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How a Turkish migrant left his comfort zone to reinvent himself in Italy

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Turkish author Gökhan Kutluer
Gökhan Kutluer has written three books, with some of them turned into theatre plays

Digital Marketing Manager and photographer Gökhan Kutluer is not your average content creator. With over 38k followers on Instagram, he is also an author and his third book ‘Leaving One’s Comfort Zone: A Story of a Move to Italy’ has just been released in English and will be turned into a theatre play.

And this is not the first time one of his works has moved from the printed pages to the stage. Kutluer’s first book ‘Cloud Factory’, featuring short bicycle’ stories, was also later adapted into a theatre play in his homeland, Istanbul.

An avid cyclist working as a brand ambassador for several companies, his recent book focuses on migrating from Turkey to Bergamo, in Italy, six years ago – a desire that started during his Erasmus semester in Italy as an undergraduate.

Although in recent years emigration by the Turkish middle and upper classes has been an increasingly common journey – with the media often reporting on those swapping countries for a better life – you don’t see successful stories broadcast on a regular basis.

And it is the organic achievements and the straightforward way the author shares what it is to drop everything and to leave a country, relying only on a carry-on bag and a tourist visa, that has captivated the Turkish young generation. So much so that ‘Leaving One’s Comfort Zone: A Story of a Move to Italy’ is already into its third edition in Turkey.

Gökhan is not your average influencer, despite posting photos of sunsets and holding lattes on social media. His well-crafted posts are built based on his foundation of creating content for printed media. Well before landing a contract working with sports brands, he was part of the editorial team of Turkey’s first monthly cycling magazine, ‘Cyclist Türkiye’. And documenting his love for bicycles, together with a book on his journey far from home as a migrant, has expanded his reach and brand endorsement opportunities beyond the cycling world.

“Everyone talks about the pros and cons of stepping out of their comfort zone but I’m not sure about their understanding of it. Here’s my two cents’ worth: Doing the same things with the same people in the same places for too long is being in a comfort zone. It’s like putting our brains in energy-saving mode. But once you leave your comfort zone and open yourself to new encounters, day-by-day you’ll start to remember the skills you’ve got but haven’t used for a long time. You start building a new self-confidence and you remember your core self once again.” – says the author, who now lives in Berlin.

 

‘Leaving One’s Comfort Zone: A Story of a Move to Italy’, translated by Irem Bilkin, is now available on Amazon and other online book sellers.

 

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Kellon Deryck becomes brand ambassador for Creme of Nature

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Hairstylist Kellon Deryck
With over 15 years of professional experience under his belt, Kellon has worked with Grammy Award–winning artist Megan Thee Stallion

Celebrity hairstylist Kellon Deryck has been announced as the official Brand Ambassador for hair care brand Creme of Nature.

With over 15 years of professional experience under his beltKellon has worked with Grammy Award–winning artist Megan Thee Stallion, music duo City Girls, and multi-platinum producer and music icon Missy Elliott.

Over the last two decades, there has been a significant growth in the multicultural haircare space with many women opting to wear their natural hair. According to a recent study, 45% of Black women are interested in identifying quality products to maintain their hair and scalp under their protective styles.

“Ever since I was a young artist in-training, Creme of Nature products have been a household name and my go-to brand for various haircare and styling needs, such as trendy braiding and weaving techniques or, simply, styling a sleek blow-out. I have used various collections, no matter if I was working at a salon or doing someone’s hair at home. I’m beyond honoured and excited for this journey sharing the brand’s legacy and innovation” – says Kellon Deryck.

Under the new partnership with Creme of Nature, Kellon will educate and communicate to consumers and their community the brand’s products’ benefits across social and digital communication networks, including via visual representation. The Aveda institute who train hair professionals will also collaborate with various retailers on select campaign initiatives.

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‘We need to find ways to protect live music in this strange world’

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Singer Eleanor, aka Retropxssy
Retropxssy: alternative artist will launch new album ‘Road Ahead’ on August 25th.

The London-based independent hip-hop artist Retropxssy gets her inspiration from the late 90s electronica and will be launching a new album later this month.

In an exclusive interview for Euronewsweek, we chat X Factor, music influences, vaccine passports, and making music during the pandemic.

 

How was the process of making an album, during such unusual times, and how long did it take to bring ‘Road Ahead’ to life?

I couldn’t write anything at the start of the pandemic. I felt stuck and cut loose simultaneously.

Then the album kind of poured out of me.

I love making music, but don’t make it all the time. I feel like sometimes I just have to wait for it to come.

The album is pretty much in chronological order of when I wrote each track. It narrates the arcs of my emotions from March- November 2020.

 

Who influenced your music style and how do you describe your unique style?

Always such a hard question! I’d call my music intense, genre bending, eclectic. I think that’s partly because I have loads of different influences with varied sounds. I guess I like eccentric people doing their own thing!

A big chunk of my influence is electronica from the late 90s: Goldfrapp, Portishead, and artists like Sevdaliza. People who use music as part of their world making.

Of course, I’m massively influenced by hip-hop too – Odd Future (especially Earl), Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky – all those 2012 icons. Flying Lotus… too many to list.

Lily Allen and The Prodigy too!

 

Which track are you most proud of and why?

I love them all, they are my babies. ‘Part of Me’ is especially important to me. It’s a track which really charts a process of looking inward and doing a lot of self-work/healing. That track changes its significance for me each time I hear it.

 

The X Factor has been cancelled in the UK. Have you ever dreamed of going on a reality show or it would be more of a nightmare?

Nightmare!

I think that shows like that are much more about profiting from and exploiting people.

There’s already too much of that in music (and the world). We must band together and oppose this, always!

 

Who have you been listening to recently?

Actually, a lot of psychedelica – Khruangbin! I’ve been busy and a bit stressed so it’s soothing.

And my friends: JoeJas, Deijuvhs, LetKojoFly and Bisk.

 

Will vaccine passports put young people off attending music events?

I think vaccine passports are very controversial. They will definitely put some people off.

I feel this question is part of a wider conversation we need to be engaging with which includes questions of bodily autonomy, the role of the state, inequality, disability, and discrimination. These are definitely conversations we need to be having!

We also need to keep talking about, and finding ways to protect, live music in this strange world. It’s too important. So yeah, a big question that leads to many others!

 

On Wednesday 25th of August, Retropxssy will be hosting her album launch at 7pm at Low Profile House (Vale Road, N4 1PT), where alternative hip hop, punk, and UK garage will combine for her live music.

For more information on tickets, check Eventbrite here.

To listen to Retropxssy on Spotify, head here.

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‘The pandemic brought more authenticity to social media’

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Group of people connected via social media
Bradley van der Straten, from the Netherlands, spends approximately three hours managing online groups every day

When, two years ago, Bradley van der Straten started a group on Whatsapp asking friends who regularly used Instagram to join him and comment on each other’s posts, he couldn’t have imagined what would happen a few months down the line: a global pandemic. From there, the 20-year-old from a province called Utrecht, in the Netherlands, turned this single group into over 200 pods gathering thousands of people around the world. He did all this while still being a student and working on a resort park during the holidays.

“Just a few months after launching my first group, Covid-19 began and, suddenly, I had to start asking people to help me manage the sheer amount of new people and groups joining us. The initial idea was to support each other, attempting to create a level of engagement that social media doesn’t give you easily. But, during the pandemic, it also became a place to meet new people because we couldn’t go anywhere.” – recalls Bradley.

Here, van der Straten talks to us about recruiting an online team to help as admins of groups formed by people, they will probably never meet in real life, avoiding social media burnout, and challenging the controversy surrounding gaming the engagement Instagram’s algorithm doesn’t let you have.

 

Which countries have the most active participants within your network groups and what are your participants looking for?

Most are from the Netherlands because that’s my country. The second most active country is the United Kingdom. It is very diverse, as we have accounts from 200 followers up to over a million.

Although there is no limit on the number of groups you can join, most people joining us end up participating, on average, in 8 different groups. They try to support each other by commenting on posts and sharing content. If we think a member is in too many groups, we avoid adding that person into other groups.

 

How many hours a day do you have to spend online to manage and reply to so many people?

It varies. When you have groups like ‘fashion’ you can easily invite several people daily. If you have a group in need of more active people, then you spend more time managing it. Nowadays, the groups are stable as members already know how it works. When, sometimes, a person sends you a DM asking, ‘Can I join another group?’ usually it is a yes because they are all organised by topics and running smoothly. But to answer your question about how many hours I spend managing groups and replying to people online, it is around 3 hours per day.

 

How do you manage so many groups at the same time and how do you avoid social media burnout?

We manage the groups as a team. In the beginning, with the network groups, it was a lot of checking to see if people were really supporting each other or not. Now that everything is more established, we don’t have many people messaging us. So, we have shifted the focus toward inviting new people and telling them how it works. If you don’t want social media burnout you have to allow yourself time away from Instagram.

I do this on Sundays. I switch off from social media to watch Netflix and do other things.

 

Are people engaging less, now, as lockdowns and Covid-19 restrictions are coming to an end?

Yes. I have noticed people are not posting photos on Instagram as actively as before. Those back to work can’t spend as much time on social media platforms as we all spent last year. However, if they’re on holiday, they seem to be as active as ever on Instagram.

 

Aren’t network groups a controversial tool to grow on social media as it plays with organic engagement?

It’s true that some people see it as a tool and misuse it. But we want genuine members, to be the ones leaving genuine comments under a post, not bots. When you make an effort to comment something meaningful on social media, people are likely to automatically retribute it. My opinion is that you have support groups and network groups. I have chosen network groups because it is an opportunity to meet and learn from a variety of people, some of them within the same niche as me or living in the same country.

 

What sort of content is doing well in 2021 for engagement?

Travel and fashion content, such as images and reels, will always do well on Instagram because it is a very visual platform. But, during the pandemic, we saw a big shift when people started toward people sharing more about themselves in a raw and authentic way – people started to be more open to the world about their personal life when they had to isolate from it. Moving forward, personal content, combined with travel, will remain relevant for engagement this year.

 

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