Success Stories: Paguro meets Oslo Lips and their quest for a Pop-up Store

Author: Helene Timm | Paguro Podcast
September 3, 2021
Oslo Lips
Astrid Opsal
Retail
Spaces

A conversation with Astrid Opsal from Oslo Lips

Guests

Astrid Opsal from Oslo Lips

Intro

Welcome to Paguro podcast, I am Helene. In the topic of this month, we are exploring the potential of pop-up stores to drive urban change. Today I am talking with Astrid Opsal from Oslo Lips, who produces and sells lip balms made from 100% pure beeswax and olive oil. Together we discuss what makes her product so special and why she's planning to set up a pop-up store through Paguro.

Helene Timm | Paguro Podcast

Astrid, thank you very much for welcoming me here to your garden. When I was coming in through the gate, I could already see all the bees and that there are quite a couple more than I see in the rest of the city.

Astrid Opsal | Oslo Lips

Thank you for coming, it's nice to have you here. I'm glad you could come to my garden and have a look at the beehives, I have two beehives here, two bee colonies.

Helene Timm | Paguro Podcast

Yes, and that is also what we will talk about today: Your beekeeping and also how that developed into your business of Oslo Lips.

Astrid Opsal | Oslo Lips

Yes.

Helene Timm | Paguro Podcast

As a little introduction: Can you say something about what you do right now? If this is your main business or if you do something else on the side? And perhaps also what fascinates you about bees and using wax as a product?

Astrid Opsal | Oslo Lips

That was a lot of questions in one (laughs).

Helene Timm | Paguro Podcast

Indeed. Maybe it’s good to start with the first one. Who are you and what do you do?

Astrid Opsal | Oslo Lips

I'm soon 63 years old, I retired a year ago. That's quite early but that was because I wanted to do some different things. I'm trained as an architect. I'm a restoration consultant, so I work basically with old buildings and that's what I've been doing for a career. And I enjoy having free time to spend with my bees in the garden here. That's a big hobby. I started as a beekeeper seven years ago.

So, it's been a while and of course, I knew from before that beeswax is an important ingredient in many cosmetic products. A few years ago, before Christmas my daughter came and suggested that we made some lip balms to have as Christmas presents, so we did. They became so popular presents and people said it was the best lip balm they ever had. Several people suggested that I should start to produce them. In the beginning, it sounded quite crazy to me that I should maybe produce also for sale, but I gave it a thought and I started to think about it.

Then I thought why not, I have all this fantastic beeswax, what else do you use it for. “Let's take care of that resource and use it!”. So, I started producing these lip balms. I looked for tubes, I found some in bamboo, so I have bamboo tubes, they look nice. The name is OsloLips because I wanted the name to mirror that it's locally made here in Oslo.

Helene Timm | Paguro Podcast

So, you produce them here in your home?

Astrid Opsal | Oslo Lips

Yes, with the scarf on my head and with the gloves on my hands, so that it is as hygienic as possible. I am careful about that.

Also, I would like to add that in my beehives at the bees are building their wax naturally. Therefore, the wax that is used in the lip balm is pure virgin beeswax. Most beekeepers use recycled wax in their hives, but I don't. In my hives it's pure. It is the best quality wax you can find in my lip balms.

Helene Timm | Paguro Podcast

Nice and that is of course also due to how you build the hives.

Astrid Opsal | Oslo Lips

Yes. My hives are wooden. It is important to me to give the bees the natural environment as opposed to the regular beehives that we see around which are made of Styrofoam, which is plastic. I don't like that. I want the bees to live as natural as possible.

Helene Timm | Paguro Podcast

How has it been for you to turn something like a hobby or a passion project also into a business? What have been the benefits or the perks of that and maybe also the challenges?

Astrid Opsal | Oslo Lips

I think it's only been positive. I started my own company and that was a learning process. I had to study a lot. You know what type of company and the bureaucracy around it. But it was a lot of fun. I had some very good advisors along the way.

I would like to mention DNB, the bank. You can come and get advice for free from them (It’s called Oppstartslos). You can just make an appointment, at least before Corona. Probably after Corona that will be possible again. So, you can make an appointment and come and speak to very experienced people. They know a lot about how to start up a business. You can come and you can tell them about your idea and ask them any questions that you wonder about, and they will answer you and help you. It's a very good thing to do and it doesn't cost anything.

Helene Timm | Paguro Podcast

Right now, you are selling online through your website but also different stores, right?

Astrid Opsal | Oslo Lips

Yes, there are a few stores that are selling them and a few museum stores. I'm quite picky about where I want to sell it. I don't promote it everywhere because my production is rather small. I only have two beehives. You know it's a limit of wax.

Helene Timm | Paguro Podcast

What would be the criteria for you for a store to sell it? Or what do you imagine for a store to have?

Astrid Opsal | Oslo Lips

It's important for me that the stores have an environmentally friendly approach to the products that they're selling. I prefer that. On my website, you can find a list of the places that are selling my lip balm.

Helene Timm | Paguro Podcast

We were also in touch about you opening a pop-up store that you would find through our platform Paguro. When opening a pop-up store, what kind of atmosphere or feeling would you like to create for your customer in that store?

Astrid Opsal | Oslo Lips

I would need only a tiny little space because my lip balms aren't very large. I don't need very much display. But it would be fun to bring some beeswax in natura just to show people how fine and fragile and super thin and very nice smelling it is. Oh, it smells wonderful.

Helene Timm | Paguro Podcast

Yes, it always smells so nice when there is beeswax in a room.

Astrid Opsal | Oslo Lips

Therefore, I would like to bring some of that. Of course, a lot of lip balms and I do have a background colour for my homepage and some of my Instagram photos. I have tried to use purple so I would need to use some purple colour that people can associate with the brand. I would also like to have my beautiful logo in a larger typo, to show it off.

The main benefit for me in a pop-up store would be to personally meet my customers. Because as by now, I am selling through stores. That means I am depending on the employees in the store and that they know my product and my story so that they can explain to the customers what a fantastic product this is. Of course, that's not always the case. They might have looked at my homepage or listened to me explaining the product, but you know how it is, they sell a lot of different types of products and new people are coming in. It is not easy, and you cannot rely on that.

So, for me to meet up face to face with my potential customers to explain to them how wonderful this lips lip balm is. That is the most important thing to me in a pop-up store. Maybe even more important than the visual design.

Helene Timm | Paguro Podcast

I think that is a valid point. What you describe is something that we also wrote about for the Paguro Newsroom. In a checklist, we summarized how to open a pop-up store. Something we thought a lot about, is creating an experience for the customers. For example, you bring wax and customers come into the store and smell it. That is already part of that experience but then also the clear benefit of just meeting your customers in person especially after such a long time of the pandemic. I think this is even more important now.

Astrid Opsal | Oslo Lips

Of course, I have an interesting story to tell as a beekeeper and how I work with my bees. Because I have a special type of beehive. So I can bring pictures of my hive and I'm sure that could catch the interest of some people.

Is this something Paguro could also help me with? Do you have any plans for pop-up spaces?

Helene Timm | Paguro Podcast

We do have a bigger project coming up this fall where we going to have a bigger pop-up space area. People will be able to rent spaces in that area through our platform. They will reach from 20 to 40 or 60 square meters. I could see that your business would work in that space because there will be many smaller brands coming in for example for six weeks and a bigger audience will move through that space. This allows customers to get to know the brand.

Of course, another option is to rent a small store in the city for example I remember on the platform we have a little store at Majorstuen or other places. This is a small place and around eight or ten square meters. There is also the opportunity to maybe find a Co-Tenant somebody who shares this space with you. Let's say if you would find somebody with a similar craft or a craft that compliments your lip balm.

Astrid Opsal | Oslo Lips

Yes, I can manage that. It would be a lot of fun to team up with somebody and we can draw on each other’s customers a little bit. Especially for me with this very small product and a very small brand and the very small production it would be good to team up with somebody else. We could also share the costs, that would be perfect.

I'm very glad that Paguro is planning on doing pop-up stores in Oslo. I would like to be part of that and looking forward to it.

Helene Timm | Paguro Podcast

Me too. Thank you very much, Astrid.

Astrid Opsal | Oslo Lips

Thank you, it has been a lot of fun.

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