Businesswoman Elize Been lives just around the corner of Ledig Erf. You might have seen her in HEMA (one of her favourite stores) with one of her amazing and unique bags. I met her in her beautiful white home and asked her all about her business and, of course, Utrecht.
You’re the owner of the business LoveLifeBag. How did that start out?
It’s a funny story actually. A friend of mine sews a lot and I always found it a fascinating hobby. One evening, while drinking some wine, she taught me some tips and tricks. I immediately loved it, so I bought my own Singer sewing machine. I started making simple cotton bags and the response of friends and family, but also strangers in the train, were very positive. The idea of my own business stayed on my mind, so one year ago I decided to just go for it! At the moment, I also work as a social worker: I’m going to cut down on my hours there, so I can focus more on LoveLifeBag.
At first sight, the bags look quite simple, as cute as they are. What’s so special about them?
Every bag is handmade and unique. The lining of every bag is different and I personally screen print the bags. Also, the LoveListBags are personal.
How did you come up with the idea for the LoveListBags?
I used to write in my diary regularly, but that took me too much time. I decided to replace my diary with lists. Every day I make one of all the things that inspire me and the things I love. Those lists always give me such a positive feeling. I wanted to share that with the world, so I put a list on a bag. A while ago I noticed a stranger in the train was reading my bag and it made her smile; that was such a great moment! The nice thing about the LoveListBag is that they’re so personal. My customers make a LoveList with all the things they love. From soft toiletpaper, to blossom in spring or their life motto: whatever it is you like, you can put on the bag.
A typical workday for LoveLifeBag, what does that look like?
On Saturdays I usually ride my bike to the fabric market at the Breedstraat. This is where I buy the off-white cotton fabrics, but fabrics with fun prints as well. I love to wander through this market! When I’ve got my cotton, I cut the fabric in pieces and go to Kapitaal at the Plompetorengracht. This is where I make the screen prints. Kapitaal is such an inspiring place to work! It’s a studio, shop and such a nice place to hang out in. Once I’m finished at Kapitaal, I take the fabric with the screen prints home and that’s where I put them together. The LoveListBags are printed elsewhere though: they’re too detailed for screen printing. And then, next to the bag-production, there’s administration. It surprises a lot of people, but I like this too! It’s so nice to be independent. But I also love the contact with my customers. Every time I get an order, my heart skips a beat. It’s such a compliment when someone likes your products so much that they want to buy one for themselves!
You’ve already mentioned the fabric market, Kapitaal and Spring, where else can we spot you?
I used to live on the Voorstraat and I still like to hang out in cafes in that street. I often visit The Village (Voorstraat) or De Voortuin (Voorstraat). I also love Stan & Co. (Ganzenmarkt) and Louis Hardloper (Ledig Erf), which is just on the corner of my home. In the centre of Utrecht there’s Humphrey’s (Stadhuisbrug): I love this place! I also like LE:EN (Heuveloord), De Markt (Drieharingenstraat) and for some Greek food Ouzerie To Steki (Oudegracht).
For my home, I like to shop at Mooi En Belle (Twijnstraat). At vintage shops like Episode (Oudegracht) and Sussies (Voorstraat), I buy my clothes and other accessories. I also love H&M and Zara, though. My all time favourite store is HEMA, by the way. I love that store! And of course there’s Spring (Voorstraat) which sells my bags! Creative individuals can rent shelves for their products at Spring, so it’s a shop full of all kinds of products.
Where will you and LoveLifeBag be in a couple of years?
Hopefully the business will grow, I’ve got plenty of ideas, haha! End of this year, the new line LoveNature will be launched. I’ve asked a few illustrators to make some drawings for me, so I’m very excited about this new line! I also want to develop other products like towels. More and more people want special and unique towels for in their kitchen! Although I’ve got loads of ideas for LoveLifeBag, I want to keep working as a social worker, even if it’s just for a couple of days in the week.
So, one more time: where can I purchase your bags?
At my webshop LoveLifeBag.nl or at Spring (Voorstraat) in Utrecht!
Note: Interview by Sanne Wierda – love is the new black