Expat Entrepreneur in the Netherlands: Ginni Fleck
Ginni Fleck teaches people how to develop their artistic talents using textiles at her amateur school in Amsterdam.
Name: Ginni Fleck
Nationality: USA met verblijfsvergunning
Country of residence: Netherlands
Name of company: DIY Textile School
Date of company launch: 18 May 2010
Can you give us a brief description of your business and how it is going?
DIY Textile School stimulates and educates participants in their artistic development, from concept to design, in creating unique textile art. As a starting business it is doing well with repeat customers, students on a wait-list and certification from the amateur art foundation.
What do you like about doing business in your country of residence?
Personal, cultural and artistic development is high on the list of priorities for many people in Holland. Therefore, many people search for a way to enhance their skills and abilities in the arts. DIY Textile School found a niche in the market, as the only amateur art school using textiles as a medium for expression to create wall hangings, quilts, 3D forms, bags and many other beautiful items.
What do you find most frustrating about doing business in your country of residence?
Although I can speak Dutch, I can not write as a native, and need help with translations. Yet this brings me closer to my students and my support system as they happily offer me help when I struggle to find the right words.
What hurdles did you encounter when setting up?
All the hurdles I have encountered have been so minor I hesitate to call them a hurdle. They have been more like a Dutch "drempel". After the first year I had to find a new studio space for all the classes. Trusting something would come my way, I found a very accessible and beautiful location, Tussen de Bogen in Amsterdam.
How has the economic crisis affected your business?
As I started during the crisis and I see more positive affects than negative. Some people are not able to take classes due to limited finances, but others choose to sign up to enhance their personal development during difficult times. There is a lot of camaraderie in the school and most people find support here when times get tough. Working with your hands producing mixed media and textile designs helps one experience the positive aspects of creating and therefore, enjoying life.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs setting up business in your country of residence?
Start with a good, well thought out plan but most important start. Ask for help in the areas where you feel weakest (for example: bookkeeping, social media, etc). Most importantly focus on positive self-talk and giving yourself affirmations during the roller coaster ride of having your own business. Find people who will support you in the process.
How does running a business in your current country of residence compare to running a business in other countries that you have lived in?
There are a lot of regulations here, but for the most part I see them being to my own benefit. I try to learn from everything that may stand in my way as I continue to move forward. I had a freelance business in the US that went smoothly with only minor regulations.
Would you like to add anything that we haven't addressed in the questionnaire?
I believe everyone is creative, and that having an outlet for your creativity enhances your life and health. Finding other like minded people, with similar interests and positive outlooks, helps one to deal with all the hurdles that come our way. Sharing is important and having a place and people to share with is a gift.
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