Cathelijne Lania (41)
owner / founder A Beautiful Story | lives in Soest, with Henk, daughters Famke (8) and Sylka (6) | dreamer & do-er
Why did you start A Beautiful Story?
Ten years ago, my mother called me after her Nepal trip: “So sad, the silver factory is in trouble, there is not enough work, twelve people are jobless”. The owner was a friend of ours, I met him during volunteer work in Kathmandu. I instantly felt ‘I will not allow this to happen’. It felt like a ‘call’.
How did this influence your life?
At that time, I was marketing coffee for a big multinational. Actually, I was not happy in my job after 5 years. I had millions of euros budgets, nice colleagues and intellectually challenging work, but it did not fulfil me. I realized that I was giving a lot of energy, just to make shareholders richer. I sometimes felt alone in this environment. Every day performing, influencing political agendas, keeping up appearances. It was not me. Stepping out, gave me financial insecurity, but more importantly freedom!
And then… you arrived in Nepal, how did you start?
The secret is to just begin. Without any knowledge of jewelry, fashion or production, we made a collection. I came back with a suitcase full of jewelry and started selling! First, I was travelling like a Tupperware lady all over the country. Telling stories in living rooms packed with women. Later on, the first stores joined to sell the jewelry. Now we are in 600 stores all over Europe and Australia.
Dreamer or do-er?
Ha ha, I am one of the biggest dreamers I know. Some people say I am floating ten meters above the ground. But they do not always see my practical side. My asset is mainly in mobilizing people who help in the do-ing part. Dreaming without doing does not change a thing. It requires massive action to realize dreams. Walt Disney’s quote is one of my favorites:
“If you can dream it, you can do it”.
Time machine: what’s the 10-year dream for A Beautiful Story?
In ten years, I hope it will be a multimillion euro business. Not because I want to grow rich, but to have a positive impact on the world. Does that sound too idealistic? A Beautiful Story is here to encourage people on their path. It is for all of us, we are in this together. The people who buy our products ánd the people who make them. We know so many talented crafts people. My dream is to expand the brand to many more products in fashion, interior and gifts. This way we can inspire more people and create more jobs.
What is your most important learning in life?
The essence is ‘I am who I am’ and maybe even more importantly ‘that’s ok’. For a long period, I have been trying to be the best version of myself from the perspectives of others. Not consciously by the way, it just happened. For some time now I am more aware of my deeper self, and the role I wish to fulfill in the world. It makes me calm and happy.
What did you learn from 10 years of A Beautiful Story?
Funny, while thinking about this question I realized we turned my learnings into our core values last year!
The 4 core values of A Beautiful Story
When we enter our office in the morning, we head to our kitchen to make our coffee or tea. Here we have our core values hanging on the wall. This is who we are, how we act and decide on which road we should take. It reminds us every day that we are here to inspire and empower people to live their own beautiful story.
Dare to be
The scariest, but in my opinion the most beautiful thing to do. Just to be yourself. This means standing up for your values, sometimes going left when others go right and daring to be vulnerable.
Believe in magic
Peter Pan taught us that you can fly when you have ‘happy thoughts’. Buddha said what you think you become. The difficult thing is to deeply believe. It is not something you can simply create. You believe, or you don’t. But it helps to talk about it, think about it, visualize it and pay attention to your dreams every day.
Never ever give up
Sometimes we got stuck and there seemed no way out. By continuing to move and asking for help, we managed to take it a step further. It does not mean you always hold on to what you started. If it does not serve the bigger goal it has to transform, but if you want something, just keep on going.
Connection is what drives us. Without connection, there is no happiness I think. For me it is very important to work on a connected basis. With our agents, retailers, team, producers.