What is your 'Brand' and how did it come about?
My 'Brand' is Solaris Houtatelier. Solaris means 'As the sun' because wood is for me the Gold of the Sun. The tree always grows to the light of the sun and absorbs its energy. It is, as it were, stored in the wood. Wood does not only provide heat when you throw it into the stove, but it is a property that is embedded in it. That is why it is so popular.
Last year I discovered the beauty of urban wood, originating from the trees that had to disappear from the city but were not fragmented. Since then I only work with local wood and make music boxes. The nice thing about this is that from every plank I buy from those who saw the wood such as Tafelboom in Utrecht, I know where the tree stood from which it was sawn because the tree did not cover great distances and often did not even leave the city.
Do you remember when someone bought a music box from you for the first time? How did that feel?
The first box was believed to be sold via Etsy, an international platform for creative makers. The box was only just on when I got the mail from Etsy 'Congratulations, you have sold your first item' Then of course I was very happy. The Etsy website where you can open a shop is very sophisticated and you reach a large part of the world. I now receive orders almost every week from around the world.
But what I actually remember much more clearly is the very first box: No. 1. I am now approaching 500! I gave the first box as a present to friends for the birth of their daughter. The music boxes are real gifts and are almost always given as a present, so I think it is appropriate that I also gave the first box as a present.
What are the fun and less pleasant aspects of running your own business?
It has two sides:
I greatly enjoy the freedom of movement that I have as an independent entrepreneur.
No fixed structure, it is different every day, the hours fly by and the days fill in a natural organic way.
But it also often means: An empty bank account & fridge! Unrest and uncertainty, precisely because I do not have a steady income: Freedom is paid dearly but more than worth it! Fortunately, things are now going much better since my start in October 2014, thanks to the music boxes!
What are you most proud of?
That I took the risk of giving up my steady job and certainty for something that you do not know beforehand if it will succeed. And that despite all the setbacks, empty bank accounts and other infestations that a starter has to endure in the first years, I have kept my good mood and continue whistling! And that works!
How does your product make the world a little better?
The music boxes are not that important, not world-reforming or necessary.
But just very nice and beautiful. I can see that from the people who pass my stall in markets: They stand still for a moment, sigh and smile! Perhaps it is the beauty of simplicity; Natural pure wood in which a small mechanical music piece makes a melody sound. In this current hectic time, in which all kinds of technology occupy and control the consciousness of people, these small, modest objects have their own natural value and give you rest or make you happy. It is also a sustainable product because the raw material, the wood of local trees from the city would otherwise be shredded. Now it is 'given back' to the city in a new form that lasts longer than the woodchips processed into bio fuel, also useful, but you see, you can also make something beautiful out of it!
If you could work with someone, from the present or the past, who would that be?
With a genius! Someone who can inspire me by his or her originality, and say, "Look, why do not you do it like that!" And then I say "Wow, what a good idea that I had not come up with that yet!" Collaboration is fun if you inspire each other!
It could be Leonardo da Vinci, but for example also a child, who often have an uninhibited spontaneous look and a sparkling fantasy without the intellectual inhibitions and reasoning of adults.
Finally: What is your advice for other young starting entrepreneurs?
Be original and authentic!
Don't let money be your motivation, but passion for what you want to create. Don't worry too much about the outcome, just go! and having fun in concretizing and realizing your plans, only then does it become clear step by step where it will go, probably in a direction you did not expect ... And then it is good!