Finally, Kadir Özenen, Chairman of the Board of Zell Furniture, who attracted attention with his collaboration with the TV series The Girl in the Glass, told MOTTO Magazine about his career, the line of the brand, the activities of the brand and the future projects of the brand.
Hello Mr. Kadir, can you briefly talk about your career? How did you step into the industry?
Hello, I started my career in the retail industry after returning from the military in 2001. I started by selling carpets in a small store back then. I opened a furniture store in 2004. We didn't have any manufacturing at that time. We had different stores in 5-6 places. In 2008, I had a passion for manufacturing. However, when I had the opportunity to wander around and live comfortably, I found myself engaged in manufacturing. In 2008, our manufacturing adventure started in a 180 square meter workshop in Baksan, an industrial site. Of course we had some difficulties. First of all, you are competing with more well-known companies in the sector, however, the stagnation of the markets due to the 2008 crisis made our work difficult. First we produced the sofa and it took about 4 months. However, this production process was very enjoyable and the master who worked with us at that time still continues to work with us. While we were working in Eskişehir, the workshop we held was not enough for me and I hired the biggest workshop in Baksan. We had a four-year adventure there, too. One of the things that brought us to the point we have reached today is our second workshop in Baksan. After a while, we couldn't fit into our second workshop. Finally, we moved to the Muttalip Organized Industrial Zone, where we are now, in 2014. Honestly, I think that our manufacturing location completely reflects the spirit of the work we do, because being a factory rather than a workshop carries the manufacturing spirit more.
When was Zell Furniture founded?
In fact, Zell Furniture first started its activities in the retail field in 2001 as Özenenler Furniture, which is my surname, but it was stronger on the Şirintepe side. We later terminated it. We left a store as nostalgia. We established the current Zell Furniture in 2008 as a manufacturing company.
We strive to give the best at the most affordable price.
With Zell Furniture and Zell Bedding concepts, you bring your products together with customers. Can you unpack these a little?
Manufacturing is a matter of the heart. Not like retail, but a person who doesn't like it can't do it, we are doing business in 16-17 countries besides Turkey. As Zell Furniture, we work on a product-based basis rather than flashy advertisements and splendid stores. Thousands of liras are paid for a decoration in the stores, on the contrary, we are concerned about the quality of our products beyond the stores and our luxury, and we work in this direction. We strive to give the best at the most affordable price.
How do you interpret your style as Zell Furniture?
We have many product concepts and we make top products, but we don't stay away from the public. We started to produce designer products in 2018 and we received very good compliments. So far, we have released 19 patented products. However, it happened when we bought and produced the designs of competent designers, and we achieved very good accelerations in this regard. However, I saw that the real market is the people. I realized that the public also understands quality, even if they don't look technically, when they touch a fabric or a sponge, I realized that they prefer the good one, and we do business at Zell Furniture by keeping this quality understanding of the people in mind. In short, we produce the top version of the folk type.
You are also on the agenda with your social responsibility projects. We are creating a new collection by designing furniture and textile products from recycled fabric with the slogan "I Love Ocean Animals". How did this project come about?
This project actually belongs to Çiğdem Dedeoğlu, she is our brand consultant. While talking to Ms. Çiğdem, I wanted to be the most environmentally friendly furniture maker, and while talking about my goals, she created this project. When I heard about the project, although I knew that it would not make a sound in the market - because something a little more costly, environmentally friendly materials and recycling - I accepted this project. Because, when you think about it, at the end of this project, the happiness of social consciousness is very different from supporting the creatures living in nature. Many of our dealers supported us in this regard and we plan to continue such social responsibility projects.
What would you say about your production facility and the details you care about in production?
First of all, we hold meetings maybe three times a day, absolutely not to compromise on quality. There may be hundreds and thousands of ways to the right, but the only right quality that does not change in our business principle. People are economically confused about quality. We want to combine quality with accessibility and affordability. For this reason, we do not put the general expenses that we deem unnecessary on the goods. For example, we avoid exaggeration and show off in our stores, we choose our production facility in the right places, we prefer the right element. The thing we are most proud of is our high purchasing power. For years, we have made all the connections of the new season in our products before the season, and we have a policy that does not reflect the increase and unnecessary expenditures to our consumers. Generally speaking, we invest our capital in luxury and raw materials apart from personal desires, bringing quality products to consumers at affordable prices. Our customers are also satisfied with this situation.
In the sector you serve, besides material quality and durability, one of the biggest dynamics is undoubtedly design. What kind of design team do you have?
As Zell Furniture, I do not have a design team, because we have very different design products. We work with variable designer friends. I am in favor of diversity. The reason why I don't have a design team; the brand stays in the imagination of the person it hires as a design element. I am in contact with about 10 companies that are professional in design. Since they know the style and spirit of Zell Furniture, they let me know when there is a suitable design, I look at the design, we get it in the form of a project. Then we make the agreement of the product and get the patent.
We represented Eskişehir quite successfully on our own.
You represented Eskişehir at the 32nd İzmir Modeko Furniture Fair, attended by approximately 300 companies from 35 countries. How did that make you feel?
İzmir Fair was the 4th or 5th fair we attended, but it was very productive for us. Our booth and our products were very good. I even claim that we were one of the best in the fair. We represented Eskişehir on our own quite successfully. You know, Eskişehir is an old furniture city, but lately it has not had its former glory. I can say that our furniture makers over the age of 50 almost hugged me at the fair, because we carry that spirit of Eskişehir again and they did business with us by trusting this. Eskişehir is truly a well-established furniture city and so far many companies have been operating in the field of furniture, but we carry the character of Eskişehir's furniture city with our line and we are happy and proud about it. We continue to grow our company with an angle of 45 degrees without retreating.
Could you briefly talk about your investments and Zell Bedding?
We have very large investments. We have established one of the largest mattress facilities in Turkey in the Organized Industrial Zone, there are approximately 6 thousand mattress manufacturers in Turkey and we are among the first 14. We are also proud of this situation. In addition, we have received offers from various cities that promise more comfortable factory opportunities to go and do business, but I sincerely love doing business in Eskişehir and I am very happy to be here. I see a half of me as from Eskişehir and I will continue to do business here.
Zell Furniture introduced its productions at CNR IMOB International Istanbul Fair, one of the largest fairs in the world. What have your experiences abroad contributed to your style and line?
First of all, Istanbul Fair is the biggest market for abroad. You won't find this synergy anywhere else. It is a situation that adds financial and country value to our brand. In addition, our dealers working with Zell are also proud, they see that Zell has reached a successful point and is in demand. In fact, abroad is a more challenging market, they are very sensitive about quality and bargaining, but we have worked with 16 countries so far and none of our customers have left us. The beauty is actually there. Because, as Zell Furniture, we are sending the same product exactly as it was six months ago. Therefore, our foreign consumers trust us because of this situation and they are extremely satisfied with this situation. We ship goods to countries whose names we do not know. Being in the same frame with people from different parts of the world is an incredible pleasure. It is very valuable for those people to come and find you and value your brand. I can't describe this happiness, anyway, it's such situations that get tired of manufacturing. Money is earned in a way, but the pleasure of your work, the demand for your work, and the fact that people find you add value to your work. Frankly, sometimes I feel in a dream world. On top of people's rhetoric about getting a paid job before I start these jobs, there is no end to these jobs, it gives pleasure to create a workplace where dozens of people work, and export is a part of this.
One of the best things we did was the Girl in the Glass project.
As Zell Furniture, you sponsored one of the most ambitious television series projects of the past season, The Girl in the Glass. How did you get returns?
One of the best things we've done lately has been the Girl in the Glass project. Thanks to the Girl in the Glass project, Çiğdem Hanım, our brand consultant, made great contributions. Frankly, we didn't think it would be this effective, but we got very good feedback. In our dealers, we have done works such as stickers and posters related to the series. Then with the series related offers have come, but we are a little picky about it.
How will we see you in cooperation from now on?
The basis of Zell Furniture is to achieve success in the public, no matter what, after putting the product in place. After that, the ads will come into play; In this sector, too, there will be projects where we can describe the products we make as artists or in a different dimension. Television series are the simpler side of this idea, we think of more comprehensive studies about it. After raising our working capacity, we will concentrate on these activities that I have described. We are pursuing very big projects related to production infrastructure. My guess is that in a year and a half, after we settle some production-related things, we will have multidimensional projects in national channels beyond social media. We are working on the face of the advertisement, and we are still working on finding the right name to represent our brand.