Today, they do not only run The Weavery B&B with lots of love and passion but also work with weavers in Driss’ hometown whose lives their are improving one carpet at a time.
1. How did your friends and family react when you told them that you were giving up your jobs to embark on your passion projects?
Most of our friends and family members were actually delighted and very supportive. They admired and respected our choice and thought it was a very good and logical move considering how the whole story started.
That's true! They were actually extremely encouraging. They thought this new venture would suit us and our personalities and many even admired us for taking the leap towards something new and exciting. I think people who know us also know that we like a little challenge but won’t take unmanageable risks. These days, we get a lot of positive feedback and smiles from our guests and clients which is encouraging and also confirms that we chose the right path.
2. What is the most joyful part about the work you do now? What puts a smile on your faces?
The most joyful part is that there are so many things that put a smile on our faces!
I think the reason is that it doesn’t really feel like work, but most of the time more like a wonderful hobby. I mean, what better work is there than creating something that makes people happy and at the same time helps to improve people’s lives?!
I truly believe that our rugs create a wonderful karma in the homes of our clients and at the same time, they enable us to make a real difference to the lives of the women and families in Driss’ birth area in Morocco. So, we are extremely grateful to be able to do something that’s both meaningful and beautiful. And then, we also receive a lot of love and happiness from the lovely people who come to stay with us in Amsterdam – so there really is a lot to smile about.
I agree. What puts a smile on our faces is first of all the happiness that we bring to our weaving ladies. They are so thankful for the way we work with them by keeping them busy and allowing them to earn an honest living and thus get the respect, admiration and credit they deserve. Going to Morocco to meet and talk to them is always the highlight of every trip there. We love our weavers for their simplicity, hard work and the unbelievable love they give to every item they co-create with us.
And then there's the happiness we bring to our clients when we finally find the right piece for their homes. Some of them still thank us months or even years after their purchase, telling us how much joy their rug has brought them and how much they love it. Many said that it was the best purchase they have ever done in their lives. That brings tears to our eyes sometimes. We knew how magical a rug can be and we knew what kind of a feeling it gives and that’s why we started this project - to share that same feeling with people.
3. Both of you have upped sticks and moved to a new country. Bettina, you from Germany, and Driss, you from Morocco. Do you think your experience of starting afresh has made you adapt more readily to new situations?
Yes definitely. Since I was a kid I always hoped somehow that my journey would be like it is now and I am lucky to have fulfilled that dream. I always knew that I had the ability to adapt easily to whatever environment, culture and situation would come my way. I was always interested in other people with other ways of thinking, always trying to understand how people do what they do and why they do it. I think being this way makes it much easier to communicate and share your story. It opens up many doors and it brings people and cultures closer to each other. When we start understanding each other, respect each other, share things with each other, the world automatically becomes a better place.
I have always been ready to go onto the next thing, explore other places and other things. Staying and doing the same for too long was never my thing. Life is too interesting to always live it the same way.
I have also always been a very curious person and am quite adventurous in my life and mind. I like to overcome little challenges and discover new paths along the way. At the same time, I am quite sensitive and rely a lot on my gut instinct. I think that makes me able to adapt well to new situations. And of course, you also always learn something from every experience in your life. Honestly, I think you just have to stay a bit flexible in your mind and trust yourself and once you find something that you love to do, you will surely be able to succeed! There is so much beauty in starting something new and yes, the Unknown is a big and important part of that but the excitement that comes along with it also creates a huge drive! I am mostly very good at the beginnings of things actually. I have more trouble sometimes when the first excitement is over and you have to get through a bit of a dry period.
4. 2020 was in no small way a tough year for you as your new path in life relies on tourism as well as being able to travel to visit the weavers that you work with. In the face of challenges like the ones this past year has presented you with, what keeps you motivated?
It has indeed not been an easy year for us, especially as Covid-19 started right at the beginning of our high season. In our line of business, the high season is extremely important as we have far fewer guests during the winter months, so the high season basically covers us for the whole year. I won’t lie, to suddenly lose all our bookings hit me quite a bit emotionally and brought me some sleepless nights, but at some point, you have to try and accept that sometimes you have to get through those rocky roads.
What keeps us motivated is knowing that our B&B has been built with love. We know that we have a strong and good foundation and that we have lots of lovely guests who value us exactly for who we are.
We see first-hand that people appreciate the love and passion that we put into our B&B as well as the rugs and we get so much happiness back in return. To us, this karma is what keeps us going. We started our B&B because we wanted to create something special, beautiful and comfortable. This is a big dry spell now for so many people, not just for us, but we are sure that we will be able to build up afresh once (safe) travel is possible again. In the meantime, we concentrate on the good things around us and there is so much of that. We are a happy little family with 2 beautiful girls and our loved ones are well and healthy. And we are especially grateful that we can still bring a lot of joy to our clients via our rugs – and of course that we can keep providing our lovely weavers with work. For them, that is extremely essential as they do not have any savings to fall back on and rely on the work that we can give them.
All I can add to Bettina’s comments is that we are also positive people and considering the whole situation the world was in last year, we can still consider ourselves luckier than many other people around us that have it even more difficult. It’s hopefully a temporary situation and the future will be bright again for our B&B and rug project. I am very hopeful actually.
5. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of changing their life in a significant way – moving to a new country, embarking on a new career, pursuing a passion project - and is feeling unsure about the decision?
I always encourage people to go and follow their dreams and passions. I think it’s one of the most beautiful things that you can do for yourself, to explore new paths and cultures. It’s important to listen to your heart, and when you do, I am sure it will expand and help you achieve your goals and dreams! The only thing I would recommend is to have a little cushion to fall back on. While it is impossible to have a full back-up plan on hand, it is important that you have some kind of stability. I would not start a new business without some financial backing – or a job to fall back on. It is important to start confident, but little fall-backs are completely normal and not everything can be calculated and predicted upfront. That is of course also one of the wonderful things about starting something new. Like I mentioned earlier, starting something new is such an exciting thing to do and it will bring you so much beautiful energy! But if you don’t have any stability to fall back on, the pressure might be too high. Especially during difficult times, the worries might cloud your judgement and keep you from hanging on. We have learned quite a bit in that respect last year.
Two words: DO IT.
It’s a refreshing thing to do. Talk a different language, eat different food, see different places, make new friends and take up a different career. How is that not a good thing?
The only advice I have if you like to do something else like embarking on a new career, don’t be afraid of the Unknown, our ability to learn and self-inform is limitless. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes along the way and don’t rush things. Instant positive results don’t exist.
Lastly, what are your spirit animals and why did you choose them?
To me, the cat stands for independence and freedom, which have always been extremely important to me. It also incorporates curiosity and flexibility. Growing up in a small village in Morocco and living a simple life during my childhood, I quickly learned to adapt to new situations and that you can achieve much more if you keep a flexible mind. I also learned to follow my intuition and I think these characteristics really helped me to be where I am in my life.
It was not so easy for me to choose a spirit animal that felt right. My star sign is Gemini and as such, it is hard for me to settle on one particular thing. So, I took some time and read up on quite a few animals and I rather like the spirit of the deer.
I like how the deer overcomes challenges by listening to its intuition. While the deer feels safe within his herd, he still is an adventurous animal. The deer is a gentle, compassionate animal that seeks harmony, yet is always on alert which makes him quite sensitive. I recognize a lot of myself in these characteristics. I definitely seek harmony in life and relationships. At the same time, I love to take adventures but I like to have a certain calmness to fall back on. And I don’t shy away when the way is a bit wobbly in between or if unforeseen obstacles occur.
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Hi, I'm Chantal Valerie. I'm a writer and self-taught illustrator. I am inspired by late bloomers and creative self-starters (I only started drawing at the age of 34) and since I believe they deserve more visibility, I started my blog series ‘5 Questions for …’.