Everybody wants to feel special.
We want to be valued, to be loved, to be heard, not only in our circle of family and friends but also beyond the community we belong. And it is perfectly normal to want to matter.
But would you stand out in an age where parallelism seems to be the norm? How do you set yourself apart to be able to make your mark?
I sat down with Yolande Jimenez, Dutch artist and bag designer, who combined her love for nature and artistic talent to produce one-of-a-kind fashion accessories, that not only highlights a woman’s individuality but also brings the Philippines’ unique products to the high-end Dutch market through her brand Yolande Jimenez. She shares with us her art of standing out, how to express and bring out the best in one’s self and in others.
A different path
Jimenez studied biology at the University of Groningen where she met her Filipino husband, Gilbert, who was then studying geology (and now an IT specialist). After getting her diploma, Yolande worked at the Department of Environment in Leidschendam until she realized that her passion is in fine arts.
She left her post as a government employee and pursued art. Since 2000, she has been working on silk and acrylic paintings. In 2008, she started teaching wool-felting lessons at primary schools until she decided to organize her own workshops on silk painting, wool felting and jewelry making for companies and individuals in her 100 m2 studio in Den Hoorn.
As a former biologist, Jimenez found her niche in producing bags made of natural materials like shells, buntal or sabutan, which can be found in the Philippines, as well as wood and leather. Her collection of luxury bags and accessories under the Yolande Jimenez brand also includes fine jewellery made with freshwater pearls and semi-precious stones as well as silk-felt shawls for women.
Jimenez believes that she was able to carve her own career path by staying true to her passions and considers this the best decision she’s ever made.
Personal style: Dressing up to express yourself
Jimenez’s brand of luxury bags and accessories is geared towards the high-end market, reflecting sophistication and exclusivity. However, she points out that standing out does not depend on the price of your clothes. What matters is that you dress up to express your individuality and according to your own personal style.
“By having one basic outfit that suits you, you can dress yourself in many different ways and styles by mixing and matching your accessories, a very efficient way of being fancy and stylish each day. Combination is key, not pricing,” explains Jimenez.
“You can buy expensive clothes, but if you don’t match the colours, your personal style and the rest of what you’re wearing, they may end up looking cheap on you. And when you fancy buying jewelries and bags, consider how you’ll wear and match them with the rest in your wardrobe.”
Make others shine too
Yolande has visited the Philippines multiple times and got inspired by Filipino craftsmanship particularly in incorporating natural materials to their products. She also found a production facility that has the know-how of bringing her designs to life.
According to the artist, it wasn’t only about getting what she wanted that made her finally decide to have her bags produced in the Philippines; it’s more about giving back.
“I want to distinguish my Yolande Jimenez bags from the rest of luxury bags in the market not only by the colourful lining and bag designs exclusively hand-painted and designed by me, but also by adding value to the lives of underprivileged women,” says Jimenez.
“I want to give back to the women workers at the factory by supporting their training in bag production and craftsmanship. By putting aside a certain percentage of my profit per bag via the Yolande Jimenez Care Program, I am certain that proceeds go to the education of these women and help them have a better future.”
In the Netherlands, Yolande helps fellow artists to shine by using her 100 m2 studio for art exhibitions, inviting 10-15 fine artists from all sorts of art discipline to display their respective artworks for exposure and sale.
Knowing who you are, living your passions, and following what makes you feel alive are fundamental steps towards showcasing uniqueness to the world.
Once you’ve made your mark , only then would you have the voice to be able to make a difference and guide others to their own path of iving the art of standing out.
Myra Colis is a Filipino entrepreneur and owner of E3 Data Intelligence Services. She creates and manages content for print and online publications, marketing collaterals and communication materials for individuals, companies and organizations. When not at work, you can find her volunteering for women organizations empowering Filipinas and women entrepreneurs in the Netherlands.