If you follow fashion influencers like Blanco Miro, Jeanette Madsen or Jessie Bush (@wethepeoplestyle) you’ll already be very familiar with Manu Atelier.
Run by Turkish sisters Beste and Merve Manastir, it’s quickly becoming the go-to bag brand for the millennial fashion set, with its instantly recognisable boxy shapes, bold bright colour combinations and standout gold logo.
But before the 96,000 instagram followers and celebrity fans (including Eva Chen and Sarah Jessica-Parker) there was a simple plan; to share their father’s talent with the world.
‘Our father was always drawing when we were children,’ Beste tells Grazia. ‘He would suddenly take out a piece of paper wherever we were and start drawing, we loved when he’d bring home the bags he made for us at his workshop, and would sometimes even stand over him while he was finishing a new design for us.’
‘We always believed in both his both artistic and design skills, and wanted to be the bridge that brings his talent to the world,’ says Merve.
After helping another designer launch her leather accessories collection, the sisters decided to start on their own brand using their father’s expertise and atelier, at affordable prices using leather from Turkey. It would be called Manu Atelier – the ‘manu’ is for manufacturing.
Working as sisters is very important for Beste and Merve, but they don’t pretend to always get along, and see conflict as a natural part of the creative process.
‘We work together in every single stage of both the creative and business side. Of course it causes some conflicts but we believe these disagreements bring us to the right decision eventually.'
'Thankfully we’ve found we have the same taste, but we look at things from different perspectives. These differences and similarities give us the ability to make the right decison in the end. Because at the end of the day, to be able to create something with your family is a unique and special feeling.‘
And their father is still at the core of the brand; ‘We always speak to our father and get his opinion, because he is the one who makes our ideas real with his talent.’
Scroll through Manu Atelier’s Instagram feed and you’ll find a carefully curated series of candid snaps featuring achingly cool women wearing Manu – the sisters call them ‘Manu’s People’ because they aren’t just a bunch of influencers who have been sent product to pose with – they are friends of the brand.
Merve and Beste would rather form authentic relationships with people whose style they admire, than force product on those with the highest follower count.
‘An influencer is someone who inspires all the creatures around them,’ Beste says. ‘They have been in our lives from the beginning. The people we are in collaboration with are from many different professional backgrounds but the common thing is they are all people who inspire us. This is very important to us.’
The brand's focus on Instagram – not only showing polished images on the feed but drawing potential customers in with behind the scenes videos in the atelier and posts of the pair on the move with the bags on Instagram stories – has paid off.
‘Instagram has helped the brand to tell its own story and vision directly to the customers’ says Beste, who shoots most of the images for Instagram.
‘Even before launching the brand in 2014, we always believed in the sincere relationship between the brand and the customer. There has to be a real bond. And social media had played an important role.’