This article was originally written and published in Dutch by NEX Magazine, and since, translated to English below. Our CEO and Co-Founder, Kim van Haaster, had the honor of featuring on the cover and inside the 2020 November #8 Issue.
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To see my face on the cover of a Dutch magazine is so surreal!! Thank you to the @nexmagazines team for making me get out of my iso sweats and glamming me up! At the time I had forgotten how nice it was to get glam and even just simply get out of the house. I would like to especially thank you for capturing a true and candid reflection of my story relocating to the Netherlands, life here as an expat, launching @bloomeffects and of course falling in love with my tulip farmer 👨🏻🌾 📷: @annette_fauchey We will be sharing the article in English and more BTS through @bloomeffects this Friday for our weekly #founderfriday #entrepreneur #cleanbeauty #fieldtoface #tulips #bloomeffects
Kim van Haaster's life resembles a modern fairytale. Born and raised in Australia, she went on an adventure to America where she became a successful businesswoman. In Ibiza she met her tulip prince, Hein van Haaster and eventually made the move from New York to Amsterdam for the love of her life - this is where she discovered "en passant", a special secret about the tulip ...
The Tulip as a basis for cosmetics
Kim is co-founder and CEO of Bloomeffects, a new American company she runs from the Netherlands. The company sells cosmetic products whose active ingredients are derived from tulips from the Bollenstreek region. And although Bloomeffects was launched in the U.S market only one year ago, the products are already a hit. Even magazines such as Elle, Marie Claire, Forbes and Glamour have shared raving review- not only because they are great products, but also because Americans love Dutch tulips and the stories of the families behind the Dutch heritage and tulip farms.
Kim van Haaster's life has not always been a fairytale. Her parents were Vietnamese refugees who received asylum in Australia in the late 1970s. Kim was born in Melbourne in 1983. Despite the setbacks of her early childhood, Kim excelled at school and went to study at one Australia’s best universities . At the age of 27 and driven by her ambitious nature, Kim left for New York, ready to embrace the American Dream. Starting out as an assistant, Kim managed to climb the corporate career ladder and became a Global Marketing Director after only one year. For years she lived the sparkling New York highlife, perched atop the American cosmetics industry, however when she fell in love with the Hillegom bulb grower Hein van Haaster, she exchanged her cosmopolitan life in New York for a new life in the Netherlands.
A love story …
“How did I meet Hein? On the dance floor of Pacha in Ibiza! I traveled through Europe for 5 weeks with four Australian friends. From Berlin to Mykonos to Santorini to the Amalfi coast and finally to Ibiza. On the last night of our vacation we ended up in Pacha and there I saw him - Hein! My friends warned me - he is Dutch, he will not approach you himself. So I tried everything to get his attention. Eventually he saw me, we started talking and we kissed on the dance floor. In the weeks that followed, we chatted over WhatsApp. When I had to go to Europe for work a few months later, I booked a weekend in Florence to finish it off. I sent him an image of my ticket. It was not long before Hein sent me back an image of his ticket to Florence. In Italy things got serious, it soon turned out that we were both head over heels in love. We just had some challenges to deal with. After all, there was an ocean between us. In addition, Hein’s life was already on a fixed trajectory. Hein and his cousins are the fourth generation successors of the van Haaster bulb company in Hillegom. It soon became clear to me that Hein would never leave his business and his family in the Netherlands. That is why I came to live in the Netherlands - initially in Amsterdam. We now have a nine-month-old daughter and we live in Haarlem. Slightly closer to Hein's work. ”
A success story …
“In New York I was independent and successful and I wanted to keep it that way in the Netherlands. I had been dreaming of my own cosmetics line for some time. I knew the way and how to market a product. Most cosmetic products work with natural extracts from roses. However, I was looking for something that was really different, something that would really help women to improve their skin. The inspiration came from Hein. "What about my tulips?" he said. I became curious and I felt that there were potential possibilities. I knew the stories of the tulip vodka and of people eating tulip bulbs during the war. We went on to commission studies with the University of Leiden, Bioboost and Holland BioDiversity. And guess what? We discovered the tulip contains four times more active substances than the rose. Beneficial and healing substances that are good for the skin. The results have now been published and additional scientific studies are being conducted. We now make creams based on tulip extracts that are very suitable for people with dry skin. For example, the cream "Royal Tulip Nectar" is moisturizing and works well against eczema and irritable skin. "
“Yes, this was big news. And yet it is not so well known in the Netherlands. That is a shame, because of course you can put flowers in a vase, but there are many more applications. For example for cosmetics, medicines and more. This offers many opportunities for the Bollenstreek region: Flower Science! Americans love tulips, for example. It is not an everyday flower like here in the Netherlands, it is a luxury product. Tulips are only bought on special occasions. The image of the Tulip in the U.S. has helped me enormously with the launch of Bloomeffects in the U.S. We launched the brand in October 2019 and our products are very popular. We currently sell both online and offline in a number of large department stores. I think Bloomeffects has had such success so quickly because we're doing something that's different and more importantly effective, it really does wonders for the skin. Americans also love our stories surrounding Dutch family traditions and the tulip fields. Nevertheless, I have chosen not to call the company Tulipeffects but Bloomeffects, because we are far from finished. We also want to investigate the active ingredients in the Narcissus, Lely, Crocus and Dahlia. ”
Limitless adaptation and integration
Kim has now lived on three continents: Australia, America and Europe. Every time she has to adapt and integrate again. Kim:
“I have become handy at it now. But it is not always fun. In Australia, I was a girl of Asian appearance at school. I looked different from my classmates and as we all know, children can be harshe. When I went to live in America, I had to prove myself again as an Australian with a Vietnamese background. And now that I live in the Netherlands, it is sometimes difficult. Because here too I look different from most people. I was recently walking down the street with my daughter when someone approached me and asked if I was the nanny of the family that had come to live here. I know they don’t mean to be insulting. But people don’t realize what is like to be judged solely based on your ethnicity. Fortunately, I have developed a thick skin and will not let these things affect me anymore .”
But sometimes something happens again so that you know that you are seen differently. When corona made its appearance in March, I was suddenly looked at with fear in the supermarket. People thought because on my Asian appearance, I might have the virus. That was really very tangible and upsetting. I avoided the supermarket and felt uncomfortable in public for a while. I would like people to challenge their preconceived notions before acting and speaking hurtfully based on the way people look, no matter how innocent. It would be good if everyone would put themselves in someone else's shoes every now and then. I hope the world will become more positive and that parents will educate their children in such a way that there will be more tolerance and less racism in the future. Because of course I am already thinking about the future of our daughter Eva. She too is a racial mix and will no doubt look slightly different from her classmates. My daughter will be a Dutch girl who will be able to speak fluent English with influences from Vietnam, Australia and America. I see all of this as an enormous advantage, a strength! ”
“Of course flowers are wonderful to put in a vase, but there are many more applications. For example for cosmetics, medicines and more. This offers many opportunities for the Bollenstreek region. ”
“My life is perfect here now. Of course I miss New York, but the life I now lead with Hein and our daughter feels very good. More and more I discover that it is about the little things in life. It is precisely the simple things that give luxury to life. ”
“Real Dutch girls can ride their bikes with high heels, a mini skirt and tipsy. I find it fascinating and unbelievably charming. I can cycle quite well now, but I fear I will never master that skill. ”
“I love Dutch life, Hein’s family, the tulip fields, the Dutch skies, Delft Blue and all the beautiful traditions.”