INSPIRED BY | Mother and Entrepreneur Sharon

Step inside the inspiring life of Sharon van Gastel, a mother and entrepreneur who makes her mark in the vibrant heart of Gouda. With two daughters and the city centre as her backdrop, she manages no less than nine hospitality establishments, ranging from the cosy “Barretje Vidocq” to the refined Michelin-starred restaurant Lizz. Discover how Sharon intertwines her busy life as an entrepreneur with her role as a mother, enriching both worlds with her unique vision.  

The journey to entrepreneurship 

"I may have taken a long and winding road to get where I am today," shares Sharon, reflecting on her entrepreneurial journey. Her dream of running a hotel and being involved in the travel and tourism sector led her to France, where she attended hotel school. "I never really knew which direction to choose." Her first steps into entrepreneurship began with a high tea café in 2010, which quickly evolved into organising weddings and events. Together with her husband, she then opened restaurants.  

One day, as they passed by the property of her current boutique hotel, Het Weeshuis (next to her daughters' daycare), she dreamed of turning it into a unique space. Sharon strongly believes that it all starts with planting a seed: "By simply expressing what you want and focusing on it, then letting go and leaving the rest to the universe. But do know when to act and make choices.” Eventually, a property developer approached her with a proposal to turn Het Weeshuis into the boutique hotel Sharon had dreamed of, an offer she couldn't refuse. 

"We had been working on it for three years, where we left the old for what is was and truly created something new."  

It's all about the details 

With a team of 250 employees, of which women are in the majority, Sharon embraces the power of femininity in her business concepts. This is evident in "the powder room," an exclusive space in her boutique hotel Het Weeshuis, where women gather to recharge. Sharon feels inspired by women like Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn, because of their creativity and artistry. For her, these icons illustrate the ultimate example of femininity 

She considers herself to be a believer in quality. "I enjoy the little things." For Sharon, it's natural to develop a hotel with good beds, cosmetics, and fabrics. "I believe we can set ourselves apart by focusing on the details," Sharon says. In fact, she travels a lot to get inspiration and to indulge her senses at other places. From hotels to museums, all with the aim of offering her guests the perfect experience. 

"The eye of a woman sees the details: when a man thinks 'It’s so cosy in here,' a woman can explain exactly why it is cosy." 

The bond between mother and daughters  

With a family of four, Sharon cherishes the close bond with her daughters, Olivia (18) and Lizzy (16). As a driven entrepreneur, she shares her passion for her businesses with her children, who are actively involved in their own ways. "They both work in our businesses, Olivia is very ambitious and works in the Michelin-starred restaurant, and Lizzy is very adventurous and works in the Lichtfabriek, a restaurant of ours where many events are hosted." 

While Sharon encourages her daughters' independence, she has always played a supportive role, guiding them when necessary. Her upbringing is based on providing freedom with a firm hand, allowing Olivia and Lizzy to find their own paths. At the end of the day, they always gather at the kitchen table; the place where they openly share everything. 

Sharon believes in the importance of disappointments as learning experiences. Therefore, she encourages her daughters to stay true to themselves and follow their hearts when making decisions. Through her entrepreneurial experiences, Sharon understands the essence of taking gradual steps. She therefore teaches her daughters to understand not only the value of their pursuit, but also the significance of perseverance and self-discovery. 

"I may not always be the easiest mother, but I am a mother who gives my daughters a lot of freedom. At the same time, I’m always in the background, watching what they do."