The first days of Spring have sprouted and rainy showers are playing hide and seek with the sun. With an upbeat playlist in my ears, I make my way through the port of Ghent to find Goedele Pauwelyn’s atelier, called Plankgoed. Windmills, cranes and the broad canals lead me to the barn where she and 7 other makers share a large, yet cosy workshop. She welcomes me with a big smile and fresh coffee, and leads me up the stairs to her personal space, a small attic where she sits surrounded by her beautiful woodwork, a stove and lots of dried flowers. “I need this little space to myself, it’s my feminine place, away from the machines, the noise and the vastness of the atelier.” The tone of our conversation is set, what’s next is an intimate exchange about work, life and the relationship we have with our skin.
I asked Amber Van Bossel to shoot Goedele's portrait, a Ghent-based photographer. All pictures in this feature are by Amber.
Hi Goedele, can you start by introducing yourself?
Of course! My name is Goedele Pauwelyn and I’m 34 years old. I would describe myself as an adventurous person, a maker, a creator, and someone who’s very much in touch with nature. It’s spring now, and this really is my favourite season. I love seeing the flowers blossom and nature wake up! I grew up in the countryside. My mother used to bake bread every day and we would eat homegrown vegetables. In a way, this selfsufficient example I had is still very much in line with how I see life: staying close to yourself, to your values and your surroundings.
"I grew up in the countryside. My mother used to bake bread every day and we would eat homegrown vegetables. In a way, this selfsufficient example I had is still very much in line with how I see life: staying close to yourself, to your values and your surroundings."
What’s the story behind your brand Plankgoed, how did you start?
I studied Visual Arts in Ghent, and worked for years in an artistic nonprofit organization with vulnerable young people and refugees. At a certain point, I felt like I had given too much of myself. I left for Italy, where I worked on a farm and went back to my roots, back to nature. I learned a lot from the local makers, and when I got back, I started making serving and cutting boards from local wood in my brother’s workshop. And that’s how the story of Plankgoed began. I find great joy in creating functional objects that are also aesthetically appealing, which runs like a thread throughout everything I do. Wood is such a fascinating material to work with. The texture, colour, species, the specific drawing. It’s always different. Now it’s five years later, and Plankgoed still stands for unique serving and cutting boards made from local wood. I get my wood mostly from local nature maintenance, or for example today a family contacted me to work on a special tree that didn’t resist a storm in their garden. I will make a series of breakfast boards for them, isn’t that a beautiful way to keep the tree’s memory alive?
"Wood is such a fascinating material to work with. The texture, colour, species, the specific drawing. It’s always different."
You just bought a house near Ghent - can you tell us a bit more about your future plans for that place, yourself and Plankgoed?
Yes! Two months ago, me and my partner bought a house near Ghent. The house has a lot of open space, lots of light, glass and greenery. There is a studio in the garden, which is perfect for my partner - he’s a musician. We’re now designing and building the kitchen, and I’m sowing and planting a lot. This year I want to get the know the garden, experience it in all its seasons and next year we’ll be able to make some changes if we feel the need to. In the future, we would love to build a sauna and a natural swimming pond. As for Plankgoed, besides the boards, I’m also hosting workshops, teaching, designing and building interiors in wood together with my brother. There’s a lot going on!
What about your skin? How would you describe it, what has been your skincare path until now?
I have oily, sometimes dry, but overall sensitive skin that responds to everything: fatigue, stress, pollution, hormonal fluctuations. My skin is complicated, and as I work in a very dusty environment I often get reactions to that. I have always been looking for the right skincare, I think that search for the right products is very recognizable for a lot of women. The dermatologist has helped me as traditional medicine does, with quite aggressive, synthetic creams that give a fast result, but which also deteriorate your skin’s health on the long term. You just feel you’re not improving your skin, and it’s merely a short term solution. Maiwe’s philosophy feels like the opposite to this approach, finally I found a skincare routine that matches completely with my values and gives me the results I’m looking for.
"For a while now I’ve been staying away from synthetic, medicinal creams and sticking to the Maiwe routine. I’m already seeing results: my skin feels stronger and more elastic."
Interesting! Can you tell us what you find in Maiwe? Do you have a favourite product?
For a while now I’ve been staying away from synthetic, medicinal creams and sticking to the Maiwe routine. I’m already seeing the results: my skin feels stronger and more elastic. I end my days with the four products of the line, and when I wake up my skin feels supple and simply “happy”! On my skin, Maiwe feels like a light sweater, one you don’t want to take off anymore, something like cashmere (laughs). You know, I could feel my skin was changing by getting older. I really need skincare, I can’t just start my day without a moisturizer. But because of Maiwe this is changing too. I can feel my skin is far less brittle and fragile, less dry and the extreme reactions I used to have are less pronounced too. My skin feels complete, more plump and much firmer. I don’t feel like I need to moisturize all the time. Suddenly, skincare is not an obligation anymore, but it’s something that gives me joy.
"On my skin, Maiwe feels like a light sweater, one you don’t want to take off anymore, something like cashmere."
Besides the results, I also love the story of Maiwe. You can feel that everything makes sense. The product is sustainable and there is a real and passionate person behind the brand. Knowing that you also had your share of skin struggles makes the story so authentic. The branding is beautiful too, which is important to me. And did I mention the smell? I love it! I’m a big fan of the Rosehip Oil Serum. It’s so nourishing, so complete, the colour, texture and smell are so natural. My boyfriend says I smell like a freshly baked bread, and that reminds me of my mother’s bakings when I was a child. I also love The Nourishing Oil Cleanser a lot. Actually, I choose the four steps all together as a favourite. I’m so happy, Maayke, thank you!
SHOP GOEDELE'S FAVOURITE
The Maiwe Box