Never give up and always continue until you reach your goals. You need that drive to build something up in the long term and keep it going.
Nele is a real businesswoman, based in Antwerp. She started her master's degree in corporate law and since then she has combined her job at the counter as a lawyer at the well-known law firm Monard Law, with writing her doctorate and taking care of her two children. Last year Nele set up her own law firm 'Artes', which she wants to develop into a quality IP / IT privacy niche office.
Where does your passion for justice come from?
That has grown so much. I chose law as an elimination after my secondary school, but still based on my predilection for the content of the course. And then I continued with it and has it become a kind of passion. In Japanese they also call it ikigai, which makes you happy. (According to the Japanese tradition, everyone has one ikigai, a reason for existence. Ikigai is that part where your passion, mission, vocation and profession come together.) That is really my thing. I want to continue to delve into legal knowledge and everything around it and use it to develop myself. In addition, I want to offer companies help if they appeal to me.
What were your main motives for becoming an entrepreneur?
I did not agree with many things anymore and I had the desire to go my own way. I was at my limit. I took matters into my own hands and I founded Artes.
I have decided to build my own world around Artes and to create a positive corporate culture. Positive vibes only. That is the line that I want to follow because I am convinced that life is simply too short for negativity. While negativity is often present in this field and not in the least. That is why it is important to ensure that we are aligned within Artes internally.
What do you think is the nicest thing about doing business?
I would say freedom. What can also be seen as a pitfall on the other side because you can exactly choose how much time you spend on it. If it is your passion and you spend a lot of time on work, the trap is quickly there. But I certainly see it as something positive as long as I can do my own thing.
What have been your highlights during your career so far?
The opening was an absolute highlight. That was really a turning point for me because it has been a huge change in my life.
How did you get to where you are now?
By never giving up. How difficult it was sometimes. Difficulty has different meanings for me: Difficult in the sense of a lot of work, especially in combination with my children. But also difficult in the sense of complexity, sometimes cases went beyond my cap. I think that you need that drive to build something up in the long term and keep it going. This drive arrives from my passion for my profession, and the belief that I have in the future of advocacy. Evidently, I believe in the fact that it can be different.
What are the characteristics of an entrepreneur?
Resilience, flexibility and patience. I have to admit that I don't have much patience. In addition, I think it is important that you have to leave things behind. But interaction with people is for me the key to success.
How do you monitor the balance between your work and private life?
The intensity increases even more because of the responsibility. Therefore, it is not always easy to find a good balance. Planning my agenda is not something I do because the train keeps on driving, so that makes it impossible. I am really fortunate that my parents can help from time to time and that I have a good partner so that we can divide the tasks at home. I monitor this balance by sometimes just saying no to things to be with my children at home. There is still the balance between Artes and my family, but my pitfall lies in the time that I spend on myself, what’s called me-time. I consider Artes as the time I take for myself.
What do you want to achieve in the future?
I would like to make something beautiful out of Artes and develop it into a quality IP/IT privacy niche office. What is really important to me is that my colleagues can develop themselves and like to work at Artes. So that we can make Artes better together. That would make me really happy.
Which tip would you like to give to people who want to do business?
Being prepared that certain things will disappoint and lead to frustration and find the strength to continue. Let yourself be guided and advised by people who have a better knowledge in certain aspects because you can never excel in everything!
In my KAAI
Do you remember what your very first handbag was?
That must have been a black/grey bag with a chain when I was 18 years old. At that time, I was a sporty type. Certainly not an eye catcher, but I carry it everywhere. The advantage of that bag was that it would not be easily stolen.
How many handbags do you have in your possession?
A dozen. I have a few in use where I am loyal to. I prefer quality over quantity.
Which KAAI bag did you choose and why?
I have the Pyramid in the color Terracotta. It is a bag that suits me perfectly because it is ideal for my job: my laptop, charger, IPhone, business cards, a few files, lipstick (or 5 lipsticks). Everything fits in the bag. I have already taken the Pyramid on a business trip and the bag is perfect for it. Due to his functionality and size, I did not need any other luggage. Even my dress for in the evening I had with me.
Can you describe in a few words what KAAI means to you?
Price-quality, useful and fashionable. In addition, KAAI has the correct name when you relate it to Antwerp. I am very proud of it, especially because it is an Antwerp brand. I often take my KAAI bag abroad and foreign women really love it. They all want to know where I bought it.
A KAAI bag is the ideal combination of a workbag and travel bag.
Who do you look up to?
Victoria Beckham. She has realized something incredible: From Spice Girl to an internationally renowned fashion designer. She really did what she wanted to do and put her fashion brand on the map. She does that with an enormous power and a positive message of love for her company, herself and her environment.
And finally, can you tell the readers something that nobody knows about you?
Until I was 22 years old, I have been a swimmer. Not with a top sport status, but in competition. So, I spent 10 to 11 hours a week in the pool.