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raye the store x wolf & badger

by Wolf & Badger

raye the store has one simple mission: to provide a discovery space for conscious consumers interested in innovative emerging food, drink, wellness and beauty brands.

This June, we are so excited to welcome raye into our flagship London store where they will be hosting some of the most exciting food, drink and wellness brands on the market. We caught up with the founder, Nicole, to learn more about raye’s roots, the importance of a curated shopping experience, and some insights into what’s next for the brand.

  1. Tell us a bit about raye the store, where did it all begin, and how did you get to where you are now?

I moved to London from the Netherlands 8 years ago where I was working in marketing for several premium hospitality businesses. This gave me exposure to some amazing food and drink brands across the globe. This, coupled with the fact I was now spending much of my free time exploring London’s high streets for new products and restaurants, meant there was a big crossover between the people and businesses I was inspired by both personally and professionally. 

I started to think about two things that inspired the launch of raye the store; firstly, how beneficial it would be for consumers and professionals to have a retail space dedicated to showcasing up-and-coming challenger brands, and secondly, how that retail space could elevate and grow the brands themselves. 

I wanted to create something that showcased people who were innovating in the food, drink and wellness space, whilst also encouraging conscious consumerism with products that make us feel better, create less waste, and lead happier lives. So in 2021, I launched raye the store. 

Since the first 10-day trial store in 2021, my journey as an entrepreneur has been more challenging and rewarding than I could have imagined. While I felt confident in the audience, both in terms of consumers and brands, I was very much learning on the job in terms of how to run a business and launch pop-up retail spaces. Not only did I encounter a new challenge every step of the way, I had to work hard to develop confidence in trusting I would overcome the unknowns and ultimately to ‘trust the process’. 

  1. What have been some of your career highlights as a founder of a business? 

Connecting with brands at their inception gives me such a buzz. We recently celebrated the nationwide listing of the health supplement brand, Sixways, in Holland & Barrett. Seeing them launch in one of the UK’s leading health stores is a huge achievement for a brand that is less than two years old. They are a testament to brands that test and learn from their experience with raye; they’ve consistently taken on feedback from consumers and have been able to evolve considerably as a result.  

The second career highlight that raye brings is the opportunity to connect with fellow founders. Most of the brands we work with are at a very early stage, and being able to create a supportive network of people who provide inspiration and feedback for both raye and the brands we work with is particularly fulfilling.  

  1. What is one piece of advice you would give to others interested in running their own company? 

Chat to as many people as you possibly can. Founders can be afraid of their ideas getting ‘stolen’, and I was guilty of this too, but unless you start sharing your vision and your ideas you won’t know how people will respond and as a result, you risk missing feedback that could help you build your business. The key: don’t isolate yourself. Make connections and build a community organically by talking to people along the way. This is crucial for success. 

  1. You focus on giving exposure to purpose-driven brands specifically, why is this so important to raye? 

There is a strong consumer demand for independent and sustainable brands but it’s hard for new businesses to be discovered organically without big marketing budgets. Often, the reality is a solo founder or small team working all hours to market their product online and via social media. However, without considerable investment into marketing, it’s undeniably hard for new brands to stand out amongst the crowd.  

This is where raye comes into play. By bringing these brands together we can capitalise on the collective impact and push these brands into consumers’ and retailers' consciousness. Over time, I am hoping this will influence more conscious consumerism and the knock-on effect will mean it’s easier for purpose-driven brands to thrive.  

  1. How do you source the brands you stock and do you have any key qualities you look out for? 

We’re looking to curate an offering where people walk in and say “Wow I’ve never seen most of these brands before!”. Sourcing is a bit of a mix; brands seek us out and we come recommended, but it’s also a result of hours of research across social media, getting out to indie stores, checking out trade shows, as well as discovering new cafes and restaurants. There’s no shortage of creativity around us so the leg work is always worth it.  

In terms of products, we’re looking for beautifully designed, health-conscious goods that are driven by innovation. That innovation can be in the form of packaging, ingredients, branding or design. There’s no size limit for brands, so as much as we work with early-stage we’ve had some great collaborations with more established D2C brands like Skin & Me who joined our summer 2023 store and were looking to develop their retail strategy. We make sure the curation is accessible and has prices that range from just £1.85 up to £160. That way, it’s easier for consumers to explore the benefits of sustainable well-being and integrate these products into their daily lives without breaking the bank.

  1. Connecting like-minded businesses is one of raye’s key motivations, what is one of the most positive outcomes of your collaborations so far?  

A key part of our work for the brands we work with is helping them develop relationships with retailers and industry figures so they can be stocked in stores. Around 40% of brands that have participated in a raye pop-up secure a national or premium London retail listing with the likes of Sainsbury’s, Holland & Barrett, Selfridges, Planet Organic and Whole Foods. It’s incredible to see the impact the exposure and introductions have had on both our community and the wider landscape of challenger brands in the UK. This is a huge positive outcome for us. 

  1. Why do you think a curated shopping experience is so key for consumers? 

We know that a sense of discovery is something people are looking for, both online and in physical retail spaces. Presenting a curated experience means shoppers are free to explore without doing any of the ‘filtering’ work. That way they can focus solely on the products. There’s also the opportunity to tap into some of the other consumers’ needs. For example, someone who’s interested in quality food products is also likely to care about supplements and nutrition. If it’s all in one place it works better for the customer and the brands. For example, at our Wolf & Badger concession, there are wellness powders from Supanova Living that can be seen as a well-being ingredient as much as the EVOO from Citizens of Soil.  

  1. What was the inspiration behind the curated food, drink, and wellness products currently stocked at the raye pop-up at our London flagship? 

We wanted to share a collection of brands we’ve worked with over the past three years that represent some of the most exciting food, drink and wellness businesses on the market. Having met them all as very early-stage brands, it’s amazing to be able to represent them again now they’ve grown and are at an entirely different phase of their journey. 

These brands truly reflect what we look for in our pop-ups. You can expect to find food innovators like Bold Bean Co which are hosted alongside their newly launched cookbook, and up-cycled snack brand nibs etc. As well as leading wellness products from OHMG Water, plant-based drinks from Gretel & Belle, to collagen-fuelled nut butter from Beauté

The full collection includes Beaute, Bold Bean Co, Cheeky Nibble, Chimac, Citizen’s of Soil, Gretel & Belle, JP’s Originals, Naksha, Nibs etc., OHMG Water, Selfish, Sixways, Super Powders, Supernova Living and Yep Kitchen

  1. What else can visitors to the raye pop-up expect during your time with us?

As well as being stocked in the store, we will also be hosting in-store sampling sessions so you can get to know the brands and products IRL. There will be a range of design-led, innovative snacks, supplements, drinks, and pantry essentials. Check out our Eventbrite profile for more. 

  1. What’s next for raye?

Pop-ups will always be a key part of what we do and I’d love to look to activate in spaces outside of London, both across the UK and Europe. I’d also love to share the expertise I’ve developed through a consultancy service so I can support brands that want to host their own pop-ups. 

We’re also working on extending and strengthening our support services for our community of 550+ brands. It’s particularly important for us to be able to offer opportunities on an ongoing basis, so we’re looking to formalise raye’s ecosystem of partners, services and industry connections through a Community Channel and online marketplace. It’s on the horizon…

Check out the full list of brands involved: