Saturday, October 27, 2012


Moving to a new country is difficult.

Moving to a new country and starting your own business is even more difficult.

Moving to a new country and starting you own business and speaking a foreign language is the most difficult.

I mean, it is not as if any European government will actually help start up entrepreneurs. On the contrary, the bureaucrats roll boulders, cliffs and razor wire in your way.

No tax exemptions, no funding, onerous licenses requirements and a sea of civil servants who are neither civil, nor serve.

And they fucking lazy. If they can push you over to a colleague, trust me, they will. The colleague, needless to say, is never there, on lunch, day off, or just plain hiding round the corner having a smoke.

We knew from the onset that the Netherlands was not the place to be, even though we both Dutch citizens.

You see, the Dutch are cheap.

They don’t buy, nor wear jewellery. They don’t spend shit on anything.

My Dutch parents were both penny pinching misers and consequently both my sister and I swore that we would NEVER be like that—ever.

So living in NL amongst 16 million Henk and Greta’s just was not an option.

So we chose Germany, only to find that Germans are very much like the Dutch.

Only more conservative, so our jewellery, though much admired,  never sold.

Far to over the top and not a little bit like Mama und Papa und GroƟmutter Schmuck.

Even so, Germany was a better choice than NL .

In the Netherlands the women wear the pants. With all respect to my Dutch friends, but the men in NL are wimps. The women are not.

I know, I know, it’s not PC to generalize, but my conclusion is that any country that bans water pistols and wear hairnets in the army are pussies.

For a long time Anne and I bled money, every day. For a whole year we spent EU60,000 on our shop. Of course some work came in and we even made costs some months, but for the whole we were facing bankruptcy.

So last week Anne and I decided to go to any and all jewellers in the Dusseldorf area and see if we could not pick up any trade work.

Trade work is tough. I have done plenty before, and basically it gives you turn over with a small profit and a bucket load of work and responsibility.

Walked into a large jeweller and the manageress gave us a calculating look and said she’s got some stuff for us. A Boucheron ring set with a very scratched blue tourmaline in 18ct gold.

Could I fix it?


Lady, right now I face the prospect of moving to Holland and looking for a job.  ( A jeweller with 30 years experience gets EU 2000 per month.)

Yes ma’am,  I can fix anything.

Your jewellery, your car, your rubbish bin, just gimme and I’ll do it.

I did.d-121026-18-01

Then more work came in, like this ring.

We sweated blood. This was EU 50,000 worth of ring that we don’t own. It went out today .

Anne and I are so glad. We have found an income . We are not bleeding so badly any more. We picked up another account as well, for which we are doing work.

Next week, we go out again and cold call. We need another five or so accounts and then we work seven days a week again, just like the old times.

We love our work.

We can do this.


kasia76 said...

Wishing you the best for the coming years (by best I mean: generous discerning clients with many jewellery loving relatives and friends that have a fondness for unique pieces also, sunshine, clean air and blues skies over Deutschland for you both).
Many thanks for your blog!

Sandra Graves / Isis Rising said...

I've been very worried about you, as I'm sure you knew. You've got a great place, you're talented and eventually your clientelle will find you.

But until then, making money in your trade as you need to is perfectly respectable and I'm really pleased that you are finding trade work.

Too many great jewelers have left the business over the past five years because of the economy. I don't want you to be a casualty! Trde work is good. Any work is good. *hugs* to both of you.

- Sandra

Beatriz Fortes said...

Hans, I am shocked and sorry that a man of your vision and talent has to do repair work to make ends meet. Not, of course, with you (hey, it is an honest living) but with the customers. I wish you both much luck.