WHAT WE LOVE: Istanbul botanical boutiques that prepare their handmade products in porcelain mortars just like the apothecaries from hundreds of years ago. Homemade Aromaterapi carries aromatherapy products for beauty, body and the home made from 100% natural ingredients.
WHERE: In the Kuzguncuk and Nişantaşı neighborhoods in Istanbul.
WHO: Nature lover and beauty expert Aslı Bilgin.
When was Homemade Aromaterapi established? Homemade Aromaterapi was established in 2012.
Who designed the shop? I designed the shops, our architect Tülay Atabey sketched them out and the Serhat Nalbantoğu Atelier did special cabinetry work.
What is Homemade Aromaterapi best known for? We have more than 300 aromatherapy products that aim to create balance within the mind, body and soul. The Cleansing Hand Scrub, Abundance Essential Oil, Rose Water and Patchouli and Lavender Liquid Castille Soap are some of our most loved products. All handmade in our workshop in Istanbul.
Where do you source your products? With the exception of rose, rosemary, sage and thyme all our essential oils are sourced from their origin countries. We produce the majority of our base oils ourselves with herbs from Turkey.
What makes Homemade Aromaterapi unique? Our brand and shops allow us to bring 100% chemical-free and natural aromatherapy products, which promote a healthy and natural lifestyle, into the lives of our customers. This includes everything from beautifying the complexion and caring for our body and hair to balancing our chakras, cleansing and aromatizing our homes through natural means and protecting ourselves from viruses and bacteria during our travels.
Who are the customers? I can say that our customers are either already dedicated to living healthier or are just taking first steps.
How has the internet impacted your business? Homemade Aromaterapi started in 2012 in a tiny shop in the small Bosphorus neighborhood of Kuzguncuk. Our early involvement with Facebook, and later on with Instagram, played a major role in our growth, allowing us to open a second store. Our online shop is also very important to us.
Aslı Bilgin, shopkeeper at Homemade Aromaterapi
Who inspires you? No matter the topic or field, people who follow and realize their passions always inspire me.
What inspires you? Fragrances, old buildings, antique furniture and objects, books, libraries and large golden jewelry.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. had a catering company.
What motivated you to open a shop? When I realized about fifteen years ago that plants and flowers— their essences and all the information about their benefits— made me the happiest, I began a process of learning and training. Later on, I was very inspired by the film Chocolat with Juliette Binoche about a woman who opens a small chocolate shop in a French village and the lives she impacts and changes. I wanted to do something to create such a world, and the first steps I took were always guided by this wish and continue to be guided by it.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? You realize that running your own business means 24-hours of almost simultaneous excitement, happiness, sadness, problem-solving and heart pounding.
Your favorite thing about owning an independent shop? I’m living out the internal peace that comes with knowing that I pursued my passion without wavering. The overwhelming emotion I feel when I’m in one of my shops is that of gratitude.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? To open a place that you love, believe in, and that truly expresses what’s in your heart. I think this is something very important, especially nowadays.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? I would love to travel the world and collect antiques.
What is your perfect day off in Istanbul? Definitely starting the day off in the Kuzguncuk neighborhood. If it’s a Sunday, checking out the Feriye Antique Bazaar and eating lunch at Batard. Browsing through books at the Minoa Bookstore and buying a few too many. Getting a cup of coffee at Cup of Joy and going to see a film on a whim.
Which Instagram accounts are inspiring you at the moment?
I wish I could… Open shops in Paris, Berlin and London…Hopefully soon!
Icadiye Caddesi no.21, Kuzguncuk & Nişantaşı Ihlamur Yolu Sokak No:19/C, Topağacı, Istanbul
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth is a Berlin-based freelance writer and the author of The 500 Hidden Secrets of Istanbul. Her favorite shops are Souq Dükkan in Istanbul for the best of local design, Ryoko in Berlin for artisan Japanese goods, and Homemade Aromaterapi in Istanbul for 100% natural beauty products.