Hello, my name is Yvonne Kusters, I am married to Steven and together we have a wonderful daughter Faye, 10 years old. Eight years ago we moved from the Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur. We really enjoy living in the tropics. Can you believe it? Every morning the sun is shining, how lovely is that?
Six years ago, together with Brigitte Tops, we started the company Beautiful Bag. Colorful personalized bags, we started a website with 2 designs. Today we offer a variety of 20 different kinds of products.
Beautiful bag is an exclusive, trendy and international lifestyle product that completely fulfills today’s desire for individual accessories that make a personal statement. Mischievous eyes, a shining smile; these are the candid moments that make a gorgeous subjects to place on an item from Beautiful Bag.
Besides the personalized collection, we are very interested in B2B. This year we have been selling a collection of bags with colorfull flowers, which are selling in Holland’s famous flower park, De Keukenhof and currently at Schiphol Airport. For the other half of the year we will be selling at…still a little surprise…but very magical…
Since 2010 we introduced a new collection ‘keep the memories alive’. The collection includes: tablecloth, table runners, placemats, wall frames full with photos of Malaysia. Mainly for expats who are leaving, these products are very popular as farewell gifts. Soon we will expand this to other countries.
Besides my work I love to travel which suits my passion for photography. Kuala Lumpur is an excellent base to travel from in Asia. China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia and India all great countries to explore.
What kind of house do you live in - are you and the kids happy here, or is there anything you find lacking, or would like to change?
We live in a landed house located on a hilly golf course, 10 km outside Kuala Lumpur. It’s a wonderful green tropical place to raise our daughter. There are cycle paths all over the golf course, a big pool and best of all, many children for her to play with.
What is it you like best about living here?
We really love the outdoor living. We don’t even have a dining table inside. The last eight years we’ve eating on our table outside, at the terrace.
Do you like to spend time decorating your home, and your child's room?
Yes, you can say that. I’ve done a lot of styling in my previous job and now and then I love it to turn the house up side down. Always gets inspired when traveling in Asia and visiting local markets, temples etc. but also when reading Bloesem Blog.
Do you keep your child’s play area separate, or do you believe they should have a space in every part of the house?
We love to have Faye around, don’t mind if it gets messy. At the moment she is really into cooking, making a big mess in the kitchen, but always ending up with something new.
Where do you look for interior inspiration, favorite magazines, websites, or blogs?
What places in your new neighborhood do you like to go shopping at?
I like to go to the night market in Sungai Buloh on a Friday afternoon, lots of tropical fruit en veggies all very fresh, colorful and extremely friendly people.
Also SSF is one of my favorite shops, fabrics like organza in many wonderful colors, ribbons with prints, plain in different sizes and lots of nice vague tropical flowers.
If you are living in a foreign country, how do you find it? How do you meet new people, make new friends? What is it that you miss most about 'home'?
We have made many friends during the 8 years we are living in Malaysia, lots of them moved forward to other countries after a couple of years. Some friends we are still in contact with, they come back to Malaysia for holiday or we meet them during our summer break in Holland. Sometimes we visit them in their new country to see how they live, spent quality time with each other and build new memories together. What I miss about home is family and friends.
How has your child adapted to the language, food, and cultural differences?
Our daughter Faye was 2 years old, when we moved to KL, she is 10 years now. For her Kuala Lumpur is her home town, she speaks fluent English, but find it difficult to keep up with Dutch. She often mixes them up. She loves to eat Roti canai (as all the children do here), but is not the creasy about spicy food. Rice she loves to eat with her hands, hard to get rid of that (Asian influence)
Going to an International school, means contact with children with different cultural backgrounds and celebrating all the local festivals like the Indian Deepavali, Chinese New Year, Malay Hari Raya, for each festivity she dresses up to school in the traditional costume.
What's it like to raise a child in your town?
KL is a lovely town to raise a child, because of the nice weather, she can always play outdoor on bare feet and never needs to wear a coat. What’s not great is that the school is far away, she needs to go by school bus which means leaving in the morning at 6.40 am.
The perfect day for us are the Sunday’s, having lunch together and spending a whole afternoon at the pool and reading a book while Faye is playing with her friends. Coming home cooking a meal together, and watching a movie with the 3 of us. Sunday is family day.
What is a normal day with your child? What do you do on the weekends?
Wake up at 6.10 am, breakfast, and off to the school bus. Faye comes home between 3 and 4 pm. I always try to be home when she is comes back, we then drink a cup of tea, eat some fruit and then it’s time for homework. Hmm.. not our favorite subject in the house…when she finishes her homework, she runs outside to her friends to play. Around 6.30 we have dinner and often after dinner she play’s outside as well. On Saturday morning we bring Faye to Rugby, often she has parties in the afternoon. Sunday we take it easy.
The other day she wrote me a letter because I was not feeling well, it started off with ‘because you are the first mum I have’ huh??
Are you a crafter or DIY person?
DIY suits me better. Although I have a wonderful back up, my colleague Brigitte in Holland, who loves to comment on my designs of necklaces and photo-editing. Designs for the beautiful bags we do together. Often I suggest the color combination and she prepares the final design before sending it to the factory.
Any decoration ideas on how to hang, keep or use them as presents?
As possible scan it, my experience to hang it, is that it gets dirty and at the end you need to throw it away. Our bathroom downstairs if full with drawing from kids, but all laminated.
How do you like to celebrate birthdays and other special days in your house?
I like it the ‘old fashion Dutch way’. Organizing lots of funny games, or treasure hunts instead of going to the cinema etc. Kids love it as well as it’s quite unusual for them here in KL. Birthday cake often prepared by myself.
Does your child have friends over often? If yes, what activities do they do?
Yes, the gate is always open and kids walk in and out. Often she brings friends over on a Friday afternoon who stay for a sleep over. They all love to play outdoors, or are off to the swimming pool within the compound.
What kind of sports does your child like to do, and are you very involved?
Faye likes to do touch rugby on Saturday mornings together with lots of her friends. Now and then she is participates at tournaments in Singapore. We'll join, and make a nice family weekend out of it.
As I am not that sporty myself, I am not a mum who loves to shout next to the field on a Saturday morning, rather prefer to drink a nice cup of coffee somewhere (I do feel a little bit guilty though).
Are there musical instruments in your house?
We love to listen to music as Steven my husband is a big collector, it’s all digital. Faye is considering to start with guitar or/and singing lessons. She started with piano when she was 5 years old, but somehow it didn’t work out. Probably she was too young and not interested in it at the time.
Does your child read books online? Do they go to the library?
Faye is doing part of her homework online, although she is not reading books online. At school there is a big library, she brings new books home every week. But with her daily homework, play dates, and activities she does not spend that much time reading.
What are nice activities you can do with children in your area, and what could you recommend when people are visiting?
Sunway Lagoon, Water Park, jungle tracks, skytrex-adventure.com, science museum, China town, KLCC park, Little India. For the little ones there are many out en indoor play- entertainment. Indian lunch and Seafood restaurants
Are you a ‘cook’ or ‘food lover’ or both?
I love to cook and to try new recipes. It’s definitely not one of my talents, and often things go wrong, but at the end I always try to make it look nice. That helps a lot. I love to organize dinner parties and bbq's, always making an effort to decorate the table in specific colors, or theme.
Do you cook together with your children? Does Dad cook?
Faye our daughter, and my husband love to cook as well. Regular on Sunday afternoon, we start cooking with the three of us. Preparing fresh pasta, risotto, fish on the BBQ nicely marinated. It all goes together with a good glass of wine, and a lot of chatting what the next week will bring for us.
Kuala Lumpur is just a perfect base to start your journey in Asia. A missed chance if you don’t take that opportunity. We have been to China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and India, and a lot in Malaysia as well off course. Faye is very used to traveling on a budget (what we prefer) carrying her own backpack, and playing with the local kids.
The first couple of days we try, but it never seems to work out. But she has her own camera which is nice to see at the end, what she has captured.
Every year I design a digital photo book for her, it’s always ‘open’ on my computer. Every week I update it, and add the photos which have been taken that particular week, not only holiday’s, but also daily things like - playing, cooking, reading a book, dress up days at school, watching television, sport events...etc.
How do you prepare for a trip, any useful tips?
Hmm we don’t prepare that much, we are quite laid back…sometimes we do have a rough plan. But we only book the first night, and then start traveling around. We like to be flexible, stay longer if we love the place, or meet nice people to hang around with, and travel further if we want to.
What place does your child love to go?
To be honest after traveling in India, China, Myanmar etc. she often say’s she would like ‘a proper holiday’. That means not traveling around, but stay longer at one place and preferably a 5 star resort! Although she enjoyed all the trips we did with her. This year we decided to combine our home leave to Holland with two weeks Tuscany/Italy with my brother and his family.
What a colorful Mom Story, thank you Yvonne for sharing it with us!