We were sitting in a shop in Mardin, a small town in the south east of Turkey, near the Syrian border. You might have seen photos of the distinctive honey coloured stonework of the houses which cling to the hillside. The narrow streets don’t allow cars to pass easily, and donkeys are a fairly common site. “Welcome” called out a man as we walked along, seeing that we were foreign. The people here speak Arabic first, Turkish second. Some of them admit to having learnt their Turkish by watching tv. The new generation learns it in school though, the mothers told us proudly.
The shop was an Aladdin’s cave of metalwork, tapestries and china… mirrors, large metal jugs, coffee serving sets. Having fallen in love with a mirror surrounded with stones and intricate metalwork, we were undertaking a leisurely negotiation process. Small cups of bitter Arabic coffee helped the conversation along. Learning we were from a large town in West Turkey, the owners pressed their business cards on us. “We can’t sell our products here”, they said. “We’re at the end of the world. No one comes here. Why don’t you set up a warehouse and help us to sell?”
Wouldn’t it be great, we began to dream, if we could help people like this to reach customers not just in other parts of Turkey, but all over the world. The idea of PocketButiks began to grow.
“What do I get from all this?” you might be asking. We hope so, because if you’re reading this we’d love you to become one of our customers.
What you get is something you can’t buy on the high street; individually selected products (usually handmade) that are made and sold by locals– real people, who you can meet before you buy. You also get our PocketCultures guarantee: high quality at the right price, from a seller that we know and trust.
The boutiques are in different countries all over the world, but you get to shop in one place and pay in one transaction. Where else can you go on a round the world shopping trip without leaving home?
Let’s meet one of our sellers. Taner, owner of Anadolu Kilim, sells ceramics that are made and handpainted in Bursa, Turkey. He also sells handmade carpets and silk scarves, but we’ll concentrate on the ceramics for now. If you’ve been to Istanbul, you’ll recognise some of the designs from the Grand Bazaar. Others are unique to PocketButiks. Taner (who has lived in Italy) has a ceramic workshop where he creates his own designs, such as this jug where an elegant Venetian silhouette is combined with traditional Turkish colours and patterns.
Taner’s aim is to sell at a reasonable price, not to rip off his customers. He knows he could get more money for what he sells (if you ever happen to pass though Istanbul airport you’ll see what we mean) but he wants you to feel good about what you buy. After all, you don’t get to haggle over prices when you’re buying on the internet.
You can meet our other sellers on PocketButiks.com. Each seller has their own profile so you can get to know them before buying their products, just like you would if you visited their real life store. For now we have boutiques in two countries: Italy and Turkey. With the help of our network of contributors around the world, we’ll be adding more boutiques from more countries as we go.
So we’re pleased to introduce our sister site PocketButiks.com: a place to shop for original, handmade gifts and homeware from around the world, without leaving home. we hope you’ll take a look and tell us what you think. And exclusive to PocketCultures readers we have a 10% discount. Join our PocketButiks Facebook page to get your code and keep up to date with all our news and special offers. (If you don’t use Facebook, no need to feel left out. Just email us at the contact address to get your discount code)
About the authorLucy