By: Anush Mirbegian
We owe a great debt of thanks to the Istanbul based sisters, Deniz and Pinar Yegin, the masterminds behind Rumisu, a collection of whimsically illustrated and printed silk scarves. Not only do these crazy chic scarves make the most charming gifts, this design duo also works with the United Nations Development Program to produce their collection and create jobs to promote sustainable economic growth for women in Southeastern Turkey. Read on for a peek into the hearts and minds of these two talented sisters'.
Describe your brand.
Rumisu is a joint design project of us, two sisters, Deniz and Pinar, who passionately love fashion, illustration, design and handcrafted anything with a sense of style and humor. Our goal is to let our love and curiosity for beauty be a conduit for philanthropy and create a line of ethically manufactured design goods that give back to their community of origin.
How did you start your brand?
We started two years ago with a capsule collection to try and see people’s reactions towards our playful and naïve approach. Our admiration for “oya”, the traditional needlework of our culture was the first inspiration behind Rumisu. And of course the fact we felt ready and excited to start creating our own prints!
Speak about your previous work experience.
Deniz - I was in the design team of the private labels of Beymen in Istanbul, which is a luxury department store and therefore had made many connections with different manufacturers and producers. I also had the chance to work with many different materials, which helped me learn what I enjoyed the most.
Pinar - I am passionate about design. My education background happens to be economics and finance, not design, and my work experience was in management. The practical experience I have gained in these areas has helped us as we were working to turn our dreams into a business. Being friendly with numbers definitely came in handy!
What are some of your endless inspirations?
Art of “oya” is essential to our work. The fact that each piece we created has a hand-crocheted corner character is a signature of Rumisu scarves now. Each scarf print tells a different story. Therefore our inspiration can come from anything, such as a trip we took to Africa, or a book we read, or even a documentary we recently watched about the human body. Flirting with colors is another great aspect of our job and we find inspiration everywhere we look!
How does travel inspire your collection?
Traveling is the best time for inspiration since you aren’t preoccupied with anything else and can simply observe. As tradition lovers, traveling is always the best idea for inspiration for the best results! The more exotic the destination, the better!
Tell us about the process of working with artisans.
Three years ago, we started working with a UNDP Project in the Southeastern Part of Turkey. As designers and businesswomen with a serious interest in handcrafts, we were asked to go to the area to give workshops specifically for women. The aim of these workshops was to meet with the women of that region, understand their specific local handcrafting techniques and traditions, and help them design and develop products for urban markets.
Working with these women artisans and craftspeople makes us very happy, as we feel we have an impact on the lives of several very impressive women who are born into very difficult situations in a very dangerous areas (especially these days, as most of the towns we work in are located on the border of Syria and Turkey). Improving their economic situation, and enabling them to earn an income on their own significantly changes their self-perception, which is a first step in the very arduous and long road that leads to gender equality. Being part of this process as Rumisu is a joy, and makes our work much more meaningful to us.
Your collection continues to grow, what creative endeavors are on the horizon?
We are thrilled to be experimenting with different fabrics for future collections such as cotton and wool. We are aware that sky is the limit with printmaking, so we definitely have some ideas about the future of Rumisu, which we’ll have the pleasure of sharing with you soon. Collaborations are also a favorite of Rumisu, since they allow us to enter different worlds with our prints and illustrations.