My name is Feyza, and I’m the person behind Ikabags. I live in Paris, France, with my husband and our two sons.
I never dreamed I’d be doing what I am today. I’m a business administration graduate. After university, I had a busy work life, first as an accountant at a textile company, and then as a production planning manager for a furniture company. Shortly after the birth of my first son, we were posted abroad and our expat life started. We moved 17 times and lived in five different countries.
All these moves broadened my horizons, giving me the opportunity to observe different cultures, lifestyles, needs, and shopping habits. When we had our second son in France, I quit my job because it required a lot of travel. I had time for creativity and I started making home decor items and handbags with my embroidery machine as gifts for friends and family. I got a lot of encouraging feedback, so I opened an Etsy shop to sell embroidered coasters and tea cozies. Then I moved on to Ikabags.
My day starts early. After the school run, I return home and start working. My process begins with choosing fabrics. I handpick all all of my materials with great care, and I know where everything comes from. I have to admit, I am in love with linen. Even if I don’t plan to sew linen that day, every morning I touch my linens and watch them for a while. Linen’s texture, scent, and subtle colors give me peace and keep my creativity alive. I cut my orders during weekends and sew, pack, and ship them on weekdays. I also read and answer roughly 150 convos a day. (You can see my process up close in this video.) On Fridays, I plan the week ahead and make monthly plans for fabric and materials purchases. Before I know it, it’s time to collect the kids from the school and be a mother again.
I believe that my creativity comes from my family. Both my grandmothers were master carpet weavers and cooks. They raised all of their kids with homemade breads, fresh meals cooked with ingredients from the garden, and hand-knitted and hand-sewn garments. My grandfather was a carpenter, and the house he built with his own hands is still there. My mother raised us in the same creative, handmade way she was brought up. I still remember the little fabric and haberdashery shops she took me to. The way she chose her materials clearly influenced how picky I’m today when I select the materials I work with.
I still remember the moment of my first Etsy sale. I was alone at home, screaming with joy and jumping up and down. Sales brought more sales, and my working hours increased. I realized that I needed to be more organized and plan everything ahead of time. I invested the money I earned back into my business, buying new specialty machines and seeking higher quality materials. I also worked to improve my skills, learning whatever I could to make my handbags better. My studio now houses five industrial sewing machines, a computer and two printers.
So many things have changed since I started my Etsy shop. What was once my hobby is now my job, but my love for my work has always stayed the same. I really love working from home at my own pace and being there for my kids, but I also have responsibilities as a wife and a mother. It certainly requires balance, but it’s a dream come true. Etsy gave me the opportunity to do what I love to do.
All photographs by Ika Bags.