The Fifth-Avenue Anatolian Jewelry Motif: Gilan

Gilan chose New York City as a spot to become an international brand name. Their designs convey an authentic breeze from Anatolia. Apart from New York, Gilan has customers from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Dallas and. In five years, the exquisite jeweler plans to open stores in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
The Crown Building is one of the well-known buildings on Fifth Avenue in New York City in that it hosts offices of internationally renowned trade marks. The Crown Building, featured as the building with “the best Central Park view in Manhattan in New York city guides, was the only building with rising office rents despite an overall 20 percent depreciation in the mid-90s.
Ferhan Geylan, President of Gilan.

The purpose of our visit to the 1921-built Crown Building is not to get acquainted with its history. We are there to hear the story of Gilan, one of the tenants who aims to become an international trade mark in jewelry. As natural as it seems, the road Gilan took to reach this success is a rather long one.

Gilan opened its first store in the Covered Bazaar in Bursa in 1981. After graduating from the Civil Engineering Department at Yıldız Technical University, Ferhan Geylan returned to his home town and decided to pursue a career in the jewelry sector, rather than running the food wholesale business his family had been in since 1937. The first store he opened in Bursa with his brother Muharrem Geylan was the first step towards the formation of Gilan as a trademark in the jewelry sector. The name “Gilan” comes from the roots of the family that reaches to the Gilan village in Kosovo, Yugoslavia. Although the family left the Balkans many years ago, they keep their village’s name alive by naming their jewelry after it.

Following the first five years, the brothers expanded their vision and opened their Istanbul office. With new opportunities brought by the development of the Turkish tourism sector at the end of the 80s, Gilan opened the first jewelry production and design unit. Gilan presented the products of this unit, an innovative one in the jewelry sector, to the customers in Japan, Belgium, and the United States.
The concept of making Gilan an international trademark first appeared at the beginning of the 90s. In 1994, the flagship store opened at Istanbul Akmerkez, a favorite shopping center in the city, became the first significant success towards that goal. Ferhan Geylan comments that the opening of the Akmerkez store is the birth date of Gilan as a trademark. In the recent decade, the stores on Istanbul Bagdat Street and in Ankara joined the chain, and 2001 became the year Gilan took the course to New York to announce the name “Gilan” to the world.
Gilan presents a dream and, through its designs.

Ferhan Geylan, who runs the company’s New York operations, is a name who closely monitors developments and trends in order to make Gilan a trademark in America. Trademark and Customer Relations Management (CRM) services being his specializations, he believes that Turkish companies ought to work on this field with more intensity. He states, “At the bottom of Gilan’s success lies its original designs and modern concept of storekeeping. The essential requirement of being a trademark in the jewelry sector is to have a line, style, and design that can identify with an original, unique trademark to make it last in a form of creativity.”

In the light of its goals, Gilan accomplished many first things also in Turkey, such as putting together the first jewelry design team of Turkey and contributing to the establishment of the Jewelry Design Department of Marmara University, a two-year degree granting institution.

Geylan believes that the secret of conveying Turkish culture to jewelry lies in the designer’s ability to make a synthesis of various Anatolian aspects. He is also strongly attached to the fact that the wisest way of forming an original trademark is to benefit from one’s own culture. “With our designs, we set on a long voyage towards the mysterious world of Anatolian civilizations. We presented the unique beauties we encounter to the modern woman in a contemporary concept and earned great admiration. Jewelry is a product that deeply addresses to feelings. We present a dream and, through our designs, this dream meets our customers’ lifestyles.”

49 percent of the world’s jewelry is sold in the United States. Yet, despite the great size of the market, the number of trademarks is small. A great majority of sales is carried out by local independent jewelers due to the unique geographic conditions. In the macro sense, this characteristic is a great advantage for jewelers that are willing to become a trademark.

In the following years, Gilan’s primary target towards a great market is to open a flagship store on Fifth Avenue or Madison Avenue, a place that would suit to the position of the trademark. The prestigious salon in The Crown Building, where jewelry sales are currently carried out, accepts customers by appointment.

This system is primarily based on gathering detailed information about customers’ purchasing tendencies and lifestyle. Geylan calls attention to the importance of the location of the store and adds, “Although we started our operation in the USA in 2001, we opened our salon in December, 2003. For an entire year, we looked for a convenient place. Ultimately, we decided on this building.” Gilan plans to open two other stores in Las Vegas and Los Angeles within the first five years. For the second five-year period, there are plans for opening two other stores in West Palm Beach and Dallas. At the end of the 10th year, the target is to reach 5 stores and achieve a turnover of 70 million dollars. Within this period of time, there are plans for the opening of stores in Paris, Moscow, and Japan.

Gilan focuses its activities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut region, referred to as the Tri-State and engages a PR company, known as the “PR Guru” of the night life in New York, Hamptons, West Palm Beach and Los Angeles. Rather than advertisements, Gilan is promoted through the word of mouth. The company undertakes the sponsorship of well-known charitable institutions and reinforces its image as a trademark through the articles appearing in Vogue, W. Robb Report, and Town & Country, the popular magazines of its target customers.

Gilan has accomplished to make popular artists and well-known people from the high society to wear its products. Encouraged by her stylist, who have great admiration for Gilan jewelry, pop singer Christian Aguilera participated in the recent Grammy Music Awards with Gilan spiral earrings. Aside from Aguilera, Aerin Lauder, one of the successors of the famous cosmetic company Estee Lauder, is among those who prefer Gilan.

Geylan says, “The uniqueness of our designs play a great role in making popular people prefer Gilan products,” and adds, “In an interview made with one of the most distinguished ladies from the New York society, a lady was asked which jewelry she would prefer to wear if invited to the Oscar Awards. The lady answered, ‘Gilan.’ This is an example indicating that we are making effort towards the right direction.”

Customers visiting the Gilan salon also come from different parts of the country, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Dallas. In the fall, Gilan will hold customer meetings in prestigious locations in order to make the trademark meet the target customers. This way, through a concentrated marketing strategy, Gilan plans to reach its target clientele. The adventure of the trademark that set sail from Bursa continues in New York.

One Gilan project with which Ferhan Geylan is very proud of is the Restoration of the Topkapi Palace Treasury Room, a project granted to Gilan by the Ministry of Culture.

The rooms that display the Ottoman Treasures, one of the three remarkable jewelry collections of the world, are entirely restored in the light of the modern museum curatorship. Geylan says, “We undertook the project with pleasure. This was, in fact, our obligation to our culture. After two years of hard work, in 2001, the Treasury Rooms with its new interior designs equipped with brand new exhibition, lighting, and security systems, re-opened its doors to the world. This project, entirely covered from Gilan resources, cost 1 million dollars. Geylan states, “Looking at it from a point of institutional citizenship, this investment made in our cultural heritage is an invaluable one.”
(June 2004, Issue 13th)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07
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