Elsbeth Blekkenhorst-Tammes is an expat entrepreneur. Elsbeth is a Dutch national living in Qatar where she’s been for nearly 10 years. She has also worked in the UK and Germany. She has lived outside of the Netherlands for over 20 years now. Germany and the UK were closer to her Dutch roots so she didn’t really even feel like an expat. However, in Qatar it’s different. It took her a year to feel ‘at home’. In an exciting way it still feels really different for her!
In 2017 she decided to set up her own shoe brand. Elisabietta is flat footwear for women on the go. So far she has released two collections and has 3 different styles available in a variety of colours.
Elsbeth is a serial expat entrepreneur. Prior to her shoe adventure, she ran her own recruitment agency where she placed women in jobs in Qatar.
How did you come up with the concept for your business?
When my husband and I travelled through China in 2007 we visited a couple of shoe stores in malls in Shanghai. That’s where my initial shoe idea was born. The specific idea for ballet flats grew stronger and stronger when I lived in London, where commuting in ballerinas was way more comfortable and fun than in high heels. At the end of 2017 this idea became a reality when I took the deep plunge into the world of footwear and fashion and set up Elisabietta.
What was your mission at the outset?
To offer women beautiful, unique designs with a comfortable fit at an affordable price.
Stylish and elegant footwear to wear to any occasion, all day and every day!
Do you choose your current location or did it choose you?
My husband’s job took us to Qatar. I had to look up Qatar on the map when he first got the job. We moved to Doha in September 2010, just before it was announced Qatar is going to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022. Not many people knew of Qatar’s existence, which is very different today!
Do you think being an expat contributes to your success at all?
I believe it does. Being an expat, especially when living in the Middle East makes you think outside of the box, to find your way around things in a very creative way and you’re more dependent on your own happiness making me run faster and in total different directions which often lead to amazing opportunities and situations.
Do you face any unique challenges because you are an expat running a local business?
Running a business is different in all parts of this world. Different rules and regulations, which are often changing because you don’t know what you don’t know. To start with you are always trying to catch up to make sure you’re compliant is a very well-known concept in this part of the world.
If you had one piece of advice for an expat entrepreneur just starting out what would it be?
First of all, make sure that whatever it is that you decide to do is your passion, passion and again your passion. If it’s not entirely, think again as when it isn’t you won’t last long as being an entrepreneur is.