Björn Verlinden, owner and founder of the Belgian label Double Stitched, calls himself stubborn and wayward. I would call him straightforward, attentive, and focused. Since 2009, this self-made entrepreneur has designed leather goods (handbags, accessories, etc.), expanding his collection in 2015 with a beautiful tableware collection. Let’s have a chat with this commercial thinking strategist whose norms and values I can only appreciate!
I’m made of all the things I’ve chosen to focus on
“I was raised by 3 women: my mom, my grandmother, and my sister and was surrounded by the love of a warm family.” Although there is a 7 year difference between Björn and his sister, their family bond is really close. Because of Björn’s strong affinity with fashion at a young age, he started his school career in sewing at the fashion department. He liked the creative part, but wasn’t really fond of school in general, so he decided to go his own way. While practicing some jobs, Björn soon discovered his commercial side. The combination of commercial thinking and designing his own collection very quickly became his full-time job. Choosing one direction wasn’t an option, this young entrepreneur liked combining both.
I got the right tools to grab life by the horns, honoring some important values like treating people with respect, preserving people’s dignity, doing what you love, working hard and maintaining open communication.
We are ‘gold’
The tableware collection’s signature is defined by its timelessness, pure style, and basic items made from the best quality materials. It is one of Björn’s principles to only work with European suppliers that are carefully selected.
While talking, it’s very clear that ethical values (no child labor, good social environment, etc.) are of high concern to Björn. He’s on a roll: “Ethical values or fair trade, in general, is very important to me, this is because I want to tell my clients about the production process in all transparency. The clients have the right to know more about the production process. And I want them to care, make them aware… By consequence, I also want to support our local producers. People aren’t aware of ‘the gold’ we possess (Björn is referring to the craftsmanship in our Belgian country).” Björn says it with extreme passion and enthusiasm, driven by a strong belief and focus. He acts like he is and vice versa: straightforward, pure, authentic, and determined.
Instead of looking abroad for production, I truly believe that our local craftsmanship can and has to be upgraded again as a recognized part of our economy.
From design to ‘ready to use’
All the designs of the coasters and napkin rings are transformed and machine cut in the Antwerp based studio. All the approved designs are as carefully and as economically as possible positioned on the leather, whereby the most beautiful buffalo hide pieces are selected (all leather remains a product exhibiting little imperfections). Every product is labeled by hand, and each product is ready to be sent after a final quality check by Björn himself.
I think everyone wants to be successful at something. To me, this means finding balance in private and work situations.
“My biggest lesson in life? Do what you love and love what you do, but don’t forget to enjoy life in the meantime. If I had continued the way I was living my life a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have any friends anymore.”
Yes, Björn is at his best when he can combine his commercial experience with a creative output. That’s why I call him Mr. Entrepreneur: he takes initiatives and risks; he learned how to let go and move on, how to fall and get up again. But I also strongly appreciate that other side of him, being a strong defender of our local crafts(wo)manship…