All women should be financially independent
I was one of six children in a poor, rural family from a village in Giresun, a city at the Black Sea region. None of us had the opportunity to go to school. At very young ages, boys needed to find a job and girls needed to find a husband. I got married at 16-years-old to an unemployed man in Istanbul and I had my son when I was 17. I remember the day my son was born. When the hospital took the baby hostage for days as we couldn’t pay the invoice, I realized I wouldn’t be able to earn much without a profession. I continued to hairdressing classes to get a certification with the hope to open a beauty salon. I worked in a textile factory in the morning and trained in a hair salon in the afternoon to pay for school and the expenses of my son. Then I went to school in the evenings while my neighbors were taking care of my son in solidarity.
After I got the certification and a divorce, I opened my first salon. All I had then was a plastic chair, broken table given as a charity, a big mirror and school scissors. When one day a customer asked where she could find a wedding dress, I had the idea to transform part of the salon into a shop where I would also rent bridal dressing gowns. I didn’t have savings and no bank would work with me because I had no real estate collateral or a guarantor on my side. Yet I was working long hours and investing all the money back to my business.
At first I managed to have three businesses within the same room, and within few years three shops within the same street: hairdressing salon, flower shop and bridal dress designer. Today I own two hairdressing salons, a beauty salon of four floors where she also organizes training workshops, photo studio, bridal dress show room and hall for celebration (weddings, parties, graduation, and wedding showers) in Istanbul. Now I also participate in international hairstyle contests representing Turkey.
I believe all women should be financially independent and strongly believe a woman can move the mountains, if she is empowered. For me, the biggest constraint for women’s economic empowerment is the family pressure, where woman’s role is reduced totally to motherhood and be a good wife for the husband. That is why I want to help young women to feel the power in themselves. I train young girls and women through free workshops (hairdressing, sewing and embroidery) and as of today more than 1,000 women have been awarded with a certificate and 10 of them have succeeded to open beauty salons under my guidance and mentorship.