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 https://www.facebook.com/jelenassweetcookies/.
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 http://www.virtuosi.nl/en/home/, 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 http://www.kadoomdehoek.nl for first class service and some fantastic gift ideas.
For something completely different, visit http://www.instagram.com/the2ndlayer. 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 www.etsy.com/shop/the2ndlayer.
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 https://www.facebook.com/www.beyondartewithlove/.
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.