Full of creativity, Sophia Demirtas has turned her passion for fashion into a luxury clothing brand.
One of the best parts of starting a new hobby is the ability to turn something you love into a profitable business. That is the case for Fanm Mon—a Turkish fashion label that launched in 2013. Behind this vision is the Haiti-born, Turkey-based designer Sophia Demirtas who, along with her husband, has created a brand of bold and colorful ready-to-wear.
Demirtas worked at a homeless shelter in New York City before moving to Turkey and pursuing her dream in the fashion industry. What makes this brand unique is the different backgrounds combined into modern silhouettes. Fanm Mon embraces the craftsmanship of masterful artisans from Ukraine and Turkey and the rich cultural heritage of Haiti.
Known for a mix of delightful colors, bold patterns, and handmade embroideries weaved into beautiful garments, Fanm Mon offers modern alternatives to traditional styles. Each piece has been carefully hand-embroidered by skilled craftsmen at the brand’s headquarters in the US, Turkey, and Ukraine.
Οriginally, Demirtas got involved with jewelry making, but within two years, she transitioned to womenswear, realizing that brought her greater joy. The pivot was born from a need to showcase her jewelry with eccentric garments. “It really started out of personal necessity to make designs that were reminiscent of my childhood. Having been born and raised in Haiti, I got into these interactions with color, pattern, and texture,” Demirtas says on a Zoom call.
The brand offers intricate handmade pieces inspired by the cultures of Haiti and Africa. Through each collection, the designer pays homage to her Haitian heritage, roots, and community. The home feeling inspires her most, accompanied by a love for nature and admiration for women. “Nature is my main source of inspiration and my childhood memories. I grew up surrounded by many women who embrace their femininity with floral prints, bold, vibrant colors,” she explains.
Growing up in Haiti, Demirtas could see firsthand what her grandmothers, aunts, and neighbors wore, which was a strong point of reference later in her life. This feminine energy is now mirrored in the brand’s creations.
The choice of the name Fanm Mon couldn’t be random. Fanm Mon is a Haitian phrase that means “peasant woman,” a nurturer intertwined with nature. The term is used to describe all these women rooted in their village’s upbringing. Demirtas has given a new interpretation to this colloquial expression. “Fanm Mon signifies the woman that nurtures and understands nature and is one of the most powerful beings on earth. For my brand, I wanted to highlight the feminine aspect of our culture, the significance of the Mon people, especially the women,” she highlights.
After leaving Haiti at a very young age, Demirtas kept in mind the value of these women, and as she grew up understood that their spirit was universal.
Her creations are works of art that stand out for their exquisite craftsmanship, unique embroidery, and romantic silhouettes, three characteristics of the brand. Everything is a thoughtful process with a focus on each step.
“Design came into being a part of my daily life.
First, I started the business on a made-to-order basis, and everything happened at a digestible pace for me, which helped the business become a part of my life and vice versa,” adds Demirtas.
Everything is produced at her facility, which allows her to keep the orders on track. “Having our production atelier in Turkey allows me to compose my specific linen quality from scratch. The softness, durability, and breathable, lightweight linen texture is a result of making Fanm Mon’s linen from thread,” she explains.
Besides using primary linen, Fanm Mon also incorporates sustainable and eco-conscious practices into its business model. “In Haiti, we are always thinking of ways to reuse things or re-purpose them in new ways,” she adds. Demirtas explains that her approach is centered around sustainability, with most of the work done by hand and using only natural fibers—flax, cotton, and silk—from local suppliers.
However, the founder’s vision is more than delivering something appealing to the eye. It’s about making people relate with her, evoking emotions, and sharing a common mindset with her customers.“I didn’t feel the need to become a different person to start creating clothes or selling a narrative that didn’t match my mindset,” she explains.
Demirtas describes Fanm Mon as a symbol of femininity, a mix of modernity, heritage, and freedom. As a result, she focuses on creating long, airy, flowing, and lightweight embroidered dresses with a fluid movement, perfect for a Sunday brunch or soirée. “I’ve learned the importance of caring for what you create, especially what goes on in peoples’ bodies. The point of reference will make people stick with you and have transparency and confidence,” she denotes.
“I’m thinking of women as multifaceted and not monolithic,” says Demirtas.
As a woman of color, mother, and creative CEO of her brand, Demirtas feels extremely proud of her heritage and all the strong points of reference that have influenced her journey. She is a source of inspiration for all the young entrepreneurs who have just started, especially for women of color who are underrepresented in the fashion and beauty industries.
When asked what impact she wants to have in the world, she answered, “It would be vital to get to a point where the color of our skin isn’t necessarily attached to everything we produce. Thinking of women as multifaceted and not monolithic, what I design is addressed to women of that aesthetic who could appreciate the detailing and history that comes with those garments.”
TROORA MAGAZINE | MARCH 2023
WRITTEN BY STELLA POLYZOIDOU
PHOTOS COURTESY OF FANM MON
STYLED BY SOPHIA DEMIRTAS