My story

Thom J. Défilet (ريّان)

Growing up, life wasn’t always easy…

I mean, it started quite normal though. I was raised in a small village in The Netherlands. In a ‘normal’ household with my dad, my mother and my sister.

But when I was 7 years old, things changed… My parents got divorced.

Normally your biggest struggle at 7 years old should be that your football gets stuck under the car, but for me it was different. 

Although I still have a very strong bound with my dad, I didn’t saw him a lot during my youth. Growing up, mostly in a ‘single mother household’ at a quite young age made me realise that there exists a ‘hard’ side of this world too.

A world with financial struggles, emotional struggles. 

Raised in an environment where success seemed like a distant dream, there was a period where I found myself surrounded by bad/negative influences.

As a teenager I didn’t always make the right choices. Having the wrong friends, partying and drinking at a young age, laziness, no discipline…

When looking back, my youth sometimes felt like a big search for my own identity and purpose in life.

Also at school, it was never my forte haha. I did the bare minimum to get by, more interested in hanging out with friends than hitting the books.

Gaming till late in the nights, waking up a few minutes before the bus left… My life was filled with fleeting (meaningless) pleasure.

I never told people how I really felt from the inside, but deep down, I was a big dreamer, and I knew there was more to life than the path I was on.

After getting my average college degree, at the age of 15-16, I made a decision that would change everything. Tired of the monotony of a part-time job at the local supermarket, I decided to take matters into my own hands. 

With nothing but a vision and determination, I started some little business ideas.

I tried selling watches (that I bought from China) at school, trying an own clothing brand, online freelancing. I always tried to find ways to make money (but with no real successes in the beginning haha).

It wasn’t easy. In the beginning, it was just me, hustling day in and day out, without even knowing what I was doing. But with each challenge came an opportunity to grow, to learn, and to evolve.

I’ve always been an observer of life, trying to learn from everything that passes by in life, both good and bad.

At 16 years old I started studying ‘multi-media designing’ in Groningen (NL), where I learned the basics of graphic designing. Learning how to edit video’s, design logo’s, flyers and even basic websites.

I started noticing that this was a skill that I could sell to others. 

I started very simple with helping other entrepreneurs with their ‘graphic designs & branding’. Designing logos, business cards, posters etc.

When looking back, it were really small projects I did, but getting paid $50 dollars for a logo (that I worked 3.5 hours on) was insane to me at that moment haha.

I worked at the supermarket earning $3-4/hr, and now I was close to $15/hr (!?)

A whole new world opened up for me. After a couple months I was earning +/- $1.500 every month with my freelancing business (while I was still going to school at that time).

I officially registered the business just before I turend 17 year old and named it ‘TJDesigns’.

My dad is an entrepreneur as well, I learned a lot from him in my earlier years (and still do to this date). 

I kept learning and improving my skills to deliver better services to my clients.

By time my focus shifted from designing & branding to marketing & development, because I started realising that ‘the bigger the problem you can solve, the more you can ask for it’. 

Marketing campaigns give measurable results, designing logos doesn’t…

So I started learning how to build complex websites and running Facebook and Google Ads.

Now fast forward 6 years later this ‘simple freelancing business’ called TJDesigns turned into an agency (now called 4yourbrand) with a team of 8 people helping over a 100 clients with performance marketing and complex development solutions.

Besides my main business (4yourbrand), we’re also running and testing multiple (internal) projects and companies in software (apps & platforms).

It took a very long time, with a lot of ups and downs (and I’m not even close to what I’m aiming for), but my remote business gave me so much freedom and made me able to travel around the world. 

Visiting places like Dubai, Bali, Spain, Morocco, Egypt, and so many more beautiful places.

I learned more about life, people, different cultures, love. Along the way I became more religious and embraced Islam as my religion and way of life.

I started with very materialistic goals in mind, but I realised that money is a black hole… You can always make more. 

It’s about the impact we can have and the good things we do for others.


Life is about deep and meaningful connections.

But my story is far from over. As I continue to chart my course in the ever-changing landscape of business and innovation, I am driven by a singular vision: to inspire others to believe in themselves and pursue their dreams.

For the people now thinking “oh, here we have another fancy guy trying to sell a course…”, don’t worry! I don’t have anything to sell.

That right, absolutely nothing.

I just strive to be a force for good and a force for truth.

So to anyone out there who feels trapped by their circumstances, who believes that success is out of reach, I say this: You have the power to write your own story. 

Believe in yourself, work hard, and never lose sight of your dreams. The journey may be difficult, but the destination is worth it.

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