Göksemin Gökalp Özdemir

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In one sentence, who is Göksemin Gökalp Özdemir?

I’m a human passionate about guiding startup businesses to grow, cherishing caravan camping adventures, and both embracing the joy and navigating the tough road of motherhood to my 4-year-old son Gökalp, all within a cycle where I constantly learn and teach.

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Let’s start with the beginning. You had a very dynamic childhood. Can you tell us about it?

Growing up, my life was a tapestry of new horizons; born in Elazığ, eastern Turkey, to a military pilot father, my childhood was a mosaic of different cities, cultures, and schools, including an elementary education in Texas, USA. This nomadic lifestyle, although challenging, constantly being the new girl and facing academic pressures—unexpectedly sculpted my resilience and adaptability. Despite the academic challenges and being an active scout, which took me on adventures from camping in the mountains to wilderness survival at 12, my academic path didn’t shine until university. Yet, all turned around at once, when I took my first marketing class, fell in love with it, and finished school in 3 years, laying the first stones of my career.

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You’re now one of the most renowned brand consultants in Turkey. How was you journey there?

Gosh, I wouldn’t call myself most renowned but thanks:) I’m turning 40 this year, with 20 years in my career, my evolution from a laid-back childhood to my current role was fueled more by curiosity rather than ambition.

After 12 years in management roles at corporate brands like G-Star RAW, Swatch, and Calvin Klein, I shifted focus in 2015 to consulting for startups and entrepreneurs on Brand strategies and Digital Marketing. Alongside this, my role as a mentor in global startup entrepreneurship programs and teaching MBA classes at university has placed me in a position keeping myself updated and continually growing my perspective. And an unexpected success of my book two years ago affirmed my passion-driven career approach, reminding me that staying adaptable and open to learning has been key to my journey.

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When you first spotted abtira, what did you think? (Please be full honest:))

When I first tried out Abtira, I loved how it wasn’t just about good packaging or just about quality; it had both. The bottle felt nice to hold in hand, it smelled great, and the product itself was awesome. But the best part? The community around Abtira. I even talk about it in my classes, way before we met. Having a group of people who love your brand makes a huge difference. It turns customers into fans and makes everyone feel like they’re part of something special. I am a big fan of you!

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Now let’s move to the creative process. You wrote your book while literally breastfeeding. What kept you going? 

Well, I started my book during the pandemic with a one-year-old. Balancing motherhood and work was really tough (still is!), but the thought of impacting entrepreneurs lives kept me going. It took a year and a half, and honestly, I still can’t believe I wrote it. I didn’t even enjoy writing that much:) I never imagined it would sell so well and have a hype, especially since I’ve never considered myself a writer. But I  wrote it as if I were chatting with a friend, with all real-life current case studies (Aren’t we all bored of Starbucks, Coca Cola case studies in marketing books?) which maybe is why it resonated with so many. 

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I’ve struggled a lot as a woman in Turkey. I’m very curious, what do you think about Turkish women’s challenges to balancing working and family lives? How are they coping?

Women across the globe struggle to balance work and family, but here, societal pressures and limited support heighten the challenge. Even in my case, the societal expectation is for me to dedicate myself to my career as if I’m not a mother, while simultaneously nurturing my child as though I have no professional career. I’m juggling it, but I totally understand women who don’t want to do it. It’s not easy at all. When providing consultancy to female entrepreneurs, my initial focus isn’t solely on profit and business growth; I first assure them of their ability to succeed and motivate them to go on despite the challenges they face. This is important even for those with high educational qualifications. Once I achieve this, everything else tends to fall into place more easily.

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yenikoy
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Now, leisure. Thank you for allowing us to shoot you in your caravan! What is your caravan all about?

My childhood was all about camping and scouts, so I always dreamed of having a camper van, a dream Burak, my husband, also shared. The pandemic gave us the final nudge to get started; we found a second-hand transporter van and transformed it into our own mobile home. We quite literally raised our son in it. Now, three years later, I can’t think of a better way to do a vacation. But to be real, it’s not always the Pinterest-perfect scene. We’ve got the cooking, cleaning, battling bad weather, sometimes even getting stuck in mud and waiting for a rescue, plus the constant learning to use what we have wisely. It’s definitely a crazy adventure, but absolutely worth every moment.

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 Self-care and beauty. There’s your signature red lipstick. What else? 

I was a tomboy growing up, not really into makeup until much later. But skincare, like toning, cleansing and moisturizing, was always part of my routine, inspired by my mom. She was all about minimal makeup and never skipped her skincare. Now, I’m the same. No matter how late, I never sleep with makeup on. And honestly, my makeup routine is incredibly fast, using the same look and products for everything from Zoom calls to weddings, all in just 5 minutes! While I’m not particularly proud of this simplicity, it’s really efficient and saves me a lot of time.

Finally, what are Göksemin’s dreams these days?

Right now, there is 2 major things happening. First, due to popular demand, I’m finally working on the English version of my book. I should have started a year ago, but focusing on it was tough. It won’t just be a straight translation; the original had a lot of Turkey-specific content, which really resonated here. Now, I need to give it a global twist. And speaking of global, the second big change is we moved to the Netherlands! It’s a whole new chapter for us, and I’m so excited about what’s ahead.

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Konuk / GÖKSEMİN GÖKALP ÖZDEMİR / @goksemin

Fotoğraflar / İMGE YÜKSEL / @imge_