A Family business
We are a family business through and through, we built our company on the foundations and values that generations of the Karra family have held dear; integrity, honesty and respect. These values are evident in; the responsible sourcing of our materials, the craft and skill that goes into each of our creations, the respect and affection we have for our employees, and the good we aspire to put out into the world.
ME, NERI KARRA
I am a woman, an immigrant, a university graduate, a former refugee, an entrepreneur, a daughter and a mother.
Growing up in provincial Bulgaria, I enjoyed a humble yet idyllic childhood; running through vibrant red poppy fields with my brother and helping our grandmother pick rich, purple grapes from the vines to make wine. Family dinners were always together, enjoying the fruit of our labours (and those of our garden), often while sharing stories and listening to Greek music.
In 1989 our world was turned upside down, as Bulgarians of Turkish ethnicity, we were forced out of Bulgaria and after spending time in refugee camps, my family settled in Istanbul with only two suitcases to our name. Mourning the life we had left behind and unsure of what the future held, my parents held down various jobs in order to provide for the family; driving taxis, working in construction, and later, selling textiles and leather goods to tourists. With an entrepreneurial spirit and a drive to help my family, I made connections, spotted opportunities and helped grow the family business. Awarded a scholarship, I headed to the US where I achieved my bachelor’s degree in business management, and on my return to Turkey, I put my degree to good use, and with my family by my side, we created the Neri Karra brand.
Today, what drives my passion for the company is the next generation (for Flynn, my son), it’s to give hope, inspiration and a voice to those who don’t feel heard. To show that you can do it, yes there will be doubt and insecurity but despite that, you can overcome, because this is what my own journey has been, and I am still on that journey.
Our emblem represents; the craft that goes into each Neri Karra creation and our inspiration, drawn from idyllic childhood memories. Lazy afternoons spent watching my grandfather, with such focus and care, sew saddles for his horses, following his hands as they formed loops with the thread of the saddle stitch; a traditional technique and a marker of quality and craft (today, each Neri Karra bag is finished by saddle stitch). Memories of the beautiful cherry blossom tree that bloomed in our garden each year, cherry blossoms represent; new beginnings, hope and beauty. Perhaps this is why my mother ate cherries from that tree whilst pregnant and why it has inspired our emblem today. The past and the present, masculinity and femininity, tradition and rebirth, heritage and beauty.
LOVE MADE VISIBLE
It is only and ever about love, and what we do is a reflection of our love.
The love that has guided us on our journey, that said ‘you can do it’ whenever we doubted ourselves, or when we suddenly found ourselves refugees with our clothes stuffed into two suitcases, living in refugee camps, and it was also love that guided us when we couldn’t afford heating or food, or even bread.
It was love that guided us when we were made to feel that we didn’t belong, that we were different somehow, and didn’t fit the status quo. It was love that guided us when we felt ‘this must be the end, and there is no way forward.’ It was love that guided us when we felt our souls squeezed, the nights darker.
It was love that guided us when we chose to take that chance, to speak up, or apply to that university we always dreamed of, to take a chance even if it seemed success was impossible. It was love that guided us when we got on that boat, when we got on that plane and took off for new lives, for new chances, and it is love that keeps guiding us today every step of the way.
It was only and ever love. When we look back and see through the pain, the frustration and despair, but also the boundless hope and persistence, it was love that carried us and made us who we are today.