Meet Liesbeth Van Vynckt, or as you may know her Mrs. Wander & Co.
Mind the ‘Mrs’ part, because this lady just got hitched! We were able to get in on the fun a little thanks to instagram, and let me tell you, I wouldn’t mind me a Santorini wedding! In the far future that is… For those of you who don’t know the webshop, Wander & Co is an online store that provides everything you need to spice up your place. From candles and illustrations to soap, flower vases and lamps! As a big fan of the shop, I was curious to get to know a little more about the lady behind the scenes. Thankfully, Liesbeth was kind enough to invite me over at her super-duper pretty place for a little talk!
How did it all start?
After I graduated, I decided to become an interpreter. It turned out that wasn’t really my thing. I liked the language and communication part, but the industry was too hard-core and competitive for me. I wanted to move on to something more creative, something more ‘me’. In other words I just wanted to do my own thing. Opening up a physical store, however, requires quite the investment, and since webshops are the future I thought this would be ideal. The fact that I can work from home is a big plus. I can do whatever I want here without being bound to the location, etc. For about six months I worked on the set-up: deciding on the brands, designing the shop, … and then on July 1st 2014 we went online!
I read the name ‘Wander & Co’ derives from ‘wanderlust’.
What is it about traveling that you love so much? Enough to name your shop after it…
The escape from my daily routine. I also love meeting new people and discovering new cultures that sometimes, and this may be a generalisation, contain personalities different from those we have here. I find it inspiring to compare cultures and love bringing home small treasures that I can implement in my own interior. For the shop I didn’t want to pick the typical products, but wanted to focus on original designs and support people who set up their own brand. The idea is to gather such products from around the world and create a wide selection so customers can collect them. ‘Wanderlust’ has become quite a trendy word, but I didn’t want to limit myself to it, that’s why I turned it into ‘wander’. The idea behind Wander & Co is that while you can still travel physically, you can also do it mentally by surrounding yourself with inspiring items.
How do you pick what items make it onto the webshop?
I mostly follow my gut, but do try to stay within a certain price range. It’s not my ambition to sell major designer products, but I don’t want to sell junk either. The price/quality ratio is very important to me. Furthermore I pay a lot of attention to the philosophy behind the brand. I want to sell brands that care about the environment or pay attention to a certain social aspect. Local production, brands that help people integrate back into society or choose to help people with a disability, sustainability, etc. are things that I find important. I’m also not into mass consumption: I don’t want to sell what everyone else is selling. Originality is key! Plus I love the smaller niche brands: those that people have designed themselves and produced themselves. When I hear that a product doesn’t live up to its expectations, I try to set this right with my customers, but also decide to no longer sell the product on the site.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Do your own thing! It’s not always easy to be immensely confident about doing your own thing, especially in the online world where you can compare yourself to just about everyone. There’s a lot of competition, but if we all stay true to ourselves we should be good. That’s what I try to do: I try to focus on what I find important and seek my own products, get to know people, etc. instead of following trends and thinking about what would sell. I try to focus mainly on what I would like to buy and see on the webshop. It’s fun to get inspired, but it’s important that your focus remains on what you are doing.
Do you have any tips for people who are thinking about switching jobs/setting up their own webshop?
Think it through! This is not exactly a decision you can make in a heartbeat. It’s always fun to read a story in the newspaper about someone who got tired of his/her job and *bam* they made a switch. It’s a little different in real life. You have to take into account all aspects: can you pay for it? Is this something you really want? If the answer is “yes” both times, then I’d say GO FOR IT! But realise that it will change your life entirely. You sort of become your brand and you will no doubt be thinking about it all the time. You also have to be available and active on social media 24/7. While this is fun, it’s also very time consuming. It all depends on whether you have the time and energy for it. I would certainly recommend making the change, because for me it’s been a dream, but it has to fit your lifestyle and personal interests.
What does the future hold? Both for the webshop and you personally?
At the moment we are working on setting up a little project called ‘Wander & Co at Home’. The idea is that you host a party and I decorate a little corner in your house with products being sold on Wander & Co. Because I don’t want it to be too much of a Tupperware-party, I’m going to collaborate with a friend of mine who’s really into DIY, knitting, etc. and she’ll be hosting a small workshop at your house that same evening. It’s mainly about having fun!
Oh, and in December you will also be able to find me in our brand new pop-up store in the city of Ghent! I can’t share much yet, but stay tuned!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Mostly online. I also have a lot of people sending me recommendations or contacting me about brands, collaborations etc. I try to think a bit out of the box instead of only focussing on products: think designers, artists, musicians, illustrators, etc. I strive to be open to all things creative and meet new people who may be doing something entirely different but who can definitely learn me a thing or two. I also love turning things from other industries around so that they can be implemented in the webshop.
I love to travel!
I wish for peace and quiet, mentally.
I need love. Gosh, so corny!
It was so nice meeting you, Liesbeth! Thanks a lot for the fun morning! x
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(Note that not everything you see on the pictures is available on the webshop)