This month our “success story of the month” is the up and coming coffee and bagel house Beyglz, cleverly and refreshingly stylized to reflect the phonological spelling of the word bagels in Papiamentu. Situated in Scharloo Abou, right behind Villa Maria, it opened its door on December 23rd of last year and has since become the epicenter of social interaction in the dynamic startup community there. Which is fitting since its interior design – a charming blend of American sophistication, European chic and Caribbean mellow – radiates an inviting atmosphere of dynamism itself. The word is reaching beyond Scharloo and more and more people across the island are starting to opt for a healthy lunch at this young establishment.
So who is the brains of this operation?
Meet Candice van Delden, owner of and chef at Beyglz. Born and raised in Curaçao (1984), she moved to the Netherlands at the age of 18, right after she had obtained her International Baccalaureate (equivalent of a VWO diploma) at ISC. After six years in the country that comes second to America, she decided to return to her native island and got right to work in Sales at various companies.
“You know I just sort of fell into it, because before that I was never the kind of person who liked to sell people things. In the past if someone didn’t want to buy something from me my usual attitude was ‘Okay, guess I’ll be on my way then’. But someone convinced me to give Sales a try regardless and I discovered something about myself: when I believe in a product I can be quite a persuasive saleswoman”.
The success of Beyglz proves just that, because make no mistake she’s not simply selling cream cheese on buns over there, she’s selling a healthy lifestyle. And that’s really something she believes in as she’s been living on a diet of healthy food herself for as long as she can remember. And there seems to be no end to her passion, she works 60 hours a week (“maybe even more”) and you can even find her in Beyglz or doing something Beyglz-related on her days off.
But how did this startup get its start?
It was essentially born out of a desire for independence as Candice really wanted to build something for herself and had become especially averse to being someone else’s employee. The use of the word born as a metaphor also literal element to it as this idea started to swivel around in her mind during her pregnancy. And sometime after she became a mother she drew up a business plan in one day to become an entrepreneur. Of course at this point the question “But why bagels?” comes to mind.
“When I came up with the idea of starting my own business, I brainstormed about the possibilities. I had thought about going into retail but that industry’s days on the island are pretty much numbered with this whole online shopping thing. I had also thought about being an IT service provider but I don’t have the know-how. So I started thinking about what would be a unique concept here on the island. And then I remembered my time in the Netherlands, when I used to live in Den Haag. I recalled that over there they had a chain of restaurants called Bagels & Beans and I really liked the concept – although I don’t think you can compare them to Beyglz because we have our own unique style. And at a certain point I also started following bagel shops in New York on Instagram and saw the massive following they were generating and I was like ‘Alright this could be something over here’. I basically just saw a niche in the market. The only places you find bagels here on the island are in the breakfast buffet of a hotel or some overlooked section of a supermarket.”
It’s safe to say that her mission of establishing a unique brand in Curaçao has been accomplished. But it also must be said that unique doesn’t even begin to describe the story of this restaurant. The interior not only radiates dynamism, it screams organic, which is quite a rarity here on the island. And organic it most certainly is. Nothing is processed, everything you get served in your tea, your coffee, in your wrap, on your bagel, or in your soup is picked fresh, cooked fresh. Even their opening hours are organic: from 7:30am to 3:00pm on weekdays and 9:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday.
And you want to hear another unique element to the story? Candice managed to get Beyglz off the ground – arranging everything from redoing the interior and getting the permits (!) – in six months. Yes you read that correctly. Six months. With permits. The fact that she was able to get this done in that amount of time on this island alone makes Beyglz a success story of every month.
So what are her tips for other would-be entrepreneurs on the island?
“Well, my advice to them is don’t just dream it; write it down, set up a timeline and put a plan into action. Otherwise you’ll always stay in that state of ‘Well I guess it would be nice if…’ and you’ll never snap out of that dream world. I snapped out of that world myself and put my nose to the grindstone. I didn’t let my lack of capital at the on start discourage me. I kept persevering. Those two things are key: writing down your ideas and perseverance. On this island it is also very important to make connections so get the word out and network. You never know who may be able to help you make your idea a reality. And it doesn’t have to be someone you know. I received great help from mere acquaintances who were motivated to lend their support by my entrepreneurial spirit.”