Seize An Opportunity

hirefSuccess of entrepreneurs depends on how they analyze and detect needs of the market. Ebru Çerezci, the founder of Hiref, is the winner of the Turkey’s Woman Entrepreneur Competition 2009. She saw the opportunity in the market and as her entrepreneurial spirit suggested her, she invested into traditional handcrafts. Ebru Çerezci ‘s goal is to build and maintain a network of designers and craftspeople that would set a unique trend in art. All Hiref designs are handmade with the most noble materials.

E. Çerezci is designing products by blending traditional Anatolian and Ottoman handcrafts such as glass, ceramics, tombak (brass work), gold and silver with modern designs. Hiref is growing in both Turkish and international markets, especially in Gulf countries. For the last years Hiref has been selling products in Turkey, Ireland, USA, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, Qatar and Syria.

Travel to discover

Following the success of Ebru Çerezci, we could say that she is one of the best observers and an example of opportunistic entrepreneurs. She has a bachelor degree in industrial design in Middle East Technical University and used to work in different companies as a design manager. The story of Hiref was inspired by the need of unique souvenirs. E. Çerezci was looking for souvenirs for her friends abroad. She wanted to bring something that had exclusive value and reflected Turkish culture. However, everything looked dull and same to her eyes.

Hence, E. Çerezci combined her skills and education with her entrepreneurial spirit and started to travel around Turkey, exploring inch by inch the culture for one and a half year. She discovered plenty of important but forgotten, as yet little known traditional handcrafts. She saw there are a lot of remained inactive workshops and hundreds of handwork artists in these workshops. Seeing all this unexploited potential, young entrepreneur decided to create a variety of products for home decoration, for office, for serving, for coffee break, mirrors, serving plates, wall necklace, scented candles and candle holders, cufflinks and prayer beads, which have historical and cultural value.

Masters of the Handcrafts

ebru-cerezci-and-guvenc-kilic-samdan-com-trAfter extensive literature research and discovery of a civil society organization in 15th century in Anatolia, which was named Ehl-i Hiref (Masters of Handcrafts) in Ottoman Turkish, E. Çerezci decided to give a meaningful name to her brand. The mission of this old organization was to get together the handcraft artists and determine the trends of the handcrafts design. She was impressed with this civil society organization, therefore, E. Çerezci has decided to name her brand as Hiref.

E. Çerezci has chosen her brother Güvenç Kılıç as a partner to help her with finance and marketing. Their starting budget was 6000 €. After Çerezci and Kılıç created their first collection, they spent the rest of their budget for photography and catalogue of the collection and distribution of these catalogues. The collection was so good, that they received a phone call from Cem Boyner, Turkish businessman in the textile industry and owner of department stores. After the successful meeting with Cem Boyner, their collections have been started to sell in stores of Cem Boyner.

Hiref in Other Sectors

Hiref has started to use ‘meerschaum’ in their collections, and it has been widened with using of traditional patterns such as ear of grain, pomegranate and signs of traditional believes in Anatolia. pomegranate-wall-hang-gold-hirefstore-comIn the beginning, Hiref was creating two collections per year, which include 25-30 pieces per each collection, and now there are more than 250 pieces of Hiref products.

cycle-of-ear-of-grain-wall-hangingIn addition, number of workshops, which are working with Hiref in different regions of Turkey such as Gaziantep, Kastamonu, Eskişehir and Denizli has reached 350. As a result of this increase, Çerezci has opened her second shop in one of the biggest shopping mall in Istanbul, , and the other shops followed them such as Brandroom Nişantaşı in Istanbul and Next Level Shopping Mall in Ankara. After increasing brand value of Hiref, some project and institutive offers have been made to Hiref. As a result of this, ‘Hiref Solutions’ has been established in order to supply the demand of institutive customers. Later Hiref started to create souvenirs for companies according to their concepts. Today, various companies in Turkey such as BankPozitif, Garanti Bank, Yapı&Kredi, İş Bank, Efes Pilsen, Coca-Cola and Sabancı Holding choose Hiref’s goods for souvenirs.

Moreover, ‘Hiref Taahhüt’ was established in order to serve up architectural solutions for constructions and hotels. For instance, room and lobby accessories of Four Seasons, Swiss Hotel, Istanbul Hilton, Radisson and Rixos Dubai are supplied by Hiref.

Travelling as A Starting Point

Travelling is one of the things that affect your thinking and your point of view. It also gives new ideas and opportunities to entrepreneurs. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, there is a good chance that travel will inspire you for new business or will suggest how to improve existing one. Start-up story of Ebru Çerezci is just one of the examples showing how people can benefit from travelling. She saw the lack of unique and qualitative souvenirs in the market, identified the need and seized an opportunity to make a business out of it.

Hence, travelling can be a perfect starting point for you if you are looking for new opportunities in life and work.

Salih Anıl Kula, Intern at Institute