News & Press

Curious about all the news around OWNIEZ? Below you will find all information, news and press stories about Owniez. The latest news, how owniez is created, relocations and interviews. What is it like to start your business on the other side of the world in Africa?

3th Interview in Global Connection

A gathering of ‘enterprising expats’ overseas
By Connla Stokes, 15/10/2020

Seven business owners – all expat partners and members of the Global Connection community – are now meeting once-a-month online to share experiences, know-how and, just as importantly, a few laughts.

Making the first move
Earlier this year, one expat partner and business owner wondered if there were other ‘expat entrepreneurs’ in the Global Connection community who would be interested in forming a virtual network. Her instincts were spot on. Since then, she has connected with six other ‘enterprising expats’ and the burgeoning grouphas already held several igital meetings.

Worldwide network
Are there other entrepreneurial minds out there? If this intrigues you, the group is open to connecting with others. Remember that you can find other expat partners via our member’s directory. The group’s founder and HEINEKEN expat partner Ilse Dijkstra has managed to gather a mix of “enterprising and creative expats”, who straddle seven time zones from the Americas to Africa and Europe.

Diverse group
Previously, we have writen about Ilse’s funky flip-flop business as we fellow members Loes Lefeber- Korthals ‘unique’ art appreciation and cuisine business and Anne Marie Verschoor’s innovative coaching model. Also among the gruop: Julia Engel, a writer who hopes to set up a coaching business; Elena Gureva, an artist who is trying to commercialise her work; Dr Anna Ehmsen, a psychologist who runs a counselling practice and Lieke van Berkel-Scherders, an expert in pregnancy and postpartum nutrition, who offers hypnobirthing courses as well as postpartum preparation courses.

All across the globe
Despite the professional diversity, not the mention the culotural constrasts they’re each experiencing, the network has found that, on a core level, they have much in common. “We all have adaptive and flexible personalities and we are eager to learn”, says Ilse. “As enterprising women, I believe we all love some adventure and prefer a non-traditional 9-5 normal lifestyle. We have followed our partners to a certain country or place, but we all wish to make it our own adventure when we get there”.

Range of topics
The group has discussed a wide range of subjects and topics, some related to specific business needs but they have also discussed more emotional aspects to their lives. We have each face many challenges and frustrations, so it is very helpful and fun to compare experiences and share stories. You feel much more supported and empowered when hearing from others who really get your unique situation”.

2nd Interview in Global Connection

Shipping a business overseas

By Connla Stokes, 30/01/2020

HEINEKEN expat partner Ilse Dijkstra had just gotten her innovative footwear brand up and running in Mauritius when she relocated to Nairoibi, Kenya. Would she bring the business, too.

Lock, stock and barrel
The last time Global Connection caught up with Ilse she was relishing the challenge of launching Owniez, her customized Flip Flop business in Mauritius. But when she and her husband Marc relocated to Kenya in August 2019, did she hesitate over whether she could (and would) try to relocate it all – lock, stock and barrel? “No I didn’t think twice. It was just a question of figuring out how I could do it” says Ilse, who looks on the bright side of starting all over again. “I like being busy and between shipping the raw materials, trying to establish the company in Kenya, updating my website, researching, networking, strategising, well, I have plenty to be doing!”

Tying up loose ends
“At first it was hard to find solutions. Still I have now incorporated the company and received my business code. I can’t say it’s been easy, but I am definitely on the way!” says Ilse, who has learned that a mixture of perseverance and patience is the key. “Even tying up loose ends in Mauritius presents challenges. It feels like closing a business there is harder than setting one up!”

New opportunities
“But ultimately I am excited to explore new opportunities, starting new sales channels in Kenya, give workshops and doing online business worldwide. Compared to Mauritius, the tourism market is quite different.

Tourists visiting Nairobi spend most of their short stays on safari trips. So I had to come up with a strategy for that. Basically, they send me their favourite safari pictures and we will print it on a pair of Flip Flops, which will be waiting for them in the hotel when they back. A Unique souvenir from Kenya!”

Challenge accepted..
“Relocation will always throw up challenges, even if you’re not a business owner. Getting a cellphone, finding a house, meeting new people and making friends, “says Ilse. “Sometimes I think we have to forget where we’re from, or where we were before, and how things worked there. It’s better to think: here I am in a new country and I’m ready to figure this all out.” And so a new adventure for Ilse and Owniez is already underway…..

Interview in Global Connection

How to do business in flip flops

By Connla Stokes, 30/07/2018

HEINEKEN expat partner Ilse Dijkstra has launched an innovative fashion business in Mauritius. It hasn’t been plain sailing setting it up but she has relished the challenge.

Making it happen
On her Twitter account, Ilse’s motto is ‘opportunities don’t happen, we create them’. Before moving to Mauritius on her first overseas assignment, she’d worked as a fashion consultant, helping others to create opportunities. Now, you might say, she’s making it happen for herself, developing her own brand.

Unique concept
“My brand Owniez is a completely unique concept. The customer can choose their own design and I will print immediately the flip-flops for them. I have an old cargo bike, so I can attend festivals or events, visit hotels and resorts, or just cycle to the beach, play some music and attract people’s attention. It’s lots of fun.”

Out of the box
“Mauritius is a small country but there’s a huge garments and textiles sector. There were opportunities to connect manufacturers to the market in Europe. But I wanted to do my own business, something out of the box, and also something I could also potentially take with me when we relocate.”

A short window
“An assignment normally only lasts three years, and I have already been here for 10 months,” adds Ilse. “I thought, everybody wears flip flops. Young, old, rich and poor. There aren’t too many countries in the world, where people don’t wear flip-flops, so wherever we go next, I hope I can transfer the business, too.”

Where there is a will…
To register a business, a trademark, and procure a work permit, I have had to jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops. When I first asked how I could set up a business, if I asked 20 people, I must have got 20 different answers! Even opening a bank account for a business proved to be a laborious process. People had warned me it would be a struggle, but that only motivated me!”

Getting goosebumps
“I’ve nearly finalised everything and I’m ready to put all of my energy into this. I really believe in tailor-made flip-flops as a product. I love meeting people at the beach and introducing my concept. When I see the twinkle in their eye after I give them a pair of personalised of flip-flops, I still get goosebumps. To be honest, if I didn’t, I’d do something else!”

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