Nathalie Smolders et Ine Van Coillie

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    Nathalie Smolders
    & Ine Van Coillie



    Brood & bloemen


    Brood & Bloemen: Bread & Flowers. Don’t let the name fool you: Nathalie Smolders and Ine Van Coillie have nothing to do with bread. Their business is focused on creating atmosphere and experience for their clients. Whether that’s with food or flowers. What they do, they do well: just a year and a half after opening in Lier, they recently opened a second eatery-concept store in Heist-op-den-Berg.
    www.broodenbloemen.com

    Trousers
    Collection five
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    Just to be clear: Brood & Bloemen is neither a bakery nor a sandwich shop?

    Ine: No, not at all. (laughs) Our name refers to the Roman ‘Bread & Circuses’, where everything was about spectacle and experience. Nathalie: We don’t just stand for delicious, healthy food, we also organise parties and events. With everything we do, we specially choose beautiful flowers and tableware to suit the situation. Ine: It’s about creating the big picture. Brood & Bloemen needs to grow into a brand that extends beyond the two of us. Look at the group surrounding the Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek in Eindhoven. That’s what we’re aiming for. We are always looking for girls who can cook and give workshops, or manage a craft we can use in the store.



    Tops
    Collection five
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    It’s about creating the big picture. Brood & Bloemen needs to grow into a brand that extends beyond the two of us.

    How would you describe your style at Brood & Bloemen?

    I went through a phase when I wore pencil skirts and all different kinds of patterns. Fortunately, I soon realized that it wasn’t for me. Actually, I like fairly classic things. I wear a lot of dark blue and black because it’s easy. I don’t have much time when choosing an outfit, and I always wear high heels. Furthermore, I’d much rather invest in something expensive, and in high-quality pieces, than spend my money on passing trends and disposable fashion. I like to buy a skirt that I know I can wear in ten years time.





    Blouses
    Collection five
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    We moved to Heist, because of the location. It’s light, charming and surrounded with plants.

    It doesn’t matter where we go, people know how to find us.

    Why did you choose to set up in Lier and, recently, Heist-op-den-Berg?

    Nathalie: We both come from Lier, so that was an obvious starting point; we know each other through our partners. For Brood & Bloemen, we have paired together to work on all sorts of projects: pop-up restaurants, events, parties, etc. Ine: Lier has definite advantages. It frees my time up for my daughter, Marta. Her school is just around the corner. Nathalie: We are especially popular with people who don’t live in Lier. It doesn’t matter where we go, people know how to find us. Ine: We moved to Heist, because of the location. It’s light, charming and surrounded with plants and vegetation. It’s a twenty-minute drive if there’s no traffic. I want to be available for my daughter, but at the same time, I don’t want to abandon my ambitions. Nathalie: We are both impatient and we knew from early on that we wanted to expand into a second location. If we were to wait for four or five years, the momentum would have passed us by. Besides





    We love plants and flowers so much!
    On Saturday, it’s Flower Day.

    Skirts
    Collection five
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    Besides healthy food and handmade products, you also offer flower arrangements. How’s that going?

    Nathalie: We love plants and flowers so much! On Saturday, it’s Flower Day. Our flower services helped us to build our regular client base. Ine: We make flower vases for parties. Every weekend of the coming summer is fully booked with wedding receptions. Nathalie: The flower sales are blooming, but we have noticed that people want to spend less on plants. It’s usually the trendy plants, like cacti and pancake plants (Pilea Peperomioides) that really cause a storm. But the plants we like to see, like the asparagus and the philodendron, often fail to sell, which is a pity. We have to find a solution to that. Ine: In Lier, all the products are heaped together in one tiny room, which really doesn’t do justice to the selection. Nathalie: In our new store, we would like to give plants more attention. As well as beautiful, handmade products. Ine: The new Brood & Bloemen really has to be our flagship store. Nathalie: The start-up phase is what we like the most. Once the business is up and running, we need to start looking for something new again. Ine: It would be nice to design our own products. Nathalie: And to sell them. Ine: Or to open a flower hotel. We are full of good ideas. We’re unstoppable. (Laughs.)