We recently connected with Tara Cetinkaya and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Tara thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. One of the most important things we can do as business owners is ensure that our customers feel appreciated. What’s something you’ve done or seen a business owner do to help a customer feel valued?
The biggest thing we have done recently to show customer we appreciate it them was including them in our 10th anniversary celebrations. We recently celebrated our 10 years in business. It was officially in November 2021, and there was a lot going on for us at that time and I honestly didn’t feel like doing anything; I knew any type of event was going to be a lot of work. But I had a new administrative assistance who really encouraged it, that such a milestone shouldn’t go uncelebrated.
I wanted to make sure that our customers, and especially local customers, got to celebrate this with us. After all, we wouldn’t be where we are today without them! We do truly appreciate all of their support and the fact that locally, we have had tremendous growth mostly through word-of-mouth.
So when we planned out the celebration event, I made sure to include lots of things to celebrate our customers. Each customer received a little treat bag; the first 10 customers also received a free tote filled with over $50 worth of products; plus we did a giveaway and other special sales and offers in store.
On the day of, it was so exciting to see how many people come out to support us, and how special THEY felt to be receiving little goodies as well. Especially those first 10 people who received the totes — there was one lady who had no idea we were giving these out and she was so surprised and touched. Another lady thought the totes would be empty — she didn’t expect it would be full of fun products!
I believe when you are sincere in trying to show your appreciation to your customers, in various ways, they do see the sincerity and will love you all the more. Even if its something small like showing kindness and helping them find what they’re looking for. It’s one reason why we have so many wonderful reviews on our Google listing!
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
We founded Modefa in 2011, after I became Muslim. I was trying to dress more modestly, and eventually wanted to wear the hijab. But I was struggling to find clothing and scarves that I was comfortable with. After visiting Turkey, I was impressed with the great variety of fashionable modest clothing and hijabs. When we opened in the beginning, we mostly offered Turkish hijabs including silk square hijabs. Over time we slowly expanded our product line, with the goal of one day having clothing, as well as a retail store. For example, after about a year we began offering prayer rugs. Turkey is one of the largest producers of prayer rugs, and these rugs are known for their quality. We also began offering Islamic gifts and decor. Whatever products we see that there is a need for in our community, we are trying to bring it for our customers. We are always on the lookout for new and unique items. Today, we have grown to become one of the largest Islamic retail stores in the DFW area; the #1 brand online in the USA for Islamic prayer rugs; and one of the top online retailers in the USA for Islamic decor. We are very proud to offer our customers a variety of options that are high quality and affordable.
Can you open up about how you funded your business?
We are proud of the fact that we didn’t need to take out any formal loans to start our business. Our main source when we got started was a sign-on bonus my husband received for his first job out of college. We also used money we were gifted at our wedding. From then on, whenever we had extra money we fed it into the business; we also continuously reinvested our profits. This helped us to grow organically in a way that was just right for us at the time.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
We have had a lot of challenges along the way. One of our biggest challenges came a few years in. We had all of our products accidentally deleted by an app error. We were using Shopify (and still are), and we were just getting set up in trying to sell products on other channels like Amazon an eBay. So we began using a new app to sync our inventory across all channels. It was a popular app at the time that many were using. One morning, we woke up and there were ZERO products in our store. Everything was gone; we panicked big time. After contacting Shopify support we learned that over night, there was a glitch with the app we were using which caused all products to be deleted, and it wasn’t just for our store — it was for every Shopify store that was using this app! We had to get to work — and fast– to get everything back up online. It was like starting over completely. Shopify was able to pull up from the server some older versions of some of our products, but everything that had been added in the past few months was gone. Even the older products had missing info and still needed to be worked on. We’re talking about hundreds of products. Finding all the photos, re-writing descriptions, etc. For some it would have been easy to quit at that point. But we were too invested in this and it didn’t even cross our minds. We just had to power through and get it done. You can bet that from then on, we always save backups of our listings!