The fashion industry was anything but new to Jessica Joyce van de Heuvel when she started her own bag brand in 2019. The designer, who graduated from Artez, had run her own cocktail dress label for about ten years. Still, she was happy with the help of the Chamber of Commerce (KVK) and the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). With their support, she added value to her business, was able to successfully implement the innovation strategy and found a supplier in Portugal.
Jessica Joyce van de Heuvel had actually already said goodbye to designing. She had exchanged her fashion brand in cocktail dresses for the cultural sector, where she was, among other things, board secretary and engaged in relationship management.
Still she missed the design profession. “I knew one thing for sure: I no longer wanted to develop products with a size. So I started researching what would be a good item, also commercially. I soon came up with the handbag”, says Van de Heuvel about it. origin of its brand. “I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between women and their bags. It looks like a love affair. ”
Innovation Health Check: how innovative is your company?
A fellow entrepreneur pointed her to the Chamber of Commerce. She came into contact with Angelo Mulder of the organization, who helped her with the Innovation Health Check. This is a method in which companies are scanned on seven parts, from product development to commercial parts. The innovation benchmark is intended to determine how ‘innovation-oriented’ companies are. This is followed by a comparison with a European database. Subsequently, action points emerge. As it is an EU sponsored project, it is free of charge.
“The timing was perfect”, says Van de Heuvel, “because it allowed me to optimize my company even before I launched the brand.” What has helped her the most? “The research into Jessica Joyce’s distinctiveness. What does the customer need? It was also nice to be helped with the marketing of the product. Especially in these times, when e-commerce is so important and also large retailers have web shops. ”
Search for a supplier in Portugal
The Chamber of Commerce and EEN – a professional network of 600 organizations in more than 60 countries – not only helped Van de Heuvel to optimize her business. She also found a producer through the network. The designer came into contact with Susana Pinto and Céu Filipe in Portugal, from AEP (Portuguese Business Association).
After answering numerous questions about what the designer was looking for in a supplier, she traveled to Porto. Pinto talks about the process: “When Angelo Mulder called us, we searched our network for companies that met Jessica Joyce’s criteria. We then spoke with Portuguese parties to make sure they were still interested. We also consulted with Mulder to make sure that the companies would be a match. Ultimately, we visited the suppliers with Van de Heuvel to assess whether a collaboration could be realized. ”
The designer is happy that she already had contact with Pinto and Filipe in the early stages of her brand. “We all know the stories; that the prototypes are beautiful, but that the rest of the production is of much less quality. Then it is nice when an intermediary can say ‘very annoying, but this is not the intention’. The EEN partnerships then offer guidance. ”
She continues: “What I had noticed earlier, when I still had my fashion label, was that communicating with producers can be difficult due to cultural differences. It is now very nice that my interests are represented abroad. And if something goes wrong. or I cannot find a solution, there is always someone who can mediate. ”
Intellectual Property Law
Van de Heuvel benefited even more from her contacts with the Chamber of Commerce and EEN. She also used the European IP Helpdesk for advice on property rights.
Mulder: “If three parties work together to develop a product, it is important to determine in advance how the intellectual property will be divided.”
Strategic plans for the future
Even now that the brand Jessica Joyce has been launched and she now also has her own webshop on Jessica-joyce.com, Van de Heuvel still benefits a lot from the help of the Chamber of Commerce and EEN. The designer’s strategic plan is to further innovate the brand and Mulder, Pinto and Filipe help her with that.
Van de Heuvel: “I am very interested in technology. That is why I am looking at how I can improve my bags in terms of function, but also with the addition of electronic elements that make the life of the working woman easier and safer.”
Pinto admires the designer that she wants to keep innovating. “Jessica Joyce is constantly throwing herself into new challenges,” she says. “The bags are beautifully designed with great attention to the story behind the brand. But the brand is about more than just craftsmanship. She wants to bridge fashion tradition and fashion technology with smart designer bags. We are currently helping her brand to accelerate product design innovation, “explains Pinto.
“Service never stops, neither does our support. In other words, Enterprise Europe Network is more than a project, it is a lifestyle: passionate and vibrant.”
Register with Enterprise Europe Network
EEN was set up by the European Commission to support SMEs in international trade and innovation. Registration is free. More information about the network can be found via the KVK website.
Fashion entrepreneurs can get acquainted with EEN through the EU Fashion Match Amsterdam 10.0 event on 25 and 26 January 2021. This year’s international matchmaking event is completely digital. During the event it is possible to meet new international business partners in the fashion market. In addition to international matchmaking, you can participate in online workshops on entrepreneurship in the (international) fashion market. Registration is free of charge and can be done via the website of the Chamber of Commerce.
Photography; Anna Vie
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