What is next?

Somebody asked me the other day: What happens when you don’t succeed? When you don’t manage to set up Not a Factory? When there won’t be any T-shirts in the end?!?!?! And I realised I hadn’t thought about that yet. Because even though I don’t know how to get everything done, I do know we will find a way, somehow. Maybe it wont look exactly like we imagined it, things often don’t. But step by step something will manifest, I am sure of that. Something beautiful, something hopeful.

Where are we now?

Right now I’m in Thessaloniki, the second biggest city of Greece. Having meetings and making connections, because a project like this is much better and more fun when you can collaborate with others!!

But when we go back a couple of weeks, after reaching the crowdfunding last month, I first started with figuring out some of the paperwork. Because do you know what’s the best way to produce and sell products in two different EU countries? While working with refugees? How to deal with the different taxes, permits, and rules? How to do everything according to the law, without things taking lots of time and tons of money?

Me neither, but slowly I’m starting to understand it better.

Some of the answers I got were:

  • Starting a legal entity in Greece can be expensive, the bureaucracy can be troublesome and it might take lots of time. If you can avoid it, avoid it.
  • Start a social enterprise in the Netherlands, or what is called a ‘stichting’ in dutch. It’s quick, relativly cheap, and since you speak dutch, understandable.
  • To be allowed to be active in Greece, register this entity in the Greek Chamber of Commerce and receive a VAT number.
  • Find the people you want to work with yourself, but employ them through an employement company – like for instance Randstad – it will save you a lot of trouble with paperwork and taxes.

So I got started with setting up this legal entity, found a great notary (Florian van Meerwijk) who was willing to do this pro-bono, and found three wonderful and talented people who were excited to be in the board!! Bart Driessen will be the chairman, Ingetje Wielenga the secretary and Deborah Kraaijeveld will oversee the finances. And after our first meeting it already became clear… this thing is getting serious! And so much more successful with a team like this.

This is a blurry photo of the board of Stichting Not a Factory, waving me goodbye when I left to Greece, right after our board meeting. From left to right: Bart Driessen, Deborah Kraaijeveld and Ingetje Wielenga.

Time to get to Greece. And since public transport is absent in many parts in Greece, I needed a car. So I drove one to Greece! After 4 days of traveling through Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Fyrom (most people know it as Macedonia, but that name is sensitive here in Greece). I arrived safe and sound in Thessaloniki!

A little breathing/walking break during the roadtrip somewhere in Slovenia.

Now what?

Now it’s time to get definate answers on the next questions:

  • Where in Greece will Not a Factory be located?
  • Who will work with us?
  • Which projects can we collaborate with?
  • What do we need to get started (organic fabric, sewing machines, permits, paperwork of the employees, etc…)?
  • Where do we get it from?

Getting answers on these questions brings me to many places. I’ve visited Yarntex, Randstad Greece, A t-shirt printing company, Ìrida Multicultural Women’s Centre, Naomi (Ökumenische Werkstatt für Flüchtlinge) and more.

T-shirt printing in process (not our t-shirts yet!)

Slowly but surely things are becoming clear. At times it is scary not to know what everything will look like in a month. It is scary not to know how the work will go, how the collaborations will work, and if the T-shirts will be ready in August. But we have to keep believing in that wonderful future. And even if at first things don’t succeed, we’ll get right back up and try again.

Because this is Not a Factory. And these are not T-shirts. It’s hope that we are creating, in a difficult situation. And while difficult situations can be unpredictable and challenging, all we need to do is get right back up, and take another step.

Even though taking a break is also a good idea every now and then 😉

Have a good day my friend!! Be kind to you and others.


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