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Speed Mentoring -The start of inspiring events

The first ever Speed Mentoring event took place on April 13th in The Hague. Expatstimes organised the event which focused on mentorship and guidance. The participating audience were young professionals, entrepreneurs, and expatriates.

Opening speeches were held by Expatstimes’ Prashant Shukla and Johann Stan. Our guest mentors were able to introduce themselves and touch upon their professional and personal experiences. Rachel Smets, Ajay Sharma, Mohamed Ittidar and Maurice Zondag were all gracious enough to accept our call to help and offered their time and expertise when it came to mentoring the participants and leading the open floor Q&A sessions. 

 

Topics such as quick presentation dynamics, as well as professional issues and goals were all discussed.
With a relaxed and friendly atmosphere the mentoring, and thereafter, the networking part of the event were widely appreciated and acknowledged by all who attended. Refreshments and light snacks rounded off an enjoyable evening!

It delights us to say the event was an overwhelming success. We are in the throes of planning our next speed mentoring event due to the first one being so outrageously popular! Watch this space and We hope to see you in our next events.

All details were correct at time of going to press. No responsibility can be held for any omissions or errors contained herein. The companies featured on this blog are unpaid.

Our full disclaimer can be found here.

Persistence is the key to success – Amal Ledrhem

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.

 

Ginger bread houses and wedding photography

Passion for storytelling about ginger bread houses and wedding photography

Silvia Falcomer is an Amsterdam based “destination” or travel photographer, Italian by birth and a cultural anthropologist by education. Silvia’s passion for storytelling through photography has caused her to move to The Netherlands a few years ago, and that is how her adventures as an expat began. I met her for a Q&A session, and below you can read more about her story and perhaps get inspired.

  

Where did your passion for photography start and how did your career begin?

The passion for photography started when I was very little, my mum used to work in a photo lab and both of my parents loved photography. I was playing around with their Minolta camera and the idea of becoming a photographer was always in the back of my mind. It was not easy for me though to make the decision to step into the freelance world, but one day I decided to give my dream a try no matter what and I did it in The Netherlands.

And even though that I’m an impatient person I’ve learned to give time to myself, my work, my life. Everything comes into the right place if you trust your path and you work hard for it.

Can you tell us about your decision to move to Amsterdam?

The love for the city started four years ago when I visited Amsterdam just for a weekend, I rented a bike and got around the city. While biking I was thinking that one day I will be living here in a ginger bread house and I will get around with my own bike. Two years later I made it happen. I developed a passion for the visual storytelling and in weddings I saw the best realization of what I had in mind. I wanted to combine my passion for photography and my love for Amsterdam, so I moved, and after two years I’m still here enjoying my job and my life.

What are the main challenges that you are facing on your path?

The main struggle is being a foreigner, since I communicate only in English and so far I don’t have a knowledge of Dutch and it’s difficult to get approached by locals, because I’m still little known in Holland. I started here from scratch, I didn’t know anyone when I came here. Now my work is growing, and even though that I’m an impatient person I’ve learned to give time to myself, my work, my life. Everything comes into the right place if you trust your path and you work hard for it.

 

I stopped looking at other photographers or Instagram. I found that it was disturbing and too overwhelming for my creativity.

What are the main differences between working in your home country and The Netherlands?

I see differences in the weddings style of course, due to the different cultures, but working here is basically the same as working in Italy because of the same approach. I actually do both, I shoot weddings in Holland and Italy and sometimes I travel to other international destinations.

What was your photography education: school/workshops/self-taught?

I’m completely self-taught, in the beginning I shot every single day, I was shooting everyone and everything at every time of the day, that way I learned how to handle light and composition.

I’m a cosmopolitan and a gipsy at heart.

Can you tell us what your job means to you? What do you desire to express with your photos?

I studied anthropology and now I see that my studies fit in my actual work. Being a destination wedding photographer allows me to step into different kind of cultures. I like to capture emotions, that’s what my work is all about. I like simplicity, beautiful light but also moody settings.

 

What is the biggest source of inspiration in your work?

I find inspiration in my travels and in people I meet. But mainly inspiration comes from inside – what makes my heart beat faster. For instance, I stopped looking at other photographers or Instagram. I found that it was disturbing and too overwhelming for my creativity. I’d rather spend more time in the nature, doing things I like.

Please tell us what you like to do when you aren’t shooting?

When I’m not working you can find me exploring Amsterdam or Holland in general. I love drinking coffee with my friends and traveling. Every time I have few days off I book a flight to new destinations, it makes me feel so alive.

Do you have any advice for beginning photographers and other entrepreneurs?

The only advice that I can give it’s to start. You will always think “I’m not ready, I’m not good enough”. We will never be, just start and practice, practice, practice. And love. You must love every single minute of your work, because sometimes it can be pretty hard, but very rewarding in the end.

Where/what is home to you?

There is no single “home” for me, because home is where my heart is and my heart is everywhere. I feel like Amsterdam is home but also my hometown because of my family and friends. I’m a cosmopolitan and a gipsy at heart.

As a destination photographer, what are your favorite locations and where are you looking forward to shooting next?

I’m going to shoot a beautiful wedding in the USA, and cannot wait for it! All the weddings I’m going to shoot are beautiful, different and special on their own. I’m already in love with all my couples.


Silvia’s most up-to-date photography portfolio can be found on her website www.silviafalcomer.com.


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 Olga Golubova. 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.

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