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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Graduate Student Starts Textiles Company in Virginia

By Noell Saunders

Starfish Textiles offers vibrant, soft and textured designs - it's all in the feel.

Aydin Oksoy, a Ph.D. candidate in the Strategic Management Program at Old Dominion University's Strome College of Business, started the company in January 2016 with his business partner, Andrew Wright.

Oksoy grew up in upstate New York and has spent summers on the Aegean coast in his native country of Turkey. While vacationing, Oksoy noticed that a majority of people had Peshtemals at beachside resorts in Turkey. Peshtemals are colorful flat-woven towels with fringes. They are typically made of Turkish cotton or bamboo.

"I grew up using Peshtemal towels. I saw this massive boom in demand in Turkey and thought it would be perfect for a beachside community like Virginia Beach," he said.

Oksoy is no stranger to the business world. Before coming to Old Dominion, he worked for seven years for Oldcastle Inc., a global construction company. There, he was in mergers and acquisitions, in addition to running a business unit that oversaw the New York metropolitan market.

Oksoy said Virginia Beach provided the perfect opportunity for him and his business partner.

"We bought a bunch of inventory and executed a market assessment strategy for the Mid-Atlantic region," he said. "We developed a robust back-end and now better understand our go-to-market strategy needs for this modern economy, driven by the internet and social media."

Starfish Textiles sells towels, linen and cotton beach cover-ups, scarves and bathrobes, primarily through private trunk shows and select boutique stores. The company's flagship location is at ODU's THE Monarch Way, which is a student-run store fostering entrepreneurship for the ODU community.

"We built a system that allows us to be patient and to truly understand the needs of our customer base," he said.

Oksoy said ODU Enactus and the Strome Entrepreneurial Center helped the company develop its connections and marketing strategies.

"They have been a fantastic engine for us," Oksoy said. "We were able to test our products at THE Monarch Way and see what consumers are buying. We are thrilled with what ODU has offered us."

For more information about Starfish Textiles or to purchase a product, visit the company's website.

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