An Interview with Yusuf Perens, of Galen Leather

Yusuf Perens oversees the business operations of Galen Leather, a family company based in Istanbul, Turkey, after the unfortunate passing of its founder, and his sister, Zeynep. Over the past few years, the company has produced “handcrafted, thoughtfully designed handmade leather goods,” which has “taken the stationery world by storm.” Fans of stationery and various accessories all over the world have found something to like of Galen Leather’s products.

At first, Yusuf Perens started out taking photos of Zeynep’s products to advertise for the market. In 2013, a year after Galen Leather was founded, the company saw a growth in their business. For example, they had an “unexpected spike in orders” during the Christmas season of that year.

Before long, Zeynep and Yusuf Perens decided to craft their own leather goods. They began taking classes to learn how to craft leather, and they learned the trade from some of the best leather craftsmen in the area and YouTube videos. When they finally learned the trade and were able to create excellent and durable leather goods, they had the tools to take their business to the next level.

In 2015, Zeynep and Yusuf Perens decided to relaunch their online store under their own new branding. They also formed partnerships with UPS and FedEx, among other shipping companies, which finally allowed them to ship their products all over the world.

Check out more interviews with industrious business owners here.


Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Yusuf Perens: We handmake our products and offer unique designs that our customer know us for. We are also very active in forums that relate to our interests so we’re well known in the market. We are very passionate about our products and the niche in general, and I believe that love shows in everything we do. Our packaging is also a real stand out. Customers LOVE receiving our packages and unboxing them slowly to soak up the whole experience. We go out of our way to make it a special moment.

Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Yusuf Perens: Take time off and when you do, completely remove yourself from the picture. It’s hard to turn-off from your business but by only ‘half tuning-out,’ you’re really only giving yourself half the opportunity to recover and re-energize yourself. Take yourself offline for a whole day. Turn off notifications and leave your phone behind. Do something completely different and your body, and mind, will thank you for it. Your business can’t operate without you and if you don’t take care of yourself, your business will suffer because of it.

Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Yusuf Perens: I dedicate everything I do in the business to Zeynep. She lived such an inspirational life and I wouldn’t be here, doing this, had it not been for her.

Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share a few examples of different ideas that eCommerce businesses are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?

Yusuf Perens: I’ve certainly seen stores expand their product offerings to cater to a wider audience and the kind of products that are selling like wildfire online during these times. Eg. Fashion boutiques selling face masks and more work-from-home styles and beauty companies selling hand sanitizers. So if there’s a way you can cater to the changing needs in the market place, then do so.

Another thing is being able to remain flexible and adaptive in your business. This is crucial as the rate of change is so much faster these days. One week things could be smooth sailing, the next, a Google algorithm change could leave your organic traffic dwindling.

One thing we’ve done is really worked hard on our online store and making sure it running as optimally as possible. Customers rely on a safe and efficient online experience in order to shop with you, so you had better deliver on that. It’s about making their shopping experience as easy and pleasurable as possible.

Jerome Knyszewski: Amazon, and even Walmart are going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?

Yusuf Perens: Believe it or not, but customers still value connection and love to support brands that mean something to them, even in this modern age of competitive online retail. This is not always something massive offshore dropshipping companies can offer but as a smaller retailer, you can. Get to know your most loyal customers and understand why they choose to shop with you and then really nail down on that. Maybe they love that you are local, or a small family-run business. Or that you handmake your products. What sets you apart? What can you do differently that these other companies can’t? Put a face to your brand. Make it personal. Encourage your customers to care.

Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start an eCommerce business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Yusuf Perens: Not actually understanding what their customers want. I’ve seen brands come and go within a year because they’ve seen a product do well for someone else but they haven’t actually done the research to see if there’s enough demand for that product, or what competitive edge/new perspective they bring to that niche. It’s challenging to compete against well established brands so if you are going to, you really need to understand the customers you are serving and what unique need you are meeting with your product. Set yourself apart. What makes you unique and why would someone buy from you and not the more established/well known brand?

Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running an eCommerce brand tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

Yusuf Perens: The marketing side of things. Often entrepreneurs will start a business because they have a passion for a product but lack the business savvy to market and grow their brand. You can only know and do so much! The amount of backend work required to simply keep a website running and up to date with the latest in SEO and paid ads, can take a lot of time. Another example of a time-consuming task is just managing customer service. As your brand grows, so do the customer queries, and the more channels you are accessible through (email, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook etc), the more means your customers have to reach out to you. It can really take a lot of time managing all these channels.

Jerome Knyszewski: One of the main benefits of shopping online is the ability to read reviews. Consumers love it! While good reviews are of course positive for a brand, poor reviews can be very damaging. In your experience what are a few things a brand should do to properly and effectively respond to poor reviews? How about other unfair things said online about a brand?

Yusuf Perens: No one is perfect and sometimes you need to give yourself a little grace that you won’t always get it right 100% of the time. Whether it be a product that gets damaged in transit, a customer being disappointed in shipping times and of course, there are just a few bad apples in the bunch who want to taint your brand name. A lot of the time these things are out of your control but if it is something in your control, then consider it an opportunity to improve. Offer a sincere apology and ask questions. Get to the root of the issue and if you can amend it, then do. If it’s an unfair review, then you can simply say thank you for your feedback and wish them well. You needn’t hang onto this kind of stuff. Just make sure the positive reviews outnumber the negative ones!

Jerome Knyszewski: You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Yusuf Perens: It would be an effort to slow life down. We would try to spread the idea so people could be happier and more motivated by living slower.

Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?

Yusuf Perens: Website: https://galenleather.com and join our email newsletter

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/galen_leather/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/galenleather

Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!


The post An Interview with Yusuf Perens, of Galen Leather appeared first on Tekrati.


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