Because designer Hester van Eeghen – owner of three shops – has always taken her company figures very seriously, she dares to rely on her intuition.
How do you stay calm – as a person and as a CEO?
‘It didn’t come as a very big surprise when I heard about the lockdown. I had the feeling things were about to change. My last trip to Italy – where my bags and purses are manufactured – was different. My temperature was measured at the airport, there was an overall sense of panic.
Of course, it was still a shock. But, like my mother always said, I was born optimistic. My company is healthy, I’ve been saving money for rainy days and I applied for the NOW-fund from the government.
Because I’ve always taken my company figures seriously, I dare to rely on my intuition – as a designer and as a business owner. There will be better days, now we just have to weather the storm.’
How do you navigate between operating in the short term and the long term?
‘The most important decision we had to make was: keep the shops open or closed? I am in close contact with my fellow shop owners in the Negen Straatjes and together we decided to close the shops. There were hardly any visitors, which was very demotivating for my team.
It gave us time to completely revamp our shops; they look better than ever now. In our external communication and on social media we keep an upbeat tone of voice, we’re still trying to inspire our customers.
As for my long-term plans: I’ve always seen my business as something organic. We all have to turn off our autopilots in this pandemic. Every day can be a step into a different direction.’
How do you keep your team motivated?
‘I have a small team, consisting of sixteen people. The reactions to the current situation varied from anxious to relaxed. For all the practical questions – such as wearing face masks, hygiene, etc. – Sanacha from VIE People was able to help me out.
As for the motivational part, I’ve always gathered people around me that are creative and adaptable. We’re all different, but we share the same passion for our products. That’s what’s keeping us going. Tomorrow we’re going to open the shops again. I’m excited.’