Winding Roads

Zoë Lind van’t Hof

The founder of Wunder Workshop talks about the many countries that have shaped her, raising awareness and creating new rituals with her mother, and discovering a slower pace on the island of Mallorca.

I founded Wunder Workshop and Essentials by Zoë LVH in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Both businesses are very close to my heart and a personification of my passions and ethics in life. I spend most of my time working on Wunder Workshop, which focuses on working with small regenerative community farmers across the world, creating beautiful herbal products. My late mother was a naturopath, so I was raised in what would be considered an alternative way, surrounded by herbal medicine, foraging herbs, going to organic and biodynamic farmer’s markets, and learning about Ayurveda from a young age by visiting Sri Lanka. This was where I first decided to work with the beautiful Curcuma longa (turmeric) plant. I started making a fresh Golden Mylk potion, using turmeric and coconut milk, that I sold on Portobello Market in London. My partner, Tom, then joined the business and we have since grown our product range to up to 30 different products.

I am very passionate about environmentalism and during my master’s degree in International Relations I focused on climate change and food security. By sourcing from only regenerative farms and small communities, we hope to support a way of life that is beyond sustainability – regenerating depleted soils and supporting the creation of biodiverse food forests. These concepts are part of indigenous knowledge and not new creations. We think it is important to celebrate the wisdomkeepers of nature and see it as a reminder that we are one with the natural world.

My other business Essentials by Zoë LVH focuses on breast health awareness and grief. Two concepts that I have come close to when my mother passed away from breast cancer; the business stemmed from that loss. During the last year of her life, we created a breast-care oil together to raise awareness, making the process of checking our breasts into a beautiful ritual of massage and tuning in to the self, all while inhaling the beautiful aromatic essential oils. A few years after my mother passed away, I launched our Grief Balm for moments of sadness, to massage our pressure points and take a deep breath knowing we are not alone and that beautiful moments will come again.

All our products, for both businesses, really stem from personal experiences or personal desires. I love medicinal mushrooms, for example, and I have been using them for my health since I was a teenager. I loved integrating them into a couple of our products, such as Golden Shrooms or Wild Wisdom. I often create a product after meeting a farmer or discovering a beautiful regenerative community project, and then dream about what I could create with the ingredients that they are growing on their land. We never create products based on hype or on the notion of high-volume sales; I think that wouldn’t feel authentic for us to sell a product we don’t relate to on a personal level.

Medicinal mushrooms, turmeric, ashwagandha, local wild weeds, cacao, beautiful oils from almonds, hemp and olives are some of my favourite ingredients to work with. I change it up sometimes, but usually there isn’t a day without one of these in my daily routine, whether internally or externally and within our products. They all feel very nourishing for different needs – mushrooms for immune support, turmeric as an antiinflammatory, ashwagandha for calming anxiety, local wild weeds for liver health or cleansing, cacao as a heart opener, and the oils to nourish my skin and feed my body with important omegas and antioxidants.

I currently live in my soul home, Mallorca; I arrived two years ago, after 31 years living in various places. I was born in Australia, raised in the Netherlands and Germany, studied in the UK and lived in London in my twenties. When I finally made my way to this magical island, I felt I truly belonged here.

It was a very emotional decision, as I’d only visited the island for the first time two years prior, but I truly felt a sense of homecoming. I had butterflies in my belly when I was walking through its beautiful nature. I’d been toying with the idea of moving away from London for a while, but I never knew where until I visited Mallorca and made that decision together with my partner to make the leap. We have not looked back.

The nature here is something else, its energy for me feels like a warm hug and we have been so lucky to have found such a beautiful community of like-minded people. The island and its people have taught me a slower pace of life, which is something I have been yearning for. I tend to work long hours, but I am slowly finding a balance by being in nature more, in my garden, by the sea or going on hikes. I generally spend all my free time in the Tramuntana mountains, exploring the cliff-lined coasts and skinny-dipping in the sea between the golden rocks.

My family is based in Australia, Germany and the Netherlands, so my travels usually involve visiting them, or the farming communities in Sri Lanka, Colombia or London, as our business is still based in the UK. These places are all so different, yet all so special to me and each represents a part of me or my passions. Australia is where I was born and the nature, the loud bird calls and the beautiful ocean are a representation of my wild side. Germany and the Netherlands represent nostalgia for me, my childhood and teenage years, and I adore some of the cosy habits and cycling through nature. Sri Lanka truly has the most welcoming and warm people, and the landscape is so beautiful and diverse for such a small country. The UK always has a special place in my heart, I adore the countryside and the excitement and possibilities of London.

I usually start the day slow after feeding my cats, chickens, and watering the plants. I then normally sit down with a beautiful potion and approach the day by first observing how I feel and what serves me in this moment, what I need to do work-wise. My creativity really thrives in nature and in a space by myself. I often notice when I sit behind my laptop for longer hours, my creativity wanes, and I need to remind myself to step away from it to get clarity and perspective. Nature reminds me to be humble, how life is cyclical and the impermanence of everything. It really has the ability to take away any worries I might have about life, work or other material things. I love the concept of kincentric ecology, where we go back to ancient wisdom that saw nature as akin to us humans. Over thousands of years, we humans have lost that connection of seeing nature as part of us, and we have learned to feel separation on so many levels. I actively try to relearn this kinship to nature and feel very inspired by it.

I am so fascinated by bees, and I love observing their behaviour. It makes me very grateful knowing they are so fundamental to our human existence by pollinating food and keeping our biodiversity in balance. My chickens and cats love following me around in the garden, which always warms my heart, as they are such curious beings. It’s a reminder to also approach things with curiosity and innocence.

Summer is incredibly warm and vibrant in Mallorca. I always feel like I really need to have rested properly in winter and early spring to feel grounded and ready for the heightened energy that welcomes us in summer. It is light until 10pm, which means very late dinners during sunset and early-morning or evening swims. I eat more cooling foods such as salads and room temperature potions rather than hot teas. We have a garden, so I spend most time outdoors when it’s not too hot and enjoy some free time reading in the shade of a tree. This summer, I look forward to beautiful gatherings with friends and seaside picnics.

I love decorating tables and hosting dinners. I usually have an eclectic mix of plates and glasses, which I place on my grandmother’s vintage table line, and I add colour by having small vases with beautiful wildflowers picked from the garden. You can’t beat a beautiful surrounding in nature, like-minded people, natural wine made locally and delicious vegetarian home-cooked dishes for the perfect summer get-together. I adore all kinds of wildflowers, to create beautiful bouquets at home. At the moment I have a collection of rock rose, jasmine, freesias, and bright mimosa flowers at home.

What’s next for me? We are working on some beautiful new teas with local European herbs that have always been part of the traditional wisdom of the land we live on. I think it is important to celebrate, show appreciation and reconnect to the wisdom of indigenous communities across the world.

Photography by Zoë Lind van’t Hof

Follow her travels @zoelvh