“The Entrepreneur” behind Pink Sheets

“An entrepreneur has to be creative”

She realizes that her background as a tax lawyer is not something people expect when they hear she is the owner of the high-class escort agency Pink Sheets. Lawyer and successful entrepreneur in a biased industry, multitalented Eva Swagerman enjoys the combination: “I love a good challenge.”

Grilled cheese sandwich for one euro

“The spirit of entrepreneurship has been in me since I was a little kid. Both my parents had their own company and it was quite normal to start something for yourself in my family. I had my first business in elementary school. I took my toaster with me to school and sold the grilled sandwiches during lunch break for one euro. The children had to take their own bread and I turned it in a tasty lunch. It was going perfect, until it wasn’t allowed anymore. I believe they thought it was a fire hazard. While it didn’t take very long, I learned my first lesson in entrepreneurship: your business has to be legal.”

Enjoying your work is important

“It was during my time studying Law where my spirit of entrepreneurship really was waking up. When I realized that this study was really preparing you for a life of work in paid employment, I found it quite difficult. The idea of asking your boss when to go on holidays or if you may have a lunch outside, felt oppressive. Though, what I did like, was working hard. My father told me immediately: “Then you have to start something for yourself.” That’s what I did. I started an online store that sold watches and it went very well. I could have continued working with that for years, but it didn’t give me the fulfilment I was seeking. Lesson two: I want to do something that makes me happy. That keeps me motivated.”

I like to swim against the tide

“I saw the opportunity in the escort industry. Indeed, not an obvious choice for a tax lawyer. I hear it more often; people don’t expect the background I have when I tell them about what I do. Though, it may not be such a strange career move. During my study of the Law, I came in contact with working as an escort. I enjoyed it, was good at it and I noticed how lucrative the business was. At the same time, I saw many things that could have done better. The high-class aspect shouldn’t only be in the service towards the client, but in the complete business operation. In my quest of finding out more about the business – there is no manual – I started to ask more questions. When I learned enough, I took the step and started Pink Sheets. Of course, there were doubts in my mind, because the industry is quite biased, which is something you deal with on a daily basis, but I was 100% convinced of the quality of my idea. The service, quality and mostly the safety of the business: it could and it had to be done better. I had to give it a shot.”

In this industry you have to be creative

“The difficult parts of working in this industry – and other businesses that fall into the grey area of moral boundaries, such as casinos or coffeeshops – are the practical barriers that you have to deal with. While the business is completely legal and you adhere to strict laws by the government, the private sector gives you troubles. Banks don’t give out loans or provide credit cards, insurances decline your request, because “you don’t fit their client profile”, and the local municipality is being extra difficult in issuing permits. It’s a cultural bias that makes your daily business operation quite difficult. That can be distractive and takes you away from your focus. Of course, it’s annoying, but that’s how it is. You have to find out things for yourself and be creative. If plan A does not work, there are other ways to get it done. This industry challenges your creativity. You have to be creative.”

If there is no time to explain, I say “tax lawyer”

“Naturally, people ask me what I do. My answer to that question differs. If there is not much time, I keep it at “tax lawyer”. That sounds proper and boring, and usually people don’t follow up on it. Besides, it’s true: in my own business I use a lot of my knowledge of the law. I manage my business in a way that I have attained in my study on a university-level. I have learned to think analytically, turning off my emotions and look at the facts. That’s why I do my own tax work, which saves me time and money. It’s definitely an advantage having this background. I notice it in the way I write, and how I interact with the ladies and the clients. There is no much hassle. It has made me very pragmatic. However, when there is time for an explanation, I talk about my business, entrepreneurship, and the industry in which I work. People draw wrong conclusions when I don’t explain it. The focus with other entrepreneurs is usually on the entrepreneurships itself. With a business like mine, the focus is more on the product or service, not the process. That can be a pity sometimes, but that’s also something you can’t dwell on. That’s the downside of working in an industry like this one.”

Choose your battles

“Managing your emotions and putting them in the right places, keeping the focus on what is important and be creative wherever is needed, are the three most important things in entrepreneurship for me. Never compromise on quality, not even in the beginning, when you’re still learning and trying to create your brand awareness. It’s tempting during this period to go faster with less quality, but that has negative consequences for your reputation. Stay patient and hold on to your vision. If you do that, you will succeed. I have always had that self-confidence. It’s also important to show that confidence. It comes naturally to me, but if you don’t have it, try to pretend. You have to show confidence for your clients and employees. During business operations, but also with conflicts. I don’t show my ego when it comes to unimportant things. If it’s an issue about money, I won’t bother too much. I will gladly send you your money back if you weren’t satisfied, just to end the conflict. Things that I find more important, such as the quality of our service and the safety, are things I firmly stand for. That’s what I believe in, so my attitude towards that is very simple: “take it or leave it”. Fortunately, most of the times that goes well. I like to put my energy in the things that matter. That is something I learned from my time studying as well. I can quickly shift to different things and maintain an overview. I don’t get caught up in details and keep track of the bigger picture. That gives me a peace of mind.”

The world at your feet

“I want to grow, but I am still in doubt about what direction. I am thinking of abroad. We do work internationally, but our focus is still on the Netherlands regarding our marketing and the ladies that work with us. I would like to go for a global approach. Though, I need a team and you need the right people for that. I like to keep in control, so expanding in that way will be a good lesson: how can you grow as an entrepreneur and business without losing your vision? I also would like to keep innovating, with our services, the value we offer, and in the way we present ourselves. If I can succeed in that, I would like to step a bit away from Pink Sheets and give someone else the responsibility for the day-to-day business. That would allow me to work out other business ideas I have. Having multiple business is also something I am interested in. No lack of ideas. The industries that are surrounded by a bit of tension continue to fascinate me. As long as you keep moving and challenge yourself, the world is at your feet. I am convinced of that.”



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