The cheerful interior, the historical building, and the fact that apart from clothes and jewelry, you can also buy pastries. This is exactly how founder and owner Nadine van der Zee had envisioned it.
Nadine sells clothes, accessories and shoes. However, her shop The Darling isn’t just another cozy boutique in Amsterdam. It sets itself apart from other stores by its well-thought out interior decorating scheme. Nadine, an interior decorator by trade, was inspired by candy stores. “I wanted to make people feel like a child in a candy store, that couldn’t stop looking around because everything was just so wonderful. I literally use candy as a source of inspiration. The price tags on the clothes are cupcake holders. The cupcakes that are displayed throughout the store are for sale as well.”
The Darling’s inventory is also very special. Every week Nadine buys new clothes in small quantities to ensure everything is different and unique each time you visit. It’s a great mix of new, designer items and vintage. All in all The Darling really feels like a cozy living room, where someone has lovingly displayed their special belongings.
The Darling also distinguishes itself through its pricing structure. “Because of it’s unique appearance people expect expensive clothes,” says Nadine, “but an average dress only costs €40, which is close to what you pay for one at H&M.”
Ever since she was really young Nadine dreamt of having her own store. After graduating from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute she got a job working for someone else, but she kept dreaming of her own store and one day she decided to take it seriously. Through word of mouth she heard about the possibility of microfinance and that is how she ended up at Qredits.
Why didn’t she go to a regular bank? “I did think about it,” says Nadine “but this was more appealing because of the personal coaching. A Qredits loan officer came and visited me at home to hear me out about my plans. After that I was assigned a coach who gave me a lot of practical advice. The coaching track was very personal and helpful.”
Around the time of her loan application with Qredits Nadine had the opportunity to rent a unique property in the popular Negen Straatjes neighborhood. It was a valuable older property that had been vacant for two years. “I felt like I had won the lottery. This was exactly what I had been looking for.”
Her microcredit loan was spent mostly on buying inventory. Furnishing the store cost a lot less. “I made the clothing racks myself out of trees,” says Nadine. “Besides that I was given a lot of things or got them used and fixed them up myself.”
The Darling opened its doors in September 2009 and has really taken off. “I had anticipated designing and selling my own creations as well, but I don’t have any time for that at the moment. The business is doing really well, better than I had anticipated. I had figured out how much I had to sell in order to make it. I easily meet that quota!”