Discover Benelux, Issue 51, March 2018

Page 38

Discover Benelux  |  Dutch Design  |  Made in the Netherlands

‘My eyesight might be impaired, but my dreams have no limits’ TEXT: FRANK VAN LIESHOUT  |  PHOTOS: ANNIESTIJL

A brain tumour left Annemarie Nodelijk blind in one eye and with tunnel vision in the other, but her positive spirit gave her the strength to overcome her disability and build her own designer bag brand: Anniestijl.

for her own handbag label. “I’ve always been obsessed with bags,” she smiles. “So it was an easy choice.”

But then suddenly the skies darkened. A tumour was found in her brain, which had to be removed to save her life. A risky operation followed, which left her blind in one eye and with tunnel vision in the other.

Now, ten years after that fateful event in her life, her brand Anniestijl is rapidly gaining recognition across the Netherlands, not least among a growing group of influential Dutch celebrities. With the help of a team of interns, Annemarie designs and produces premium fashion handbags and clutches, colourful holdalls, eco-friendly shoppers and stylish tote bags for ladies and briefcases for men. They are all handmade in leather or other natural, high quality materials. “And always with a twist or a touch of fun,” she adds. “My bags express a positive statement for everyone to overcome adversity and pursue their passion.”

Doctors told her that she would need to reset her goals in life. Working in fashion would be out of the question. “But fashion was my passion,” she explains. “I just couldn’t envisage my life without it.” While recovering and getting to grips with her disability, she found the determination to finish her degree and make plans

Selling her bags online as well as in shops in Rotterdam and Haarlem, Annemarie is also looking to add a shop in Amsterdam, and in the long term to be represented in big department stores such as De Bijenkorf and possibly abroad as well. “I’ve come a long way, but Anniestijl has only just started,” she says. “We’re active-

Fortune seemed to be smiling on 23-year old Annemarie Nodelijk, as the young fashion student had just moved to New York to work with Dutch designer Daryl van Wouw. “He was one of my heroes,” Annemarie explains. “It was like a dream come true.”

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ly looking for new collaborations, so we can spread our message and inspire other people to follow their dreams as well.”

Annemarie Nodelijk.