However, nowadays he has a very different role. With his wife, Hande Başoğlu, and their mutual friend Gülşen Koyuncu Kalkan they established the brand Takkunya. The brand produces gifts for tourists to take back home that reflect İstanbul.
What is the connection between us and elephants?
Murat Başoğlu relies on his many years in the souvenir business. Every time he came from a far-off country he would always bring something to his wife. But, when he wanted to bring something from Turkey to his foreign colleagues, it became quite a difficult task. He has no patience for a seven-piece elephant set, which is commonly believed in Turkey to bring good luck, nor for little camels which really don’t represent Turkey but have somehow become a popular gift item. “Most of the goods that were imported from China had no connection to our culture or were not even remotely close to İstanbul. Because people had no other alternatives, they would gravitate towards this style of goods,” Başoğlu explains.
Başoğlu did not only rely on a love of souvenirs. Some four or five years ago he had a Tulipan project to work on. He thought of colorful folders that had tulip motifs, Ottoman sultans, and patterns of the sultan’s signature. When these were well-received, he became even more determined to make something that related to Turkish traditional culture. “At that time I knew that the upcoming fashion would be based off Ottoman culture and, as a matter of fact, it happened like that,” says Başoğlu. As he himself said, he is striving towards facilitating the appreciation and marketing of the legacy and value of Turkey -- a place where civilizations meet -- in a world where countries with short-lived histories are able to create cultures with fake heroes and market them.
First Turkey, then the world market
Takkunya’s first priority is to be Turkish, to reflect its Turkish heritage. İstanbul is the main theme for its goods. Because of this the souvenirs and accessories abundantly conjure İstanbul. You can find anything imaginable, from earrings to tables, and from trays to T-shirts. At this moment their goods can only be bought at stalls in shopping centers and on the Internet. But they will soon open their own store. Murat Başoğlu’s greatest worry is that while his designs are pouring into the goods, some of the items will not be able to be made within the country. He explains that despite the fact that they aren’t crazy about it, they receive some support from China. He is pleased that goods that reflect İstanbul life are drawing attention from the Turkish population and foreigners.
His boxes’ private design
Takkunya will not be satisfied with making only İstanbul-themed goods. There are so many more provinces. To begin with, Takkunya has come to Cappadocia. At this moment it is working on a collection that is based on the popular region. The team is positive that this collection will be warmly received, just as the İstanbul collection was. After this they will try İzmir, and then they will get inspiration from Ankara. They are attempting to look at touristic places and their well-known characteristics and create something new. Their collection, comprising coffee cups, trays, picture frames, tables and T-shirts, makes a strong impression. Başoğlu confidently promises that “you won’t throw my boxes out; you’ll hide them because of their beauty.” The prices, ranging from $1-$50, are reasonable.