#4 Naked Garments

Zerrin Börcek

Because International Women’s Day should be celebrated each and every day! We want you to meet Zerrin, Founder of the Female Innovation Hub, who is on a mission to empower women and help them gain confidence through technology.

#4 Naked Garments

We help women to understand technology and enable them to create digital solutions.  This can really help raise women’s confidence level!

DATE
23.03.2020

TEXT
Monika Hauck

PHOTOGRAPHER
Falco Peters

I feel successful when I can see a change taking place in the perspectives of the people.

Tell us about your profession and what drives you in your job?

I studied Information Technology and Communication Science at RWTH Aachen. During this time, I realized that the ability to understand and use technology can give you a lot of confidence and change your way of working and thinking. After graduating I spent a lot of time working in male dominated fields such as Electronics and Special Mechanical Engineering. It was a very interesting time which helped me to grow a lot. At the same time, I could observe some of the very few women who worked in these fields. I observed two extremes. They were either very masculine and career driven or were making themselves very small and just trying to fit in.

This motivated me to start Female Innovation Hub in November 2016, which supports women – from schoolgirls to experienced professional women – to be better prepared to be part of the digital world. We help women to understand technology better and to enable them to create digital solutions.  This can really help raise women’s confidence level!

Why do you think women do not feel confident when it comes to technology?

Even today I think culture plays a big role. We think that women should have a good education but in order to be really complete they need to marry and we still believe that men will take care of the most important things.

What was your dream job when you were a child?

I was born in Düsseldorf but I spent most of my childhood in Turkey. While growing up I wanted to become a belly dancer. I grew up with my grandparents and we often listened to music. Whenever there was music there was joy in our family. I think this association with music really made me dream of becoming a belly dancer. Later on, I wanted to become an author, a profession, that to some extent, I still practise today.

How do you measure success?

I feel successful when I can see a change taking place in the perspectives of the people – when I see that peoples’ eyes are shining again. I also have a few mentors who helped me a lot in the last years. Whenever they give me a compliment, I feel that I am being successful too. Also, the current award „Top 40 under 40 – Macher aus dem Rheinland“ is an acknowledgment for my work.

It is very simple, but I think we all need words of encouragement. We don’t praise each other enough. In Germany, we strive for perfection too often and compliment each other too rarely.

We all like receiving compliments, but giving compliments to other people does you good too. Because you can really feel the change in the eyes of the other person. Here I see major cultural differences. Turkish people praise one another more often, maybe sometimes even too often.

We all need words of encouragement. But giving compliments to other people does you good too. Because you can really feel the change in the eyes of the other person.

Zerrin Börcek

What makes you angry?

I get angry if I feel that people are stealing my time or are not able to make a decision.

What are the biggest misconceptions about Feminism?

The biggest misconception is that feminists hate men. When I say I am a feminist, I am immediately compared to Alice Schwarzer and the feminists of the ’70s, who were very radical. We often forget other great feminist women such as Simone de Beauvoir who developed great ideas and achieved a lot. Two thought-provoking ideas of Beauvoir are: “Women don’t design themselves, they are designed.” and “The woman has no other way out than to work on her liberation. This liberation can only be a collective one.”

If you could time travel, where would you go and why?

I would love to have lived in the golden 20s. It was a time when culture, art, and music shaped people. I like the style of the women and the joy of the people who lived through it – even if it was for a short time.

What does fashion mean in your life?

I like to use fashion as a communication tool. Through clothes, you can really set the tone. On the one hand, you can dress very simply and go unnoticed. The clothes I wear mirror my personality and the mood I am in that day. On the other hand, fashion can sometimes give you a lift on a bad day. For some important occasions or meetings, I might use fashion as a way of making a statement to the outside world and at the same time as a means to gain inner confidence.

Where do you typically buy fashion?

I do not like to order online from the big e-commerce shops because they have a reputation for exploiting the workers in their warehouses. I want to be one of the few people who do not only think about convenience but also about the way the employees of the company are being treated. In general, I like direct contact with people and thus prefer to buy in real stores. On Achenbach Street, there is a small boutique called Matito Store that I like. It is very small but very unique and they have wonderful dresses.

I do not like to order from the big e-commerce shops because they have a reputation for exploiting the workers in their warehouses. I want to be one of the few people who do not only think about convenience but also about the way the employees of the company are being treated.

Zerrin Börcek 

Do you have a special piece of clothing which is very dear to you and which has a special story?

Oh yes! Many of my clothes have memories associated with weddings. I love wearing dresses. One dress which I like very much is a short black dress which I bought back in 2008 to attend my friend’s wedding. It still fits me and I still like wearing it today. It reminds me of happy weddings and I associate it with loyalty and long lasting friendships. I wear this dress to bring luck when I go to weddings. I wore it to my brother’s civil wedding ceremony and he is still happily married. Then I wore it again to the civil wedding ceremony of friends in Luxemburg and then recently to a wedding in Cologne. Basically this dress has seen about five civil wedding ceremonies. So far all the couples are still happily married. So whenever I am invited to a wedding I have a feeling I should wear this dress to wish the same for the next couple.

Do you have a New Year’s resolution for 2020?

I would like to slow down a bit and find more time for my idea Teresa.AI. It is a technological solution, which should help elderly people to enjoy life more. As a next step, we need to do more customer interviews and workshops to understand our target audience better and how they interact with technology. Teresa.AI conducts dialogues with older people, brings more structure into their everyday life and connects people with each other independent of time and place.

Where do you go when you look for inspiration when you are in Düsseldorf?

I was born in Düsseldorf and have been living here again for 4 years. I love Düsseldorf because the city is open and has space for different ideas.  It is small but nevertheless very international. It has many different facets. On the one hand, it is very elegant but it can also be very alternative. For instance, Flingern is becoming home to many startups and creative businesses. And Düsseldorf has the most beautiful Rhine promenade. So whenever I need some peace of mind and inspiration I take a walk on the Rhine promenade and cross the river. There are some especially nice corners on the other side of the Rhine in Oberkassel. I like to take long walks from Oberkassel to Niederkassel.

When I write I spend a lot of time in my apartment in Flingern Nord. Around the corner, there are many nice cafés. Café Hüftgold is a really nice one and the Bar called Café Lotte. Lotte, the women who runs it is really great. There is always life in her bar. She is really a very inspiring person and runs the bar with so much love. People feel it and thus feel very welcome.

What does the word “sustainability” mean to you?

Sustainability starts with thinking and is long-term driven. It starts with small things at home – how do you treat the goods that you own – and it can go as far as how do you handle and develop your ideas. Do you just throw around ideas, or select a few that you constantly nourish and build upon. Commitment is also something which I strongly associate with sustainability. In today’s fast moving culture, it has become normal to have many ideas and then forget them the next day.

Sustainability starts with small things at home and it can go as far as how do you handle and develop your ideas. Commitment is also something which I strongly associate with sustainability. In today’s fast moving culture, it has become normal to have many ideas and then forget them the next day.

Zerrin Börcek

What is the best thing on Planet Earth?

Nature. I love the sea and the woods.

If you were an animal, which one would you be?

Elephants are definitely my favourite animals. But I also love squirrels. I have a few, which I domesticated, and who come every morning to visit me and get some food.

We thank Word of Mouth for their kind support with language editing and Say Yas to your Beauty for the wonderful make-up!