Stuen is located on the Willem II street in the Dwaalgebied. Stuen means 'living room' in Danish and focuses mainly on the man who has just finished school and needs to come to the office. We spoke to one of the owners, Mark Voets, who runs the shop together with Martijn Mutsaers.
Mark was born and raised in Sint-Oedenrode and Martijn in Tilburg. Martijn has an economic education and worked for a credit insurer for a year and a half after graduating. However, he didn't like that and in the meantime the men started writing a plan to set up their own business.
Mark's background is in interior design. He always had his own business in it, until, together with Martijn, he started the plan to set up Stuen. "The elaboration of this concept took about 1.5 years, from the first letter on paper to the opening of our business," says Mark.
How did you come up with the idea of founding Stuen?
"We saw a gap in the centre between the lower and upper segment shops that sell clothing. Re-Issue is there and Kingdom was there a while ago, only these mainly offer streetwear. As they focus mainly on the grey hoodies and printed T-shirts, we saw an opportunity to offer some more exclusive and mature clothing".
Why did you guys choose for the current location?
"We didn't want to be on Heuvelstraat anyway, because we were afraid that we would fall between the big shops. Soon the Dwaalgebied came our way and the building we are currently in was made available. This building fits perfectly with what we want to display and for the square metres we needed to be able to display everything. Stuen literally means 'the living room' in Danish. In our plan we researched when men prefer to shop (online) and that turned out to be at night in their own familiar environment with a nice cup of coffee. Actually the way it used to be for the big companies. Hence this name."
How do you deal with the current crisis?
"If something is ordered in the webshop and it is within Tilburg, we will deliver it by bike. In addition, we try to stay extra visible by inventing fun promotions to stay Top of Mind with our customers".
You said that students are not your main customers. Who are they, then?
"We focus on the net working man, so the man who has just finished school and has to go to work neatly and tidily, but can also use his wardrobe in his spare time. Where one person needs a tailor-made suit for his work, we provide the more casual clothing. You can buy a pair of trousers with a shirt so that you can look good, but you can also combine the same trousers with a hip white T-shirt, so that you are a bit more sporty."
What kind of collaborations do you have?
"With De Houtloods we had a very nice cooperation. The last weekend before everything closed down, we had converted the shop into a restaurant. De Houtloods provided a six-course dinner and each course was accompanied by a specific clothing item. The logos or prints on the shirts and jumpers were related to what was served that evening. We also work together with Frisse Koppen, a Tilburg company that 'supplies' models for specific assignments. We use these for our social media campaigns, for example. We did something with Le Jardin last summer and a lot of fun things are coming up next year, but I can't tell yet! ;)”
How is the relationship with other local entrepreneurs?
"Good! Martijn and I are both of the opinion that it is better to work together than to compete. In principle we all have to make sure that Tilburg remains an attractive shopping city, you do that together".
How do you experience the relationship with the neighbourhood?
"We get along well with the men from Re-Issue, Mint & Pepr, Tien... actually with everyone!"
Do you like to shop local?
"Definitely! At Kras I like to go get my sandwich, at Friandries I come for my receipts, Lejeune because we are practically wrong. I like to walk into our neighbour's house if I'm looking for some inspiration for the kitchen. As far as the catering industry is concerned, we like to come to The Cats Back and the Gin Fizz."