You come across them everywhere: Dutch entrepreneurs abroad. Why did they ever leave with the northern sun and is the grass really that much greener across the street? This week: Suzanne Dekel, who paints fabrics in Israel and paints with natural materials.

Marigolds, indigo leaves, sumac, bluewood, pomegranate peel, turmeric, cochineal, rhubarb from the Himalayas - Suzanne Dekel has it all on her balcony in Shosham and uses it to paint textiles.

Hand-woven silk, for example, organic wool and vintage linen that she purchases directly from weavers in India. Dekel has been selling these painted products for five years with its company Dekel Dyes.

How did she come up with natural dyes and textile dyeing? "Do not ask me how. It started with my son, who put everything in his mouth as a baby. Then it is nice if those dyes are natural. So I started dyeing cloths with beets and I am so stubborn that I am there I wanted to know everything about it. I looked on Pinterest, I ordered about 25 books and I have read everything ever written about natural dyes. "

Suzanne Dekel has been selling naturally dyed fabrics for five years with her company Dekel Dyes. (Photo: Private collection)

"I left for Israel at the age of twenty"

Dekel lives in Shoham, near the metropolis of Tel Aviv. The forest is nearby, she says, and there she can walk, get inspiration and pick leaves for the botanical prints she makes on textiles. She left for Israel twenty years ago - looking for adventure and "not bothered by any knowledge."

“I haven't lost anything by leaving the Netherlands. It is cold there and I miss the sense of community that we have in Israel. ”Suzanne Dekel, founder Dekel Dyes

"I started in Petach Tikva, in a cheap, dilapidated house with my then friend. We lived next to the old market where Iraqi males play the entire shesh besh (sort of backgammon, ed.). I was twenty, I wanted to do something crazy. In retrospect I do not understand that I stayed there for so long. We lived in an old house, in a slum. Once I got divorced, life in Israel really became fun. "

Dyeing started as a hobby, she says. "We have four children, my daughter was in the hospital for a long time and I also had a newborn baby. I worked in a high-tech company, but it became too much for me. Then I quit my job and I am between organizing and the doctor's appointments continued to fröbelen. That grew into my company. I now live on the proceeds from the textile, from bags of dyes and from the workshops that I give. "

Started at the right time

Her clientele has a clear framework, says Dekel: ladies between forty and seventy who have an affinity with handicrafts, and who also spin, weave, knit or color textile. "I started at exactly the right time, namely when there was increasing interest in the environment and natural products."

“I had not seen myself doing it in the Netherlands. All those rules: I just wouldn't feel like it. ”Suzanne Dekel, founder Dekel Dyes

So she makes sure she works with materials from small, sustainable suppliers, uses as little water as possible and producers are paid and treated fairly - including silkworms.

Israel has one disadvantage: renting a studio or workspace is priceless, so she dyes her textiles at home and hangs the canvases in the attic. "The growth of my company is organic. If it no longer fits, then I have to look for a different solution. Soon I will take a part-timer and I have my children regularly stick the labels. Recently I bought a label maker. Strange is that; I invest $ 2,000 (1,816 euros) in dyes, but the 300 shekel (78 euros) for a label maker, that's difficult for me. "

"I wouldn't do it in the Netherlands"

Doing business in Israel is simple, says Dekel. "I hadn't seen myself doing it in the Netherlands. All those rules: I just wouldn't feel like it. But I just started here, and I gradually come across the rules and difficulties. In Israel you register as a freelancer" there and then you can also sell right away. Although I have no idea how that is arranged in the Netherlands. "

Another big business advantage in Israel: the postal rates are fantastic. "It costs someone in America just as much to order a scarf from Israel as it does in America itself. Shipping in the Netherlands is three times as expensive." That is due to the setting of postal rates, says Dekel: the state of Israel did not exist at that time, and the economic growth of the area had not seen the postal services arrive in 1900. The rates have never been adjusted, the entrepreneur says, just like in China .

Back to the Netherlands is not attractive for the company, but also not for Dekel itself. "I have lost nothing by leaving the Netherlands. It is cold there and I miss the sense of community that we have in Israel. Our oldest children speak Dutch, but the youngest does not. Maybe we will ever go to southern France, that fits better with us. "