Ghent's WIKD makes new furniture from discarded materials

Picking up furniture that is discarded just because we don't like it anymore, adding or removing a couple of details, completely renovating it and re-proposing it for a different use.
This is upcycling!
And WIKD takes care of all this by collaborating with refugees in Gent.
The result is a high-quality and beautiful new product that - thanks to its clever design and inventive use of energy - is also affordable.

Mousab

WAT IK KAN DOEN

WIKD stands for 'Wat ik kan doen’ (what I can do), the first question Mousab Alsheikh, creator and owner, asked himself at the beginning of his life in Belgium.

Mousab arrived to Gent from Damascus, Syria, six years ago and immediately set about working independently taking into account his own work experience and the market needs in Belgium.

‘I wanted to be self-employed and independent. I have experience in marketing and I analysed the country's economy and tried to understand the market, what it needed and what people needed. I found out how much furniture is thrown away every day and that in 70% of the cases, it is still good because of the high quality of the materials. I knew immediately that this was the path I wanted to take’.

Wikd

Mousab began to set up his project on his own. At the beginning he bought a table for only €20 and gave it not one but two new lives! Because from one table, two more came out and they were so beautiful that his friends fell in love as soon as they saw them and bought them immediately for €300 without even thinking twice.

‘If you buy in department stores, you pay very cheap prices, but in most cases the quality of the products is not excellent and in a couple of years you will have to throw out that piece of furniture and buy another one. Similarly, if you buy from designers, as good as the quality is, you pay quite high prices. That's why my friends were happy when they bought my tables. Because it was a unique and quality piece, sold at the right price. It was a win-win for both of us.’

WIKD flyers

A CHALLENGING START

As for any business, the beginning was not easy. The first clients were mainly friends and friends of friends, who saw Mousab's work and recognised its value. There were also many challenges and limitations that he had to face, especially considering the fact that he was a foreigner. The language barrier was one of them, which gave him many problems during the administrative part of starting the business.

Kathleen Torfs, WIKD’s administrator, who has accompanied Mousab since the starting of this adventure, tells us that 'at first it was difficult because it was a new idea and Mousab was a foreigner who didn't speak Dutch, it took a double effort to find people and banks willing to invest in the project’.

Nonetheless, after much effort, Mousab's innovative idea and WIKD's openness were well received by the public. For the first time in Gent, a unique business based on upcycling was established which simultaneously nourishes the local economy and removes our waste mountain bit by bit.

‘Selling good quality materials for a good price was the solution’

Mousab Wikd

One special thing as WIKD's mission is cooperation with refugees. Mousab wants to help and involve other immigrants in his project to give them a good start too. “I know a lot of people who come from faraway places like Syria or Palestine. Most of them have experience with manual labor, but little computer knowledge. This makes it difficult for them to find good work in Belgium. With us they can use their skills and show their talents.”

The entrepreneur hopes to further expand his business in the near future. For the time being, he is still investigating the possibilities because the corona crisis creates additional challenges. Mousab already dreams of creating more jobs for refugees, and of beautiful, new things that are made from discarded materials.

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WIKD is an active partner of the Ghent circular economy and is located in the Brugsepoort, Meibloemstraat 18, at De Meubelfabriek. You can admire their creations in the gallery on the first floor of the factory, and have custom furniture made.

2021 12 09

Dalila Ferrari

Born in Brazil, Dalila has Italian origins and lived most of her life in Italy before moving to Ghent last October. She graduated in Modern Languages for Intercultural Communication in Rome with a thesis on communication in Arab countries. Her main interests are (vegetarian) cooking, the environment, languages and cultures and travelling, and she’s also a great animal lover.

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