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five years of A Beautiful Story for Emma Ferwerda

How did your story start?  

I grew up in the beautiful nature reserve of Bussum. After my final exams I took a gap year in Florence. Quite a big step, but I thought ‘oh well, I’m doing this for myself’. I learned Italian and I became intrigued by a museum. In Florence I got the insight that brands are like people, the way that brands tell their story. I became fascinated by it, whether it were brands in fashion or in interior design. I tried to see if their stories made sense in copy, design and visuals. 

Did you go to college after your gap year?  

I first studied at the Artemis Academy: a course focused on concept development, trend research and branding. In various fields such as interior design, fashion and food. It’s a fun, creative education where you learn to identify with the identity of a brand. After I graduated, I felt I still lacked theoretical knowledge. I wanted to hold a book. At the UvA (University of Amsterdam), I did my second bachelor's in Communication Science and later a master’s in Business Administration. It kept me busy for a while.  

How did you end up at A Beautiful Story?  

During my master’s, I was working on the strategy of marketing campaigns and I was looking for a side job that matched my education. Via-via, I ended up at A Beautiful Story in 2016 working on social media and online content. In the beginning, I took the photos myself with my phone, managed the social media accounts and came up with the strategies. I also really enjoy writing so I wrote copy for the labels and lookbooks. Basically everything for our on - and offline communication. I want to tell the story of our brand and our products - build on that story. Actually, I am a kind of gatekeeper for everything that has the A Beautiful Story name on it. Does it meet the core values, has the target audience been studied in depth? We write for consumers and for retailers. Different people, but the brand language is consistent. That has now expanded into a content team that I manage.  

The tagline for the season is Celebrate. What is joy to you?  

Well, I'm a huge dog fan. We used to have dogs at home and during the lockdown my mom bought a puppy, Gus. Having a dog gives a homely feeling, a sense of security, of a family. When the dog is around I feel like I'm at home. Gus brings a lot of joy.  

What do you like best about your work at A Beautiful Story?  

Caring for people. In more than one way. For the people in Nepal to see what they need and that they can build a better life. And then there’s also caring within the team. The space to just be yourself. Everyone is very different, but there’s room to be vulnerable. That sounds lame, but it's the best summary.  

You’ve been to Nepal yourself. What did you think of it?  

Very impressive. You can see what you are contributing to. A smile on the face of the artisans. The traditions and the culture, the different beliefs, doing good for another. Also, it's very nice to see what you're working on. It comes to life even more.  

Can you give us an example? 

An example of integrity: one of the employees of Beads for Life found a 1000 rupee bill in the street. He did not use that bill, but kept it. Someone else lost it and he worked hard for it. It is an empathetic culture. A very humble way of life. Very different from the West.  

What's an important life lesson you've learned?  

Staying close to your feelings. Your intuition is an inner compass, the best advisor.  All study choices I made: from VWO (pre-university education) to HBO (university of applied sciences) and back to university (college), I did it on intuition. It was an illogical route, but it felt right and I did it. I think that's what sailing on your intuition means: if it sounds illogical and your environment says, are you sure you should do that? I'm very glad I went against the grain. It's intuitively right to take a new step. I'm going to miss A Beautiful Story, but we're family. And family always stays.