What did you learn from your mother? What wise advice did she give you as a child? And how do you apply that knowledge to your life and work today? We asked several Secrid employees, including a brand-new mother, and they spoke candidly and tenderly about how their mothers shaped them. Loving tributes about trial and error, freedom, creativity, thinking outside the box, being on time, caring and never judging others.
In 1998, at the age of 22, Mirsada fled from Bosnia to the Netherlands with her husband and two small children, Jasmina and Emina. She and her family ended up in an asylum seekers' centre in Apeldoorn. After five years, she received her papers and was assigned a house near The Hague. In the meantime, she had given birth to a third child, Mirsad, a boy. Through a special twist of fate Marianne, co-founder of SECRID, offered to take in her three little ones for an extended period. The children from both families became friends and Mirsada was lovingly embraced by her new 'family'. She became the hostess of the company. The espressobar is her domain. Upon entering, Mirsada is the first to welcome everyone and keeps an eye on everything.
"My mother Sadija lives in Bosnia. She is a very sensitive person and has been through so much. She was always a dominant, strong woman. We were never allowed to hug or kiss her. Only in recent years has she become softer. We always missed the soft side of my mother. It is now emerging. I notice that I am softer towards her now as well. I dare to say, 'I love you'. I learned that at work, also from Marianne. Everything has changed so much. And I've changed as well because I got to know other people. I got to experience a different world. What I learned from my mother is to finish things and to go on. Trial and error, falling and getting up. I apply that in my work and in my life. Everything happens for a reason; I believe in that."
Michelle started at Secrid as 'daughter of' at the age of 19, doing simple jobs. She is the eldest daughter of Marianne and René and got a law degree in Rotterdam. After graduating, she worked with Legal Brand Protection on several major infringement cases for the company. Nowadays, she is also working on the new company structure. Because the management structure is outdated and not appropriate for Secrid, she has been reading a lot about other types of organisational structures and has studied and spoken to many other companies. In 2019 Secrid chose to start with Holacracy, an organisational structure in which the employees take as much ownership as possible so they can grow themselves. This way of working uses the rule 'Everything is allowed unless', while in most companies the rule is 'Nothing is allowed unless'.
"My mother Marianne always made sure that she was present energetically at home. She understood that all three of us were very different from each other. She made sure we each got what we needed. Sometimes, she would prepare three different meals for us in one evening, sincerely because she wanted to do that for us. What she does very well is not to take things personally, not from a hurt ego. Marianne also taught me to approach things in a different way, to think differently. To get something from all the opportunities and all the little things. I learned about energetic thinking from her, but also from my father.”
A few years ago, Anouk's graduation project at Artemis Academy was so well-received by Marianne and René that they offered her a job. The theme of her exhibition was how the free-of-charge return of clothes to online fashion chains causes big problems. Clothing, once worn, is often seen as a product that is no longer able to be sold. When it no longer 'smells like a factory', these companies can't do anything with it. Most returned items end up being incinerated and often not even checked at all. Anouk started at Secrid a year and a half ago. Creating images for Secrid is Anouk’s main responsibility. This varies from photography to styling. Many photographs she takes herself, but she also coordinates photoshoots by other photographers.
"My mother Caroline is very clever and social, and she raised us very liberally. 'You are free to do as you please,' she always said. She gave us a lot of freedom. My brother and I never abused that freedom. She allowed us to try out all kinds of things, but also to give them up again. We could do sports, meet people, do anything. That feeling of freedom also prevails at Secrid. My mother also always says 'Maybe it's not good now, but it will be fine later'. And 'Everything has a reason'. Never give up, always carry on, that's her and my mantra."
Before Annick became part of Secrid, she worked for a long time in the Zuidas, mainly at financial departments of corporate companies. When Secrid co-founder Marianne was looking for someone who understands both people and processes, in-house architect Tim Jongerius advised her to talk to his own mother Annick. Not long after, she started as Marianne's work coach and is now the hub of People, working in a holacratic way. Holacracy and People are all about self-organisation and giving employees the opportunity to discover their own strengths.
"My mother was born in Brabant, in Someren, near Eindhoven. She is 77 years old. She once owned a café in Arnemuiden. Later, my parents had a restaurant on the Veerse Meer. I began working there, doing the dishes. My mother's mother, my grandmother, had a liquor store and her door was always open. People often came to her for advice. She was a wise woman and believed that everyone should be allowed to be. My mother inherited this tranquillity and the occasional wise statement from her. My mother is my grandmother's conduit and she passed it on to me. It's also instilled in me to look at people with respect and let them be who they are. That's what my grandmother did and what my mother still does. Like her, I have a deep belief that all people are good from the inside out.”
Alfa arrived in the Netherlands 11 years ago via the HCR refugee organisation. When she was 10 years old, a terrible civil war raged in her native Rwanda. She fled with a group of more than 400 children from the orphanage where she lived with her sisters to neighbouring Burundi and Congo. In the chaos of the war, she lost one of her sisters and lived with her other sister in the jungle for a long time. Miraculously, the sisters found each other again and were lovingly cared for by three 'Mamas' in Congo for a few years. When she was 25, she arrived in the Netherlands. In the AZC in Amersfoort she saw snow for the first time. Alfa has been cleaning Secrid's workstations for a couple of years now, and in doing so she provides new energy.
"In Congo, mothers Mukulu Lusamba, Mama Marie and Mama Jeanette accepted the three of us for who we are. Later in Goma, there was another mother who was good to us: Mama Sanata. A mother cares for you and gives you good advice for your future. I learned from all these different mothers to always stay positive and have respect. At Secrid I also have a mother: Marianne. She is sweet. When I recently had surgery, she let me stay with her for a month, in her house, to recover. She keeps an eye on me and so does her daughter Michelle. I got so many letters and messages and flowers from the people at Secrid when I was sick. 'We missed you,' they said when I came back. They accept you for who you are, no matter what you do. Mother number 5 is hostess Mirsada. When I started as a caretaker, I was quite insecure. Mirsada took care of me very well back then."
René is seen as the Father Familias of Secrid.
In 1997, he launched the first wallet, the Secrid Bodycard. In 2009 Marianne and René decided to fully concentrate on the further development of the Cardprotector and to stop designing for clients. This turned out to be a great move, the wallets became a huge success. Taking a holistic view of things and remaining in control are important objectives for the duo. Together with a great team, they are constantly working on improving the product and making it more sustainable.
"My mother Gerry is 80 years old. Together with my father, she comes to Secrid in The Hague once a week to eat together. Friday is French fries day at Secrid, then it's like a restaurant. My father comes from an affluent part of Bodegraven, my mother certainly does not. It was love at first sight between those two. My parents are both non-judgmental about people and background. I experienced my childhood as a safe haven, carefree and with plenty of room for self-development. My mother taught me creativity. She would have liked to become a journalist or photographer, but had to leave school at the age of fifteen. She writes poems and takes a lot of pictures. I really got my passion for words from her. I am perhaps not that lavish in showing my love for her. I think we have that in common. But a mother's love is unconditional, just like a father's, by the way.”
Robin's first real job as a young industrial designer was at René's agency. Among other things, they developed the Maxi-Cosi child seat and two telephones for Dutch designer Jan des Bouvrie. After a year he left the company and, after working for various companies, returned to the nest in 2012. At Secrid, he was asked to steer the company's supply chain in the right direction. This included reorganising and structuring the company and building good relationships with suppliers. He maintains close contacts with over fifty mostly local and European companies. These days, his work revolves around sustainability, in all areas of the Secrid. This includes CO2 emissions, water usage, chemicals, and the impact the company has on the world.
"My entire family comes from Brabant. As a child, I quickly felt homesick. If I played at a friend's house two streets over, I would want to go home immediately. My mother Liesbeth comes from a strict Brabant Roman Catholic family, while my father came from a much more relaxed environment. His grandfather was called Red Jan, a milkman who supported communism. My mother hated the strict religion, and she still doesn't have anything good to say about it. She was and is a beautiful woman, both inside and out. She always told me to get the most out of things and to always do my best. Another thing I learned from her is to always be on time, to be honest and to be nice to the people you work with. Keeping the peace is also something she taught me, that is a bit of the Brabander in me."
Sascha has been with Secrid for two years and entered the company through informal channels. Before that she lived with her family in Melbourne, Australia for seven years. Her daughters, Rosie (8 years) and Elise (6 years), were born over there. Sascha comes from the traditional, corporate world of the legal profession. As Legal Counsel she deals with legal affairs and I.P. (Intellectual Property). This concerns all rights Secrid has as a company and how technology, the product and the brand can best be protected.
"I have a wonderful mother, Marguerite. She is artistic, went to art academy and in the 70s she founded the Anorexia Nervosa Foundation. She now has nine grandchildren and is not afraid of anything, she does everything. I impart several qualities to my own children. To Rosie, my eldest, that her kindness and sensitivity is her superpower. Elise is a copy of my mother. As a child she already thought 'I find this so absurd, so unjust, I no longer believe anything grown-ups say!' That is what Elise might say as well. Baby Ollie (8 months) was born in the Netherlands and gets all kinds of attention from his sisters. A true little offspring. What I learned from my mother is that you shouldn't get carried away by the madness around you or by what others say. There is no real way to describe the love of a mother. Having a child is very powerful. It's such a cliché, but you only know that when you have a child yourself. I always tell my children at bedtime that I love them. Funnily enough, my mother only said that to me recently. But I never missed it, always felt she loved me. I would not call Secrid a sweet company, but loving one. Loving like a mother, that is."
A degree of perfectionism is not foreign to product designer Bregtje. After graduating in industrial design, she joined Secrid five years ago. A conscious choice on her part due to the desire for perfectionism but also the social awareness of the company. In recent years the brand-new mother of baby Jurrit has concentrated on developing a textile variant of the card protector. She is given all the time she needs to research weaving techniques and sometimes sees the Secrid workshop as a big playground where things can be researched and tested. She is also currently involved in the launch of new products.
"Both my parents come from entrepreneurial families. My grandmother was a baker's daughter and my father's father had one of the first self-service shops in the country. I come from a family of seven children, as does my mother Corien. She worked as a kindergarten teacher and I learned a lot from her professionally as well. My mother knows better than anyone that playing is very good for children, to develop their creativity. When we were little, she thought up all kinds of things herself: doing crafts, playing games, and not watching too much TV. I inherited that from her. She is a great granny for her grandchildren and an advocate of discovering things by doing, trying them out and seeing where you end up. I apply this wisdom in the Secrid workshop. We have a saying in our family: 'You'll be amazed at what you can do if you just try'. Once uttered by my great-grandmother, so my mother's grandmother, and still a piece of wisdom that we pass on to each other."