Personally, I would say it’s nice to get back in touch with people you haven’t spoken to in a while. This was also the case for the interview with our next Human of IBCoM.
Sarah Leebeek is a 3rd year student now, but also was my IBCoMpanion back in the day when I was a first year. I had heard that she did not go on exchange and thought it might be interesting to hear that perspective. There’s an abundance of beautiful travel stories from exchange students, but not many anecdotes of those who stay home. So here is Sarah’s experience.
Sarah has lived her whole life in Rotterdam and has been passionate about fashion from a very young age. She explained that after the hardships of high school she did not want to dive into the pressure of fashion immediately, so she chose IBCoM instead.
“I’m obsessed with the entertainment side of media. I actually want to become a Kardashian but there’s no university to study that”. All her courses and research so far have been on fashion, entertainment and gender, and because of the the international nature of the course the diversity that comes with it has also always interested her.
The third year, she did apply for exchange and was assigned to go to Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. “The decision not to go was very hard for me, so it took a while, but I was just not the right mental state to [do it].” Instead, she chose the minor Creative Economy, which mainly concerns art, museums and their value within the economy. Sarah didn’t find this course very exciting, which was unfortunate but freed up more time to develop new projects of her own.
Sarah started a blog (themailstash.com) with 2 other IBCoM friends, before they went off on exchange, but continued blogging by herself about fashion and beauty. Next to that she also started recording a podcast called “Besties at Sarah’s”, where her friends come over to chat about dating, but also touching on more serious topics like self love and body image.
“I called it Besties at Sarah’s because one of my friends said that I always call all of my friends my best friends! But unfortunately, when I started the podcast most of my friends were on exchange, so it got hard to create an episode every week.” She had to ask her mum to come on the show; “your mum is your best friend when all your other friends aren’t there.”
Next to her blog and podcast, Sarah and one of her friends have decided to start their own company together. They both want to start a fashion brand, but were scared to do it alone. So since January first the fashion brand has been developing their business working on moodboards, business plans and company goals.
“We discovered when looking through magazines that the fashion world is designed for only a number of certain sizes and we want to make beautiful clothes that everyone can wear, no matter what size or height, but also that all people feel represented by.” Sarah and her business partner want to combine this goal with a plan to hire a wide range of models of different body types, but also ethnicities.
Ending the interview Sarah explained to me that, even though her minor wasn’t what she expected and she couldn’t go on exchange, a lot of good things came out of it nonetheless. Her main takeaway from starting all these new projects is: “It might seem hard in the beginning, but if other people can do it you can do it too.”