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Article: Empowering Women in Earthquake-Affected Regions through Timeless Anatolian Kilims

illustration of a gifted and talented Turkish woman is weaving a precious Turkish kilim rug at her loom

Empowering Women in Earthquake-Affected Regions through Timeless Anatolian Kilims

In the aftermath of earthquakes, the debris left in buildings is cleared by machines, but mending the emotional wreckage in people's souls requires a human touch. Psychologists suggest that one of the fastest paths to societal healing involves repairing the spirits of women. A transformative project is now on the agenda to aid the recovery and empowerment of women in earthquake-stricken areas, transcending national borders with its impact.

The brainchild of Ahmet Nakkas, a prominent figure in the ready-to-wear industry and partner at Spring, a representative of 22 international brands including Ralph Lauren in Turkey, this ambitious project aims to intertwine the renowned brand's global foundation with the revitalization projects in earthquake-affected regions. The focus of this initiative is to revive the ancient art of carpet and kilim weaving, using motifs that have adorned Anatolian culture for thousands of years.

Ankara-based entrepreneur Ahmet Nakkas embarked on a quest to find skilled women weavers in the earthquake-stricken region. His journey led him to Osmaniye, where he discovered a cooperative of women artisans led by the experienced Raziye, who had been honing the craft for 35 years. Nakkas shared his vision with Raziye, expressing his desire to support and preserve the fading art of carpet and kilim weaving. The response was overwhelming, and the artisans in Osmaniye were eager to be a part of this meaningful project.

The project has not only captured the enthusiasm of local weavers but has also ignited excitement among Ralph Lauren executives. The multifaceted initiative aims not only to showcase this rich cultural heritage to the world but also to aid women in overcoming the trauma of natural disasters, while simultaneously contributing to rural development.

The initial steps involve refurbishing and gathering the weaving looms in Osmaniye. Skilled artisans are poised to receive approximately two months of training in workshops. Subsequently, a collection showcasing Anatolian carpet and kilim motifs in 15x15 centimeter dimensions will be presented to Ralph Lauren executives in July. This unique collection will then be exported, marking the beginning of a captivating journey.

Come September, Ralph Lauren executives will visit Turkey to witness the culmination of the project. Larger-sized carpets and kilims, measuring 1x1.5 meters, will be meticulously woven by the artisans. The brand's experts will curate these products, packaging them as cultural treasures that not only encompass motifs but also narrate the stories of the women behind the looms.

Ahmet Nakkas emphasizes the potential for collaboration with unused looms in the region, turning them into productive tools without incurring significant costs. Collaborations with village cooperatives, municipalities, and established weaving businesses, such as Halicizade in Ankara, ensure a comprehensive approach to empower women and support cultural heritage preservation.

The project has garnered support from various quarters, including Halicizade's second-generation representatives in Ankara and the Turkey Business Women's Association (TIKAD), highlighting its significance as a substantial cultural endeavor.

This initiative spearheaded by Ahmet Nakkas not only breathes life back into the ancient art of Anatolian weaving but also serves as a beacon of hope for women in earthquake-affected regions. As the looms begin to hum with activity, they weave not only intricate patterns but also stories of resilience, empowerment, and a vibrant cultural legacy. Stay tuned for the journey of these unique creations as they make their way from the hands of skilled artisans to the homes of Ralph Lauren's discerning customers.

a gifted and talented Anatolian woman is weaving a precious Turkish kilim rug at her loom

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