Thanks again to Phil for taking time out to answer our questions. We hope you enjoy his story and insights.
1. So Phil, what brings you to Amsterdam ?
My family and I had lived in Brooklyn, NY for 17 years. I had been a musician and my wife had been working in fashion. Her company was acquired by PVH and she was offered an opportunity to relocate to the Amsterdam office. It was a hard decision to leave, but 3 1/2 years later, we’re still here and very happy.
2. What are the main things you miss from home ?
Primarily, I miss my family and friends with certain foods coming up a close second. You can’t beat NYC pizza, or a pastrami sandwich from the 3rd Ave Deli in Manhattan.
3. What line of work were you in and what keeps you busy now ?
I had been a working musician for over 20 years. Recording, touring and playing shows was the only way of life i had known. I started out young and was fortunate enough to secure a recording contract with a record label. Through the ensuing years I formed a few other bands and continued to pursue my musical aspirations. Some of the bands I recorded with are Stanley, Katy Mae, and the High Irons.
In addition to caring for my two daughters (which is a full time job in itself) I have done some fiction writing, freelance copywriting and more recently (and more excitedly) I have started a business with 3 partners called Music Box Designs. We make high quality storage boxes for vinyl records. My love of music and all things audio makes it incredibly fun. The goal is to create the most beautiful boxes of oak and birch that compliment the importance of ones record collection. Music is precious and unlike downloads and streaming, your records are reflections of the listener, to be passed on and cherished. Your memories and personality is embedded in your collection and therefore should be treated with the dignity and aesthetic beauty it deserves.
4. How have you found doing business in the Netherlands and what are the differences from back home ?
I don’t think I would have ever started this business in the United States. There is a different attitude here in the Netherlands when it comes to business. It is less cut throat and less formal. For one, my partners and I basically just dove in head first. We didn’t mull over spreadsheets and demographics. We saw an opportunity and just decided to test the waters. Through my own record buying relationship at Concerto Records on Utrechesstraat I was able to show them the boxes we had and they, excitedly, took them that very day. We must have moved over 70 boxes with them. They were and still are extremely encouraging and they have expanded our account by buying boxes for 2 other stores they own in Groningen and Apeldorn. There is just no way that I’m walking into a music store in Manhattan and selling my boxes on a handshake.
5. How is your Dutch ?
On a scale of”embarrassing to 1″, I’d say right in the meaty middle!
6. Would you recommend living in Amsterdam to others and if so, why ?
I would highly recommend living in Amsterdam. It is a visually beautiful city, akin to living in a painting, it has everything you could ever want as far a stores, bars, restaurants, and its central location in Europe makes traveling incredibly easy. The locals and other expats I have met and become friends with are wonderful people.
7. Name us your favourite place to eat out or hang and and why do you like it do much ?
My favorite place to eat breakfast is Bakkers and Roasters. My favorite place to grab a sandwich is Cora. My favorite place to eat dinner is Vasso. For drinks, I enjoy the bar at the Pulitzer Hotel and of course, JD Williams Whiskey Bar.
8. What is you favourite Dutch food ?
Thats a trick question!
9. What next ? What are you plans to grow your activity ?
With the Music Boxes our goal is to up our profile in Europe by securing more accounts with Hi Fi stores and Record Shops. In addition we are building a dedicated Music Box website to boost our retail sales, that we hope will be global. On the product development side, we are designing larger units for storage as well as dedicated pieces to use as a console for your home audio system.
10. Lastly, what is your favourite Dutch phrase to expression ?
Essential links – The boxes can be ordered here :