Community Spotlight: Eda Bilir-Messner
Meet Eda Bilir-Messner, the owner of an underwater themed kids hair salon in Brooklyn. We’ve previously featured her unique space as our Splace of The Week, but we didn’t get a chance to find out about the person behind the space. In this community spotlight, we asked the entrepreneur about how she left advertising to create a space where not only kids can get a haircut but where parents can enjoy themselves.
SPLACER: Tell us a little bit about yourself…
EDA BILIR-MESSNER: I was born and grew up in Turkey up until I moved to London in my early 20’s. I went to university in Istanbul and had my B.A degree in Business & Management, then I attended Harvard University for their Business and Management Program. After school, I stared working for a Global Ad Agency called DMB&B in Istanbul where I managed brands globally in consumer goods, healthcare, car, hospitality and many other categories. I worked for Nike and helped launched their non-profit arm Nike Foundation.
SPLACER: What was it like working in advertising?
EDA BILIR-MESSNER: I loved every bit of it while I was in the industry! Because of advertising I travelled the world, met super cool and interesting people and I got introduced to different cultures. However once I became a mom, traveling globally and being in service business did not make sense as both can be very demanding on your family life.
SPLACER: So was that part of the reason you opened a kids salon?
EDA BILIR-MESSNER: Although I always loved what I did I also had the burning desire to own my own gig (business). After having my kids I started seriously thinking about an exit strategy and what I wanted to do next. I am coming from a family of entrepreneurs, therefore for me the transition to the world of owning a start up was exciting and I did not really think about it before I jumped to do it. The idea started as a book store as our family loves books and believe in the multiple benefits of reading to your child at young age. We started there and added other bits to make it more relevant for the community we live and work. I personally wanted to create a space where I could hang out with my kids. Currently Edamama is a one stop shop for local families to hang out, read, have a haircut and enjoy cultural activities.
SPLACER: How did you find this space, what attracted you to it?
EDA BILIR-MESSNER: I looked around for a long time. When I first saw the space, there weren’t even walls between units on the grand floor, it looked pretty empty. But I was attracted to it for may reasons. Firstly the location, union avenue is one of the main streets in the neighborhood, many people come in just to check the space out, as they see the store driving by. The space is on the way to the biggest park/playground/public pool in the neighborhood and the space is also surrounded by high-rise luxury buildings with young families. It totally made sense. Once I learned that there was going to be a pediatric dentist and a daycare on the block, I was sold on it. Apparently the building also used to be a chocolate factory.
SPLACER: How can this space be used and what for?
EDA BILIR-MESSNER: The space is great for sophisticated birthday parties, baby showers or product launches for relevant products such as toys, books, accessories, or haircare products. It is uniquely executed and beautifully designed by local artists. It is the perfect backdrop for product photo shoots or films. We are conveniently located on the ground floor so any equipment could be rolled in. We also have a full kitchen and bathroom with changing station for babies.
SPLACER: What are your favorite things about your space?
EDA BILIR-MESSNER: The space is magical, you walk in and you are in the world of under the sea: ceiling is blue, there are fish and seaweeds floating around. There is a big green octopus, mermaid, yellow sub marine and a shark hanging from the ceiling in paper cache sculptures. These 4 characters make our haircut stations and I’m very proud to support the local talents that made them. Another thing I’m super proud of are the tons of activities related to books: we have a young readers book club, story time with local children book writers and illustrators for free on the weekend. Finally, I love the balance in sophistication and intimacy the interior offers, many of my clients who had a birthday party here told me that the space feels like an extension of their home.
SPLACER: What’s your favorite NYC building and why?
EDA BILIR-MESSNER: I love Brownstones in Brooklyn. Other than that the Flatiron Building. Both are beautiful and timeless.