Interior designer opens baby business
Local designer Naz Kocturk is returning to her passion of creating rooms for young children with a new baby design store, O Lulla, at 354 Pequot Ave. in Southport.
"It's what I really like to do," she said. "I enjoy creating spaces for kids."
Kocturk owned the same kind of store 10 years ago in Westport, on the Post Road, named Crib and Cradle.
Then a single mom going through a divorce, Kocturk said she didn't like that her young son and daughter, now 16 and 17, were spending the weekends in the back room of the store. After spending years designing in houses and hotels, Kocturk now is specializing in decorating nursery rooms and play areas.
Although she sells gift items at O Lulla, Kocturk's vision is to take her customer's ideal room and choose items that fit, including rugs, cribs and changing tables.
"The whole idea is to create great rooms," said Kocturk, who studied engineering and business in her native Istanbul. She said her design choices are influenced by her European upbringing.
Kocturk said the space is small, so there are only a few designer samples on display, including high chairs from Sweet Pea of California, which handpaints custom designs on furniture.
When she came to the U.S. in 1996, and before opening O Lulla, she was an interior designer specializing in homes.
Kocturk said the down economy didn't hit her baby design business as much, because parents don't hold back when spending on their children.
The name O Lulla comes from the word "lullaby," Kocturk said. Now at the new Southport location, Kocturk's store was once the shipping department in a working factory.
"I loved the space as soon as I came in," she said. "It's very industrial, opposite of the ideal baby's room, so I thought that would be a great spot."
Choosing not to advertise the store just yet, Kocturk said business has been good and is "going in the right direction" since her opening in September.
Kocturk is displaying work by a local photographer, Laurie Wright, and painter Linda Schoff, in the space. Wright, a portrait photographer who owns a studio in Wetsport, said her maternity and newborn photos fit Kocturk's concept.
Wright said Kocturk's experience with design is evident in her store.
"I saw O Lulla come together," she said. "There are people who can conceptualize and visualize outside of where they are, and can see a design in their minds. That's a sign of a great designer."
Neighboring business owners and community members have been supportive of the designer and the store.
"My favorite is when a little boy or little girl stand at the front of the store and say `wow,'" Kocturk said. "That's what I love."