In the first part of 2009, Jennifer Gaudet was running her very successful café/art gallery, Java Studio. During that time she had heard many times of the famous Turkish towels and couldn’t understand why there were no vendors selling them in the greater Sultanahmet area. She kept the idea in her mind as a ‘next project’ idea.
After the sale of the café, June 2009, Jennifer was alerted to the fact there was a shop available in the Arasta Bazaar. She took a leap of faith without any products in hand and put the deposit down with the thought to sell the famous Turkish towels and pestamel.
With several weeks before taking possession of the shop, she set out into the countryside to find weavers. After a week of searching, it became evident that weaving was all but extinct.
The doors to Jennifer’s Hamam opened on August 1st, 2009, with a meager 9 weaving families represented.
Since its humble beginnings, the business has expanded to two shops in the Arasta Bazaar and a three floor showroom just minutes walk from the shops, which now supports hundreds of weavers.
Jennifer reports that at the beginning, the quality was really great, but she wanted to push this to something even better. Within a few short months, she insisted on purchases all the cotton and linen threads personally. This would ensure that everyone was working with only the highest quality linen and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic cotton. She new that this coupled with the already amazing quality, would propel the product to magnificence.
Jennifer attributes the entire success of the business to the quality and the clients who have supported and recommended it.
“My initial thought was our clientele would be textile lovers and the rich because I wasn’t convinced that the average consumer would invest the money for quality. I was happily wrong; there are many people from all walks of life from all over the planet, very tired of the lack of choice and very poor quality at home. When people feel our products in the shop, they are shocked, but the best is when they start using our products.
We are so thankful for every client that has ever walked through our doors; who has invested some of their holiday time to look, listen and learn about our products; who have taken a leap of faith to bring our quality home. These are the people that have become our advertising force and have helped us to grow to the point where we hope we can actually save weaving permanently.”
2016 marks the first year that Jennifer’s Hamam has started its search for a large piece of land in central Anatolia for the purpose of building a weaving school.
“Most people come into our shop and think that women have done all the weaving, but in Turkish history, the women were the home weavers and most importantly the teachers of weaving. You grew up next to mom learning how to weave. If you were a young man, you went into a commercial weaving setting as an apprentice with your 10-15 years experience from mom. If you were a young woman, you went into your new home as the next generation of teacher and home weaver.
Unfortunately, women gave up their looms in the home approximately 30 years ago and since that time, no one has been learning. If we don’t do something to fix the situation, then all that Jennifer’s Hamam hopes to accomplish is to extend an inevitable death of weaving.”
As this project progesses, updates will be posted on FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.