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In cooperation with Losch Luxembourg, we regularly present women from Luxembourg who have had a very special impact on society through their professional careers or simply through their personal stories.
As unpredictable as the April weather can be, Yolande Koster-Kaiser and her son are lucky in that respect. It’s still quite cool, but a bright blue sky dotted with fluffy cumulus clouds is a real invitation to go for a drive. In a brand-new Skoda Octavia PHEV, the two adventure-seekers head north. And they do so with a clear conscience, because it is the most environmentally friendly compact car model ever. What’s more, the new sleek design with its clean, timeless lines is a feast for the eyes and offers remarkable aerodynamics.
On the A7 motorway, one tunnel follows the next. At this point, Yolande remembers a race she took part in on the occasion of the opening of this section of the Nordstrooss. It was exhausting, but running is one of her passions. Sport and exercise are an important part of her life. In her youth, she played basketball until her knees would no longer cooperate. By chance, she then discovered water polo where she would meet her future husband in a team that, apart from her, consisted only of men.
Creative designer and mother
When Yolande became a mother, it was clear to her that she wanted to take the upbringing of her children into her own hands and decided, together with her husband, to give up her permanent job as a graphic designer at an advertising agency. However, not working at all was not an alternative for the creative mind and so the path of self-employment was an obvious one. In 2007, after ten years of being employed as a graphic designer, Yolande set up her own business. A decision she has never regretted. Her company is doing very well and she has even taken on an employee with whom she exchanges ideas and carries out projects in a coworking space.
To all those who are thinking about becoming self-employed, in whatever field, but are still plagued by insecurity, Yolande would like to say that you just have to have the courage. If you know what makes you happy, then you should pursue this dream. Of course, there are hurdles to overcome and, especially in the beginning, you have to be willing to work hard to reach your goal. But in the end, it is absolutely worth the effort, she says.
Yolande Koster-Kaiser, the self-employed graphic designer at work
For Yolande’s 10-year-old son Joris, the Octavia is a veritable place of discovery. Small, useful gadgets are hidden everywhere. For example, a small multifunctional brush can be pulled out of a small compartment in the driver’s door, and a neon green scraper for icier days is hidden in the fuel filler cap. Now in its fourth generation, this Octavia is equipped with a particularly environmentally friendly drive engine that consumes less fuel and therefore emits less CO2. What’s more, 85 percent of the materials the car is made of are recyclable. For Skoda, it is a matter of heart to do everything possible to make the production and operation of its cars as sustainable as possible.
Environmental protection and human rights
Yolande supports this future-oriented attitude of the Skoda brand with conviction. She is a member of a 30-member citizens’ committee set up by the Ministry of Energy to promote Luxembourg’s climate-neutral future as part of Luxembourg in Transition 2050.
“One should always be grateful and frugal instead of getting upset over every unimportant little thing.”
However, she is not only involved in climate issues. For a long time, she was a volunteer at Catch a Smile to help refugees on the borders of Europe. This experience has strengthened her and taught her a lot. In the beginning, Yolande went to places where her help was needed almost every three months. On these trips, she also experienced many moments that left a terrible mark on her, but all in all, she took something positive from every experience. All the people she met during her volunteer work enriched her life, as she points out.
Since her mission, she looks at some things differently. For example, after witnessing thousands of people queuing for food in several places, she no longer complains when she has to queue at the checkout in the supermarket. She therefore finds it particularly unfortunate that Luxembourgers like to complain so much and so often. One should always be grateful and frugal instead of getting upset over every unimportant little thing – that’s her motto.
It became clear very early on in her life that the 43-year-old would eventually work in the creative field. Even as a child, she was very creative, always painting and doing handicrafts. In high school, she actually wanted to learn more about interior design, but this class was no longer offered at the Luxembourg Lycée des Arts et Métiers. She decided to pursue Design Graphique, a field in which she still works today and fills her with joy. She is convinced that her open, courteous manner is undoubtedly an advantage in her profession. Anyone who exchanges a few words with the bright Cents inhabitant realises with how much passion and enthusiasm she stands behind her work.
When we arrive in Eschweiler near Wiltz, we can hardly keep Yolande’s son Joris in his seat. The destination of the excursion is the Migo Mini Golf and Spill-Park. It’s been a long time since he and his mother last played mini-golf. Accordingly, he can hardly wait to tackle the first course of the indoor park.
Like his mother, Joris is a very confident and direct, but polite person. He likes to spend time outside in nature with friends and is also a passionate member of the scouts. So, he takes on the challenge of retrieving the mini-golf ball from the small stream after it has unintentionally flown into it. And without getting his feet wet. The afternoon flies by and after a delicious ice cream in front of the mini-golf hall, the family gets back into the Skoda and decides to go on a little discovery tour of the charming little town of Wiltz.
The hybrid Octavia drives off almost silently, something that’s unusual for someone who has never driven a hybrid model before. For Yolande, this newfound quietness and the very pleasant driving experience of the Skoda is a positive surprise. She herself has been driving a Volkswagen for years now and is grateful to Garage Losch in Howald that she can test the qualities of the VW subsidiary Skoda. And the conclusion is very positive. Both in terms of the excellent workmanship of the interior as well as the driving behaviour and acceleration, one can only recommend the Skoda.
Yolande cannot pinpoint the source of her inspiration. As a designer, and a very curious one, she draws inspiration from everywhere. Her creative eye looks closely at everything around her, whether she is walking in nature or interacting with other people. A professional disease, as she calls it herself. She would describe herself as a “Kniwwelkett”. She is not someone who lies around in front of the TV in the evening watching series to switch off, but always has to have something to do. She has dinner with her family almost every evening, then she rehearses the trumpet with her son, goes for a walk or occasionally organises a cinema evening with the children.
Two years ago, Yolande decided to take on a new challenge in addition to her everyday tasks. As a graphic designer, you generally spend a lot of time in front of the computer and Yolande longed to work more with her hands again and to be able to let her creativity run free without a screen. That’s how she discovered graphic recording. This is a technique with which spoken text can be visually represented. Wherever the client needs it, she records the spoken text, filters it, writes down the summarised text and supplements it with self-drawn pictures to visualise the content and make it comprehensible.
Heading back home
A last short stop at Wiltz Castle comes in handy to recharge their batteries before heading back home. As Yolande stands there in front of the Skoda, she crosses her arms and notices how tastefully and attractively the car is actually designed. As a trained graphic designer, she has a particularly keen eye for design and so she admires the slightly curved lines on the bonnet and rear-view mirrors, which give the car an edgier, quirky look. Yolande is particularly taken with the huge head-up display inside the car. The navigation system and all the other functions of the car are very easy to operate with a straightforward, clear design.
The day is drawing to a close and the family is on its way back home. In the back seat, son Joris pulls out his iPad to pass the long drive with a few video games. There are two USB-C ports in the central console between the driver’s and passenger’s seats, where you can easily plug in your tablet or smartphone to recharge it.
Meanwhile, Yolande enjoys the drive through the wild, natural landscape of the Ösling. On the winding roads of the region, the Skoda Octavia is heavenly pleasant and dynamic to drive. Back at Garage Losch in Howald, she hands over the keys and looks back on an eventful day that she will probably remember fondly for a long time.