I had coffee with three young & inspiring entrepreneurs aged between 19 and 26 and spoke to them about what it’s like to be self-employed. Tech-savvy, passionate and wayward: meet our millennials at work.
Marie (18) from
Rhye is not just a graphic designer, she crafts visual identities which she then brings to different platforms, making sure they stand out. Her business also specializes in the maintenaince of social media for brands & (their) events. She has recently successfully done so for We Can Dance.
Louis Gillemon (19) from
Gillemore Gin used to work for Hertog Jan, but is now the owner of his own label of gin. “Gillemore Gin” sprung from a desire to create a bottle that is both elegant and iconic. With a baseline that says it all ‘Magic moments with distilled Gillemore Gin’ Louis has set his sights on prestigious Michelin star restaurants.
Max De Vos (26) from
SkiLi recently started a second business, he has been working as a graphic designer since he was 16, whereby he offers his customers the unique opportunity to rent expensive equipment they would otherwise need to buy. The main focus during the winter is on skiing equipment, throughout the summer he focuses on tents and festival material. He recently took his business to Balaton Sound in Hungry, and also attended Dour.
WHAT MADE YOU START YOUR OWN COMPANY?
MARIE: “I come from a family of entrepreneurs so without really knowing it, I already had the right mind-set. When I moved in with my boyfriend, who is also a graphic designer, I just took it from there.”
LOUIS: “I was still a student working at Hertog Jan. By being surrounded by creativity, I acquired a taste for it.
The decision to start my own brand happened overnight.
I was joined by two friends who had the marketing know-how that I lacked.”
MAX: “My mother is self-employed. My father isn’t but he encouraged me nonetheless.
The main reason for becoming self-employed was so I could do what I wanted, when I wanted.
It’s more challenging than working for a boss, but the overall sense of accomplishment is much higher.”
WHAT ARE THE MAIN PROS & CONS OF BEING YOUR OWN BOSS?
MAX: “What I like most is the freedom to choose your own projects.
We just try out a lot. Whatever works, we pursue.
The biggest drawback is being on your own for everything.”
LOUIS: “It gives you tremendous energy that you wouldn’t have if you weren’t that involved with your own product.
Cons? None, really. Aside from the fact that it creates a gap between
you and the people who don’t know what it’s like to be a business owner.”
MARIE: “I love the creative process behind coming up with a novel idea for a commercial client. The biggest drawback is stress.
Being self-employed is a never-ending story.”
WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST ROLE MODELS?
MAX: “My parents!
My dad is the hardest working man on the planet. He leaves the house at 6 in the morning and only gets home around 8PM. His passion is contagious (/admirable). And I love how my mom is so committed to her work.
She really loves what she does.”
MARIE: “Raf Simons, absolutely.
I also have tremendous respect for master chefs who have this inexhaustible drive to give it their all.”
LOUIS: “I have several role models, but Raf Simons is definitely on the top of my list. I love how he thinks, how he’s not afraid to take risks. He makes people happy.
And then there’s Leonardo Di Caprio. His vision inspires me. I think it’s important to make sure people know things can be done differently.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS ‘THE COMPUTER’ FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
I easily spend up to 12 hours a day behind the computer. I always have my computer with me for presentations or to store data. If I need a break from work, I just open another tab, or watch Youtube.”
LOUIS: “Couldn’t live without it, but I do most of my work on my smartphone. It’s handy for keeping an eye on the webshop as well. When clients ask me for visuals, I’ll simply show them on my smartphone. I tend to use my laptop in the evening when I’m designing or programming, or to give the client a “better” idea of a visual.
MARIE: “I need both too.
I’m constantly checking social aspects on my smartphone, but I also need my laptop for instance to access Indesign Illustrator. I easily spend 10 hours a day online.”
HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU GOT YOUR FIRST LAPTOP?
MAX: “I don’t really remember. 14?”
LOUIS: “12 or 13.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA ON YOUR WORK/PLAY RATIO?
MARIE: “90/10, easily!
I’m constantly multi-tasking. So even if I’m just scrolling, I’m still keeping an eye on business.”
MAX: “That’s not an easy question. Because if a work-related question pops up, I immediately tend to it. So I guess 80/20?”
It’s actually quite difficult to make the distinction between both. I’m constantly checking out Pinterest, but is that work or play? There is a lot of stuff I do that technically qualifies as “work” but because I enjoy doing it, it doesn’t feel as if I’m working.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR STARTERS?
MARIE: “My main advice would be to stick to your plan. Don’t allow people to steer you off track, but always be open to advice & criticism from experts on the field.”
MAX: “There’s no way you can make it on your own. Make sure you have people who can advise you. We are very fortunate to have been part of an incubator for the past two years. First with iMinds, and now Start-it KBC. These are people at the height of their careers who help you through every step of the process.”
My #girlboss story you can can read in an interview just published by Nina (it’s in Dutch though)
For the occasion I worked on the youngest member of the HP family, the HP Spectre.
An ultra thin, featherweight, luxurious laptop with Bang & Olufsen audio, shiny copper details and a backlit keyboard. I’m impressed by the stunning design, it looks svelte and classy and is remarkably thin which makes the Spectre very portable. It’s the perfect laptop to take along with you on business meetings or when you’re on the go. The not so accurate track pad is probably my largest drawback although that can also be just a matter of getting used to (bit like when you drive a different car) Except from that, props to HP for capturing the “thinnest laptop” award.
Read everything on this new computer here.