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Portraits of a city’s success stories

We team up with, Brussels’ Business Support Agency, and shine a light on 50 of the Region’s start-up success stories driving the capital city’s economic landscape forward. From the eco-conscious manufacturer to the technology-enabled post-production imprint, our 50-strong selection of portraits and interviews plays testament to the Region’s dense and dynamic culture of entrepreneurship.

Saint Octave

Saint Octave

Octave Laloux & Tom Flon

What would be your two-minute elevator pitch?

Saint Octave is a cheese and charcuterie shop where conviviality, knowledge of our products and respect are our priorities. We want to meet each and every producer of meat, cheese and delicatessen before deciding to work with them. Why? To guarantee what we think is best in terms of taste, method of production and respect for the livestock.

As the grandson of a butcher, this is all in Octave Laloux’s blood. After three years in film marketing, he launched the first shop in the Marolles. Aiming to go deeper in his approach and needing a partner, he teamed up with Tom Flon, an experienced lover of cheese to join the project. Tom and Octave both hail from Namur and have known each other since they were kids. They just opened a new shop in Saint-Gilles/Sint-Gillis, in a former butchery dating back to the 60s.

List three factors that make Brussels’ entrepreneurship landscape unique.

  • Proximity: in such a small city, some of the neighbourhoods feel like villages. You get to know your clientele very well, taking time to share moments with them.
  • Humility: Brussels’ entrepreneurs are very humble and are happy to share their knowledge with newcomers. There’s great respect between them, and it’s very easy to enter the tightknit network.
  • Slow pace: it can be quite hard to retain customers, but once convinced they remain very loyal. 

Brussels’ entrepreneurs are very humble and are happy to share their knowledge with newcomers.

What are the three biggest challenges you faced when starting up your business?

  • Public administration tends to take you down rather than help – it’s very harsh on young, motivated entrepreneurs
  • Some former colleagues and employers tried to convince us to stay in comfortable jobs.
  • Transitioning from the business development to the actual operation of our project – two very different phases, as the former is more creative while the latter is business- and management-oriented.

How did you benefit from’ expertise in the conception of your business?

They are very enthusiastic and motivated, and helped us plenty with our public administration as facilitators. They also aided us in finding the right spot to open up our shop, as well as financially in the framework of their Opensoon call to projects.

List three pieces of advice you would give to the budding entrepreneur.

  • One thing at a time: it’s not a jump, but rather a long process. For every fear that you might encounter, there’s always something or someone that can help you out at each step of the way.
  • Feed yourself: no one ever wakes up with the perfect idea. Start by asking yourself who you are and what you love – then find a way to make a living out of it. It’s a process where what surrounds you feeds you. And if nothing comes of it, then change your environment.
  • Don’t live in extremes: it’s just a job. Keep doing what you love, meeting and spending time with the ones you love. It’s healthy not only for you but your business, too. Take some time out of your day-to-day schedule to create some distance and keep evolving.
Rue Haute 254 Hoogstraat (1000)
54 Chaussée d’Alsembergse Steenweg (1060)

Do you want to explore new horizons like Octave and Tom?