When I started working 35 years ago, I was fortunate to have Mehmet Ali Babaoğlu as a mentor. He has the CEO of the denim company I was working for and he always preached that we needed to dream big if we wanted to become successful and be creative and his words proved to be valid throughout multiple experiences. When we dream we not restricted by the traditional educational curriculum restraints, what society imposes, and we can create a world beyond. Mehmet Ali`s proposal to dream big enables me to be dynamic, alert, passionate, willing, joyous , curious for the next move while enjoying the present moment and looking into the future with hope. In the business world when we start with dreams we will need a team who will dare to dream along, a leadership which is not risk averse, financial calculations for the infrastructure, making sure that the project goes live at the right time, working overtime and a lot of patience to back opposition. Today we are looking at a precarious future, seeing all industries and lives being disrupted.
Recently Bloomberg has launched an online platform (https://www.bloomberg.com/green) where on-time data related to global carbon emissions, the rate of arctic ice meltdown, soccer pitches of forest area lost is shared, Gucci has announced that the brand will be seasonless and promoting longer use of collections, e-games turning into hanging out ( and shopping) areas for the Gen Z. The yoga studios, almost all levels of education have moved on-line, and seminars are converted into webinars. Time and space concepts have changed for most, offices and travelling have become obsolete. We will see the impact on all business soon enough. I believe this is a time where we almost need to turn to our dreams and build our limitless and borderless future both as individuals as well as societies.
This week I would like you to meet Ceyda whom I have met when she was growing up, worked together with as professionals, and then later on collaborated on other projects when she decided to become freelance. I admire her passion to outgrow herself, genuine positivity and wanted to share Ceyda`s and her husband Özkan`s sincere, inspirational story where dreams and hope merge.
Meet the person:
IF: Most people know you with the video of your dream house on Daire on youtube and especially with Ceyda's last words at the end of the shoot. Will you tell us more about your story and what Ceyda says at the end?
Ceyda and Özkan: I think; we mostly like to exaggerate. We think that leaving the city and moving to live in nature could only be possible when we retire. Özkan always wanted to live in nature; whereas all of a sudden one day, I realized how absurd it was to wait till I turn 65 to start living in nature. We were working freelance already to have the freedom we wanted. One day as we were taking the ferry across the Bosporus, Özkan handed me a book and asked me to read the foreword “There are things that we miss. We might not want to define it, but this is not the world we would like to live in. There could be many alternative beginnings. We do not need to know which one is correct. The thing that we simply need to know is that we need a new beginning is enough.” I started to cry reading this and that very moment is the moment that I decided to change my life. We could move to live in nature, we could build our own house. This was the moment I realized that all was possible.
IF: Ceyda you have worked in the denim industry in the past (and yessss we did work together) and you designed the creative content for a sustainability platform we have built together. With your current experience of living in harmony with the nature; what would you like to say to the denim industry?
Ceyda and Özkan: When I started living in nature , I started to understand the real value of labor and creativity. What I needed and did not need. Based on my experiences I started to think why can we not to produce less than to ask consumers to buy less? I know the process of the making of a pair of jeans and I have taken it all on video for work. I spent days doing this. I know the value of the product, so I buy what I need and do not consume more than I need. People need to know the hard work that goes into the process of making a pair of jeans.
IF: What does sustainable living mean to you? In the video you mention that there is no road leading to your house, and I was wondering how do you socialize in isolation? How do you run your businesses?
Ceyda and Özkan: For us sustainable living is living freely. I do not think that people know enough about sustainable living to make this decision voluntarily. When it is mentioned that natural resources are being depleted – this is not just a local, micro scenario. We have realized the value of energy when we started to use solar energy as power. We have also realized that the wastewater which has the natural detergents could be reused in the garden. We have realized that we do not need tons of clothing to create our unique style. We think that sustainable living is minimizing our consumption and producing. If I answer your other question, on the contrary we have a great social life. We are spending value time with our friends. Listening to a great piece of music, sitting around a fire in the open, milky way in the sky. We are only travelling when we work for shoots. Currently most of the work we are doing is on sustainability, so we do not necessarily need to travel to other places as well. We are connected to the world online anyhow. Holding meetings, editing our work, partnering with solutions providers are all easy.
IF: You are producing creative content for numerous global companies in the fashion industry for their collection launch, line presentation. We all acknowledge that the fashion industry will have to go through a major post-pandemic disruption. How will the brands and the manufacturers communicate?
Ceyda and Özkan: When I first encountered fashion to me it was a machine to drive people to consume. I then realized that in its essence fashion is a tool to declare unique human identity and experience. Fashion needs our life experience and I am thrilled on behalf of fashion because during the pandemic it has accumulated the memories and the experience to create a wave of change. It has reminded us that being sustainable is not just an individual act, that we are a piece of the whole and that we are responsible for/from each other. Thus, I believe that the brands who will internalize this line of thought and make sure that they understand this human experience before they change, will be creating a new understanding of fashion.
IF: Can you give some tips on how-to live-in harmony with nature to the consumers? Is it possible to be in connection with nature when you live in the city?
Ceyda and Özkan: In order to live in harmony with nature we have to understand the story behind what we consume. What we have observed is that in the city people are unaware of the way they consume water, energy, food and clothes. When you start to produce tomatoes and some herbs in your city balcony, you already become connected to nature. There are brands making zero waste achievable. We think that spending half an hour in the shower is out of date.
IF: When we were talking something, you said really stayed with me – you mentioned that the pandemic did not really affect you and all that you have done in the recent years were a way to prepare for this phase. How come?
Ceyda and Özkan: We think that the pandemic has given the world a message on sustainable living because what it means is that we have look beyond saving the day as we realize that not much has changed even if we are in lockdown. Living in harmony with nature, working in your garden, using renewable energy, aiming zero waste, composting. Of course, starting such a life and all this does not happen at once and yet we can ask ourselves this : During this pandemic period do I really need the things I think I am deprived of?
IF: What are your hobbies and how do you practice your hobbies living in nature? It also looks pretty much like a life for 2; how do you find the balance in your relationship?
Ceyda and Özkan: I am also a children books` writer and when we are not shooting videos, I am writing, playing the guitar or making ceramics and Özkan on the other hand works in the woodwork atelier and plays the drums when he gets free time. Gardening takes a lot of our time as well. The secret to the harmony in our relationship is that we enjoy working together also give each other ample free space. Spending a lot of time together does not necessarily mean being together all the time.
IF: Your favorite jeans?
Ceyda and Özkan: I love my authentic mom-fit jean and Özkan loves his jean shirt.
IF: Your story is so inspirational and gives hope to many people who would like to reboot and start the life they have been dreaming to have in nature. Any suggestions on where to start?
Ceyda and Özkan: Believe in the life that you would live to build in nature. It may not be very easy, but it is worth it.
Yaşamak istediğimiz dünya sadece bir hayal mi?
Bundan 35 yıl önce iş hayatıma başladığımda gerçekten çok şanslıydım ve ilk rehberim ve o dönemde çalıştığım şirketin genel müdürü Mehmet Ali Babaoğlu’nun başarı ve geleceği yaratmak ile ilgili söylediği; öncelikle hayal kurmanın ne kadar doğru olduğunu defalarca deneyimledim. Hayal kurduğumuz zaman, kısıt getirme, bize geleneksel eğitim sisteminin, toplum öğretilerinin sunduğu verilen çerçevesinde hareket etmek gibi tanımlı zorunluluklar olmadan yeni bir dünya tanımlamak mümkün. Mehmet Ali Bey’ in önerisi benim için, bir adım sonrası için hep hazır olabilecek dinamikliği, hevesi, tutkuyu, coşkuyu da beraberinde getirirken aynı zamanda da bulunduğum anı sevmemi ve geleceğe de umutla bakmamı sağladı. İş yaşantısında hayaller ile projelere başladığınızda öncelikle birlikte uyum içinde çalışabilecek ve heyecan hissedebilecek bir ekip, risk alabilecek liderlik anlayışı, hayallerin kurgu yapısını hesaplayabilecek ve şekillendirecek hesaplama, doğru zamanı belirlemek ve çok emek vermekten kaçınmadan çalışmak gerekecek ve birçok bu iş olmaz diyen sese sabır ile durumu açıklamak zorunluluğu olacak. Bugün çok belirsiz bir geleceğe bakıyoruz ve hemen hemen tüm iş kollarında, yaşam şeklimizde büyük değişiklikler olacak. Bilimsel verilerin bile oldukça değişken olduğu bu dönemde bize yön verecek hayallere daha da fazla gereksinim duyacağımıza inanıyorum çünkü bu hayaller ile geleceğimizi de tanımlayacağız. Yakın zamanda Bloomberg yeşil sera gazlarının miktarı, buzulların erime hızı, kaybolan orman alanlarının futbol sahası cinsinden hesabını, yenilenebilir enerji miktarını gibi önemli kritik bilgileri güncel olarak yayınladığı bir (https://www.bloomberg.com/green) online platform başlattı, Gucci markası sezon gözetmeden daha uzun süre giyilebilecek koleksiyonlar sunacağını bildirdi, e-ticaret ile e-games in birleştiği alanlarda Gen Z kuşağının bir arada "takıldıkları" sosyal sanal ortamlar oluşmaya başladı. Eğitimin, yoga derslerinin, seminerlerin dijital ortama taşındığı, karmaşık ameliyatların bile uzaktan yapıldığı ve daha birçok alanda hızlı değişimlerin, yeniden oluşumların olduğu dünyamızda belki de hayal ederken mekân ve zaman kavramlarının farklılaşması, uluslararası erişimin, iş birliklerinin seyahat zorunluluğu olmadan gerçekleşebilmesi sayesinde daha da özgür olabileceğiz. Tüm bu değişkenlik ve belirsizlik içinde gerek kişisel gerek ise toplum olarak sınırsız ve engelsiz hayal ederek geleceğimizi kurgulamamız için en doğru zaman olduğunu düşünüyorum.
Bu hafta Ayvalık’ta çocukluğunda tanıştığım, profesyonel olarak bir dönem birlikte çalıştığım ve daha sonra bağımsız olarak çalışmaya başladığında yaratıcılığına başvurduğum, çok zengin yeteneklerine, kendisini geliştirmesine hayran olduğum Ceyda ve eşi Özkan’ın içten, azimli, keyifli, umut ve ilham kaynağı hayallerine sizleri de ortak yapmak istedim.