To be honest, the idea of the UrWood concept came to us very unexpectedly. Actually, we had a very different idea.
But as life plays, the road of life rarely runs straight. Quite the opposite. We go through a lot of curves, cross crossroads and find ourselves again and again in a dead end. Here is often a complete change of direction neccessary - a "self-defeating maneuver" if you will - which means a step into the right direction.
I would like to introduce ourselves at this point. "We" are Julian Hantelmann and Tobias Meyer from Germany. Both of us share an incredibly deep friendship, which reaches back to our earliest youth and has now lasted for more than 15 years. We both have mastered a similar professional career. Have completed an apprenticeship as a merchant in the retail trade, have accumulated professional experience and have hit the career ladder. We finished the general qualification for university entrance and subsequent economic specialization - and still have the feeling, or much more the burning under the nails, to create something own.
I, Julian, took foot in the gastronomic area. Tobias, whose parents had been gastronomically self-employed since his childhood, had, like Julian, the dream of his own company. We wanted to stir up the market with a creative concept. A heart concern for us, considering what the customer is so partly spoiled. We wanted to tear this wall down. Our idea? Healthy, seasonal and modern traditional food at fair prices from fair cultivation. This seemed to be the right way and the perfect plan for us. Here, we could combine work and passion, create something of our own and being pride of our work – and at the end of the day we could turn off the lights to continue the next morning with a good feeling. So we spent our ceremonies putting our heads together and planning. I tell you we spent countless hours of meticulous preparation. But with every tick of the second hand we came our dream a little closer. The day came for being serious. I still know how wide my grin was in the morning when we looked at suitable premises for rent. By this time everything was so real. We stood in a shell with plaster on the walls and cable coming out from the ceiling. Many people passed by the large shop window towards the pedestrian zone. I dimmed the shell and imagined what it could have been like. I felt the pleasant warmth, the cozy, rustic decor, and the clinking of the glasses and the faces of satisfied customers.
And here the real story begins.
A food allergy that came from nowhere was diagnosed with me and made everything we had planned together lapsed. So suddenly everything can be over. It was like someone snapped and took me from a dream back to the bitter reality. I can still remember exactly how I got the diagnosis from my doctor. On the outside it had to look as if I nodding this note. Inside my world was broken. I did not noticed anymore what the doctor actually said, because the questions were constantly rotating in my head, such as:
"How is life supposed to go on?",
"Was the whole planning, the whole work, the blood, the sweat and the tears all in vain?".
At first I could not and would not stand it. Worked relentlessly in my profession until I finally heard Tobias's call and pulled the emergency brake. Everything hiding and looking away just had no sense anymore. Health is our most important asset, I had to admit. Even if it meant that I had to give up my and Tobias' biggest dream. However, I had to give up not only our dream and our plans, but also the profession that I have practiced up to then. This was followed by unemployment and financial ruin. Bills, rents - all these costs do not suddenly stop. There were lots of nights where I could not sleep. If Tobias had not helped me, I would not know where I'd landed. Again, the road of life drew us in an unexpected direction. And though, or just because of this depth, our friendship became even more intense.
At this point it was clear to us that even if we were back at the very beginning, the time had just come to be creative and start a new beginning. This required a lot of courage and patience, but we went on. So we crossed the first threshold and began to transfer our concept to other areas of life. That is why we went through life with eyes wide-open. We liked to have a coffee in the pedestrian zone and just watched the many people who walked along. We noticed that businessmen and businesswomen looked very similar to each other in their suits, bow ties and ties. Even when we went out in the evening, the peoples clothing style looked quite identical. In a time when everybody wants to profile his individuality, it seemed to be funny to us.
From our original gastronomic idea, we knew that our generation is placing great importance on what to eat. Unhealthy fast food is getting worse and worse. The trend is fortunately away from the "food processing", where it is only about keywords such as "fast", "cheap" and "profit". It must be fresh and valuable for the body. Something unique and healthy. For those who bring the necessary craftsmanship, it is probably also a blessing that the many do-it-yourself videos that circulate, trigger a small do-it-yourself Renaissance. Old, or otherwise useless things, were reused to create something beautiful. Lets call it a little green revolution, if you like. This development, adapted to our observations, gave us incentive to think about what would come out if we were to stir up all our thoughts and experiences into a huge dough and continue to heat them up.
The result were fashion accessories and wrist watches made of wood. From that wood, which could not be used in industry as a residual waste. High quality handwork with a real added value for the customer and for the environment. Unique and handcrafted products that you can not get anywhere. Just something special.
Our range also includes: sunglasses, bow ties, wristwatches and handbags made of wood. Handmade and sustainable.
A business man with a bow tie made of wood suddenly gets a face. A lady with a beautiful wooden wristwatch will suddenly become truly individual. The “green idea” can be lived and displayed far beyond the food - that is beyond the "box" - at a fashionable level. We want to give the gray environment a little more color. Great concept, but ....
... we are merchants and not craftsmen. So we developed a possible assortment for an onlineshop, which focused exactly on that and searched worldwide for manufacturers who could implement our ideas, linked with our values, and found them. Of course there was also enough headwind from all directions.
"Great idea, but how would you pay?"
"How is that supposed to work?"
"How do you know if your ideas are accepted?"
Obviously, it would be a mistake to say, "We have a 100% response to all these questions!" Certainly, it will not be sufficient to program a shop and to wait for what happens. Just because there are countless onlineshops on the Internet.
But we want to start this fight. Because we want to embody something unique. Our planet is just as important to us as a well-groomed co-operation. It is important to us that our customers are not treated with any employee from an outsourcing telephone center, such as a number in the system. We would like to place a glassy and service-oriented company that works with great attention to detail. A place where you feel comfortable and call the seller by name - only just on the Internet shifted. Far from the typical system to a little bit more humanity.
To make this dream come true it will also cost a lot of money. This is the reason why we are here and introduce our project. What should happen in detail now follows.
In addition to the creation of a modern online shop, we have to cooperate with our manufacturers to design our products and get them manufactured. The preliminary talks with our manufacturers have already been successfully completed and the basic assortment is ready to come. We designed our products by ourselves, and then we let our masterminds of their subjects realize our ideas. Half of the budget is needed for that.
A little less than a third of the budget is intended for advertising. In painstaking work we have developed a detailed and structured marketing mix that goes beyond Adwords and Facebook Ads. We want to be represented at fairs. We know that our wooden bow ties can be a hit at weddings. We also do not want to be active exclusively in the B2C area. In the B2B area it would be a great deal for us to fit customer-oriented companies such as cocktail bars, restaurants and hotels with our bow ties.
The remaining budget is used as a buffer for unexpected events and to finance office supplies and packaging materials made from recycled material.
I would like to say that we have decided for an environmentally friendly delivery service like “DHL GoGreen”. It is important to us that every customer knows that he or she is close to our hearts. For this purpose, I have made it my task, as long as it is possible, to enclose a manual letter of thanks to each order. This letter is supposed to arrive at the customer's site with a wax seal known from mediaeval films. Finally here it should be clear that in our opinion the small things of life made the great joy.
So our project answers the two most important questions in one way. On the one hand we give classic accessories a very special touch with wood as the used material. We give our customers the opportunity to be completely individual. The company focuses on the concept of environmental protection and sustainability. This is the answer to the question: "How?"
Much more important is the answer to the question "Why?".
On the other hand we believe in the humanization of the Internet business. Whoever still did not noticed that e-commerce is the future is blind. But what we should open our eyes, because the customer is often viewed only as a donor. Or as customer ID in the system but not as human. We want to change that and we will change that. We know that it is a long and hard way to change that. But if we have learned one thing from our story, then this: You should never give up!