas come alive. Prices typically range from 200-600 euros. Angie’s art has been exhibited in the UK, in galleries and at art events. To find out more about Angie, her beautiful art work and services on offer, see here.

Why did you end up living in The Netherlands?

My husband and I were living in Asia when a work opportunity came up for my husband here in The Hague, 7 years and 2 children later and we are well settled into life here.

What do you enjoy most about living in The Netherlands?

It has to be the cycling! It’s great being able to do the school run by bike and my kids really enjoy it too! I have always loved The Netherlands and since moving here we have enjoyed the nature as well as the beautiful Dutch cities. The architecture is fantastic and it makes me feel very inspired to paint! Since having children in The Netherlands, I really appreciate the country for how child friendly it is. We live in The Hague and enjoy both the city and the beautiful greenery that is found throughout the city.

Are there any difficulties with living in The Netherlands?

The Netherlands has been a great place to make our home, especially as parents. Any difficulties we experience is usually to do with being an expat, such as not having family near-by and language difficulties, but I find that the expat community is large in The Hague, which has given us lots of support and friendship.

How did your business come about?

After graduating textile design at university, I set up a small business creating bespoke textile products. I realised that my favourite part of the business was painting the designs. The business stopped once we moved to The Netherlands but I continued my love of painting. The art that I created received a really good response and I got commissions to make bespoke paintings. Over the last year along with ordered work, I have created a series of paintings based on areas of The Hague.

What does your company offer?

By working with the customer I offer personalised, bespoke paintings. The customer sends me images or ideas of what they would like and I begin the process of painting the desired art work for them. I love being able to add personal details to the image that I know the customer will cherish. I am currently creating a painting of a person’s childhood home adding personal details, such as a tree house and the family cat! I send updated images throughout the process to ensure the result is perfect. Past projects have also included wall murals, for example children’s bedrooms. If a customer has an idea, I try my best to create the art for them.

What are the favourite aspects of your art?

I really enjoy creating detail in my paintings, I love intricate patterns and incorporate these in my work. My style of painting and drawing is varied and I love using black illustrations to add definition to my work.

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

I love Christmas Eve, and the anticipation of a wonderful Christmas day. Since having children we have made some lovely traditions, the most recent one being elf on a shelf! I enjoy making Christmas crafts with the children for the Christmas tree and for their grandparents. The winter here makes it an ideal time for hibernating, eating festive food, and enjoy being at home.


More unique & individual gift ideas


 
We love a local company with a story behind them! Purchase products from this business born in Scheveningen, and you’ll be sponsoring the Orangutan Rescue Foundation. What is not to love about that? Check out FLMGO’s website here. The surfer chicks and dudes in your life will thank you!

FLMGO currently have a €10 discount on their sweaters via their website, using the code FLMGO XMAS.


If you’re looking for gifts for the home, check out a new idea on bed linen, bath robes and even cleaning articles! All the products are hypo-allergenic and durable! Optidee gives you an overview of what is on offer. If you are local to The Hague, delivery will be personal and to your door! The contact person in The Hague is ~ Sandra Guerrouche-van Koppen Tel: 06-57835858. Get in touch with Sandra for further information.



Let’s see if these 2 words will grab your attention ~ personalised shoes!

Yes personalised hand painted shoes are available, and they are swoon worthy! Although Shadan Design is based elsewhere in The Netherlands, we had to feature their products because of the personalised service & individual products. Contact the designer and they will try their best to accommodate you. They truly tick our “different” and “unique” boxes! Shadan Design’s website can be found here.

Our last instalment of interviews and gift suggestions will be published soon! Watch this space!

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 by our editor Claudia Adams. They & their adverts appear in this article for free. All art featured supplied by www.angiehickson.com and other companies featured. Our full disclaimer can be found here.

It’s looking a lot like Christmas!

We’ve been racking our brains, trying to come up with new and exciting ideas of where to buy gifts this festive season. Our search criteria was that we wanted to buy local, and that the products we found and what was suggested to us, should be different and unique.

During the run up to Christmas, in a series of interviews, we will be showcasing some local companies who offer that little something different. Some are start ups and have exciting times ahead of them, others have been on the local scene for a while. We weren’t supposed to feature interviews! They just happened organically, after being in contact with some of the business owners and becoming interested in their stories, and what this time of year meant to them!

We encourage you all to support your local businesses throughout the year! 

We are pleased to be publishing our first interview below, along with other suggestions of where to find some interesting, and unusual locally available gifts.

This is Jelena’s story

Jelena is from Serbia, and has now made The Hague her home. Jelena offers handmade cookies and cupcakes, from ordinary to extraordinary! Jelena’s artistic imagination shows no bounds, give her an idea and let her run with it! You’ll be amazed with the beautiful and delicious cupcakes and cookies Jelena has to offer. Jelena offers themes for different sorts of events, seasons and festivities. You can contact Jelena via her Facebook page, which features past and present projects.

Jelena is from Serbia, and has now made The Hague her home. Jelena offers handmade cookies and cupcakes, from ordinary to extraordinary! Jelena’s artistic imagination shows no bounds, give her an idea and let her run with it! You’ll be amazed with the beautiful and delicious cupcakes and cookies Jelena has to offer. Jelena offers themes for different sorts of events, seasons and festivities. You can contact Jelena via her Facebook page, which features past and present projects.

Why did you end up living in The Netherlands?

I followed my heart! My fiancé (now my husband) was offered a job here in The Hague. We had both never lived abroad, it was a completely new and exciting opportunity for us.

What do you enjoy most about living in The Netherlands?

I used to live in Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia. It is quite a big city which brings a specific lifestyle to it – people are mostly in a rush and don’t have time to relax and see the world around them. But, The Hague is something completely different! I find everything peaceful and well organised here. People are very open and friendly. Before I moved here, I can honestly say that I had some prejudice with regards to living here, thinking that a colder climate may make the Dutch people “colder”. It did not take me long to realise how wrong I was! The fact that so many different nationalities and religions have made The Netherlands their home, made me understand that the Dutch are open minded and their hearts are open too. I’ve made friends with people from many different countries since living here, which has made my life very vivid and interesting! Since I’m a devoted artist and produce hand made products, I love the fact that these kind of products are appreciated in The Netherlands.

Are there any difficulties to living in The Netherlands?

I’m learning Dutch to break the language barrier, but so many people speak English here that communication is very easy. I get homesick at times, and miss my mother, family members and friends in Serbia very much.

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

That’s easy! Serbian food and Dutch organisation!

How did your business come about?

I wanted to contribute financially to the family income, and tried to figure out what the best way would be to use my artistic talents and earn some money. As an artist, I found it quite difficult to make a living here. Then I had a lightbulb moment! I realised that most of us have a sweet tooth, and I could still express myself artistically, just in a different way!

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

Right now, my business is still quite small. It all really started as something to keep me busy and my mind active. I set up my Facebook page to show friends and family what I was making. It gained momentum from there, people started placing orders, were satisfied with my products, and word spread! As a small business owner, never underestimate word of mouth! So far I’ve not had any problems with setting up my business here, ask me again in a year when I have (hopefully) expanded the business!

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

I make cookies, cupcakes and cakes. I can decorate them how you choose ….. just use your imagination, explain something to me or send a photo of what you have in mind. I will then make it a reality! My favourite products to make are royal icing sugar cookies, cupcakes with butter cream and toppers, cake pops and cakes with 3D characters. Children love my cakes with 3D characters!

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

I get really excited about decorating our home and the Christmas tree! I love preparing all of the traditional Christmas dishes, and celebrating with my husband and our daughter.


SOME MORE UNIQUE GIFT IDEAS 


Do you have a budding musician in your life, and have no idea what to get them? How about a gift certificate from Virtuosi, they offer lessons for a different number of musical instruments. You can contact the school, and decide what you would like the gift certificate to feature.


Kado om de hoek was suggested to us over and over again. We know it well ourselves, and are in full agreement with how others described the shop and its owner. “The owner treats everyone like royalty”. “The gift wrapping is amazing”. “Must visit”. Visit Kado om de hoek for first class service and some fantastic gift ideas.


For something completely different, visit their Instagram. The 2nd Layer is a young company that creates one of a kind products by combining graphic design, laser cutting and engraving techniques. Since all of their creations are hand made, each item has their own personal and unique look. You can also visit their Etsy page here.


Beyond arte with love caught our eye since they offer (amongst many items) gluten free cakes, and gifts in a jar, all handmade with a lot of love!. Beyond Arte was set up to go beyond plastic and mass produced products. Visit Beyond Arte’s Facebook page here


Our next instalment of interviews and gift suggestions will be published soon! Watch this space!

All details 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 by our editor Claudia Adams. They & their adverts appear in this article for free. Our full disclaimer can be found here.

 

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