Bridging Cultures Through Art: a Journey from Aleppo to Istanbul - Building Markets

Bridging Cultures Through Art: a Journey from Aleppo to Istanbul

by Nawar Maarri
April 1, 2024

Bayan Aljasem, hailing from Aleppo, initially studied English literature and explored her passion for art through studies at the Higher Institute of Academic Art. This early engagement with the arts set the stage for a transformative journey where her love for art evolved into a thriving career in a new location.

In 2015, Bayan and her husband made the decision to leave Syria for Türkiye, specifically Mersin. Initially working with UNICEF as Syrian teachers.

The following year, they settled in Istanbul and continued their teaching careers. It was in 2017 that Bayan slowly rekindled her passion for manual arts and drawing, finding relaxation in these activities amidst life’s stresses.

Driven by a desire to infuse her art with personal identity and cultural expression, Bayan turned to Arabic calligraphy. Her first creation, a cup, garnered positive feedback when shared on her personal Facebook page, sparking requests from her social circle.

Bayan recalls, “Art became not just a hobby but a way to express my Arab identity and make a statement about who I am.”

In 2018, Bayan took an online training course in entrepreneurship, along with courses in marketing and branding, with the goal of turning her hobby into a profession. By 2020, she had organically amassed 10,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Bayan to reevaluate her business and expand her product line. She introduced Baghdadi art, inspired by ancient Iraqi architecture, characterized by intricate decorations and vibrant colors applied to glassware using simple tools and resources.

This innovative addition resonated with her target audience, primarily the Syrian and Arab community in Türkiye.

Registering her products on platforms like Trendyol and Çiçek Sepeti boosted credibility and eased access to the Turkish market.

She enhanced her skills with arts and glass painting courses at Arel University in Istanbul. Moreover, she trained refugee women in dotting art in southern Türkiye, empowering them and enriching the local art scene. Bayan’s journey garnered media attention, including notable appearances on platforms like Al Jazeera.

In 2021, Bayan officially registered her company “Bayan Art” in Türkiye , improved her skills, and upgraded her equipment. This shift occurred alongside a downturn in job opportunities for Syrian teachers, motivating Bayan to develop her own business venture.

As a mother of three children, Bayan found it more convenient to operate her business from home, where she has a small workshop set up. She also collaborates with talented individuals to handle orders, display products, and manage online sales.

During this time, Bayan found support and guidance through Building Markets. Engaging in online training and workshops. The mentorship sessions, led by Building Markets’ mentor Dania Abu Saleh, were particularly impactful. “I was at a point where I almost considered closing down my business due to the overwhelming demands of work and family life as a working mother,” Bayan recalls. “But with Dania’s guidance and support, not only did I regain my confidence, but I also saw a significant increase in sales and overall success. This boost in confidence and support played a vital role in improving my well-being, showing how essential mentorship is in overcoming difficulties and succeeding in business.”

Additionally, Bayan took advantage of the opportunity to undergo professional PMP training through Building Markets, further enhancing her qualifications in project management. Her business now offers a diverse range of arts, including Dotting ART, Arabic calligraphy, and Baghdadi Art, with various products catering to different customer preferences.

Our work is made possible through the generous gift of the United States.

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