Ramona Koonings in Nuance magazine
Nuance Magazine interviewed Ramona. A glossy magazine with human interest stories. In this edition, she interviewed our Ramona Koonings, and we are happy to share the result with you.
Power woman, born entrepreneur with the world's largest bridal fashion store, designer of her wedding dress collection, TV personality, and family man: Ramona Koonings is it all. Her success story is well known, and rightly so.
When she was barely 17, she and her mother Ineke took over the Koonings bridal fashion store in Deurne in Brabant. Thanks to her unbridled ambition, she grew the company into Koonings The Wedding Palace, where brides from all over Europe come for the perfect day of their lives: "Mr. and Mrs. Koonings saw my drive and my will to learn and myself to improve. They taught me everything, took me on purchasing, and involved me in human resources. Even though I was so young, when they wanted to entrust the matter to me, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Of course, under the name Koonings. It is a beautiful and royal name that fits what we stand for."
"Ever since I was little, I was often in the business. I saw Mr. and Mrs. Koonings doing business, which attracted me. That's how I slowly grew into it
It is an inspiring life story that appeals to the imagination that Ramona has told many times. She grew up in bridal fashion. Her mother worked at Koonings, and little Ramona participated in bridal fashion shows: "I was often in the business from an early age. I saw Mr. and Mrs. Koonings doing business, which attracted me. So I slowly grew into it."
However, it was not immediately apparent that she would grow into such a successful entrepreneur in primary school. Ramona had dyslexia, but little was known about that term then: "I was not very good at school because of that. Reading has always been something for me. Classmates finished a book in a day; it took me at least a week. Then I was thrilled that I had finished it, and even then, I often did not understand what I had read. (laughs) It wasn't just the dyslexia; I was always busy with many other things in my head."
The young Ramona just knew that if she could show herself and were given opportunities, she would grab them: With a total of about 11,000 square meters of space for a fantastic shopping experience and everything for an unforgettable wedding day, Koonings The Wedding Palace can now rightfully call it the largest bridal fashion store in the world.
Big, bigger, biggest
Therefore, the sensational opening in 2018 was with numerous well-known guests and pressed from home and abroad. Ramona has thought about every detail in the fairytale palace. She also designed and drew it all by herself, down to the minor information: “In my head, I knew exactly how I wanted it, and I like to draw, that used to be my best subject at school. My drawings always had to be accurate to perfection; only then was I satisfied.”
Designer of her own collection
She also expresses creativity in her Ramona Koonings Couture bridal dress collection: “When everyone has gone home in the evening, and peace has returned, I sit behind my desk designing. I have not done any training in it, but through my years of experience, I know what brides like and have a lot of knowledge of fabrics, design, and bridal couture. It's just like with my business; I learned by just doing.”
Loyal to its suppliers
Koonings, The Wedding Palace, has a vast collection of no less than 4,500 dresses in stock. Are designers now queuing up at her doorstep to work with her? Ramona laughs: "We have all the major brands in our collection, with whom we have worked for years. I'm pretty loyal, and I think that's the best thing because then you can make good agreements and be interesting to each other. It's a fairly stable world; a wedding dress is a wedding dress. However, there are trends, of course. Now these are, for example, trouser suits, dresses with a low back, and lots of shine and glitter. Nowadays, a second dress is also being selected for the evening."
A one-stop-shop-for-all shopping experience for an unforgettable wedding day
Ensuring the most beautiful day of your life, in all its subtleties, is what Ramona and her team are passionate about every day. This starts online: you can look on social media and the website, fill in your general wishes, and make an appointment. After that, the experience of your big day starts with a visit to the sensational wedding palace. You will be amazed by the glamorous surroundings, full of wedding dresses, wedding suits, fashion for bridesmaids, festive children's clothing, gala and cocktail fashion, shoes, accessories, and goodies. There is also a beauty salon and a restaurant for a delicious lunch, snack, or drink. You can even turn it into an exclusive event with your group in a private room. And Koonings has a recently added wedding car rental with a Rolls Royce. Ramona: "You can come to us for every party in your life, from christening dresses to party wear for your gold or diamond wedding."
A real family business
Koonings has a close-knit team of 80 people for all these different disciplines. Mother Ineke, Ramona's bonus father, and her sister also work there: "I like it that everyone feels at home with us. Not only the brides but also our employees. In addition, you have to have the drive to sell. We have our induction process, with coaches who train you as a new employee. Together we work seven days a week on that one goal: to give every bride the day of her life. Everything has to be correct. You fit in with us if you have that same enthusiasm and passion.
Be big by staying small.
Koonings has been working with Crowe Foederer (then called Contour) for a long time, which was also involved in the takeover by Ramona and her mother and the purchase and construction of the new buildings: "I have been working with my contact person Johan Kuipers from an early age. Together, it is always there for me. We have become a lot bigger; I have outsourced more. That is sometimes difficult, for you have to get the right people in the right places. And it should also remain simple. I want to be big by staying small and close to the people. No complicated systems; in the end, it's all about the customer coming here and being satisfied. You don't need thick books full of policy plans for that."
Is there anything Ramona can't do? She laughs: “There are 24 hours daily, and I fill them up quite a bit. I am now also the mother of a two-year-old son. Fortunately, he can be here with me all day long. My work is everything; I have the best job there.”