The joy of crafting with Nele

Nele Huysmans

• Tufting artist and creative entrepreneur •
• Co-founder of Club Bonheur, together with friend Gianna Dethier •
• Prefers the freedom of being an entrepreneur over a safe 9-to-5 job •
• Mother of Mauro, 5 years old •

Initially Nele thought her Dada would lead her to fashion, but it’s only now, after 10 years working independently, that she found what she really needs to do.

Before Club Bonheur, Nele owned the "05-05" footwear brand. However, as she delved deeper into the business, the amount of hands-on creative work shrank. It was during this time that she started tufting without commercial goals. Little did she know that the coronavirus would strike months later, bringing her shoe brand to its end due to the manufacturer's bankruptcy.

Since her friend Gianna helped out in 05-05 and had a hobby in ceramics, they decided to rent a modest studio to nurture their hobbies and explore future collaborations.

Organically, they began creating, discussing, dreaming, and taking action. They realized that a space to create, experience & connect, was the next step in doing their dada. And that's how Club Bonheur started out, motivating each other.

5 questions for Nele

What means “Doing your Dada” to you?

"Doing my Dada" means working with my hands and crafting beautiful objects. Both my partner and I only do what fills our hearts, and that's something we want to pass on to our son, Mauro. We take him with us a lot, which is great, but this also blurs the line between working and relaxing.

What challenges do you encounter while pursuing your Dada?

The eternal struggle with your own mind as an entrepreneur. One day, you want to shout from the rooftops what you're working on. The next day, you wish you had just taken that 9-to-5 job without having to worry about putting food on the table. But the challenges make it beautiful. You set the bar, not some manager or CEO. Some days I allow myself to set the bar low, while other days it's sky-high.

What’s your biggest source of inspiration?

At a very young age, I had an innate connection to 'beauty.' I spent my time drawing and grew up surrounded by a natural wonderland, with wild plants, an abundance of flowers, and animals that roamed freely. This environment became an unconscious wellspring of inspiration for everything that would follow.

How did becoming a mother change your life?

It shook up my world. I needed time to find my place again, so I took 7 months to be with my child and navigate this change. This was only possible because we prepared for it and because I worked independently. When I finally started Club Bonheur, I became 'me' again. 

What’s your Dada Mantra?

Do. Start with something you feel you need to do. Don't keep polishing because there will keep appearing cracks, leaving it ‘not perfect enough’. Even if you can't do something 100%, you have gained knowledge and skills that make it worth sharing. From there, it's easier to grow.

> Follow Nele on instagram

"Do. Start with something you feel you need to do. Don't keep polishing because there will keep appearing cracks, leaving it ‘not perfect enough’."

Shop Nele's look