Meet Julie Wu. She is the co-founder of Örling & Wu, a fantastic lifestyle Canada-based shop filled with handpicked and wish list-worthy items, with a focus on quality and timelessness. Their goal is to bring pleasure and improve the quality of your life through simple products that work well, are affordable and look beautiful. “Don’t follow a trend, follow your heart…” – That’s their philosophy when it comes to investing in design. Julie and her husband curates tableware, fabric and wallpaper, home accents, fragrance, pets accessories, and more. They have two brick and mortar stores in Vancouver, and an online shop that ships worldwide.
Being an entrepreneur and small business owner, I love to hear success stories of talented people who started companies, with the goal to make a difference and to to bring something new to the market; people driven by a vision, a passion, a curiosity, and a determination; people with a mission. So I was curious as to find out more about Julie, Örling & Wu and the story behind the brand. She kindly agreed to answer my questions.
Q: What inspired you to start your shop?
A: “My husband and I returned to Canada in 2009 with a vision to start up a retail store that is solely dedicated to lifestyle, decoration and design. We saw a market demand for contemporary household goods for everyday living. We believe good design should always be relevant, simple and reliable.
Q: What sets your shop aside from it’s competitors?
A: Besides our key performing brands and seasonal product selections. The services we provide on special ordering and shipping around the world sets us apart from our competitors. We also invest a large amount time and money towards staff training, career development and customer education.
The business is built on strong working relationships with people who are honest, and products that are proven dependable, well-made and accessible to the discerning clientele.
Q: Who or what influences your style? To what do you attribute your wonderful aesthetic?
A: As a provider to our local market in Western Canada the main influencers of our overall style are our clients, they are the people who we cater to, therefore the design aesthetic speaks to them and forms the overall look and feel each year.
And of course our buying team who are dedicated in sourcing the latest trends from all around the world, Each year our buyers, including myself, travel abroad to leading design shows to get educated an reconnected to the wider design world and supply chain; making sure that products delivery on time, speak of a specific language and fits our local demand. Not every trend is suitable for the West coast lifestyle therefore it takes our buyers a lot of efforts to bringing in a relevant product range each season.
Q: How do you find the pieces/products for your store?
A: Through word of mouth, recommendations and visiting trade shows in different countries.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face with running your own store?
A: Finding the right caliber of staff who understands “there is more to work than work” and pays attention to the tiniest details.
Q: What do you love most about having your own store?
A: Finding out what works for the local market and seeing what people enjoy buying and like about our product selections.
Q: What are you proud of?
A: That we are still here and the company has a lot of room for growth.
Q: Do you have any special projects in the pipeline or exciting future plans?
A: Yes, but it takes time to hire the right staff and to put in place the right systems and procedures before any projects embark.
Q: What are your favorite pieces/products at the moment?
A: There are many new lines that are coming through this autumn/winter, but I find most fascinating when the producers are able to make special items for us base on our specification.”
Make sure to visit Örling & Wu for well-curated design, and don’t forget to bookmark this lovely shop!
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Photos: Örling & Wu