Home is where the heart is – meet Sarah, a French interior designer in Brussels

We’ve never spend this much time at home before and it has never been more important that your home is a safe haven, where you feel comfortable, relaxed and safe. So we contacted Sarah Kalman, who is a member at The Library Ixelles, to get inspired.

Sarah, you are an interior designer wish a specialty in older houses with character. What are some of your best tips for getting the most out of your space?

Try taking time to observe and analyze your interior; to consider it as a whole and not to treat it as a succession of distinct elements. It is important to notice the strong details and those that deserve to be valued. Then ask yourself, “What is most important to you to feel good? ” This step back is not always easy when you have your nose in it, that’s why I’m here.

I am very interested in the history of the house so that I can tell it in its layout and continue to tell a (new) story. The material is also very important as well as the way the ornamental elements were treated. In any case, follow your heart, not the latest trends in a magazine. Home is where the heart is. An interior must be timeless and last over time.

Afterwards, there is no magic recipe: each interior is unique as well as these inhabitants – they must be treated with care, uniqueness.

 

You are from France and has lived in Brussels for eight years now, what do you think of the architecture in Brussels?

After finishing my studies in Paris in interior design, I came to settle in Brussels. I have been living there for eight years now and feel like a local. The architecture here has real potential and deserves to be valued. We all know the Art Nouveau and Art Deco style but the Belgian capital is distinguished by its eclectic style. This is what also makes the city interesting. This multiplicity deserves more attention. Take the time to observe the façades.

 

What do you find to be the biggest challenges to being a (female) entrepreneur today?

I think we have to juggle between our different roles: Woman, business manager, parent, lover, friend, etc … while being operational on each position. I think this is a pressure that we put on ourselves and that should not be necessary.

 

You are quite new to the coworking at The Library Ixelles, how do you like working with other entrepreneurs?

I am inspired by their dynamism and the voluntary side of each worker. Everyone wants to prosper but above all to do better every day. It is very motivating to get up in the morning and be surrounded in this way.

 

Connect with Sarah here:

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Feel confident, look amazing, meet Astrid

Astrid is a personal stylist and image consultant who joined The Library Ixelles coworking only 1,5 months before Covid-19 hit us. At a time, when it’s never been more important to have a positive and beautiful look on self-care, we turned to Astrid for inspiration and advice. Read all the way to the end as Astrid has an offer to share with you.

a personal stylist and image consultant is definitely related to how people feel on the inside, what are their own personal experiences, to work on self-confidence and improve their communication skills.

Astrid, you work in the very interesting overlapping field of how we look and how we feel. Why do these two areas go together?

My approach as a personal stylist and image consultant is definitely related to how people feel on the inside, what are their own personal experiences, to work on self-confidence and improve their communication skills. It is not (only) about physical appearance but also about self-care. Our personal image can be influenced by a lot of factors (social standards, education, lack of trust) and my mission is helping people raise their own talents and express better who they are and their own personality through clothing. I create authentic personal style in order for the clients to feel good on the inside and express the better version of themselves on the outside.

 

You are working on building and developing your business at the moment, what are your plans for the future?

I just moved to Brussels at the beginning of this year to grow my project and develop my network as an entrepreneur. I started my business with private clients and I would like to extend my activities to companies. I have 10 years of experience in the corporate sector and I think image consulting is more important than ever as it guides employees to improve their non-verbal communication skills, express their potential and gain confidence.

 

As a small business being affected by the Covid-19 crisis, do you have any advice for other small business owners/independents?

I think that everyone is living this crazy period differently depending on the type of personality, but I would suggest of course to self-care (doing the simplest of things that are necessary for our own mental health) but also to use this time as an opportunity to read, to follow online trainings, to create contents in order to feed the mind and improve our expertise. It is what I try to do personally, even if it not easy every day.

 

You are quite new in coworking at The Library Ixelles. What do you think of working closely with others in a set up like this?

I am definitely not made for loneliness! and I think it is important to connect with other people and simply share inspirational time together or our vision of business. And The Library is the perfect co-working for that, as there is a very warm atmosphere created by the Library team, and even if I am new, I can feel a natural kindness and mutual aid between the members. Can’t wait to come back soon.

 

Special offer!

There is no better time than right now to update your look, so take Astrid up on her offer of a free styling session to respond to your current need in term of style and communication. She will help you simplify and reorganize your wardrobe and talk about how to create an elegant easy-to-wear look and how to look and feel comfortable for your professional online meetings.

 

Contact Astrid directly on info@astrideckelmans.com or by phone 0474 40 46 29.

Website

LinkedIn

 

 

A New Dawn for Legal Help – Meet Aurore

Most of us only use lawyers when we are in trouble. When in fact, the right lawyer can mean the difference between success and failure for your start-up. That’s why we were so excited, when Aurore joined The Library. Forget about an old-boys club of snobbish lawyers in wigs, Aurore is approachable, competent and friendly and knows absolutely everything there is to know about the start-up scene in Belgium.

Aurore, you are a lawyer specialised in company law and you work with helping entrepreneurs launch their businesses. What are the top three tips you can give to people, who are considering launching a business in Belgium?

First of all, study your market. Who are your competitors? What is your target? Who is your ideal customer? Is your market willing to buy your products / services? This might seem obvious, but very few entrepreneurs ask themselves why they offer their products / services and to whom. My second advice is to build a strong network. No one ever created a successful business on their own. You need strong partnerships whether informal or formal to test your ideas, get them into shape and tell people about them.

Thirdly, I highly recommend designing a strong, honest communication strategy. What is your story? What is your identity? How are you going to reach your customers?

Those three aspects are generally considered by most entrepreneurs to be dull, because they are difficult. Though, they are, in my opinion fundamental to building a strong and successful business – not only in Brussels.

You meet all kinds of entrepreneurs. Do you find that there is a difference in mindset between female and male entrepreneurs?

I generally don’t like gender stereotypes. We often read that women are risk adverse and do not dare as much as men. It’s true that women will anticipate more and look for accompanying structure when men will more often try on their own. I’ve seen plenty of men being totally risk-adverse and plenty of dare devil women but I must say that women are generally more cautious. Men will naturally work their networks via business groups, sport, etc. This has to change.

People are sometimes intimidated to see a lawyer and worried about the cost. But you have a great approach offering easy-to-choose packages for entrepreneurs. What do the packages consist of?

It is true that lawyer’s services are expensive. Legislation is more and more complicated and beyond the fees that you pay, we must continually refresh our knowledges which requires time and energy. The level of responsibility that lawyers take is also a reason for high fees. More and more often, lawyers apply fixed and predetermined rates for specific services. It enables the client to get an overview of the final, total amount. I have created six different services packages that enable a start-up to determine their business model and translate it into a business and financial plan, chose its legal form, have a professional and compliant website, legally binding terms and conditions of sale, apply for the author’s rights taxation and close a shareholders’ agreement. The point for me is to have professional legal services accessible to entrepreneurs. All details can be found on my website:

 

You’ve recently joined The Library. What is your impression so far of working in a coworking environment?

I like coming to the Library. It feels very much like home, though I can’t take naps as often as I would, if I were working from home 🙂.

It’s also nice to meet new people and to share experiences with Anne-Laure with whom I share an office.

To me, the Library is more than a place for work. It’s somewhere I can fully express my professionalism and put in place new ideas.

You can find Aurore on :

LinkedIn

Website

Instagram 

Bring the world closer with World Options

Years ago, Ulrik and Dirk met at a wedding. As it happened, Ulrik, who is Danish, and Dirk, who is Dutch worked for the shipping giants DHL and UPS. They quickly realised that by combining their expertise and entrepreneurial skills, they could offer shipping to an overlooked and ignored group – the smaller companies – and do it at reasonable prices with the added benefit of great customer service.

 

Dirk and Ulrik, what makes you passionate about shipping and logistics?

Shipping is an important part of the culture in both of our countries, so we are kind of born into it, but helping to facility trade, sharing experience from around the world is fascinating for both of us. You are selling a true service and, even though, we do rely on technology, it is still a business where people make all the difference.

If you ship parcels, packages or larger things like pallets or maybe run an online shop, let us know! As members we would be pleased to offer you our extended service including preferential rates.

What is the strangest thing that you have transported through World Options?

We have been challenged with many different things, probably the biggest was when a customer wanted a “used generator” to be shipped from outside Istanbul to Rotterdam. The challenge: It was in one piece and with a weight of 20 tons. When loading it in Istanbul, it fell of the trailer and in the middle of Ramadan, we needed to find a replacement trailer. This is when you provide customer centricity. We managed to get the shipment out in time for Turkey closing for one week and delivered to the customer in Rotterdam.

 

You are quite new at The Library and in an industry that would normally be in a more traditional office environment. What draws you to coworking?

We were looking for a place with character and where you easily can connect with people. We felt that The Library was the perfect place for our business and we see that we can easily manage growth within the walls of The Library. In addition to this, we greatly appreciate the service of the team and your customer focus. Our business is all about focussing on our customers and we feel we are in an environment that reflects this.

 

If you ship parcels, packages or larger items like pallets, or maybe run an online shop, let us know! As Library members, we would be pleased to offer you our extended service including preferential rates. You can find out more about the benefits of shipping with World Options by visiting our website or by contacting one of us at dirk.kruisinga@worldoptions.com or ulrik.topp@worldoptions.com .

 

 

An expert in change makes a big change

When we met Evi a couple of months ago, she had recently made a huge change in her life: Leaving San Francisco to move to Brussels and start all over. So we sat down with Evi to find out more about how to handle change professionally and privately.

 

Evi, you have recently moved here from San Francisco. Why did you make the change and what have you learned from it?

I was born in Germany and my family emigrated to the United States when I was 5. These last 12 years I have been drawn to reconnecting with my European roots and to live and work in Europe. I chose Brussels as it is such a highly international city and I enjoy meeting people from various cultures. I have been here 11 months and am delighted to be here. To me, Brussels feels like a large village, people are friendly, there is such a vibrant cultural scene and I love being able to walk everywhere. One highlight this year has been the reinstatement of my German citizenship; Germany did not allow dual citizenship until recently.

 

It is a year of many changes and as I am professionally focused on the issue of change, it is also a time of learning. One outcome for me has been an interest in writing about change and resilience so as to help bring more understanding of the complexity of the process of change and to underscore the impact of societal change on the individual.

 

Why should we be paying attention to our ability to change?

My expertise is in the human dynamics of change, personal, cultural and organizational. The failure rate of organizational change initiatives continues to be very high as there is insufficient understanding and appreciation of how change impacts people and culture and how to work with that constructively.

 

I am fascinated by change and believe that our ability to manage change will be critical in the future as there are so many changes in society today and an ever-increasing pace of change. In many ways, change is a much more complex human process than is often understood.

 

I am living through major life changes at the moment: my move to Belgium, change in my professional direction, my identity, home, relationships, culture, even language. I find it interesting to be my own personal laboratory, having previously been through many significant changes already. What continues to stand out for me is the inherent chaos and depth of emotional experiences. Change is not linear and takes us into many parts of ourselves. Real change entails facing our anxiety, fears, failures and losses, perceived or real. Real change allows and sometimes forces us to develop aspects of ourselves.

 

Resilience comes from actually living and working through difficult situations, learning from them and allowing ourselves to be changed by them. This brings the emotional balance, wellbeing and freshness necessary for creativity and innovation.

 

You are new at The Library, but not new to co-working. What, in your opinion, does co-working bring to your work-life balance?

For me, the key attraction is the ability to meet people and share my working day in the company of others. I enjoy being in conversation with people from other businesses and with different perspectives, both sharing and learning from each other. And as I am still settling in in Brussels it is a wonderful opportunity to feel part of a community. The warmth and welcoming nature of the people at The Library add a social dimension to my day. And the people and conversations are genuinely interesting. One unexpected and wonderful benefit was immediately meeting another member, Monika Hoegen, and discovering mutual interests in change and challenges in business today. We are now collaborating in researching ideas and writing.

Find out more about Evi here

Go get some ‘hygge’ in Copenhagen

We are at peak ‘hygge’ season and nobody does ‘hygge’ better than the Danes. Here are a few of my favourite places in Copenhagen to shop, eat and visit.

 

Shopping

Every area of Copenhagen has it’s own specialty shops, so it’s almost impossible to choose just a few. But I tend to always visit these ones even during short stops in Copenhagen.

 

Intense interiors

This amazing interior universe was long just by appointment and for people in the know. But now they have opened a temporary pop-up in the centre of Copenhagen. You can also stay at The Apartment Residence, which is a mind-blowing experience. When in the centre of the city, visit Beau Marché or the grande dame of design Illum’s Bolighus.

hygge

My favourite department store

Forget about boring, old-fashioned department stores. Magasin has everything from fashion to food and foreigners get 10% off.

 

Danish fashion galore

For a concentrated fix of fashion, go shopping in the streets of Pilestræde, Grønnegade and Ny Østergade. Visit Ganni or Stine Goya for unique Danish design. Don’t forget that the Danish jewellery scene is fantastic too. My favourite shop is Dulong at Silkegade.

 

Where to eat like the Danes

Copenhagen is a mecca for healthy food, but also for bread and the world-famous kanelsnurrer (cinnamon buns) from Meyers Spisehus. Also a great place for lunch or dinner. For a quick and healthy brunch or lunch, I like Raw42 and Glo Food.

 

But why be healthy, right? If you’d like the ultimate hygge treat, then head to Nimb for Afternoon Tea in their big lounge with fireplace. The service is fantastic and the treats are unforgettable. Another beautiful place for a cake and coffee is the tiny, jewellery box of a tea salon called Winterspring. Their cakes and ice creams are so tasty and the place is so sweet and beautiful.

 

Also in Tivoli, you will find the beautiful restaurant Gemyse, where they’ve taken vegetarian to a whole new level. Book a table in the greenhouse.

 

For lively and popular restaurants, book a table with any of the Madklubben restaurants that look appetising to you. Or at Restaurant Llama, which also offers fantastic cocktails. I also LOVE the Sticks’n’Sushi restaurants, which are great if you travel with children.

 

To continue the night after dinner, head to K-Bar or Ruby, both are world-class cocktail bars with a great atmosphere.

 

Forget about The Little Mermaid

She is smaller than you think and looks a bit sad and cold. So spend your time on lots of other things instead. For example…:

Visit the art museum Statens Museum for Kunst. They have changing exhibitions and a wonderful shop and café. Take the train to Louisana for another art and design experience.

 

Rent bikes and discover the main neighbourhoods of Copenhagen; Christianshavn, Frederiksberg, Vesterbro, Nørrebro and Østerbro. Everywhere, you’ll find unique little shops and cafés. Or do like the Danes, get a to-go-coffee at Emmerys and walk around the main lakes to look at people and discuss your life.

 

Remember that Copenhagen is all about the hygge, the fashion, the food and the friendliness. Everybody speaks English and are ordinarily happy to help. Enjoy your visit.

 

Useful vocabulary

Tak – Thank you

Hej – Hello

Hej, hej – bye bye

Vi ses – see you later

Må jeg bede om en kanelsnurre – Can I have a cinnamon bun please

 

Transportation

The Metro is clean, friendly and efficient. Take it from the airport (get a ticket for three zones) or between stops in the centre (Kgs. Nytorv), Frederiksberg and Christianshavn. The buses are also easy to spot, but the best way of transportation is a bike…

 

Creating a Sustainable Business Meet the experts

At The Library, we are in awe of the work being done by Ilana Taub and Michael Minch-Dixon from Bolder Impact. In 2013, they co-created SNACT: A sustainable snack brand that has saved over 250 tonnes (and counting) of food from going to waste. Years later, Ilana and Michael found their way back to Brussels, set up Bolder Impact – helping companies be the solution to environmental issues – and joined us at The Library.

In October, we are organizing a series of workshop lunches at all three Libraries, where you can meet Ilana and Michael and find out more about how to create a sustainable business and tackle the climate crisis.

Ilana and Michael, you have dedicated your careers to help the rest of us make climate friendly choices. Were you always passionate about this cause?

 

Michael: Maybe not always but it goes back a very long way. I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors and remember fondly my uncle taking me to the Irish countryside. Then, when I was studied Economics at university, I started to think about the economics of climate change and seeing how profoundly climate change would not only impact our environment but also our economies. Both in negative sense and in an opportunistic one – if we are to manage climate change, it will require fundamental changes in our economy and I found that quite an exciting prospect. So I focused my thesis on that and never looked back. I did an MSC in Environmental Technology after my undergraduate, set up a sustainability strategy consultancy and then later went on to work for Vestas, one of the largest wind turbine manufacturers in the world.

 

Ilana: My journey isn’t exactly the same but there are a lot of similarities. It was my last year at Edinburgh University that really started determining this trajectory, though I should point out that from a young age, I’ve always loved and cared for the natural world and studied environmental sciences at school. I also have very fond memories of being in nature (but in Finland, not Ireland). My first job after university was working here in Brussels for (what was at the time) Dexia Asset Management where I analysed hundreds of companies across different sectors on their environmental and social performance. I found it very interesting but not “hands on” enough so I went to do the same MSC (in Environmental Technology) Mike had done a few years before. Knowing what we know about the state of the world, we both can’t imagine doing anything else… The nature of what we do will of course change but it will always involve working in sustainability.

 

You sold SNACT and set up shop as consultants. What made you make that change?

 

Ilana: A few different things came together at the right time to lead us to that decision. We’d spent 5 years working on SNACT and whilst we loved what we were doing, we felt it was time for a change. We sort of fell into the world of FMCG and developing a snack brand by accident – we saw an issue, food waste, and wanted to do something about it but we were very naïve about what it would take, and certainly about what running a food business in the UK would entail! The world of food retail is extremely competitive, it’s a really tough space to break into. We wanted to start a family and we decided a change of pace in our life would be a good thing, at least temporarily.

 

Michael: We found a lot of people came to us for advice as entrepreneurs and we’ve always been keen to help others. It made sense that once we had sold SNACT, we would build on our own business experience and expertise in sustainability to work with other businesses and continue having impact in the issues we care about. We’ll definitely start another venture in the future. It’s the sustainability challenge that excites us. Once we got SNACT up and running, we spent our days running a food business and that’s not as exciting as thinking about new ways of dealing with the issues we’re facing.

 

You are one of many entrepreneur couples at The Library (including Robert and me), what are your tips for couples working together?

 

Ilana: When we ran SNACT together, we were pretty strict about making sure our evenings and weekends were not spent talking about (and working on) the business. It’s hard, as start-ups tend to consume most of your time but we needed to make sure we had non-SNACT time to stay sane. Otherwise… The obvious stuff: Communicate and be kind.

 

Michael: Just do it. It’s a shame more couples don’t work together. We spend so much of our lives at work, it’s great to be able to share that with the person you love. And then what Ilana said!

 

Finally, you’ve been members of The Library for more or less six months. How is coworking affecting your work/life balance?

 

When you can structure your day however you want, it’s quite easy for your work to creep into every part of it. So having a space where you can go and work helps separate things a bit – especially with a young baby, it’s been very useful to have a place to truly focus.

 

Creating a Sustainable Business workshop & lunch

Thursday 3 October at 12:30

The Library Ixelles

 

Tuesday 8 October at 12:30

The Library Europe

 

Thursday 10 October at 12:30

The Library Ambiorix

 

The Creating a Sustainable Business workshops & lunches are in principle exclusively for Library members. If you are not a member, but would like to join, please email Anne-Sofie at asr@thelibrarygroup.be.

 

Stella talks to us about East African trade agreements

Stella recently joined us at The Library. She came to Belgium with a wealth of knowledge from her extensive career in East Africa. Uprooting and going to Belgium has been quite the adventure for her, but we are so happy to have Stella – our very own East African expert – with us at The Library. Here are a few of her insights.

Stella, you are a lawyer and a trade agreement specialist from East Africa. What can we learn in Europe from strategic partnerships in East Africa?

I believe Europe has a lot to benefit from strategic partnerships and collaborative efforts in Africa because of the innovation drive that is sweeping across the African continent. Africa’s long known development challenges like healthcare, infrastructure and education, are currently, the drivers and catalysts for innovation. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

Luckily, the exponential growth of technology has not left Africa behind. In the past 15 years, mobile phone-usage has exploded across Africa, bringing the complex and diverse continent closer by bridging communication barriers not only in Africa but also with loved one across the globe. This has increased the market for Internet and data suppliers in the continent, which poses as an opportunity for strategic partnerships with telecom companies present in Africa.

African youths are at the forefront of this innovation drive. Sub-Saharan Africa is witnessing ground-breaking innovations e-healthcare solutions and online education solutions backed by wide-spread used of smart-phones and computers connecting like-minded thinkers in strategic partnerships and collaborations to devise solutions to common development challenges across sub-Saharan Africa.

The pervasive usage of mobile phones also led to creation of mobile-money banking systems, which, drastically, revolutionised the banking system landscape especially for small-scale businesses and the informal sector- which dominants most economies in Africa – influencing changes in the way of doing business in the financial sector. The technology behind mobile money banking has been exported to the west. This trend, therefore, represents the coming of age of Africa as the technology creator rather than adopter.

 

Navigating the world’s biggest free trading area with Stella

In terms of trade, the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement purports to create the biggest free trading area in the world. It creates a market of over 1.2 billion people, with a majority population below 30 years. This represents the future work force for the continent and the current and future consumers of goods and services.

Suffice to say that Africa is the future. These innovations and regional as well as continental trade groupings are shaping the business and investment landscape and the development aid received from the west to sub-Saharan Africa. The innovation drive is a big motivation for foreign direct investments in Sub-Saharan Africa, while investment aid is increasingly channelled toward creating enabling legal and regulatory environment for sustainable business development and growth.

With this growth trend, comes the need to make policy reviews and changes aimed at creating business friendly legal frameworks across the board. My expertise in regional trade, trade policy and foreign investment facilitation in East Africa, allows me to consult on sustainable development projects coming from Europe to Africa, essentially for private sector development and trade policy-related technical training for policy makers in Africa.

You just started at The Library, so it might be too soon to tell, but do you think coworking will have an impact on the launch of your business?

Since I have just launched my consultancy business in Europe, I found The Library co-working space an excellent environment to touch base in Europe. Its central location in Brussels, the heart of Europe, puts me in proximity to global development influencers and international policy makers. The Library brings me in contact with members is various professional fields from whom I hope to get insights on how to navigate the highly competitive business environment in Brussels, not to mention the power of networking in terms of referrals with their networks. The library also offers me an insight into the work culture in Europe but in less formal structure. It gives me room to adjust to my new environment in a less stressful way. Above all The Library in a special way has given me a space to keep my career goals alive while also looking after my child.

Read more about Stella here: www.nalwoga.com

Taking a walk with Stella of Stellar Walks

When I say that our members come from diverse industries, I am not kidding. Stella is not only from a super exotic place (Iceland), she also runs quite a unique concept and has made a success of it since arriving in Brussels almost two years ago. Stella organises walking tours of Brussels and will give you a whole new view of our city.

 

Exciting guided tour of the city centre of Brussels. It sheds light on the history of the city, interesting places and buildings.

She was super friendly, very clever and we just had the best experience. I would highly recommend this tour for everyone!’ Stella, this is one of your raving reviews on Tripadvisor. How are your tours different from other guided tours?

 I was repeatedly finding myself having the conversation “is there really something to do or see in Belgium?” with people who have never visited or only been here on short business trips. In my view, Brussels is one of the most misunderstood cities in Europe. In a way, I had become an advocate for the country and city because I simply love it myself. Since my mother language is Icelandic, I decided to emphasise that, offering Icelandic visitors a tour in their own language. We all know how much easier it is to listen and discuss topics in your own language, no matter how good you are in English. Also, when guiding your fellow countrymen, you have a better insight in what could interest them, make connections or compare to something from their own culture. It simply creates a relaxed atmosphere.

That is not to say that I only guide in Icelandic. I also speak Swedish and English so why not offer the tours in Swedish and English as well!

On top of that I tell stories from my own personal experience having lived one year in Bruges when I was a child, then in Brussels as a teenager around the turn of the century (It just sounds so funny to say it like that) and finally now again since the summer of 2017. All in all, a personal and Nordic approach to the history and culture of Belgium.

 

You told me once that you are a Wikipedia nerd, do you have any tips for remembering all these things about the city?

 Ahh, that´s a good one! The facts, stories and tales I have no problem remembering simply because I find them so interesting. I am not so good at remembering dates and in what year something happened, a challenge for a guide for sure!

This may sound silly or strange and it’s a bit hard to explain. I first try to connect it to something on a personal basis. I connect dates, months or even years to, for example, birthdays of family members. Then I add or subtract from that. Like if one my parents was born in 1961 and something happened in 1861, it’s simple to subtract a century or so! On top of that I have favorite numbers like 6 and 9, so if I see them, I have an “anchor” and can use my system with that. I know this sounds way more complicated than just remembering the year and the date, but it works for me!

 

You’ve been at The Library less than a month now. How is coworking effecting your work-life balance?

 It does create more of a distinction between the two, now that i am not only working from home. It really helps to leave the house and the distractions like the to-do list at home, and to concentrate only on what i’m doing for my business. On top of that it is very energising to meet others who are doing completely different things but still learning from them at the same time. It´s mind blowing to see the creativity, resourcefulness and entrepreneurship of others.

 

For more information about Stellar Walks or to book a tour, contact Stella directly.

www.stellarwalks.com

www.instagram.com/stellarwalks

www.facebook.com/stellarwalks

stellarwalks@gmail.com

+32 476 57 10 69

Join the workshop Introduction to Design Thinking

We are pleased to invite you to the Introduction to Design Thinking workshop at The Library Ixelles on 28 March at 18.00. During this fast paced mini workshop, Library member, Robert Vos, will take us through all the stages of a specific user journey ending up with solutions that will improve that experience. For those that provide a service or work in service delivery it’s an interesting way of getting introduced to some tools. For everyone else it is a way to spark creativity in a very structured way.

But first, let’s get to know Robert a bit better…

 

Robert, you are bringing design thinking to the public sector through The New School. How did you come up with the idea for this line of work?

I’ve been working in the public sector for the last eight years and the focus was always on service delivery. Because the business case is never the most important element in that sector, there’s a big risk of just deciding for users what the want and need instead of involving them in the process. After working in a government innovation lab, I realised that building a knowledge base on how to design services and products around and with users was a necessity. That’s when I starting working the idea of a school that does exactly that. 

How do you invite innovation into your life?

I get inspiration in many ways, not just through technology. I try to keep an open mind and stay curious because it helps me try new things and experiment. Whether it’s an app, a habit, 10 minutes of meditation or building a learning experience, it all involves the same mind set. I look at innovation as a work in progress.

 

Where do you get inspired for your business?

Basically from everything: Movies, stories, other businesses and nature. I’m a big reader and podcast lover. That combined with trying to look at global trends in my sector helps me come up with new ideas. I also buy a random magazine every month about a topic I know nothing about. Indie magazines are great for that. Diving into these unknown worlds helps me realise there’s so much more to do and learn.

 

What brought you to The Library and how is coworking working out for you?

I was looking for a workspace that had all the benefits of being a home without being at home with the distractions that come with it. Someone with my attention span needs a calm and welcoming space that contributes instead of distracts. And that’s exactly what The Library does. 

 

Do join the workshop, please email Helena at hc@thelibrarygroup.be to be registered to attend.

Italian fashion has landed at The Library Ixelles

One of the things we love about The Library is how diverse the members are. One of our newest members at The Library Ixelles is handbag company Melina C.

 

Melina, how do you come up with your designs? What inspires you?

My homeland, Italy, is my main source of inspiration. Each bag in the Melina C collection bears the name of a village in North-Eastern Italy (Grado, Spilimbergo, Caorle, etc.): it’s a symbol and homage to the beautiful land of the Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto regions. The design, the choice of the leather, the production…everything is 100% made in Italy.

 

As every entrepreneur knows, there are so many choices to make regarding marketing, distribution and points of sales. Your approach is quite different and interesting.

I decided to invest in a new concept, in order to reinvent the buying process itself. When women want to buy bags, they either go to a shop – where they do not receive any advice for their purchase, but at least can touch the product firsthand – or shop online – where bags are probably cheaper, but they are still left with no advice whatsoever. I decided to give them a third option: to buy the bags at a house party, where a “Fashionista” (a fashion expert) will reveal precious secrets on how to choose the perfect bag according to their own silhouettes and colours, letting them feel the different types of leather, giving suggestions on outfit/bag matches and much more.

 

If anyone would like to become a Melina C fashionista, how should they go about it?

If anyone wanted to become a business man/woman and organize fashion parties with his/her friends and earn some money at the same time, they should totally have a look at our website page here where they can find all the information they need.

Finally, how did you find The Library and has coworking already influenced your work in any way?

I discovered The Library on line, but later found out that we have some shared connections – it’s a small world! I believe it is a great network, full of possibilities. My Business Visibility Manager, Giulia, says that coworking helps her focus and be more productive, so we both truly appreciate how it is influencing our work.

https://www.melina-c.com/

Student job at The Library

The Library Ixelles, The Library Ambiorix and The Library Europe are part of a whole new type of business centre focusing on great service and beautiful décor.

 

Receptionists wanted for The Library

We are now looking for a student to work as receptionists/hosts/hostesses at The Library Group.

The job entails:

  • Manning the reception, answering phones, handling post, handling minor IT/printing issues
  • Greeting guests for our clients, offering drinks and snacks, catering to the meeting room
  • Cleaning up the public spaces at the end of the day and preparing them in the mornings
  • Maintaining miscellaneous secretarial services for our clients
  • Helping out at parties and events

 

Qualifications

The Library will stand out for the unparalleled level of service and personal attention. If you get a kick out of putting our client’s needs before your own, then this is the place for you. You must have perfect English and French skills. Knowledge of the Nordic languages/culture is a plus. You must be presentable, polished and know how to dress, when jeans and sneakers are not an option. Creativity, a responsible nature and a sense of humour are also vital.

 

What we can offer

A stylish, fun and creative environment with contact to lots of small businesses. A great learning experience for the future and a part in our success as we grow together. You’ll join a team, where we have a lot of fun, look out for each other and genuinely like hanging out together.

 

Please note that this job takes place during the day on weekdays; so if you are only available evenings and weekends, then there is no need to apply.

 

Please send your CV as well as a short motivation for your application (in English) to Head of Events, Erica Herklotz at eh@thelibrarygroup.be.

Read more about The Library here or on the Facebook page or Instagram pages – The Library Brussels.

Behind the scenes of the coworking movie at The Library

I hope you enjoyed the movie? We’ve been wanting to show off our coworking, private offices and stylish meeting rooms for ever. Actually, Vita June (of Vita June Studios) and I talked about this movie for years until I finally got it together to decide to do it. Incidentally, Vita was one of the first Library members to move in to The Library Ixelles, where she still works. So not only is she artistically gifted, she also knows almost as much about The Library and its’ journey as I do.

Why the childhood references in the beginning?

I thought it would be nice to explain the name ‘The Library’ and also to illustrate the twists and turns that life brings that can take you from hanging out with your mum at the library on a remote Danish island to launching The Library Group in Brussels. I always meant the name – The Library – to be a tribute to my mum and this is a way of showing it.

What does the tapping foot mean?

There are a lot of symbolic references in the movie and this one is meant to show the impatience and high tempo connected with being an entrepreneur. And then it works well with music of course.

Where is this filmed?

All of the scenes are filmed at The Library Ambiorix. I’d have loved to show all three Libraries, but we wanted this movie to be about the atmosphere rather than have it be a tour of real estate. And for practical reasons, it also made sense to stay in one location. So it became The Library Ambiorix, because of the blue meeting room and the special door handles. If you look closely, you can see that they are shaped like lion’s heads: a fantastic, original detail from the 1920s.

What’s with the cakes?

From the beginning, I wanted this enormous Alice in Wonderland, magical, over-the-top cake. Because it kind of is over-the-top that Library members eat homemade cakes and cookies and energy bars several times a week, right? So the big cake was a given. Then we came up with the idea of having the little cake to illustrate the time, when I was on my own, working from home in solitude, ‘searching for hygge’. And then of course it grew to a big cake as The Library grew. Luckily, our colleague, Erica, is also a cake decorator and she really outdid herself with these two. What you can’t see in the movie is how wonderfully they smelled and tasted.

 

Who are these gorgeous people acting as Library members?

Well, the beauty of it is that all these people are or were Library members, who also became my friends. You really do make friends in coworking…So no acting required really. And they all have such great charisma that I just knew they would light up the screen. Our main issue was Oliver being too charming, so we’d had to keep re-shooting the scenes due to too much giggling.

 

Are the flowers real?

Of course! My 92 year old mother in law spent weeks contacting garden centres in Holland waiting for Hydrangeas to come into season, while we were all crossing our fingers that it would happen before we were set to shoot. For weeks after the shooting, you could see them all over the Libraries. Just like the cake, the idea was to take something that is a given at The Library (homemade cake and fresh flowers) and play up the magic of it by making it bigger and even more beautiful.

 

Where does all this Danish design come from?

The poster of Ærø (the island where I grew up) is from Vissevasse, the coffee cups are from Kähler, the plates and teapot from Royal Copenhagen and the wooden tables have been custom-made for The Library by Recollection. The round sofa table is from Menu. Wallpaper is from Tapet-Café, the pendant lamps are from Le Klint and the little porcelain pieces here and there are from Ditte Maigaard. Finally, my jewellery is from Marianne Dulong, which is the company I worked for, when I was working from home (post-The Library). In other words; a few of my favourite things…

 

Is there anything you would do differently?

I would get more sleep before the gruelling 13 hours of shooting, but otherwise everything went according to Vita’s super coordinated plan. Despite an un-seasonal snowstorm in Brussels, everybody made it on time and we had a lot of fun together as I think you can see. My favourite part was filming the cake and the flower scenes, because both cakes and flowers looked exactly as they had in my imagination. And then of course watching Vita work and having my friends – members and colleagues – come together to help me make a Library movie.

Just magical.

The secrets of an organised, entrepreneurial life (coworking)

On Wednesday 6 June, The Library Group will host a ‘Business Freedom Formula’ workshop in our coworking with the coaching company, Damarque, run by Library member Marc God. The workshop will take place at The Library Europe as of 18.00 and is open for Library members, coworkers and their friends. Here are a few insights behind the idea.

 

Marc, you run both fit20 and a coaching business. Will this workshop share some of your secrets to living an organised entrepreneurial life?

Yes, absolutely. Only, these are not actually secrets to live an organised entrepreneurial life, but proven tools and strategies that help you to generate more balance, success and happiness. Not every tool fits everyone; you have to try them out and see which ones work best for you and your company.

 

Is there a link between mental fitness and physical fitness and is that why you got into the fit20 business?

Yes, there definitely is a link between mental and physical heath and fitness. The saying ‘Animo Sane In Corpore Sane’ fits perfectly with my vision. When you are physically fit, research has proven that you are happier too. And happier people are more successful. This squares the circle. For me, my physical wellbeing has always ranked high on my priority list and even more so now that I am an entrepreneur. Fit20 targets busy professionals who want to stay fit and healthy in the most efficient way. These are the same people that we target with our business coaching work.

What can we expect to take away from your workshop on 6 June?

During this highly interactive event, participants will get an introduction to the Business Freedom Formula. We invite them to take a close look at their business & their life and discover the obstacles to reaching the next level. We offer practical tools and strategies for improving their business that can be implemented the next day. My business partner Joeri Billast, our digital wizard, will discuss how the power of digital marketing can be unlocked to attract your ideal clients and accelerate your business growth.

 

https://damarque.com/

Meet Monika The cosmopolitan communicator from Cologne

Monika is one of those quick-minded people, who immediately know what they want. Luckily for us what she wanted was The Library Ixelles. We asked Monika a few questions about her professional life, projects and city preferences.

 

Monika, you are a journalist by trade, but what areas do you work with now?

As a journalist and reporter I worked mostly on issues of development cooperation, EU development policies, global sustainability, environment, energy and climate, EU-Africa relations, human and social rights, gender, trade/fair trade and the like. I have reported for newspapers and radio – from numerous countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In Brussels, I work mostly as a moderator of public panel debates – also with a strong focus on global sustainable development. Apart from that, I offer tailor-made media, presentation and communication trainings as well as support for strategic communication for individuals as well as for organisations and institutions, including the EU commission, namely the DG Development, DevCo.

Still, at the moment I am also looking for new areas of work – and I would like to incorporate more cultural and intercultural topics into my activities.

 

You travel between Brussels and Cologne for work. Is the professional and social vibe different between these two cities and what do you like best about each city?

That’s a tricky question, since Cologne is my hometown and I am surely a bit biased when it comes to judging it. But, yes, the vibe is different in both cities – with Brussels being much more cosmopolitan and also offering more interesting professional opportunities. Cologne, on the other hand, has a strong tradition of its own – e.g. it has one of the biggest Carnival in the world, believe me – and that is something I also like about this town. At the same time most of the people in Cologne are quite open-minded and welcoming to foreigners. There is some kind of “easy-going”, “live and let live” attitude.

Nevertheless, despite the ties that I still have with Cologne and my friends over there, I took the decision to spend more time in Brussels and focus on activities over here. This is also due to the fact that I feel very much at home in Ixelles and the beautiful neighborhood around Chatelain, where I live.

 

What brought you to The Library and has coworking had any impact on your work?

I happened to see an ad of The Library on Facebook a few weeks ago, after having been searching for a co-working place here in Brussels for quite some time without finding the right place. What I liked very much was that one could try-out The Library for a day. I chose The Library in Ixelles, because it is close to my house – and I must say I was convinced right from the start. The beauty of the building, the warm “acceuil” and the concept of this “office hotel” with its splendid Danish touch seemed very pleasant to me. The fact that I ran into one of Anne-Sofie’s special lunch offers the very first day might have also contributed to my quick decision to become a Library member. Now, after roughly four weeks of membership, I already feel very much at home in Rue de l’Aurore. Co-Working here for me means to get out of isolation, that freelancers and independent consultants often suffer from. It also means to make new and inspiring contacts – especially because The Library brings people from different professions together. People that most probably would not meet elsewhere. So, working and thinking “out of the box” is really made possible here.

Coworking in Belgium

Coworking in Belgium

Are you an entrepreneur or freelancer in Belgium interested in linking up with like-minded professionals? You might want to join a coworking space. Belgium’s coworking culture has grown rapidly in recent years, with Brussels now a hub of flexible, independent workers.

Anne-Sofie Rehfeld, founder of The Library Group (which offers three coworking spaces in Brussels), takes a look at coworking in Belgium and explains how to get involved.

Coworking is a modern way of organising workspace. In the 21st century digital age, it enables those who can carry out their work from a remote location – freelancers, entrepreneurs, startup businesses, digital workers – to work in a shared physical space, collaborate and become part of a professional community.

An increasing number of entrepreneurs and flexible workers are opting for coworking in Belgium. Nearly 15 percent of the workforce is self-employed – including many expats – and the country is one of the most digitally advanced in Europe, home to over 2200 tech startups Coworking spaces have proliferated over the past decade, particularly in Brussels. Belgium’s bustling capital contains over half of its coworking places and even hosted a Coworking week in 2017.  

A coworking space in Belgium will typically offer:
  • office space along with wifi and use of office equipment such as printers and scanners
  • access to meeting rooms
  • opportunities to collaborate and network with other members on-site and at social events
  • use of kitchen facilities including tea, coffee and refreshments
  • other benefits such as mailboxes and parking facilities

 

“Our three Libraries in Brussels offer traditional office facilities with a unique flavour and additional services including clubs, workshops, a range of fun social activities for members, and even dry cleaning and recommending babysitters!”, says Anne-Sofie.

Benefits of coworking in Belgium

Increased productivity: coworking gives freelancers and entrepreneurs the chance to work together, learn from each other and form new partnerships which can boost performance and growth.

Socializing: it means that talented independent workers in Belgium – especially expats – don’t have to work in isolation. “I moved to Brussels 8 years ago and found myself utterly disconnected since I had left family and friends behind and was working from home”, says Anne-Sofie. “Coworking gives you a place to belong and makes you feel more at home.”

Money savings: coworking offers startups and small businesses an alternative to paying for their own premises and tying themselves into a lengthy commitment. As Anne-Sofie explains: “Your membership fee is made back ten-fold through your own increased productivity and through the partnerships you’ll make.”

 

If you feel as if coworking could be right for you, read more here

The glorious and strenuous art of networking: Tips and tricks from the field

When I first started considering The Library Group five years ago, these were the facts:

 

  • I knew only a handful of people in Brussels, none of which were potential clients
  • The concept was not easy to understand and needed personal explaining/pitching
  • I had no money for advertising, so promotion had to be done by word of mouth

So it seemed clear that my only choice was to get out there and meet more people. People who could become clients, people who could tell their friends about The Library, people who could be employees or suppliers. And since I didn’t know that many people (I think my initial loneliness in Brussels is clear to the reader now), I would have to do it ALL ALONE. Like seriously on my own. Like showing up to places knowing NOBODY. I have to use caps lock to underline the effort this took.

So night after night, I forced myself out of my cosy home to go meet strangers in contexts that were often less than ideal. Based on this hard-earned experience, I’ve put together a few points for networkers and networking organisers.

Networking Tops & Tricks

You are a networker:

  • If you show up to an event and discover that there is not one single familiar face in the crowd, resist the urge to pull out your phone. It makes you completely unapproachable to stare at your screen. Find the organiser and ask them bluntly to introduce you to somebody. Once you know one person, you’ll be okay.
  • Listen more than you talk. If you strike up a conversation with somebody new, ask questions. You are bound to have at least one thing in common. The more you ask, the more the other person will feel seen and heard and will remember you fondly.
  • If you make two contacts in one evening, then you’ve done great. Don’t expect to walk away with a list of clients or connections. Just two is fine. Some of my most loyal clients and best friends came from chance encounters. Quantity is not a goal here.
  • Giving is the new getting. Be generous with your contacts – people remember helpfulness (sadly because there is not enough of it going around). So connect people as much as you can, even if there is no immediate gain for you. Example: Since I launched The Library Group, we’ve been sponsoring events for the Leadarise organisation. At almost any networking event in Brussels, there is at least one Leadariser, who I can hang out with.

You are a networking organiser:

  • You wanted people to show up to your event, now make it worth their while: Start introducing them to each other. Prepare beforehand by mentally summing up what you know about your guests on an individual basis. Do you not know them at all? Look them up at LinkedIn.
  • Don’t spend time with your friends or colleagues during the event. Circulate like a fidget spinner in the hands of a toddler, but make sure to dispense useful introductions as you work the room à la: ‘Hey Anna, you should meet Eric, you both travelled Iceland this summer!’. Or: ‘Monique, please meet Tom, who is looking for a graphic designer, I’ve told him all about your work’. And then spin out of there again, so people can talk. All they need is an opener…
  • Think about what food you are serving. It should be light enough to take the edge off after-work low blood sugar, but not so substantial that everybody is standing around stuffing their faces instead of talking. Also, wine is good. Really good.

Networking opened so many doors for me and got me enough clients to make it out of the early start-up years alive. And also networking is just a very un-charming word for meeting people. And meeting people is the basis of love, understanding and evolution, so you if you can learn to thrive on it, then you’ve done well for yourself already.

 

www.thelibrarygroup.be

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