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Liesbeth Busman
  • Green stories

Behind the green mind: Liesbeth, Sustainable jeweller

  • 3 December 2021
  • 7 min
  • Written by Aksana

Visiting the atelier of Liesbeth Busman in The Hague and listening to her interesting stories was fascinating. She is a skilled jeweller designer and maker with a golden heart. Her inspiration comes from nature, love and more. Read the interview below and discover her story…

Why did you start designing jewellery and what do you want to accomplish? 

I aim to become a professional mistake maker. In the mistakes, I find the undone, the unknown and the yet undesigned. And that is precious. It is difficult to make the right mistakes though. It can take a 100 mistakes to make the one mistake that leads to something promising to work with. 

Besides this, I rarely have one fixed goal. I rather work with a direction and multiple subgoals in mind to discover how they connect with the possibilities on my life’s path. I found out that I need certain components in my life to be happy, centered, manage stress and reduce too much thinking. My goal (and challenge) is to find a healthy work-life balance. Here are some essentials that I live by:

Freedom — waking up without an alarm buzzing to walk my dog on the beach, forest or dunes. Forage ideas and shapes is a daily practice. Authenticity is essential, in the sense to stay true to myself and to what my soul needs to be in contact with. It helps me flourish and stay happy. 

Love — to connect with my loved ones and family. 

Autonomy — to become financially independent. The last twenty years I worked hard to achieve the financial space to make my own decisions. I have the freedom to choose design orders, collaborations and clients based on a mutual connection. Twice a year I disconnect and (try to) have a digital detox and make new collections at our place in Spain or on the road. Designing new jewellery concepts doesn’t work well while running the store. Running the store is all about making the clients shine and advising them in the best way possible. To design new collections, I need to shift to another objective. An objective I never know upfront. It takes time and silence to figure out what I would like to say with my new jewellery collection. It’s horrible and rewarding at the same time to design new pieces. 

Honesty — I try to find the best option for all parties involved and give the best advice possible. That advice can also be, for example, not to melt that gorgeous vintage ring a client wants to melt into a new design. But to consider keeping it in the family for future generations. Honesty can also have the consequence of making decisions that are not popular or not economically ‘smart’. Once I withdrew from an interesting design order for a big apparel brand, because in my opinion they were not ethical enough in their production in a third world country. Looking back, maybe I should have taken on the opportunity to create awareness from within, while working with them. Sometimes a bit more tact can accomplish better results. 

Play — by playing I can connect to something free. Something other than thoughts. Something that is not necessarily efficient. I need this form of creativity and meditation to balance all the ‘efficiency thinking’ that is necessary for an independent jewellery brand like mine to thrive.

I’m on a continuous quest to find the balance between the elements above to feel content. Honestly, I am not there yet, but I improve with every experience.

What inspires you about your work? What drives you?

That the learning never stops! I love learning new skills and techniques. Also the stories of the visitors of my atelier-shop are a big inspiration. I’d like to know all about them; who they are, what drives them, what they connect to… I admire their love stories. I’m grateful that I get to learn a lot from my clients. 

It drives me to discover how other people find their freedom and how they nourish their souls. Making and wearing jewellery is a way to connect, show love, empower or/and comfort oneself.

What went well and what did not work out since you’ve started? What did you learn from it?

Almost everything went differently than I expected. I learned how to embrace the progressive insights and leave room for improvisation and evaluation afterward. That is the nature of goldsmithing and running a business from my experience. It doesn’t work to have fixed planning. It works when you leave space for the idea to become what it wants to become. Only then an unintended beauty can arise. The kind of natural beauty that you can not make, but can only find.

I’ve learned not to be afraid to make mistakes. You’ll make them anyway, whether they frighten you or not. Minimise the negative impact of the possible effects of mistakes and take the leap. Along the way you’ll learn how to improve next time. Trust your ability to learn and evaluate. Leave space for unforeseen things and use them for a better story, a better product, and more fun.

Have a goal to soothe the possible unease of not exactly knowing your direction, but know that a goal is not a fixed point. It’s rather a comma to another challenge and another adventure. Goals are like Super Mario Bros levels. You reach them and you go to the next level. Enjoy the process. Don’t forget to play, it’s not all that serious. Meditate. Regulate stress, as it is poison for your soul and mind. I realise it might sound like I think I know it all, but that’s not the case. I should print my own advice and hang it on my mirror as a reminder, haha.

What does sustainability mean to you and how do you combine it with your work? 

My mom taught me not to throw away things and to reuse what we already have. Sometimes we took things that could still be useful from the garbage on the street. It made me appreciate the value of old stuff. She always says anything might be useful in the future and it’s true! I have many vintage finds enhancing the interior of the store and lots of second-hand gifts. Because people around here know we like old stuff and bring it to the store in The Hague.

The gold I use for the unique pieces is recycled from old gold. The old gold comes from my clients who have had custom pieces made for them. Kinda like kombucha gold. 🙂 I use fairtrade/fairmined and industrial recycled gold too, and conflict-free gems. And off course, we only drink fairtrade coffee.

We’ve made a light plan for the store. It has the perfect colours and is beneficial for our health too. The special daylight lamps help our bodies create vitamin D when we work inside. I try to minimise ecological footprint by recycling post packages, using less damaging chemicals in the fabrication process, and so on. I am aware that I can always do more, therefore I always try to learn from more experienced people how to grow and improve.

To me sustainability is taking care of the environment in the broadest sense — it is realising that we are nature. It’s not us and the planet. We are the planet. Together with every soul on it. I enjoy and cherish the beauty of Earth every time when I’m pruning the olive trees at our home in Spain, or when I watch the bees feeding on the jasmine on the veranda. These moments are so precious and pure.

One day I made a pact with the land here in Spain. Since the abundance of nature’s inspiration is flowing through my hands into my jewellery designs (when I manage to connect with it 😉 ), it only seems fair to give back by investing a percentage of the earnings of my jewellery sales in restoring the land that was neglected for decades. The idea is to regenerate the land for all beings to thrive in harmony.

What advice would you give starting entrepreneurs in your industry? 

You are never ready enough. Do it anyway.

Discover Liesbeths work on www.liesbethbusman.com and check out her Instagram @liesbethbusmanjewelry.


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