Star Sign: Scorpio
Currently reading: Both Het Smelt by Lize Spit and Kinderen van Moeder Aarde by Thea Beckman
Hopes her last meal will be: Something with cheese and port or a pizza with corn and carrots
Lot Bouwes is a 26 year old poet from Rotterdam. She writes poetry and prose and has published two books. You can buy her poems on her webshop and she also recites her poems at festivals and in theaters!
When did you first know that this was your calling?
Quite early actually. At primary school I already wrote poems and when I was 16 I first read my poems on a stage. My first collection of poems came out at the age of 21 and then it started to take off. I took my posy to festivals and stages, to read and share words. I have never had a full-time job because I always want to put my writing into it. Now it has really become my job and I work almost full time as a poet. It is really my calling, my motivation!
How did you get your business off the ground?
At the beginning it was difficult to gain brand awareness. Because poetry is a less popular genre according to many publishers, I decided to self-publish my book. I didn’t know anything about designing a book and I invented everything myself, from checking spelling to arranging an ISBN number. Fortunately, I found a good print shop that helped me out. Getting the book to the stores was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I was rejected in many places because I was still so unknown. Only when I opened a webshop (which initially only contained 1 booklet) did people start to recognize and appreciate my work. Social media also helped me a lot, I shared a poem every week that got more and more people interested in my book.
When my second book Alle Dieptes came out, I already knew a lot more about the world of bookstores and printers. Alle Dieptes was funded through crowdfunding which increased my reach. This book is about breaking the taboo on depression, a subject that appealed to many people. The crowdfunding was partly funded by the city of Rotterdam, who interviewed me and shared my work. Then it finally got off the ground. During the book presentation many people that I did not know at all were there. That was very bizarre.
When you are convinced of yourself and your own talent, that is enough to start with.
What makes your company unique?
There are several companies that make poems and verses, but I think it is quite unique at this time to write poems about the deepest of the deepest. I write very unfiltered and raw, not sweet and careful. My poems are painful because they are so honest. My company is who I am completely, naked and careless.
Since a few years I also write custom poems. People can let me write a poem about themselves. I have a therapeutic background and I think that makes me keep asking until I get to the core. When I write a poem for you, it is not fleeting but connected and complicated. I think that I am creating something unique that way.
What is the biggest challenge for you as an entrepreneur?
Exactly what makes my work unique, I think. After all, there is a much larger audience for the more sweet verses and light-hearted poems. I want to be authentic. I sometimes get reactions from people who don’t understand what my poems are about. It is really a very special branch of language art, which does not suit everyone. But if it does resonate with people, it really affects me a lot. I notice that my company and reach are growing, but at a snail’s pace. Financially I still find it very exciting that I am so dependent on the people who think my work is worth paying for. I pack every product I sell with extra love and attention, because I am so grateful when someone wants to have my work at home.
What inspires you to continue?
I have so much to say. Every time new poems emerge, they come naturally to me. I never have to look for it. When I receive positive messages from people who have read a poem from me, my heart leaps. I strive for that connection and the openness that is so much needed in the world.
What is your life motto / what mantra do you live?
I believe that everyone on earth has a higher purpose and that life offers you opportunities to take the steps towards that goal. Your feeling works like a compass in this. If something or someone is not feeling well, it is best to stop. And vice versa, when something feels appropriate and makes you happy, grab it! I really believe that it works like this and that if you follow your heart you can be a very happy person. I could also have been looking for a well-paid permanent job, but I don’t think my path is there. So I do what I can to write as much as possible.
How do you ensure a good work-life balance?
I still haven’t found that balance. Especially because my feelings are my job. When words come in, I have to write. Doesn’t matter if I’m already in bed or on the toilet, the words always go on. However, I do have a permanent day for administration every week, and since I have an accountant it is also a lot better to give the less pleasant side of business a place.
How has the Corona virus affected your work?
People order less because they are more careful with their money. On the other hand, I notice a great need for deepening and inspiration online. My poems help with that too. In my webshop I also sell crystals with matching poems, which run better now than before the virus.
For my own productivity, I notice that staying at home works very well. I also give yoga and have a weekend job, that is all gone now. The time that is available will allow me to finish my third book, which will hopefully be published in late 2020 or early 2021.
What can people do to support you and others in your field?
It already helps a lot when you share something of small entrepreneurs on social media. A text that inspires, a product you like.. You don’t necessarily have to buy something to support entrepreneurs. A token of appreciation already does a lot. I try to support webshops myself by ordering small things. A photographer’s card set, for example. Sending cards is extra precious during this time and you also support the photographer, who is less or not at all able to work due to the virus.
What are your plans for the future?
So there will be a third book. In addition, I really want to continue to grow with my poems and be on stage more often. I really like reciting at festivals and I would like to write for more weddings. A wish I have had for a while is writing for a funeral. I would be honored to write a text about someone’s life.
Do you have tips for people who want to start a business (in this field)?
Believe in yourself! I have been rejected by dozens of publishers because of my writing style, but I thought I was worth bringing my own book into the world. When you are convinced of yourself and your own talent, that is enough to start with. Don’t give up and keep fighting for yourself. There is an audience for every art form, sometimes it only takes a while before they find you.