This handbag apparently made a strong impact on your designs, given the fact that they also contain a lot of pockets and zippers to ensure the bags' practical aspects.
Yes, I believe it probably has somehow. (laughs) I think women appreciate the pragmatic features of my designs. Personally, I get a satisfying feeling of knowing exactly where to find everything I need. My designs aren't very trend-based. Of course, I'm aware of existing trends to see what's already out there and to keep seasonal colours in the back of my mind when I'm designing, but I stay true to my own vision, my style. All of the bags I design have to be original in form and function and suitable for every occasion, day and night. At the same time, they need to have an element of fun, like the ear-inspired leather detailing. It's something trendy, something different, but thanks to the overall quality, colours and materials it remains classic and timeless.
Talking about quality, what do you associate luxury with?
To me, luxury has everything to do with the choice of materials. I'm not big on using synthetic materials such as acrylic fibres; I prefer to work with natural fabrics like leather. Aside from that, I'm a maniac when it comes to details and finishing touches. I would never stint on a qualitative finish, and personally, I think it's a pity when other brands do. I'm aware that these things are expensive, even a small zipper can skyrocket the final prize of a bag instantly, but it's important for a client that these details uphold to a certain standard. To further underline this aspect of luxury, I make sure to carry out this line of quality into every detail of Loes Vrij. A nice dust bag, thick silk paper used as wrapping for shipments, firm boxes, so a bag doesn't feel an impact when being transported. It's the combination of all of these things and an eye for detail that will ensure quality, luxury and a happy customer. Surely, that has to be every label's goal.
After working for four years alongside your job as a lawyer, you decided to start full time at the beginning of 2017. What has been the biggest lesson you've learned since?
It's not as easy as it seems. When you look at the fashion industry, everything appears to be fun and games to the outside world, while in reality, it's a long, hard and competitive road to follow. You need to power through every single day and keep working as hard as you can. Giving up is not an option when you want to make it. You'll face setbacks, but the important thing is to learn from them, to rethink your strategy and to keep going while analysing all of these aspects. There's no time to stand still. I think that was the biggest eye-opener for me, that things don't magically fall into your lap. When it comes to advice, I received the best instructions when I was listening to the radio. I tuned in on a business talk, and a marketing expert said that the biggest focus of any company should be on selling. To pick up the phone, find the right people to talk to and sell what you have to offer. When you're first starting your business, that's something you'll lose sight of faster than you might think, even though it's the core of your company. Marketing, branding, social media, ... all of those aspects are important, but when you're not finding buyers or customers, you might as well shut down immediately. You might not like it, but it's something we all have to do.