If you ever find yourself in the heart of Amsterdam, on the corner of Rosmarijnsteeg and Spuistraat, let yourself be enticed by the coveted interior of BonBon Boutique. With so many little treasures hanging delicately within the store, it's hard to believe the brand was founded just three years ago. A vast array of designs are on offer, many of which are made of an alluring combination of silk thread, gold-filled tubing and adorned with semi-precious stones or Swarovski crystal.
Bonne van der Ree, is a Dutch model-turned-designer who found her talent in craftsmanship early on in life. Whilst van der Ree develops new designs on a bi-annual basis, with much of her stock often selling out completely, she manages to offer distinctly original products each season.
Inside the shop, all of the designs are laid out freely, inviting customers to try each delicate piece on for themselves. Some are elegantly draped across beautifully crafted vintage wooden furniture, whilst the rest are hung across the walls. The boutique's charming gallery-like exterior and its approachable aura within encourages customers to linger at the displays. Once there, the modest price tags and warm personalities of the shop's personnel make the products seem even more appealing.
Tucked away amongst sublime kokedama plants hanging from the ceiling, van der Ree also showcases the work of other designers. Aside from jewellery, silk scarves, bags, hair accessories, illustrations and ceramics fill the remaining surfaces of the alluring displays. Jewellery, however, unquestionably remains the central focus.
Van der Ree has succeeded in portraying the products on display with simplicity and ease - an artful portrayal of her personal vision. She has a soothing presence as she speaks and her charm and beauty is reflected in every piece she designs. As a returning customer myself, I am impatiently anticipating the next collection - not only to wear the spectacular pieces, but also to spend hours viewing the feminine and delicate designs within the boutique itself.
Alma Omerovic: Aside from your own designs, what other brands do you carry in the boutique?
Bonne van der Ree: I have sourced all of the labels myself. Luckily, I have Monique from Mhl, whose jewellery can be found here, and Hym by Hye Yoo Mi, who makes the hair accessories. The rest of the labels I buy or are from a consignment.
|Bonne van der Ree|
AO: How did you start the concept of this store?
BV: I had a temporary store before this, together with Monique. It was more of a workspace and it happened to be in a little store. We spent two years there, and we had our returning customers who made it back regularly.
When we had to leave, we thought we would do our own thing, but about seven months ago, I was able to make an agreement with the owner of this store. I had the opportunity of collaborating with the owner and I became in charge of the concept and the labels.
When we started, it was everything we had left over from our last shop. We didn't have a lot of stock to begin with, so it was more of a gallery. When people looked in from the outside they thought, 'oh, it must be really expensive.'
It slowly grew from there. I found new labels and it's still growing. I want to do it slowly because I want to find the right things - I don't want to stuff the shop with 'that's kinda nice' things. I think if I really like it, it all comes together…
AO: …because it's your own personal vision, so people will understand?
BV: Yeah, exactly.
AO: It's in a great location as well!
BV: It's absolutely great. It's right between the busy commercial Kalverstraat and the De 9 Straatjes [very chic shopping area]. This is the only alley connecting them together. A lot of people pass by here.
|Rattle My Tail.
AO: How did you first get into making jewellery?
BV: I made earrings when I was ten. About ten years ago, while I was travelling a lot, my dad gave me a big stack of beads for my birthday. I started it as a hobby again, making things that broke quickly and were really ugly but I thought, 'This isn't what I had in mind'!
When I moved back to Holland about six years ago from Sydney, where I was for about four years, I made a decision to start using nicer materials. I found the gold-filled tubing - I chose it is because while I liked the vintage materials I found, they were often brass so they don't mix with silver. I decided to only use gold or gold plate. I tried gold plate but it got ugly so quickly after wearing [it], so I tried to find something nicer, and that's how I came to the gold-filled material.
It took me a few years to start working with the collection. Having the former shop really helped, because then I produced things that people would buy...otherwise you're only making things, but for who? You can make a lot of nice things but then you're only spending money.
AO: What sort of things do you look at for inspiration?
BV: Of course I am influenced by fashion and what I see, and other jewellery labels as well. I was a model for 15 years, so naturally, I am influenced by fashion magazines. I get more inspired by [the] materials that I find. So when I find some new vintage things, I buy them online. I buy what I think is nice and once I get it, I start playing with it and putting it together tp see what comes out - sometimes it's nice and sometimes it's not.
I have a big table in my studio where I put all of my ideas, and slowly the whole collection falls from it. Sometimes I have a new idea, I try it and wear it myself to test it out. My friends love me, they always wear my jewellery to test to see if it will break or wear out. Eventually they can become a spark for a new collection.
AO: Do you make a new collection every season?
BV: Two each year. It's not that I throw away the old collection, I only add to the already existing collection. I divide it into vintage, basics and then the seasonal collections. On my website now, I have the summer and winter collections, basics and vintage. Usually, I keep making something until I don't have the materials anymore, like the vintage collection, or sometimes I get so sick of making something I stop making them!
AO: Do you take special requests?
BV: Yeah sometimes, but it takes too much time, and it's usually too expensive and more of a hassle. I used to do that in the old shop, because we didn't have a lot of customers [at the time], but now I just don't have enough time and it's not as fun for me if I can't allow myself to be creative with it, and that's my favorite part.
Bonne at BonBon Boutique is located at Rosmarijnsteeg 12, Amsterdam. Alternatively, shop online at Bonbonboutique.nl.
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