You know that voice? The one that whispers, “What are you doing in that office?”
“Is this where you want to be?”
“Psst,” it says. “There’s so much more to see.”
It doesn’t matter how long you ignore it. It never goes away.
Hi. I’m Kerem. I own Ke Bella jewelry. But I almost didn’t.
When I was six years old, my father began taking me to work with him every summer in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Early on, I was meant merely to watch and learn: learn how to run the business, learn how to treat customers, learn the ins and outs of the trade so that, one day, I could take over.
But whenever I saw the chance, I’d slip away to explore, drawn to the vibrant displays in the jewelry store windows. Standing transfixed before them, I’d marvel at the radiant, scorching colors bouncing off one another and back at me until someone came to retrieve me.
As I grew older, learning made way for doing, practicing, leading… until I was accepted at a top university. Leaving all the sounds and colors of my childhood behind, I set off to begin the next chapter of my life in the US.
That little voice? I shushed it:
“Corporate finance is a sensible job,” I told it. “It’s a business just as big and loud as the Grand Bazaar.”
“But with none of the color or shimmer or life,” it whispered back.
In a grey city I wore grey clothes and said grey things, and when my dreams turned grey, I barely took notice.
I’d heard the phrase “Leap, and the net will appear!” Until Fate stepped in, I never knew this other truth: Refuse to leap, and you’ll be pushed.
Corporate Finance may be sensible, but it had proven unstable. Unemployed in a new country, I began looking for another job. Finance and my apprenticeship in the Grand Bazaar were all I’d ever known, but I knew deep down that I didn’t want to take over my father’s business. I loved the Bazaar, but I had no passion for his shop or the items he sold in it.
One phone call changed everything.
A friend, phoning to catch up, mentioned they’d begun working for one of the jewelry ateliers in the Grand Bazaar. In an instant, all the ambition and daydreams and colors of my childhood were back.
With the savings I had left, a bit of hope, and a healthy dose of encouragement from my inner voice, I packed up my belongings and began traveling across the country to festivals and shows, bringing the jewelry of the Grand Bazaar to the US and selling it directly to the public.
I suppose you could say I did take over the family business, just not in the way my father imagined. Over the past five years, my finance experience has helped me build and grow this business to create my perfect life. But nothing I learned in school or finance holds a candle to the lessons I learned from my father at the Grand Bazaar:
I started Ke Bella to bring the colors, sounds, and style of the Grand Bazaar to you in the modern, authentic, artisan-made jewelry that captivated me as a child and still captivates me today. Here is what I promise:
Hi. I’m Kerem. I own Ke Bella jewelry. I’m crisscrossing the country right now, living the life I almost missed out on. There’s so much more to see.