Interview: PUUR Lifestyle
1. When did you launch PUUR?
I started with PUUR Lifestyle when my husband was seriously ill. At that time, I was still working in the healthcare sector and tought: 'Everything could be over within no time'. Then I started doing what I love to do most: the design and production of home accessories. Ever since I was little, I've been interested in interior, colours and pretty structures. I took old branches home from the forest, which I used for crafting and painting. In 2010, I started PUUR as physical shop and later on the webshop PUUR.
Myrthe working in her corporate space in Zwolle, the Netherlands.
2. How did you start?
I had a specific style in my mind for PUUR, but I couldn't find anything close to what I wanted to sell in my store. That's why I started to produce the products myself. I started with producing pillows, which made me search for suppliers for the materials. The sales increased and eventually I decided to fully focus on my own label and started my webshop.
3. Why did you close your physical store?
It was extremely busy. Because of the fixed opening hours I had no time to really sort things out. When I won the price for 'Business Mom Of The Year 2015', which is a price for women who run a successful business next to their household, I realised it was a sign for me to stop with my physical store. This made me focus fully on the development of my own label. With the final goal to sell my label only via the online store.
4. What does PUUR stands for?
PUUR stands for sustainable business and natural products with a story. I work with sheltered workshops and companies inside Europe most of the time. For example, the linen originates from weaving mills in the Baltic states. These family businesses use the natural product flax to make the linen. The mass production of linen in Asia is way cheaper than in Europe, but under bad circumstances. The European linen may be more expensive, but the quality is much better. That's why we use European linen for PUUR products. The yarn gets painted before it gets woven, which results in a bigger color authenticity. The color stays the same, that's the beauty of natural products. Some products are made or get packed in sheltered workshops nearby.
I really want to contribute to a better world, even if it's just a little. That's why I reuse packing material, try not to use plastic and send orders bundled. Luckily, people get more and more aware of their buying behavior and get an eye for sustainability and natural materials.
5. How would you describe the style of PUUR?
The style of PUUR is very unique: timeless, cool, industrial and not too much fuss. It is one whole, exactly how I always had in mind. The product has to speak for itself, like the wooden bath brushes. Simplistic and simple. The products create a certain atmosphere and fit into a lot of interiors.
6. What sets PUUR lifestyle apart from other online stores?
Next to the unique style, you will get personal attention. Every order includes a handwritten postcard and a small gift. Packing the order is done with care. These little things are very important. Not long ago, someone ordered a candle stand with candles that don't really fit the stand. If something like this happens, I will send an e-mail explaining I added candles that do fit the stand to the order. Customers appreciate the extra thinking. I also try to respond everyone's Instagram messages, because the interaction with customers is very important in my opinion.
7. What is the reason you started working from this corporate space?
I used to work from home for a long time, but I had only half of the workspace I have right now. The big rolls of fabric were stored behind the bed and you could find all the orders and packing slips in the hall. That doesn't work in a 'men's family' with three teenage sons. The rest of the stock was stored in a garage box. It wasn't really convenient, because I had to bike a while to get there. With the bustle of the webshop, it wasn't possible to work efficiently anymore.
When Francien, who I knew from my physical shop, moved to this property with her webshop Tuutsjes, it was a little too early for me. But after participation in ShowUp my webshop went very well. I made the decision. Beforehand, I was afraid that we would chat too much, but luckily that's not true. We discuss and talk a lot about the stores. We bundle our orders so we can ship them together. I also have everything together in my workspace, which is very nice. At home, they take my business more serious, even thought I do the same work as before.
Myrthe working in their corporate space together with Francien
8. Do you run PUUR alone?
Yes, but with a little help from Francien and my family. All the postcards, labels and tags... those are selfmade. Aswell as the linen products. Francien and I make the product photo's together, which is nice and useful. I like to do everything, but that is a danger as well haha. I want to understand and work with every editing and graphic design program, but that's impossible. Right now, I now a little bit of every program and that's what I'm working with. Everything is designed exactly the way I wanted to. When I won the price, a lot of people told me to hand over some of my work, but that's hard. I've had interns and I learnt a lot from them. But for the time being, I will do everything myself.
9. How did you start with your online store?
I've delved myself into the system of MyOnlineStore. I wanted to know exactly how everything worked, so I didn't have to ask my husband everytime it was unclear to me. It resulted in the fact that I can keep up with my store myself, exactly the way I want to. I've done research on a lot of other webshops for inspiration and arranged my online store with my own style. This is super nice to do, but you have to take some time for it. That's how I know percisely how the system works.
10. Are you happy with the system of MyOnlineStore?
Yes! I'm using MyOnlineStore for a while now and I'm very happy with how easy it works. It's nice that there is already a base when you start. The time I searched for inspiration at other webbshops, I searched for the platform where they had their shop. Many of these shops where MyOnlineStore shops. From the first moment on, MyOnlineStore felt good and workable for me. It's a platform where you can do your own thing and give your store a unique design. I love the fact that I can do everything myself. And if I can do it, everyone can!
11. What are you most proud of?
I've really created my own style and label with PUUR. It's a total package for a pure life. It's exactly what I love and what I wanted to communicate. Last year, I put a lot of time into the development of all the products. The product has to be right from beginning to the very end; the colour, labels and the packaging. Every product is carefully made and if the rest fits with it, I get super happy.
12. What do you hope to achieve?
The best thing would be that PUUR keeps on growing. The plan is to expand the product offer with more types of linen and more colours. If we grow, I would like to hire a sewer and outsource the product photography. So I will have more time to design new products and do the styling for the photoshoots. Long story short, hand over more work and do the work I'm good at (and love the most) myself.
13. Do you have one more tip for other (starting) entrepreneurs?
Take your time. And if you really can't do things yourself, outsource it to people who can. Or, learn as long as you need untill you can do it yourself. For example, your corporate identity and photography. It's important that there's really something good to see. Make sure it's picture perfect. You're not going to make it with half work. Go for it for no less than 300%.