Petra | From nurse to all-round entrepreneur

By Eleni Meraki

Entrepreneurship is like jumping off a cliff and assembling the plane on your way down.


I had been caring about others and forgotten about myself.

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.






At age 24, I had to start all over again.

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.


Once I stepped out of the business, I realised I enjoyed the start-up phase more than the day-to-day operations.

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.

Curiosity is my strength. Being open to the world and the society we live in allows me to discover new opportunities.


Name any online barber tutorial or website and I’ve definitely seen it.

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.



It was always my plan to eventually work on businesses instead of in businesses.

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!


Setting up your own business is not at all glamorous.
  • 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.


Feel the fear and do it anyway.

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.



  1. Comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t look too much at what your competitors are doing.

  2. You can never be 100% in control.

  3. Everything you practice, you can eventually master.

  4. The only difference between entrepreneurs and everyone else with an idea, is the guts to just do it.

  5. When you are starting a business, take your time and do it at your own pace.



Photography portrait shots of Petra by IRIS DORINE WESTRA



Written by Eleni Meraki

Eleni is the founder of Guts & Tales. She is a hypnotherapist, mind-trainer, coach and creator of the women’s coaching program Be Your Own Muse. She helps women become clear, confident and courageous to be and live true to themselves.