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Natalya, the owner of LEKshop Organic has lived in Thailand for more than six years now.
About two years ago she started to come to Koh Phangan for vacations, visiting once every month, sometimes twice!
In December 2013 Natalya made the decision to open a business here on Phangan so started looking for a place to do this. She says ‘it all happened very fast’, the place was found in April 2014 and in May she finally moved here with all of her stuff! The shop opened in November 2014.
LEKshop Organic celebrate their first birthday today, so pop down and wish them the best!
What were you doing in the rest of Thailand before here?
When I came to Thailand in 2009, for the first two years I worked as a tour guide in Pattaya. I had an opportunity to get to know about all of the herbal things because in my programme we visited a tea place and herbal shops.
I got to know the products, healers and traditional thai doctors. I learnt about them from the real source, from the real doctors who create the product and help people with traditional thai medicine. Then I stopped working as a tour guide and opened my own web store which was the third in the russian market selling thai medicine.
But I started to think that I needed a real shop.
My thai nickname is Natasha Lek, the thai people called me this as I am small and ‘lek’ in thai is ‘small’. My dream was that if I had the shop it would be a nice, small boutique style, where you can come and relax, called Lek Shop. I wrote about this and then when I looked back, as I had forgotten I wrote this, I thought ‘yes! it finally has happened’.
What is the concept behind LEKshop?
The idea of the business is that I promote thai products, thai cosmetics and herbal medicines. I really want people to know about this as it is natural and it is about Thailand. We already know about thai culture but this is Thailand too.
The idea is that it is not a shop just for tourists and not just for profit, we have really affordable prices. In my shop we don’t just sell, but we help. If someone comes with a problem or after an accident, if I don’t have something to help I will say, or if it is something psychosomatic then I will try to help without medicine.
It’s an honest position, if I can help you I will, if I can’t then I will tell you where to go to get help.
Another idea is the responsibility, I am sure of all the products in the shop. It all has positive feedback already as I have worked with this stuff for six years so anything that didn’t help or of bad quality is already out. So it is only products that work.
We will always find something especially for the individual person. We have many thai balms and creams for massage but we will always find the correct one.
We have a cafe too, the cafe is a part of the shop as we have a lot (about sixty kinds) of tea, organic coffee, vegan desserts and vegan ice cream which we make very beautiful desserts from too.
It is like a boutique place, we try to make everything very beautiful and tasty!
The shop is like an art object, my friend helped me who is very creative and everything is made by the people.
Where do you source your products?
We work only directly with producers, we only have direct contracts. They come from all over Thailand, different parts from northern to central.
Most of the cosmetics factories are situated near Bangkok, but also we bring honey products from Chang Mai, silk cocoon from Chang Rai, some teas and cosmetics from Kanchanaburi, which is a very clean place with no factories or pollution so everything is clean.
You use local suppliers also, tell us about them?
We get some herbs from the organic farm on Phangan, vegan ice cream from Coconut Mama, the most delicious kambucha (a natural probiotic) on the island from Kitty’s Kambucha project, Beewax candles from Pineapple project, natural home made soap from some local conscious producers and we are very open to cooperate with local producers but have a responsibility to check the product quality first of course.
What is special about LEKshop?
You can always find something new.
I cannot just work with the same projects, so we always add something new. For example when we started to bring fresh spirulina by plane! Now we have started to bring Yerba Mate and some products from abroad. This summer I have been in Russia so I have brought some herbs back like chamomile . I even dried some myself in my country house in Russia.
We bring products from India, Argentina and Russia, you can always find something new, people will ask for something then finally we will bring it.
If someone needs a gift we make beautiful packaged gifts and also provide gift certificates if people don’t know what to get. Even for our packaging we only use paper bags, no plastic.
What are the benefits of using organic cosmetics?
You don’t get so many chemicals in them, they are more effective and they really help.
They are not expensive, it’s quite cheap and you are supporting the thai producers. The products don’t have strong smells so they are really pleasant and comfortable to use.
These cosmetics are made in Thailand to be used in this hot climate, nothing will happen to the product if kept for a long time, they think about this when producing. One thai doctor who produces balms told me he thinks of a temperature of at least 45-50 celsius so that nothing will happen to the balms in this temperature.
We have some products which are very natural and then we have less natural products as if it’s a cream, it needs some components to make it creamy. We choose products that are helpful and then everyone can decide, if you want eco friendly then choose this one or not so, then this one. We have a full line of cosmetics, face, body, hair, oils, essential oils and coconut oil. Also spa products, thai balms and creams and honey products. Lots of herbal teas, solutions and we have some superfoods.
Do you have any future plans with lek shop?
A lot! Always! It’s like a small project inside a big project! It’s like we have many small projects inside a big conception! I like to bring new stuff all the time, really unusual things. We are also thinking that in the near future we will serve breakfast, like a fruit breakfast, not cooked as I don’t want the smells in my shop, but we will have this for sure.
I can announce already the Yerba Mate tea is in! Lots of people love this tea and you can drink it all day and still sleep, it’s energising without the insomnia. Plus we are bringing in a loyalty card for the coffee shop.
It’s your shop’s first birthday today, are you planning anything special?
We have prepared a program for the celebration: November 12-14th we have a discount on all the products in the shop and today we will have some sweet gifts for our customers and offer tea to celebrate. We have like a ‘test drive day’ of our products and are providing small samples to try in the shop or at home, so it is mostly for girls!
If somebody wants to give us a gift, then we are asking for a donation to PACs.
How can people find you?
We are situated in Sri Thanu near 7/11 and the Taboon Cafe, we have curtains outside so it is easy to find! We open from 9am until 6pm.
This is definitely the time to come and visit us if you haven’t before! We are unique on Koh Phangan as it’s the only place you can find a lot of stuff for health and cosmetics, you can always get a consultation as we are not allowed to be lost, we will always help!