Juliet & Cem-Thalassa Home
Juliet & Cem founders of Thalassa Home. What a brand; I'm searching for the perfect way to describe them, and how their interview made me feel. The only words that are coming to me are, creative, passionate, and so deeply, deeply, authentic people.
Travelers and free spirits, with a genuine love for that particular lifestyle of the Aegean, where slow living is the natural order; they have created a brand inspired by beauty of the Mediterranean. We talk with Juliet and Cem about their life, their brand and they share some great tips on how to create a successful business.
-Juliet & Cem, where do you live, who are your favorite people, and where are you from?
We currently live in Rome, but we took a meandering path to get here! Cem is originally from Istanbul, and Juliet is from California, but we met while living in New York City. After New York we lived in Istanbul for five years, and then moved on to Rome.
-Can you tell me more about Thalassa Home? What can we find at your beautiful shop?
Thalassa Home is an Aegean-inspired lifestyle brand of high-quality, traditionally-made textiles for beach and home. Much of our collection is focused on Turkish peştemal towels, but it also includes hand-woven blankets sourced from artisans in Morocco, cotton beachwear, and one-of-a-kind pieces that we’ve collected from bazaars and souks across the Mediterranean.
-Can you remember how the idea of Thalassa Home started and what prompted you to create it?
When we moved to Istanbul in 2010, we started a summer tradition of sailing the Aegean sea between Turkey and the Greek Islands. During this time we started buying up Turkish towels everywhere we went, because they were, of course, beautiful, but also just really essential to our lifestyle - it’s a long summer in the Mediterranean and life revolves around the sea.
Through the years we learned that there are a lot of pretty but inferior quality towels out there, but when we found a good one, it became this essential, versatile travel companion that actually got softer and more absorbent over time.
Eventually we moved on from Istanbul to Rome, but we still spend a good part of every year in the Aegean - it’s just where we live our best life - and we launched Thalassa Home as part of our efforts to take a piece of the Aegean with us, everywhere we go.
- Really love your brand name, how this came up?
We chose the name Thalassa because even though it is Greek for sea, it is actually a pre-Greek word with ancient Aegean origins. Thalassa was the name given by prehistoric Aegean people to the spirit of the sea. Ages before the Greek pantheon of gods developed into human-like figures, Thalassa was the essence of the Aegean, her body the sea itself. She survives today not only as the Greek word for sea, but is also the root of many more terms, including thalassophile: a lover of the sea.
- Tell us a little more about the materials you use and what inspires you every time to create a new product?
Because we got into this business from the consumer end, where we were using these types of textiles frequently, we placed the highest priority on the quality of the cotton. We believe a textile should be as useful as it is beautiful, and source all our products with this in mind.
The core textile in our line is the peştemal towel. These hamam towels are a traditional craft and an important element of Turkey's celebrated textile heritage. We source our products from Denizli, in the Aegean region of Turkey, which has been a center for textile production since the 11th century. After a process of testing samples from many producers for softness, durability and absorbency, we chose two small producers who met our standards of quality.
- How has Thalassa Home changed your life?
I think one of the ultimate goals for us is that the lifestyle we want to create for ourselves and the work we do meld into one thing. We never wanted to just vacation in the Aegean, we wanted the Aegean to be a principal locus in our lives, even if we aren’t at the point of retiring to a secluded island just yet! Thalassa Home has helped to propel us toward that goal, being born out of our passions for the region, for design and traditional craftsmanship. The fact that our work brings us by necessity to the Aegean multiple times a year is just a wonderful bonus.
-How do you promote your business? What tools do you use?
Like so many small business owners these days, we use Google ads, Facebook ads and Instagram to reach a wider audience. We also have some other, non-digital methods - for example, we have another side business called True Horizon Travel through which we organize the same boat charters we do every year with our friends, and since we’ve launched Thalassa Home we’ve been providing our clients with Thalassa Home towels on their Aegean cruises.
-What message would you like to transfer to other creators? What would you advise them?
I personally am not great at selling something I don’t care about, so the crux of our business is our passion for what we are putting out into the world. And that also inspires a level of dedication that carries you through the bad days when you feel like you’ve got no idea what you’re doing - because you still know WHY.
Another crucial element for growing a business like ours, which has plenty of competition, is attention to detail. Whether it’s the quality of the materials, the relationships with your clients or your packaging, it should be treated with deliberate care - people will notice and remember it.
- Where you see yourself personally and professionally after 5 years? What would you like to have succeeded in?
For our next project, we’d love to restore an old property somewhere in the Aegean - mostly for ourselves but also to share with others as a holiday rental. Of course it will be full of beautiful, unique textiles!
-How do you apply Greek Island Effortless Living to your life and business. How can women through Thalassa Home products, experience this feeling?
I understand Greek Island Effortless Living as a name for that particular lifestyle of the Aegean, where slow living is the natural order. Their traditions - from their seasonal homegrown cuisine, to their age-old methods of craftsmanship, to their particular conception of time - are for us a source of endless inspiration, and a motivation for better living. At the heart of it, the Aegean lifestyle is about small, self-sustaining communities. When people shop small or handmade, they are actively supporting and participating in these communities. They are also taking home beautiful, unique products that last for years and will be well-loved! This is being a conscious consumer. With Thalassa Home, it is a joy for us to be a part of this process, and to share it with a larger audience.