What would be your two-minute elevator pitch?
When I was 20 years old, I was diagnosed with endometriosis and told me that I would suffer for the rest of my life, that there would be nothing to do except take anti-inflammatory medication and heavy hormonal treatments, and undergo surgeries. I was revolted and completely depressed by the future that faced me. Fortunately, over the following years I realised that by changing my diet and using medicinal plants, I could return to a normal life and even avoid medication. It worked so well that I decided to study herbalism in 2014. In the meantime, I worked in a specialised shop selling food supplements.
I opened Herboristerie Bo Kay because I to love help people, and it was important for me to pass on my experience to those interested in natural healthy alternatives. It’s an interest of my own, so I know how important it is to give and receive high-quality advice, and to recognise when someone needs medical help. It requires skills in anatomy, biochemistry, botany and more.
Herboristerie Bo Kay is made up of professionals in herbalism: we know our products well, and always try to offer our customers the best value. We also stock medicinal plants in bulk, which we hope to increase. Last but not least, a small space is reserved for the valorisation of pharmacopoeia and fine natural products from Africa, the West Indies and South America. I’m looking to develop this part of the store further in the near future.
List three factors that make Brussels’ entrepreneurship landscape unique.
- As a capital city, Brussels is a densely concentrated city made up of very different people with very different expectations. You’ll always find someone interested in your project!
- At the same time, Brussels is a village: the fact that it’s not an enormous city allows young companies to make a name for themselves more easily than in cities like Paris or London, and for less money.
- Brussels is dynamic: you’ll always find the necessary opportunities to start your project. There’s plenty of associations that can help you with your business model, financial plan and even funding.
Brussels is dynamic: you’ll always find the necessary opportunities to start your project.
What are the three biggest challenges you faced when starting up your business?
- Making a budget estimate.
- Finding a location for my business.
- Surviving a year of renovation in Place Jourdanplein (which is still ongoing), whilst continuing to increase my clientele and turnover.
How did you benefit from hub.brussels’ expertise in the conception of your business?
They helped me see my project from a more pragmatic angle, rather than academic and showed me how to make the project sexier. My advisor gave me great advice on finding a commercial space and encouraged me to visit every available one, even if at first glance it didn’t meet my expectations since in doing so I gained insight on real estate. It’s thanks to his advice and a bit of luck that I very quickly found my spot in the European Quarter! I would have initially never looked in this neighbourhood as I simply thought that it was out of my budget. hub.brussels also has the capacity to direct you to other associations and public institutions that fit your project and will accompany you in developing it.
List three pieces of advice you would give to the budding entrepreneur.
- Don’t stay alone: take all the advice and feedback you can get, and sort it out later. You can always do with extra brain cells, and people are always ready to voice their opinions.
- Take the time to consider all aspects of your project. Some tasks – like creating a solid financial plan – are tedious, so you might feel tempted to skip it before launching your business. Still, it’s something that must be carried out several times over the course of your business, so you may as well learn it before you end of facing an emergency. In my specific case, a large shop belonging to a chain of organic stores was about to open its doors right in front of my herbal store. I had to react and change my concept very quickly in order to survive – if I’d never done it before, I wouldn’t have been able to react so pragmatically.
- Be benevolent: you never know when you’ll need people, and you’ll quickly come to see that they’re the most important resource in the world; far more than money.