Fredrik Örling and Julie Wu met in England, where they both completed their Master degrees at Central Saint Martin’s University of Arts in London. When they left the UK, they decided to start their business and bring everything they cherished in European design to Vancouver.
One Vision, One Goal
Fredrik and Julie’s vision for their store was to evoke the look and feel of “Europe’s design driven shops, filled with hidden treasures and whimsy.” Each item displayed in their store is handpicked by the dynamic duo, and sourced from places far and wide, from Belgium to Japan.
With Julie’s hands-on approach and eye for the genuine and beautifully made designs, combined with Fredrik’s focus on sumptuous iconic creations, they provide trendy Vancouverites with authentic design.
The pair believe that homes should be inspiring, and for that reason, work hard to build an enchanting shopping environment for their customers. “Our passion has always been hunting for the best in design; our work is fun,” comments Julie.
Location, Location, Location
While scoping out their vision, location was an almost unconscious decision. From the beginning, Julie had imagined the store occupying a black heritage building, she just did not know where. After searching high and low in all areas of the downtown core, they found their home in one of the Salient Group’s revitalization projects in Vancouver’s Gastown.
That decision has paid off. When asked if they had any surprises in their first few years of business, Julie comments that the best surprise has been how much foot traffic they get. And it’s not just tourists. As the area grows, with both more businesses and condos arriving in the area, the store is seeing more and more people who live and work in the area on their lunchtime walk or simply looking for inspiration.
What’s in a Name?
The naming of your business can often become a long and drawn out process. Finding something you like the sound of and that your customers can connect with can be hard to find. But, for Julie and Fredrik it came relatively easily. “We didn’t want to come up with a cheeky new name,” Fredrik says, adding that after looking at their own names, they realized it worked. “That mix of the European and Asian evokes curiosity by the consumer,” explains Wu.
Starting the Right Way
Having met in education, Julie and Fredrick were not afraid to continue their studies to start their business out on the right foot. During their first year in business, they attended a number of our Small Business BC seminars, concentrating on subjects such as financial management, accounting, importing and marketing. Their advice for those first starting out? “Take time to plan your business and really research the market, and of course attend courses at Small Business BC.”
Now that their store has become an iconic fixture in Vancouver’s Gastown, the question is where to next? The world. Julie and Fredrick have ambitions of expanding their business internationally, to offer the same product range and service which has succeeded well in the downtown area.
To help them with this new venture, they have enlisted the help of a mentor. Julie recently became part of the Vancity Community Foundation’s new pilot project: Women Entrepreneurs, Financing Opportunities for Growth (WE-FOG). This program supports women as they scale-up and grow their businesses. Through the program, Julie’s mentor has helped look at their financials, making sure they are recording the right things, setting up systems/processes and looking at growth strategies to be able to be at the next level. So look at world, here they come.