This article is contributed by Leyla Uysal founder of Bajer Watches….
“Being your authentic self” is a phrase I have seen in countless business and self-help publications, especially over the past few years. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve started noticing it more, and am relating to the phrase in both my business and personal life. Yes, I say “life” rather than “lives” as my business is personal, and my personal life has helped to frame my business life.
Frankly I’m not sure how I learned how to be my authentic self, but I think it was through observation. And it wasn’t necessarily observation of people and things that I wanted to emulate, but rather, things that I knew I needed to do, things that deep down drove me to be whom I was born to be.
Girls and women who grow up in Kurdish regions of Turkey face a lot of restrictions and I knewfrom an early age that I didn’t want my life to be suppressed by what I believed was unfair and unequal treatment. I knew my authentic self was not born to succumb to the boundaries, limitations and traditions of that male-dominated society, and I sought to demonstrate to myself as well as to the women and men in my society that I needed to leave my homeland to become whom I was meant to be.
I’ve made mistakes, I’ve been vulnerable, I’ve moved from one country to another, and I’ve taken many risks, all with the goal of accomplishing what I believed I could accomplish.
I am a first-generation educated woman. That was and continues to be an important accomplishment. I value education. I value learning. I value teaching others. I realized that by continuing my education, I would be able to help other women in my society. I was the first person in my very extended family to finish high school; I was the only female in my graduating class and then was the first to leave to go to college. However, I didn’t know at the time what my ultimate future would bring.
It wasn’t until I achieved a higher education when I realized that I could combine my love for my culture and my education (I concentrated on Management and Leadership in High Luxury Fashion at MIT), and actually be my authentic self. I manage my business and treat my business family as I do my own family.
Creating a luxury watch brand has taken a lot of perseverance, capital, dedication and hard work. It’s important to me and to my company to maintain exclusivity as a luxury fashion brand. Our Bajer watches combine Swiss-made quality with Italian craftsmanship and leather.
Because we are focused on authenticity in all that we do, it hurts me to know that non-authentic, counterfeit luxury goods are becoming increasingly prevalent in this world. According to a report by the OECD, “the global trade in fake “Swiss” watches amounted to as much as CHF 3.35 billion (U.S. $3.37 billion).” While some people might not take this too seriously, nor see it as a tremendous problem, I see it as lost opportunities and income for hard-working people. I see counterfeiting as potential lost opportunities for the NGOs that we support that help women and children through education assistance, financial independence and the community’s overall well-being in the Kurdish region of Turkey. Bajer helps these women become their authentic selves as well.
The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reminds us that counterfeiting is a crime.
At Bajer, we take our work and our social mission very seriously. I take being authentic very seriously as well. I strive to be my authentic self, and I strive to set an example for, and help those in the Kurdish community to be whom they were born to be.
My message is this: “Be your authentic self.” Express authenticity in all that you do and in all that you support, including the hard-working people who are producing the brands that reflect who you are and whom you cherish. You will see, being authentic is a timeless value.
© 2023 Silver Disobedience Inc.