This portfolio is a small sample of the work I have created over the years. My work extends beyond writing to marketing, content creation, digital asset creation, including websites, to brand building, social media, and speaking. I have conceptualized, designed, and executed various ideas throughout my career. I am also fortunate that I had two creative, smart, and capable sisters, Arzu and Fusun, who supported this work and assisted with it. Initially, Flatbread Grill®, Thumb Bread®, and Esendemir Sisters was the brainchild of my sisters. I am very strong with taking an idea from conception and expanding on it with meticulous execution. Without their input, those brands could not have come to life.
After high school, I took a compilation of my poems from my teenage years and self-published it. Self-publishing back then was nowhere near as painless as it is now, but I taught myself how to do it. I started my own publishing company, planned my own book tour, came up with the cover design, developed my own marketing materials, and got it accepted into bookstores. Though the material I designed is too extensive to list on this site, it did help me land a major book distributor whose response letter to my promotional packages was: "We do not normally take on poetry books by first time authors. However, yours is the best proposal I have ever seen in my entire career, so we will give you a chance." My journey as an author led me to giving poetry workshops at schools, juvenile detention centers, and libraries. I also had the opportunity to read my poetry on TV and radio, in bookstores, including Barnes & Noble, and was published in magazines.
Fun fact: To design the cover and inside photographs of the book, my sisters and I made our own angel wings, gluing on hundreds of large white craft feathers onto cardboard, then dusting it with glitter. One day, I hope to dig those photos out of whatever dust collecting box they are stashed away in so I can share them with you.
One slow day at Flatbread Grill®, my sister, Arzu, suggested we start an Instagram account so we can share our story. Social media wasn't eclipsing everyone's lives when my sisters and I started our business, so we had come to rely mostly on word of mouth for marketing. I took Arzu's suggestion seriously and started the account. We posted about ourselves in an authentic way and people responded quickly to our story. Back when Instagram still had a 'popular page', we found ourselves on it over and over again. The real kicker was: we were just keeping it real. There was no plan behind our social media presence, but as with all of our undertakings, we remained true to our core values.
Eventually, we built a Facebook page for ourselves and a blog that allowed us to share even more of our story. Within a year, our social media presence and blog were being visited by people all over the world. The content we created and the blogs we posted were a reflection of our journey. We never expected to become 'influential'. However, our story reached so many people who felt compelled or inspired to pursue their own entrepreneurial journey.
My work for Esendemir Sisters involved content creation, blog writing, photography, SEO, digital asset design and maintenance, as well as launching and managing all of our social media accounts and updating our website (which has been put on hold temporarily).
Follow us @esendemirsisters
Flatbread Grill® is a fresh casual Mediterranean concept founded in 2007 by my sisters and I. Our decade-long journey through one of the toughest industries in the world at the height of a great economic recession is too extensive to sum up here. However, I can say it is a journey of determination, persistence, and guts. Starting up a business and then building a brand identity from scratch with almost nothing to your name is a story onto itself. My sisters and I worked hard, stayed honest, and never gave up. We inspired lots of copycats, experienced significant setbacks, overcame tremendous challenges, and did the impossible, even as all the odds were stacked against us. Flatbread Grill® is a journey my sisters and I undertook together.
Flatbread Grill® was an extension of our values and our strengths. We thrived on word of mouth marketing even as our competitors were spending thousands and sometimes, MILLIONS of dollars to gain new customers. We used our creativity and intelligence to think outside the box. We were involved in every single aspect of the business from conception to the construction, design, marketing, and operations. We did it all! We even cooked, cleaned, and managed our stores. It was a labor of love and one that molded us into respected, influential restaurant industry experts.
Though my sisters and I in the early days of starting up, found our abilities and involvement with the brand being called into question- we have reached a point in our career where we have more than proved our ability to conceptualize, execute, and build a large scale lifestyle brand with massive appeal. Many people found it difficult to believe or accept that everything from the logo to our interior design and the menu was conceived, developed, and executed by us. Each one of us came from different types of working backgrounds, with my focus being on arts, writing, and filmmaking. But if there is one thing that others could learn from our story of hardship, triumph, and struggle- it's that oftentimes, the underdogs who have to reach down deep to pull out the resources needed to survive and thrive can always hold their own against the top dogs.
All it takes is focus, determination, and persistence.
My work for Flatbread Grill® was very extensive as I worked alongside my sisters for over a decade. The highlights of it involved content creation, assistance with menu design and layout, food photography and styling, digital asset design and maintenance, as well as launching and managing all of our social media accounts, preparing printed marketing collateral, interior and exterior signage design for all customer touch points, menu execution and recipe development, POS design and navigation, raising new customer awareness, implementing loyalty programs, targeted marketing campaigns, direct mail campaign targeting and design, email campaigns, digital ad campaigns, event planning, working with social media influencers, new store openings, operations and training manuals, writing and developing press materials, acting as a brand spokesperson to the press, data retention and analyzing, day to day operations, plus so much more!
Thumb Bread® is an all natural, extraordinary artisanal bread created in 2007 for use in our fresh casual Mediterranean concept, Flatbread Grill®. The bread was the brain child of my sister Arzu. Back when my sisters and I were starting Flatbread Grill®, Arzu decided that Flatbread Grill® needed major differentiation. Arzu's vision that we create a new kind of bread is how Thumb Bread® was born. Within two weeks of Flatbread Grill® being opened, the New York Times gave us an outstanding review which included our very special breads. When no baker wanted to help us realize Arzu's vision, she decided we would do it ourselves.
While watching customers enjoy the bread in our restaurants, Arzu came up with a unique package design so the bread could be available as a consumer packaged good. Almost a decade later, after making MILLIONS of pieces by hand- we got this very special, proprietary bread accepted into major retail outlets.
My work for Thumb Bread® involved content creation, setting up an online store, food photography and assistance with styling, designing a conceptualized prototype bag for manufacturer sourcing, digital asset design and maintenance, as well as launching and managing all of our social media accounts, and preparing printed marketing collateral for distribution and sales representation, such as sell sheets, marketing plans and signage, including our display.
Follow us @thumbbread
I have had the pleasure of speaking at industry events as well as mentoring at events focused on entrepreneurs. I have been asked to speak about industry specific topics, such as sustainability, marketing to millennials, and menu creation and design. I have also mentored and spoken about marketing, social media, brand building, and entrepreneurship.
Before the theme of 'pride' become a trend- my sisters and I launched our Rainbow Hummus initiative to celebrate Pride Month by partnering with a local non-profit organization that works with an at risk LGTBQ community. It was a project that truly made my heart soar (and it allowed me to work with bright, bold colors which I LOVE). We worked with influencers via Instagram and Facebook to spread the word and even launched an online store. I hope to expand and grow the program in years to come.
Copyright © 2019 Gonca Esendemir - All Rights Reserved.
Website Created By Gonca Esendemir