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MENTOR AND PUPIL

‘SHE IS STRONGLY ROOTED, I’M MORE FLUID’

Entrepreneurs Anna van den Bogert and Jeanne de Kroon are each other’s mentor and, consequently, pupil. They are undoubtedly different and one is further along in her career than the other. Nevertheless, they support one another and share a source of inspiration: the strength of women.

text LIDDIE AUSTIN
photography VIOLAINE CHAPALLAZ
styling TRICIA STYLING

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AT WORK

Anna van den Bogert (left):
jumper Extreme Cashmere via Mytheresa, jeans Mick Keus (private collection), blazer and shoes Chanel (private collection)

Jeanne de Kroon: dress Zazi

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Quote: Anna: ‘Jeanne is always good at seeing the positive in other people, something I occasionally struggle with’

It’s as if we share a certain gene,’ says entrepreneur Anna van den Bogert (39), the woman who brought baby carriers to a new and inspired level with her label Artipoppe. Today, due to what we may as well term The Measures, she is sadly unable to give her friend and co-entrepreneur Jeanne de Kroon (27) a warm squeeze. She does, however, gift her friend with an Artipoppe face mask – in true 2020 style. In turn, Jeanne, founder of the equally beautiful and charming fashion brand Zazi Vintage, has also brought along a present for Anna: long, folkloric earrings which are immediately slipped in place. Yes, Jeanne de Kroon nods in agreement, she also shares the feeling that they possess a common gene. From the very beginning – when that was exactly, they can’t quite recall – they recognised something in each other. ‘That’s remarkable in its own right because, in many ways, we couldn’t be more different. Anna has a family with four children, I live together with my chickens, we differ in age…’

Anna: ‘We also dress differently: Jeanne wears beautiful, colourful dresses, I am known for my ‘hobo-dandy-style’: ripped jeans and trainers. Jeanne, laughing: ‘But we have something very significant in common: we work from our hearts. We founded our businesses on passion, with the desire to connect with other women.’

MALE AND FEMALE ENERGY
Anna: ‘I think – and I’m going big for a moment here – that we both feel that, in order to survive as a species, something has to change in the world. We both want to be a driving force in this, and that is the spiritual connection we share. Our society has long been governed by a predominantly masculine energy, while it would be better if there were more balance between the masculine and feminine energies. Through our companies, we strive to inspire women to appreciate and harness their feminine energy. Not only because it is good for women, but also because it will impact the female energy in men – men and women both have male and female energy. Together we can change the world for the better. Jeanne: ‘We are both very inspired by the strength of women. For me, the future of sustainability lies in learning to listen to how women all over the world relate to fabric. I see that as the key to achieving sustainability in fashion, a heavily polluting industry. The fact that a garment is made from organic cotton, for example, is beautiful. Still, the garment only becomes truly sustainable if it represents a certain emotional connection. If you know that something is made with love and attention, you treat it with care, and it lasts a long time. What I want to achieve is that people look at special textiles through my eyes and think: wow, this is gorgeous!’

Anna: ‘When I became a mother, I saw a gap between what society expects of mothers and how I felt. With Artipoppe, I want to show women that they don’t have to choose between motherhood and their career. You can keep your baby close to you with our practical and elegant baby carriers and slings while maintaining your freedom of movement and choice. Continuing to lead your own life.’

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Quote: Jeanne: ‘Anna is a visionary. She has a kind of primal trust that everything will work out in the end’

SUSTAINABLY LIVING
Jeanne: ‘As entrepreneurs, we try to serve as a loving bridge between consumer and product, by telling a story that is real. With Anna, this involves redefining motherhood. With Zazi, it’s about textiles: dresses and jackets made by women in Central Asia. Thanks to their local artisanal traditions, they can achieve social and economic independence and even send their children to school. Contact with these women means a lot to me. A sustainable life is above all about respect for everything around you; something I learned last year from indigenous women in the Amazon. Everything has its own value. Once you realise that, you look at the world differently. We’ve lost that respect somewhat here. We consume too much and without thinking’.

Anna: ‘That’s true, which is why that connection with everything outside of ourselves is so essential. When you feel connected to everything – your children, other people, food, clothing, animals and nature – you realise that you can’t merely exploit or use your living environment, but that you must also be responsible with the resources that are given to us. Humanity cannot otherwise survive. Without connection, it’s easy to continue to consume thoughtlessly, without a single race of shame. If you don’t have to slaughter a cow yourself, eating a steak is easy. If you got a glimpse of the working conditions of the person making your coat, you might think twice about purchasing it. It has become my mission to establish those connections.’

SPARRING PARTNERS
Jeanne: ‘Anna is a great visionary. She has a kind of primal trust that everything will work out in the end, even if the going is slow or challenging. I find that tremendously inspiring. She was already at the forefront before people started reflecting on these issues. Anna is very strongly rooted. I’m more fluid: I can get carried away or distracted by the things that happen. For the past few years, I officially lived in Berlin, but for the most part in aeroplanes, as I was constantly travelling to collect new fabrics and stories. During the lockdown, I was on the last plane that I could catch to the Netherlands. I’ve been living here ever since. It was an intense period, but it is great that Anna and I now live in the same country. It makes everything a bit easier.’

Anna: ‘You inspire me by sharing pieces of the knowledge you’ve gained about other cultures during your travels. We can spar with each other about personal development. You’ve already experienced many of the problems I encounter, which means that you can give me advice on how to tackle them. We often talk about finding the balance between the old, more masculine consciousness and the new, more feminine one. Commerce, for example, seems to belong completely to the old consciousness, but you can also apply it to achieve sustainable goals. This turns commerce into a positive force. I sometimes test my theories with Jeanne to ensure that I’m not going overboard with these notions because she sometimes has a different opinion about the subject.’

OUTSIDERS
Jeanne: ‘In business, you’re more advanced than I am. Artipoppe has been around a bit longer than Zazi, of course. You’ve taken steps that I have yet to take – we support each other from both sides.’

Anna: Jeanne is always good at seeing the positive in other people, something I occasionally struggle with. I think that together we have a nice balance between professionalism and sensitivity. We are a kind of miniature of that male-female energy balance: I generally lean more towards the masculine, Jeanne is more feminine. We meet in the middle and neutralise one another.’

Jeanne: ‘I see us as crazy outsiders in the business world: two women resolutely working towards a better world by virtue of feeling, vulnerability, care, love and sacrifice. This is why our friendship is so dear to me. We go through the same things, we look at the world in the same way. Anna and I often send each other messages of inspiration; for example, a photo on the cover of Time Magazine of an indigenous woman doing something amazing. Or the story of a special mother raising her children on a mountain in Hawaii with ancestral wisdom. We are inspired by the same stories, which we then each translate in our own way into a vision for our companies’. Anna: ‘We talk on the phone every few days. Jeanne saw an opportunity to help rid me of my telephone anxiety. She always wants to call – I’d rather not, but for her, I make an exception. Now that’s really saying something.’