Beyond Borders: Women Entrepreneurs Become Digital Exporters

Women are the fastest growing category of entrepreneurs in the world. Women in Turkey have also become an important part of the country’s economic transformation and form the backbone of the ever-changing entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The coronavirus pandemic has created an opportunity for thousands of women to embark on a journey to sell various products they produce at home online, including bags and jewelry, and eventually start their own businesses.

The various opportunities that have arisen through technological developments help small businesses grow by giving them all access to the same tools.

For example, Meta platforms allow women entrepreneurs living in the most remote corners of Turkey to deliver their handicrafts to buyers elsewhere in the world.

Let’s take a look at the success stories of two women entrepreneurs who are growing their business by using Meta platforms and technology more effectively.

glass magic

Şebnem Kurtul is a woman fascinated by the magic of glass and the beautiful colors created by the sun hitting the glass since her childhood.

This encouraged her to study industrial design at university. Although Kurtul enjoyed working for many creative companies, she couldn’t resist creating her own glass art.

So, in October 2017, she started creating wearable glass art in many forms, starting with earrings and rings, setting up a self-branded workshop as an additional business.

Initially selling to friends and family, Kurtul opened a business Instagram account to expand his clientele and has since gained an international following, founded a second jewelry brand and quit his job so he could pursue his passion wholeheartedly.

Using her professional Instagram profile as a self-curated gallery, she shares aesthetic and eye-catching images of her designs. At the same time, she enjoys giving her online community insight into the daily process of the business by sharing behind-the-scenes footage of the production process via Instagram Stories and Instagram Reels.

Thanks to her brand image with the platform, Kurtul has been able to attract many companies and personalities who want to work with her, whether they are museums who want to showcase her works or celebrities who want to take her creations to a high level. events.

Besides being a great stage for Kurtul to showcase his products, Instagram allows him to interact with customers one-on-one and even secure sales. She regularly receives requests from potential customers and generates 50% of her income through the platform.

“Instagram is a great communication platform where you can communicate with anyone. You can ask people for advice and also communicate with your customers and new business partners,” says Kurtul.

As her business continues to grow, Kurtul’s audience in Istanbul continues to remain important to her. In her mission to support them in business, she helps women on the road to success by giving advice and free courses in glass fusion to those who want to start their own glass business.

With the outbreak of the pandemic, Kurtul had to face many obstacles. Not only did its suppliers have to close, but the economic crisis in the United States also prevented the possibility of sourcing from the region.

During this time, she created her own website where people could order her works directly while continuing to make her products and sell pre-made creations through the Instagram store.

In the future, Kurtul hopes to open more stores and museums internationally. She also hopes to organize her own exhibition of jewelry and sculptures, where people can see her works.

AnatolianCraft

Retired architect and fashion-loving entrepreneur Bilge Can has always enjoyed combining items of Turkish origin and creating her own embroidered pieces as a hobby. Seeing the lack of durable pieces representing his own culture in the fashion world, Can decided to create the award-winning fashion brand, AnatolianCraft, in 2016, which designs and manufactures hand-embroidered luxury shoes and accessories from local, ethically sourced materials.

Can, with the help of her daughter Begüm Can Öcal, not only promotes eco-friendly slow fashion, but also uses her brand to support local artisans and ensure they receive their fair compensation for their work.

This duo created global brand awareness with clients across Europe, the United States and the Middle East using their Facebook and Instagram business accounts.

“Metatechnologies have been and continue to be a very important factor in facilitating our production, marketing and sales activities,” says Öcal.

The team uses Meta Business Manager to publish their content to protect the image they create on all of their company’s social channels. Through posts, Facebook Stories, and Instagram Stories, they showcase their new products, promote celebrity collaborations, and provide insight into their production processes. As a result, they make 90% of their sales through Meta technologies and websites.

Can and Öcal, in addition to their organic content, create Facebook ads to extend their reach and highlight their dynamic creative posts and ads. They learn how people interact with websites using Meta Pixel. For example, when they realized that the value of a customer’s shopping cart in the Middle East was higher, they created special target audiences to find people in that region.

Communicating with their customers and artisan communities is essential to their success, and to do this the duo use Meta messaging tools such as Instagram Direct and WhatsApp. All of their interactions with associates are via WhatsApp, while their customers reach out to them via Instagram Direct for product enquiries. The team receives an average of 10 messages per day via the platform.

Can, which was not very active on the internet before the pandemic, sold most of its products through a local concept store. As businesses started closing and Öcal got involved with the brand, they started spending more time on their Meta profiles. They started using Meta Business Manager to create ad campaigns more often.

In the future, they hope to open their own physical store and expand their artist family. At the same time, they plan to create their own WhatsApp Business account for all business chats, as well as further highlight their presence on Instagram.

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