We are so happy to introduce our friend and talented artist; Ward Strootman. New blood in an old trade, he is taking the jewellery industry by storm. Despite being new to the trade, Ward has quickly made a name for himself with his unique creations. He shares with us how he found his calling in jewellery making and why he is so passionate about animal adoption.
Q: Ward, so nice to have you here. For our readers, would you be so kind to introduce yourself?
A: My name is Ward Strootman. All my childhood I lived in Badhoevedorp, a small village next to Amsterdam. We are a family of 6. My twin brother, an older brother and sister. After my primary school in Badhoevedorp I went to secondary school in Amsterdam. I had a great time at the ‘Hervormd Lyceum Zuid’ and afterwards I started studying International Business. During this bachelor, I studied in Singapore for a year. After graduating, I immediately moved to London to study Gemmology at the Gemological Institute of America, a study on diamonds and coloured stones.
Q: Sounds great! Travelling since a young age. So, did you grow up around dogs?
A: When we were about 4 years old, I looked over the fence at the neighbours. There we saw Bella, a Turkish stray puppy that was taken by our neighbours’ children. They had no room for a dog, so we decided to adopt her. We have had Bella with us throughout our childhood, almost 12 years. When Bella passed away, we almost immediately adopted a very sweet old dog (Great Dane) at the DOA. Her former owner had passed away. Fay was already 10 years old at the time and we were able to give her two beautiful years. Shortly after her death, we thought we would hold off on adopting a new dog due to our busy lives. Then we came across HHIN. A website for rehoming dogs. We met Storm. A beautiful 4-year-old Siberian Husky. Unfortunately, the owners could not offer Storm the life he deserved and after an introductory meeting he stayed with us and never left.
Q: We love this! It is so important for people to hear such successful adoption stories! So, your family always chose to adoption, why this choice?
A: We believe that there are too many nice dogs in the shelter. That is why in my opinion it is not logical to give all the dog breeders a reason to continue breeding. There is always another side of adopting that is unpleasant, sometimes dogs are traumatized or behaviourally very difficult. This is something to keep in mind as soon as you adopt a dog. But it almost seems like an adopted dog is extra grateful to you and can really become your buddy. I see this in many people who have adopted a dog.
Q: To circle back to gemmology, we are obsessed with your creations. Can you tell us more about what you do?
A: For sure! I grew up in a family that comes from the diamond trade and jewellery. My great-grandfather had a diamond factory, and my grandfather was a diamond merchant. After that, my mother continued to build on jewellery design. Twenty-two years ago she opened a jewellery store in the Beethovenstraat in Amsterdam, Jesse Jewelry.
After my gemmology studies I started designing jewellery. My designs have been included in the collection in such a way that I started to focus on the story behind my jewellery. We work with very beautiful cut stones, but before a stone is cut, it is sometimes a beautifully formed mineral/crystal. So, I started working with rough stones and that became my inspiration. They are natures works of art. After encountering very large and special minerals and crystals, I started making designs with them, as I always did with jewellery. Instead of a cut stone I started working with rough stones and as a replacement for 18K gold I started working with bronze. And in turn, this is how these have become very large jewels for homes.
Q: So cool! What would you say it truly your passion?
A: Something I never dared dream of was that I quickly found my passion. The stones have really become my passion. It is so special what our nature has made and still does. That fascination has got me sucked into this subject. As soon as I started nurturing this by acquiring knowledge in the form of reading and going to fairs, this really became my passion. Creating with pieces that are already so special themselves is a very nice process.
Q: What you create truly is so special.
A: Where do I start with Storm. Ever since I was little, I have always thought Huskies were wonderfully beautiful dogs. But back then I did not know the character of the breed. They are very much on their own at first but once you are on to them, they are really great. Storm has the craziest habits and characteristics. For example, he lies in the strangest positions and makes the craziest noises. You can see this on his Instagram account @huskystrootman.
Q: You work hard every day, does Storm come with you to the studio every day? If not, how do you solve this?
A: Storm spends a lot of time with my parents. I live in Amsterdam and my parents in Badhoevedorp. They have a large garden there, which is of course wonderful for him. In addition, they have a neighbour who loves Storm and takes long walks with him every day. This is, of course, great for him.
When he is in Amsterdam, I often walk in the Vondelpark in front of my door. He loves that too, because then he meets all kinds of other dogs. He also comes to my new Atelier. There he has a lot of space, and I can also take nice walks there. That way I can discover the environment a bit.
Q: You are always very fashionable, and I believe you also have a lot of affinity with fashion, how would you like to see the dog-fashion industry change?
A: Thank you! I like Fashion a lot. Because of my work, I also find that a nice addition to express my “style”. I like that the way that I dress is also reflected in my work. At least I try. My clothing is often of very good quality, but minimalistic. I try to include this in my designs as well. I also see this as a good starting point in dog fashion. I think that the target group that buys clothes for their dog is already aware of quality. It should enhance the dog's character and appearance and should not be overdone. Hence, quality and minimalism are something I think the focus should be on.
Q: That’s a great take! We could not agree more. Furmey Facts – Do you have a fact about dogs or possibly Storm's breed?
A: As I mentioned. Storm is crazy. This is something that suits Huskies in general. I see these kinds of crazy habits mainly with this breed. There are many accounts on Instagram where Huskies play the leading role. Here you can see owners posting crazy habits of the breed. This is worth checking out.
Q: We’ll for sure check this out! Furmey Tips – Do you have any tips for people looking for or already owning a Husky?
A: Give them lots of attention and space. Mainly enough exercise is something you must take into account with this breed. Think of running or beach/forest walks. Where they can run loose and lose his energy. Not every husky can run loose, this is really a matter of upbringing and character. They really are runaways. Although storm doesn't do this, he does become uncontrollable as soon as he sees or smells something. Think of cows or sheep. He loves to run after them. I think this is instinctive.
Q: Great advice! We’d also love to hear what the best advice is that you ever received or if you have any advice for other entrepreneurs out there.
A: I think number one is that you should always do something that you enjoy. Mainly in the big picture. Not everything is always fun, but when you look back at the process and the struggle, that's what makes progress extra fun. In addition, I think it is important to stay close to yourself while doing business, don't do things that don't make you feel good. If you make conscious and good choices, it will always be appreciated in the long run. Also, it is extremely important to take risks!! This is something you must dare. Even if it doesn't end well, you will learn a lot from it. He who does not venture, who does not gain! Finally, it is often very important to form a good network. That way you get a lot more opportunities.
Q: You live near Amsterdam, what are your favourite places to go with Storm And what is Storm's favourite place to go?
A: I live in Amsterdam South at the Vondelpark, which is of course a luxury for a dog in Amsterdam. He can have a great time here and run around with other dogs. In addition, he is also very social. That's something you must focus on when they are still a puppy. Making your dog social is very important. For my coffee during a walk, I often go to Coffee concepts. I don't often go to restaurants with storm. But I can take him to a terrace, where he can lie outside at the table. Think of the Wasserette in De Pijp. Storm's favourite place remains the beach. He can completely lose his energy here and when I eat at the beach, he remains completely exhausted next to the table. The perfect getaway.
Q: Obviously we can't end the interview without asking; what is your favorite furmey color?
A: That's a tough question. Since Storm likes to get himself quite dirty I will go for a dark color. Gepetto Gray or Tulgey Wood Green. But I also think Furmey orange is a very nice color!