Turmeric is the headline hitting superfood that has had many of us hooked in recent years. Zoe Lind van’t Hof’s is the founder of Wunder Workshop, a London based functional food brand that creates organic and ethically sourced turmeric based products from Sri Lanka. The brand is inspired by Ayurveda – the “Science of Life”,  whose principles are based upon a preventive and holistic approach to health.

 

When was your light bulb moment?

It was a gradual process stemming from a dissatisfaction. I was always really passionate about health from meditation to eating healthily.

Growing up, my mother and I would travel regularly to Sri Lanka where we stayed in down to earth retreats. There were huts where you got treatments. They were colourful and basic. We went every two years.

From our travels together in Sri Lanka I saw that turmeric was everywhere. They used it on skin and in drinks.

In Europe and the UK it wasn’t used. I thought it would be great to have a product made from a plant that had been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. The main research around turmeric is on the anti-inflammatory properties. Lots of GP’s now recommend taking it for arthritis.

What led you to setting up a wellness business?

My mum was vegetarian. I grew up in a very alternative family in the sense that all the food and vegetables were from organic shops. I was born in Australia to a Dutch mother and grew up in the Netherlands and Germany. My mum was a holistic beautician. Together we would make weird potions.

Throughout my upbringing my natural approach to life was very normal.

I was the odd one out when it came to my friends. There were no Kit Kats or Haribos in our house.

In 2008 I wanted to go to an English speaking country so went to Manchester University. I studied political science and criminology and then I moved to the Netherlands to do a Masters in International Relations. I started to think about investigative journalism which stemmed from an idealistic way of thinking I could make a difference. I quickly realised that the NGO or United Nations path wasn’t for me. I decided to try interior design. Then I realised I’m not being creative but just fulfilling other people’s designs.

When I was 26 I realised I wasn’t happy and I read The Power of Now by Eckhart Toll. I wanted to do something that would make me happy on a daily basis. So I put everything together- I wanted it to do with health and wellbeing, with the Ayurvedic retreats I’d visited with my mother in Sri Lanka where I’d learnt so much about the herbs that they use. And I also loved making concoctions.

How did you start?

On my last visit to Sri Lanka with my mother I decided to go and find a farm and look for turmeric so I could create my product. I rode on tuk tuks with drivers who didn’t speak English. I was lucky to find an organic turmeric farm straight away. In June 2014 I left my job as an interior designer to give it a go.

I knew the traditional recipe for turmeric milk and I wanted a vegan version of that.

I wanted to create an unpasteurised version which only lasted 4 days. I was living in Notting Hill and found a commercial kitchen where I made it and sold it on Portobello.

Setting up the supply chain took me five months and there were complications as I needed an organic importer status. At first I produced only 12 bottles a week. I sent them to Selfridges and they brought them straight away.

But two months into starting the business my mum was diagnosed with cancer.

What happened next?

My mum was with her sister having treatment in Germany. I flew over every eight days to stay for eight days and then the other times I was working on our business. I was her carer. In January 2016 my mum died.

 I dived into the business and used all my energy to channel into my work. I feel led by my mother’s passion and it pushes me to always be courageous.

Two years ago my boyfriend left his job to help me grow the business. Since then we have grown to 11 products.

We had to let go of the fresh product as it was impossible to sustain.

The products

We have two Wunder Workshop teas both turmeric based, turmeric honey, three different herbal blends that help with stress and we have a turmeric CBD oil made from cannabis but with out the psychoactive ingredients. You take it every day and amongst other things it takes away period pains.  We sell our products in Planet Organic, WholeFoods and boutiques in California.

Our bestseller is the instantly golden blend which makes golden milk and Le Pain Quotidien have it in their stores.

What do you recommend?

I take turmeric daily as a potion, Turmeric tea every evening and drops every morning. When I’m ill I have turmeric honey.

 

What advice have you got for someone wanting to set up a plant-base business?

Just go for it. People have so much fear but there is so much to take from the passion you have in the moment. Of course you need to be realistic and pay bills but they all fall into place if you do what you want to do.

When I left my job I was terrified I couldn’t pay the bills. It took 3 years of random freelance jobs like freelancing in social media for other smaller brands, reviewing for a travel blog, and random translations but enough came through every month. I stopped worrying about the money because I knew it would come. I also let out my room on Air B n’ B or to the Dutch ex-pat community.

You have to move past the fear and if it doesn’t work then you can go back and get a job. There is always a solution.

My boyfriend Tom is now full time and in charge of sales. I went to lots of startup talks at the British Library business centre. They had all the Mintel reports about the consumer market which helped me write a business plan. I went to talks at Soho House about setting up a food business. The best was learning from other startups. I needed help with the daily struggles. I enjoyed learning from the people around me.

Today I still support and help others who are starting out.

What are the highs and lows of the wellness scene?

The high is that Wunder Workshop is quite a new industry in London and still niche which gives room for lots of opportunities and people are interested.

Lots of things are seen as a trend and turmeric wasn’t trendy when we started. three years ago. It became trendy and now people are asking what next? This trend approach can be frustrating.

 

What makes you glow?

Our Golden Balance blend with ashwagandha

Every morning I drink this out of a Kana. We co-designed one that I drink it out of. It’s very heavy and nice.

Being in nature

I’ll go to Holland Park or Wormwood Scrubs and walk.

Friends and company

Random meet ups. I have lots of individual friends. I love nice wine, so I’m not against anything like wine which can be nurturing.

Me time

I try to think more consciously how grateful I am for whatever my mum did for me and think about what an inspiration she was for me.

I went to Arundel last weekend to be in nature and be alone as I knew I hadn’t looked after myself mentally.

Zoe’s Wunder Workshop products are available in our shop.

For more information click here. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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