'Zwolle is a metropolis in miniature'

Viona van Dijk and Christiàn Spaaij are Zwolle citizens

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Viona van Dijk is making an international name for herself with her jewelry and accessories line Bandhu. Partner Christiàn runs the Cultural Institute for Creativity and the Arts (previously Song & Dance) with mother Ria and recently took over yoga and pilates school Yoga You. They have been together for 22 years and spend most of their time "doing and creating. Sitting still is not part of their daily activities. Yet on two chairs in the yoga school at the Burgemeester van Roijensingel they talk about Zwolle.

Viona: "Christiàn is much more Zwolle-born than I am. After my education at the Fashion Academy (AMFI) in Amsterdam I didn't expect that my future would lie in Zwolle. For a job you had to be in the west or abroad, I thought. Eventually I came back because I started working for a renowned bag company in Tynaarlo where I designed about twelve collections a year for several brands. Because I slowly missed the creativity there, I started working for myself one day a week. From that, Bandhu was born."

Christiàn: "I discovered that I mainly have to be far away in order not to miss Zwolle. Because I swam at a fairly high level, I was able to train in the United States after high school. That went well. Then I ended up at PSV in Eindhoven. That was a real drama. I was constantly longing for Zwolle. This is my city and I won't be leaving it any time soon. My family's roots are here, I love going to PEC with my friends, I do a lot of voluntary work there and I give swimming lessons at Swol. The great thing is that I do that with the former swimmers who formed the selection twenty years ago. That also gives me the Zwolle feeling."

Viona: "When the company in Tynaarlo stopped because of the economic crisis, I was suddenly at home in Zwolle all day. At first it felt like I had fallen into a deep hole. Especially since I had lived in Zwolle before, but was almost always abroad for work. I had the feeling that I had to be somewhere else for inspiration. The fashion world isn't here either', I thought. Nonsense of course. Zwolle has a very good atmosphere that inspires me. The down-to-earthness of Zwolle suits me. That's also why Bandhu was able to grow into a jewelry line with international success. The last few years I've seen how beautiful the city really is. Girlfriends from Amsterdam are always impressed by Zwolle. It's strange that you didn't see that before."

Christiàn: "Despite the fact that we both had a great childhood, Zwolle was then a somewhat sleepy provincial town. Huge steps have been taken. Zwolle is a world city in miniature. Grote Kerk, Fundatie, Waanders, the Thorbeckegracht...these are great locations, which we Zwollen people almost take for granted. They are taken for granted for us. Despite the beautiful developments, Zwolle must continue to grow. If you want to be a city of culture, you have to give talented people opportunities and keep challenging them."

Viona: "I think the area around De Peperbus is a place with potential in that respect. Zwolle has so many hotspots, but that location lags behind a bit. A shame. I envision a vibrant district full of ceramics, fashion, painters and creative or artistic shops. A bit like Mont Martre in Paris. Then you have next to the Museum Quarter another beautiful city district."

Christiàn: "Eventually that kind of development will come about in Zwolle. There is always a group that wants to make something beautiful together. Doing nothing is not an option. You make a few phone calls and before you know it you have a group of people together. They have no direct interest in the topic you are calling about, but they just want to work for the city. I think that's typical of Zwolle."

Viona: "In my profession, it is perhaps ten times more convenient to live in Amsterdam, but in Zwolle you can also achieve what you want. I want to be an example for ambitious girls who, like me, think they have to be in the Randstad. If creative young people feel that their future can also lie in Zwolle, the city will become even more enjoyable for residents and visitors."

Christiàn: "I myself also like to add something new to the city. This is how the desire arose to build a community with Yoga You where a cup of tea and a chat are on the menu around the lessons. Is that typically Zwolle? It is in Zwolle style in any case. Many people think that Yoga You is Viona's company, but it really is my company with a shared vision. Although I must say that I owe a lot to Viona's network. In that respect, she is perhaps more Zwolse than she thinks."

The Top 3 of Viona and Christian

  • Christiàn: "Odeon exists for over 180 years. As a family, we have been on stage or producing shows every year for the last eighty years. The Mirror is the theater that a big city still has, but because of our history, the feeling and character for me are in Odeon."
  • Viona: "I love coming to the Kas van Kaat. That's an organic nursery and bakery where you can have a nice lunch or picnic. It's in a special place in the industrial area where you're still surrounded by greenery."
  • Christiàn: "The Open Air Swimming Pool is a beautiful pool, although we go there far too little. We do have a subscription and then you automatically become a volunteer. Then I can't resist being the trainer on the sly. Madam, if you move like this, you will go much faster...'.

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