During a trip to Istanbul we wandered into a store selling small kilim products for tourists. The young guy who was working in the store asked us where we were from, and when we told him Atlanta he got very excited.
The man reached into his wallet and pulled out a Georgia driver's license and a Kennesaw State student ID. He has gotten an MBA in Atlanta and recently moved home to Istanbul to work in his family business making kilim products.
We asked him what else he can make, and he said he can make anything we come up with. We left the store that day certain that we'd experienced divine intervention. We knew we were supposed to take advantage of this opportunity. Over dinner that night, we discussed what kind of products we would want to use for ourselves. We decided on the classic British dress slipper shape, a dopp kit, and a weekender.
We described what we wanted the products to look like and the materials we wanted to use--leather soles on the shoes, brown leather trim on the weekender, sizes, dimensions, etc. Shortly, we had prototypes. We tested the prototypes and made additional refinements. We had our final designs!
Our kilim products quickly overshadowed our ties, and we knew we had to listen to the market.