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An interview with the man who makes the magic happen . . .

This past fall, our dear friend and manufacturing partner in Turkey came to visit us in Boston. We had the opportunity to ask him lots of questions, covering everything from lentil soup, to the Hagia Sophia, to his top 3 favorite types of Kilim, and what makes them so special. 2020 marks our 7th year of partnership with the same wonderful family-owned business and we are very proud of that. I hope that you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed giving it.
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Milicent

field of carpets

How long has your family been in the business of shoemaking?

We’ve been making shoes since 1990. Some of our cobblers have all been working in the business for longer than that.

 

How did your family get into the business?

My dad came from his hometown in the countryside to Istanbul in 1977, and he got a job working in a factory making handbags. He decided he wanted to be creative, and be his own boss, so he started his own business. Money wasn’t the issue, he wanted to do something for himself and his family.

 

Kilim shoe makersWhat is your favorite thing about manufacturing?

When we create a new style or product for a customer (like Artemis), I put the finished product on the table and just “watch it” for a little while.  It’s such a pleasure to see a product come to life and see how beautiful it turned out. It’s such hard work to create a new product, so this is such a satisfying moment for me. (We share this feeling!!). (The photos below are examples of the first images that we get of a fresh new product. There's nothing more exciting to see a new product come to life!)

Also, I love Kilim so much. Because they’re all one of a kind, unique textiles. When I see the kilim, I know the region, the people who make them, and each pattern has meanings. So sometimes when I unfold and reveal the kilims I imagine how rough, or how happy those times were for the people who made them. Often, the carpet shows the happiness of the woman who made it. They would usually move into their husband’s family home.  Very intense colors means that they aren’t very happy with their husbands' parents!!  Ones who are happy use light, brighter colors. The mood of the kilim reflects the mood of the weaver.  Each kilim brings different excitement to your feelings, like a fine art work.

Kilim belt and carpet belt finished

Moss mule cobblers bench

Above photo is one of the first samples of our Moss Mule. We had it sampled in a very simple yellow silk so that we could clearly see the shape of the shoe. It is such a lovely shoe. 

Velvet babouche

What is your personal favorite region for carpets or kilims?

My favorite Kilims come from Kayseri- I like the workmanship, the look, the more thin and intricate threads.

What distinguishes them from the others?

Their motifs are so beautiful. They are not always symmetrical, so they are more rare and hard to use for shoes. Usually we make pocketbooks and wallets from this type of Kilim.  Usually this type of carpet is “Double winged”- they are two large strips made on smaller looms, and are threaded in the middle creating a larger carpet. Oftentimes sisters would work side by side creating them and then stitch them together once finished.  We use Kayseri Kilims from the 1930s or earlier.

Kars Kilims- these Kilims feature more earth tones- brown, beige, natural colors. They typically have an interesting border, and a larger scale geometric pattern in the middle. Their region is known for larger rugs. 

Kars Kilim collage

Esme Kilims- They have geometric designs, and I love the colors of them. Esme Kilims have both bright and faded colors. Also old, but their region was better known for bigger rugs.

 Esme Kilim collage

What is your favorite Kilim symbol

Flowers

 

Tell me about the process of making a shoe…how long would it take from start to finish on one pair of shoes?

A minimum of 2 full days to make 1 pair of Kilim shoes correctly. Kilim shoes take longer than leather shoes to make, and stand up better to the test of time in terms of durability.

 

What is the most surprising part of the shoe making process?

The most surprising part is when the shoe is finished, and seeing how beautiful it is.

men's kilim loafer in sumak kilim

How is handmade better than machine made?

Handmade products are more durable than machine made products. Also, artisan work is a very respectable profession. It is better for the person who is creating the product.

cobbler in workshop with kilim shoes

How long have your cobblers been in the business?

Most of our workers have been with us for over 20 years. Most of them have been making shoes for longer than that. 

 

Does each one have a specialty, or could anyone accomplish anything in the process?

Each role is very specialized, so they do not mix up roles. Only the manager can accomplish everything.

 

What are your favorite Artemis products right now?

I always love the men’s and women’s Kilim Loafers- the classics! Everything made from the new Oriental Carpet material is beautiful too- the shoes, bags and weekenders. I am loving how these products are turning out.

  Carpet shoes women

What are your favorite places to visit in Turkey and also specifically in Istanbul?

Antalya is my favorite city in Turkey. In Istanbul I recommend the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in terms of sites. The Asian side of the city, specifically Kadikoy (Moda neighborhood) is one of my favorite neighborhoods.

 Istanbul

What is your favorite Turkish food?

Mixed kebab- it gives you a little bit of everything. Lentil soup that my mother makes. (We’ve been trying to recreate the incredible lentil soups we’ve tasted on trips to Istanbul- here is a recipe for the closet we could find)

 Lentil soup turkey

Delicious Lentil soup is always our first course during Turkish meals. 

What is your favorite American food?

Buffalo wings (mild please!). Pasta with Alfredo sauce. Brussels sprouts from Brassica kitchen (a restaurant that I brought him to in Jamaica Plain during his recent visit!).

 

Words to live by?

I have a few!

Dreams without goals are just dreams, they will ultimately fuel disappointment. So we need have dreams and goals that will lead to success.

Working really hard is what successful people do.

If you hang around the barber shop long enough, sooner or later you are going to get a haircut. AKA- Who you surround yourself with is who you are going to become.

 

Q: Can’t live without?

A: My family, Antalya summer vacations, my mother’s lentil soup. 

 milicent and selami rug factory