At Love Bethnal Green we’re always delighted to bring you a unique insight into all the fascinating businesses and organisations operating from within Bethnal Green. So as part of our growing series of ‘Bethnal Greeners’ conversations we had the real pleasure of speaking to Belinda Leung; the face behind Woolidando. Woolidando is actually a tripartite delight nestled in the heart of Bethnal Green Road! Acting as a café, plant shop and gallery space all-in-one. An interesting setup to say the least, read on to find out more!
Woolidando is a café, plant shop and gallery space all wrapped into one! The idea is something I had been planning for a number of years and after the perfect space came onto the market, the dream finally became a reality in 2018. I am a concept artist and illustrator in the film and gaming industry having worked on major films and for companies like Nintendo and SEGA. I wanted to have a gallery space in the cafe as a way to showcase the art of my peers in the entertainment industries, who are all accomplished artists in their own right, and provide them with a platform to exhibit their personal work. We once held a silent charity art auction which raised £1500 over a weekend. The money went to the World Land Trust in an effort to protect a strip of rainforest in Belize. Our next charity art auction will be in support of Cancer Research, showcasing life drawings from artists in the entertainment industries and a number of local artists.
Our focus is on community and sustainability, we want everyone to feel welcome in our shop and we do our best to ensure that everything is ethically sourced and traceable. Our goal is to change the high street and provide a green space in Bethnal Green whilst raising awareness of environmental issues in the UK and across the globe. We are constantly making improvements to become as low-waste and zero-plastic as possible.
We are a café and a plant shop! Our coffee comes from Ozone Coffee Roasters in Old Street and we have an extensive range of fine loose leaf teas- some of which possess fantastic medicinal qualities. We have a daily changing menu of vegan friendly soups from across the globe, including congee and harira. We also serve a delectable range of sourdough toasties that combine international flavours – the ‘K-pop’ is a must-try! Our organic pastries are delivered fresh everyday and our sourdough bread is from a local bakery just down the road. We sell succulents, cacti and tropical foliage plants, and we also source rare indoor plants for the serious plant collectors. To compliment the plants, we also stock a wide range of plant pots and hand-crafted ceramics made in East London alongside a cards, gifts and accessories for nature lovers.
Your passion for the area
There is nowhere in London that has as much energy as Bethnal Green! We have so much love for the diverse community here and we meet different people from all walks of life every day. Many of our customers are local artists, screenwriters and actors that make up part of Bethnal Greens incredibly creative community, and many of our other customers make the trip down for lunch from the financial district in Liverpool Street. Bethnal Green is also home to many young families too and it’s great to see young people growing up in the area and enjoying all the plants in our shop. The weekend also brings Brick Lane Market and Columbia Road Flower market, which brings great footfall to the area. As an owner, I am particularly appreciative of our neighbouring businesses. They have been incredibly welcoming and we all make an effort to look out for each other.
We don’t want to expand too quickly and hope to make more of an impact locally before branching out. We plan to propose a Sunday food and farmers market on Barnet Grove to bring better food to the area and encourage people to eat more healthily and sustainably. And as a long term mission, we’d like to help with the issue of youth disengagement and drug problems in this part of the borough, which unfortunately feels commonplace.
Got your attention! Woolidando is located on 253 Bethnal Green Road, so what are you waiting for?! Go and show them some love.