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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Good news, ladies…O’Couture is here!

As I mentioned in my last post, I was fortunate enough to be contacted by a woman via Facebook who shared my dream and passion for entrepreneurship — and shoes. I’d like to say that Zehra, who has become my good friend, got more than she bargained for in O’Couture, and in a good way.

We’ve now officially launched our eco-chic footwear line, featuring designer-quality leather flats with interchangeable ornaments. Not only are they great for women on a budget, but they’re also easy on the environment, because women can do much more with less — reducing their carbon footprint, as it were (pun intended), without compromising style. With one pair of shoes and a boxful of ornaments, women can express their own unique style every time they step out the door, and that’s just the way we like it.

We are a company founded by two women who have no prior footwear industry experience, yet we are passionate and ambitious enough to undertake this enormous entrepreneurial journey. In fact, we take women entrepreneurship so seriously that we provide opportunities for women: Our ornaments are handcrafted by women who work from the comfort of their homes so they can earn an income while still caring for their families.

For now, we’re offering our stylish flats exclusively online at However, our goal is to locate wholesale partners who share our vision for offering socially responsible style choices for women who don’t want to drop $400 on a pair of shoes, but do want versatility and designer quality in their wardrobes.

And because we love Orange County (hence the O’Couture name), we’ll likely be pounding the local pavement in our chic new leather flats, spreading the word about O’Couture everywhere we go. The nice thing is, we can change our ornaments anytime, so we’ll never feel like we’re wearing the same shoes over and over again!

If you see us out and about, please stop and say hello, and tell us more about what you’d like to see in the way of shoes and ornaments. Remember, the ornaments are handmade, so they’re only available for a limited time. We’re always trying out new styles and materials so we can help you craft the right looks for any occasion — and we’d love to get your input.

Keep an eye on this blog and our website for more updates, and don’t forget to become a fan on Facebook. Until then, you can start shopping now and customizing your shoes just for you…so you can start expressing your unique style right away.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why the name O'Couture?

I am always curious about the stories behind a brand name. It always amazes me how people can be this creative when it comes to brand names.

For instance, T.L. Williams created the Maybelline Company, which was named after his sister Maybel, whose dark lashes inspired him to come up with the idea of producing and selling an easy-to-use product to darken eyelashes.

Rene Lacoste, a famous tennis player had a winning bet with his team captain over an alligator skin suitcase and after winning the bet, he started wearing an embroidered crocodile on his tennis blazer. He later founded a company to manufacture the shirt, and the rest, as they say, is history.

When I first decided to launch my shoe line, my first big challenge was the "brand name". Finding a brand name was the most fun and the most excruciating phase of launching O'Couture shoe line. At the time I had the chance to brainstorm with Julia Veli Kreibich, the founder of I got the most valuable advice from her regarding the brand name. "Your brand name should tell your story", she said.

Then, my brain started working overtime. How do you find a brand name that tells its history, its story, founder's lifestyle, its lifestyle promise, and its quality? Then at a moment of epiphany came O'Couture. In a nutshell, O is for Orange County and Couture for its uniquely styled high fashion connotation. O'Couture shoes are very "couture" in the sense that they provide interchangeability of ornaments therefore letting the owner almost custom make the shoes to their unique personal liking. It is really "high fashion" in OC style!

So what is the story behind the brand name? Well, as you all know by now that Zehra and I both have Turkish backgrounds and we both live in Orange County. Recently, our paths crossed in Orange County. We are both in love with this place and the lifestyle it offers. Zehra and I are extremely grateful to Orange County for providing us with the most nurturing friendship that paved the way for O'Couture. Our style and fashion sense has been predominantly influenced by Orange County and Southern California lifestyle. We created the O'Couture shoes with the Californian girl in mind: Gorgeous, versatile, fun-loving, in love with the nature and always in her unique style.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

O'Couture History 101, Chapter 2: I can't do this on my own, aka "I need a partner" syndrome

Now, back to OC history.

By mid September 2009, this is where I am at:

I have the will to branch out on my own: check!
I have a viable idea for a product: check!
I have a great team of people: .....

What is missing is the most important ingredient of a start-up: The Partner. At this point, I am back in the beautiful Orange County. I have an idea as to a perfect partner candidate. I know it needs to be a "she". Girl power, yeah! First and foremost she has to be smart. She has to have a discerning eye for style. She has to be easy to get along with. She has to be honest and trustworthy. She has to be able to commit full time to this venture.

What do I bring to the table: an idea for a potential product, 9 years of professional work experience in the US and a general understanding of how a business is run in the US.

What should she bring to the table: an MBA degree, discernible taste for style, real-life experience with running one's own business.

All along I knew who the perfect partner would be, anyways: my friend Zehra, who one day went out of her way to contact a complete stranger on Facebook. And on that day I decided to go out of my way and respond to a complete stranger's friendship request. Then, we met in person. We instantly hit it off. And the rest is history.

She embraced the interchangeable shoe idea and we started our company O'Couture in October 2009. More on the name later on. For now, peace out :) Below is a picture of Zehra and me at the Coldplay concert in July 2009  in Irvine, CA.  For your reference, Zehra is in the middle and I am on the right.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

O'Couture style tip of the day: Add versatile pieces to your wardrobe.

One pair of O'Coture shoes adapts to many occasions. You can go through your day literally in one pair of shoes; from office to casual outing with friends to a night out. All you need to do is interchange the ornaments. Just remember to pack your ornaments in your purse.

Change your style faster than you can smile :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

OMG, first O'Couture samples are in

Enough with the history. Yesterday, we received the first samples of ballet flats. So very exiciting. I cannot believe my partner Zehra and I have come this far. We are holding the very shoes and the ornaments that we designed ourselves. It is hard to believe that this was just an idea only 6 months ago. Ladies, what we have accomplished so far is a testament to where a dream, a great idea, and a great partner can take you.

Now, I know there are still people out there who does not know what O'Couture is and how it came about.

So, here is the skinny...

My partner Zehra and I decided to pursue our passion for fashion and entrepreneurship and teamed up to turn this dream of ours into reality. I gave up my 10 year carrier in hi-tech management and we decided to start our own fashion line. The line debuts with a collection of fashion flats with interchangeable ornaments. Hence our slogan: One pair, endless styles :)
Our name O'Couture is homage to beautiful Orange County, that has become a very nurturing and generous homeland to us over the last 11 years.... notice the initials for O'Couture => O.C.

Let me also tell you about our philosophy behind this line. We at O'Couture believe that style IS NOT about emulating fashion, but should be about CREATING fashion. Therefore, O'Couture shoes let you be your own designer.

O'Couture's inaugural collection debuts on May 1st. For updates please fan our O'Couture fan page at: There is way more to come. SO STAY TUNED!!!
Below is the first sneak peek to the collection:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

O'Couture History 101, Chapter 1: Hi, my name is Sebnem and I am a shoeaholic

Now that you have heard how the idea came about, you all must be wondering what happened next.

I will tell you what happened next: My charming hubby Cenk and I went to New York to visit our crazy friend Dr. Burcak Ertimur and stayed there for ten days. I love New York! Then again, who doesn't? That city makes me feel alive, sophisticated and satisfied. These thoughts were passing through my mind when I planned the trip about two months ago. At the time no one could have thought that I would spend the whole trip walking on the streets of Manhattan staring at women's feet. Checking out women's footwear only to find out that everyone loves flats! This is so very exciting!!!! Mind you, I was wearing my brown leather Tory Burch Reva flats the whole trip. Check out the photo above ;)
Those who know me know that I never compromise style regardless of what the occasion is. The photo you see was taken on a very busy day spent sightseeing on foot. Now, here is what bugged me the most about my outfit: my favorite Marc Jacobs Stella bag, circa 2003, features silver hardware. My minimal jewellery is also in silver tones. However, the $200 a pair Tory Burch flats come with gold plate ornament. No way, I will spend another $200 to buy a pair with silver hardware to compliment my outfit. If only I could interchange the gold plate with a silver plate. Get it ?!?!? My new line, O'Couture, will simply fill this gap.
If I were to review these Tory Burch flats, I would say they were overpriced for the quality you get. Bottomline! Well, Tory Burch flats' failure to meet my expectations was really one of the major factors that contributed to my decision to launch a line of flats. For that, I must thank her I believe.

Next scene: Burcak's apartment in NYC. Shoe boxes stacked on top of each other. Typical one bedroom apartment. If only she could fit a desk in her bedroom where all the shoe boxes takes up most of the space. Another epiphany: If she had my flats with interchangeable embellishments she would be able to fit endless number of pair of shoes and styles in one shoe box. How amazing is that!!! This was one of those "defining moments" that Prez Obama always talked about.

Then followed dinner with my over-achiever college buddies who were all pursuing the proverbial corporate career goal. They ask me what I had been up to recently. Then I responded: "I am embarking on an entrepreneurial journey." There I said it out loud for the first time! "I AM AN ENTREPRENEUR". I never thought this sentence could ever sound so etherial coming out of my mouth.

Well, girlfriend may be a businesswoman at this juncture in her life, but a girl is always a girl. Having said that Sex and the City 2 movie gets an honorary mention here. You say shoes and every girl on this planet, I mean literally, immediately thinks of Sarah Jessica Parker and her alter ego Carrie Bradshaw. At this point in my trip, the Internet and entertainment media had been abuzz with the the news that the sequel started filming on location in Manhattan. OMG, could a girl get any luckier than that? I had to catch the shooting. I consulted with my best friend Mr. Google and I was able to pinpoint some hints as to where they might be filming that day. My charming hubby Cenk and I followed the hints with the detail-oriented savvy of a detective only to find ourselves in the middle of SATC 2 shooting right at the corner of 5th and 58th where the Plaza and Bergdorf Goodman stood hand-in-hand ever so graciously right next to each other since the turn of the century. So magical :) Carrie B. was strutting her stuff in her sparkling glittery gold Louboutins like there was no tomorrow. Such an NYC moment. I died and came to heaven!

Oh, before I forget: of course I did make my pilgrimage to the Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik stores in Manhattan.