‘I’d rather walk in old clothes than eat junk’
‘After graduating in psychology, I accidentally rolled into the world of headhunters. It went really well, I even became a partner at the office, but I didn’t see myself sitting there until I retired. I couldn’t lose my creativity there and the hot air content in that world started to disappoint me at a certain point.
“Natural wine has attracted me since my student days: it is pure. The winegrowers add nothing to the wine and get nothing out of it. When I tasted a natural wine for the first time, with pioneer Helmer Otterman in Amsterdam, I immediately found it very interesting. It tasted light, fresh, exciting. Very different from that wine from the supermarket, still a kind of soft drink with alcohol.
“My initial plan was to open a wine bar in Amsterdam, with only natural wines. But I turned out not to be such a catering type. That is why I started importing the wines under the name Wilde Wijnen, together with a partner. First as a hobby; it has been my full-time job for two years now.”
“Even though a bottle of natural wine costs an average of 15 euros, we don’t earn much money with it. Everything in the natural wine world is done by hand and is small-scale. For example, a young winemaker from the Rhone region whose wine we import only makes 8,000 bottles a year. That’s not much. I sometimes say: I now work ten times as hard for only one tenth of the salary. But the freedom and pleasure I now experience are worth it to me.”
‘After my office life as a headhunter, it was quite a change of pace in terms of lifestyle. We used to go out for dinner more often and it was easier for us to go on winter sports with our family with three children. Now we have to save for a few years. I actually think that’s healthy.
“What I do spend a lot of money on is food and drink. Good cheese, good bread, expensive coffee beans. I’d rather wear old clothes and get out of my car instead of eating junk.
“I used to be a disaster with money. Like an ostrich, I could bury my head in the sand and spend money that I actually had to save for the annual tax return, for example. Through trial and error I have become wise, also because my wife is a lot more sensible in that area. My trick now is not to just buy everything on impulse, but to let it sit for a few days to think about whether I really want something. I am a huge music lover and can get greedy for nice amps or guitars. But after a few days I often think: well, I can do without it too.”