We had the good fortune of connecting with Alper Ficici and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alper, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Finding a really good bath towel was never complicated back home in Turkey. My family has been in the organic towel business since 1931. Thanks to that, we always had really good towels at home after bath or beach. I used to believe that all towels are made equal before i came to Canada for university. How can i think otherwise, all my family members have been handlooming, organic super plush and durable bath towels for almost a century. Even the oldest and most torn up towel in my grandmas’ closet was more than capable of wiping me dry with its plush organic cotton. Spending 10 years in Canada showed me that not all towels are made equal, just like bed sheets. I came to realization that the universe of bath towels includes options in wide range of fabrics, weaves and textures.
In 2016, i decided to give it a shot in a small local market with a box of Turkish towel here in North Vancouver. After all, i was graduated from marketing and advertising and i believed that Canadians and Americans can learn to use a good Turkish organic towel. Just like listening to opera, a real Turkish towel becomes more and more meaningful when you use it for a long time. When i sold out of all my towels in 2 days of time, and featured in a local newpaper, it was not brainer. We had to start first organic handloomed towel company in North America.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
About the business, it is a full family run company. My sister is a award winning fashion designer, helping with design and branding even though she is super busy and successful with her post educational career in Italy. 2 of my cousins are taking care of manufacturing operations in Buldan, and 1 cousin is in charge of development in Turkey. In the workshop, we have our 70 years old looming magician, my moms’ uncle Ibrahim Tengiz, -shout out to him!- with his 4 helpers. Me and my wife are here in Vancouver BC, trying to grow the business by going to local markets and online sales. We used to have more people from our family helping in the business back in the day but, new generation is not interested in looming towels. Rightfully so, they rather want to explore their options and the world.
What sets me apart is the sacrifices i made along the way as well as risks i took. It was not easy to get where i am today, but it was also not so hard thanks to my wife and family who supported me along the way.
The biggest lesson i learned, is sum of all the lessons i learned. Owning a business just like an owning a volatile stock. You have your ups and downs, but if you believe in it, the future is bright.
One thing i am most proud of is being able bring my 3 generations old family owned small company to overseas. My family lives in a very very small town called Buldan. They do not make much, and they do not have the vision and resources to open up the business to the outside world. If i can make Chic Towels a bigger brand, i can provide more businesses to them. I am super excited to see what future holds for me and my family.
I want them to know that, 99% of textile products are not organic and harmful to our world. Certified organic products are increasing slowly, but people have to step up and change their spending habits when purchasing organic textile products. Chic Towels = Non GMO Cotton = Safer Environments
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would start with camping. If money is no concern, Long Beach Lodge in Tofino is an amazing place. Tofino is my by far the most favourite place in BC, so that would be our starting point. On the way back from Tofino to Nanaimo ferry station, we would take a detour for one of the delicious hidden restaurants around the oyster farms. Spending at least 3 to 4 days should be enough. Vancouver and Whistler are well worth a few day’s of our time so including sea to sky highway, whistler, hiking chief, taking SkyTram to the top of Grouse Mountain and lastly Stanley Park.
Vancouver City is amazing when it comes to food. So here are my favourite places, Marutama for Ramen, Taqueria Playa Tropical for tacos, Happy Tree for Chinese BBQ and Anatolian Gate for good Turkish food!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My wife! She is the one who kept me in the business whenever i wanted to quit. Her love and encouragement made me want to push myself and stay on the course. I might had the idea to start this business here in Canada, but she is the one who made Chic Towels successful in the last 3 years. She also believes in the products as much as i do, but her dedication and to this business is on a whole different level than mine. I am blessed to have her on my side in this business.