Seven female entrepreneurs join forces at House of Artisans. All products of the seven different brands are innovative, sustainable and tailored, or even custom-made. From heels without pain to stylish, yet comfortable, sports dresses and beautiful handbags.
“Welcome to our home.” With these words, the female entrepreneurs welcome their customers. We make ourselves comfortable at the marble bar, while initiator Bianca Blom of Linja Shoes serves us tea. With a wink at the green character of the store, the kitchen has a moss-covered wall. All of our products are fair and handcrafted in The Netherlands or Italy, all of them with smart solutions and the latest technology. “None of us has a fashion background, we are very much self-taught.”
Innovation is our shared passion. While taking up the art of shoemaking, Blom discovered that the innovation of the shoe industry had come to a hold. For the next two years, she worked on the development of the perfect heel, combining style with comfort. “Together with an orthopaedic shoemaker, I developed my first prototype. I started walking on them myself. Subsequently, I perfected the shoe with the right manufacturers in Italy. There I noticed it is a real men’s world, even though men don’t wear heels!”
Her elegant, handmade high heels are available in two heights of heel (8 and 10 centimetres), seventeen sizes and 125 colours. Blom claims that women can walk without pain and at least twice as long compared to walking on regular high heels. “When I introduced a lower heel last year, I exclaimed: These pumps are so comfortable, you can walk half a marathon on them.”
Born out of frustration
All said and done: on a sunny day, she walked half a marathon on her high heels right through Manhattan. “My friend, on her sneakers, had her first blisters halfway through. I didn’t have any trouble at all! Although, I wouldn’t really recommend it.” These entrepreneurs brought together by Blom, all have their own shop-in-shop where the products are displayed. At eye-height, the story behind each brand is told like texts on walls at a museum. With accompanying photographs, of course.
“In fact, we are our own brand”, says Barbara Peek. Her sports label Lapeek had been born out of frustration. She lacked a timeless sports dress, one which would complement all women. Therefore, she decided to design one herself: the ‘Little Black Dress for the tennis and golf course’. “I adapt the length to the size to make your legs look as long and slim as possible. The dresses are machine washable and do dry quickly. These practical aspects count as well; we are still Dutch after all.”
Furthermore, women’s designer label Parioli was founded through a personal privation. “Custom-made clothing for men is available everywhere, why not for women?” co-founder Sanne Schoenmaker wondered and she decided to take the leap. “Our clients are, among others, lawyers, bankers, and consultants; successful women who like to present themselves in a stylish, yet representative way.”
Esmee Markhorst explains how she started her brand of scarves Halsduk by Esmee: “During a period of rehabilitation, I got absolutely bored. I asked my husband to bring along a pair of knitting needles and knitted miles of scarf. Encouraged by my environment I then created my own company.” The stylish handwoven, knitted and silk scarfs are one-of-a-kind.
The House of Artisans’ collection is completed by elegant handbags and jewellery.
Little or no stock
The entrepreneurs have little or no stock. It is design on demand. “My black pumps are available in all sizes, so our customers have the opportunity to try them on”, Blom explains. “Then we proceed to order the product, especially for you, in the right size and colour.”
These seven brands complement each other perfectly; women can purchase a complete outfit at the House of Artisans. In the rear end of the store, the fitting area is finished off with comfortable seats. The complete interior has the same stylish and well cared for look. The main colour is white with accents of pink and gold, to create a chic and feminine look. The women did the odd job in the store themselves: “We’ve been working till the very last moment. Only half an hour before the opening it was all done!”
The store also functions as their work spot where the entrepreneurs develop new products and ideas. “Right now, I’m working on bridal shoes, for example”, says Blom. “The good thing is that I have six outspoken women around me to give me feedback. That way, we keep each other on top of things. Entrepreneurship can be fun, but, at times, also quite lonely.”
House of Artisans organizes events on a regular basis. Picture networking in combination with personal styling advice. “My goal is to connect women”, Blom concludes. Secretly she’s thinking about expanding the innovative store concept to other cities: Paris, New York, London – including local female entrepreneurs. “With Linja I have already set foot in America, responses there were unanimous: This is what we want too!”
House of Artisans
Roelof Hartstraat 5
Tuesday – Friday: 15.00 till 20.00
Saturday: 11.00 till 17.00