25 February 2020
Circular products for responsible consumption
Yuman is a space devoted to the circular economy, fostering the emergence of new economic models by creating local employment and reducing travel around the city.
Christel Droogmans is co-founder of Yuman, a project created in 2017. After the opening of a Christmas pop-up store at Espace Louise in Brussels in 2018, the aim of the project was to bring together fully-functioning products made from recycled materials, eco-designed and based on natural materials, in one place. It's now a reality. In the 1200 m² Yuman store located at 123 de la chaussée de Charleroi in Brussels, products are all either second-hand or from the circular economy: clothing, gifts, cosmetics and hygiene products, cleaning products in bulk, zero waste solutions, books, decoration and furniture.
An experience-rich journey
Along with a busy family life with three daughters, now almost adults, and a husband, Christel Droogmans has a rich professional background. After 27 years in the banking sector, where she was as an agency director, she decided to join an insurance company where she embarked on previously undiscovered business challenges.
When the company where Christel worked was acquired, she started to question her future. "I was increasingly questioning life in big business, the balance between the customer, the employee and the shareholder," she says. The film "Tomorrow" and social media were two triggers on her path towards her new life. Christel then became interested in shared governance and the circular economy, she is "convinced that it is the new economic paradigm and that will be built gradually". She set out to meet the actors of the circular economy in Belgium and feels that demand is important.
"Investment is not a goal in itself. It's a way to make projects happen.’’
When she was asked to share her investment vision, Christel is clear, "I see myself as a venture capitalist,’’ she says. ‘‘However, I’m an investor who works in terms of vision, mission and values. Investment is not a goal in itself. It's a way to make projects happen. At the age of 22, she signed up for her first savings plan, aware that it is the small streams that mighty oaks from little acorns grow. As well as that, she subscribed to pension plans via her employers. Christel and her husband also invest in shares of listed companies, but only under certain conditions: only companies they know well. "What motivates me to invest today is the impact I can have and the belief I have in projects," she says.
A positive spiral
Christel is convinced that "it is the consumer in general (through investment or buying behaviour) who will change the world". The changes in her life have had a positive impact on those around her, starting with her daughters, who now think differently.
"Think about the projects you want to make happen, and invest accordingly. Do not spend more than you earn, that underpins everything. Start saving early so that it becomes a kind of reflex. Think about the values you want to defend, such as security, support local projects ... Depending on your needs, your deadlines and your values, select the right mix of investments.’’ This is Christel's formula, what’s yours?
Yuman in a nutshell