Leon Tanate is a Zwolle native

'Zwolle is an orderly and versatile city'

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"Zwolle is the city where my ideas come up. And before you know it, you're having a cup of coffee with someone to turn those ideas into plans," says Leon Tanate, as he overlooks the Nieuwe Markt in Brasserie Jansen. "When I moved here, this was still an atmospheric square. Now to me it is the heart of the city. Just from the Nieuwe Markt you can see that Zwolle is in full development." A conversation with the creative concept developer about the city he did not know until his mbo education.

"I was born and raised in Wierden. There I was completely focused on Hengelo and Enschede. I got to know Zwolle after I chose the Landstede course in Facility Management. When I got a part-time job in the evenings at clothing store Delicious on the Melkmarkt, my life moved completely to Zwolle. I got to know many people and quickly felt at home in the city. After nine years of Delicious, I started clothing store AINZ on the Sassenstraat together with a business partner.

Clothing for Orange

At that time you could still see a clear difference between fashion in the Randstad and this region. We wanted to bring the clothing brands from the West to Zwolle and be a bit ahead. Our concept attracted, among others, players from PEC and even the Dutch national team. I came into contact with Virgil van Dijk via via and he invited me to the players' hotel of the Dutch national team. That attention in turn worked like a marketing canon, so many people came to shop in Zwolle.

Opportunities in Zwolle

Eventually the big brands themselves made contact with the Oranje players. Our function as an intermediary disappeared, also due to the rise of online shopping. At the time, that was one of the reasons we did not renew our contract with the property owner and stopped AINZ after five wonderful years. Because we received a lot of attention with our concept, more and more entrepreneurs asked if I wanted to help them with branding and marketing. So suddenly my future looked very different. It's nice to get opportunities like that in Zwolle.

Versatile and convenient

Zwolle is a city that somehow still feels like a village. I like that friendly character. What I like is that the inhabitants are very different: you have students, creatives, entrepreneurs, you name it. That makes Zwolle very versatile. The city is also very manageable. Still, I think there lies a challenge in the coming years. Zwolle wants to grow into the fourth largest economy in the Netherlands. If you want that, you have to connect the city center more with the surrounding neighborhoods. And I think there are great opportunities there.

Surprised by the city

Then I think, for example, of a large event location. A place for concerts or other large events. I think Zwolle is central enough for that: you can be in Groningen, Amsterdam and Germany in an hour. Apart from that Zwolle of course has a great offer with Hedon, De Spiegel, De Librije, de Fundatie ánd all the stores. When I invite people from the west to Zwolle, they are always pleasantly surprised by the city. Zwolle has really gotten a boost in recent years. It is just a very nice city. I wouldn't move anywhere else in the Netherlands any time soon.

Being curious

I don't really know where my ambitions lie. They change from month to month. Someone knocks on the door with a plan and then my idea generator jumps on. If I get inspired within 15 minutes, I know it's a project for me. Currently I am involved with the Stichting Gelijkspel, among other things. With this we produced, among other things, a TV series with Typhoon and Boudewijn Koops on RTV Oost and a big concert with Typhoon and Stef Bos in Almelo. We are working on super complicated themes like diversity and inclusiveness. These are big words that I think you should make small: in fact, everything is about being curious about each other. Then you discover that you complement each other precisely because you are different. With Equal Play we contribute to a Netherlands where everyone feels at home like I feel at home in Zwolle."

The Top 3 of Leon Tanate

  • The New Market is for me the center in the center. It is an attractive square with many good restaurants and pubs. I myself regularly sit with my laptop and phone at Brasserie Jansen. That's kind of my workplace in the center.
  • If I want to get out into nature or unwind, the English Work is the first thing that comes to mind. A beautiful park for walking.
  • It's the cliché image of every Zwolle resident: when I drive over the IJssel Bridge and see the Peperbus, I know I'm home.

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