We all have dreams, don’t we? But, how many of us go for it? Achieve what we are meant to? I personally feel we are all meant for greatness, but we lose it amidst procrastination, lack of determination, and a plethora of reasons as to why it is not the right time. However, our Woman of the Week, Bahar Atilgan is here to show us why it is necessary to take that leap of faith. Born in Germany with a rich Turkish heritage, Bahar always knew she had something special. But, instead of dismissing it like most of us, she embarrassed it and began her entrepreneurial journey. Read her story right here for a big dose of inspiration.
How was your childhood?
Rough. My mother raised 3 girls on her own working odd end jobs. One of the main things that will always stick out to me was not being able to afford “cool clothes” and we shopped at Goodwill and my mom had to sew my pants to fit me. I always knew that I was destined to be something more than what I knew was “normal” in my family.
What did you aspire to be when you were little?
At first, it was to become an artist. Then it was fashion designing. Then it was just to be famous in general.
Could you take us through your work, please give us a brief about it?
I own an online boutique and there are 3 tiers to it. The main one and what I specialize in is custom bags. The other is the FOURGUNSDOWN brand that is based around the word FUCK. The last is the actual apparel Boutique of wholesale items mainly from LA that it bought and resold.
What made you choose this line of work? Was there an incident that inspired it?
Well, growing up we didn’t have much money and we shopped mainly at thrift stores. I always felt like I wasn’t like the other kids because I didn’t have what was “in” and had to get creative with my outfits. The way I dressed was my way of standing out and I made sure to be comfortable but stand out in my own way. For the first half of my life, I thought this was my set back but once I got to Middle School and closer to High School I decided to own the fact that I stood out and use this as ‘my’ something special. For the longest time, I thought that wearing what the other kids were meant I was accepted. Once I realized that wasn’t possible I decided to change my perspective and turn it into something that was to my advantage. I stood out and owned it. It wasn’t the clothes that changed. It was my confidence.
Remember that shift in my life was what defined me as “me”. It was never about the clothes. It was about loving myself and accepting myself. That’s what people are attracted to. I sell confidence through clothes and accessories. The custom pieces are your way of showing to the world a part of YOU. And the word FUCK – FUCK represents “fuck what they think”. It’s not about what anyone else thinks of you. It’s about what you think of yourself. We all have the confidence we need within ourselves. It’s up to us to find it and OWN IT. The word FUCK to me represents all of that. It’s bold. It’s badass. It’s YOU. I refuse to apologize for who I am anymore and it is my strongest characteristic. People are drawn to authenticity. I’m lucky I found that at such a young age and this is my way of showing people that they have it as well.
What does your daily routine look like?
It’s pretty simple. I wake up, have my coffee in bed while I read for 30 min – an hour. Right now I’m reading a book on optimizing your business with the funds I take in and how to allocate the money that goes out. Usually, I read books that talk about spirituality and being in the now and expressing gratitude. After that, I get started on my workday, which consists of checking emails and fulfilling orders. Head of over to UPS or USPS to drop those off then I come home and do an at-home workout for about 2 hours. (Welcome to 2020/Covid). Then I resume back to work and either work on custom pieces or research new products that I want to carry or read articles on how to advance my business. Depending on my day/ energy level I’m either in bed doing late-night work by 9 pm or I’m up until 1 am working on custom pieces. It really just depends on the day and where I’m at mentally. I’ve learned not to give myself a hard time if I’m feeling unmotivated. I’m human. I can’t always be “ON”. I’m learning to be graceful with myself.
What do you think are your biggest achievements?
Each phase of my career has been a huge achievement. Right now I would have to say my biggest achievement is that I’m in the works of designing and manufacturing my own bags.
Was it difficult in the beginning to follow your dreams?
It was exciting in the beginning. You have zero worries and the world to look forward to. Once you get started, that’s where the trials and tribulations hit. But the initial beginning of talking yourself into “YES, I CAN DO THIS!” that part was difficult. Because we give ourselves every reason as to why we are incapable of accomplishing anything. Once you’re past that hump, it’s only uphill from there. Even after you’ve failed 100 times, it’s still up because you’re continuously learning and growing and evolving. It took me a long time to realize that.
What was your hustle journey like?
I’m sure just like any other, unique in its own way. A complete rollercoaster. To make a very long story/journey short: I opened up a small retail space within another boutique. Lost my mojo because I lost sight of the reason why I started because I took a piece of advice from a mentor. TOO much advice. I didn’t know what advice to take and what advice to leave that didn’t suit my business goals. That retail space closed a year later and I didn’t touch FGD for almost 2 years. Then I started from scratch by sticking to my MY goals and visions after I had a heart to heart with myself and went back to why the hell I started this in the first place. That’s just the jist. Not to mention all the other shit that’s been thrown at me since then. But I’m 100% grateful for it all because it leads me here.
What are some of the challenges you deal with even today? And, how do you overcome them?
My biggest challenge now is sourcing products with the word FUCK on them. I’ve had countless companies tell me they won’t print the word because it’s offensive or foul language. Which I find ridiculous because it’s all about interpretation. The same goes for the people that I come in contact with when I run my pop up shops. I have some people come into my booth that are absolutely appalled by the word and tell me that they can’t believe what I’m doing and I tell them I respect their point of view and that my company is not meant for them and that they can shop elsewhere. I’ve also had people come up to me telling me I should change the name of my company because we are in a real crisis with gun control. My response, “I don’t come into your home and tell you how to rearrange your space and tell you to sell things and buy new furniture because it’s not fitting to me. My company is the same. Please don’t come to my home and tell me how I need to change it. You’re welcome here. If you don’t like it, you can leave, no judgment.” That REALLY irks them.
With success also comes failure. So, tell us, how do you deal with failures? What keeps you going?
In the beginning, my failures really got the best of me. Hence the 2-year break. I don’t have a high school diploma. I left my senior to get my GED for personal reasons. So in the beginning I always let that define me. I thought that I wasn’t smart enough or ambitious enough or had the ability to start and run my own business. It was my own downfall. NOW- I don’t believe in failure. I see them as stepping stones. I’m learning something from every setback. This whole journey for the last 6 years could very well be interpreted as a “failure” but to me, LOOK WHERE I’M AT! It’s absolutely amazing and I’ve learned so much and grown from everything I’ve experienced. I wouldn’t change a single thing.
Do you have a mantra or motto for life?
Fuck what they think. And everything happens for a reason.
Has the pandemic hindered your future plans? How are you dealing with it?
The pandemic has actually given me a jump start and the motivation and time to actually pursue what I’ve been wanting to accomplish with my company. I know most people wouldn’t agree with this but I am 100% thankful that I have been able to utilize this pandemic. For all other reasons like not being able to continue with my pop up shops and having other sources of income come to a halt – that’s been tough. But it’s lead me to focus on my E-Commerce and that’s been the goal since day one so I’d have to say the universe played this out in my favor.
What do you have in store for the future?
Designing and manufacturing my own custom leather bags. Something I’ve had a tough time with throughout the years because I was sourcing PU Leather bags and manufacturers. I was in too many lanes trying to accommodate everyone. Now I have a clear vision of my company and my goals.
Do you have any advice for our readers?
Just try. Go for it. When you “fail” keep going. Then, have a pep talk with yourself and remind yourself that you are badass and that you have something to offer to the world. Don’t stop. Because we all have something we are meant to share with the world. You’re 100% capable of it. Believe in yourself. It’s no one else’s job other than yours to prove it to yourself.
If someone wishes to choose your line of work, what is the advice for them? How do they go about it?
Pretty simple. Just google shit. That’s what I did. Oh, and ask people for help. Don’t be shy. Use every resource you have.
Like Bahar says, it is time we stop thinking of what others think and must make things happen. After all, everything happens for a reason, so it will all work out in the end.
Hope it was an enjoyable read. Bloomer Craze Women of the Week is an initiative taken to appreciate and celebrate inspiring women and girl bosses from all streams, across the globe! If you are or you know someone who fits the criteria, do not hesitate, just write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org