Signal Staff Writer
The Evil Eye – the belief that spiteful looks can damage one’s prosperity, health and good luck – is common in many cultures. For Behice Kilicer, an Istanbul native, this means an artistic fixation you see all around her newly opened outlet in Valencia.
The pieces in the store at the Westfield Valencia Town Center mall are eye-catching: Duffel bags with Indian art; jackets and caps with the evil eye motif; feminine and ethnic themes on clothing; and, BB8 from the “Star Wars” movie franchise. Kilicer’s collection is an accumulation of pieces from women artists from South America and Turkey.
Kilicer moved to Southern California four years ago when her husband, an IT professional, got a new job here, and she got a surprise second pregnancy. “I love it here. The people are extremely nice and considerate.” A mother of two boys, 7 and 4, she enjoys being a part of the community that values diversity and art. People you’ve never met are concerned for your well-being, she says.
“Most of these women make amazing pieces. But they can’t sell them, not even online. And that’s where I come in. A store like this in a place like Santa Clarita enables me help them sell their art, and showcase their talent to a wider audience.”
The pandemic has made women more creative, she says. Her job, she adds, is to collect that stuff and make sure people see it. Many of the women she works with tried selling their work online but that didn’t work out since the online international market is hard to navigate, especially if you’re not based in the United States. “If I see someone’s work online, and I like it, I ask them to send it to me.”
When she herself is working on a piece, she shares it with the women she works with, asking them to improvise and steer to what customers desire. Her pieces, she says, are for everyone from middle-aged women, who appreciate the intricacies of the jewelry, to the teenagers who are impressed by the dramatic artwork on jackets, caps and casualwear.
“Everyone wants the right fabric, the right art, and the right stones in their jewelry.” She also offers customization for anyone interested in the art style.
Kilicer is an artist herself, and she has the expertise to market. “In a way it’s a partnership. They can’t sell what they make. And I’m trying to help them sell it.”