We met with Begüm Özbaş Kısakürek and İris Süloş Özbağ, who said, “We produce designs that will make women feel powerful by being inspired by history and art, and most importantly, have a story,” when we heard that Monapetra Jewelry, of which they are the founders, was selected for the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Heirloom project.
If your goals and dreams aren’t timid or too big or argumentative when you build a brand, it probably means something is wrong. The bar should always be high, don’t you think? The Heirloom project, the details of which you can read now, in its most summary form, works with craftsmen and brands that give importance to handcrafts around the world. What you will read in this interview is confirmation of that.
How did New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art choose Monapetra for The Heirloom Project? We want to know all the details, before and after…
Begum: A beautiful story of friendship and coaching underlies the start of our collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was thanks to Güneş Mutlu, the owner and designer of the Mehry Mu brand, who has given our brand a great foundation from the very beginning and guided us in every aspect, suggested us for this project and voluntarily assumed the ambassadorship of our brand. The fact that a very successful female entrepreneur, who created her own brand and was very successful, supported the new young entrepreneurs from behind and carried us to the top in her own way should be an example to everyone, we are grateful to her and thank her again from here.
Iris: We can say that our turning point was when Dear Güneş recommended us to the world-famous designer Madeline Weinrib, who is the head of the Heirloom Project. The project works with craftsmen and brands that give importance to handcrafts around the world. We presented Madeline our ancient Roman-patterned “intaglio” designs that we use in our collections, and after our meeting, we brought together the poppy theme, which is at the center of the project, with these designs. We have a collection that we are very excited about. Now everyone is talking about our earrings, we are excited and proud.
What exactly does this mean for you? Did designing for Heirloom bring with it a new collection or new ideas for pieces?
B.: Being in this project is really a big step for us. Apart from being very proud, it created a reality that motivates to achieve and produce more, and that actually makes you say that everything is just beginning. The new designs have always been a great source of inspiration for new ideas about our brand. Every day we brainstorm to develop these ideas.
I.: We are a brand that always produces and likes to make a difference. We are constantly updating our own collections, and we are constantly working on new collections. The Heirloom Project has been a really big step for us. There are some projects that we are in this middle idea stage and we can say that Heirloom Project has been the source of inspiration for them.
Let us return to Monapetra’s own story. How did it all start?
B.: We can say that my inclination towards art and design started in my childhood. My father’s being an architect and antique collector, my mother’s talent and eye for art, my growing up in the middle of paintings and works of art throughout my childhood created a different perspective from the past to the present. The fact that Iris’s parents were architects and she grew up with art, and she had an innate artistic eye and talent brought us together in the department of Visual Communication and Design at the university. Together we combined our dreams and created Monapetra. We combined art, our roots, today’s Begüm and Iris. We have created unique designs with the strength we get from each other.
I.: As Begüm mentioned, our passion for art and design dates back to childhood. Our friendship, which started together in high school, continued at the university by stepping into the same department and getting stronger. During our university years, we made enjoyable design projects and we saw how excited we were to produce together. Later, we both worked in different retail brands to develop our profession. Then we came to the middle again and decided to make our dreams come true with the strength of our friendship, education and experience, and we founded Monapetra in 2018.
Why jewelry/jewelry specifically? Does it have a different meaning or a story for you?
B.: For me, jewelery has always been an indispensable part of my style. In my opinion, the most basic complement to the look is the jewellery. No matter how simple your style is, one or two pieces of jewelry will make you shine and reveal your difference. The fact that jewelery and jewelery can be passed from generation to generation, its feeling, spirituality, the feeling it gives and the power it gives are different. Sometimes a totem, sometimes a reinforcement, sometimes creates a sense of security. For me, gems are values that can be loaded with mana. In Monapetra, it comes to you by giving you that meaning with its material and design, and the story of each design.
I.: Today, there is factory and mass production in fashion and many fields. The differentiation is almost nonexistent. Inspired by history and art, we produce designs that will make women feel strong, unique, self-confident, transferable from generation to generation, and most importantly, have a story. I think jewelery is the expression of all these features. The feelings and messages we want to give; Sometimes we can give in an earring, sometimes in a necklace, sometimes in a ring or bracelet, in short, in every design we touch, and this motivates us. The fact that it can be passed on to the next generations and that the stories we tell are carried with pleasure and care for years are actually the answer to the question of why jewellery.
IF WE HAVE AN EARRING IN THE MET shop… Begüm and Iris, who designed a special collection for The Metropolitan Museum of Arka, The Heirloom Project in New York, said, “We have a collection that we are very excited about. Now everyone is talking about our earrings, we are excited and proud.”
Over the past two years, how has the pandemic affected both the way you work and your brand? Has there been any random change?
B.: The pandemic process all over the world has affected us, as it has affected all sectors. But since we are constantly in search of design, ideas and innovation, we spent this process concentrating on these issues. We talked, discussed, drawn… When everything started to settle down, we produced. It has been a medium and self-listening process for us. We can say that this process was creative for Monapetra.
I.: Of course we were impressed, but we turned this period into an opportunity. Even if we stay at home for a long time, we have seen that he can bring different perspectives. In this process, we even turned very creative ideas into powerful designs. Just like in the old days, we dreamed of the days when we had face-to-face conversations with our customers and focused on producing designs that they would like to wear with impatience. For us, the pandemic has been fruitful in this sense.
How are your material choices? And how did awareness, sustainability, which is at the center of the agenda, reflect on Monapetra, namely you?
B.: Our material selection is our unchanging thin line from the beginning; gold. We use 22 carat gold plating over 14 carat gold. Our reason for coating with 22 carats again is that our designs are more yellow, so we can reflect that ancient feeling that we preserve. Sustainability and awareness is the most important point in our designs. Raw collection here
was born from the story of creating untreated designs that felt like raw gold, as if they had just come out of the ground.
I.: As Begüm mentioned, gold is indispensable for us. Gold gives the feeling of antique jewelery the best, so we take care to preserve it in our designs. In addition, we attach great importance to the other materials we use. For example, the place where we buy our precious stones is a place that we have worked with from the very beginning, without compromising on quality. We also have masters that we trust. Not only the material, but also the pure workmanship is very important for us because we are a brand that produces by handwork. Our jewelry made of quality materials is strong enough to pass on from generation to generation.
Their choice of material is gold and precious stones. The antique feel of Monapetra designs is about 22 carat gold plating. Another strength of the brand is experienced and meticulous craftsmen with whom they have been working for a long time.
What is the place of jewelry, jewelery and accessories in your style, how does it affect you when deciding what to wear that day?
B.: Most of the time, I determine my outfit according to the jewelry I want to wear that day. I think jewelry is the most important part of a style. Even if you wear a white t-shirt and jeans, you can be the most stylish lady of your location with a necklace you wear!
I.: I can’t imagine a style without jewellery! Those who know me know that I use many jewels in the middle. I believe that all of them add a different strength and power to me. Honestly, I love all of our designs and sometimes I can’t distinguish them, and naturally my outfit takes shape after I identify the jewellery. However, the indispensable couple of my combinations is my grandmother’s old ring and the first mosaic ring I designed. I can’t create a style without them.
Now that you’ve entered The Met Store as Monapetra, does that mean there are no limits to dreams? What is one of your biggest dreams about the brand from now on?
B.: With our collaboration with The Met Store, a big dream of ours has come true. Now we see this as the first big step and continue to dream endlessly. We are continuing our efforts to see Monapetra at many points in the world in the near future.
I.: We are very pleased to step into The Met Store, which is a big dream for us. However, we are a brand that grows with dreams, draws strength from dreams and creates. Therefore, our dreams will always continue. In the near future, we dream of being in projects that raise awareness about empowering women and reinforce handicrafts, and we have started working on these as well.
On the radar of Monapetr? Do you have any observations about it?
B.: Monapetra is on the radar of women who value art, history and culture. In fact, we are on the radar of not only women but also men. The common point of our customers is that they have style and give importance to art, culture and designs with a story…
I.: I agree with Begum. Men as well as women are interested in our collections. Monapetra; It is on the radar of everyone who loves history, art, culture, ancient times, contemporary art and wishes to be unique.
Article: Suzan Yurdacan
Taken from ELLE Turkey March 2022 issue.