Episode #41, May 25, 2023
Leyla Uysal, Founder & CEO, Bajer
Fashioncast listeners, you’re going to love meeting the always smiling, upbeat, and positive Leyla Uysal, she’s one of the most inspiring guests we’ve ever interviewed. Leyla’s story is much more than overcoming the typical startup challenges that face every business, it’s about personal courage, risk, persistence, and endurance.
Born and raised in the Kurdish region of Turkey, you’ll hear how Leyla, through happenstance, determination, and what seems like Devine guidance, made her way to the United States, and began her journey into the world of fashion. Leyla’s story is one of fits and starts, peaks and valleys, joy, and sorrow, as she presses on in her quest for a better life. In a ten-year time span, Leyla learns English, is accepted to and graduates from MIT’s Sloan School of Business and Management, finds love and marries, bears two children, launches two businesses, and is accepted into Harvard’s School of Design!
This is a multi-dimensional podcast as the first part covers Leyla’s migration from Turkey to the U.S., and the second part covers Bajer, her luxury accessory watch business. Both are fascinating and filled with feminine and cultural anecdotes of the obstacles facing Kurdish women. For example, after working for a Turkish employer for 18 months, once Leyla’s Kurdish heritage is discovered, she is immediately fired. Unfortunately, this is only one of many instances of blatant discrimination that took place in both Turkey and the United States.
“Persistence pays off.” The phrase is no truer for anyone than Leyla Uysal. Her obvious intellect, mixed with pure determination, eventually attracts the right people to her cause, and Bajer is born. Again, it’s an amazing adventure to hear Leyla explain how she literally circles the globe to find the right designers and manufacturer for her watches. And, since a portion of Bajer proceeds are donated to two NGOs assisting Kurdish women and children, she made an equal effort vetting key organizations in the region.
We hope you come away as inspired as we were by Leyla Uysal. You can learn more, and support Leyla at the links below. Enjoy the show!