Yağmur Çoban: A Platform for Local Brands
Yağmur Çoban, the co-founder of Local Makers (a web platform bringing fair, sustainable and local products from Turkey to attention) tells us that getting away from mass production and consumption is not a dream.
“We try to select truly original boutique brands, where the creator is involved in all stages of production, comply with ethical and fair trade principles and has similar sensitivities like us.”
What urged you to search for “the local” and establish Local Makers?
We call anyone a “Maker” if s/he puts forward her/his dreams and talents to create, develop and produce stuff. We believe that people who believe in the power of production rather than consumption, and the collective consciousness could save us and raise awareness. It is priceless to buy products and services from an independent business or a creative person who makes positive and ethical choices you could trust. The global system teaches us all that cheaper materials and labor are required for higher profit margins. We believe, on the other hand, that social entrepreneurs could create long-term, sustainable values for their communities by primarily focusing on the planet and people, rather than on making more profit. As Local Makers, we try to convey this attitude and explain that innovative alternative solutions are possible.
Are you a “maker” as well?
I am a local producer, working for my own boutique brand North Fox for about seven years. I have always felt a necessity for being part of a collective. During all these years, I have met a lot of local producers. People have also reached me to ask for some tactics to succeed as a small brand. I did not have all the particular answers, of course, and I started to connect people to one another. First I referred someone to my friend, then to my friend’s friend, and my friend’s friend’s friend, and so on… I thought that gathering all these small producers on a platform would be the easiest way to support one another. I also started to tell the inspiring stories of these producers on the platform. Small producers usually carry a lot of burdens themselves. They might be creating amazing products, but that does not mean that they could promote and sell them successfully. Every boutique producer has been disappointed once by one of those hope-mongering bazaar activities where outrageous prices are demanded per square meter. For that reason, we have been planning some design activities that could truly convey our values.
INSPIRING STORIES FROM THE PRODUCERS
What do the brands on the platform have in common?
We try to select truly original boutique brands, where the creator is involved in all stages of production, comply with ethical and fair trade principles and has similar sensitivities like us. They should be ready to learn and develop, and we should be able to provide them what they need them to make progress. We do not stock the products for our online store crazily, and we do not demand making the cargos in 24 hours. You could think of us more like ambassadors promoting and selling products that the local producers would like to test.
There are not only products but also inspiring stories of the producers on the platform. What have you learned from them during these interviews?
The story of each producer is very special. I have learned to look from different angles. I discovered how flat some of my ambitions were. I have learned plant-based painting techniques thanks to Tuğay, one of our Local Makers who is the creator of Darwin’s Botanicals. I am accumulating all the food waste in my home and store, so that she can produce paint from these wastes. I have learned that I could both protect nature and provide free raw materials for a producer, at the same time. They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! I have also learned propagation techniques from our maker Sibel Gürcüoğlu, who is an expert on plants. I am nurturing a mini-forest at home now, while I was killing plants by overwatering not so long ago. I started my journey of urban gardening, which I always desired, with the support of Hasibe Akın, another maker who is specialized at roof-farming.
What songs have you been listening to feel good lately?
My sister is an absolute lover of everything Greek. She is passionate about Greek music too. She sends me old funny Turkish and Greek songs. I’ve been having a lot of fun listening to them lately. A few examples: Aferim (Kaldaras) from Nitsa Grezi, Rampi Rampi from Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Karabiberim from Rena Ntallia and Jim Apostolou.