It was one of the last warm days we had.
We hitched hiked to Selçuk to see Effes, the ancient Greek city. And also we chose that direction, because it was on our way south. Not knowing where exactly we go, just wanting to go somewhere south along the sea side to catch the last sun before the winter starts.
Selçuk, no diffrent than we expected, was beautiful and touristy.
Still it had its own charm. After dinner we walked the little streets back to the hostel and passed one of the million shops which sell colorful crystal lamps, some pottery and postcards, when Ali stopped us saying "Yıl Akşamları. Do you drink a çay with me?"
No. Really we just had çay at the Restaurant and if you summarize all çay we had that day you easily count more then 10. So no.Thanks. Please, no!
But that Turkish hospitality doesn't work that way.
You can say no, but no one cares.
So we had another çay with Ali. While sitting between all his stuff outside the LA Tulp Art Gallery shop, my eyes fell at some shoes.
"I make them myself.", Ali said and smiled at me. That sentence was pretty much the key to my attention.
Ali told me his story, how he gets the leather from the meat production around Selçuk and how tanning, cutting, designing and stitching of those shoes is happening by six people including himself.
"We have six diffrent designs of shoes, which I all make myself including the laces. I get the leather from the meat production, for them its waste and I have a gerage for tanning and one flat for sewing and so on. I need 3 days for a pair of man shoes and women boots, all the others take not mor than one day."
Gernerally Ali produces 6 shoes a day and sells the small ones for 45-50TL and the big ones for 120-200TL. He uses 64year old sewing mashines but he is about to sell three new ones. The biggest problem he faces, is the fact that less people are able to sew nead and right. Specially young people would not be interested in work like that.
"I also make bags and jewelry."
I went in his shop. I couldn't believe it. Between all those stupid souvenirs, he tuck out his treasures of silver, gold and other metals made by himself.
Small and big leather bags, earrings, necklaces and this golden bracelet, which he was so proud on. "It is my masterpiece. You know when you put all your time in the perfection of one thing? That's what I did with this bracelet. There are some parts I worked over and over."
I was standing there a while looking at all the details of his jewelry, trying them on and listening to his stories on how he made them.
I just have couldn't believe that such a great pieces art are able to find in a shop like this. I was honest and told him.
Ali laughed a little shy.
"You know that people from Hermès, Versace, Dior and so on come to this area also. We have some very good weavers here. This scarf for example is made by the hair cashmir goats who run around in the mountains here.
I touched the scarf and looked at the way of weaving. Indeed the material was super soft and very regularly woven. I am no expert, nevertheless I already heard about cashmere, the longest of all fibers - a long fiber makes anything super soft. Moreover cashmere is very nice in scarfs, because the long fiber keeps one warm even when the material itself is thin.
"They come here, buy it and stitch the Label in. With the Label they can sell it for thousands of Euro. A scarf like this is hard work though! In production it maybe costs hundret Euro."
I looked at Ali, I believed in what he told me, but I hesitated "Hey, I wanna be honest. I wouldn't never expect those things between those other souvenirs in this shop. That just makes it hard to believe you."
Ali just lifted his shoulders. "That's because most people look for those souvenieres over there. Less people look for quality, they just search for the Label or something they know. And even less people ask."
I looked at him. If I know one thing than that he is right with that. They make a degree program about it. This is what I studied in Marketing. I think about Fashion Revolution and their campaign "Who made my clothes?" - it is such a simple question and I nearly never dare to ask. Looking at Ali and his story about who made those things it becomes incredible expensive to me, in a emotional value and also in a willingness to pay a fair price.
Two days later before I left Selçuk, I brought the cashmere scarf for 300TL and will give it Max for Christmas (he loved it, but he said it is too expensive. I let him look if he find a comparable scarf - and I know he wount) I also brought the bracelett you see in the picture. Ali knew that I like it and he wanted me to have in and gave to me for nearly no money. It is made from the left over of his shoe production and silver.
For me Alis Story is a proofment of the fact that any deeper look is worth it. It showed me that value and price is not the same thing.