Searching for comfort and healing as our bodies adapt to the drop in temperature and change of season,
we found ourselves in the lovely home of Zoe Lind van't Hof, Co-Founder of Wunder Workshop, a London based functional food brand making organic turmeric based products. We sat down with Zoe over a turmeric latte to find out more about her brand and consumption with a purpose.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your brand?
I am the founder of Wunder Workshop- specialising in all things organic Turmeric, sourced directly from an independent farm in Sri Lanka.
I grew up in Australia, Netherlands and Germany and studied in the United Kingdom, followed by a Master's degree in International Relations in the Netherlands. Shortly after that I decided I wanted to become an interior designer as I grew up in a family that had been in the antique trade for many generations and so I thought that I would like to be involved with that too. However, after 2 years working within the field I set as part of my 2014 New Year's resolutions a deadline that if I was unhappy with my life and job in six months' time I would hand in my notice and start my own thing.
This coincided with the amazing experience of visiting Sri Lanka with my late mother; we were privileged to spend a lot of time with Ayurvedic doctors and learned so much about herbs and the power of the food that we ate. Turmeric, as it turns out, is one of the most powerful foods we can consume. Shortly after my visit to Sri Lanka, I followed through with my initial plan and started Wunder Workshop piecing together what I had learned about Ayurveda and the knowledge I had gained from my mother, who was
a holistic therapist. When I look back, I am grateful for whatever courage resided in me at the time.
We have now been trading for 3 years, spending the 1st year on markets across London selling our fresh Golden Mylk ® (a turmeric, coconut milk based drink). Realising it is hard to sustain a business with a drink that only has a 4-day shelf life, we started introducing our ambient turmeric product range and have been growing organically ever since. I still have to pinch myself at least once a week to realise how far we have come, to see our products in all these incredible shops and cafes is priceless.
What inspired you to work in the wellbeing industry?
My late mother had been very passionate about health and wellbeing since her early twenties, so by the time I was born she had nearly 20 years of experience. This meant I was surrounded by interesting books about traditional medicine, the power of plants and how to create all kinds of natural remedies from an early age. I grew up eating organic and locally sourced vegetarian food, we grew many of our own vegetables ourselves and we used to go to very down-to-earth Ayurvedic health retreats in Sri Lanka. Since I can remember my mum practiced yoga every morning, so I naturally started following in her footsteps and started practicing yoga in my mid-teens. She also ran a natural spa for many years before I started Wunder Workshop, so all in all I have been very lucky to have always been surrounded by health and wellbeing.
Can you explain what Ayurveda is and how it is linked with your brand?
Ayurveda means translated "the science of life" ....it is believed that Ayurvedic medicine was the first health system, from which Chinese medicine was developed and consequently the medical system as we know it in the Western world. So, it can be argued to be the root of all modern medicine.
Our brand's ethos is founded on Ayurveda's principles as we believe that prevention is better than cure and we believe in the uniqueness of every individual. Ayurveda takes a holistic approach to health rather than seeking one drug to cure illnesses, it assesses the balance between all aspects of one's life. In Ayurveda disease is a sign of unbalance in your personal constitution, so one has to go to the very root of this issue. By adding a bit of Wunder daily we hope you can create a routine that forms one piece of the bigger picture.
We love that your products are organically sourced. Where does the
turmeric you use come from?
On my travels through Sri Lanka 3 years ago I went out on a tuktuk and drove to several farms, of which one has turned out to be our long trusted high quality, single origin turmeric supplier for the past 2,5 years. This farm uses a technique known as Analog forestry, which imitates the original native biodiversity of the region's flora and fauna, by planting in the shade of tree canopies to assist in replenishing the nutrition and moisture of the soil. This farming style goes beyond the conventional monoculture
techniques and even beyond our Organic logo. Besides guaranteeing pesticide and chemical free production, Analog forestry helps to rebuild a sustainable ecosystem and empowers rural communities.
What makes turmeric so beneficial to us and what's your favourite way to
include it in your diet?
Turmeric's anti-inflammatory powers strike me as the most important. We all tend to struggle with some form of inflammation in our bodies, whether it is from our lifestyle choices or due to stress and living in a polluted city like London. Many diseases stem from chronic inflammation in our bodies, so I find it very important to take turmeric daily in order to invest in my long-term health and minimise any unnecessary
inflammation. My favourite way is by simply having a warming Golden Mylk every day and Turmeric x CBD drops twice a day.
Where can we find your Wunder Workshop products in London?
We have been busy spreading the turmeric love for the past 3 years, so we are available on many independent and larger cafes. The most widely available ones are Le Pain Quotidien, POD, Deliciously Ella's Delis, Sourced Market and many more. Our products are also retailed at Planet Organic, Content Beauty, Urban Outfitters and Revital just to name a few. For the full list please visit: http://www.wunderworkshop.com/contact-us/
What advice would you give to someone starting up their own business?
For me the most straightforward element is to check-in with yourself and be sure that you have a burning desire to be fully, or at least as much as you can, in control of your own life and happiness. Working for someone else will most likely involve achieving things for their benefit, of course it pays your rent and I don't want to generalise, as every job certainly has its merits. But if you want to enjoy the NOW and not only think about the next weekend or next holiday, I think you are already a lot closer to the right
attitude for starting up your own thing. Being fearless is another important attribute. All that is holding us back from success if often fear: fear of uncertainty, fear of an insecure income, and most often fear of failure.
But it is so important to actually thrive on these aspects, I find uncertainty and change so exciting and that is what gets me jumping out of bed every morning. Our time on this planet is so short and I think that is why we just need to make the most of all our dreams and desires and just go for it.
Thirdly, you shouldn't be in it for the money or material gain. Starting a business, in most cases, won't lead to the next Facebook but will mean a lot of hard work, long hours and getting your hands dirty (in my case bright orange from turmeric!). We started standing in the cold winter outside on markets all day trying to get people's attention after being up all night in a small kitchen making our products and then carry them in suitcases on the tube to markets... Today, we can afford to outsource most of this work and one of our main issues has been keeping up with demand. Obviously, this is not necessarily the case for everyone and in hindsight we could have been more efficient, but being able to progress to such luxuries is already a great and rewarding feeling and I am so happy that I started right at the bottom as it makes you appreciate small gains more. I have never been motivated by money or being able to buy fancy things, and I really think that is what keeps me going as I believe 100% in the business and it excites me so much that I just want to see it succeed more than anything.
Can you walk us through a day in your life?
I like to wake up with the light so in the summer that means around 6 am and in the winter around 7.30am. I am so grateful to be my own boss and be able to decide when my day starts. I usually start with writing in my gratitude journal or meditate, followed by getting ready for the day and making warming tonic and a smoothie. I usually work from Soho House or from home depending where my meetings are and start working around 8-9am. I like walking around London as I always discover new things so I try and do that in between meetings. Every day is different so some days I will finish by 7pm and cook some food or go out and meet friends for drinks and dinner, but as I am more productive at night, I also like to work later at night. I would say that's when I get all my creative work done. I will end the day with mapping my top tasks I want to achieve the next day.
What are your wardrobe staples?
Patterned or colourful trousers; something navy; and a golden detail such as my golden jewellery or golden shoes.
If I wasn't running Wunder Workshop...I would be a humanitarian aids worker or an interior designer (polar opposites I know...) I am definitely planning for both to be part of my life at some point in the future.
My favourite thing about Autumn... are the amber golden colours and the smell of wood burners.
Words to live by... 'this too shall pass'. It's a very simple sentence that has such a calming effect on me in moments of stress and anxiety.
My guilty pleasure is... a glass of red wine and lentil chips.
The best thing about my job... is the excitement of constant uncertainty, starting every day with so many options on the horizon, it excites me so much to think that anything can happen!
My favourite London hangout... is Soho House Dean Street to work and socialise
and for clearing my mind I love going to Hampstead Heath or Hyde Park.
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