This week we welcome not one, but two guests. And not to forget their fur child. A couple, that inspires each other and people around them. They have created a place for Yin and Yang in the midst of people's hectic lives. Take a breath and slow down with Annemijn and Berend from the All day cafe and Yoga studio; Kula.
Q: So nice to see you! Please tell us about yourselves
A: Hi, I'm Annemijn, I live in Rotterdam now. I live there with my friend Berend; we always call him Beer. And with my super sweet dog Pip, that's an Australian labradoodle. Pip is now two years old, and we are very happy with him. I finished hotel school and this best a while ago. I have lived in many different places including Amsterdam, Breda, and Barcelona, and traveled a lot. I originally come from a village under Rotterdam, in the Hoeksewaard in nature. But currently, we are looking for a house more in nature, those are our plans. We would really like that, then we can walk more, live in peace and it would be nice for our dog. We may also want a second dog in the future and kids and chickens! These are our plans at the moment.
B: Yes, yes, yes, I'm Berend, 29 years old, I'm turning 30 this year, so time for a party or a tear, it just depends on how you see it. I grew up in a village near Den Bosch and played a lot of high-level hockey in my youth. Then I went to Breda for the higher hotel school, there I met Annemijn, the love of my life haha. That was about ten years ago, then we went to Amsterdam together and decided to continue studying there. After my master, I started doing sales, and then together with Annemijn, we got the idea to start a business. This all started two years ago, we also immediately got the opportunity to live above Kula, where we live now.
Q: We think Kula is such an amazing concept! Can you tell us what you all do?
A: What might be nice to talk about Kula is why we do what we do and how we got there. After hotel school, I entered corporate life. It was very much in my head that I wanted to make a career. So, I started doing that, but I noticed for years that I was not very comfortable in my skin and that I felt empty, mentally, and physically. But I couldn't put my finger on why this was so. I was holding all kinds of balls high, from friends to family to work and I didn't really enjoy the life I was living at all. I felt very alone in this. I had the feeling that other people would think I'm was crazy because I had everything right. Yet something inside me said 'is this it?'.
My grandmother has been doing yoga all her life and she had often said 'John My, yoga just really helps to tune in a bit more, to get more connection with yourself and it has helped me my whole life.' And I would always say 'Grandma, you with your yoga, that's not for me at all, I'm not that floaty.'
Q: Interesting, how did this change 180 degrees?
A: Because I got to a point in my life where I thought 'I have to do something about this'. That's when I first started yoga and started talking to people, so I looked for help. I started to express my feelings, including to my family and friends.
That new process has set so much in motion for me, in which I found so many answers and peace. I had completely lost connection with myself, I found out. I think this should have happened when I look back on it now, so I had to change. This has helped me immensely, not only with yoga but also meditation and talking and connecting with people. This has planted the seeds for Kula, it's not that we thought 'let's open an all-day cafe and a yoga studio', it's a lifestyle we want to share with people.
Q: It is also very special that you are doing this together, how did this come about?
A: I included Beer in that whole process. We have been together for almost 10 years now. Beer saw what helped me, and then became 'infected' with my practice. He's started doing lots of yoga and meditating, and not only that, but we’ve also started to live more consciously. We traveled a lot; I did yoga training in Bali and a vegetarian chef training. We have expanded into the well-being industry.
Q: You have made the perfect combination with what you have learned at the hotel school and what you find very important, is that correct?
A: Yes, we have an entrepreneurial urge, we always wanted to start something together. For us, the ‘why’ has always been very important and not just 'what'. Also, to give people something and to help them. Then it became clear to us that we wanted to link our love for hospitality and its connecting factor to awareness, yoga, and mindfulness. We thought that was a great concept and it hardly exists in the Netherlands, we were inspired by Bali.
Q: That's right, this is a new concept for us too! Explain a little more about the concept of Kula.
A: Our thought was “What if we could set up a concept to lower the threshold, a playful concept with lots of colors where we tickle people to find out 'is this something for me?''. Because we have experienced that people still feel a threshold to walk into a yoga studio, while they do not feel well.
Q: Actually, sounds very logical, so it consists of 2 floors?
A: That's right, Kula is an all-day cafe with a studio and in the cafe and studio we host events, and workshops on everything that has to do with well-being. Kula also means community and our tagline is 'back to your roots', so we also want to create a place for people to fall back to their core and that in a playful and free manner.
And in the all-day café, everything is vegetarian, we have breakfast, lunch, pre-yoga dinners, snacks, and drinks. If you look at the combination, the cafe is the 'yang' and the studio is the 'yin'. Downstairs it's about connecting with others and upstairs in the studio, it's about connecting with yourself. We also have quite a large terrace. We have consciously opted for vegetarian food, also plant-based to a large extent, because we want to show people that you can also eat very tasty vegetarian food and that it is also very good for you.
Q: What do you like most about what you do?
B: What I like most about Kula is that we have created a place where we can facilitate, that we see that there is a solid group of people, and the community that we envisioned was already created in such a short time. And of course, that people heal traumas and become more comfortable in their skin. I'm the manager myself so I focus a bit more on the cafe, and I give meditation classes once a week. But seeing that we have created the place that we envisioned gives me a lot of pleasure, that's also why I do what I do.
A: It gives a super satisfying feeling when a concept, which has now been open for 6 months, is resonating with people and that we can help them. That there is now also a nice, permanent group of people who come and that we are a kind of get-a-way for them where they can feel the connection with others and themselves. I also give yoga classes three times a week, sometimes four times a week, which is what I like the most, teaching in the studio.
Q: Pip is such a cute dog! Tell me about her?
A: To kind of build a bridge from Pip to Kula, Pip is truly a part of Kula and us, she really feels like our child. Pip can always be found in Kula, she always says hello to everyone, she is the sweetest and senses people. She brings us a lot of love in our lives.
B: Yes, not just us, everyone who sees Pip is immediately happy. A real sweetheart.
A: And very playful and naughty!
B: We can sometimes lose ourselves in the daily business of running Kula and when I see Pip, I know not to take everything too seriously, that life is one big party. Pip does that to us.
Q: That’s beautiful. How did you find Pip? Did you always know that you wanted to go for an Australian doodle?
B: We grew up with a lot of dogs around us, Annemijn always had a Benner Sennen at home, and I had an Icelandic dog, a farm fox, a Kooiker, and a stray dog from Spain, four in total. Always with many dogs at home, this has been a big part of our childhood. That's why we wanted a dog ourselves, I must say that Annemijn initiated it, she said 'oh Bear, if we want a dog, this is the perfect time'. Then we had doubts between a Golden retriever, Labrador, and an Australian doodle.
Q: So, it became Pip, an Australian doodle.
B: Yes, we started manifesting it and Pip soon came our way. We had just had a lovely holiday, we came back and a few days later we were able to pick up Pip, on the 4th of January, my mother's birthday. We were jet lagged but it was great to have such a small guppy in the house. The lockdown came a few months later in March, so just before that started. Because of this, we had a lot of quality time in Pip's youth, also for training, we were always at home. This has shaped Pip into who she is today, she is easygoing and can go anywhere.
A: I think with doodles anyway, they are such sweethearts, they are very eager to learn. Pip needs a lot of challenge; she likes to play games and learn things. We got her from 'bohemian labradoodles' in Heiloo.
Q: You already said that Pip always goes to Kula. If this doesn't work, how do you solve this?
A: Basically, Pip is always with us, she loves this and is also very relaxed. When we are not with her, my parents live above us, they also have a dog that she gets along with very well. So, when we can't watch Pip for a while, she can chill with my parents, and vice versa.
Furmey Facts – Do you have a fun fact about dogs?
A: Yes, I do know a fun fact! What is very interesting, is what dogs do when they experience stress or tension; they often shake, as if they are wet. By doing this they release tension, it's something a lot of animals do. But this is also good to do yourself! In our yoga studio, we often do 'shaking' during events. This is also good to do in the morning, for five minutes to remove tension from the body.
F: Nice! So literally shake it off.
Q: Furmey Tips – Do you have any tips for people who would like to take their dog to work? Or those who can't?
B: Yes, I think it is important before you take a puppy to check if it is possible to take him to work. And then take him or her from scratch, so you can train the dog to be in the office. Also, so that he feels safe and maybe can get a special place.
A: I agree, it has to do with how safe your dog feels, it also has to do with taking the time with them when they are puppies. Reward for good behavior and just share a lot of love. A good foundation with your dog is how you make sure that they feel safe and familiar with you.
B: If it is not possible, it is important for them to stay at home, even for a longer period. Or, for example, you can look at a dog walking service. Making it very clear to your dog from the beginning that you work certain days, at certain times and that thereafter you will come back, this ensures that your dog knows and learns this. And then for the weekend, Pip notices when it is the weekend because we are not on our laptops and then she shows us that it is her time, which is very cute.
Q: Furmey Tips – Do you have any tips for those looking for an Australian doodle or already have one?
B: We have noticed that there are always queues for Labradoodles, so don't let that discourage you. I would always just text or call. Because, one thing can lead to another, that's how it happened for us. The queue was full, all puppies were already reserved, and we just happened to call when a family had visited the breeder and they had decided not to give the puppy to them. This was Pip, you never know how it could turn out so don't be discouraged. And, if you want it, you must act.
Q: Great advice! What is the best advice you have ever received, or do you have any good advice that other entrepreneurs can benefit from?
B: I think it's important to use your network in the start-up phase, but also when your business is already up and running. Many things in your company have already been done by someone else, and they have valuable information or tips. Creating a network can save a lot of time, effort, and money. For example, write to inspiring people, ask for tips, and have coffee. Get yourself out there. To get information for this in return so that you make fewer mistakes, you will still make mistakes, that is also your process. But the point is that with a little more information, you may be able to make a better choice at a certain point. This has been most valuable to us.
Q: Get yourself out there! We love this. You live in Rotterdam, what are Pip's favorite places, and what are nice places to come with Pip?
A: nice question! Pip's favorite place is definitely the park, we live next to the park, a nice, big park. We go there at least once a day; she loves to run there and walk through the water. That is by far her favorite place in our neighborhood. She also likes the beach very much and she loves Vlieland. We often go into town with Pip for a walk and have a coffee, our favorite coffee spot is, of course, Kula. Also, we often go to a cute little place called Parkiet in the park and in the city to la pizza, the Rotterdam harvest market on Saturday, and the Kralingse Bos.
F: Great! Very nice tips, thank you Annemijn and Beer!