There are lots of wellness startups that come up to my attention on a regular basis and it is always interesting to connect with people, who have the vision & drive to follow their dream and choose a career path different from a traditional one. Say ‘hello’ to Zoe Lindt Van’t Hof, co-founder of Wunder Workshop and Boob’s Essential, two brands that focus on simple but effective ideas to help you not just maintain your wellbeing, but improve your health and help disease prevention.
Zoe was born in Australia to a Dutch mum and a dad who was half-Russian. She was raised in Germany and for the last three years has been calling London her home. A petite young woman with a gorgeous mass of blondish hair framing her beautiful face, Zoe comes across as a little shy and thoughtful, pondering her answers, before replying with precision and detail. Before becoming an entrepreneur Zoe worked for an interior designer and studied international relationships but throughout her life she has been influenced by her mother who was a holistic therapist with a strong emphasis on health and nutrition. There is not just one thing that determines our health and wellbeing, say genes, but there are many pieces of the puzzle that contribute or can cause harm. Zoe’s mum was always supportive of her daughter, but never pushed Zoe into following her path – that was Zoe’s own decision.
Having travelled to Sri Lanka on many occasions and having developed an interest in Ayurveda, Zoe decided to start her own venture, focussing on the long-term investment and not a quick marketing strategy, as she holds an opinion that ‘prevention is better than cure’. In our hectic and stressful day and age it is hard to disagree with her and timely to put this one top of you ‘to do list’. If you don’t look after yourself and nurture yourself, no amount of supplements, following wellness bloggers advice or episodic trips to the gym will do it for you.
‘Let the food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’ -Hippocrates
Zoe started Wunder Workshop ( the name stems from her upbringing in Germany and interest in herbalism, among other things ) with her business partner Tom, whose background lies in pharmacology and the field of traditional medicine. They started with the launch of:
Golden Turmeric Powder (comes from the Curcuma Longa plant and scientific studies suggest that it could be useful in prevention and treatment of medical conditions and physiological processes, like inflammatory disease )
Golden Turmeric Tea ( a restorative Ayurvedic blend made with the high quality turmeric root from an independent farm in Sri Lanka ) and
Golden Mylk (traditional Ayurvedic drink, known for its nutritional and healing benefits )
Instantly Golden Vegan Turmeric Latte was added to the range towards the end of last year.
Even though both Tom and Zoe are young, they don’t focus on just their own demographic – their customer base is variable and their products appeal to anyone who takes a sensible and educated approach to overall wellbeing.
Turmeric (haldi), a golden spice, is highly regarded in Ayurvedic medicine. It is known for regulating the liver function and facilitating bile flow, acting as an anti-acid for stomach ulcers and having anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
The trouble with herbs and spices that we buy in the supermarkets is that often don’t know if they have been ‘treated’ or processed. Zoe has built a personal relationship with her Sri Lankan suppliers and was taught by Ayurvedic doctors, before she was ready to launch her products.
I, like most, have been buying turmeric and using it in cooking from the supermarket but having tried both Wunder Workshop’s turmeric spice and tea, can report that they taste different – tastier ( if you can call turmeric that, it is a spice after all ) and more refreshing on the palate. Yes, it is a bit more expensive than the one you would get from supermarket shelf, but knowing the provenance and having seen the quite passion that Zoe radiates and her personal story ( as well as comparing the colour and flavour of the supermarket one with WW turmeric ) – all those factors contribute to my choosing to my own preference for the WW products.
In Sri Lanka and India turmeric is widely used in cooking, in making tea and in skincare but talking to Zoe I found out various additional interesting facts about this beautifully vibrant spice:
– If you add black pepper or fat, like coconut milk or coconut oil, to it, it will enhance turmeric’s bio-availability (i.e making it easier for your body to absorb turmerics active ingredient (curcuma )
– Turmeric is heat-resistant, so by cooking it on heat, it doesn’t lose its potency or benefits
– Mixing turmeric with milk enhances its potency
We want our products to be good for our customers, the planet and the people who provide our ingredients
Interestingly, when I asked Zoe whether she is threatened by the swift & intense competition in the wellness marketplace, she gently shook her head and replied that she isn’t, simply because there is enough place for everyone, who is passionate and who has good products. Some customers will hopefully respond and buy WW products, while others will buy products from someone else – we are all unique and so are our choices and preferences. Zoe sees herself as an entrepreneur for whom wellbeing is genuinely important and so is the constant learning process. Increasing the awareness of potential customers ( ingredients are sourced from certified organic farms, bottles are recyclable, packaging is eco-friendly, BPA free equipment is used at every stage of production ) is part of her professional mission and Zoe hopes that some people will like the products (considering that Wunder Workshop is stocked by retailers like Selfridges – where I actually met Zoe in the first place, when she was sampling her Golden Mylk in the Food Halls – and Being Content, she is on the right track).
While I enjoy incorporating turmeric into my cooking and drinking turmeric tea once a day, the product that I found particularly comforting during the cold months, when the body craves warmth, is the Instantly Golden Mylk that comes in a powder form. As to the list of its ingredients, it contains only four: Coconut milk powder, Turmeric root, Cinnamon & Black pepper. According to the instructions, you need to mix one tbsp with a cup of water. Personally, I found it a little watery when mixing with water, so I experimented with nut milks ( cashew works well ) or you can try it with oat, rice or coconut milk ( I like this one very much as well ). Sometimes I add a little bit of honey to sweeten, but a tsp of maple syrup works equally as well. Whether you work late in the evening, are catching up on your favourite show on TV or reading or meditating before going to sleep, this golden mylk warms and comforts you, while also helping your body heal itself and possibly fall asleep quicker.
For now the team only comprises Zoe, Tom and the delivery guy ( you can check delivery codes on the Wunder Workshop’s website, the link to which is at the end of this post ) but a lot has to be said for the ability to move mountains when one is young, energetic and full of ideas one wants to put into practise.
But it’s not just the nutrition that is in Zoe’s line of vision, she also launched another brand, called Boobs Essential last year. It is a 100% natural nurturing plant and nut oil blend that was developed for breast health, by way of massaging them, getting to know what’s normal and what might feel irregular. For Zoe both brands are quite personal in the sense that her mother has been battling cancer for several years ( she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2014 ) and helping her mother deal with her illness made Zoe feel even more acutely about health and potential life choices that can have an impact.
One of the topics that stood out in the course of Zoe’s mother treatment was the scientific research on the role of essential oils and their use in the prevention and treatment of tumours. Our breasts are such a big part of who we are as woman, yet we often neglect to check them regularly for lumps, that, if left unchecked, can lead to heartbreak. This subject is poignant for me too, as my maternal grandmother died from breast cancer, yet I can raise my hand and say that I don’t examine my breasts regularly enough.
Having found the key ingredients, Zoe blended until eventually she found the perfect combination of potent, yet soothing ingredients ( essential oils ) for BOOBS’ ESSENTIAL: – sweet almond, indian frankincense, indian sandalwood and myrrh, which according to scientific research ‘may prevent and reverse cysts, rejuvenate cells & increase immune cell activity’. For more information on each chosen oil and it’s qualities, please click here
After you have a shower and you skin is still wet, dispense a few drops of the oil into your hand and massage the oil in circular motion into each of your breasts, focussing on the feel of the tissue and checking each breast for lumps or something that feels unusual, as you go along. As Zoe says, prevention is better than cure. A while back, during my routine medical, a lump was found in my breast and I had to wait nervously for the result of the mammogram – luckily for me it came back clear and when this oil came into my line of vision, it triggered a memory of that episode, even before I learnt that Zoe’s mother was battling cancer.
It is sometimes the small but important things in life that fall out of our daily ‘check’ and I hope Zoe’s personal story and this woody smelling product, as well as the gorgeously vibrant and potent turmeric products, will help you stay more vigilant about changes in your health, while creating special moments of quiet contemplation and peace, be it while drinking you Golden Mylk, cooking for the people you love or dedicating some ‘me-time’ to yourself.