Interview with Zoe Founder of Regenerative Brand Wunder Workshop
Interview with Zoe from Wunder Workshop
Today I am excited to talk to friend and colleague Zoe LVH who with her boyfriend Tom set up Wunder workshop in 2014 creating products for people and planet inspired by intuitive herbalism and Ayurveda.
Their focus is on Consumption with Purpose®- by harvesting the power of regeneratively grown plants for ultimate wellness rituals.
Wunder translates to miracle, and they focus on plants that have a quality that can be classed as such.
Zoe, Wunder workshop has very strong core values which translate from the people you work with, to product and all the way to packaging. Tell us about these and how they lead your decisions when it come sourcing for your business?
For me it is essential to know and connect, as much as possible, to the origin of all the things we consume in any way or form. Especially as a business owner I think this is our duty, as I believe we cannot sell health or wellbeing products without putting the health of the planet and the farmers in the forefront.
I try to do this by sourcing from regenerative farms and small community farms to support a way of life that is beyond sustainability - by regenerating depleted soils and support the upkeep or creation of biodiverse food forests. These concepts are part of indigenous knowledge and not new inventions. We think it is important to celebrate the wisdom keepers of nature and see it as a reminder that we are one with nature.
Hence why it’s essential for us to consider every element of the value chain, from soil, ingredients, packaging, to the consumer.
As pioneers of regenerative clothing, we love finding products using regenerative ingredients. Organic Turmeric was one of your first products was it not. Can you tell us about this ingredient, why you chose it and why yours is so special?
I fell in love with turmeric as a child when my late-mother would use it in cooking and make delicious golden porridge. Those memories of a cosy warm porridge with it’s bright yellow colour are still one of the reasons I think why I adore yellow and the warmth it radiates.
Later, during my late teens we would visit very down-to-earth ayurvedic retreats in Sri Lanka to learn more about Ayurveda and their incredible holistic approach to health. Because I always have a very bad reaction to mosquito bites, the ayurvedic doctor would create a golden bath/paste to sooth the inflammation and itchiness (and leave me pretty yellow for a few days!) but I was again amazed by its beautiful properties and how healing this plant can be. That’s when I decided in my twenties to learn more about turmeric farming, and I went back to Sri Lanka to visit families who grow turmeric. This is when the idea for Wunder Workshop blossomed, and that’s when I decided to work with this incredible spice after seeing how it was grown in the most biodiverse setting, surrounded by ginger, black pepper, jackfruit, vanilla and many more beautiful plants. This to me was the most beautiful way of “farming”. Since then, for nearly 10 years, we have been sourcing from the same community farms in Sri Lanka, and it’s still the most radiant and powerful turmeric I have come across.
You talk about forest garden certification on your website. Can you tell us a little about what this is and perhaps how it compares to other certification bodies like soil association or ROC?
It’s based on a traditional Sri Lankan way of farming, it creates and maintains small food-forests by planting trees and crops together that each play a specific role whether that is creating shade for the smaller plants, repelling pests, and or trading nutrients through their roots. This creates a very natural biodiverse setting, that feeds the microworld and the macroworld. The micro world being the world inside the soil, the fungi and bacteria that nurture the roots and the plants, plus attracting all the beautiful insects that pollinate more plants. It’s different to organic certificates (which we also have), as Forest Gardens focus not only on whether pesticides have been added to the farming process, but it looks at a more holistic angle at the health and the biodiversity of the farm. Organic farming is great, and should be the very foundation of all farming, but it really needs to go beyond that as organic farms are often still mono-cultural farms which don’t put soil health or biodiversity at the forefront.
You have a lot of beautiful products clearly made with a strong set of intentions.
What is the process you go through when developing a new product? Are they all developed by you?
Thank you! Yes, we really approach product development from two angels, one being the more personal experience and secondly the ingredient and farm itself. For example, Golden Shrooms was a product that I created during my time at university, when I loved going out dancing at night but didn’t want to take drugs, so I would take medicinal mushrooms such as cordyceps instead, which are great for stamina and endurance.
But for most of our products we start at the other side of the process, we usually start from the farm or ingredient. It’s the farmers and nature that inspire us to work with them and then we think of the best way of presenting these ingredients and the packaging, which is just another ingredient, before we establish what product we will create with it. The health of the soil is our priority and from there all things bloom.
Is circularity of your products very important for you? Tell us about your packaging choices?
I have spent so many days, or years studying the ins and outs of the packaging world. It’s constantly innovating but I try to create products that can be packaged the best possible way in the time we are in. Often there are great new ideas for packaging such as for example biodegradable items, but they are only commercially biodegradable (and our current waste management system isn’t set up for that yet). So, circularity and renewable materials are the best option for now, hence why I focus on a combination of having home- compostable materials, reusable jars and metal or paper lids. Pipettes are my biggest frustration for which I still haven’t found a solution, as there isn’t an environmentally friendly solution out there (to my knowledge) but we ask our customers to keep their pipettes and reorder our CBD oil without it. And it’s so rewarding to see how many people reorder their CBD oil without the pipette!
Winter can feel hard on our bodies and mental health. Can you give us some advice as to which of your products might be useful to support us at this time of year and likewise some of your favourite ingredients we should incorporate into our diets if we can?
Absolutely, I struggle with the grey sky sometimes, and I find great comfort in taking my Bear Hug tincture, which helps me feel less gloomy. One of its ingredients is mustard flower essence which is known on an energetic level for bringing more contentment and peace into ones lives.
I also integrate Chaga mushroom into my routine during the winter, as it’s one of nature’s most powerful immunomodulators.
Do you have a favourite daily ritual that has been an anchor and support to you and might just help us all sail through 2023?
Most mornings I hold a small tea ceremony with myself. I gifted myself a beautiful tea set last year, and I sit in stillness for 20minutes to fully immerse myself in the process of pouring the tea, absorbing the aroma and then drinking it slowly. I do about 3 rounds of this with the same batch of tea leaves, and it really helps me to be fully present. I sometimes struggle with meditation so I have found tea ceremony my ideal way of coming to inner stillness. You can use any loose leaf tea, I sometimes use a Japanese green tea and on days where I don’t want any caffeine I use our Goddess Tea.
Thank you, Zoe.
Discover all Zoe and Tom’s wonderful products at www.wunderworkshop.com
Warming Mushroom Tonic Recipe: