Guest in this fourth episode of Sofa Series: Iris Hurenkamp! Every month in Sofa Series we chat on the couch with a woman who inspires us.
Iris currently works for Love Stories and has worked at &C . In this episode she talks about her journey, from education to her current position, and about her Love Stories and &C adventures. From Love Stories on Tour — Ibiza to the complete design of the &C store — Amsterdam.
Would you like to introduce yourself? Iris: I'm Iris, I'm 29 years old. I come from Brummen, a village between Zutphen and Arnhem, so that's not very far from Nijmegen. I have been living in Amsterdam for 12 years now. I attended Artemis Academy and I am currently a boutique manager at Love Stories, which is a Dutch lingerie brand.
Could you tell us a bit about what you do at Love Stories? Iris: I am the manager of the store on the Herengracht in Amsterdam, which is a very beautiful canal house. Love Stories started as a lingerie brand, but we have now also expanded to swimwear, pajamas and everything related to comfy wear. And so I actually run the store quite simply: I manage the team, make the schedule, make sure that the collections always look good and that the store looks good. We make content for Instagram, basically everything to sell as much as possible. That is ultimately the goal, of course. It really goes in all directions and that makes the work so much fun for me, because of the different things I do. I am very happy with Love Stories, I actually think it is the best brand in the Netherlands. I've always been the number 1 fan of Love Stories and I think I'm still the biggest fan ever, so I'm glad I'm there now.
What was your journey from education to where you are now? Iris: Yes, that has been quite a journey. As I just said, I went to Academy Artemis, which is a styling academy. It took me five years where others take four years. But I had just chosen the wrong one of the two courses that were available. But that didn't matter, because I was 17 at the time and very young!
What training did you do there? Iris: I did the bachelor's degree in styling and I was in the first year of fashion education, so really designing and that wasn't for me. I can't draw at all or sit behind a sewing machine, I'm much too clumsy for that. So unfortunately I was wrong there, but luckily I was able to switch and then I really followed that styling academy and that was in the field of fashion, interior and media. When you graduated you also had to choose one of those subjects and I then opted for media. In the end I really ended up in that media world, after Artemis.
As a stylist? Iris: Well, not necessarily as a stylist. It is indeed a styling academy, but I kind of rolled into the world of fashion, only the online side of it. After graduating, I started working at Fashiolista, which was a kind of Pinterest at the time, only for garments where you could save your favorites by means of a heart button. So that's where I actually started my journey. And from Fashiolista I went to Hearst, the publisher of ELLE and Cosmopolitan, among others. I was there for a while and from Hearst I ended up back at &C. &C is the platform of Chantal Janzen, a magazine actually. That's where I did the marketing. In the end I actually had to leave in a hurry, then I called a girlfriend who was in Ibiza to tell me that I had lost my job and she introduced me to Love Stories. She said 'Love Stories is now here with a van, they sell bathing suits and bikinis from that bus and they are looking for another Dutch girl to manage that bus there.' Then she said 'that's really something for you, you should try it!' Well, as the biggest Love Stories fan, I didn't let myself say that twice. I came into the Love Stories stores so often that I knew the manager at the time and I thought 'I'm going to call her and I'm just going to ask about this position what that entails.' The day after I left &C I called and we had a really nice chat and I think after 30 minutes she said Iris if you want to pack your bags then you are more than welcome and you can come. And then the next day I just had a new job!
I remember calling my parents and saying 'I'm going to Ibiza!' Everything still had to be arranged and everything then went into overdrive. A month later I was on Ibiza for Love Stories, I hadn't met anyone from Love Stories at the time, so I went in completely blank. They arranged a plane ticket for me, arranged a car for me and I just had to figure it out myself. That was three summers ago and I was there from July to mid-October in the summer of 2018. There was indeed that pink bus, they had turned it into a shop and I had to make sure that we just went to all kinds of cool places on that island arrived with that bus. That is how I initially ended up at Love Stories and that was really a summer project, so after that there was unfortunately no position available for me at Love Stories. I thought that was a great pity because I really wanted to stay, but then &C called again or I wanted to come back and they had a really nice feature for me. I was allowed to set up the &C store in the Van Woustraat in Amsterdam. I thought it was such an honor to be asked for this, I didn't have to think twice about it, but immediately grabbed it with both hands. That was really just setting up a shop from scratch. I remember that it was literally a space, an empty space so to speak, and I was allowed to make sure that beautiful products were displayed in that store. I was allowed to design the bags, I was allowed to make sure that we served coffee, I was allowed to make the coffee cups, make T-shirts, literally everything you can think of to set up a shop, I arranged at the time. That was also such a beautiful experience. Who can say that he has set up a shop for Chantal Janzen? Yes I am very proud of that. It's a very cool store and just a super cool experience that I learned a lot from. Because I just had to do that too, and by doing that I think I've grown a lot again. So I think that was a really good lesson for me. After &C, which lasted a year, I noticed that I liked retail the most. I also come from a retail family, my parents have a clothing store, my brother works here in Nijmegen in a very nice clothing store. I just noticed, even after Ibiza, but also at &C, that I like sales and that I liked the contact with people the most. Then I came back to Love Stories because it has always been my favorite brand, I gave them a call and now I'm back! So I've been commuting a lot between &C and Love Stories for the past three years but now I'm at the point in my life where I've always wanted to be.
What a beautiful trip! Iris: Yes, that was certainly not without a struggle, of course. I'm excited, I'm looking forward to it and I'm very curious about what's to come next year. I am very open to everything, but for now I want to run and run that store.
How nice, it sounds like you're really in the right place now. Iris: I can honestly say that I am very happy with where I am in life right now. I want to become the best manager Love Stories has ever had for now, that's just my goal.
If you could choose one thing, what do you like most about your job? Iris: Yeah I really think sales anyway. Transferring my enthusiasm to the customer and making women beautiful and feel beautiful. If someone leaves the store happy, I'm happy too.
In terms of work you've done so far, what's the best thing you've experienced at Love Stories? Iris: Ibiza. I was 26 then, I did indeed get on the plane myself and had to figure everything out myself. That just brought me so much, also just as a human being. Personal development, that really happened that summer. I also met so many nice people there. Ibiza is of course an island where a lot of Dutch people come, so I was able to talk in Dutch all day long. And I had two Spanish girls who could take on the Spaniards.
But driving across the island there, the freedom, working outside. I was hot in there all day. I then came in July, which is the hottest moment you can have in Ibiza. As we stood there talking to each other, sweat dripped off my body. But it didn't matter, because that bus made people so happy. It was just such an experience riding that bus around that island. By the way, not myself because that was much too heavy, so if I had arranged a place where we could go, I would call my driver. That was a woman, by the way, very tough. I drove there with my car myself behind. I think that is my best Love Stories memory so far.