Melik makes it in Tilburg

When Melik Alphan moved from Turkey to Tilburg eleven years ago for love, finding a job like this was not an option. The entrepreneurial blood is flowing through his veins and in no time he sets up his own shoe line: Melik Shoes. Meanwhile, his shoes are sold in the better shoe and men's fashion stores, he also has his own clothing line and he has several showrooms in the middle of the country.

"Selling has always been in my blood," says Melik. "As a child, I've always thought up clever plans for making money. In Turkey, his family runs a leading fish restaurant, where he worked for years. "When I moved to Tilburg, finding a normal job was never my plan. I wanted to make something myself, I wanted to sell something." When an acquaintance complimented Melik with his shoes, an idea arose. "I thought: I love beautiful shoes. Maybe I can design them, have them made in Turkey and then sell them in the Netherlands. In hindsight I think it could have been anything, but by chance he said something about my shoes. It can be that easy."

This can really be done.

"I didn't come from the shoe industry and didn't know anything about designing or making shoes, but I always want to learn." In no time Melik had found a factory in Turkey that could carry out his shoe designs and he immediately ordered four hundred and fifty pairs. "Everyone thought I was crazy. I had a room full of shoes and not a single customer." He didn't have a business plan, but with his story and a pair of shoes in his bag he went to all the men's fashion stores in the area. "I remember very well the moment when I brought in my first customer in Goirle. I walked past the shop window and saw my designs there. It gave me such a good feeling that I had the idea of: this is really possible."

It's more than just a product'.

For Melik, his label is much more than just the product. It is a feeling and an experience. "I sometimes find it difficult to put into words, but Melik Shoes stands for energy, motivation, wearing the shoes should give you a positive feeling. The brand's motto is 'moving people'. "It does something to you. In addition, your shoes will take you from A to B.

A special moment for Melik was his first appointment at a large company in men's fashion. "I walked in and started telling my story. Even before I showed him the shoes, he said: 'You know what, I'm going to buy those shoes. I don't care what's in your bag. Your story, your motivation, your positive energy is so good that I want to buy your shoes. It was very special to me because it was my first big customer and Melik Shoes was seen as more than just a product."


"I find ideas everywhere.

Melik's collections are fashion-conscious and distinctive. Each shoe has something special, such as beautiful colour combinations, a special sole or special details. Yet, according to Melik, they are the most normal things that inspire him. "I can look for rust on an old train wagon or the peeling bark on a tree and then I have an idea for a winter shoe. I translate that by using rough leather or putting a rougher sole under a shoe. I find ideas everywhere. Sometimes I see something on the street and then I can see a pair of shoes in front of me with my eyes closed."

The success

Melik Shoes has been around for more than ten years now and is doing exceptionally well. The brand has approximately two hundred points of sale in different countries and has expanded in all areas. Melik also started designing women's shoes under the label Ponche Shoes and a few years ago he started his own clothing line, Sergio Barone. Going through the doors of shops to sell his products, as he did in his early years, is no longer there. "I have three showrooms in Nieuwegein that customers visit. It took some getting used to, because I see myself more as an active salesman. Now my role has suddenly changed."

As his company grows, Melik notices that he has to use his time sparingly. "But I always make sure that I find time to design somewhere." Every day he travels up and down from Tilburg to Nieuwegein. "I regularly get stuck in traffic, but it never bothers me. When I'm in the car I turn on my music and I really have time to think. About my designs and about the growth of my company. The best ideas come from me in the car."

I'm not leaving Tilburg'.

Even though Melik travels a lot, he will not leave Tilburg for the time being. "My whole family is proud of Tilburg, I'm going to move into Tilburg soon and I've had a season ticket for Willem II for years. Possibly in the future he will exchange his showrooms in Nieuwegein for showrooms in Tilburg. "At the moment it's still important that I'm at a central point in the Netherlands, but maybe in a few years' time it will be different.

Makers of Tilburg

Tilburg is a city of makers: film producers, music makers, artists, dance, musical and circus artists and so on. In the interview series 'Makers', in collaboration with Citymarketing Tilburg, tells inspiring stories of creative makers from the city.