Bonne van der Ree | BonBon Boutique
In the center of Amsterdam, nestled between the busy streets Spuistraat and Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, is the Rosmarijnsteeg, a pleasant refuge from the city craze and a calmer yet inviting stretch with unique boutiques and small shops. One of those, marked invitingly large windows, is BonBon Boutique , a one-stop-gift-shop with beautiful products by local makers, founded by former model turned jeweler Bonne van der Ree. After having worked in the modeling industry for quite some time, Bonne turned her passion for jewelry-making into a successful career, and now continues to create new pieces, marked by an elegant yet raw appeal, alongside running the shop. We met with Bonne on a warm late-summer afternoon and talked about her love for 'making' and her dreams for expansion in the future.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Bonne. I was born and raised in The Hague and moved to Amsterdam when I was 23 years old to start modeling. I then started traveling a lot for my modeling work and lived in Sydney for four years. When I moved back to Amsterdam, I had to decide what to do next. At that time I was already making jewelry pieces, like rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings, as a hobby and was introduced to materials like gold-fill. I started creating more beautiful things, as compared to my older work, and decided to set up a website to get my own business going next to the modeling work I was still doing from time to time. I then happened upon a temporary anti-squat space where I set up a studio and a shop. I thought running a shop was quite challenging at first as I was still creating my own pieces, but realized there was a future for me in this business. About two years ago I temporarily took over a shop with the help of a friend recently moved two doors down to this beautiful place. I really have my own shop now and it’s going very well. There are two people working with me in the studio, which means that I can really focus on running the shop. It’s fun right now and it makes me really happy.
Could you describe your style?
You could say my style is really refined but still a little edgy. Someone once told me, elegant but raw. In general I like fine and simple, and that has a lot to do with the materials I use. The gold-fill is very difficult to weld so my shapes are very simple. All of my rings, for example, don’t close completely, which is convenient because you can adjust the size a little bit but they are also sturdy enough not to get caught on things. How do you start creating new pieces? I never think to myself, oh this is what I’m going to make, and my pieces usually don’t turn out as I had originally imagined. I order a lot of my materials online and when they have arrived and I’ve laid them out, I’m usually inspired to start creating something. I work in collections, and those collections usually have a specific theme. Right now, I have incorporated triangles in a lot of my pieces. I was inspired by them after seeing them everywhere but have tried to use the triangle with a unique twist so that my pieces are not like everything you’ve already seen.
In your shop you carry products of other makers. How did that come to be?
It kind of happened organically. There are two jewelry lines in the store: mine and Monique van Bruggen's studio mhl . I’ve been working with Monique since the first store – we met and realized we both made jewelry and decided to run the first temporary shop together. From the corner shop to this new shop, studio mhl is a store-in-store, and I sell other products made by Amsterdam-based illustrators and designers. You’ll find prints and postcards by Maartje van den Noort , Mirthe Blusse , Kim Welling , Het Paradijs , Studio Koosje and many others. People often walk in the shop to show me their creations – I think it’s great that creative people are able to find me.
What does a typical day look like for you?
First coffee! I really need it, my brain doesn’t work otherwise. I divide my days between the shop and the studio. Shop days start at 9am to check emails and pay the bills. Then I open up from 11am to 6.30pm and usually don’t leave until 7.00 or 7.30. I try not to work when I get home, but I’ll often find myself stretched out on the sofa with my laptop, ordering new materials online. Studio days start at 10am. I have two really creative girls working with me right now, and while they’re working on bulking up the stock, I’ll get the odd job done. I try to design new things from time to time and that kind of happens sporadically. When it’s quiet in the shop, which it hasn’t been lately, I might get around to it. Or when I’m just hanging out at home.
Why do you think it has been busier in the shop?
I think there are a number of reasons. First, as compared to the other shop down the street, this space is very inviting. Through the large windows, you can see from the outside what you’re about to step into. And there’s more space – when there are three or four people in the shop it’s not immediately too crowded, which was the case in the other shop. I also think the economy has improved and I’ve noticed a lot of tourists this summer. It helps that we’re located quite conveniently, between the Nine Streets and the Kalverstraat shopping street. After renovating for a year and a half, the bridge on the Singel is open again and that’s been an important development. These kinds of things really affect entrepreneurs.
Can you name a few of your favorite places in Amsterdam?
I really like nice coffee places. And my boyfriend’s sofa (haha). He lives in Oost and recently, a number of great places have opened up, like Hartje Oost and Stek. Baut is also great and the recently opened Volkshotel. And I like to have picnics with my girlfriends in the park.
For now I’m going to stick with the jewelry line and the shop. I really see a lot of opportunities for growth. I don’t know what those opportunities are yet, but I’m going to wait and see. When I first opened a shop I had no idea where it would take me, but I had always believed it would turn out for the better. I have several concrete goals like expanding my distribution both online and offline and updating my website. And someday I would love to have a large studio where lots of people can work together and have a great time. It has to be fun, that’s most important. And then we’ll see. Maybe a second shop in another city, like Antwerp. Once things here are settled I’m sure the next adventure will come along. I’m so curious to see what it will be!
Thank you Bonne for this interview! You can find out more about BonBon Boutique and browse the collection on the website , and be sure to follow along on Facebook and Twitter . The shop is located at Rosmarijnsteeg 8 and is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 11.00am to 6.30pm and Sunday and Monday from 12.00 to 6pm.