Game Changers #1

Forget everything you know about interviews. Our founder and CEO Paulien challenges her fellow female entrepreneurs to play a board game. This month: Thalita van Ogtrop, founder of The Next Closet.
by Elise Hoven on Feb 24, 2020

The Ultimate Female Founder Game

In this female founder game, Paulien is challenging her peers to spill the deeds about starting their own companies, family & work balance. Forget everything you know about interviews – with this board game the ladies will answer questions from different categories in an unexpected order. Let’s roll the dice!

For our first Game Changers blog Paulien invited female founder of The Next Closet Thalita van Ogtrop. The Next Closet is an online platform where you’ll find pre-loved designer gems – quality and authenticity checked! Shop unique vintage designer finds and browse through the closets of celebrities, and do good: The Next Closet has already saved a total of 50.000 kilograms of designer fashion that would otherwise go to waste.

Categories and Rules

Jokers are for random challenges and cheeky questions, Women Empowerment will touch upon the girl boss life, Sustainability covers questions about doing good and doing green and Instagram are questions asked by our lovely followers.

The rules? Basically like every board game you know – the players will take turns and roll the dice and take steps with their pawn. Faith will destine the category and questions!

You want to start a sustainable business. What’s Step 1?

P: “Pretty much the same as any other business. You register your brand and start selling beautiful products. I have to admit, I had very good timing as sustainability had been booming for the last 10 years. That’s definitely been a good start.”

T: “Totally agree on this one. When I started The Next Closet I wanted to find the sweet spot between sustainability and high end fashion. People said to me: sustainability is a nice-to-have, not a must have. I do believe sustainability should be rooted deeply in the core values of your brand, when you intend to start an actual sustainable brand. It has to be intrinsic in order to be authentic, not a nice add-on term to greenwash. Have you become more critical about O My Bag when it comes to sustainability, over the years?”

P: “Yes, definitely. O My Bag will become a B-Corp (a certification for profit organizations) seeking a stamp of approval from an independent party. O My Bag’s story is about making a positive difference in the world, connecting producers in small communities to the global market and creating fair job opportunities. Besides sustainable leather and fair jobs we use 100% organic cotton and canvas, which is GOTS certified. Our packaging is made from recycled materials, we work with RePack – we minimise, monitor and compensate our CO2 emissions. Similar to TNC, we give pre-loved O My Bags a Second Life by finding them new owners who love a vintage look.”

T: “It’s a technical and quite difficult matter, it’s quite complex. TNC wants to encourage people to buy green new, with a little index of sustainable brands. But when is a brand worthy of such a symbol? Do you have to quantify that you are a sustainable company with a rapport, roadmap, or impact file? That’s the question. We keep experimenting ways to let people know we are a sustainable company. For example, we’ve recently implemented an impact calculator on our website which indicates our CO2 emissions and use of water to inform our community on how we make a difference.”

After all this success, what are your current struggles (if you have any)?

T: “Oh, well thousands of struggles. I think it’ll never end. Things like funding, the ever-changing market and industry, attracting the right talent. And not to mention the challenges in software and tech.”

P: “Do you like funding as part of being an entrepreneur?”

T: “It’s keeping me sharp and strategic. Bottom line is, as challenges keep existing, I keep learning. It’s never easy riding, but there’s always a new challenge.”

P: “Agreed. Never a dull moment! In terms of funding, O My Bag is still completely independently owned and it does give me a lot of freedom. I don’t have to seek approval from any investors. If the team comes up with something new, we can implement tomorrow! I love that flexibility.”

T: “Fair enough. But then again, investments keep my learning curve on steroids.”

What do you do to keep your team happy and motivated?

P: “You know how they say happy wife, happy life? For me it’s happy team, happy life. My team is extremely engaged and believes 100% in our mission to do good and to make a positive difference in the world.

T: “Same here. But what actions do you take to make sure everyone keeps feeling that way?”

P: “Personal development is a must – everyone should be able to be the best version of themselves and I want to help them achieve that. An example: We just went on a retreat with our team. We went out of the city and had a weekend with meetings, morning walks and 5-minute yoga breaks. What about TNC?”

T: “Pretty much the same. And working out! I can’t stress the importance of exercise enough.”

Do you eat meat?

T: “Nope. For almost 2 years, but I do eat fish. Why? When I’m over at friends for dinner, or when I’m eating out it’s hard to stick to no meat. A bit in line with this but: in general, I’m a very sustainable person at home as well as at the office: separating trash, using Vandebron green energy, consuming Fair-trade products, and so on.

P: “I do eat meat, but mostly with the hubby, since he’s the chef. We watched the documentary Game Changers (2018) together when we were doing a juice cleanse. Sometimes I can persuade him into doing these things with me, but that’s usually where it ends too. If we eat meat however, it’s always organic and high quality. I might have to send him on a cooking course so that he will prepare some yummy vegetarian meals!”

What would you do if you won the lottery?

P: “Invest in service related things. I would pretty much live the same life as I’m living now, but I would invest in some additional help to clean up the house. Oh, and a personal chef that cooks me healthy dinner every night? Yes, Please!”

T: “Lifegoals indeed. I would build a sustainable house on Menorca where I would work and live. Oh and I would take my team on the most amazing trips.”

What are crucial qualities of a successful entrepreneur?

T: “Loving this question!”

P: “You have to be a very curious person, and want to figure things out for yourself. Persistence is another essential quality, because we experience challenges on a daily basis. You have to be able to pick yourself back up and keep moving towards your goals.”

T: “I would say being a true go-getter – a ‘fixer’. To me, successful entrepreneurs are people that are optimistic and detect chances in everything.”

What’s the best thing about running a sustainable company?

T: “Always being aware of the impact you make and the time you dedicate to a better world. I always think, at least I’m helping. I strongly believe that impact driven businesses attract motivated people. Having a shared mission is definitely a forceful aspect.”

P: “Indeed, having such a motived team. We’re so lucky to have people on board that believe in the same shared message.”

What did you eat for breakfast?

P: “We had an unusual family style breakfast where my husband made eggs on toast for me and the little one (red. 1,5 yr old son). A really nice family moment and great start of the day!”

T: “Winning! I’m really into homemade oatmeal pancakes. Super easy to prepare and my two daughters love it. The recipe? 2 eggs, cinnamon, a little bit of milk and oats. My go-to breakfast tip.”

How would you define a feminist?

T: “I have a love-hate relationship with the word Feminist. I like this question, though! A feminist is (for me) someone that stands equal rights, actively encourages men in that as well. During to college I always thought that I would be treated the same way in business as for example my father or brother, but in reality I find myself thinking: Hey, this is not always how I thought it would be. I think we need to bring fact-based examples to the table when we’re talking about feminism. For example, did you know that many products in tech are designed for both men and women, but through the eyes of a man? For example, safety belts in cars are not suitable for female bodies. Many daily products that should be unisex are designed through the eyes of men.”

P: “I’ve never had a problem with the word Feminist. It just refers to the equal treatment of men and women. So, I’ve always happily called myself a feminist even when it was still considered somewhat controversial. Interestingly, I’ve never felt like I’ve been treated differently as a female entrepreneur. However, after I gave birth to my son, people automatically assumed that I’d be the one who would work less. And that wasn’t what I had in mind. I only then realized, how unequal our society is. As a mother you’re the one being addressed about everything baby related. Men do not have conversations about vaccins or day-care schedules. Is your hubby 50% on board when it comes to parenthood?”

T: “Totally. I think that should be the standard. When my mother and mother in law say that it’s really special to be both dedicated equally, I’m like: why is that? I think it should be normal for men and women to take equal part in raising their children.”

Let's Play With Us

What did you think of our first round of Game Changers? Do you have any specific question or players you would like to suggest? Please check our Instagram for updates or slip into our DM!

Find some of our Pre-Loved Items on The Next Closet.