Fame of Turkish rug store reaches beyond borders
ISTANBUL - Miliyet | 5/24/2011 12:00:00 AM |
Hakan Evin is getting famous among US congressmen and Hollywood stars for his Turkish rugs and carpets.
Hakan Evin is getting famous among U.S. congressmen and Hollywood stars for his Turkish rugs and carpets. He is the owner of Imperio Otomano. Former U.S. President George Bush, actress Demi Moore and singer Eric Clapton are among his many customers. Another U.S. actor Ben Affleck happens to be Evin’s latest famous customer.
Evin’s family from the southeastern province of Siirt has been in the carpeting business for three generations.
“My grandfather and his father moved to Istanbul and opened their first carpet store in the Grand Bazaar. And my father took the flag. When I was 6 I was going to my father’s store; looking forward to rushing to the store over weekends. If I behaved myself during the week, my father was taking me to the store at the Grand Bazaar,” he said.
Evin sold his first rug at 12. “I was arriving at 8 a.m. even before sales persons. Since I was little, customers thought I was cute,” he said, adding that he dropped out of school eventually.
Despite his father, Evin opened his first store at the age of 18.
“As my father and brother were passing by my store, they were saying ‘You will go bankrupt and we will have to clear out this mess,’ but that made me more ambitious,” the owner of Imperio Otomano admitted.
He owes his fame to his love of his profession. “I am still working between 8 a.m. and 7 p. m. every day. If you hold on to your job, customers will never leave you. Especially if they know that you don’t overcharge, they recommend you and come back again. My advertisement was through the grapevine. A customer recommended me to friends; friends came for shopping and recommended me to others and so on. I am 39 years old and have some customers for 20 years. For instance, I sold a rug to [U.S. Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton in 1996. Nearly 30 friends of her’s came in and bought rugs from me,” Evin said.
Demi Moore bought historic Iranian rugs, Hereke rugs and carpets. Charlize Theron preferred Anatolian and Hereke rugs as well as a rug weaved in Sivas Prison. Rugs weaved by prisoners are sold by the Justice Ministry. Theron paid about 20,000 Turkish Liras, Evin said.
“Eric Clapton paid us $150,000 for sales. Affleck was interested in 100-year-old historic rugs. He took pictures of the rugs and sent them to his wife Jennifer Garner, and she decided which one to pick. Affleck was mocking ‘Let the boss like what I bought.’ He heard of me from another American customer,” he said.
Rugs inherited from the elderly in families are brought to Evin. “I know what they are worth. There are certain types of wools, motifs and dyes that are used in certain periods. I know them by heart. We have 100-year-old Iranian and Turkish rugs in our store. But the originality of a motif and the labor is more important than the age of a rug.”
The price of rugs and carpets are decided according to the labor and number of knots. “In a square meter of a Hereke rug, there are about two million knots. For instance, weaving a Hereke takes six or seven years and they are very valuable. As the quality of wool and dyes increases the price increases, too,” he said.
A good-quality Hereke rug is quite durable and stain resistant, said the owner of Imperio Otomano. “Even if you spill juice, ketchup or the like it won’t stain if you wipe it with a wet cloth.”
To the question, “Is there a fashion of rugs, too?” he replied, “Uşak rugs are the fashion of the day but I don’t recommend them. Rugs of today are bad imitations of the old Uşak rugs,” he answered.
“If someone wants to buy a rug, he should try rugs reflecting old cultures,” Evin said.