Natural, Organic and Simple: The Home + Shop of Sukha in Amsterdam
Hello dear readers, would you like to visit Amsterdam with me today? Whenever I’m in this charming city, there’s a very unique shop that I simply must-see no matter what. It’s like LYS Vintage in Hamburg, Merci in Paris or Rossana Orlandi in Milan… I think each city has it’s “design/concept shop” and for Amsterdam, that shop in my eyes is Sukha.
What is “the” shop in your city? Comment below and let us know…
Since it’s a dreary and gray week day here and I’m in need of something bright and joyful, I will share impressions from the wonderfully inspiring Sukha while also going deeper below the surface into the home of Founder Irene Mertens. Together, Irene and I will have a chat too about her business and favorite things to do in Amsterdam, a city that she loves very much.
Care to join us?
But first, a mood board to frame this story - because this is what Suhka is all about - natural, relaxed, a bit bohemian, and very beige/white. It’s gorgeous!
What is the concept behind your shop?
Sukha is a flagship store in the heart of Amsterdam. Everything we sell – from fashion to furniture and from accessories to art – comes with a complementary dose of Sukha. Sukha means ‘joy of life’ in Sanskrit. And that is exactly what we are about. Sukha is a place where beautiful things are conceived, developed and created. We stand for fair production and take great care in selecting unique items that are handmade from natural materials and are often locally designed. Everything we do is done with a great deal of attention and consideration, always with a twinkle in our eye and, above all, joy of life.
How would you describe your personal style?
Natural, organic and simple.
Have you ever thought to open other stores and if so, where?
Yes, but we decided not to. We feel it’s better to focus on one beautiful shop, where everything comes together. Other shops in 13 countries all over the world are reselling our own brand, Atelier Sukha. We give them the opportunity to spread some Sukha joy through their own special places.
Where do your products come from (that you design)?
The products we develop with Atelier Sukha are brought to life in the poorest regions of India and Nepal. Our whole product line-up is set up with local communities. Our mission is to create more Fair Trade employment opportunities in these countries. Next to that we want to cherish the ancient crafts, which are passed on from generation to generation.
What are some of the most popular brands for clothing that you carry?
Monique van Heist, Elsien Gringhuis and Kings of Indigo, all designed in the Netherlands. Van Heist has a powerful philosophy, she designs everlasting basics. We are very proud to stand next to her. She takes slow fashion to the next level. Elsien only uses ecological material and fabrics. Her pieces transcend time and place. We love her focus on craftsmanship and eye for detail. KOI is our favorite organic denim brand.
What is a trend right now that you love and support?
The growing consciousness of people. First it started with food, now slowly we’re getting to fashion. People are buying less and they choose products with better quality that will last for years. More and more they choose colors, materials and prints that they’re feeling comfortable in - and actually love, instead of (blindly) following trends.
What do you love the most about your shop?
Our calm, natural and relaxed atmosphere. People from all over the world are visiting us because of that atmosphere, our special selection of products and our lovely team. We think it’s very important to really be there for every customer, have a little talk, drink a cup of tea together and help them get that timeless basic, beautiful present or lovely postcard.
We have a close group of regular customers who stop by every now and then to add something new to their wardrobe or just get inspired by new products. We’re very grateful for such lovely friends of our shop and could not do it without them.
What is hard about being a shop owner?
Our shop is 362 days a year open, it never stops... When we close the door at the end of the day, we’re not finished. You take your ideas, new developments and decisions to be made, to the home.
Is social media helpful to your business?
Yes, it is very helpful, you can reach everyone all over the world, so we can spread our joy of life and philosophy in as many countries as possible. We believe the online world supports us and we’re trying to use it in a thoughtful, inspiring way.
What do you use (social media) to connect online?
Instagram is a very important tool to connect to our customers and has the largest reach. We try to inspire and educate, by showing everything we like (and has a sparkle of joy in it) and explaining how we produce, where we produce and by pointing out certain ancient techniques or special crafts.
Are you inspired by your city and if so, why?
Very much! I love the people in Amsterdam, they are so open-minded. Our city is ever-growing and developing and trying to do that in the most fair and sustainable way. There are a lot of new social initiatives. For most of my life I have lived here and I still get surprised by a beautiful new little restaurant, a great hidden playground for kids or a stunning sunset when I’m cycling home across the canals.
What are 5 places in Amsterdam that you suggest for a tourist to visit for hotels and food?
Conscious Hotel and Loyd Hotel for sleeping. Choux is an amazing restaurant with a focus on natural ingredients, surprising combinations and beautiful natural wines. We’re also a big fan of Toscanini; a luxurious, yet low-key Italian restaurant serving high quality classic Italian dishes. An outstanding coffee-to-go-or-to-stay? Try Toki, close to our shop. This place is inspired by Japan, they only work with the highest quality of every product they use. Their lunch menu is small, but lovely and tasty. If you want to escape the city a bit, go to the Ceuvel. Their mission is to be 100% sustainable. They grow their own vegetables, produce their own juices and lemonades and work with local farmers and other parties to complete their lunch and dinner menu. It’s located next to the water and the locals even take a swim in the Summer there.
Tell show you imagine your business in 5 years, what are some of your goals?
Our main goal is to provide as many people as possible with fair work and a fair income. Therefore, we need to expand our online and wholesale business. We’re constantly developing new ideas and at the same time we’re looking critically to who we are now and who we want to be in the future and which place we want to take in this, fast growing and changing, world.
Thank you so much Irene for your time, your home and shop impressions, and for having such a thoughtful, beautiful viewpoint on products, production and retail overall. It’s inspiring and important!
(Photographer: Jeltje Janmaat with permission)