After a career in the legal world, Aylin Doker set out to scratch the surface of her entrepreneurial itch and landed quite naturally and almost innately in the world of wines & spirits. As the Director of Operations at Turquoise Life, Aylin oversees all legal and compliance matters, manages logistics and operations, as well as oversees all public relations, media and communications activations for Turquoise Life.
Prior to starting this venture, Aylin was an Associate at Axiom Law headquartered in New York, where she managed a portfolio of Fortune 500 corporate, media and technology clients. With her practical legal background and her business acumen, Aylin has been able to combine her experience and skills in an impactful way that has attributed to Turquoise Life’s early growth and success. In her spare time, Aylin is always looking to squeeze in a good game of tennis with anyone who’s up for a little competitive challenge… operative word being “competitive”.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
Growing up with parents who are entrepreneurs, my exposure to entrepreneurship has always been quite close and personal, and raw in a sense. I’ve seen what it means to be a business owner in the best of days, and have also seen the challenges it lends itself to. Seeing this first hand, I understand and appreciate the relentless dedication, drive and passion that is required for entrepreneurs to keep going. This commitment to building something successful and sustainable out of nothing is what motivated and inspired me to start my own business.
Tell us about your business.
Turquoise Life is a leading boutique importer of wines and spirits with a focus on identifying categories and varietals that we feel are currently underserved and will drive consumer demand. Striving to create trends throughout the beverage industry, we meticulously hand select all of our products in hopes of providing our customers with a unique and memorable experience.
Deeply rooted in ‘lifestyle brands,’ Turquoise Life focuses on creating and building beverage brands that embody a lifestyle of relaxation and enjoyment. The crown jewel of Turquoise Life, VieVité Côtes de Provence Rosé, was the first brand we launched six years ago as the first of many wines and spirits now in our portfolio.
I began my professional career as a lawyer. I have a Juris Doctor degree in law and am licensed to practice in New York. The brands within our portfolio are truly the ones that have the accomplishments and awards. I consider each of our critical acclaims and award-winning brands to be a reflection of our collective accomplishments.
Where is your business based?
Turquoise Life is headquartered in New York City in the Meatpacking District. We have sales teams in major markets through the US and consider our winemakers and vineyards to be a valuable extension of our team.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
While I have a legal background, my husband, Tunch Doker worked in the wine and spirits industry for several years, which gave us both valuable insight into the wine & spirits industry. We realized there was a void in the marketplace for product we personally loved, a true Cotês de Provence rosé wine. After visiting several wine producers throughout France, we established a partnership to create a brand that we felt was a true expression of perfection. Once we developed a business plan, we were able to secure funding from friends, family and others that believed in us and our idea.
While the launch phase was no easy road, and was certainly a whirlwind, it was tremendously rewarding to create a product we were excited to share with wine lovers around the world. Myself, Tunch and our team all play a valuable role in the many aspects of the business. I have been able to utilize my law background and acumen to handle the many legal, logistical and regulatory aspects of our business. As is the nature of our industry, we have many contractual partnerships as well as legal compliance measures that I am able to manage and ensure the growth of Turquoise Life.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
First and foremost, if you are looking for brand recognition, customer acquisition, and long term brand loyalty, the key to success is very simply in message, but not always as simple to accomplish: you have to nail it inside and out. We are firm believers that our products must have the most superior quality juice (without compromise) all wrapped up in a sleek, sexy and eye-catching package that evokes a lifestyle that so many desire. As much as we consider ourselves wine entrepreneurs, we’re first and foremost strategic marketers.
A crucial part of our business is to stand apart from the competition. We strive to create a dynamic footprint for our key brands at top restaurants, hotels and retailers to reach our target consumers. We pride ourselves on going the extra mile to make sure our partners in the trade understand and are enthusiastic about our brands. We realize they are our direct contact point with the consumers, as they ultimately become our brand ambassadors, sharing our brands and telling the story that each wine evokes. While it’s important to attract consumers to buy our products, it’s even more important that we create lasting and impactful brands that consumers come back for more and demand by name.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Tunch and I started Turquoise Life just over 6 years ago with a vision and a purpose. With our heads down, sleeves rolled up, a LOT of hard work and never looking back, we’ve been able to grow that vision into a successful and thriving business. During that time, we also had two children! Being a mother and a business owner in one of the fastest paced cities in the world is definitely a challenge.
As with many entrepreneurs, a day rarely goes by that I don’t wish for just a few more hours to accomplish all I set out to do (no matter how early I wake up or how late I end my day)! I remind myself daily that I created this path in my life and I’m working hard each day to build something, both at home as well as in my professional life— a life, a family and a business that is meaningful, and that’s what keeps me going.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I think women are just innately wired with a drive that helps us keep going! Entrepreneurs are faced with challenges daily, the important part is to learn to face them head on, solve the issue and move on. These past few years have taught me that there will always be challenges to overcome, oftentimes multiple challenges at once, while wearing many hats (business owner, business partner, mother, wife) but this can’t discourage or disrupt the path to success. The skill of balancing it all, the drive to succeed and the ability to be obsessively structured, scheduled and disciplined allows me to get through the challenges each day throws at me.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Simple – it’s all about keeping things in perspective. Every morning I wake up feeling thankful for the day I’m about to embark upon. While there are definitely difficult times to be had as a business owner, I always pull myself back to core and remind myself that I’m fortunate to be doing what I’m doing and am grateful to have the opportunity to own and operate a business, especially as a female, in an arguably male dominated industry. I’ve earned the respect and tenure amongst other peers in the business and that gives me great pride and motivation to work even harder to bring Turquoise Life to new levels.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
In an industry that can be very traditional and tired, we’re always looking for innovative ways to shake things up and bring our brands to life. Whether it’s working with leading brands in groundbreaking categories, creating innovative cocktails or hosting edgy events, we’re always looking to take risks and do things that break the mold. This culture and ideology of closely connecting with our consumers, understanding what excites them and translating that into how we build our brands has allowed us to stand out amongst our competitors.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
I was always brought up to believe that hard work pays off. Thankfully, myself, Tunch and our teams are constantly giving each other advice, bouncing ideas off each other, and ultimately seeking to make the best decisions and produce the best products possible.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
- Don’t ever become complacent. Complacency dims the passion that all successful entrepreneurs need to thrive and face each day with their very best foot forward.
- Always be sincere and genuine. This is my motto in my personal and professional life.
- Pay it forward. Once you’re in a position to do so, don’t forget to provide the same support that you were given when you were first starting out as an entrepreneur.
- Give back. Once you’re able, even if small, find a cause or philanthropy that you are passionate about and give back to that cause in whatever way you’re able.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
We are constantly traveling to regions throughout the world; we attend, participate in and discuss our business at industry events and conferences. As much as it is a competitive industry, there still remains a good deal of sharing and ideation among those working in wine & spirits to better the market as a whole. One ‘tool’ that I consider invaluable is our relationship with our partners in the trade. Our retailers and venue owners are the ones interacting with consumers on a daily basis and their feedback and advice is something we hold in high regard.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am learning every day. Every time I talk with an industry colleague, a retailer or a consumer, I’m gaining invaluable knowledge that helps me excel at my job. As we branch out in new markets and expand our portfolio I look forward to learning even more and am always looking for feedback and personal thoughts about our brands or wine & spirits in general.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
In the next few months we’ll be entering new markets, new countries, and will be expanding the distribution with the newest brand in our portfolio, Parce Rum from Colombia.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @aylin_doker, @vievite
Facebook @VieVite, @aylin.algandoker
Email: Media contact – firstname.lastname@example.org, Business – email@example.com
Hashtags #alldayvievite #alldayvievité