KAAI x DPT met up with the last power duo Valerie Thys and Yamina Krossa behind the scenes of our KAAI x DPT necklace's photo shoot. Both Valerie and Yamina took home the award for ‘Women in excellence’. The two share much more than their networking and hosting skills. Celebrating female empowerment was the spark that started their friendship. Now let's get to know these boss ladies.
Have you encountered a particular challenge in your lives in which you've helped each other out?
V: Well, we haven’t known each other for that long actually, just two years. We met in London for the 'Win Trade Awards' - an entire week of female empowerment. We instantly connected.
Y: Valerie hosted the closing night of the award ceremony and I was nominated for the category 'Women in Excellence'. This year it was Valerie that took home the 'Women in Media' award.
V: We’re from the same generation, but Yamina's children are a bit older than mine. We've both been through a few challenges, that's what made our connection so strong. We share the idea of 'no nonsense' - we just go for it. I was really inspired by Yamina's networking skills. To be honest, at heart I’m actually a very shy and introverted person. Speaking in front of a camera feels very natural to me, but networking and reaching out to strangers is something I find very challenging. When I had a look at Yamina and saw the ease and grace she portrayed, I thought to myself 'I really should try it sometimes' and in the end, turns out it's not so bad.
Y: I had a rookie start myself. I was asked to give a Tedx-talk in front of about 300 people for Benetiet, the nonprofit organisation I launched. You are expected to learn the entire presentation by heart, but 5 minutes into the talk I completely blacked out on stage. I was brave enough to ask for help from the audience and they replied to just start over. So I did, and at the end I even got a standing ovation. In my head, I had blown it big time, but at the reception people kept approaching me with tears in their eyes telling me how moved they were by my speech.
V: That is what I admire about Yamina and what attracts me to her. She is not afraid to approach strangers. The fact that Yamina dares to ask for help and to rely on the strength of her network is amazing. She has even written a book about it. I think it is fantastic that Yamina, who has battled breast cancer, has been able to change the law by tapping into her network. I am just immensely in awe of her.
You both received an award. How did you feel in that moment?
V: Yamina had a much more memorable moment because I awarded the trophy to her myself. *Laughing. When I handed over the award, I couldn't contain my excitement and forgot I was hosting for a moment. I realised that we, Belgian women, can make a real difference. Alexander De Croo, at the time not yet the prime minister, but someone who has always committed to women's rights, even posted on LinkedIn about Yamina's achievement. This year the ceremony was held online, so I received my award from behind my desk at home. You can imagine under those circumstances, it hasn't been the most spectacular experience.
Y: What I love most about these award shows is that you have to motivate your network to vote for you. Besides voting, you also have to write a note. I saved all of these notes and combined they have became a real anthology. It's really special to read such kind messages from people you have known for a long time, but who had never put it into words. I wish people would just say such beautiful things to each other more often. Reading them made me really emotional and in that moment, I truly felt I had won, no matter what.
If you can give each other one more compliment, what would it be?
Y: What I just love about Valerie, besides all the amazing work she does, is that she brings life to the party. Just by being herself and the mix of our personalities, we just click and something magical happens. To me, she brings sun light with all its vibrant energy and spontaneity. At the same time she's always honest and will give it to you straight. I just love it when you’re able to be open and sincere with each other.
V: For me it's the feeling that Yamina will always be there for me. When I was young, I was never really good at maintaining friendships. I don't have any friends from my former student days. People often come into my life and then disappear at some point. It happens. But with Yamina, I really feel that she's here to stay.
KAAI x DPT is a heavenly match made in Antwerp. As both brands encourage to invest in durable pieces, they invite women to indulge in every luxury, boosting their confidence as they go. The KAAI x DPT necklace is made in sterling silver, handset with a 100% natural and ethically sourced diamond. Available at our stores in Brussels and Antwerp or in our webshop, as from November 8 at €85. Receive yours as a gift when pre-ordering SS22 collection, starting December 15.