This week we wanted to spotlight one of our very own Sidekicks and all-rounders, Britt. Britt has been a Sidekick at Zoku Amsterdam for two years now and on top of that is a qualified Masseuse who helps in our Treatment Room and is the Founder of KnittbyBritt, a small brand of hand-knitted scarves (which you can find in our Almost-Everything Store) and Founder of the travel blog Where to Eat, Sleep, Zen. If you get the chance to spot Britt on our 6th Floor next time you’re at Zoku Amsterdam, don’t be shy and stop her for a chat, she is always keen to meet new people.
What path has your career taken?
I studied hotel management and finished when I was 21. After I graduated, I got very sick and wasn’t able to work for 3-4 years. After recovering, I continued working in retail which had always been my side job next to my studies. I became a store manager for a fashion brand but soon discovered it wasn’t the right path for me. I wanted to find a job that made my heart flutter. One that would nurture my curiosity for other cultures, my creativity, in which I could take care of others and to be able to contribute to a better world. In short, I took a course to become a masseuse, started a blog about my travels and became a Sidekick at Zoku Amsterdam. Later on I started KnittbyBritt, a small brand by which I sell my hand knitted scarves (currently started the exciting adventure of becoming a sustainable brand). So it’s been quite a journey but today I’m able to say; all boxes are ticked.
What brought you/brings you to Amsterdam?
I grew up in a tiny village of 600 people in an area called Twente in The Netherlands. While living in Berlin for 6 months to write my thesis, I discovered that I was made to live the big city life. I felt so alive due to the international character, the inspiring museums, cuisines, markets, the creative entrepreneurs and amazing hospitality initiatives. When I came back I knew I wanted to live in a vibrant city and a few years later the opportunity arose to come to Amsterdam. It turns out I love it as much as Berlin.
What is your relationship with Zoku Amsterdam, and what are your thoughts?
I’ve been working as a Sidekick at Zoku Amsterdam for two years. I fell head over heels in love with the company when I started. When you know Zoku, you will recognize that there is some kind of magic to it. It’s so much more than a hotel; the message behind the concept is key for me: Not just offering beds and bathrooms but creating a space that feels like a true home. Where people don’t feel lonely or isolated but rather feel genuinely connected and cared for. Since Zoku hosts many Long-Stay Residents, we have the privilege to really get to know our Residents. I just love to hear about their life stories, secret family recipes and the things that make them happy in life. Through that I’ve built many special friendships with people from all corners of the world. Next to that, Zoku is also one of the few companies in the hospitality industry, in my opinion, where as an employee you can be yourself. At Zoku Amsterdam, everyone is equal and welcoming a Resident to Zoku often feels like you’re welcoming a new friend into your life. But the most important reason, for me, to work at Zoku is the team; everybody is very special to me. They are all such considerate people and are putting piles of love into their work. Because of that, we really have become a family.
What’s a life-changing song, film, event or book you’d like to recommend to others?
‘Eat, Pray, Love‘ by Elizabeth Gilbert. This book gave me the strength, in my years of sickness, to believe that an amazing world was out there waiting for me. It inspired me to indulge life when I was finally able to. To go on solo trips, to move to Amsterdam and to notice all the little things that seem so normal but are extraordinary when you really pay attention to them. Last year I went to see Elizabeth when she was hosting a class by The School of Life. Her message of drawing a circle around everything that is sacred to you and say, “This is what I need in order to be happy and I will protect it with all that’s within me” inspired me. Things like reading a book, really taking the time to make a healthy, tasty meal, writing, going to the gym, seeing the sunset at a beach, crafting art and dancing till your feet hurt. Nowadays I notice I’m not as aware anymore of those little moments and setting boundaries to do the things I should do to take better care of myself. It’s just that I often find myself swept up by the busyness of life, like so many of us. But I try to remind myself, when I realize it, to slow down and appreciate what’s around me.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Give space to your negative emotions as much as you do to your positive and dare to speak up.
What’s your current/newly discovered go-to product, service or app you would recommend to others?
Deep Relax by House of Deeprelax is a Yoga Nidra app. A company founded by Eliane Bernhard, one of Zoku’s former WorkZoku Members. Her (Dutch) Yoga Nidra meditations are a dream. Through her soothing words and voice she transports you to the most beautiful and calming places on earth. Instant relaxation promised. She offers a free month of subscription (with the code FREELAX ;)) now to help us to stay calm through these uncertain times.
Which book/product have you gifted the most, and why?
I’m a bit of an interior styling junky. I recently discovered that many second-hand treasures can be bought via Instagram. I’ve really started to enjoy the hunt to find the cutest ones that genuinely suit a friend’s interior. A few of my favorite shops are @tierlantijntjes, @interieur_verfraaiers and @vintagetijger.
If you could pick one project to work on for the rest of your life, what would it be?
It would be a dream to be able to travel the world as a writer and share the stories of local people.
What is one piece of advice or tip in your field of work that you want to give to people?
Keep people’s cultures in mind. I’ve read most of the book ‘The Culture Map‘ by Erin Meyer and it made me understand people, their choices and behavior more. Cut people some slack and if the person in front of you is a bit aloof, be willing to be the one that starts breaking the ice. I don’t say it’s always easy but it’s a chance to learn, experience and maybe even built a relationship. A dear friend of mine shared the poem ‘Human Family‘ by Maya Angelou with me recently and it reminded me once more that we are all so much more alike than we are unalike.