It’s been a LONG TIME since I wrote a proper biz talk post, but after a conversation I had this weekend this idea has been on my mind heavy. There is definitely a major difference between the fantasy of owning your own business and the reality of it. That deserves its own post in the future, but I want to talk about that difference when you throw moving to another country into the mix. A country for one reason or another you’ve decided to make a life in, but hadn’t considered it business-wise.
I can talk from a personal perspective since I am one of those people. Now that I’m feeling settled where I am, I am still not sold on the buying power of customers here. Not Europe, but The Netherlands. I have one of two choices at this point: I could either give in (which is not an option if you haven’t noticed) or make it work for me. Sure, the materials I use for my jewelry are desperately scarce here and in small shops there is a general lack of quality control, but that won’t deter me. It’s actually made me become much more resourceful with what I brought here to begin with. It has also forced me to take my ideas of product expansion into a workable reality. I’ve been researching where to learn how to cast jewelry and later this month I’m taking an intensive sewing course (ahh, things I’ve never mentioned here).
One thing I’ve learned living here so far is there’s absolutely no excuse to be had when you really want something. When you’re put in a difficult position, you just have to work with what you’ve got until you’ve got something better. I could just as easily spend every single day here moping about not having access to all the amazingness that is New York City—or I can get on my bike and ride around this town and see if there is a tiny shop here or there that might be of interest to me. It is so easy to take NYC for granted when you’ve lived there your entire life. I knew better than to think I would have access to every thing imaginable, but I never thought it would be this difficult to find even basic things for my business to grow. With time and an expansion of my personal network, things will change. It just takes time.
In all honesty, I think like many other Americans, I came here thinking, Euros! My stuff is different. I’ll be a hit! but expected it immediately. I don’t even know why I would think that since I would have to build up a name here, but you know, the eagerness of new sometimes doesn’t make you think. In a perfect world, I would’ve spent time getting to know other European designers prior to moving instead of just looking at their work. I will mention that I don’t see too many designers in Amsterdam that make what I like and those who are a bit more popular aren’t really the style I’m into. I do need to be mindful of my audience, but the beauty of newness is you also get to introduce a new way of looking at something and no one can take that from you. I plan on using it for what it’s worth: which is a lot.
It’s probably a good thing I have larger plans for my business than just what I’ve been making, which in all honesty I’m a bit tired of making. Spoiler alert: I’m putting some styles in a sales vault [new category] and they’ll be on sale until they are all sold and won’t be recreated again. I’m ready to try new things. Moving is a true test of patience. You are in some ways starting from the bottom if you didn’t have a large following to begin with in your new territory. In other ways, there’s so much more available to you—there are countries surrounding me that I have easy access to now that I would never have had before.
Have any of you made a really big move to a place that wasn’t what you thought it might be business-wise? How did you handle that transition? Did it stop you dead in your tracks or did it inspire you to grow? This is something I would love to have tons of opinion on because I think sometimes as expats one negative thing can make us mentally and spiritually snowball into everything turning out not in our favor.