By Stef Tschida
As a little girl, you couldn’t keep Emily Kisa away from the bead store near her house. One way or another, she’d find her way there every day, plunging her hands deep into the bins and letting the tiny plastic and glass beads sift through her fingers. She’d bring home her latest finds and waste no time turning them into necklaces and bracelets—little works of art that she’d proudly wear for all to see.
Decades later, Emily once again found herself drawn to something delicate and beautiful. Only this time it was halfway around the world. As she studied abroad in Turkey, she was deeply moved by the country’s rich history and culture—the food, the fashions, the arts and crafts. In particular, she was struck by the intricate crocheted trim that local village women in Istanbul sewed onto the border of their headscarves. Emily took that inspiration and combined it with her love for jewelry, designing a line of crocheted necklaces.
Her one-of-a-kind creations weren’t the only thing Emily gained from her time studying abroad. She also met her future husband, Caglar. When her six months of studies in the country were over, she came back to the U.S. for a short time and then returned to Turkey to get married. It was then that Emily and Caglar began dreaming and planning to bring her Turkish-inspired jewelry line to life. Both entrepreneurial by nature, they began identifying sources for materials and building relationships with vendors.
The pair eventually made their way to Emily’s home state of Minnesota and started selling her jewelry. As her designs gained popularity, Emily envisioned something bigger. She wanted to share more of what she’d discovered during her travels, to inspire women to trust their wanderlust, to find their own path, and to never stop exploring. She began curating a collection of beautiful products she thought others might appreciate as much as she did. She launched a storefront—KISA Boutique—with her expanded offerings. Shoppers loved the selection of clothing, accessories and home goods.
Today, KISA operates a number of seasonal boutiques in resort locations like Nisswa, Minnesota, and Fish Creek, Wisconsin, in Door County. In addition to jewelry, KISA sells European-inspired coats, wraps, shoes, plus Turkish towels, blankets and more—each item thoughtfully selected with fashion-forward customers in mind. Its most popular items are also available online.
While the path to building a successful business has had its twists and turns (especially during the pandemic), Emily remains grateful for the opportunity to share her love of the Turkish culture with women in Minnesota and Wisconsin. She has found one of the things she loves most about being a shop owner is connecting with shoppers and seeing the joy and boost of confidence they experience when they discover something unique and flattering.
Emily and Caglar continue to expand KISA by partnering with more artisans to source unique Turkish products. And they’re always on the hunt for a perfect new location to connect with more shoppers.
To learn more about Emily’s business, visit KISAOfficial.com.
Photo credit: Kimberlee Karr for Publish Her Story
About the Author
Stef Tschida is a former corporate communicator and lifelong storyteller. Stef’s WHY became clear when she worked at her daily campus newspaper. She realized she didn’t want to ask tough questions as a reporter—she wanted to help organizations answer those tough questions. She’s been doing that work ever since.
About Publish Her
Publish Her is a female-founded publisher dedicated to elevating the words, writing and stories of women. We are passionate about amplifying the voices of women of color, women with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We aim to make publishing an attainable, exciting and collaborative process for all. Publish Her specializes in print-on-demand books, workbooks, journals, magazines and more.