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Meet Susanne Oudshoorn: Founder of LILA! Amsterdam, the luxurious hair-accessory brand crafting timeless elegance!

Hello Susanne! We’re thrilled to be chatting with you today at FEM-START. Could you share what sparked your entrepreneurial journey and the motivation behind launching LILA!Amsterdam?

Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of having my own company. I had many ideas, but a lot of them required significant investments. When I was solo travelling, I came across a shop that sold hair accessories. At first, I laughed because how can a shop that only sells hairclips be a healthy company? But I liked the idea and it stayed in my head. At that moment I was thinking about the boring black plastic hairclips in the Netherlands and I wanted to change that; make it more colourful with more sustainable materials. A beautiful hairclip can be a nice detail. The same evening I surfed on the internet and I ordered some hair clip samples. I also thought about brand colours, the name etc… At that moment LILA was born in a hostel in Valencia. I like to be creative and bring products on the market that are unique, colourful and made to last. 

Can you highlight some key steps and strategies you employed to kickstart LILA!Amsterdam?

The first thing I did was order samples and a lot of testing followed. Then I started designing my own hairclips and selecting the perfect colours. I also used all of my savings to finally order the products that I wanted. The second thing was thinking about the name of the brand and the brand identity; this is when we set up an Instagram account. Then I opened my webshop on Shopify. I searched for someone who could help me with the website. I realised soon that professional pictures and videos are very important to people who are new to your brand. I organized a photoshoot with my friends. I also contacted a magazine, and they included my hairclip in their magazine. 

I remember when the first order was made on the webshop, it was an amazing feeling. The result of the photoshoot was great as well and soon I started to find a marketing agency who could help me with advertising on Facebook. One video with the Delfts Blue hairclip and a friend of mine on a bike was the best-performing advertisement. Now we have a whole Delfts Blue collection on the webshop. Soon after, I found myself in a beautiful shop in Utrecht and I asked them if they wanted to sell my hairclips which they agreed to. We agreed to try it for 1 month, but now they have been selling my hairclips already for almost 1.5 years. I ended up contacting more shops that I liked, and now you can find LILA! in some beautiful concept stores.

How did you manage to build and grow your customer base?

To be honest, this part is difficult. At this moment, mainly with advertisements on Facebook and Instagram. I also hope to grow by the concept stores where we sell our hairclips and with mouth-to-mouth advertisements.

Reflecting on your journey, what were some significant mistakes, and what lessons did you learn from them?

One mistake we made was receiving a lot of hair clips with the wrong logo size. I learned that the best way to deal with these issues is to have the sample in my hands first before ordering them. I learned that you need to check everything and make a contract with the factory you are working with to make sure you receive the right products. Another mistake is wanting too many things at the same time. Since I am doing this all by myself I need to accept that I need more time for things and that not everything can be done that fast. 

What stands out as your biggest achievement since founding LILA!Amsterdam?

Receiving orders daily and see how happy our customers are. When I get lovely messages from customers, it really makes my day. Also seeing my products in concept-stores is a big achievement for me!

What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs, particularly those who do not believe they can do it?

Start as soon as possible with the idea you have! Otherwise, you will never know if it works out or not. People think about all the things that can go wrong and they end up leaving it aside. But what if it all works out? Think about that! Stay positive. You won’t know unless you try it. My advice is don’t be that hard on yourself, nothing will be perfect in the end. I believe having your own company is always a learning lesson, and you learn by doing. Someone told me once that it is an expensive internship to build your company on your own. It’s true because you have to learn that every mistake will cost you money. In the end, I am still learning a lot and LILA is still growing. It is just the beginning.

What’s next for LILA!Amsterdam? Anything we can look forward to?

Right now we sell in the Netherlands and Belgium. The next step will be selling in Germany and Spain. In addition, we are still expanding our product categories. We started with only hairclips and now we sell hair elastics, headbands, toiletry bags and scrunchies. Next month we will sell also scrunchies made from leftover fabrics of Japanese kimonos and toilet bags made of upcycled jeans material. We are currently designing hairbrushes. We want to stay environment-friendly while we expand our categories. Most importantly, we will try to have the most unique and luxurious hairclips in the world!

If you want to know more about Susanne’s company, click here

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