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I’m a very happy man


Sounds nice, right? This is how I started my final message during this week’s Fluwel staff meeting. Every year, we finish the year by going to lunch at a nearby restaurant with everyone who works at Fluwel.

I might need a few more words this week, but I’ll try to explain where my happiness comes from.


Tulip Silk Road


Long ago, when I was still young (which means we are talking about the eighties now), my brothers and I started shipping flower bulbs to the United States. We worked a lot, laughed a lot, had a lot of fun, and very little sleep: The dream life for young men starting their business. Our hands were rough and we didn’t have much clothing left that did not have holes and damage from the long days spent in the warehouse, and I remember very vividly that we were always hungry. We rented a warehouse first, then had to move it into a larger building, until we could finally build our very own, by then it was years later so we needed a web shop, and after that we bought another farmhouse with an accompanying piece of land to start Land van Fluwel, a windmill for our own green energy, solar panels in addition to those, trying to do more for the environment… you know how it all goes.


Tulip Silver Cloud


The one thing I always like to tell people as a fun fact is that we were the first flower bulb business to start using email. It was all the way back in 1982. Americans were already using it here and there, but for us, it was brand new. Words like digital, webshop, Shopify, and Google Analytics were never used in a sentence and some of them had yet to be spoken into existence.


But none of that matters, you just keep on working. Every year, you plant flower bulbs, dig them, clean them, pack them, ship them off, and before you know it it’s New Years’ Day, and that whole sequence happens a couple more times and then suddenly you see an old man in the mirror. That’s what happened to me this week, catastrophe, luckily we still feel young inside. What made me so happy is that during the staff meeting, I saw so many young people in our team. Suzan and Linda are in charge of Land van Fluwel, Alina works with Claudia for the German side of our business, Yentl and Paul are monitoring our online presence and marketing, and Paulina, who always joins us from Helsinki, knows every little detail about Shopify in order to keep the website going. Our new team member Vlad is a few years older, but still decidedly of a younger generation than I am, and then I have my daughter Pien who is done with University and is officially joining Fluwel this January.


Amaryllis Beautiful Emotion


The thing about this meeting is that we had a lot of time, and everyone took a moment to really tell their colleagues what they were working on. You don’t always know what everyone’s specific job is, but it’s good to know who you can go to if you have a question about something outside of your own expertise. During the meeting, it suddenly became very clear to me: I am now part of the old guard. And my brother and the other people who have been here for years are right there in that same category with me. When I told the room that we had been the first ones to have email way back when, I realized that we are basically dinosaurs now. That thought made me very happy: I saw a whole new generation eager to start working just the same as my brother and I did in 1982.


I think the most beautiful thing about Fluwel is that we want to combine the knowledge and experience of the old folks with the energy of the new generation. We are going to do our very best to send out as many nice flower bulbs to our dear and loyal customers all over the world, and we keep striving to give people a day to remember in Land van Fluwel when they visit with their families and hopefully leave with happy memories.


Land van Fluwel is now Winter Land van Fluwel, and over the next few weeks, we have winter-wonderland weekend activities, with Christmas experiences and lots of wintery things to enjoy for your children.


Then I would like to direct your attention to an important message: Today is the last day to order Spring Flower Bulbs in our web shop. But I don’t even need to say it: it seems as if you’ve gone all out buying bulbs this season.


Normally, we use the flower bulbs that are leftover to create a garden where we show everything we have available, and where people can also pick flower bulbs during Spring. We always try to plant a few rows of a variety that had a lot of bulbs left over, so tourists and neighbors can come over and visit a flower field where they are actually allowed to go in to take photos and pick tulips. This year, it’s going to be difficult to fill those rows: most flower bulbs have ended up in your own gardens! I cannot thank you enough for this. It makes me incredibly happy to see everyone planting flower bulbs at home. Every year we see more people who pick up gardening as a new hobby, or who re-discover their love for it. We are so happy and grateful, too, that some of you take the time to leave a review on Trusted Shop. This really helps us as a family business that people have sometimes never heard of before: Because of you, new people know they can safely order something, and we cannot thank you enough for that.


Amaryllis Barbados


I think that’s enough sentimentality for this week. We will keep selling the Amaryllises, and this year we also keep sending them out, as you’ve read in last week’s newsletter. But for the Spring Flower Bulbs… if you’re not quite satisfied with your collection yet, you must hurry up.


I’ll see you again next week, I already have a story I really want to tell you about. Did you know that I have an Italian friend who once told me that the worst food he ever had anywhere in the world was in The Netherlands? He absolutely despised our national dishes, hated them, really. Next week, you might get some more information about that, see if you agree with him. Anyways.


Kind regards,

Carlos van der Veek