#Kaaiwomen - edition Lore Tiebout
Four years ago she founded GRUUN, a plant store and coffee bar in the heart of Brussels. Lore Tiebout (32) is an energetic thirty-something who completely changed tracks a few years ago from the music industry to plants and coffee. Guess who was there along the way? Even on her wedding day she was wearing her KAAI beltbag.
Have you always lived in Brussels?
I'm actually from the outskirts of Brussels, but I've always lived in the center of the city during my studies. The city really has my heart, filled with nice places, big parks, expositions, little cafés and trendy restaurants. I particularly like the restaurants Henri and Albert. Especially the location of Albert is remarkable. It is located on the roof of the Royal Library, where you can have lunch on their lovely terrace.
Photography by Felix Boniface
How did GRUUN come about?
I won't claim that it was a big dream of mine to start my own business. In fact, I mainly wanted to make a career switch. I was working as a manager in the music industry, but after a while I noticed that I was jaded there. So I decided to hand in my resignation and went traveling for a month.
"During an earlier trip to Canada I came across a plant store slash juice bar, and I realized that this was a concept that also might work in Belgium."
I've always loved working with plants and coffee, but during my travels the pieces really fell into place. On an earlier trip to Canada I came across a plant store slash juice bar, and realized that this was a concept that might work in Belgium too. After my travels, I immediately started looking for a building and went full speed ahead. And that paid off, as GRUUN was able to open five months later - on June 10th, 2018.
Photo of GRUUN taken by Birgit Sterckx
Do you like being an entrepreneur in Brussels?
What I really like is that GRUUN has a hugely diverse audience. So many different profiles pass through, from internationals to students. Both younger and older people come here daily to drink their coffee. Despite the fact that I live in a big city, I still have the cozy feeling of a warm community.
Diversity also brings with it multilingualism. I speak four languages, but sometimes it is still difficult to convey minor nuances in another language. When you have contact with customers or a problem to solve, you want your message to come across correctly. But then again, people do appreciate the effort you make to help them in further in their preferred language. So multilinguality is challenging, but fascinating at the same time.
In the meantime, do you consider yourself a plant expert?
I wouldn't dare say expert! (laughs) My parents had a good sense for everything that is green and I always kept a lot of plants in my own space. But I still had to read a lot of books in the beginning.
"It may sound a bit woo woo, but taking care of plants can be very meditative."
Although I must add that the plant world is not rocket science. You generate knowledge mainly by doing it. Every plant reacts differently in every home so I always advise my clients to really get to know their plants.
It may sound a bit woo woo, but taking care of plants can be very meditative in that way. Think of it as having a pet that you have to feed every day. Clients are often proud of themselves when, for example, a new leaf unfolds. But also in workplaces it uplifts the mood by adding something vibrant to the interior. Bring the tropical jungle to your desk!
Do you notice that active urban women are seeking a counterbalance with green spots like GRUUN?
I definitely notice that people are increasingly looking for additional greenery in the city. New customers often admire the place when they enter. With only three tables inside, we serve as a small oasis of calmness in a busy city center such as Brussels.
You recently got married, congratulations! How did you decide to wear our Belt bag at your wedding?
I always wanted a KAAI bag so my wedding was the perfect excuse to buy one! (laughs) On your wedding day, you really only need your ID card, your wallet and your cell phone, but where do you store them? The belt bag was perfect as a small bag to keep those things while still having my hands free.
Photography by Felix Boniface
That's why I also love wearing it to festivals. You can safely carry all your stuff close to you and still look classy. I chose the Belt bag in Stone White, ideal for a bride ànd a good all-rounder to use after the festivities.
"I always wanted a KAAI bag so my wedding was the perfect excuse to buy one!"
In addition, I wanted my whole outfit to be Belgian. Both my wedding outfits, a tailored pants and a dress, came from Maison La Collection. I combined them both with the same vest from Pursuit Femmes. A Kaai Belt bag as finishing touch, and I was all set to get married.