Name: Julie Vendal & Nadia Al Zagir Balling
Age: 33 (Julie) and 37 (Nadia) years old
Current occupation: Co-founders of &Drape
What did you dream about as a child?
Nadia: I daydreamed all the time and still do.
Julie: I dreamed of being a ballet dancer or star in musicals.
What key experience impacted you to move in the direction you are moving today?
Nadia: From a very young age, I was always fascinated by my Uncle Steve, who is an architect in the UK, and I was always redecorating my and my sister's childhood room and creating homemade designs with my mum. I guess many small bricks along the way build the path.
Julie: There is no single experience as such that has opened the way for the direction I have taken. Both of my parents are self-employed, and without being aware of it, it has pushed me in the direction of self-employment. My mother and grandparents worked in textiles and had their own businesses. Although it was never on the cards that I would follow in their footsteps, it has undoubtedly formed the basis for me to start &Drape with Nadia.
"[I am most proud of] To stay true to myself always and follow my intuition and heart when in doubt. The last part is what Julie and I have as the strongest common value, and I love that in her." (Nadia)
What choice you’ve made in your life are you most proud of, and why?
Nadia: To stay true to myself always and follow my intuition and heart when in doubt. The last part is what Julie and I have as the strongest common value, and I love that in her.
Julie: Jumping into life as an independent and starting &Drape is without doubt the decision, I am most proud of. I'm not brave or risk-taking by nature, but the desire to create my own dream work life was so strong that I dared to follow that desire.
What choice has been the easiest, and why?
Both: Starting &Drape together! We have never regretted or looked back, even on the hard days.
What has been the hardest choice you’ve taken, and why?
Nadia: Not to work 24/7 with &Drape and endless development wishes and long to-do lists in a start-up. Luckily, Julie reminds me to create a balanced work life and get some sleep. And the amazing team we now have means moving towards a more balanced start-up life now after four years of a lot of work 24/7.
Julie: Not to be carried away or pushed by all the possibilities and expectations – from myself and the outside world – for &Drape. In our society, we are "taught" that success looks a certain way: Fast growth, many hours worked, many employees, investors, etc. So, to hold on to why we chose to create &Drape, and what &Drape should stand for and do for us in our lives and let it remain the guiding star has been the hardest choice - and it still is every single day.
How do you find inspiration and confidence to step out of your comfort zone?
Nadia: My curious mind and the endless love and support from my husband Anders and my family. And to see others take that leap into the unknown.
Julie: I follow strong female role models who have taken the leap to remind myself that it’s possible. And then, I always listen to my gut, which tells me that the right thing is to create my own working life. This, combined with the right partner – my work-wife Nadia – who complements me insanely well, and the support I've had from the start from my boyfriend Alexander and my family, has made it possible.
What personal characteristics do people most often use to describe you?
Nadia: Very curious, openhearted, and hardworking
Julie: A planner with big P, empathic, and goal oriented.
How do you feel these unique characteristics have impacted your way in life?
Nadia: I’m always open to meeting new people, opportunities, and ideas, and I have an open view on life and the world around us. I really believe almost anything is possible if you work for it and believe enough in it.
Julie: When I set a goal for myself, I fight for it until it’s achieved.
” Trust your gut. For me, it has always proven to be the right thing to listen to. And then try to ignore the fear that is always ready to sow doubt.” (Julie)
What is your best advice to others who would like to feel more comfortable about making personal choices?
Nadia: Listen to your heart, and just do it – take a chance. You can always go back to old ways if you regret it - but trust me, you won't.
Julie: Trust your gut. For me, it has always proven to be the right thing to listen to. And then try to ignore the fear that is always ready to sow doubt.
Follow &Drape on Instagram @anddrape.