Christmas ornaments evolving
Christmas balls have changed in recent decades from relatively dull, round objects to decorations in all kinds of colors and shapes. Entrepreneurs Loesje Donner-Raedts and Yan Xu saw a gap in the market and now sell their self-designed ornaments for the tree in luxury department stores all over the world. The Christmas balls have striking shapes. They come in the form of a portion of French fries, a stiletto heel, lipstick, an avocado and a fig.
Loesje had wanted to start for myself for two years when she worked as a buyer at the Bijenkorf in 2014. She found Christmas shopping the most fun and creative, for which she bought products from Yan's company. "Just when I made the decision, I received an email from Yan asking if I could come by for a conversation to see if we could do something together." This is how Vondels started in Amsterdam in 2015. "There was no company that focused on luxury Christmas ornaments with its own brand, so we saw the potential of that." Loesje and Yan complement each other perfectly: Loesje with a fashion education, sense of design and market knowledge. Xu with good production contacts in China and knowledge of logistics.
From Harrods to Lafayette
Already four years after its founding, Vondels' products, as the company is called, are available in stores in more than 40 countries. These are high-end department stores such as Harrods, Liberty, Bloomingdale, Lafayette and De Bijenkorf. Large companies such as KLM and Schiphol also purchase personalized ornaments such as an airplane as a promotional gift.
Lots of new designs
Loesje designs about 300 new products a year. "My head is always full of ideas. For example, I'm in the kitchen and see an avocado. I also look a lot at fashion and museums and get inspired by them." She often works with themes, for example dolce vita. That Italian feeling includes a pizza ornament, but also fruits such as mandarins and lemons, a high heel and a mafia gun. A Parma ham, an oil bottle or limoncello bottle are also nice. You can associate endlessly and that's what results in products."
Chinese clay maker
"I send all the information to a clay maker in China. He makes a puppet out of it that I give feedback on, for example I want a mouth or eye that is slightly different." When the clay molds are approved, a hard mold is made. "You have to think of a sandwich tongs with a figure in the recess. That recess is filled with molten glass via a glass straw, which we let harden. Everything is made by hand."