Casambu: travelling with the essentials
Have you ever dreamt of going on an adventure for a weekend, a week or even several months?
Casambu offers you the possibility to get the right equipment for such a trip thanks to its online store that sells sustainable and mostly eco-responsible products. We met the founder of this e-shop, Oriana PEEL, a 2011 graduate of IÉSEG’s Grande École Program.
What is Casambu?
Casambu is an online store that sells accessories specially designed for travels, road trips and the van life… The e-shop was launched in September 2021. We offer a very selective range of different practical, useful, efficient, aesthetic and above all quality accessories. If they do not meet these conditions (especially the quality aspect), the accessories will not be listed on our site.
How did the company get started?
My husband and I had been wanting to start a business for many years. We wanted to create a project that reflects us and our values.
When our daughter was born, we both decided to take a break from our professional careers to travel by van for several months. The goal was to take the time to think about the next step in our professional lives. It is precisely while preparing this trip that we realized that it was not so easy to equip ourselves for the nomad life. What accessories to buy? What would be really useful and practical? Since we were going to live in a very limited space, we didn’t want to clutter it up with unnecessary things. We also wanted quality accessories that would last over time. So, we searched several online stores, DIY stores, home decor stores, etc…
As the trip went on, we came up with the idea of creating our own e-shop that would gather all the items you might need for a road trip in a van. We came back from our trip and decided to start this new entrepreneurial adventure. Today, we manage just the two of us all the aspects of Casambu, with the intention to expand the team very soon.
What is Casambu’s CSR approach?
Sustainable development was (and still is) something very important to us. When you travel in a van, you have to pay attention to your consumption of electricity, water and gas because resources are limited. We also wanted to offer accessories that are sustainable both in terms of manufacturing and lifespan. We therefore prefer items made with sustainable materials, in factories that respect both workers’ rights and the environment and as much as possible in France or Europe. Unfortunately, even today, there are many product categories that do not meet all these criteria. If the products we are looking for do not exist in an “eco-responsible version”, we turn to (at least) high quality products that have a guaranteed lifespan.
Furthermore, we have joined the “1% for the planet” movement, and we therefore donate 1% of our sales to environmental associations.
Why the name “Casambu”?
During our 4-month trip, we travelled through Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. When we were in Denmark, we visited a very beautiful castle that had, totally unexpectedly, a large collection of means of transport (cars, motorcycles, planes…), including the first Danish camper van that was created at the beginning of the 20th century by a couple of artists-painters who travelled a lot, especially in Portugal. They had named this motorhome “Casambu”, for Casa Ambulante (Spanish for ” travelling house “). We were fans of the name and immediately thought that if one day we opened our own e-shop, we would call it “Casambu”.
What are your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur? Did the education you received at IÉSEG prepare you to overcome these challenges?
The biggest challenge I see today, after one year of entrepreneurship, is to juggle with operations and strategy. Managing to keep on track, identifying the next priorities while still keeping the business running. The operational side takes a lot of time. If you stay too much on the operational side, you lose the direction, the sense, and you can’t move forward as fast as you’d like to.
The advantage of the education I received at IÉSEG is that it was very general. It allowed me to deal with a lot of different things, and when you are an entrepreneur that’s exactly what you have to do: juggle with all aspects of the business (communication, finance, human resources, operations…). With the Grande École program, I learned a lot of things but I especially learned that there were tools available and where to find them. The advantage we have with my husband is that we complete each other as we are both specialized in different fields: he is in finance and I am in marketing.
What has been your greatest achievement so far as an entrepreneur?
It’s simply to have successfully launched the company, to have created a whole universe and a community around Casambu. The positive feedback from our customers about our website and our selection of accessories is proof that we are responding to a real demand and that this first step is a success. One year after the launch, we have already had over 2,000 customers.
How did you manage to get known?
We used social networks a lot because “vanlife” is very present on these channels, especially on Instagram. People like to share their travel pictures, their experiences, what they have lived. So, there is a big part of our clientele present on social media and we can target them and contact them quite easily.
We also use other tools and media such as the specialized press and Google (SEO, SEA) which are nowadays essential for e-commerce.
And finally, we participate in events and fairs dedicated to the vanlife and nomadic travels which attract many visitors. This allows us to meet other travelers and to present our accessories on our Casambu booth (we have created a “mobile shop” with our campervan). These are always good moments and nice meetings!
Any advice for a future entrepreneur?
Above all, you have to believe in your dreams. There are many reasons why we could have not started Casambu (the Covid, the birth of our child, etc…). But if you want to start your life as an entrepreneur, at some point, you have to start. Unfortunately, you don’t have all the cards in your hand to know if it will work, you have to go for it and give it your all! You also have to know how to bounce back, adapt, be creative… In any case, it’s an incredible adventure and we are very happy to have taken the plunge!
Any final words?
Thank you for taking the time to discover our project!
Don’t hesitate to discover our e-shop (www.casambu.com) and if you are in Haute-Savoie, you are also welcome to visit our shop/showroom and have a coffee!