Host: sisters with a sense of sustainability
A cute little concept store in the district of Berchem where you can also enjoy a nice cup of coffee, that’s exactly what Host is. Operated by Eva and Laura, two ecologically engaged sisters.
TiA: How did you come up with the idea of starting your own business?
Eva: It’s something that we thought about for a while. It came from the feeling that we wanted to do something else in our lives. Preferably something that we loved doing, a passion. I was a teacher and Laura had a PhD in biology, so we come from totally different worlds. We didn’t just randomly decide to open a store, a lot went on before this. I would never have done it without my sister either. I don’t know if I would have the courage to do it. We’ve never studied anything in the business sector, so it was a risk. Anyways, we did become ‘richer’, in the sense that we’ve learned a lot from it and got to know another world, that of entrepreneurship. We are also very grateful that what we did from our gut feeling was also appreciated and well received.
TiA: How did you choose the name ‘Host’?
Eva: I honestly don't remember anymore. We’ve been working on it for a long time. We liked that it was a sentence, that also had an abbreviation. Initially we wanted a name that had something to do with sisters, for example the Swedish or Norwegian word for sisters. But then you have sounds that people from here cannot pronounce, so it would always be mispronounced. The essence of our store is receiving people, so HOST definitely had the right connotation.
TiA: What is it like to work together as sisters?
Eva: I can't speak for everyone, but we are different enough as sisters to form a good team. For example, I don't know if I would be an equally good team with my younger sister, because we are more alike and would like to do the same things. With Laura everything is automatically divided between us. I like being in the store and chatting with clients, while Laura prefers to work behind the scenes. We do everything together though, every product that we decide to sell is reviewed by the both of us. We also go together to trade fairs and agencies to purchase stock. If one of the two is not convinced, we won’t do it either.
TiA: How important is sustainability?
Eva: The most important thing was that we only started offering products from brands that were consciously involved with sustainability. We’ve seen this market grow enormously. We’ve been around for 4 years now and in the very beginning the range of sustainable fashion was much more limited. This automatically makes you stricter with which brands you decide to sell. We notice that brands often focus on a certain type of sustainability (ecological, social). But for smaller brands this is often not that achievable, due to the huge range of fast fashion. We mainly work with small brands because we also get to know the people behind the brand and their stories. We see them struggling a lot. The consumer strongly determines the choices we make. The greater the demand for small brands, the easier it becomes for them to get a hold of larger factories that produce sustainable. The prices in this specific fashion range area also a bit higher than, for example H&M's, but the margins are way smaller because everyone gets paid fairly.
TiA: What about the future of sustainable fashion, is it perhaps a temporary hype?
Eva: I don't see sustainable fashion as a hype. You also see that the next, younger generation is going along with this. If you really start to think about it, it’s simply something out of necessity. When you watch documentaries about this subject, for example ‘The true cost’, your eyes are really being opened. Though, I don't think fast fashion will ever disappear completely, but it’s nice that a strong counterweight is starting to emerge. We can only show what we do and what brands we have in our store. There even are people who come shopping here and do not care for the ecological aspect as much, but simply because we have clothes here that you won’t find in many places.
TiA: Would you consider ‘Host’ to be unique?
Unique? In the sense that ‘we’ do this and there is no second ‘we’, definitely (laughs). Of course there are other ecological stores, but I doubt they have the exact same concept as we do. But that aside, I just think it's very important to be close with my clients. I do my best and that is also very much appreciated. The vibe that we create by who we are is only at The Host.
Host :: Statiestraat 56 :: 2600 Berchem
Text and pics by Julie Gabriels