Meet Kateryna, who started her own business from scratch in Turkey
The latest in our local business interview series is Kateryna, who moved from her home in Ukraine to be with her Turkish husband. She built a business which uses her knowledge of the Russian market to connect local Turkish manufacturers with new customers, and here she tells us how she did it.
Kateryna, tell us a bit about yourself
I am from Kiev, I moved to Turkey three years ago. I married a Turkish man and I am a journalist.
When I moved to Bursa, where I live with my husband, I started to think about what I could do. I knew that to continue with my profession, I had to learn the language very well – and that it would have taken time to achieve fluency.
After a year, I came up with the idea to create a social network: “Russian Turkey”. It was meant to involve other Russian women married in Turkey. I worked on the website for two years and it now has around 7000 members. Through the site, I managed to build lots of good relationships. I travelled all around Turkey, and organized charity events to help children of Russian-Turkish families, who had cancer.
Gradually I realized I could start my own business. My husband supported me a lot, as usual, especially with the documents needed.
What is your business about
My business is about export of children’s clothing to the countries of the former Soviet Union and Europe. Our company connects the client and the supplier, and takes care of the preparation of the shipping documents.
Where did you get the idea from?
Bursa inspired me because it is the capital city of textiles in Turkey. Then there was the market of the former Soviet Union- which I was familiar with, and that represented a good starting point.
I chose to focus on children’s clothing, and at first I used to work with private entrepreneurs.
But about a year ago, a friend of mine (also foreigner), proposed me to work together and start a real business. I agreed. I love strong entrepreneurial people. Together we can find more ideas, and far more interesting ones- so why not joining forces?
And that is how our company, Buy & Joy export, started. We are now trying to enter the European market.
Where are you based and where are your main customers?
We are based in Bursa and our main customers are the owners of children clothing stores or shopping centres. Most clients come to us through the Internet.
How do you manage to find your customers?
My old profession helps me a lot because I like to proactively find customers, also through my connections. My strongest skills are advertising and negotiations. My partner’s are management and technical support. We complement each other perfectly.
When you go to bed at night, which aspect of your day you feel most rewarded by?
My day is very full. I have a job, friends, family and a dog… all in need of my attention. Before going to bed I am usually thankful for the day just gone and for the opportunities I have had. I have a good feeling, coming from the community I belong to. I am then ready for a new day that could be at least twice as productive.
If you could chose to change something in your business, what would it be?
I would not like to change. I would like to improve what I have. My passion stays with journalism but life turned out differently for me. I opened a business in a completely different field. And now, every day, I learn how to do this business. I love to learn. In August, I will go for two weeks to a business camp in Dubai to learn business skills from the best business coaches. It gets more interesting every day, so I never think “what if”. I focus on what I have.
What do you see ahead for your future?
I like to enjoy life. I love my husband. I love my life. I love my job. I hope nothing will change. The question is: Will I be able to keep and grow what I have now?
Do you have any advice for someone who would want to start her/his own business? What does it take?
Believe in yourself and have the support of your family and friends. Do not be afraid to start something new. Doing business is not difficult. What is difficult is to manage to actually start it and believe in its success. You need to find something that you really like and to focus on one thing at a time. Also, it is very important to be willing to learn! It is never too late for learning. Life is just one. You should enjoy it.