Zeynep Dag | Alzuarr

Celebrities like Rihanna, Kylie Jenner, Naomi Campbell, Jennifer Lopez and Amber Rose are wearing her exclusive shoes, just like many well-to-do women in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Zeynep Dag (1990), with a Turkish background but born and raised in Eindhoven, is a hit worldwide with her designs of extravagant pumps. “High heels give strength.”

Ode to mother

Pretty Venus is the name of the shoe with orchids. “An ode to my mother, because the orchid is her favourite flower. And a timeless design, because my love for her is timeless.” The round holes in the CeCe model refer to the dots of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, a favorite of Zeynep. “Behind each model is a personal story and I give names that I would also give to my children. The shoes are actually my children,” says Zeynep laughing.

“High heels give strength”

Zeynep Dag

Bullied

In her youth she learned to stand up for herself. At school she was bullied by classmates from conservative immigrant backgrounds, because she looked too western in miniskirt and heels. And the teacher did not think too much of her and suggested she should become a hairdresser. Zeynep herself however wanted to be a fashion designer, so she did not lose her spirit. “I want to become a powerful woman”, she wrote in her diary as a 14-year-old. From the preparatory secondary vocational education she continued to senior general secondary school and on to Fontys School of Fine and Performing Arts in Tilburg.

Marketing via Instagram

Oh yes, Zeynep also did a master’s in art history and got her qualification as a teacher at the ArtEZ art academy in Arnhem. By teaching at the art school in Tilburg and SintLucas in Boxtel she saved 20,000 euros and was able to start her own company and label Alzúarr in early 2017. A carefully chosen exotic name that suits her luxurious, stylish products. As every step she makes is well thought through: handmade production in Italy, marketing via Instagram, beautiful packaging and office in Plan B in Eindhoven, a former Philips office that is now a business complex for creative entrepreneurs, start-ups, artists and designers.

Affordable space

“As a start-up company, you want to keep your fixed costs low. Therefore it is nice that I can rent affordable workspace here. I initially wanted to keep office in a beautiful canal house in Amsterdam, but what is the added value of that? My customers are all over the world, they don’t care where those shoes are shipped.”

In Plan B it is good to be among colleagues, says Zeynep. “You meet during lunches, drinks and joint events that take place occasionally. We exchange experiences and can call on each other.” She also noticed that she still has a special feeling about Eindhoven. “I travel a lot, but it’s always nice to come home to the city that you know so well.”

A good living

She is also proud of the good reputation that the city has in the field of design. But with a critical note: “Many designers struggle to get their products on the market and earn a good living. You do not learn that during the education in school, in my opinion it’s time to do something about it.” She herself makes a contribution in the form of workshops in which she shares experiences and tips about doing business with other starters. In the meantime, her own company Alzúarr is growing fast, and her ambitions remain high. “I hope to grow into millions of sales within a few years. But I do not have to become a millionaire myself - money does not really interest me like that. I would love to start a foundation with the goal to get children in touch with art, art history and design at an early stage. I know how it is if you do not get it automatically.”

To Zeynep, shoes are a metaphor or power. The goal of her shoe designs is to give every woman a sense of being powerful and confident. Contemporary art, street fashion and minimalism are a big inspiration to, resulting in an eclectic and refined style. View the website of Alzuarr.