December 7th sees the grand opening of the first edition of the Nationa(a)l Pop Up Store, a temporary trading post and exhibition spot where you can catch the best of Belgian talent. There’s ten days to get your hands on all things Belgian, from fashion and cinema to music and visual arts. The creative minds behind it are cousins Adeline D’Ursel (26) and Alexandre Moens (27), and we’ve nabbed them for a chat about the ambitious project.
A multidisciplinary Pop Up Store promoting Belgian talent: where did the idea come from?
Alexander: A while ago we were both working at a consultancy where we conducted a study together on on ‘the needs and opportunities of Belgian cultural and creative entrepreneurs.’ We realised that there’s a lot of potential, but many creative don’t know how to translate it into success. They don’t know the business part of things and how to start their own brand, so they go abroad where they work for bigger brands, for example.
Why are they not very business-minded?
Adeline: The schools don’t teach it. They just focus on creativity. It’s a very touchy discussion. We’ve spoken to some teachers from the big schools and they think the years at the schools are really there to develop the students’ creativity and only focus on that.
Alexander: We went to this lecture at the Flanders District of Creativity where they talked about how many creators get ripped off because of their lack of business skills. When we listened to that we thought ‘ok, we really have to do this’ and started contacting lots of creators to present our idea. Everyone loved it. We got hundreds of supportive emails back.
We realised that there’s a lot of potential, but many creatives don’t know how to translate it into success.
How does it work?
Alexander: First we thought about renting space out to the creators. But when we asked them no one was very enthusiastic about it. Everyone preferred that we’d take a percentage of what they sell, so that’s what we’re doing now.
How did you choose who to exhibit? I can imagine there were some difficult discussions…
Adeline: We got so many applications. What we wanted was to find a link between them somehow. In the end we decided to work together with famous ‘godfathers and godmothers’ as they say, which means that for each category an already established person would choose what to put on show. So for example Matthieu Ronsse is curating the visual arts and Annemie Verbeke is one of the designers selecting fashion talents.
Pop up stores are becoming more and more popular, in some cities they’re even starting pop up restaurants. What’s the deal?
Alexander: Well, it’s the crisis! A temporary project costs less than a long-term store.
Adeline: And it makes it easy to create a buzz, because it’s only there for a limited time.
What do you hope to achieve in 10 days?
Adeline: We want to showcase Belgian talent, but we also need to sell. Otherwise the project is over. We did get some subsidies but also had to invest a lot ourselves. It would be great if we could break even, which would enable us to make another edition in the future. And we’d really like to pay our volunteers.
Alexander: We’re hoping to attract 3,000 to 4,000 visitors, that would be great.
How has the experience of working as a duo been? What have you learned from each other?
Alexander: We couldn’t have done it without each other. We already have so much work that we hardly sleep. Plus, we are 100% complementary. Adeline made me realise how important communication with the outside world is. Although I still don’t have a Facebook account!
Adeline: Working in a duo makes everything easier. Sometimes you’re in front of a problem and just can’t think of how to handle it, and the fresh perspective of another person can really help. Also, Alexander really calms me down when I’m stressed. And I’ve learned how important it is to communicate with each other to avoid misunderstandings.
Alexander: Our brains work in different ways but we always arrive at the same results!Nationa(a)l Pop Up Store From 7th to 16th December Place du Chatelain 18 Kateleinsplein – 1050 Brussels www.nationalstore.be