Before Aylin Doker decided to pursue her entrepreneurial adventure in the wine and spirits sector, she was an Associate at Axiom Law in New York where she managed a portfolio of Fortune 500 corporate, media and technology clients.
Her business knowledge paired with her background in law provided her with the perfect platform from which to launch her own business.
Today, Aylin runs Turquoise Life and VieVité Rosé with her husband Tunch.
We asked her a few questions to get to know her a bit better and to found out more about how she turned a trend into a thriving business.
What did you eat for breakfast?
I’m usually a bit preoccupied making sure my family has everything they need in the mornings and I’m often traveling for business meetings, visiting the wineries and new distribution markets. My breakfast during the week is usually eaten on the go and is a fresh pressed juice or a fresh fruit smoothie. My favorite part of the weekends is bringing the family around a table for a nice, long Mediterranean style breakfast.
What’s your workout?
My workout of choice is always on a tennis court but it’s rare given everything I’m balancing in the day. So, my usual workout is a run along the Hudson River in lower Manhattan or a quick Soul Cycle session.
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Tell us about your work. What inspired you to start your business? Where did you start and where are you now?
I began my professional career as a lawyer in New York City. Though I did enjoy what I was doing, when my husband Tunch and I began exploring the idea of creating a wine brand, I quickly fell in love with the idea, the process of developing the ideal product and spending each day doing something I can be proud of. As with any business, there are many legal and regulatory components that need to be managed – these aspects are even more involved when dealing with alcoholic beverages. I’ve been able to utilize my law experience and education to help navigate the complex compliance regulations and the many strategic partnerships the business enters into.
What do you see for your future?
I hope that we as a company can continue to build off of the hard work that our team has put in over the past 6 years and take Turquoise Life to new levels. Now that we have built a healthy and successful foundation and have gained recognition as one of the fastest growing wine and spirits importers in the USA, the next phase of growth in our future is to stay on the forefront of innovation in the alcohol beverage industry. I feel fortunate to have built the best team that I could have ever asked for and they are holistically what makes us unstoppable. As we grow, I realize some aspects of the business will need to be delegated to team members, but I could never see myself not being involved with Turquoise Life every day.
How large is your business? How many employees do you have?
We currently have sales teams in every major market in the USA and we are currently bringing on new team members to expand our team footprint into additional markets. We are headquartered in New York where we have a team who handles Marketing, Logistics and Operations, Sales, Fulfillment and Finance. Our team also includes everyone at our wineries from the proprietors to the winemakers to the farmers working in the vineyards.
Tell us a success story about funding your business.
Honestly, we were very pleasantly surprised by how many people believed in our idea and wanted to join us with funding right from the beginning. To be fair, we are in the business of producing something that almost everyone loves and that brings about happiness and inspires a certain lifestyle that is fun and inspiring – many people enjoy being a part of that.
What do you see as challenges for you and your business? What are some opportunities?
The alcoholic beverage business is an extremely competitive one. There are thousands of brands in the marketplace competing for consumers and shelf space. We consider the ‘opportunity’ for our brand being the quality and consistency we’re able to deliver. We hope to keep the fine attention to detail in all our endeavors as we expand into other wine and spirits that we feel will be met with the same appreciation and demand.
Tell us a story about a success in your business or a mistake you overcame?
Our flagship brand, VieVité, Cotes de Provence Rosé, is our most rewarding success story thus far. VieVité was a vision we had 7 years ago and the reason we launched Turquoise Life – we wanted to bring to the market a rosé wine brand that was the most superior quality juice, coming from a winery with history, heritage and tradition, wrapped up in a unique bottle with sleek and sexy packaging. Basically, we envisioned VieVité to have it all – ultimate quality and taste profile in a beautiful bottle that consumers would recognize and aspire to be associated with. We achieved this and VieVité is now an internationally recognized brand that has a very strong and loyal consumer following that continues to grow exponentially each year.
In terms of mistakes: thankfully we have avoided major pitfalls, but of course we have run into obstacles along the ride over the past few years that we’ve had to deal with…we use those obstacles as learning experiences to even further better us as a company and as entrepreneurs.
What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
I love being able to make others happy with the product we produce. I also take great pride and joy in the team we have built at Turquoise Life – contributing to their career goals and seeing their drive, dedication and passion come through each day is the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur. Each day I wake up excited for what the day’s challenges will bring and feel very lucky to have this opportunity to build a successful business.
What about your business matters most deeply to you? How does it engage your values?
First and foremost I value the people involved in creating the brands we produce. There are so many hands that go into each one of the bottles we produce. I take pride in the quality of our products and the generations old handcrafted techniques that are involved. The quality of the juice in our bottles and the natural sources that it comes from is the ultimate key to our success and holds true to our values and mission to bring to market the absolute best.
What would you say is your “entrepreneurial superpower?”
I would say my “entrepreneurial superpower” is my ability to wear a million different hats at once. When you’re running a business, it’s crucial to have the ability to be agile. As much as I meticulously try to plan each day, it is inevitable that something gets thrown my way that I have to address without letting my day become derailed. It’s definitely a juggling act!
Who is the entrepreneur you admire most right now? Why does s/he inspire you?
That’s a difficult question because there are so many! Being on this wild ride myself and knowing the dedication and commitment it takes to be an entrepreneur, I admire anyone who decides to be an entrepreneur. Of course, the biased side of me makes me so proud to be a part of a growing global community of incredibly successful female entrepreneurs and I’m committed to providing guidance, advice and support to young females that are inspired to become future entrepreneurs – this is incredibly rewarding for me.
What’s the best and the worst thing about being an entrepreneur, as a woman?
The alcoholic beverage industry has long been male dominated. Over the past several years, I have worked extremely hard to intricately learn the business inside and out from the ground up and immerse myself in both the education and business components of the industry. I am proud of the reputation and respect that I have built amongst my more tenured piers as a successful leading female entrepreneur in the industry.
Do you think male entrepreneurs are “different” from female entrepreneurs, and if so, how? If not, why not?
Every entrepreneur has a different style of their own that places emphasis on different elements of the business. My business partner, whose also my husband, and I operate so differently. He is a visionary and an opportunist that is always looking for the next “big thing” to disrupt and rattle the wine and spirits industry, while I am the conservative realist, weighing each opportunity with great thought, precision and calculation before diving into it. It is a great balance we have struck that has proven to be successful as we are able to look at everything from such different lenses and viewpoints leaving little room for oversights.
What the best advice you ever got, and from whom?
The best advice I’ve received is from my husband. As rewarding and as exciting as it is to be an entrepreneur, it is equally as stressful, oftentimes tiresome and endlessly demanding. My husband always helps me keep everything in perspective and reminds me that each and every day that we wake up to is a beautiful day and a privilege and opportunity to conquer whatever the day has to offer. This reminder of how fortunate we are to being doing something we love gives me the momentum to power through each day with positive energy.