We interviewed Nicolette van Niekerk about her patisserie and food consulting business in the Netherlands. Here’s her story.
What is the official name of your business (as registered at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce)?
La Petite Patisserie
What services/products does your business provide?
Food consulting services: recipe development, brand and product consulting, food styling, and photography.
When did you start your business?
Why did you start your business in the Netherlands? How did your business come into existence?
In 2010 my husband and I decided to move to Cape Town, South Africa. At first, I was selling wedding cakes. I studied Foodservice Business Management ten years before that and worked a couple of years in the corporate world in Gauteng but always enjoyed the skills and development aspect of my industry the most. It was during this time, that I discovered that I need to create a space for others to come and learn the art of Cake Decorating and Baking.
La Petite Patisserie was founded as a training company. I wrote courses in Bread Baking, French Pastries, Meringues, Cake Decorating and Cake Baking which were presented to around 1050 students in just under 8 years.
Most of them now own their own home bakeries, work in the industry, or contribute to the baking field. All my courses were accredited by FoodBev SETA and we had training memberships with ETDP SETA and South African Chefs Association.
We moved to the Netherlands in 2018 and it was only logical to move my company with me. I currently have no venue for the business but teach online (a welcomed method in the current pandemic situation we are in). I also teach from my home or at food premises around the Netherlands. As for the consulting part of the business, I assist start-ups with product and brand development, recipe calculations, and food photography.
Check out my blog here: https://ourrecipejournal.com/blog/2019/5/10/my-business-journey.
What have been some of the challenges of doing business in the Netherlands?
There is definitely a different client base in South Africa. In SA we catered for learners that typically do not have matric or tertiary qualification. We assisted them in achieving a qualification in baking and placed them at bakeries or helped them with opening their own businesses. I have not found this need here in the Netherlands yet. Furthermore, in order to teach at schools or tertiary institutions, one has to be fluent in the Dutch language and I’m still mastering that.
What advice can you give to fellow South African business owners wishing to start their businesses in the Netherlands?
- Find a GAP in the market. What worked in South Africa won’t necessarily work in our new country.
- Use your strengths and talents first, but keep working on your weaknesses to develop them into a strength – mine is Dutch 🙂
- Always pay yourself. No one wishes to work for a boss that never pays his employees a salary. The same counts for you.
- Do what you love. Don’t chase money as that will naturally follow when you create a good quality and much-loved product.
- Don’t give up. Most companies fail within the first two years of business. Not because of the lack of clients, but due to the owner giving up on his/her dreams and not believing in him/herself any longer.
Can you provide some words of inspiration to help your fellow South African business owners living in the Netherlands?
I am a firm believer of being an entrepreneur and working for…not yourself… but your clients. When you have a vision for your business, and it fits into a gap in the market, go for it. Plan your services and products thoroughly. Did you know that 70% of your success rate is due to thorough planning? Believe in yourself but also have a support network, such as family, friends or our South African Business Club to bounce off some ideas.
The city/town/province in the Netherlands where you’re located:
How can we get in touch with you?