Young Turkish Designer's Dream Is Very Simple: To Make It to the Next Season

Image When she was a junior in high school, when everyone was sending out college applications, she knew all she wanted to do was design.  Teachers always taught them to apply to as many colleges as possible. She only applied to one; it was The Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan.  It didn't concern her that there was a chance she would not get accepted and she didn't have a back up plan.  

So, after months of anticipating the acceptance letter, she received the rejection letter.  She went to the school to see if she could talk to the dean of fashion design.  There was nothing he could do to admit her that semester, but he recommended she would take courses at the school to build her portfolio.

After a couple of courses her drawing had improved dramatically.  She put together a new and improved portfolio and submitted it the next semester.

She continued her courses at F.I.T. and anticipated that acceptance letter once again. She wasn't sure if she could take another rejection.  If she didn't get accepted this time she might have given up.  Her family kept reminding her and asking what if she doesn't get accepted this time?  She did not know.
But she did it. She was so excited, step one to being a fashion designer: get into fashion school- check.  Now about another 20 or so check offs to go.  But she was willing to do whatever it takes.  She could taste the sensation of being a designer each step of the way.

Besne Ceylan’s adventure in fashion industry has just begun. She says: “It never seemed too far or impossible. It was like God had my dream on a rope, he put it right in front of me, it seemed so close to me but each time I reached out for it, he pulled the string.  Each pull of that string caused me to move a little further, I wasn't ready to have it yet.  He wanted me to work my way to the next step, keeping my dream in sight each step of the way,”

Ceylan showcased her collection in February in Manhattan. U.S. is a big market but she says that she won't be stopping there.  “I will be targeting Turkey and Sweden as well. I will be promoting my line everyday from the moment I wake up to the time I lay my head,” Ceylan says. Young designer answered TurkofAmerica’s questions.
Besne Ceylan is on stage with one her models.(at right)

When did you graduate? What was your dream when you started to the school?
I can't say I graduated.  I didn't receive a diploma because I didn't follow the school curriculum.  Once again, my hard headedness.  I didn't feel it was necessary to take certain classes they required to get a fashion design diploma.  I was interested in getting the basic training from school and anxious to get real world experience as soon as possible.

But to answer your question, I finished my design training in May 2007.  I had taken all the design courses that my peers had taken for an Associates Degree, and I had done two internships by that time.  I was as ready as anyone could be in school to move into the real world.  There is only so much school could teach you, and I didn't want to waste too much time in it.

How did you define your field after graduation? Who inspired you?
After graduation I tried to find any job in the industry that I could.  I searched WWD, Craig’s list, talked to people I knew in the industry.  After searching for a few months I thought, I should get an internship and it would be a lot easier to get hired by that company to work with them.  I started searching and found an internship. It was great, I learned a lot and they mentioned there was a position available at the time.  I enjoyed it for a couple of months and was looking forward to get hired for that opening.  After two months the learning halted.  I wasn't learning anything new and the intern position was getting a little tiring.

One day as I was having lunch at Starbucks I was being nosey in some people's conversation.  I couldn't recognize what language they were speaking.  One minute it sounds Arabic, then French, then to add the real mixer Hebrew came into play.  I had to ask them.  They explained that they were from Morocco and people there mix all three languages.  Well I also found out they were in the fashion industry.  I asked them to keep me in mind if they knew anyone hiring.

It must have been a week or two and I get a call from a 212 area code.  You got to love those 212 numbers.  I had landed myself an interview out of being nosey!  I did get the job and stayed with that company for a year.  That is where I really learned how to become a designer.  My boss was very patient with me and taught me everything.  Mr. Benlolo, God bless him.

Is there any fashion person in your family? How did you decide to be a designer?
There is no body in my family in the fashion industry; they all are in fine jewelry.  It is hard when your family can't help you.  But even though my family doesn't have much experience or knowledge in the field they are very supportive of what I am doing, so it makes it easier for me to keep reaching and dreaming.

What is your goal in future?
My goal right now is to make it to the next season.  Many new designers come out but can't survive to make it the next season. Once I reach that goal, then I will think how to get to the next goal. Take things as it comes.

Ceylan is at her latest show in Manhattan.
Could you tell us about latest collection? How are buyer’s reactions when they purchase your products?

My latest collection plays a lot with shoulder details, there are pleats, draping, puffes, all focusing on the shoulder. Pearls also are a key component in the collection. I enjoyed very much emphasizing on the key elements of the traditional sweat suit.  A hood for example. I took this basic element and elaborated on it with beautiful fringe pearls.  It makes the jacket very playful and reminds everyone, hey I am extravagant but don't forget I am just a hoodie.  Although the main attraction is the jackets, with all the details and current designs, I paired them with a slim fitting pant. With everyone wearing leggings and skinny jeans, I accommodated my customers with something they can relate to at the time.

The colors and fabrics are very rich and carefully chosen for the fall season.  A big favorite is the burgundy velour.  There is also an orange jersey that is a major color for this fall, showing up in all the runways.  Then I have the signature fabric that I will be running every season.  It resembles tweed.  This particular fabric is causing a lot of buzz.  It is very unusual but attractive to see this fabric in a sweat suit.    

The buyers appreciate that the timing of the designs are on point.  It is fresh but not ahead of the time.  You could be a genius designer but if its too early or ahead in trends the customers would not buy into it.  The buyers feel confident in investing in my product because they know it is sellable.  They love the concept of a sweat suit becoming luxury, the concept of style and comfort.  They all appreciate the details and design put into such a basic idea as the sweat suit.  The idea that you could be seen in your sweats and look good running around.
Ceylan's best supporters are her sisters and friends.

Do you want to extend your business to Turkey? Do you have any suggestions for young designers?
Yes, Turkey is a place I definitely see my product being in.  Any suggestion.... well first off, make sure you have it inside you to be a designer.  That inner talent, because there is a lot of work and disappointments involved. And if its not who you are, you will be wasting a lot of time and heartache.  I had a lot of people who tried to scare me from starting my own collection.  They were looking out for me in trying to test me.   But if you are a designer, then push, push and work hard.  I haven't figured out the clearest path to make it as a designer myself so I can't quite give some guideline.  But just like any other business most things are instinctive and involve connections.  Talk to everyone you run into and always promote yourself as who you want to become.

U.S. is a very big market. How will you promote your work?
Yes, U.S. is a big market but I won't be stopping there.  I will be targeting Turkey and Sweden as well.  I will be promoting my line everyday from the moment I wake up to the time I lay my head. I talk to anyone and everyone about my collection, never know who you run into.  I will be reaching out to stores and visiting as many boutiques as time allows.  There is gonna be a lot of foot work to be done at first to make those contacts. But in time the awareness will build.
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07