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Janneke Koelemaij

Working for Diane von Furstenberg and G-star RAW

I interviewed my friend Janneke Koelemaij (Dutch, 1986) about her exciting fashion career. Janneke is such a cool, energetic and fun girl. She really masters the concept ‘work hard, play hard’. Janneke works her ass off and is always (!!) in for a dinner or party. She studied Fashion & Branding at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute and interned for the Amsterdam based PR agency ‘Spice PR’ and fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg in New York. After her New York adventure, she started working for G-star RAW in Amsterdam. Read everything about her career and find out her favorite places in Amsterdam below!

When you grew up, what was your dream job?
I’ve never had a dream job per se. Growing up, I always had a ton of interests. I’m quite whimsical and impulsive but do need stability. I like to be surrounded by a mix of ambitious people so working in a large International company is a definite must. Coupled with my addiction to fashion, I would say my dream job can be summed up when all these ingredients combine!

How did you find fashion in your life? 
Fashion has always played a big role in my life. My first memories go back Sundays I’d spend with my Granny flipping through fashion magazines, pointing out my favo dresses. If I picked out something I liked, within a day she’d make me the exact same piece! She was an amazing seamstress. When I was young I was a big inspiration to my Mom’s sense of style. I’d tell her what I liked and sometimes she would want to wear the same look! I remember telling her once I had to have a denim on denim look from Levi’s so of course, she had to have it too. At 14, I was a fitting model for my sister who was attending fashion school and a lot of her designs were tailor made just to suit me. These looks definitely came in handy for our crazy theme parties later on.  So actually in many ways, I have always been obsessed with fashion.

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After High School you decided to obtain your bachelor’s degree in fashion & branding at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI). Why did you choose this course
?
I started out studying Communication Science because I was interested in advertising. Although this course was a tad too theoretic for my taste. Eventually through a part-time job at the time, I discovered the AMFI offered a degree in Fashion & Branding. When I switched courses, it provided the additional creativity I craved. It was a perfect fit!

What companies did you intern and what were your responsibilities?
My first internship was in the marketing department with the Dutch children’s brand Oilily. I supported the Brand Manager with retail activities in the Benelux. During my third year at AMFI, I interned at SPICE PR. I assisted account manager, Maartje Diepstraten, with PR accounts for a variety of brands. SPICE really showed me the ins and outs of the PR world. The most valuable take away was getting an insider’s peek into the world of fashion and meeting some of the people who cover it, like fashion journalists, editors, bloggers, and stylists.…Networking is so key. Always bring it at important events and get to know as many people as you can!

And then…you finished your degree! Did you feel prepared for the fashion world after obtaining your degree in fashion & branding?
I don’t think you ever do, it’s an ongoing process. Of course AMFI prepares you to an extent but true know-how in the industry can only be obtained through work experience. I also had the feeling I needed something more adventurous after school…

After your study you left for New York to intern at Diane von Furstenberg. That sounds like a dream! Could you tell us about your internship at DVF?
My time in NYC was beyond amazing, life changing and one gigantic adventure! I wouldn’t trade it for the world! As Showroom Assistant at DVF, I was responsible for the new collections being presented to perfection. I also assisted the DVF buyers with some accounts with big customers such as Net-a-Porter, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. And let me tell you, the infamous coffee run stories are so true as far as internships in NYC go! There were many days I made multiple visits to Starbucks to pick-up 30 different coffees for the sales team. Even on these days I was the happiest girl on the block because hey, I was living it up in NYC! One moment I still cherish most is when I was asked to promote DVF’s new perfume, Diane, dressed in her iconic wrap dress. Together with a bunch of gals, we joined Diane on her perfume promotion tour throughout the city. The rather unsexy truth that made it possible for me to reach this big dream is that I worked in the car industry to gain enough money before leaving for the big apple.

How was living in NYC?
New York is such an energetic city. I went out with the girls from DVF a lot and had a group of friends who hung out on the regular. Mostly dining out (as New Yorkers don’t cook, obviously;) or just meeting up for drinks! I also did some very typically American things like carving pumpkins at Halloween, going to Yankee games and celebrating Thanksgiving.

After your great adventures in New York you returned to Amsterdam and started working at G-star RAW. How did your job at G-star RAW come about?
Well, pretty simple. I applied for a job online and received a phone call that the job I had applied for was already filled but they offered me another great position. So I went for the interview and got it! As they say…the rest is history.

As a Team Assistant for both the Creative and Commercial Departments I formed a bridge between these departments. My time was really split in two, between Design and Sales. After that I began assisting the Commercial Director at G-Star and developed more of an interest in the commercial side of the company. This lead me to my current role as Global Sales Assistant.

On one hand I am the go-to market coordinator covering a variety of needs in the Sales department for each collection. On the other hand, I’m also the Marketing Coordinator for some of the emerging markets countries as well. I’m currently in the middle of obtaining my NIMA – B Consumer Marketing degree.

How have you evolved since you started at G-star RAW?
When I started, I was very young and inexperienced. My time at G-star RAW has allowed me to grow and I’ve become more secure. I understand the fashion environment much more and my love for the brand has grown. I have to admit, I was such a girly girl when I started at G-Star RAW, (all dressed up in DvF dresses, pinks lips and curls…yup that happened). My style has definitely become much more sophisticated always with a touch of denim of course.

What advice would you give to people who would like to work in fashion?
Try to gain as much field experience while you’re young! An unpaid internship doesn’t sound so alluring at first but believe me, these experiences are everything.

How do you disconnect from work?
I love to read, hang out with friends (brunch, lunch, wine & dine) and work out a lot.

What is your dream for your career?
It’s important to me to do things that allow me to keep my vibrant and positive vibe and I just hope to always truly love what I am doing.

Janneke is wearing:
Blouse: G-star RAW
Leather Jacket: Maje
Jeans: G-star RAW, Lumber Kate Tapered Red Listing
Shoes: Marc by Marc Jacobs
Accessories: BY 1OAK
Hat: G-star RAW

Janneke KoelemaijFAVORITES
Janneke Koelemaij / Amsterdam

Cocktails: Morgan & Mees

I’m really into hotel bars at the moment, Hoxton and Morgan & Mees are my current hang outs. Amsterdam has a bunch of cool cocktail bars, like the recently opened Apt.

Tweede Hugo de Grootstraat 2 (A’dam West)

Janneke Koelemaij / Amsterdam

Lunch: Bakers & Roasters

I’m always in for checking out new spots but some of my favorites are: Bakers & Roasters and Little Collins.

Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat 54 (Pijp)

Janneke Koelemaij / Amsterdam

Coffee: Scandinavian Embassy

A cool little place near my apartment in the neighborhood the Pijp. They do a great coffee. Besides the coffee, I just love the Scandinavian vibe.

Sarphatipark 34 (A’dam, Pijp)

Janneke Koelemaij / Amsterdam

Shopping: G-star Raw

Of course all of our G-Star RAW stores and I love smaller boutiques like Rika in the Nine Streets area.

P.C. Hooftstraat 24 (Amsterdam Zuid)

Janneke Koelemaij / Amsterdam

Dinner: Panache

Always vibrant, busy in a good way, great food and the amazing staff are so helpful. And yes, the special pitchers menu they have doesn’t hurt. ;)

Ten Katestraat 117 (Amsterdam West)

 

Janneke Koelemaij / Amsterdam

Brunch: G's

I have a few, but my top 3 are G’s, Paper Planes and Americano. For the perfect brunch, these sexy places have the right amount of coziness to hang with friends….and of course the perfect hangover cure: Bloody Mary’s.

Goudsbloemstraat 91 (Amsterdam Jordaan)