Conversations: Cigdem Pearsall, Turkish Murkish

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Drawing inspiration to start her own venture whilst in her corporate role, Cigdem Pearsall wanted to bring the rich fabric of Turkey to Australia. Through Turkish Murkish, Cigdem offers a range of rich, hand-loomed and machine woven fabrics; sharing a piece of heritage and history with her clients.

Tell us about Turkish Murkish and its audience.
I started the business three years ago whilst working with a corporate. As part of a planning session, we invited two speakers who had crossed Antarctica. Their talk inspired me to pursue my own dream and start my own business. My products, specifically Turkish towels, cater to all ages. The higher-end luxe hand-loomed towels and throws primarily cater to homeowners who love unique and eco-friendly textiles to decorate their homes.

Tell us about the meaning behind the name “Turkish Murkish”.
Turks love to play on words and names with the letter “M”. When I was thinking of a business name, I wanted something that was authentically Turkish. It had to have the word Turkish in it and then it dawned on me to use the same play of words, as Turks do all the time. That is how Turkish Murkish came to life!

How has the business name helped you in your journey?
As a unique name, it has definitely helped! I have also had it trademarked. Both, customers and radio & TV presenters I have met mentioned that the name was catchy and unforgettable. Many people say it is also fun and quirky, while some even assume that “Murkish” means towel in Turkish.

What is your vision for Turkish Murkish?
I have big aspirations for Turkish Murkish. I would love to be the go-to brand that people think of when they want a Turkish towel. I am looking to expand the range of new designs and into soft furnishings for the home. My customers inspire me and I always take note of what they would like to see.

While juggling professional and personal commitments, how do you find time for yourself?
I’ve only been able to carve time for myself this year. Ever since I left my hectic corporate role two years ago, I haven’t taken time out for myself and started to fall ill both physically and mentally. We moved houses during the busiest time and I was all over the place. Then I met my gorgeous neighbour, Justine from New Leaf Healing. I realised I could no longer put myself off any further and started healing starting from the inside. I did a few courses and workshops in meditation and energy healing which gave me clarity on what I wanted, not only for myself but also for the direction of my business. I gave this gift to myself. I no longer wanted to be in constant juggling mode. I am learning to surrender and balance my time whereby I spend quality time with my loved ones and pets and set aside time from my business. The biggest lesson I am learning is to set boundaries in both my personal and business life.

What three pieces of advice would you give to someone who aspires to become an entrepreneur?
•    Do what you love. People not only buy the product, they also buy a piece of you. Infuse a bit of your love into everything you put out there, and this energy will attract loyal customers.
•    Invest in yourself. The biggest investment I made into my business was taking a PR course, which gave me the tools to get my brand out there. The second was hiring a fantastic web and graphic designer who understood me. I had a business consultant but decided it was not for me. I learned a few things but at the end of the day, I wanted to run my business guided by my customers and my gut.
•    Be kind to yourself and in every single interaction you have with people. Treat every single customer as your best customer. You never know, they may become your number one customer!

What does success mean to you?
Success means having a healthy and supportive network of loved ones who surround you, especially during ups and downs. Businesses come and go but connections with people and family will always be there. I have learned that focusing on money does not give me happiness. When I am happy and feel loved, the business grows organically.

Do you have a quote or life mantra that motivates you?
I know it sounds cliché, but I always listen to the very first gut reaction I have when meeting people or making a decision. Whenever I have gone against it, I have been disappointed. In addition, learning to say “no” was not easy but I have learned to say no with grace.

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