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3 years of being a small business owner

Updated: Apr 30


A visual of a woman with a big blue shirt on who has her face buried in her shirt with her hair popping out

It's been three years since starting my business (and therefore 3 years of being a small business owner!), and every year I feel like it's important and inspiring to reflect and decide where I want to be headed.


I mean, holy smokes, three years. I never knew I could be so passionate about something for this long, ha! I’m still as excited about my venture as I was 3 years ago and whenever people ask me questions about my small business, I still get butterflies in my stomach. I take that as a sign that I should keep doing what I’m doing!   

 

For this festive occasion I thought it would be fun to share some of the questions people have regularly asked me over the years. My answers turned out a bit long, but I hope my story brings you some valuable and interesting insights into building my small business.




What made you start with Alta? What was your vision 3 years ago?

 

It all started with being stuck in one of life’s messy middles- both personally and professionally - that I found myself in need of some practical life tools to get me out of the messiness. Thankfully, being a designer had provided me with the means to work my way through a messy design process so I figured I could make use of the same tools when designing my own life and career. 

 

Then, when I saw that many of my peers were also struggling with overwhelm, focus and

developing a clearer sense of direction in life, I decided to create a clear method and tools for them to use as well. When developing a step-by-step toolkit I found that what I was creating was of great value to many around me, and that’s when a vision for something bigger started to take shape in my head. 

 

From that moment on I saw that through the power of my design thinking tools, people could gain clarity & confidence for future life decisions and become inspired by their own unique personality. I founded Alta - high on life with the intention of enabling people to design an intentional (work) life and cultivate personal growth. And through the power of my design thinking tools, people would gain clarity & confidence for future life decisions and become inspired by their own unique personality.



Your background is in design - not psychology. What’s the story there? 

 

What’s interesting is that not many people know that good designers need to know a lot about the way people act and think. In order to design good products and services a designer’s job is to understand how people will behave in a future that doesn’t yet exist. Since most people cannot tell you what they are in need of, because oftentimes they have no idea, a designer needs to come up with all kinds of methods to research and test what might work and what doesn’t. 

 

I found that my personal strength as a designer lay in helping people with stimulating + structuring their thought process, and igniting + implementing new perspectives and ideas. Because of my interests in (ancient) philosophies and social sciences I integrated valuable aspects of these fields into the way I research & design.


For example from Stoicism I learned about the importance of understanding what our emotions are trying to tell us and how they can help with finding direction, achieving goals, growing resilience and finding courage. 

 

And from studying the foundations of Chines Medicine for a year I learned about a holistic approach to physical, emotional and mental health. 

 

So as a designer I am able to bring together all these different perspectives and combine my hands-on design thinking expertise with holistic health principles, in creating helpful tools for navigating life’s ambiguity.


"I believe designing your life is all about being intentional about your priorities and focus. And design thinking exercises are excellent for doing that!"


What made you decide to create a physical toolkit instead of f.e. an app? 

 

This question is a little frustration to me to be honest. An app can offer a ‘quick-fix’ but is never the solution to solving complex life events.

 

To me there lies so much power in putting your thoughts out of your head onto paper. I believe that with my physical toolkit I can really offer a multi-sensory experience that I would never be able to evoke with a digital format. Also, research has shown that the greater number of senses stimulated while reading and writing, the better the memory retention and emotional connection to the content. I really believe that because I see it happening before my own eyes every time when I provide workshops. Ink on paper, the stickers; it does something magical to the brain for sure.


You started out with your Alta- High on Life toolkit.  Now 3 years later, what products/services do you offer? 

 

I’m glad you asked! Right now I offer 5 main products & services - next to doing in-person workshops & speaking engagements.




Alta High on Life - toolkit

'Tools for Life'

Design a (work) life you’ll love.

Hardcopy, self-paced, at home. 





Crafting your Career Choices

'A hands-on class'

Design a fulfilling career.

Printable, self-paced, at home.





Inspirational art prints

'Spiritual reminders for intentional spaces'

Find yourself one of my creative & inspirational art prints for daily guidance & motivation.





One-on-one sessions

'Get unstuck'

Tidy up your headspace with me to get unstuck and co-create clear ideas for action.





Online guided class for teenagers

'Design your future career'

Explore & design future career paths with me in a one-on-one or group class setting.





Custom workshops

'Design the (work) life you’ll love'

Let me create a custom workshop for you and your team / organisation.





What’s on the Alta horizon? 

 

I am a big believer in the healing powers of design thinking on our body & mind and I love using creativity as wellness! Now three years in, I feel that Alta has grown into a brand for cultivating creative wellness by exploring different ways of infusing creativity into our daily lives to improve our overall wellbeing. 

 

Even though I’m still a very small business I can see that my products and services are making tiny waves in a small pond! My hope therefore is to expand my reach so I can continue with designing products that encourage living an intentional life. I feel excited about the future and I’m working hard to create opportunities. This summer I’ll be featured in one of my favourite magazines (more on that soon!!) and in the Fall I hope to be able to bring my Teenage ‘Design your Career’ method to schools in the Netherlands.




Thank you

Still, life as a small business owner is hard work and any way of support is appreciated, always. So thank you kindly for your amazing support -- past, present and future. I couldn't do this without you!


Iris

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