We had the good fortune of connecting with sanem aytekin pagliafora and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi sanem, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I define “Risk” as challenging yourself and being open to changes in life. Hence, risk taking excites me rather than frightens me. It fuels me to take actions to get out of my comfort zone…For example, I moved across three countries over the last decade. First, I moved to Milan, Italy and stayed there for six years. Then, I moved to Geneva, Switzerland and lived there for two and a half years, and finally I came back home to Istanbul, Turkey. Each move was a new beginning for me, and I had built my life from scratch. I met new people, established new friendships and had to learn new languages. It was risky, challenging and completely unknown for me but I did it. I also spent 15 years of my professional life as a HR professional up until I met the clay that completely changed my life. First it was a hobby then became my passion and now it’s my daily life. Looking back, I can say that risks that I took paid me very well. I got a new job that I love, I got new friends all over the world that are my family, and more importantly it broadened my life with many experiences, and it made me so open to changes. I have a tendency to challenge myself when things fall into routine and I pursue my dreams more freely. Leaving the corporate world and opening ‘La Fabrika’ as my pottery studio is the most challenging thing I have ever done, and I am so happy about its all ups and downs. 

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
On paper, my story might sound very cliché: a corporate person who got burned out and wanted to get out. Yet, the real story is very different. Something inside me as telling me to start a new chapter in my life so I let the voice (my passion) to be in charge and take me wherever it wants because I really fall in love with the way it shapes me. Finally, when I have my studio, I realized that it was the easiest part. Having a business is way bigger than dreaming about it. I am by myself and it is a one man show. I am the artist, I am also the accountant, salesperson, customer rep, social media planner, marketing manager, etc. Juggling across these roles and managing all of them was the hardest at the beginning. I did it but I wasn’t alone. I got support from my beloved ones like my husband took care of our home instead of me. Also networking with entrepreneurs like myself helped me a lot to tackle my problems. In that community we discuss very openly and give advices to each other based on our own experiences. It helped me a lot to find right solutions for my struggles. My biggest learning so far is to stay as I am, be true to myself and to my customers. I use Instagram to sell my products and tell my story, so I have to stay as true as in my daily life. Being authentic and genuine is the key cause people easily spot “fake news” based on your caption or your photo. It is the first impression moment with my audience. My studio named as “La Fabrika” and fabrika means factory in Italian and in Turkish, I am aware of the contradiction but for me and in my story, it means a non-stop dreamer! I do not go deep into planning what will produce, I think about and immediately take the action to produce. I try to design and produce most of my products in a more functional and therefore more sustainable way. For instance, my espresso cups are like small bowls. In the morning you can have your espresso shoot with it to wake up and, in the evening, you can put a guacamole next to your taco. One of my tumblers is like vase shaped cause when you want you can put some flowers in it to brighten your day, or you can drink your smoothie. I recently launched side table whose legs are foldable because I want to see the ceramic tray can be also used for serving or as a big platter on a table.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Istanbul is a gem for visitors! We will start the day with a typical Turkish style fast breakfast with simit(bagel) and tea by sitting on one of the benches along the Bosphorus. Next stop will be a tour in the neighborhood of my studio, Arnavutkoy, which has been listed in the 40 coolest – and kindest – neighborhoods in the world in 2020 by Time-Out magazine. After we get lost in the small streets of Arnavutkoy where most of the buildings are still wood and almost there for a century, we will definitely go for a lunch to my favorite spot in Eminonu for tasting kebaps and mezes, called Hamdi looking over the Golden horn. Then we will go to the most vivid part of the Istanbul which is the Grand Bazaar and to Topkapi Palace to feel like in fairy tales. For sure in the late afternoon, we will spoil ourselves in a Turkish hammam at my favorite one: Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami. For dinner, we will go to Aheste in Pera and then to Soho House for drinks. If it is a spring/summer time we will definitely hoop into the ferry to go to Princess Islands and stay, there for one night in Splendid Palace.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout goes out to Fureya Koral! The first women professional pottery artist in Turkey. I bought her book at the airport right before I jump on a plane for a business trip. Her story is very inspirational. She was a strong believer of herself and was ready to start over every-time something went to other way. She began her life in totally different way and become a pottery artist after the age of 40 in a country that a kiln for such artistic products did not exist! I was still living in Istanbul and had my corporate job when I read her story but it had a big impact on me. The day I got an offer to move Milano, I thought of her. First time I touched the clay, I thought of her and in fact I read her book again. Her story has been an enabler for me every time I want to change something or take a bald action. So, for me she is not only an artist which everyone admires, but also an inspirational character that proofs everything is possible when you want and work hard about it.

Website: https://www.lafabrika.info
Instagram: lafabrika_istanbul
Other: e-mail : info@labrika.info

Image Credits
and a very special thanks to a dear friend and an amazing photographer: neriman demirci (instagram: nerimandemirci_)

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