A while ago I started a little interview series, looking at small companies that bring a smile on people’s face. Last time we spoke with jewellery designer Christina Zipperlen who lives her dream in Bali, and now we’re talking with Zoe Lind van’t Hof who runs Wunder Workshop, a start-up that sells “golden milk” – quite literally. Here she tells us how she puts a totally new spin on turmeric products:
- What made you start your own company?
As part of my 2014 New Year’s resolutions, I set 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 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.
- Why did you decide to focus on turmeric?
The spice that stood out to me most during my visits to Sri Lanka was turmeric, and it’s not called “The Spice of Life” without reason: The active ingredient is curcumin; there are thousands of published research articles on its the benefits. The research foremost praises its anti-inflammatory capabilities, its role in the prevention and treatment of cancer, its action as a potent antioxidant, its liver cleansing function and its potential in treating depression. It’s been popular in traditional medicine for thousands of years, however, only since Western medicine discovered its properties have we come to truly trust its benefits. My mother used to drink turmeric milk in the 70s when she lived in LA, and many people I meet say our Golden Mylk reminds them of what their grandmothers would make for their childhood ailments.
I find it fascinating that even in the cancer clinic where they were treating my mother, turmeric was part of their daily supplements. I have met NHS doctors who prescribe turmeric over painkillers for joint pain and other inflammatory disorders. I have also met horse owners who have been giving turmeric to their horses for years to prevent or treat arthritis.
- Where do you source your products from?
Whilst traveling through the mountains of Kandy, in the heart of Sri Lanka, I decided to visit a Turmeric farm. The warm-hearted people and beautiful surroundings made me decide then and there that I was going to import their turmeric and started the long process of becoming an organic importer, which involves A LOT of paper work. But it was so worth it and I am so grateful to be able to get the most delicious and unprocessed turmeric powder to make our products.
- What challenges did you have to overcome as a start-up entrepreneur?
Our biggest lesson was that one constantly has to rely on other people and businesses. Whether it is issues with the label printers, courier services or other services that you depend on for getting things running smoothly. We probably had every possible thing go wrong in the past year or so, which has definitely made life a bit of a roller coaster.
Also a huge challenge is the insecure nature of being a start-up. Life just happens and your business depends on your own strength, motivation and wellbeing. A month after I launched my brand my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and passed away a year later so every day during that time and since has needed that extra bit of motivation to keep on going and believing in your own brand and not give up at the first set-back.
- What are your favourite recipes or ways of using turmeric?
My favourite recipe is actually just a big cup of our warming Instantly Golden turmeric latte blend heated up with some homemade oat milk. Blended together they are a soothing cup of sunshine especially during the colder grey days here in London. In summer I love making an iced version shaken up with some ice cubes and cold cashew milk.
You can check out Zoe’s products here.
Image credit: Wunder Workshop