Startup Scene

Nothing can be more frustrating than being professionally qualified and staying at home. Many trailing spouses who’ve moved along with their husbands to Switzerland find themselves in this dilemma -Spending long hours on the internet looking for a job, or going through job agencies and trainings to find a good work profile.
While some women after years of trying for jobs, just gave up, there were others who thought out of the box! Here are a few business ideas by women expats. For some the ideas were born out of the state of being unemployed and many other women  who moved to Switzerland with or for their partners saw the country as an ideal place to give their dream business idea a try.

Meet the newest make-up artist in town

Claudia van Zanten, 37, is a journalist and press spokesperson from the Netherlands. Here’s how and why she chose to become a makeup artist as well.
Claudia started her career as an online journalist at Elsevier (Netherlands’ biggest weekly magazine), became the news coordinator of Elsevier’s online editorial office, and then switched to competitor HP/De Tijd to work as a political reporter. After that, she became a press spokesperson for the Amsterdam Police Department. In 2011, she succesfully launched herself as an independent (freelance) journalist, (online) copywriter and PR/media relations manager, and worked for various clients in the Netherlands.
Claudia moved to Switzerland along with her partner early 2013, where she continued with a few of her freelance assignments, and also became the Switzerland correspondent for a Dutch news agency. Since Switzerland isn’t as “newsworthy” for international media, like, for instance, Syria or the USA, and her commercial Dutch clients mostly wanted her at their location in the Netherlands, after a while she realized it wouldn’t be that easy to continue working like she did in the Netherlands. Since she is not a native German speaker, it’s impossible to work for Swiss newspapers and since she is not a native English speaker (although her English is at native level), it’s also hard to find a job in PR and communications here in Switzerland.

@© 2016 Ruxi Balea

Career Change

This got Claudia thinking. “What would I also really love to do, without being limited by language and country? Since I always loved make-up (the products, experimenting on myself and friends, reading about the newest trends, etc.), the choice was made quite fast: I will also become a make-up artist,” she says. Claudia now holds a “Professional Make-up Artist” Diploma from the “Makeup Schule Zürich”.
Claudia is still working as a freelance journalist, but now also as a professional make-up artist. She specializes in make-up for photo shoots and videos – commercial, bridal, family and business. She worked for clients as Mom in Balance Switzerland, Polyball, ThomsonReuters and at the World Economic Forum 2016 in Davos, to name a few. Besides, Claudia has also started with Shellac manicures. She is now an officially certified CND(Creative Nail Design) Master Painter. You can know more about her new business here

Miso cute cooking course

Teaching kids to enjoy their food can be quite a challenge.
Dana took up that challenge after her move to Switzerland. She innovates, creates and teaches kids of all ages about healthy eating.

Here’s her story

Dana Levy Hoffmann, 35, born and raised in Israel and in the US. She moved to Switzerland in 2005 to Interlaken where her husband was raised. She pursued her career there as a graphics designer and a photographer. Soon after her move to Zurich, she had her boys who are 15 months apart. This meant that she was a stay at home mom at least a few more years before she started applying for jobs. It also hit her around this time that it would be impossible for her to work with two small kids which meant no money to add to the family income.

Career Change

“I always wanted to run my own business, and was always dealing/working with kids or food or education, but never combined the three that is education, psychology and focusing on kids with learning disabilities” she says. After having her boys, she realized how important it is to eat and feed them healthy food. Growing up with ADD (Attention deficiency disorder) herself, she wanted them to avoid having to deal with it as well. Soon enough she realized learned that sugar and nutrition in general, plays a big part there. As she began observing changes in their lives, she wanted to share her knowledge with other parents and children. Dana’s business Miso cute cooking course started off as kids cooking courses, focusing on healthy cooking healthy eating. Soon she was asked to run adult workshops and birthdays. And that’s how she took off and there’s been no looking back. You can know more about Dana and her business here.


Story crafting with Lemady Rochard

Rochard was always into arts and crafts. But it was only after her move to Switzerland, she began realizing her creative dream and set up her business- Storycraft! Here’s her story
Lemady, 33, is originally from Derbyshire, England. Although her educational background was Drama, theatre and Culture studies, like many she struggled to enter a creative career after university in England. She worked as an administrator working in the higher education management.  Though it was a good job, she was frustrated on the creative front. After the birth of her two kids Lemady got back to writing and illustrating again. And the move to Switzerland helped her pursue her creative dreams. She did look for higher education management jobs, but all required her to be proficient in German.

Career Change

Once her kids were a little older and she settled here, Lemady began by selling paintings and prints on Etsy and also helped a local playgroup in her area to do story time, craft activities and singing. While she worked with kids she realized that kids require more time and materials than what the playgroup allowed. It was around this time that the idea of story craft that had been growing for a while really took shape. Her experience in management job came handy while she set up her business here.  Lemady now runs story craft classes for kids of different age groups. Storycraft sessions explore themed arts in a unique way incorporating story-telling, drama, craft and music. The idea is to let the little hands explore using different media such as paint, pastels, collage and clay. In their creative projects children are encouraged to seek inspiration from the stories and draw on their imagination which also results in some interesting and unexpected creations. Storycraft sessions are offered at Mal Raum, Bahnhofstrasse 3, Ruschlikon 8803 You can read more about her business here. The other ongoing dream is obviously to write (and illustrate) that book!


Foundations for learning

For Sylvia Leck, Switzerland opened up opportunities to continue work in her field.
Sylvia Leck, 60 is from England. She is a learning support teacher and has worked with children with learning difficuties for over 30 years. Sylvia worked in Portugal, Mexico, Singapore, and Venezuela before moving to Switzerland. Sylvia continued to work as a learning support teacher and working on projects with international schools in Switzerland.

A new beginning

It was after the demise of her husband in 2008 that Sylvia decided to start a foundation in his memory, dedicated to helping children with learning difficulties. The learning extended to parents and teachers too. Foundations for Learning opened its doors in January 2010 with her colleague Paul Decker a clinical psychologist offering educational and psychological support.  As of July 2015, there are over 25 practitioners working with the foundation offering learning, psychological support, educational assessments and training courses for teachers in English. Sylvia’s foundation is in Schwäntenmos 4, 8126 Zumikon. Sylvia started foundations for learning along with her colleague  Paul Decker a clinical psychologist offering educational and psychological support.  FFL has over 25 practitioners working with the foundation offering learning, psychological support, educational assessments and training courses for teachers in English. Sylvia has worked as a learning support teacher and on many projects with many international schools in Switzerland. It is with this network and years of experience in the field both in Switzerland and globally that she finds specialists to work with her.   You can know more about Sylvia’s foundation here


The business of cakes

Reka Samynathan realized her baking skills when she moved to Switzerland. She’s been baking cakes for family and friends since 2011 “I aspire to be an owner of my own baking concern.” she says.  Here’s her story.
Reka, 33 is from India. Growing up, Reka was always very creative and excelled in fine arts.  But her parents insisted that she have a proper qualified academic education and then pursue her hobby interests. So after a degree in commerce and then an MBA later, Reka followed her dreams and studied Fashion designing. She was offered a job in the same institute, but with marriage on the cards, Reka put aside her dream job for a while.
Soon after marriage, she moved to Zurich with her husband. Settling in a new country, Reka took to being a home maker, she also began reviving her hobbies while at home. She spent her time crocheting, painting and illustrating and later became a full time mom of her two little girls.

The change

While experimenting with new crafts Reka tried her hand at miniatures and quite enjoyed it. With kids around her, she realized it would be fun to try her hand at baking. Once she got her basic baking skills right, she moved on to trying themed cakes for children. Initially testing various themes at home, she then began taking orders for friends in Zurich for themed birthday cakes around kids’ characters like Peppa pig, Mickey mouse, Barbie, Princesses and many other such themed cakes. She enjoys making handmade toppers for her cakes. Reka’s baking skills evolved in her time spent in Switzerland. Reka is looking forward to having her own cake shop soon! As of now she is putting her skills to test, by baking cakes for all occasions for her friends and contacts in Zurich.  You can browse through her themed cakes here


Themed Events

Tala von Daniken was always an event organizer.  She founded her company Perfect Packages in 2010. She designs personalized party stationery and styles themed events. Here’s her story.
Tala von Daniken 32, is a British/Swiss national, who grew up in Brighton, England, and moved to Zurich in 2001. Tala has worked in event management positions since she was 18, for organizations such as Ministry of Sound, Elan/Manpower, International Radio Festival, Credit Suisse and the Emmy International Television Academy. Tala graduated from The School of Growing Up with specializing in creative dressing, and a flair for color coordination, accessorizing and designing. She also holds a Masters degree in Event management.  Additionally, she also studied makeup at The London School of Beauty & Makeup, further expanding her expertise.

Becoming an entrepreneur

Tala noticed an ever increasing number of Expats coming to live in Switzerland and realized that there was an obvious gap in the market for English-speaking lifestyle consulting and bespoke design services. With her background in Event management, Tala began organizing English social events as a hobby. Soon the word got around of her fun packed parties and her hobby soon turned into a full-fledged company. Her stationery designs include invitations, cupcake toppers, bottle wrappers, tent food labels, mini posters, Thank You labels, banners, candy bag toppers, chocolate bar wrappers and much more. You can have a look at her website for more.

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