In the spotlight: Oerwoud
A new hotspot opened its doors in Den Bosch: Oerwoud. This urban garden store and health café run by Bregje and Larisa offers 'green' products, yoga and workshops, as well as delicious plant-based and organic food and drinks.
1. Tell us a little about your background.
Bregje: I had my own online store, PurePoetry, where I sold vintage furniture and hand-made macramé. I also gave workshops on how to create macramé plant and wall hangers. I wanted a physical workspace to set the tone, preferably combined with catering, to give people the opportunity to have a seat and enjoy a drink and a bite. A green, sustainable and healthy concept.
Larisa: I studied Food Design, I travelled extensively through Asia and I worked with inspiring start-ups. I started to get more and more interested in healthy food and through my company Bliss I started selling home-made granola and healthy pastries. I also organized cycling tours and yoga, as well as Bliss breakfast events. Through Bliss I aimed to create a warm meeting place blending everything green, healthy and sustainable, but having your own physical space is not easy.
2. What happened next?
Larisa: Last year, my partner and I moved in together and I was looking for a macramé hanger. On my search, I came across PurePoetry and I suggested to Bregje that we organize a joint workshop. As it turned out, Bliss and PurePoetry are really complementary and just three months after our first meeting, Oerwoud was born, pouring all of our ideas into one single concept.
3. You have a beautiful location in the heart of Den Bosch. How did you manage to fund this?
Through start-up capital and crowdfunding. Virtually the whole interior is vintage, which definitely kept the costs down. Everything is either hand-made or refurbished by us. That also makes Oerwoud casual and easily accessible to all.
4. What makes Oerwoud unique?
Bregje: Sustainability takes center stage in everything we do. We don’t just sell plants, but all sorts of green products and interior accessories. We also host workshops and yoga lessons, and we’re hard at work to turn the garden into a real urban vegetable garden. It will become a very special place.
5. How do you combine all of this?
We’ve divided our tasks in such a way that I focus more on the vintage finds and plants, while Larisa tends to take care of the bar, food and yoga lessons. Of course we also help each other and we organize inspiring workshops together. We aim to expand the store part even further by including more foods, home-made creams and tea to our range. That’s how we want to keep innovating.
6. What made you launch an online store too?
PurePoetry already had its online store and we wanted to also offer our products online to attract a greater crowd than only consumers in Den Bosch. We’ve noticed that many people from the Randstad region know about us and for them, it’s handy to know they can buy our range online too. At the moment, we don’t have the time to focus fully on the online store, but we plan to extend the online range with more sustainable, green products.
7. Did the first six months go as you has hoped?
Both: Better even! If we had known what we know now, we would’ve been a lot more relaxed when we started out (laughing, ed.). We kept asking ourselves whether it would all work out. Now we say, “We’ll be alright!”. The combination of an urban garden store and a health café serving plant-based and organic food and drinks is unique. The media has found us too and now people from all over the Netherlands flock to Den Bosch to pay us a visit. As soon as they walk through the door, they tell us how much they love the atmosphere here. We get so many positive reactions. It’s great to see people come here for some peace and quiet in the city.
8. What has been the greatest challenge so far?
Larisa: We launched a crowdfunding campaign to make Oerwoud even greener. That was a real challenge. It’s something you have to monitor closely. Till the very last minute we kept wondering whether we’d reach our target, and towards the end we gave it a real push. We organized an auction selling creative products and services by partnering with people from the city. That was so special! It turned out people in Den Bosch really love to help one another. Within a week, we had 20 unique products and services to offer, like a super-sized jungle IXXI and a one-night stay at pop-up hotel To Many Places.
9. What do you aim to achieve with Oerwoud?
Both: We want to bring everything sustainable, green and healthy together under one roof. More and more people are telling us what an inspiring place it is. They want to organize lots of activities, so we hope to offer other creative souls a platform to showcase their work. An example? People who create beautiful, hand-made products. We also want to make Den Bosch even greener through fun events and partnerships.
10. Do you have any tips for other budding (online) merchants?
Larisa: Don’t go insane!
Bregje: Just go for it! After all, an online store is a really easy way to start. Once you have a product or an idea, an online store allows you to easily check whether it would work or not. That’s how I found out here was a demand for macramé. It encouraged me to take it one step further.
Larisa: I agree, just do it! Start small and see how people react. You’ll always find people along the way who want to push you aside, but stay true to yourself and don’t overdo it at first. And don’t give up. That’s a must!