To combine travelling and working is a BRILLIANT idea! But if your work is related to jewelry and you have an opportunity to get knowledge from the most experienced professionals — it is even a better thing!
Saulė Siliūnaitė just returned from Rotterdam where she participated in Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program and now she is ready to share her freshest impressions of this lifetime experience!
Before taking part in Erasmus for Young entrepreneurs, Saulė was looking for internship or mentoring opportunities where she could learn new skills and gain knowledge in the business areas she was lacking knowledge in because at that time she had graduated from her BA degree and got an idea for a small company.
As Saulė says, then she found out about Erasmus For Young Entrepreneurs program and it was a perfect fit for her and exactly what she needed in order to move forward with her business. The business idea was born while Saulė was still studying at the university. It was one of the assignments to write a business plan for a creative business. She didn’t want to join everyone else and write about education or some creative apps that everyone else was interested in and decided to create an idea in the area she hasn’t been working in yet. Therefore, Saulė chose to do crafts because she was always interested in it and then the idea for permanent jewelry business was born.
— What did you expect from this project at the very beginning? What were the things you were most interested in?
— I’ve expected to learn more about marketing and sourcing of materials. Besides those skills, I wanted to live in the Netherlands to scout for a possible business location and gain new contacts in the field for future collaborations.
— Have you always considered of becoming an entrepreneur?
— My future plans always kept on changing because I have been working in a wide variety of businesses and I never knew what my path will lead to. For a past year, I have been concentrating on becoming a successful entrepreneur because the business idea keeps me motivated and seeing other people believe in it makes me even more passionate about it.
— Was it hard to find a mentor?
— It was neither hard nor easy. I have selected companies that I knew about and liked already and sent them an email explaining about the program and my objectives from the project. In total, I’ve probably sent out around 10/15 emails and got few positive feed backs. After a few Skype calls we have arranged the participation documents and confirmed the match. So it was very positive and not too hard to do.
— How your business idea has progressed since the time you started working in Rotterdam?
— The most important change for the business was that I have decided on the location of the business and also got to know what equipment I will need to buy in order to make the company work as it should. I have just moved back to Lithuania where I am going to start bringing my business to life after the New Year.
Life in Rotterdam
— In several words, how could you describe the culture in Rotterdam? And the working culture, does it differ a lot?
— The working culture that I encounter in Rotterdam is more laid back and not as stressful as I have previously experienced elsewhere. I have enjoyed working with Dutch people and seeing another way of approaching work and employees.
— Could you describe your ordinary day? What tasks you had to do?
— From the morning until lunch I usually started sorting out all the errors. I had to put new items into the stock and make sure the software I’ve been working on runs smoothly. After lunch, I usually worked together with Charlotte helping to prepare new orders for boutiques or send new collection items to the plating facility. Each day usually varied depending on the business and time of the month and I usually found me organizing logistics and making sure the store and the office run smoothly.
— How did you like living in Rotterdam?
— Rotterdam itself is a very interesting city. It is very Dutch because not a lot of tourists come here. Culturally it is a really strong city. It has a lot of architecture and art all around so no one can get bored there. I have been visiting various art events and exhibitions as well as just enjoying the beautiful building and interesting locals that inspired me greatly and made the overall experience amazing and very positive.
— What new business-related connections you found during your stay in Rotterdam? Are you planning to collaborate in the future?
— I have future plans to collaborate with my host Charlotte Wooning, but besides that, I have been participating in fashion fairs in Rotterdam and gained a lot of contacts from other people working in the industry. I have gotten few offers to come and work together with fashion brands and boutique owners that have big showrooms and artistic spaces all around The Netherlands.
— What was the funniest or craziest thing that happened during your stay?
— I have realized that I booked my accommodation in the very very outskirts on Rotterdam and it was only old pensioners living there. So it was a really quiet place with a lot of commuting. It turned out to be a good conversation starter when you tell people you live in Spijkenisse because all of their grandmas live there as well. One friend of mine even started bringing me food from his grandma because she lived close by.
All in all
— How could you summarize your experience and decision to take part in Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs?
— I would not say it is one of the lifetime opportunities since the world is so big that opportunities are all around you, you just have to find them in the right place and time. For me, it was a great experience because I didn’t have much confidence in the business idea I had and I was not sure if I should further develop it. During the program, I gained so much valuable knowledge that led to more motivation. Now I trust that the idea can succeed and I will use the knowledge I’ve gained to work hard and establish my business.
— And the last question, what could you advise other young entrepreneurs who are still hesitating to start their entrepreneurship journey?
— The best advice is — just do it! It’s not for no reason one of the biggest slogans in the world!