WHAT WE LOVE: A sanctuary of Anatolian hand woven textiles where a sense of strong female power is exuded through bold colors and motifs. Fully sustainable and fair-trade, respect lies at the core of Wild Heart Free Soul, this kilim-temple, where authentic pieces of Anatolia’s rich history await to be taken home.
WHERE: In Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood.
WHO: Beyza Özler opened the shop in 2017.
What year was Wild Heart Free Soul established? In 2014 we started to organize the first Wild Heart Free Soul bazaars in the form of pop-ups in Berlin and other big cities in Germany. The shop Wild Heart Free Soul Kilim Temple opened in November 2017.
What is Wild Heart Free Soul best known for? Wild Heart Free Soul specializes in hand woven textiles from Turkey with a focus on vintage kilims. All our products are produced, cleaned and restored in a sustainable and fair trade way. We guarantee authenticity and highest quality.
How would you describe Wild Heart Free Soul? Wild Heart Free Soul is a place you can immerse yourself in another world. As soon as you enter the store, you feel a very special atmosphere, an uplifting and at the same time mystical energy. It comes from the smell of natural sheep’s wool, the bright colours of Anatolia and the meaningful symbols of the nomadic tribes. Especially women feel comfortable and secure here. Not least because the kilim tradition has been preserved for thousands of years by the nomadic and farmer women of Anatolia. Also because in almost every kilim you can find symbols of feminine power and fertility-like the symbol of the Mother Goddess. In addition to the shop, we organize numerous events and workshops every week in the Kilim Temple. These include workshops on weaving and natural dyeing, Kundalini Yoga, meditation, exhibitions and concerts with oriental instruments.
Who designed the shop? I designed it myself and for the realization I got the help of my friends. The vintage iron lamps and the big red bench are from my friend Charlotte Mieß from Köski Royal in Cologne, for example. The beautiful Arabic calligraphies at the window and in the bathroom are by Daniel Arab, a German-Lebanese artist from Berlin. At the same time, the design of the temple is in a constant flow because the walls are decorated with selected kilims that are changed every few weeks.
What are the four “must have items” in your shop? I think there should be at least one kilim in every home. Kilims add warmth and heart to any place.I would recommend starting with a kilim in the living room in a size of 3×2 meters.
Each of our Kilim Cushions is one-of-a-kind. I design them from cleaned and restored vintage kilim fragments. For the back, I use high-quality cotton fabrics, which are remnants from the textile industry. This means that all cushions are fully recycled and eco friendly. Kilim cushions are a wonderful contrast to simple sofas, but also looking good on benches or in a floor seating landscape. I personally love them in the 60x40cm format.
Our Anatowel collection is made in Turkey from 100% cotton. They are suitable as scarves, bath towels or in larger formats even as bedspreads. Anatowels are perfect for traveling as they are light and quick drying. One of my favorites these days is the “ZIGGY”.
My absolute summer favorite is our “LOVE CARAVAN” shoe. It is the most comfortable shoe I have ever worn and fits every outfit. The holes in the super soft leather make the shoe light and breathable.
Where and how is product sourced and made? For many years I have been traveling to Turkey several times a year to connect with my roots, to search for traditional Anatolian textiles and to understand their ancient symbols. During my travels I collect vintage kilims and other hand-woven textiles, ceramics and calligraphy. I shop directly from families, at markets or traders, e.g. in the West Taurus Mountains, in the regiona round Konya, Denizli and Izmir. I have my kilims cleaned in Antalya in the south of Turkey, the restoration and processing into cushions is done in Istanbul. In all processes I pay attention to sustainability and fair-trade.
What makes Wild Heart Free Soul unique? I can proudly say that I have one of world’s most extraordinary selections of vintage kilims from the 60s to 70s. I choose my carpets like a curator in a gallery. Each piece is hand-picked and meets my very high standards of quality and aesthetic. It’s also the femininity and the personal that makes Wild Heart Free Soul standout. We treat our weavers, dealers, kilims and our customers and guests with great respect. We value and honor every soul that we come across.
Who are your customers? Our customers are either kilim lovers from before or after their first visit to our store. It is mainly women who shop with us. They are magically attracted by the indigenousness of the kilims and the femininity they radiate. Many customers come from Berlin, especially form the neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg. But they also travel from other cities in Germany and even internationally to visit Beyza’s Temple. Our customers are intelligent and open-minded people, with tolerance for other cultures. They have their heart in the right place and I really love them all.
How has the internet impacted your business? I enjoy the internet and it has a very positive influence on my business. Through social media channels like Instagram, my customers can be much closer to what’s happening at Wild Heart Free Soul. They can see live what I discover on my travels through Turkey, how the cleaning and restoration is done, who is weaving their kilims and what’s happening in the Kilim Temple. It is an enrichment to share my passion with so many people around the world and to constantly build awareness and impact. However, I did not want to have an online store for a long time. I was afraid that I would lose personal contact with my customers, having to hand over my kilim babies to anonymous hands. But since I launched my webshop in 2018, this concern has disappeared. I also maintain personal contact with my online buyers. And I love to delight people from all over the world with the Anatolian craft.
Beyza Özler Kelims, shopkeeper at Wild Heart Free Soul
Who inspires you? My greatest inspiration is my two daughters. They are full of life, full of love and an endless source of creativity. And they are the greatest blessing.
My mother was and is a great inspiration to me. She has always been a strong, independent woman with good taste and extremely good business instincts. She’s definitely responsible for my courage and my stamina.
Also, the weaver women are an inspiration to me. Their connection to nature, their persistence, creativity and incredible craft skills are incredible!
What inspires you? I am inspired by nature in Anatolia. When I walk with my bare feet over red earth in the mountains, or over the cliffs by the sea, when I inhale the scent of the cedar trees in the West Taurus mountains or the salty sea air, when I let my gaze rest over the crystal clear “Yesilgöl” lake… these are the moments from which I draw my greatest inspiration and my energy.
And I am definitely inspired by good music. I love rock and folk music from the 60s and 70s and I love ancient Oriential music that is inspired by the lyrics of the great mystics and poets like Rumi and Yunus Emre.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I… was working as a marketing manager for leading fashion companies and trade shows. But at some point I could no longer identify myself with that scene anymore. The people were superficial, the trends fast paced, the production methods exploitative and polluting. I didn’t want to support this anymore and quit after 10 years in fashion.
What motivated you to open a shop? On my journey through Turkey I discovered kilims for the first time and thus my passion. I was thrilled and deeply touched at the same time. First I started to collect kilims for myself to decorate the wooden cottages in the mountains where my Wild Heart Free Soul retreats were taking place. Back in Berlin I started trading with them. I was very successful with my pop-up bazaars but at one point I had the longing to have a fixed location where people can come around anytime – not only on an event basis. Still, I never thought that I was going to follow in the footsteps of my parents.
Did you have prior retail experience? Yes! Actually I grew up in retail. Already at the age of 12 I started to work in my parents’ shops. They had some fashion boutiques in Stuttgart. That’s why I also studied Business Management.
What is your favorite thing about owning an independent shop? I love being able to decide what I want to sell in my shop. With my work I can support talented friends, crafts women or small manufacturers. I can also travel a lot and connect with my Turkish culture. And it is much easier for me to be a mother and businesswoman at the same time because my children can always be with me – either in the shop or when travelling. What I also love about my independent shop is that I can use the space for anything else I love, such as workshops, concerts, yoga. I don’t have to move anywhere…. everything comes to me, everything happens in my temple.
What is your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? “Start before you’re ready!” I’m not the biggest fan of business plans. An understanding of trade and marketing is essential. But the most important thing is the passion and conviction behind an idea. I would never recommend opening a shop just because this or that is trendy or promising. Trends come and go. Authenticity, originality, quality and passion is much more important in my opinion.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be… I would have an organic farm where I would keep sheep, spin my own wool and dye it with the plants from my garden and then weave the yarn into kilims. And everyone who would like to participate would be cordially invited to do so. That’s actually my goal in life.
What is your perfect day off in Berlin? Starting the day with a Kundalini Kriya Class by Kathleen Kloss, Breakfast at Betty ’n’ Caty, Facial treatment MDC cosmetic, Lunch at the South-Indian restaurant Chutnify, Organic food shopping at the local farmers market at Kollwitzplatz (Thursdays and Saturdays). My favorite is fresh made “Gözleme”, a traditional nomadic pancake filled with cheese, herbs and vegetables. And finally, having a swim at Schlachtensee in Zehlendorf.
What are your five favorite shops? Nautilus, Berlin’s most beautiful gem and mineral stone store; Mandala, bookstore specialized in books about spirituality, health, self development. MDC Cosmetic, an organic cosmetics and best treatments in town; Ofelia, a fashion boutique, very selective. Dados Superfood, a Turkish artisanal organic superfoods.
Sredzkistraße 44, Berlin
by Feride Yalav-Heckeroth. 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.