Ata Ağaç: Bridging Beauty and Sustainability
Ata Ağaç is a women-led cooperative in Türkiye which produces natural cosmetics from ancient olive trees. It promotes the protection of our natural world and strives for positive social change.
After working for 12 years in the textile industry, Hatica Aktürk returned to her hometown in the Muğla region of Türkiye to start a life changing project. In 2016, she founded ‘Ata Ağaç’, a women-led cooperative which produces cosmetic products from locally made olive oil. Her brand harmoniously combines her passion for protecting the planet with her commitment to bring about positive social change.
From Ancient Roots to Modern Beauty
The name of the brand is a tribute to the Ata Ağaç tree, an old olive tree which is growing in Hatica’s olive grove, in her hometown, kazıklı. The tree, which is 3,200 years old, has borne witness to numerous civilisations and societies, yet it still stands tall for us to appreciate today. This natural heirloom has been an inspiration for Hatica’s cosmetic brand, which produces olive-based cosmetics that are both cutting-edge and traditional. “It has lived for 3,200 years, imagine what it could do for you”, says Hatica. A few examples of their popular products include an anti-rash cream tailored for babies, an after-shaving cream, and an anti-aging cream.
Respecting nature is at the heart of the cooperative’s practices. The olives are hand-picked to avoid harming the trees during their harvest. As they are transformed into olive oil, the olives are treated with the utmost care so they do not lose their exquisite properties. The brand also makes use of the leaves from the olive trees, which have natural therapeutic properties. “We do not let any part [of the tree] go to waste”, says Hatica.
Investing in Knowledge, Preserving Nature
Beyond Ata Ağaç’s success as a business, it was important to Hatica that her cooperative had a positive social impact on her surrounding community. Using the proceeds from selling Ata Ağaç’s olive oil, Hatica launched the “Robotic Inspiration Project”. This project offered week-long workshops focused on robotic coding and science for 19 secondary and high school-level children from her local community. The primary objective of this initiative was to contribute to the educational opportunities for children in the rural Milas neighbourhood. Additionally, she wanted to raise awareness of the gift that these ancient trees are for the community as a whole.
Turning Crisis into Opportunity
After the economic standstill caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, Hatica applied to SPARK ‘Women in Exports’ initiative, as part of its Economic Resilience Through COVID-19 programme, funded by the Qatar Fund For Development. ‘Women in Exports’ is a collaboration between SPARK and Innovation 4 Development (I4D) aimed at supporting 12 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Türkiye.
The SMEs were provided with e-export coaching and training on green product development over 38-hour sessions. At the end of the training, the participants were supported in the digitalisation of their businesses and were integrated into the Turkish Souq e-commerce platform. Ata Ağaç now has a thriving landing page on the website, with product and banner photography sponsored by the initiative. This landing page functioned as a valuable marketing tool to boost the brand’s visibility while also offering a centralised platform for potential customers to explore and make purchases. Since its inception, Ata Ağaç has successfully expanded its exports to 90 countries worldwide. “ We think that the introduction of old olive trees to the world will make a great contribution to the tourism and economy of the region.” Hatica said.
As Ata Ağaç continues to thrive in its mission of harnessing the natural wonders of the olive tree, the brand remains unwavering in its commitment to innovation and sustainability. Looking ahead, Ata Ağaç envisions a future filled with even more groundbreaking products, and sustainable practices. Ata Ağaç is determined to leave an indelible mark on the world of natural cosmetics.