"I wanted to contribute something meaningful to Breda - that was sustainability."
Even on a chilly Wednesday morning, I have to wait my turn to have a conversation with Luara Kamma-Moore. Her shop, Elemental Eco, is a hive of activity. Far removed from the self-checkout supermarket model, shopping at Breda’s only zero-waste store is an experience in and of itself. With large displays of dry goods, packaging-free personal care items and an array of products made by local artisans, Elemental Eco is a place of connection - connection over shared values, the desire to be part of the solution, and the drive to create a community of like-minded people. For Luara, opening a shop was more than just a business pursuit. It was a way to put down roots in Breda. “In creating something and following my passions, I have built a very solid foundation for myself here in Breda,” she says. Her main piece of advice for someone new to Breda: get involved in something meaningful to you, whether that’s volunteering or organizing something yourself. The more you connect with people who share your vision and values, the more you’ll feel at home here.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your business?
My name is Luara Kamma Moore. I’m originally from Seattle, Washington, and I’ve been in Breda for three and a half years. I started this project about a year and a half ago; maybe a little bit longer if you include the dreaming period.
My business, Elemental Eco, focuses on bringing people opportunities to make more sustainable choices. We do that by creating access to zero-waste lifestyle products and packaging-free food. We also do that through education, skills-building workshops and connecting people through community events.
I also sell locally-created arts and crafts, as well as other local items. It’s important to me to support local creators because I know that the more local artists are associated with the store, the more of a community it becomes.
How did you decide to start a business in Breda?
As an expat coming to a new country, I knew I wanted to do something that would make it feel more like I lived here, as opposed to always living in the country where I came from. When I first moved here, I was working for an American company. I loved my job. However, since I was working in events planning, it all came to a standstill when the pandemic hit.
Before I decided what to do next, I knew that I wanted to contribute something meaningful to Breda and something that I cared about deeply. That ended up being sustainability.
How did you decide to start your business at STEK?
STEK has existed for 7 years. It’s a creative entrepreneur business terrain. In the past couple of years, its focus has been on sustainability and circularity.
I wanted to connect with other entrepreneurs who were thinking creatively with their businesses. Most of the businesses at STEK are focused on recycling materials and creating alternative ways to commerce.
What would you advise internationals who want to start a business in Breda?
I think the most important thing about starting a business is having a clear vision of what you want to do. Once I had that, I developed my business plan and worked with a Business Coach Breda.
My biggest tip for people looking to start a business in Breda (or anywhere) as an international is to not be afraid. Use the skills you have and, even if you can’t speak the language, follow your heart and your gut to make your dreams come true.
In your opinion, what should internationals know before moving to Breda?
Even though Breda is a relatively small city on the grand scale of things, I find that the people in the city are open to internationals, happy to speak English and happy to create connections with internationals.
One of the things that I did when I first moved here was to connect to things that were meaningful to me, as a volunteer. I volunteered at Wortels in Breda - a self-harvest garden in Ulvenhout - where I met a lot of like-minded people and got my hands in the dirt in Breda, quite literally.