The Big Idea with Melisa Atay

We caught up with an inventive alumna who has brought her family business to new markets with some creative re-branding. 

Tell us a little about yourself?

In 2007 I left my hometown Izmir to study in the UK. After studying International Relations and Politics at Warwick University, I went in to a sector that was irrelevant to what I have studied or experienced. I worked in the property sector for seven months in various locations around the UK and with different organisations such as Santander, Eversheds and Jones Lang Laselle.

Melisa Atay
Melisa Atay

After successfully completing my work placement, I knew there was one more thing I needed to do before ‘facing the real world’ - doing a master’s degree in Global Management and Marketing. Since I had a political background I knew I also needed to learn the other side of the coin. What I loved about Regent’s was for a full year, instead of getting lost in theory, I was actually able to put what I have learned into practice. This made me realise how successful I can be and gave me the confidence I needed to start my own business.

One of the strongest driving forces that made me start my own business was focusing on the fact that I can’t control what I do not like. I am not fortunate enough to figure out at an early stage of my life what I wanted to do. So I figured instead of wasting time trying to figure out what I wanted from life, I started to eliminate the things I did not want or like. So far it seems like it is working.

I have never been the type of person to function in an environment where my freedom of flexibility is limited. My productivity strongly depends on my freedom so having a basic 9 to 5 type of work environment was not going to help me cherish my future.

What’s the Big Idea?

Back in Izmir we have a family business that is 105 year old and I am the oldest in the 5th generation. Not finding a job here meant I would have to return home and this which did not put me at ease. I knew I was not going to have the enough freedom to improve my self as an individual to the fullest. I wanted to add something to our family business, just being there as a representative was not enough.

Therefore I made my family a business proposal, extending our family business in to the UK. As a side to our family business we have been producing wine and olive oil since 2006 and I saw no reason why our products will not be appreciated in the UK’s market.  On 4th of April 2014, I established my company Melisa Fine Brands Ltd. Since than I have had 3 containers shipped in to the UK and our products are being enjoyed in the UK’s market.

In the future, Melisa Fine Brand's aim is to import luxury goods from Turkey in to the UK with the aim of contributing and adding value to the Turkey’s presence in the global market. This will be done by creating partnerships with producers from Turkey by generating sale opportunities for their niche products.

What made you want to become an entrepreneur?

Because it is opportunity centred and rewards only for talent and performance – and could care less about religion, gender, skin colour, social class or national origin. It enables people to pursue and realise their dreams, to falter and to try again, and to seek opportunities that match who they are, what they want to be, and how and where they want to live.

So I can say I became an entrepreneur as a reaction to my surrounding environment.

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