Thrown into the ‘Lion's Den’

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Like any entrepreneur, Lies started our with an idea. Sparked by a need in her own life, the people around her and the fashion industry.

(She noticed that there was a lack of backpacks and handbags that were efficient and beautiful.)

After studying leather processing in evening school, an idea turned into a concept, which turned into a first collection. The combination of effortless, functional and timeless designs, a sustainable production process and sustainably sourced materials came to life.

In 2018, when the handbag collection existed for barely a month, she introduced it to the public via an exhibition in a gallery. Next, she entered a TV-show on Belgium’s channel 4 called 'Leeuwenkuil' (Lion's den). A show where five top entrepreneurs are looking for the golden idea, a golden investment. These are five of the most renowned and successful businessmen in Belgium. The five top entrepreneurs are Bart Verhaeghe, Conny Vandendriessche, Luc Van Mol, Jürgen Ingels and Bart Deconinck.

The candidates, including Lies Mertens, who enter the TV-show must try to sell their ideas via a pitch. A nerve-wracking and challenging experience considering you won't only gain investors, but also valuable mentorship/ advice.

Lies ended up winning 'Leeuwenkuil' and found her first investors Conny Vandendriessche and Bart Deconinck. According to them, it was her enthusiasm and passion that ultimately convinced them to invest. Lies Mertens kick-started her two-year-plan and because of the investment she was able to immediately open a pop-up store in the centre of Antwerp.

Leeuwenkuil (VIER) - Lies Mertens from Pieter Vanbrabant on Vimeo.

Ready to be swoon over by her first collection? Below you can the first handbags Lies designed: