KAAI x DPT met up with the last power duo Valerie Thys and Yamina Krossa behind the scene of the shoot of our KAAI x DPT necklace. They both took home the award for ‘Women in excellence’ and share more than networking and hosting skills. Their friendship all started while celebrating female empowerment. Now let's get to know these boss ladies.
Has there been a particular challenge in your lives in which you helped each other out?
V: Well, we haven’t known each other for that long actually, only two years. We met in London for the 'Win Trade Awards' - a whole week of female empowerment. We instantly connected.
Y: Valerie hosted the closing night of the award ceremony, and I was nominated for the category 'Women in Excellence'. Valerie also won this year's award for 'Women in Media'.
V: We’re from the same generation, but Yamina's children are a bit older than mine. We've both been through a few challenges, that's what made our connection so strong. We share the idea of 'no nonsense' - we just go for it. I was really inspired by Yamina's networking skills. To be honest, at heart I’m actually a very shy and introverted person. Speaking into a camera feels very natural to me, but networking and reaching out to strangers is something I find very challenging. When I had a look at Yamina and the ease and grace she portrayed, I thought to myself 'I really should try it sometimes' and after all, it didn’t turn out that bad.
Y: I had a rookie start myself. I was asked to give a Ted-talk for Benetiet. I believe I had 300x people sitting in front of me. You are expected to memorise the entire presentation by heart, but after 5 minutes into it, I completely blacked out on stage. I was brave enough to ask for help from the audience and they replied to just start over. So I did, and at the end I got a standing ovation. In my head, I had blown it big time, but at the reception people kept approaching me with tears in their eyes on how they were moved by my speech.
V: That is what I admire about Yamina and what attracts me to her. She is not afraid to approach strangers. The fact that Yamina dares to ask for help and to rely on the strength of her network is just great. She has even written a book about it. I think it is fantastic that Yamina, who has fought against breast cancer, has been able to change the law by tapping into her network. This makes me immensely in awe of her.
You have both received an award. How did that make you feel in that moment?
V: Yamina had a much more memorable moment because I awarded the trophy to her myself. *Laughing. When I handed the trophy to Yamina, I could not contain my excitement and forgot I was hosting for a moment. I realised that we Belgian women really can make a difference. Alexander De Croo, at the time not yet our prime minister, but someone who is committed to women's rights, even posted Yamina's achievement on LinkedIn. This year the ceremony was online, so I received my award from behind my desk at home. You can imagine in those circumstances, it wasn't the most spectacular experience.
Y: What I love most about those award shows is that you have to motivate your network to vote for you. Apart from voting, they also have to write down their thoughts. It became a real anthology so I saved all the messages to look back on. It's really special to read such kind messages from people you have known for a long time, but who have never voiced them personally to me. I wish people would just say such beautiful things to each other more often. Reading them made me really emotional and in that moment, I truly felt I had won, no matter what.
If you can give each other one more compliment, what would it be?
Y: What I just love about Valerie, besides all the amazing work she does, is she brings life to the party. Just by being herself and the mix of our personalities, we just click and something magical happens. To me, she brings in the sun, with all its vibrant energy and spontaneity, yet she is always honest and will give it to you straight. I just love it when you’re able to be open and sincere with each other.
V: For me, it's that Yamina will always be there for me. When I was young, I was never really good at maintaining friendships. I don't have any friends from my former student days. People often come into my life and then disappear again. That happens. But with Yamina, I really feel that she is here to stay.
KAAI x DPT is a heavenly match made in Antwerp. As both brands encourage to invest in durable pieces, they invite women to indulge in every luxury, boosting their confidence as they go. The KAAI x DPT necklace is made in sterling silver, handset with a 100% natural and ethically sourced diamond. Available at KAAI bags, as from November 8 at €85 - receive yours as a gift when pre-ordering SS22 collection, starting December 15.