asking my cat about amsterdam

Does My Brand Fit in Amsterdam?

Personal branding is something that has eluded me for years. Years! My friend owns her own branding business and she’s given me some quality advice, but still, I have only managed to settle on a ‘brand’ in the last year. And by ‘brand’ I mean I’ve settled on a black/white/grey colour scheme and Courier New as my font.

When it comes to an online persona I have no idea how people maintain one life for Instagram and one ‘real’ life. What I consider to be my personal brand is just that, personal. As my blog categories say I write about feminism, sustainability, style, and how those intersect in society and in my own life. And that is because those three things really do impact my life. I research them and enjoy finding ways to incorporate them into my thoughts and actions.

I have also learned that I feel best in an environment where these precepts are generally held. There is no question I feel lighter, more productive, more optimistic since moving to Amsterdam and now that I’ve been here a month I wonder if that has anything to do with how well the city and my experience thus far rates against my ‘brand.’     

Feminism

+ The Netherlands generally does well in international assessments of women’s standing in society and it is encouraging that women are gaining more political power.

+ Trans and gender non-conforming fall within the scope of my feminism and there is good news regarding their social standing as well.

+ Every day (that I leave my flat) I see at least one women out running in my neighbourhood, alone and with headphones. I go through phases of really loving running outside and it is encouraging to see that these women feel comfortable doing so.

The Red Light District. I mostly have a lot of questions about this. How regulated is it in regards to human trafficking and the rights of the sex workers? Why is it so heteronormative and old-fashioned in an otherwise open and modern city?

Sustainability

+ Recycling! Tom and I have recycled in every city we’ve lived in but Amsterdam does it best, mostly because the neighbourhood bins are emptied regularly. After our first Ikea visit we had a lot of cardboard to recycle and even though there was an angry Dutch man scolding us we got it all in the underground bin and there was so much space left (we checked after the scolding).

+ Specifically plastic recycling! In the UK we had very restrictive rules about which kind of plastic could be recycled and which was considered regular waste. Now our plastic bin fills up within days we’re so gleeful about recycling. Which has prompted a personal project to try and fill the paper and plastic bins at equal speeds. And while the grocery stores I’ve visited could do a lot more in regards to plastic packaging, I rarely see shoppers asking for a plastic store bag.

+ From what I have seen Amsterdam residents are not slaves to fast fashion trends, which is both a positive for sustainability and style. There is a busy shopping street not far from our flat and there is a mix of vintage/thrift shops and boutique clothing and homeware stores. The kind of frenzied consumerism that ends up in landfills does not seem to be part of society.

+ Bicycles. Literally everywhere. We cycled out of the city and into Amsterdam Forest on dedicated cycle lanes the whole way! My absolute favourite cyclists are parents with more than one child afixed to their bike, going about their daily routine. I am still a bit uneasy on my bike, but I try and cycle at least once per day and I love it.

Style

+ So far I am loving the general level of style of Amsterdam residents and I feel great wearing my own personal style when out and about. It seems that most people, like myself, choose their clothing thoughtfully and value quality over quantity. See point three above, under Sustainability, regarding fast fashion.

+ Women cycling while wearing skirts/dresses and beautiful shoes. I’m at the strictly jeans and trainers level of city cycling.

Is Amsterdam the most perfect city ever?

No. I’m sure after some more time here I’ll have a few negative things to say. At least I hope I do because I definitely do not want my personal brand to be dogmatic positivity. But for now, it seems like the city is a very on-brand choice for me. (Did I use that phrase correctly?)