We talk with Milka Karaağaçlı in my article today about "Kısmet by Milka" which has become a world brand in a very short time since the time it did not even exist 5 years ago and has brought a unique concept of accessory into our lives with simplicity and elegance in design.How did you first start this business? How did accessories make their way into your life?
Kısmet by Milka turned 5 this year. Accessories, jewelry and fashion have always been in my life for as long as I have known myself. I remember getting lost in the accessories my grandfather made at home when I was 4 or 5. In my second year at university, I started working Wunderman Advertisement Agency and I continued with JWT agency. I worked with a great ambition and in love with my job continuously for 13 years. I was the head of customer relations, I spend my years nested in marketing and communication. 5 years ago, in November 2008, I had a new beginning in my life…
I used to go abroad frequently as required by my job. I took a necklace with an evil eye talisman as a gift to an English friend living in London. This gift received much attention as it represented Turkish traditions in a time when spirituality recently became a new trend. Her friends started to order bracelets, earrings and necklaces of the same amulet. Then I had various ideas in my mind, undoubtedly. I made 70 different models with the evil eye talisman in 3 weeks, I sent them to London and they were all sold. It turned out differently as I came a long way in a short time. As people wanted to buy my designs, my desire to design grew larger. I had a new area where I could express my perspective and beliefs in life. As I learned about the details of this work, I started to enjoy more and jumped to it!What are your inspirations?
I think if you know about the story of its design, you get more attached to the jewelry you buy and you carry it as you feel it. I create my designs with this point of view. For example, I make my collections when I am on vacation. We do not have much time to sit and listen to ourselves in our daily lives, we always have something to do, something to run for. When I go to a three day vacation, I get my mind empty on the second day. When it is empty, things start to go out from my head. Then I begin producing, I start drawing when I am back from vacation. A sentence in a book, an architectural detail in a magazine or a feeling I have while walking on the road can trigger me.How do you define the success of Kısmet by Milka?
Kısmet by Milka has rapidly grown in such a short time as 5 years. This brand has created the “design, accessible jewelry” category in Turkey.
When we look back at 5 years ago, we see there were only two categories: 1- jewelry stores selling heavy jewelry and 2- daily accessories that were not made of precious metals, called bijouterie. Back in old times, gold and jewelry were purchased from jewelry stores. There were jewelry sets purchased for special events such as wedding ceremonies and heavy jewelries waiting at safety cases. Or there were fashion jewelries which we used daily but did not have any value in the next season. We created a new segment called “Kısmet” between these two categories. They are design pieces comprised of accessories, gold and precious stones we can wear in every kind of environment, day and night, on daily basis. It ranks among these two categories in terms of price. There was a huge gap in the market and we filled it. When customers provided very positive feedback, designers started to imitate Kısmet at every corner. This sure is a natural process.
What distinguishes Kısmet is that it is a market leader, creates trends and gives direction to fashion. My collections should create excitement, it is necessary for me to do what has not been done, to be the first. I try to grow in love with my job without ceasing for five years with this perspective. I truly believe in and love my job when I do this.
First, you have to be a good designer to have your difference felt in the sector. I always did what had not been done, I became the first when I created, it is important to be a pioneer at all aspects. If you want to be a solid and grounded brand, you have to choose the hard way, look for the best and take risks.
I always believed what I did was right, I foresaw the future and truly wanted to make many steps, I was able to open the doors before me thanks to this belief inside me. Now “Kısmet by Milka” brings different and personal accessories with a story to the minds of people. The brand has certain awareness in people and it is known not only in Turkey but in the world. Many celebrities from Naomi Watts to Madonna wear Kısmet. I think it is one of the most honorable things for a brand owner.
What is the future of jewelry and what are your future plans for Kısmet?
Jewelry is a very important complementary and an essential part of our lives. This category is getting larger and new areas of use are emerging. Various forms start to come to the forefront from toe rings to earrings covering the entire ear, body chains to crowns. We will continue to see development in these different areas.
Kısmet by Milka is now the leader in its category in Turkey. I believe it will achieve the same success in the world. We are rapidly growing in USA now. We target for doubling this growth in the next two years. What is your biggest dream and what are the projects you want to realize?
My biggest dream is to see my brand in the first 5 brands in its category in the world, I believe this will happen.Do you like shopping? Which brands do you prefer?
I work in an intense tempo. I do not have much time for shopping as I always rush between my baby and my job. I frequently travel abroad, I can shop at the beginning or at the end of these travels. There are certain brands I like, I generally shop from their new collections, of course I have new discoveries sometimes. Celine, Cos, Helmut Lang, Alexander Wang, Jimmy Choo, Rag&Bone, Charlotte Olympia, My Best Friends, Begum Salihoglu come to my mind first. I like to shop from Harvey Nichols and Beymen stores, I like Joseph store in London and the stores in Soho in New York are my favorites.How do you describe your style?
I like simplicity, for example I do not like mixing two forms in my designs, I find the message overloaded. I wear many accessories but most of them are simple, so they do not look much, in the contrary, they look smart and in harmony. Jewelry is a key element of a good style today. How do you define your style?
Combining accessories with the clothes requires the same point of view. If you are wearing a dynamic and patterned dress, you should choose accessories in simpler forms. You can use an extravagant piece on a plain black dress. The key is harmony and integrity. I like wearing simple pieces with sharp forms.