An Interview with IdeaMensch About Bocan

Ecem Bocan is the founding partner of Bocan Couture — Luxury Sleepwear along with her sister Melike, and mother, Ayse. Like many family businesses, Ecem’s role is varied, with her main goal to explore new markets, manage customer relations, optimise productivity and drive e-commerce for the brand forward.

Initially studying Industrial Engineering in Turkey, she moved to Spain for six months after the completion of her studies, to fully immerse herself in the culture and language.

Taking her international experience in different sectors and industries, she launched Bocan Couture in 2012 as a brand created by women for women.

Directed by three strong women, the brand has gone from strength to strength. It is now a favourite among Royal Families and elegant women throughout the world. It is rapidly becoming the first choice for luxurious sleepwear for brides and mothers-to-be.

After attending exhibitions throughout the Gulf and UK, Bocan Couture created a sister company in the UK in 2019 to launch to the UK market.

Ecem is a board member of the Turkish Young Businessman Association and the member of the International Relations Unit. The Association is also the member of G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliances and European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs (YES for Europe)

Committing to always improving, Ecem is dedicated to launching the brand launch fully to the global market. She is hardworking and enjoys experiencing new things. She believes in the importance of the team-work and taking action and is very conscious that her actions have a ripple effect on the world.


Where did the idea for Bocan Couture come from?

With a background in industrial engineering, we were always encouraged to follow our own path and way in life. After I graduated, I returned home to Bursa, and my sister Melike and I knew we wanted to start a business in textiles, but it was through our inspirational mother that we realised just what we wanted to do.

We Bocan’s have been in the textile industry for over 50 years, starting from our grandparents who started out in Bursa which is at the heart of the textile industry in Turkey.

But it was our mother that was the true inspiration for Bocan Couture. My mother is a designer, and she sees the time she spends at home with her family as one of the most important things in life. She always took great care with designing and making her own clothes, such as nightgowns, dresses she would wear at home, and she even designed the table linen for our home. She used to make pieces for special occasions, for when guests came around for dinner or even if it was just the family. She takes great pride in her home.

She began getting asked for her designs by friends and family members, by women who cared about the beautiful detailing. It was through this that we came up with the idea of Bocan Couture. We integrated our skills and we like to think of ourselves like three pillars. Each of us bring something different to the company, but just like the pillars rely on each other to hold up a roof, we rely on each other to succeed.


What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I’m more a morning person, so I like to be work early – it feels like it is a more productive time of the day.

At the moment, I have been splitting my time between Bursa and Istanbul, where our boutique is based. But when I’m in Bursa, the first thing I do when I get to our workshop, or atelier, is check the daily schedule and what orders we have received. I also like to talk directly to customers, so I’ll spend time each day answering questions and queries from them.

I’m very active with other businesspeople in Turkey and am a board member of the association, which means we meet regularly to discuss how we can support each other and how to support other young entrepreneurs.

After work, I like to take time to relax, I like to work out, or meet friends for dinner. But I do always end my day with a daily meditation, as it helps me focus.


How do you bring ideas to life?

Creativity, persistence and working together.

My sister and I are constantly inspired by our mother – we love her style. And she is the ultimate inspiration for our brand. We like to find new ways of bringing her designs to life and use them to inspire every piece.

As a company, we work together extremely well, and we bring ideas to life as a team. By choosing the right materials, the right designs for the right market it means that our customers love each new piece.


What’s one trend that excites you?

It’s always been my passion to ensure that we are being socially responsible. Bocan produces for women, by women. We know how hard women are willing to work and contribute as powerful and valuable members of society. Many women don’t feel they have a voice due to so many issues that are happening right now; wars, cultural restrictions or financial impossibilities.

As such, we’ve made a decision to support women employment, and our mission is to empower the women that work for us. Because we’ve seen first-hand how this has benefited our local community, we’re looking to expand this through partnering with the Women for Women International charity. We’re committed to supporting women throughout the world by sponsoring a sister. It will help her earn money, build their confidence and actively participate in their communities.


What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

There is a beautiful quote from the founder of modern Turkey, M. Kemal Ataturk; “A healthy mind in a healthy body”.

I believe that clean eating, being healthy, working out and ensuring I get a good night’s sleep helps me feel more balanced, energetic and productive. Our bodies are temples, and I believe it must be listened to and taken care of to benefit everything around us. It is the foundations I work too in order to help me be productive in business and in my daily life as an entrepreneur.


What advice would you give your younger self?

When I look back over the last seven or eight years I was so excited to start my own business, and felt scared that was doing the right thing, or achieving what I wanted to and I almost miss that feeling.

However, my advice to my younger self would be that you do not have to deal with everything, that you need to let people help, which may involve them doing things in their own way – so go easy on yourself.


Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I believe that people need to find their own way of doing things, and what works for one person, might not work for another. I think there might be only one input, and one output, but there are many paths between those two points.

So, when I say, “I’m not sure this is true”, I don’t think people agree with me


As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I always encourage people to just take the first step and not worry about the perfect idea at the perfect time that they have to start somewhere to follow their dreams. The perfect moment will never come, because creation is based on growth, change and evolution.

Once you make a start you will have the chance to have the experiences to evaluate as you go along, that you will make mistakes but you will be able to learn from these and improve the next time.


What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

During the pandemic our short- and long-term strategies changed to be more flexible with how our customers wanted to buy from us.

We’ve been growing the e-commerce side of the business for the last three years, and the global pandemic helped us realise how important that investment was. There has been a huge shift with how people shop, and social media has been such an important channel for us.

They will always be a place for our customers who want that luxury experience and come into our boutique so they can see and feel each piece. But we’re looking at how we can reflect that in our online shop too.


What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

A few years ago, there was an important exhibition that we missed out on, because we hadn’t been networking with the right people. We considered it a failure in what we were doing at the time, and found it upsetting. However we were then approached to exhibit in London, which would have been the same dates. We decided to go for this opportunity even though it was a new market for us.

That original failure turned out to be the thing that opened new opportunities, and a new market in the UK. We used it to launch a global brand, so it was really important for us. When one door closes, another one opens…


What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

We’re looking at developing our own app since everyone is always connected to their smartphones nowadays. We’re always looking at ways at being more competitive and changing to meet the demands of our customers.


What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I know that I am very privileged to be in the position that I am in. The best $100 I recently spent is for our own employees It was like a fiesta, we had fun all together at a nice meal and entertainment and it was so motivated for all of us. We felt like a family once again. We believe that we can change the world for the better, so we know that any support can make a difference to someone’s life and it should start from the closest one you have.


What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive

Shopify. We use it to power our online store and it is invaluable. It helps us create and analyse any digital marketing campaigns, which means we can optimise these going forward. By knowing what works and what does work for us has been amazing.


What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I love Paulo Coelho’s books and I have read most of them. My favourite is The Alchemist, as it has taught me that everything happens for a reason, and to never give up on myself if things are not going the way I think they should. It is a life-changing book to me. Everybody can find the thing they seek for, it may be about business, daily life, human relations, etc…


What is your favorite quote?

Its not a quote from a book, but more a quote from a philosophy that I follow, it definitely inspires me every day.

“Shibumi has to do with great refinement underlying commonplace appearances. It is a statement so correct that it does not have to be bold, so poignant it does not have to be pretty, so true it does not have to be real. Shibumi is understanding, rather than knowledge. Eloquent silence. In demeanor, it is modesty without pudency. In art, where the spirit of shibumi takes the form of sabi, it is elegant simplicity, articulate brevity. In philosophy, where shibumi emerges as wabi, it is spiritual tranquility that is not passive; it is being without the angst of becoming. And in the personality of a man, it is . . . how does one say it? Authority without domination? Something like that.”

― Trevanian, Shibumi

Key Learnings:

• Teamwork matters at every level of the business

• Always listen to your customers needs and feedback. We need it to improve our business

• A healthy mind equals a health body

• Take the first step in your investment and enjoy your own story. It is important to celebrate your achievements and learn from your failures.

• Share your achievements and see how you can benefit others. Working with a charity adds value to your own brand but has a wider ripple effects on others too.

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