Bringing a Bazaar to Berlin
How an artisan “souq”-style market in Istanbul led to launching a business in Berlin.
Souq Dükkan was initially established in Istanbul in 2014, as a sequence of monthly themed markets organized by Yaprak Aras, a former editor of Vogue Turkey, and musician Alican Tezer. By presenting the “bazaar” concept in a new light, all Souq events were edited as if they were live magazines, with the exhibitors as their content. Souq promptly became a thriving platform for creators, artists, small businesses, and NGOs, evolving into a curated brick-and-mortar store in Istanbul in 2015. Ever since then, Souq Dükkan has been offering a unique retail experience with brands by like-minded creatives with a deep passion for their work.
Souq Dükkan Berlin opened in 2021 in Prenzlauer Berg’s iconic Kollwitzkiez neighborhood. With a selection of thoughtfully curated, slow and small produced goods, the shop’s spectrum of ethical and passionate producers is as unique as it is wide and varied. Souq Dükkan is now online at www.souqdukkan.de.
We spoke with manager Yaprak Aras about her journey from Turkey to Berlin, from artist to entrepreneur.
Yaprak, why did you expand your business to Berlin?
We launched Souq in 2014 in Istanbul. We were popular in our community and had a mostly local customer base, but it was also clear to us that there was big international interest both from the customers and from the press.
We always wanted to expand Souq to a European city or to the USA. When we decided it was time, Berlin was the natural outcome.
First of all, the city is very open to new ideas and businesses. Berlin is very rich in events, which was an opportunity for us, but retail also has some space for new concepts. Berliners as well as tourists are also open for that. There are many different Berlins, you can choose to live one or more than one at the same time. We love these different lifestyles, cohabiting peacefully and laying the ground for new ideas.
We believe that Berlin has a lot to offer for creative businesses. So firstly bringing our events, then our store and finally online store to Berlin was the best decision.
Expanding Souq Dükkan to Berlin was a natural step for us as we have always been drawn to the vibrant, creative energy of the city. Berlin is home to a thriving community of artists, designers, and makers, and we wanted to be a part of that. We also saw a great opportunity to bring our unique curation of slow and small produced goods to a new audience in Europe.
What makes Berlin special for you as a founder?
The city’s rich cultural history and the way it embraces creativity and individuality. Berlin is a melting pot of different cultures and perspectives, which makes it an exciting place to be as a business owner. The city’s vibrant arts and culture scene also aligns with our vision for Souq Dükkan, which is to offer a platform for passionate creators and ethical producers. And it also has a strong commitment to sustainability and ethical production, that aligns with our values at Souq Dükkan. We are excited to connect with a community of like-minded creatives and ethical producers.
Berlin is diverse, open and muti-cultural. You can easily get to know many people and cultures. It is easy to find and blend in in different scenes. People are mostly appreciative and the general culture is more prone to reward success. The quality of life is high and daily life can be peaceful unlike in other big cities. This leads to a harmony when you want to get things done.
There are so many things going on at the same time in all the different scenes. So it is very inspirational and rewarding at the same time.
What are your ambitions for Souq Dükkan in Berlin?
Our online shop www.souqdukkan.de recently launched. We will be shipping out globally from Berlin from now on. Our main goal is to grow our operations and reach, to make our online shop a trusted design destination in Europe.
We want to make our designers and collaborators powerful players, as we did in Turkey. We hope to expand our collaborations with local artists and creatives, and to contribute to the city’s cultural landscape.
We aim to continue to grow and evolve as a destination for conscious and considered shopping. We want to showcase the best of design and craftsmanship, and to foster a sense of community around the Souq Dükkan brand.
We also aim to be a platform for small businesses and NGOs that share our commitment to sustainability and ethical production. Ultimately, our goal is to offer a unique and meaningful shopping experience for our customers, both in-store and online, and to be a part of Berlin’s dynamic and diverse creative community.
Header image: © Souq Dükkan