Petra | From nurse to all-round entrepreneur
By Eleni Meraki
I started two studies, communications and art, and quit both within the first year as they weren’t what I expected. It felt like I just wasn’t cut out to sit and listen to people talking for hours. That’s how I decided to say farewell to the idea of university and started working full-time in an elderly home. Although I loved the work - it felt very rewarding - I was ready for the next move after a couple of years. I quit my job and signed up for six months at an inspiring community-based study center.
5 THINGS ABOUT
LEARNED BARBER CRAFT THROUGH YOUTUBE | ENTREPRENEUR | IBIZA | NEVER GRADUATED | KAYLA WORKOUT
LEAP OF FAITH
I was a twenty-something newly-wed, my boyfriend and I got married after ten years together, determined to kick-start my career. I was unstoppable; working two jobs and making 14-hour workdays. Completely neglecting myself and ignoring all the warning signs of my body and mind. Looking back now, I think I was running empty for months but refused to admit it to myself so I just kept working until one day I literally couldn’t move anymore. I was hyperventilating, having panic attacks and truly thought I was going crazy. My body had given up and I had ended up in a clinical depression. I was forced to slow down.
During therapy sessions, I discovered my entrepreneurial side. I woke up with a vision in the middle of the night. A very good friend of mine shared the same entrepreneurial passion and so we decided to set up a store together - RESTORED.
A hybrid concept; lab, design agency and a commercial platform for young designers (clothing, interior, jewelry). After a couple of years, my partner and I discovered we didn’t share the same vision and we parted ways.
My marriage had also stranded during this transformational period of my life so I set off traveling to think about the next move in my life.
Barbershops were popping up everywhere; London, New York, Scandinavia. This concept had not yet been developed in Amsterdam so it seemed a golden opportunity. The initial idea to set up a men-only store came from learnings from RESTORED - where men accompanied their girlfriends but there wasn’t really anything for them.
Finding training facilities in the Netherlands was impossible, so I decided to teach myself the barber craft. I scoured the web and trained myself using online courses on YouTube.
BARBER was a success, from day 1. Just one month after opening I hired my first employee. During the first year, I worked full-time in the shop myself, then I slowly moved away from the day-to-day operations. I now have six people working in the store whilst I focus on the behind the scenes and my new projects.
As I am always hungry for new opportunities and challenges I always find myself involved in more than one project at a time. Either personal projects (i.e. interior design for companies and private individuals) or in collaboration with other entrepreneurs and businesses.
At the moment, the project I am spending most of my time on is a collaboration with a big NGO. We are creating a brand for and with victims of human trafficking in India. I can’t say too much about it but I sure can say that it combines all I love; interior design, building new brands, travelling and “doing good” for the world. Stay tuned!
THE TOUGH TIMES
- Managing employees is a new skill I had to learn - it’s not always easy.
- I tend to project my own standards upon my colleagues and vendors. My 100% is not someone else’s 100%.
- Setting up your own business is not at all glamorous. I had to sacrifice a huge part of my social life.
- Doing everything alone gives you a lot of freedom but I do miss having a sparring partner at times.
RESTORED | 5000 Euro startup investment, split 50/50 between both partners. We started in a small, inexpensive location to try out and learn. Once we had fine-tuned the concept we relocated to a bigger, better and more expensive location.
BARBER | 30.000 Euro startup investment, partly financed with my share of RESTORED, and partly with a loan from the bank. This startup capital covered all renovations, stock, interior, marketing and my own salary for 6 months.
5 INSIDER TIPS
- Comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t look too much at what your competitors are doing.
- You can never be 100% in control.
- Everything you practice, you can eventually master.
- The only difference between entrepreneurs and everyone else with an idea, is the guts to just do it.
- When you are starting a business, take your time and do it at your own pace.
Written by Eleni Meraki
Eleni is the founder of Guts & Tales. She lives in Athens and enjoys roaming the world as much as she can. She is a multi-passionate entrepreneur with big dreams and a big mission; to empower you to live a life you truly enjoy living.
Click on the About Eleni tab to read her full story.