The story behind the blue dress

Maybe you know, maybe you don’t. But me wearing a blue dress when I perform and speak, has a start. I call it the birth of my personal brand. Let me share the story with you.

It was Sunday March 29th 2015. I was invited to my first Professional Speaker Association event, not only to learn, but also to speak. Imagine this: I had just quit my job 3 months earlier, was in the early days of my speaking career and the second bunch of people I spoke for, were all speakers. I was so terrified and excited at the same time, and worked vigorously to create a brilliant story. Where CX meets a speaker’s business. I did try outs, worked on my slides, and worked on my body, since I wanted to look my best. Ever.

Besides yoga I ran twice a week (I jogged to be honest). Two days before D-day, when I was running in the city of Utrecht, I sprained my calf. It hurt like crazy and the most awful part was, that I couldn’t walk. Should I cancel my PSA event? From a body’s point of view: yes. I couldn’t walk and had to keep my leg up, to give it rest. But there was no issue with my mouth and voice, so I decided to go anyway. And with crutches, I could make my way around the event.

There was just one issue. I had planned to wear a red dress, but I had blue crutches and that was not a beautiful match. So, I dug deep in my closet and found the perfect dress. A dress that matched my crutches. A blue dress. And I tailored my story more to the blue theme. I used the blue bear as a metaphor, the big blue bear that is an art work outside the Denver Convention Center. My metaphor for staying curious and yes, blue again. So, the day came, where I delivered my keynote speech. I was nervous, and yes it felt a little strange to not stand up and walk while speaking. I delivered my keynote on a barstool, but hey, I did it!

It went great and I got a big round of applause of all my new speaker friends. After my speech, a colleague of a speaker bureau came up to me and asked if I was interested in speaking for their agency. As the speaker in the blue dress.

That is where it all began. And since then, I almost always speak in a blue dress. As it has grown to be my personal brand. To be an authentic part of me doing what I love to do. Helping my customers to make the world more beautiful for their customers and employees. I get many questions about my blue dress thing and thought it would be handy to create a FAQ for you.

The FAQ of the blue dress

Do you have funny stories about you in your blue dress?

The best story of me and my blue dress, is one that happened at Schiphol Airport. I ordered a cappuccino when I was on my way to fly to London. The barista gave me my cappuccino and said; “that is one euro 60”. I looked up in amazement, because cappuccino’s in airports are normally triple that price. She saw my surprise and said: “Employee discount.” She thought I was an employee of KLM ?. So up to now I have saved at least three euro’s doing my blue dress thing.

How many blue dresses do you have?

It is more than four years ago and since then, my collection of blue dresses has grown. Every time I walk into a department store or boutique, my Blue-dress-radar starts immediately. I am always on the lookout for a new edition to add to my blue dress collection ?. In my closet, I have designers’ dresses, La-Dresses, a ball gown, sleeveless dresses, V-neck dresses, short and longer dresses. I just counted them for you, and I dare to share that I have 17 blue dresses in the colors cobalt/royal blue.

Do you have any other color dresses?

Yes I have other colors, but I must admit, my blue collection takes half of my closet. I treasure my royal blue ones, but I also have a collection of darker blue. And of course, other shades, some with flowers. But know that I almost never wear them when I deliver a presentation or when I teach a masterclass: those moments I’ll stick to my vivid blue ones. O well, I give you an idea what my wardrobe looks like.

Do you ever wear trousers?

Yes, I do. When I go to the gym I always wear trousers. That is twice a week. And that is enough for me… I have some jeans in my closet. But I rarely wear them. I love the simplicity of a dress. One piece, no hassle and I look feminine instantly.

Do you ever speak in another colored dress?

Especially when I speak abroad, I bring two dresses of different colors. The blue one and most often an orange or red one. The reason I do this, is because when the stage is all blue, me in my blue dress will fade away against the background. And I don’t want that. So sometimes I have to decide to let the personal brand go and choose for client delivery. A logical choice, because when you can’t see the speaker that well, I have not done a great job.

Did you ever go to Denver and see the blue bear for yourself?

Yes, I did. You have to know, that in 2015 when I started with the blue bear in my stories, I made a pledge to myself that I wanted to see that blue bear with my own eyes. In 2016 I went to a training of a speaker colleague to learn all about marketing and sales for speakers. In DENVER. Yiha! So, I got to meet the blue bear, the immense art work that is almost 13 meters high.

Do you also have a blue car, blue nails, blue everything?

No. I just wear a blue dress. That is my image, my personal brand. In my logo I have blue as a color, but that is about it. I don’t want to be a blue lady and identify with Smurfette, although I really think she is adorable. So, just a blue dress. Now you know everything about the origin of that!


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Nienke Bloem is often called the Customer Experience speaker in the blue dress. 

She’s a global CX thought leader, educator and a global keynote speaker who inspires audiences with best practices and proven methodologies. She leads a speaking practice, a CX game company and a training business; she breathes Customer Experiences and is author of two CX books.

Her two-day Customer Experience Masterclass is known as the best program to prepare for your CCXP and she is the go-to person voor CX leaders who want to advance their leadership and bring direct results from their Customer Experience transformation programs. Since 2020, she hosts a CX Leadership Masterminds program and helps leaders spice up their leadership and deliver an engaging CX Story including a solid CX Strategy. Besides, she is a modern-day pilgrim and found the parallel with leading customer centric transformations. 

With her over 20 years corporate experience, she speaks the business language. Her keynotes and education programs in Customer Experience are inspiring and hands-on. She is one of the few Recognized Training Partners of the CXPA and it is her mission to Make Customer Experience Work and help you deliver business results.