Dancer and former IT worker know all about the perfectly balanced tree
Don’t just say Christmas tree to the Christmas trees that Arend Vandevelde (39) and Diederick Lambert (28) from Kortenberg are working on day and night. With their company Royal Things they translate Christmas trends and wishes into a tree in which the balance is perfectly right. “If not, we’ll take half out and start over.”
For anyone who still has to decorate a Christmas tree, first this: glittering garlands do not belong in there. Arend Vandevelde also has to sigh at the word ‘angel hair’. “But everyone has to make their tree the way they like it, of course.” However, Arend knows: together with partner Diederick Lambert he founded the company Royal Things. With this they rent out personalized Christmas trees and decorate shop windows tailored to the customer. They are currently finishing their third Christmas. Outside the festive season, they focus entirely on flower arrangements, plants, pots and all kinds of things.
We’ve been working on it for a whole year. To get in the mood we listen to Christmas music on Christmas radios throughout the year – Arend
Arend is actually a professional dancer and teaches dance, Diederick worked as an IT worker. But the common possession for beautiful Christmas decoration weighed too heavily. “There wasn’t enough beautiful decoration on the market, and it always comes down to the same thing. Now we travel the world in search of luxury and the most beautiful and unique ornaments. You won’t find our Christmas trees anywhere else.”
800 to 1,600 euros
80% of Royal Things’ customer base consists of businesses, shops and restaurants. The rest are private individuals: businesspeople who are too busy to engage in a Christmas tree. Depending on the size, they charge 800 to 1,600 euros for a personalized Christmas tree – including construction, demolition and vacuuming. With the build-up alone, Arend and Diederick are five hours in the weather. “For this we listen to what the customer wants. Some are demanding: for a creation with branches at a jewely shop in Knokke we drove there up to three times, and they also went over to us. They wanted to make sure it was okay. Our creations define their image. But often we are our own biggest critics. If we feel that something is not right in the balance, we sometimes take a third to half out of the tree to start over.”
Throughout the year, the couple is busy with the best season of the year. After demolishing all the trees in January, they will go to the fairs to start the purchase for next season in February. After the delivery in the summer, the first orders and sketches follow. “Getting in the mood is not difficult: Christmas music, which you can listen to all year round on international Christmas radios, does a lot.”
Everything comes back
And make no mistake: just as in the fashion world, the trends for the coming years are already fixed. “This year the focus is on nature: owls, branches, twigs. I won’t tell you next year. (laughs) Trends are recorded by the major producers, who look at what has not been used for a number of years. Everything comes back, even at Christmas.” Arend gives some tips as a gift. “Every year people buy some new ornaments, but they have to make sure they don’t hang everything together. First, think of a theme or a color, and then select. Hang the basic balls first, then the beautiful or expensive ones on the outside. You can also hang it from a few extra branches in the tree. That creates contract. And as far as the light is concerned, try to interweave the lights nicely if all the decoration is already in it.” At the moment Royal Things is fully booked: those who want to hire them for the holidays will have to wait until next year.
By Celien Moors (HLN)