Seven years ago I met my husband Dennis during a Trade Mission from the Province of North Brabant to Istanbul. The Province asked me if I wanted to participate in encouraging Turkish entrepreneurs to do business in Brabant. Dennis played a part in this as his agency designed the Dutch stamps that year which were to be exhibited during Istanbul Design Week. Together with the Chamber of Commerce and Brainport, among others, we had a great time in this vibrant city.
Dennis already had an agency in Amsterdam and Dubai, and a year later I quit my job and left for Dubai to be with him. I have often taken turns in my life for reasons that may not be discernible to others. It has historically always worked out well for me and my adventure took off. Starting all over again. No network, job and reputation. You can imagine I got a lot of curious questions. It stems from a casual ignorance that exists about this region. To this day I have to explain that I am allowed to drive a car or do business with Arab men.
Five years ago we founded our company Skyne. An international independent strategic branding and design firm. We create, refine and transform businesses, combining creative strategic solutions with outstanding design. And again I left everything behind me to start all over again, exactly how we thought it should be. Not an easy time. We had to compete against the established order and there was enormous competition. After years of working in senior positions at corporates I thought that I knew how it worked, but now that I am an entrepreneur I have often thought, you knew nothing at all. It’s an entirely different league.
If you want to win here, you have to enforce it. It is top sport and you have to work hard and smart and put everything aside for it. Only the strongest survive. I kept insisting that if we want to win, we have to do everything right. What we learn today we must take with us tomorrow.
I am also critical of myself. I know what is happening inside and outside my company and I keep in touch with everyone. Our strength lies in the combination of Dutch and local colleagues, a team of intelligent people. What we tell our customers we do ourselves: adapting and interpreting the local culture while staying true to the values of your brand. To nurture a global image while satisfying local customers. Taking into account the tastes and traditions of the local public, while remaining true to our company’s brand values and philosophy.
Dutch companies such as VDL, Van Oord, Hunter Douglas, Philips and Rituals have been successful here for many years and I can recommend everyone to make connections with local parties and to look for cross-sectoral opportunities.